Here’s a simple overview and checklist for businesses and individuals that are starting the process of search engine optimization (SEO). What is SEO?
The goal of search engine optimization is to create sales through internet search engines, PRIVATE BLOG NETWORK such as Google. Google has over 70% market share and Bing/Yahoo has about 26%. The differences between the results are minimal as each has the same economic incentive – is to provide search results that are most accurate and relevant for any given query. Since only 10 will arrive on the first page, both Google and Bing are happy to sell advertising so that you can land on the first page even if the search engines don’t think you deserve it.
Most people never go past the first page of search results. Why is SEO important?
SEO is one of the most effective ways for a small business to compete against a major corporation. SEO reduces the costs of customer acquisition while it promotes a company, product or service to only those people that are interested. This type of promotion is often called “inbound marketing” because it brings people into a company by providing them the information they want, when they want it. Moreover, inbound marketing enables an advertiser to understand customers with many more details than they can find from advertising in traditional media like the newspaper, television, radio and direct mail. Every search term (collectively called a keyword) can result in a specific landing page that address the unique needs that a person is searching. One of the most important parts of SEO is to provide landing pages with a call-to-action that convert website visitors into potential customers by getting them to “sign up” for more information or to actually buy a product. The process of getting people to willingly provide information to an advertiser is called “permission marketing.” SEO Checklist for Beginners:
There are ton of tools to do this. Here are three of my favorites:
1. Examine your search engine value with HubSpot’s Free Website Grader. Easy to use. Provides a free report with suggestions for improvement.
2. Decide how you want to be known. Make a list of the 10 most important keywords for your business. These are the terms that you want people to associate with you and only you. A good keyword will have several individual words. For example, “internet marketing san diego” is an excellent keyword because it is so specific.
3. Use Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to determine which keywords generate the most traffic. This tool also will give you suggestions on other keywords that might be better for your business based on the number searches made in your local area, how competitive it is to get the term, etc.
4. Create content that people want to read. Pick a single keyword and write a blog article about it. No blog on your website? Create one. Immediately. Blogs enable search engines to associate a single concept (search term) with a single page on your website – thus boosting the relevance of that page to the search query. If you don’t have a blog then you will need to create static pages for each piece of new content – which quickly becomes burdensome for the webmaster and impossible to navigate for the search engine and potential customer visiting your site. See my Checklist for a Great Blog for tips on writing good content.
5. Optimize your website. This is a massive undertaking – so don’t get overwhelmed. Here are few simple steps you can take to ensure that search engines can see your content and consider it for ranking:
BEFORE you publish.
This is a massive undertaking – so don’t get overwhelmed. Here are few simple steps you can take to ensure that search engines can see your content and consider it for ranking:
i. Include the Keyword in your page title. The easiest (and probably the best) way to do this is just name your page the same as your blog article.
ii. Put the most important words first. In the case of this article, I think “SEO” is the most important word followed by “checklist”, then “beginners.”
iii. Create a 140 character summary of the article. Use this simple summary for your meta-description. You will reuse this description later.
iv. Use headings within the content to add meaning. Heading information will help readers scan through the entry faster (that’s good for usability) AND it will help search engines organize the information (that’s even better).
v. Add tags that are specific to EACH article (not the entire blog). A common mistake is to focus tagging on the content of the entire site. Search engines already know what you site is about at a high level. The key to good SEO is to provide depth to your subject matter. So repeating the tags over and over again will do nothing. In fact, such a tactic might hurt your SEO. Rather, tag only a few key concepts in your blog article that are related to the single keyword you are about (see above). AFTER you publish.
i. Build links. This is the single most important part of SEO. Lots of links means that search engines see your site as very important and relevant. Make sure to build links that are from relevant sites. If you are writing about SEO, then get links from other sites that are about SEO. Google will judge your site by the company you keep – so avoid link farms or other ways to artificially build links. I strongly recommend mapping out a blueprint for links (a subject for a future blog). Here are several activities recommended by SEOBook.com that will build links.
ii. Promote. Get people to read your content. The goal is for them to further promote it by passing it along to others – ideally in a way that can be tracked by search engines. Here are the absolute bare minimum requirements to promote:
1. Twitter about the post with a link. Use the 140 character summary that you created (as discussed above). I use Tweet Deck to manage my twitter communications because it automatically shortens the URLs. I’m experimenting with the paid version (don’t worry, it is only $9) of TwiPing to manage connections on Twitter. The jury is still out on this one. However, I have tried several others that don’t work.
2. Post link to article on social networks. I use the Twitter feed tools within each social network to automatically update my status to show that I have made a new posting on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Remember, your goal is to convert website visitors into customers. Make sure that you engage customers with a call-to-action. If you like this article, then contact me to get a free consultation on how inbound marketing can help build your business.