Before we dive into the world of SEO, I want to start by setting expectations. Getting to the top of Google is a great goal to set. However, actually getting there takes time and there is no way to “magically” place your website organically at the top of search results. I’ve learned this the hard and expensive way time and time again, so be sure to set realistic expectations for when you can expect to be found at the top of a Google search for specific keywords. For context, this could easily take up to a year.
You may be asking yourself, “I’ve heard of SEO before, but what exactly is it”. At a high-level, SEO is the process of optimizing your website so search algorithms, such as Google’s, rank your site higher in the results based on terms people search for. Frankly, SEO can get a little complicated and technical, but we will walk through the key aspects and share resources to help enhance your search engine optimization.
The first step to optimizing SEO requires understanding which words or phrases you want to be associated with your website. For example, if you are a phone a repair shop in Seattle, a short tail keyword could be “phone repair Seattle”. Google provides a free tool for finding these words, called the Google Keyword Tool, that shows search volume and level of competition associated with a keyword. Additionally, it will provide keyword substitutes with varying degrees of competition and search volume. Typically, the more competitive a keyword is, the harder it will be to rank with.
These keywords generally break down into two groups, short and long-tail keywords. Short tail keywords are three words or less, while long-tail keywords are anything over three words. You should aim to find 10–15 keywords in both categories that are relevant to your business.
Given you have 10–15 short and long-tail keywords, you should find an additional 5–10 words that complement the primary keyword. I typically keep these words stack ranked in an excel file, so I can quickly find which words to utilize in my content.
Now that you know which keywords to target, how do you implement an approach that allows Google to find you? There a handful of ways to accomplish this.
1. Create web pages with keywords:
With this approach, you create web pages titled with each of your short tail words. The idea here again is that it will help search engines find your website when someone enters that specific keyword. Let’s take an example to explore this approach for an in-home education company. A keyword on the short tail list could be “home math tutoring”. I then create a page titled “home math tutoring” that provides informational content on this particular service offered. I would do the same for all the other services provided to increase the likelihood of this website appearing in search results related to in-home tutoring.
2. Pictures with keywords in metadata
Your website should be rich with picture content. Ideally, these photos should be unique to you, rather than generic stock images. When you post these photos to your website, be sure to include your keywords in the metadata of the picture, as this will help Google and other search engines find your site when people search for your keyword.
3. Articles that include your keywords and business name:
The goal with this approach is to create articles that include keywords on your short tail list so Google’s algorithm can suggest your content when someone makes a search. You want to be careful not to overuse these keywords as it can have adverse consequences on search results. I like writing articles on Medium to then post on the blog section of my website. Tying the two together allows me to create easily shareable content while simultaneously enabling me to leverage another SEO tactic called backlinking. You can share these articles on other social media sites to maximize the potential reach.
We mentioned this term earlier, but what exactly does it mean, and more importantly, how do you implement this tactic? A backlink is simply a link to your page that exists on a different website. This tool is powerful for getting Google to rank your site. The reason for this is because your link appears “important” by existing on other sites. The more well known the webpage is where your backlink exists, the more important your site appears to a search algorithm. For example, if Forbes writes a post that includes your webpage, you will rank higher than if your address shows up on some no-name website.
Get strategic for appearing on these “high-profile” web pages. One way I have done this in the past is by publishing press releases when some announcement or event occurs. Once the release gets picked up by larger publications, I can create backlinks from dozens of high-profile websites by including my link in the original post. This can be expensive to implement, so do so sparingly. An additional tip is to make sure you include your website address on every social media platform you utilize.
There is no secret formula for SEO. It requires patience, persistence and more patience. Unfortunately, the digital marketing world is riddled with “SEO Experts” which is frustrating as much as it is a disservice to those who genuinely need help. Hopefully, these tips and tricks are enough to get you going, and when the time is right, look for a well-reviewed expert to take you up a notch. My final piece of advice, if someone promises to get your site ranked in the first three results on Google in a super short time frame, it is a scam and run for the hills!
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