The thought of doing SEO yourself frightens most business owners, but it’s not as hard as you think. Sure, a full on SEO campaign might be challenging to do on your own. But believe me, EVERY business owner can do what I’m about to show.An effective SEO campaign consists of 4 things:
- Technical Optimization
Every SEO campaign starts with identifying keywords. These keywords are what people will search in Google to find your website. They need to be relevant to what you offer.
You can use the Google Keyword Planner to:
A) find keyword ideas and
B) find out how many searches a keyword gets per month.
If you are just starting out with SEO, you should focus your efforts on long-tail keyword. “Long-tail” keywords are phrases that have three or more words. For example, it would be a better idea to target “how to find a plumber” than “plumber”. Long-tail keywords usually have lower competition.
Another way to find keywords and content ideas is to look at niche relevant forums. Go into Google and search “YOUR KEYWORD forum.”
Example: “marketing forum”
Look at the categories and examine which questions are asked the most. These are real people looking for solutions to their problems. You want to solve these problems with the content on your site. Bringing me to the next most important point…
Create Valuable Content
Content is the foundation of any successful campaign. According to this study, 1,500 words is an ideal word length for ranking well in Google. Nothing is more scalable than creating content that informs and educates your prospective customers. The key is to create content that is unique and better than what’s currently ranking on the first page.
Type one of your target keywords in Google and examine the competition. Can you create a piece of content that is better? Longer? More informative? More helpful for customers? Or, can you create a content that is completely unique and different from the others ranking?
There are only two ways to outrank those on the first page: create better content or,
create a piece of content that is different (and better).
The key is to always focus on the user. Always think about what is going to help them most. Never hold anything back and do your best to solve your customer’s problems.
Fix Technical Issues
Many websites suffer from a slew of technical issues that hurt user experience. Google cares about how users interact with your site.
If they are coming to your site and bouncing, then there is a good chance that:
A) your content isn’t good enough or,
B) your site is suffering from severe technical issues.
Some of the biggest technical issues that hurt SEO performance include:
- website loading speed
- broken links
- 404 errors
- redirect issues
Not only do many of these issues hurt user experience, but they also rob your site of authority. There is a direct correlation between site speed and higher rankings. That’s why it needs to be a priority. To see your website’s current loading speed use Google’s website speed tool.
Broken links are annoying and send users to a dead end. You need to do your due-diligence and make sure you decrease the amount of broken links on your site. You can use a plugin like Check My Links to scan your page for broken links. When there’s a broken link, there is usually a 404 page to go with it. Not all 404 errors are bad, only the ones that have link equity.
Use Google Search Console to find 404 errors on your site. If any of these 404 pages have backlinks pointing to them, you need to redirect the 404 page to a live page on your site. You will need to use a tool like Ahrefs or Majestic to see whether these pages have backlinks or not.
You can get all three of the factors above right and still not see results. That’s because Google values backlinks. “Backlinks” are links going to your website. Google views a backlink as a vote. But, this doesn’t mean that all “votes” (backlinks) are the same.
Google can determine the quality of a link as well. That’s why you need to focus your efforts on relevant, trusted link sources. For example, a health company should get backlinks from health-related websites.
Besides getting backlinks, you must also understand HOW to link. In the past, Google’s Penguin algorithm has penalized websites for abusing anchor text. It’s more important than ever that you don’t abuse anchor text. Or, you may end up getting your site penalized. Use intelligent anchor text ratios to avoid any issues down the road.
There is a lot more to an effective SEO campaign, but you now know the principles. Focus your efforts on creating great content and acquiring quality backlinks. There is no need to try to manipulate or “trick” Google into ranking your site. Focus value and quality and you will win in the end.
Nathan Gotch is the founder of Gotch SEO, a St. Louis SEO agency and SEO training company.