Want to feel joyous about your SEO optimization?
This simple guide will walk you through simple steps to get you there.
SEO is alive and well!
The proof is in the numbers:
- 57% of B2B marketers stated that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing initiative.
- 81% of people perform some type of online research before making a large purchase.
- 72% of consumers who perform a local search visit a store within 5 miles of their current location.
Make those numbers work for you by following the steps below.
First, Understand the Basics of SEO Optimization
Before jumping in, it’s important to understand the essentials of SEO.
In a nutshell, SEO is the process of getting free or organic traffic from search results in Google, Bing, etc.
Your SEO efforts will generally be separated into two categories:
- On-page SEO – refers to all the factors you control on your page such as linking, content optimization, page titles, etc.
- Off-page SEO – This includes all factors off page, such as social media networking, blog promotion, etc.
With off-page, you also have to address the technical side.
Technical SEO happens behind the scenes. Its primary concern is to make it easy for search engine spiders to crawl and index your site.
But the first step to SEO success is to understand what search engines look for.
In 2017, the most important ranking factors are:
- Mobile optimization
- Technical SEO
Learn the Difference Between Blackhat and Whitehat SEO Optimization
SEO isn’t always straightforward.
And unless you know the rules, it can be easy to get caught up in bad business. In the SEO world, we call it blackhat.
Blackhat SEO practices are those that are used to increase a site’s rank, but violate a search engine’s terms of services.
While they used to be more commonplace, Google will now give sites they deem as using blackhat SEO a penalty, which has a negative impact on that site’s ranking.
To steer clear of blackhat and Google penalties, avoid the following:
- Keyword stuffing
- Anchor text overuse
- Unnatural link promotion
- Automatically generated content
- Too many links leading to your homepage – make sure your links are distributed sitewide
- Hidden text
Install Google Analytics for SEO Optimization
SEO rookie mistake? Not measuring or tracking your efforts.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools to help you with that.
At the top of the list is Google Analytics. Using it, you can:
- View your organic search traffic
- Look for improvements or declines in conversions in the Conversions Report
- Identify some technical issues like slow page loading times
- Identify top organic keywords
Installation is a cinch as well.
- Login or create an account with Google
- Set up a property in your Analytics account (a website or app)
- Set up a reporting view in your property to filter data
- Add a tracking code to your website or app
Set up your tracking in SEMrush or another tool
Once Analytics is good to go, you’ll want to dig in a little deeper and set up a keyword tracking tool.
There are multiple great ones to choose from. Personally, I like and use SEMrush.
Using their Position Tracking tool, you can monitor national and local search engine positions for any keyword:
- Track your site’s ranking for target keywords in Google’s top 100 organic and paid results
- Keep track of competitor’s keyword rankings
- Create multilingual campaigns for any location
- Group keywords with tags
Install Google Search Console
This is a big one, and a must in the SEO tools category.
Google Search Console is a free service that helps companies and marketers monitor their performance in search indexes.
Using it, you can better analyze and optimize your SEO efforts. You’ll see what is and isn’t working to better strategize in the future.
The Google Search Console menu is divided into sections, including:
- Search Appearance – structured data, sitelinks, Accelerated mobile pages, etc.
- Search Traffic – search analytics, links to your site, external links, etc.
- Google Index – Index status, content keywords, etc.
- Crawl – crawl errors, crawl status, robots.txt tester, etc.
Set Up Bing Search Console SEO Optimization
Though not as prominent on the search scene as Google, don’t discredit Bing.
Why? Because 1 in 5 people use Bing for searching.
To stay on top of the SEO optimization game, you want to cover all your bases – and clearly, that includes Bing.
Bing Search Console, much like Google Search Console, will allow you to monitor and improve your performance on Bing’s search engine.
To learn more about Bing and how it’s different from Google, watch this video.
Create a Sitemap and Submit It To Bing and Google Search Console SEO Optimization
Sitemaps list all the links to each page of your website, with the most authoritative pages at the top.
XML sitemaps in particular help search engines find the most important URLs for your site.
They tell search engines which pages you want to be crawled, and which pages are priorities.
As you create yours, keep in mind that they should be updated frequently with any new links to avoid any broken URLs.
Sitemaps are a very important part of any SEO strategy! In this video, John Lincoln teaches us how to use sitemaps for SEO.
Make Sure You Have A Robots.txt File for SEO Optimization
Another major component of technical SEO is your robots.txt file.
These are used to tell search engines which pages or content you don’t want to be indexed.
Be careful when creating or updating – a simple “disallow” in the wrong place can cause damage.
Read our full guide on robots.txt files for more information on set up and implementation.
Determine the Type Of SEO You Need for SEO Optimization
SEO is a broad concept, but can (and should!) be narrowed to achieve your specific goals.
For example, focusing on local SEO will get you quicker results with less competition.
National or international will take longer to see results, but will yield the highest in the end.
Which you choose depends on your business, location, customer base and overall goals.
- International SEO – refers to the process of optimizing so that search engines which countries you want to target and which languages they speak; use if a significant part of your traffic comes from other countries
- Local SEO – optimized by location based searches for a specific region; use if you have a physical store location in a given area
- National SEO – focuses on optimizing keywords and driving traffic on a national level
- News SEO – optimizes news-based sites for
- Lead Generation – focuses on optimizing SEO specifically for lead generation
- Ecommerce – focuses on optimizing homepages, product pages for ecommerce sites
Do Competitive Analysis and Find Every Keyword In Your Space for SEO Optimization
Understanding who your competitors are and what they rank (and outrank) you for is crucial to successful SEO optimization.
One of the areas you’ll want to focus on is keyword research. Are you using the same target keywords as your competitors? Are they outranking you, or making more money on PPC using the same keywords?
There are plenty of tools designed for exactly those purposes, including SpyFu, SEMrush, and Keyword Competitor.
Segment Out Your Money Keywords And Secondary Keywords for SEO Optimization
Anyone even somewhat familiar with SEO knows the importance of keywords.
But of course, not all keywords are created equal. Which is why you need to segment them by importance.
Your money (or primary) keywords are pretty straightforward – they’re the ones that make you money. As you test and monitor your campaign’s performance, you’ll begin to see which ones are producing the most clicks and conversions.
Going forward, these are ones you want to focus on for PPC, etc.
Your secondary keywords will generally have lower search volumes, but still be included in throughout your content and web pages.
Determine Where You Will Target Terms
Once you’ve identified the best keywords for your business, you have to decide where to best target those terms, such as:
- Homepage – Include your target, or primary keyword here
- Your Blog – These can include timely keywords, and more specific keywords that your niche tends to search for
- Your Service Pages – Include specific service keywords on the pages they correlate with
- Your Category pages – Like the service pages, include any specific category keywords
- Your Product Pages – If you’re running an ecommerce business especially, you’ll want to place relevant keywords on all product pages
Create A Plan For Rolling Out And Optimizing Content On Your Site
Successful marketing starts with strategy.
Before you begin to implement your SEO optimization, think about how you’ll do it, and what you’re trying to achieve.
There are several ways to approach your SEO strategy, which can include, longform content, becoming a thought leader, producing industry studies, etc.
Think About The Search Volume, CTR and Conversions for SEO Optimization
This is where you’ll want to set achievable goals for your efforts.
Think about it, and be as specific as possible. Are you trying to double your web traffic? Appear in more searches? Ultimately, sell more?
What you decide is most important to your company will determine how you track and analyze your SEO optimization campaign.
Create An External Linking Strategy for SEO Optimization
Linking is major for SEO and is generally considered one of the most important factors for achieving high ranks in search engines.
Make sure you get yours right by creating a strategy for external linking.
External links are links from other sites that lead back to yours. And some are better than others.
Keep in mind that search engines like Google take many signals into consideration when ranking links, including:
- The trustworthiness of the domain
- The popularity of the domain
- The relevancy of the content between the two pages
To launch an effective campaign, considering reaching out to influencers in your niche and continuously creating timely, buzzworthy content to generate shares.
Set Up All Your Social Media And Start Posting for SEO Optimization
Speaking of linking, one of the most effective ways of getting links out there is through your own social media pages.
Any time you publish new content, post it on social media. Periodically promote your services on social media. Link to relevant thought leaders and articles in your niche.
Though not an official ranking factor for Google, there is a direct correlation between sites that perform well on social media and rank high in search engines.
The more popular your content on social sites, the more shares and links you will get, therefore indirectly increasing your rank.
Do Something Creative To Generate Buzz And Links for SEO Optimization
As we just discussed, popular content gets more links and shares – on social media and your site.
In order to create that content, you’ll need to come up with a creative way to deliver your information.
Once You Get Traffic Make Sure It is Converting
This is where all those Google and Bing services you installed come in handy.
As you implement your campaign, pay special attention to:
- Traffic sources
- New visitor conversion
- Return visitor conversion
- Interactions per visit
- Bounce rate
These and more can be tracked in Google Analytics.
If you find your traffic isn’t converting, look into where you lost them and how you can improve performance.
If Things Are Working, Ramp Up Your Content and Linking
Last but not least, once you’ve found what works, keep at it.
If your linking strategy is successful, keep building. Reach out to more influencers and share more of their content.
Keep sharing content that’s proven popular – more often. If you were churning out three blog posts a week, increase it to five, and watch your traffic increase with it.
SEO Optimization FAQ
1. What Is Ecommerce SEO Optimization?
SEO optimization for ecommerce sites is different than SEO optimization for content sites or news sites.
For starters, you should find the keywords relevant to your home page and your product pages. Then, optimize each page accordingly.
Next, it’s a good idea to employ a tool like Screaming Frog to find errors on your site. That’s especially helpful if you’ve got thousands of product pages and have no time to go through each of them manually.
You’ll also want to make sure that your site is lightning fast. Slow pages can lose you sales.
Finally, use Schema markup on your product pages so that the search engines display rich snippets in the search results.
2. What Factors Influence a Google Ranking?
Before you jump into SEO optimization, it’s a good idea to understand what factors influence a Google ranking. Here are the top three (in no particular order):
- Content – Google is looking for high-quality, shareable, unique, and probably long form content. If you’re using content marketing to get the word out about your brand, make sure that you produce in-depth articles that answer the questions asked by people in your target market.
- Backlinks – One of the ways Google determines that your site is an authority in its niche is by looking at its backlink profile. If lots of high-profile sites are linking to your content, then Google will determine that it deserves a spot closer to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
- RankBrain – Google’s third most important ranking factor is its AI system, called RankBrain. It goes beyond the exact words of the search query to determine a little bit more about user intent.
3. How Do I Handle International SEO Optimization?
If you’re in a global market, it’s likely that you’ll need to go beyond basic SEO optimization and look at international SEO optimization. Here are steps you should take to do that:
- Use international URL structures – You’ll need a unique URL for each of your targeted national audiences. There are several ways you can do that:
- Create a new domain with the appropriate country extension. For example: mysite.us and mysite.ca.
- Create a subdomain unique to each country. For example: us.mysite.com and ca.mysite.com.
- Create a subdirectory unique to each country. For example: mysite.com/us and mysite.com/ca
- Use a language parameter. For example: mysite.com?lang=us and mysite.com?lang=ca
- Use the hreflang tag – The hreflang meta tag tells Google that your content is available in an alternate language. Here’s an example of a tag that tells Google another version of the page is available in French: <link rel=”alternate” href=”https://mysite.com/fr” hreflang=”fr=fr”/>
- Tailor your content to your audience’s culture – You’ll likely find that the kind of marketing that works in the U.S. is totally different than the kind of marketing that works in Japan. Adapt your content strategy accordingly.
4. How Do I Check for SEO Optimization?
You could manually check your website for basic optimization strategies, but it’s better to let a tool do all the heavy lifting for you. Here are some of the best SEO site audit tools:
- Google Search Console – You can’t go wrong with a free tool that’s offered by the Big G itself. Be sure to check messages regularly to see if there are any problems with your site.
- Screaming Frog – You’ll have to install this one as it doesn’t run in the cloud. Screaming Frog will, however, give your site a thorough audit.
- Varvy SEO Audit Tool – A free utility that will check everything from image optimization to social mentions.
5. How Do I Write for SEO Optimization?
If you’re into content marketing, you’ll want to produce blog posts that rank well in the search engines.
Start by researching keywords relevant to your niche. Then, write a new article for each keyword you find.
Make sure your keyword is included in the title and first paragraph of the content. It’s a good idea to put it in a few of your subheaders as well.
Also, sprinkle the keyword naturally throughout your blog post. Avoid overstuffing keywords as that could hurt your rank.
6. How Do I Get SEO Optimization on WordPress?
It’s easy to optimize a WordPress website for the search engines. That’s because the Yoast plugin will handle most of the hard work for you.
Even better: Yoast is offered free of charge. Of course, there’s a premium version available, but you can get more than enough use out of it without spending one dime.
Yoast will check your content for readability, handle the technical aspects of SEO, offer internal linking suggestions, and keep itself up to date with the latest changes to search algorithms.
It’s really a must-have.
7. How Do I Get SEO Optimization For Mobile?
With mobile page speed now being a Google ranking factor, it is important to make sure your mobile SEO optimization is on point.
If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest looking into Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
AMP is an open source project developed by Google and Twitter that aims to cut down on load time and increase mobile page performance.
Recent tests have shown load times are cut down between 15 percent to 85 percent.
8. Does HTTPS Affect SEO Optimization?
Absolutely! If you haven’t made the switch from HTTP to HTTPS for SEO optimization, you should do it today.
Not only is HTTPS more secure, but these sites are also indexed first and are recognized as a ranking signal.
In addition, HTTPS sites are faster, which can have a positive influence on click-through rates.
9. Should I Hire An Agency For SEO Optimization?
While you can do SEO optimization yourself, there are certainly times where it’s better to let the experts handle it.
If you’re a small business or a business with small budget, the DIY approach may be the best option. Hiring an agency that does SEO on the cheap, would likely be a bad investment. Remember, you get what you pay for.
However, if you are a large company you will, without a doubt, need to hire an agency or bring an expert, or team of experts, in-house to make sure your SEO is up-to-date and in tip-top shape.
Start Your SEO Optimization Today
SEO optimization requires work.
Luckily, if done well you’ll see major returns.
The steps above are designed to keep your efforts on track and yield big results.