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SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. In practice it means following a specific process to make content on your website show up higher on a search engine result page. But how does this process work?
Any marketer worth his salt will lead with one question: who is the ideal client?
For your business, the ideal client could be a first-time parent, a middle-class construction laborer, or a full-time student with a part-time job and a big-time student loan payment.
Best-case scenario, your ideal client is hyper-specific. Let’s say an ambitious housewife with curly red hair, a best friend named Ethel, and a penchant for trouble.
Imagine you’re sitting in your marketing manager’s office. You’ve just described this ideal client and you’re waiting to see what happens next.
Then, he stands. He pulls a huge fishing net from under his desk and he walks to an open window. As he throws his net outside, you think, "What is actually happening?" (Is this analogy getting weird? Please stay with us.) Your marketing manager groans as his net grows heavy with the catch. He begins to pull in the haul as you lean over the windowsill to see what he’s got.
Its hundreds, no...thousands, of Lucy Ricardos!
This, in a nutshell, is what good SEO offers. You discover what your ideal client looks like and create content they will find on Google, and then hopefully, rake in the sales.
Of course, it’s not strictly that easy. SEO is not a one-and-done deal. But if you keep reading, we’ll help you get started.
Discover what your ideal client looks like, then create attractive content your ideal client will find on Google.
In ye olden days, consumers would find businesses by searching the yellow pages. Today, all it takes is a quick internet search. And when your ideal client types a query into their search bar, you want to be perched on the top of that results list.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen magically. If you want to top the results, you’ve gotta work for it. And since Google is the Omnipotent King of the Internet, your first goal is this: please Google.
Lucky for us, pleasing Google and pleasing the consumer go hand in hand. That’s because Google algorithms are designed to help searchers find exactly what they’re looking for. All you have to do is convince the search engine that what a searcher wants is you.
Of course, you don’t need Google to send every searcher your way. You just need those specific ones who fall into the category of “ideal client.” The Lucy Ricardos, if you will. To do that, you’ll have to get into their curly redheads and discover what they are searching for. Easier said than done, but there are a plethora of tools that can help you along the way.
Step One: Establish an SEO Baseline
At the end of your SEO journey, you’ll want to look back and see how far you’ve come. To do that, you need to establish a baseline.
There are several tools to help track your SEO performance. There’s Ubersuggest, Google Search Console, Ahreft, SEMRush, and SearchMetrics to name a few.
Use any of these tools to keep an eye on your target keywords and how often they are searched. Then, keep track of how your website ranks for these keywords. You can even get new ideas for keywords, should you decide to expand your efforts.
Did we lose you at “keyword?” Keep reading.
Step Two: Pick Some Super Specific Keywords
In the SEO world, “keywords” or “keyword phrases” are terms you will hear a ton. So what are they?
Put simply, a keyword is a word (or phrase) that you use throughout your website content to draw traffic. You’ll want to pick a phrase that you believe your ideal client will type into the search bar. Better yet, you’ll want to pick a phrase that you know your ideal client will be searching for. (Remember, you can use some of the tools we mentioned earlier to identify popular keywords and keyword phrases.)
If that phrase is “ToasterTubs,” you’ll need to create content that includes this term. However, that does not mean you should try stuffing “ToasterTubs” into every other sentence. Google wants to recommend websites that have great content, so do your best to keep things natural.
Basically, you want to:
Pick a keyword that gets searched a lot
Rank high for that keyword
Once you’ve completed that first step, you’ll be ready to move on to the next. But how?
Step Three: Create Some Killer Content
Good content is good SEO and great content is great SEO. A common phrase for digital marketing is “Content is King.” This is what we have seen as a trend with search engines like Google. As many changes Google makes to their algorithms, in the end, they want to provide the content the searchers are looking for.
Basically, the more traffic you create organically, the more Google pays attention. In other words, you need to earn your website’s visitors, not pay for them. You want your readers to want to be there, ya know?
Let’s go back to the “ToasterTubs” example. What would good content look like for that keyword phrase? Here are a few ideas:
A series of blog posts that show the benefits of having a toaster attached to your hot tub.
A landing page that shares the captivating story of your awesome mascot, Toasty!
A product page that shows the excellent value you can get with a ToasterTub.
These content sources will give you ample opportunities to use the keyword. Plus, they’re the type of material that will keep a searcher of “ToasterTubs” interested. The more time a searcher spends on your site, the better.
Step Four: Keep Learning
So far, we’ve covered a few of the basic techniques for SEO. In truth, we could create an entire series dedicated to the subject. (Should we? Let us know.)
As the final step of your beginner’s guide to SEO, we recommend that you just . . . keep going. There’s a lot to learn, but you can take it in small bites. The topics we’ve covered in this article fall under the umbrella of “On-Page SEO.” In all, there are three subcategories.
This covers content and keywords, which we’ve already touched on. What we didn’t mention, is that you can expand your efforts to create a plan for each and every page of your website. So, for your homepage, you may target one set of keywords. And for a services page, you may target an entirely different set.
You’ll also need to get familiar with terms like meta descriptions, title tags, image optimization, and more. On-page SEO encompasses everything that happens on your web page.
Off-page SEO, as the name suggests, refers to your SEO efforts that take place off-site, or on websites other than your own. This comes down to link building. Let us explain.
Imagine that your business is at a convention with other industry experts, and Google happens to be there too. You could talk to Google about why your business deserves to rank first for “ToasterTubs,” and you might have some success.
Or, you could make sure that Google hears the other industry experts talking about your business and how great it is. Then, you’d be much more likely to achieve a higher ranking.
This is how link building works. You get other people to refer you to Google by linking to your website from their own. Now, you could do this in a shady way by paying for links. Or, you could put in some work to earn your links organically.
Try . . .
Writing guest posts for other blogs in the industry
Adding your business to relevant directories (like Google My Business)
Building relationships within your area and industry
Is this really worth the effort? We think so. Backlinking (getting other websites to link to a page on your website) is an important factor for Google rankings (with quality content being the 1st.)
You could have killer content and a deluge of backlinks. But if your website is slow, difficult to use, and unappealing, it won’t matter much. This is where Technical SEO comes into play.
Of course, Technical SEO could fall under the umbrella of On-Page SEO. But it’s important enough to get its own subcategory. It’s essentially the process of making your website beautiful, secure, and easy to use.
If you want to get started with Technical SEO, you might talk to your website manager about:
Making your site mobile-friendly.
Using an SSL (a piece of code that keeps website communication secure).
Eliminating duplicate content.
Creating an XML sitemap (so that Google has an easier time analyzing your website’s data).
Do we recommend you take these suggestions and implement them all at once? Probably not, unless you have a death-by-brain-glitch wish. But you can certainly try a few and see where the journey takes you!