SEO stands for search engine optimization. If you’re reading this, then I assume you already know this. If not, then you may want to learn the SEO basics first. This post is geared towards those with a basic understanding of SEO and are looking for an SEO strategy that’s easy to implement.
There are many search engines available to optimize, but I will be referencing Google since they have the majority of the market share. The SEO arena is full of “experts”, checklists, “how-tos” and jargon that can leave you dazed and confused. SEO can get very technical, but it doesn’t always have to be. Believe it or not, some companies/bloggers/entrepreneurs will deliver great content and accidentally stumble upon search engine success. I have created a list of the top 5 action items you can take to stumble upon the same kind of greatness:
Keyword Research & URL Mapping
When I’m asked to identify the most important aspect of an SEO strategy I always respond with “keyword research and url mapping.” Keyword research and url mapping enables you to see how people search, what they’re searching for, how many times a month keywords are searched, and determine the intentions of the user.
Knowing how people search and their intentions helps direct you on how to map out your website (pages you create and how users flow to these pages). Create a free Google Adwords account so that you can use the Keyword Planner tool. This helps you discover keyword opportunities (you can also use paid services like Moz Keyword Explorer or SEMRush).
Login to Google Adwords and go to the Keyword Planner Tool. Here, is where you’ll be looking for ideas to identify what keyword phrases users are searching for.
Once you open the Keyword Planner you want to select “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category.”
Type in your product or services along with the targeted locations (i.e. “plumber” in “Dallas, TX.”). Using the root keywood/service (i.e.”plumber”) with a targeted location, returns a broader list of keyword phrases and their variations. The Keyword Planner Tool generates a list of keyword ideas/phrases with a search volume total. Spend some time here and look for all the keywords that match up with your business or website. Make a list of individual keyword phrases that pertain to your business and keep this labeled as “List 1”.
Now, go back to the homescreen of the Keyword Tool and select “Get search volume data and trends” and clear “Targeting” to show “All locations”. Enter all the keywords from the list you compiled above (list 1) and add your targeted city name after the keyword phrase. Here’s an example:
“toilet repair dallas”
“plumbing services dallas”
These are called geo-targeted keywords and will give you a list of exact phrases and the average monthly search volume for each keyword. Move all the keyword phrases with their search volume to create “List 2”.
Now, go back to the Keyword Planner Tool home screen and select “Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords”. Enter the broad keyword phrases under “List 1” and the geo-targeted keyword phrases under “List 2”. Also, make sure that your “Targeting” is set back to the target location and click search.
This will generate a final list of keyword ideas for you. Move any additional keyword phrases to this list. Now that you have your keyword phrases picked out, group them based on services/categories/topics. You need to group all of the keywords together based on the intention of the keyword. There will be multiple variations of very similar keyword phrases. You will want to group these together.
Here’s an example using Plumbers Dallas;
plumber, plumbing company, plumber dallas, dallas plumber, plumber dallas tx, plumbing services dallas,
Page: Water Heaters
water heater repair dallas, dallas tankless water heaters, water heater replacement dallas, water heater installation dallas,
Hopefully you understand where I am going with this.
Once grouped, you can then assign them to the individual pages within your website. If your website is already live, then you will need to assign the keyword groups to your relative website pages. Then you can create additional pages to accommodate for the remaining keyword groups. If you are in the planning phase of your site, then you need to create the URLs for the pages you intend to build and assign keyword groups to them.
You’ve now completed the single most important part of any strategy for SEO.
Ok, you have all your URLs mapped out with the right keyword groups, right? Now, you need to write and optimize the copy/text. If you’re not the type that can write copy, there are many paid services that will write your copy for you. However, if you go this route, make sure you’re thorough with your explanation of topics, keyword groups/variations, and your preferred style of writing (i.e.informative vs. persuasive) in order to effectively deliver your ideas.
You can write as few as 300 words of copy/content or as many as 1,500 words. The best practice is to see what your competition is doing (by competition, I mean someone ranking on the first page for the same keywords).
Another way to generate copy/content is to curate it by pulling content from multiple sources to deliver one main idea. This is a powerful technique if done right.
Write your title tag. The title tag needs to have the most prominent keyword included, but needs to be displayed in a non-spammy way. I still see some SEOs using title tags like “Dallas Plumber | Dallas Plumbing Company | Plumbers Dallas”.
Do not do this. It looks bad and spammy.
Google’s search engine is more sophisticated with the roll out of RankBrain. Google can now pick up on synonyms, semantics (keyword variations including synonyms) and user intentions. If I’m using my example above, then I would want to create a title tag like, “Dallas Plumbers : [Company Name] – #1 Plumbing Company”
Tailor your title tags to be as personalized as possible to the specific business to create a more natural reading experience. The idea is to use as many variations as you can without destroying the readability and user comprehension.
Write your meta description. This is the description section of the listings on the SERP (search engine ranking page), which appears under the title tag. Your meta description should tailor to user experience/intent and engage users by using clear call-to-actions (i.e. “call us today.” or “find out more.”) Google does not consider meta descriptions as a ranking factor, so it is unnecessary to try and stuff as many keywords as possible in your description.
Write your headings. The heading will consist of H1 – H6 tags. You need to include your most prominent keyword in the H1 or H2 tag that begins your copy. In the case of my above example my H1 tag would be; “Dallas Plumbers”
How many H tags you create depends on how many words of copy/text you have for your page. You will only need one H1 or H2 (depends on your preference) and at least one H3 – H6 tag.
The H3 – H6 tag should include one of the variations or semantic keywords.
Keyword Variations & Semantics
Insert semantic keywords. As you edit your copy, you need to insert the variations of the keyword phrases throughout the copy (using the keywords that you grouped together). There’s not an exact science to this, however; you should always ask yourself “Does this read naturally?”
Bold & Italic
Insert bold and italics. You want to add bold and italics to the keyword phrases and variations. Do not repeat the bold for the same keyword. For example, if you bolded “plumber dallas” then do not bold “dallas plumber.”
“Dallas”, “plumber”, and “plumbing” should only be bolded and italicized once.
Internal links are links created on individual pages that direct you to other pages within your website. Links are still the most important ranking factor and links from your own site are the easiest to get. Creating internal links will also increase your crawl budget (frequency of how often search engine bots crawl your site) and pass link juice to pages within your site. When creating internal links, you should look for natural opportunities to include anchor text that describes the page you’re linking to. For example;
The homepage from my example is being optimized for Dallas Plumber. Under the “About” section of this home page, I would include anchor text to the following copy;
“Here at Joe Blow Plumbing we specialize in: slab leaks (this would link to a “slab leak” page), hot water heater installation, …. “
The idea is to make sure that all your pages are linked together and the anchor text you’re using is long tailed and descriptive. You should also create internal links on your most popular high traffic pages, which then link to your less prominent (but still relevant) pages. This increases page views and sessions, thereby contributing to your rankings.
Submit SiteMap to Google Search Console
This process is very easy. If you’re using WordPress, then I suggest downloading YoastSEO and create an XML Sitemap. If you are not using WordPress, then you should be able to find a XML sitemap generator. Go to Google Search Console and add your website (you will need to setup Google Analytics as well). When you add your site, you will need to add all versions (www, non-www, http, https).
Once you have submitted and verified your site, then you will need to add the XML sitemap. This will get Google to crawl and index your website. You can also check and monitor errors here.
Create and Promote Content
You should have already created base content relevant to the products and services you offer. This content has to be shared and promoted. Now, you should create a continuous stream of content via your blog or other content sections of your website.
You should repeat the Keyword Research & URL Mapping step of this post to discover new topics to write about. This should include: how-tos, F.A.Qs, and other commonly asked questions relative to your products and services. You can also get content ideas from your competitors.
Publishing posts to your blog is never enough. Actually, that’s less than half the battle. Now, you need to promote your content. The magic happens once you start getting links back to your post. Here are some ways to promote your blog post:
- Social Media
Posting and creating a social media following can gain social signals (i.e. Likes, comments, shares, retweets, pins), which can have a positive impact on your rankings.
- Influencer Outreach
This requires you to look for influencers in your industry and ask them to promote your content. There are many techniques for getting influencers to publish your content.
One technique you can use is to find an influencer in your niche and study their content. Find a topic that they’re missing and write on that topic. Once you engage them, it will seem like you’re tailoring towards their audience.
There are other sites like HARO that can help you find an influencer.
- Niche Blogs/Forums
Find forums and blogs within your niche. Find conversations pertaining to topics you wrote about and engage the users. Provide relevant pieces of your article along with the link to your full post encouraging them to read more.
These are just a few tricks you can use to promote your content. (Read: If Content is King then Content Promotion is Queen)
There are many factors (over 200 according to some experts) that influence search engine rankings. If the five factors mentioned above are mastered, you can have great success with your SEO without even knowing exactly how you accomplished that success.
If you find yourself wanting to learn more or maybe you are in a more competitive market, feel free to get a free consultation from one of our Digital Strategists today.
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