Introduction to SEO: The Basic Steps
By Nick Maus
What Do I Optimize First?
If you have read some of my other blogs on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), or the countless others on the internet, you know that there are over 200 different parameters that search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing look at to determine your organic ranking.
We even have a guidebook that gives best practices and examples of how to properly optimize your website using best practices.
But it still leaves one big question… What do I optimize first?
With so many different things to take in to consideration such as keyword research, content, internal and external links, technical SEO and the others, not having a focus or plan of action can result in disarray or frustration.
There are countless strategies to optimize your website and this is just one of them:
STEP 1 – Keyword Research
First and foremost, you need a plan. What is the goal of the website? Are you selling a product, educating a group and sharing ideas, or something else?
This will help guide your keyword research. But before we go there let’s take one step back and define what keyword research is and why it’s important.
Keyword research is the process of gathering data around which words and phrases are commonly searched by your target audience, and the frequency of those searches.
This will become critical in everything else you do throughout your optimizations. You have to remember that in most cases you are not building a website for you, you are building it for your viewers. The terms and phrases you would search may not be the terms and phrases your audience is searching.
If your focus keywords are different than what your audience is searching they won’t be able to find you! And after all, SEO is all about being found by your audience during their searches.
STEP 2 – Content Creation
You’ve done your keyword research and identified the terms and phrases that are best for your to focus on, now what?
Time to build some content!
Content is more than just the words on your web pages. It’s everything else including your images, videos, testimonials, audio, games, animations and more.
When developing content such as blogs, articles, verbiage on the site, etc. you should find natural ways to inject those keywords and phrases in to you content in a way that makes sense while AVOIDING KEYWORD STUFFING! Keyword stuffing actually get you penalized by the search engines and reduce your ranking.
Also, avoid using the same focus keyword on multiple on pages. This can be very confusing to the search engines. Structure your content in a way that gives every page a clear purpose with content that is different than your other pages.
When it comes to images, videos, and everything else, you will still use the same keyword research but the keywords will fall more under the technical SEO compartment.
STEP 3 – Onsite SEO
Onsite SEO should be fairly simple at this point. You have already injected your keywords in to the pages, which is one component of onsite SEO, but there are still some extra things you can do.
It’s extremely likely that your content on one page will refer to content on another page. Use internal linking to help guide your users through your website and keep them engaged in the content.
Internal linking is the process of hyperlinking pieces of your content to other pieces of content within your website. For other onsite SEO best practices, tips and tricks, you can download our SEO Guidebook.
See what I did there? That link above that takes you to the SEO Guidebook is an internal link!
STEP 4 – Technical SEO
Technical SEO is probably the most overlooked type of SEO that we see here at Pinckney Marketing.
Technical SEO encompasses a large and somewhat complex piece of the SEO pie. This is how your content is displayed on search results, how search engines crawl your pages and which pages they will crawl, the language preferences and coding that is used, mobile friendliness and so much more!
When I get questions about why a website isn’t ranking, there are almost always technical SEO issues that are causing the site to be penalized.
If you are not well versed in technical SEO there are many books and guides on the market to help you understand what does what, and the best way to do it.
STEP 5 – Offsite SEO
You’re almost there! Keyword research is complete, great compelling content has been created, you’ve injected keywords and made internal links to keep your viewer engaged, the technical part is done so the search engines can clearly understand your site and its’ content.
Now it’s time to share it with the world!
Offsite SEO is everything that happens outside of your website that helps promote your ranking.
Having other credible and reputable sites link back to your website or mention your company gives you one of the highest SEO boosts available.
Think of it this way, if you are starting your own line of soft drinks, would you prefer to have Coca Cola and Pepsi recognizing you as a legitimate company and linking back to your site, or your neighbor down the street that bottles his own soda and sells at the local farmers’ market that nobody outside of a five-mile radius has heard of?
Search engines look at industry leaders as a way to validate other companies in the same industry.
Having your site indexed with a wide variety of directories is important, but they have to make sense just like in the example above.
One of the easiest techniques you can implement is claiming and verifying your site with the different search engines. The concept is simple, if you claim and verify your company on Google then you are more likely to come up in a Google Search.
This 5 step process is just one approach on how to optimize your website but you may find a process that works better for your individual needs. These are only a few examples of techniques you can take advantage of to help improve your ranking.
For a deeper dive in to the list you can download our SEO Guidebook.