Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine for particular keywords. If you do business on the internet, a top rank on search engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing) is a primary requirement. But even the best SEO strategy and execution takes time to achieve results – generally 2 to 6 months depending on the steps you take and the competition for the keywords you pursue.
What do the numbers tell us about the importance of SEO?
- 54% of people come to a website from a search engine (source: Forrester)
- 94% of search engine users click on organic search results (source: Search Engine Watch)
- 34% click on the website in the 1st position; 95% click on search results from the 1st page (source: Prokell SEO)
So what are you waiting for? Here are 11 tips and tools to jump-start your SEO.
- DEFINE WHAT YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DO: Just getting to a top rank doesn’t produce sales. But subscribing to an email, downloading product information, registering for a trial offer or buying something from your site does. So be clear what you want people to do when they get to your site. The percent of people who visit your site and take the actions you want is called conversion. Define conversion activities at the start.
- IDENTIFY KEYWORDS THAT MATTER: The currency of the internet is keywords. Consumers tell you what they want in the query box of search engines. Google Trends tells you what keywords consumers use and when.
- FIND SEARCH VOLUME FOR KEYWORDS: Now that you know the keywords that matter, use a tool like the Google Keyword Planner, WordSteam or Wordtracker to get search volume for specific keywords. So you know exactly how many times people search for a specific keyword.
- LEARN FROM THE COMPETITION: You can compare your keywords to competitors through online resources like Alexa (free) and Compete (paid). This guides you and helps with differentiation for your brand. Keywords that drive traffic for your brand may also keywords for big brands that are always going to have a higher rank than most companies. You might need to add a word, brand name or location to achieve a high rank for your business. This refers to “long-tail” vs. “short tail” keywords. It’s a way the little guys can compete with the big guys and win because the appeal is more direct to consumers looking for what you have to offer and the conversion rate is higher.
- DETERMINE WHERE TO PUT KEYWORDS ON YOUR SITE: Now that you know what keywords to emphasize, you need to know where to put them on your site. The best places to put keywords are in the: URL, Title Tag, Meta Description, Headers and Subheader, Page content, Anchor text and Alt text. It’s important to give the right signals to the search engines but they don’t buy your product, people do. So, strong content is equally important to the placement of keywords.
- IDENTITY AUTHORITATIVE LINKS: Keywords provide relevance but search engine raise your rank if you’re seen as an authority in your field. Authority is gained from websites that use links to reference your site. Majestic SEO lets you know the sites that link into your site and their authority. This gives you an idea for the type of sites you should feature. Link building in an important part of your SEO strategy
- KNOW THE NUMBER OF PAGES YOUR SITE IS INDEXED: It’s important to achieve a top rank on search pages. It’s also important to know how many search pages your site is listed. This is known as the number of pages your site is indexed. Marketing Grader from HubSpot can tell you.
- USE CONTENT MARKETING TO RAISE YOUR RANK: The use of a blog on your website creates another web page with each blog post. This is another opportunity to place keywords, links, get indexed on more search pages and, most important, give information visitors look forward to getting.
- GENERATE OUTREACH AND VISIBILITY WITH SOCIAL MEDIA: Your social network pages like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ not only provide outreach but additional ranking on search pages so your business can appear multiple times on a search page.
- MEASURE PROGRESS REGULARLY: Set up a measurement plan. Look at the rank of the keywords regularly to know how you’re progressing. Examine the authority of the links and the number of pages indexed. In the Google Anlaytics of your website, see if more website traffic is coming from search engines.
- DETERMINE THE ROI OF SEO: Companies spend a lot of time and money on SEO but does it “show you the money?” If you’ve set up a measurement plan, defined conversion activities and worked at the execution, you have what tools to know the ROI of SEO.
These tips and tools are some of what you learn in the Biznology JumpStart Workshop on Search Marketing. It’s designed so you and your company learn the skills and see the ROI of SEO.
Did these tips and tools help you see how to jump-start your SEO?
About Rob Petersen
Rob Petersen is an experienced advertising and marketing executive and President of BarnRaisers, a full service digital marketing agency that builds brands based on proven relationship principles and ROI. He is on the MBA Faculty of Rutgers CMD and is the author of two books on digital marketing.