The world of search engine optimisation can be a mysterious place with snake oil salesman, offshore freelancers and inevitably a lot of frustration. It isn’t that hard to optimise a site yourself by doing a little bit of work each week to slowly build a site that ranks well on Google.
Optimising your site for good keywords requires a little bit of research. The keyword you think you want, might attract very little traffic or no traffic at all. It also might be highly competitive and make things difficult.
Start by identifying your biggest competitor. Then go to one of the handiest SEO analysis tools available, SEM Rush. Enter your competitors website address and choose the country they operate in. There are two sections in this report that we are mainly concerned about.
Top Organic Keywords
These are the keywords (of any substance) that this site ranks for. The bigger the volume, the bigger the prize (traffic). The CPC (cost per click) is what it would cost to place an ad under that term. Although we’re not talking about buying ads here, it’s a fair indication of how competitive a term might be. For the average small business that’s starting out, a term with a CPC over $10 is potentially getting out of reach without a serious campaign.
Try a few competitors, then try the competitors of your competitors (also in the report). Switch around a few words, add a location to the term, for example ‘web design geelong’. By now you should have a short list of terms that aren’t too competitive but have a reasonable amount of traffic.
Content is without doubt, king. Your site should contain quality, valuable content and if possible be regularly added to. With your keyword list, think about ways you could create a page for EVERY keyword. This could be a regular page, a resource of some kind or just a blog post.
Now jump onto Google, and search the term. Your page HAS to provide better content and offer more value to potential readers than the first few results. They are the benchmark you have to beat. Offer more insight, present the page better, make it more entertaining.
When writing your content you want to ensure you are writing for humans, and not the search engine spiders. It is important however to get your keyword in the following places.
- Page url (the pages address)
- Meta title (what will appear in Google search results)
- The H1 heading tag (usually the page title on most sites)
- The first paragraph
It’s also important the first paragraph addresses the topic and identifies what the page is about. The benefit of this is two fold. Research shows that Google weights the first paragraph more than the rest of a page, but users can quickly see the page answers their question and won’t hop straight back to the search page. So don’t beat around the bush.
Internal links within your site are an easy win for any site owner. Link to some of your new content with the exact keyword text. You’ll have Google thanking you, but your customers will navigate deeper on your site increasing your engagement, page views, time on site, etc.
The number of external links to your site and the quality and relevance of those links are still the number one factor for Google rankings. In the below section of our SEM Rush report we can identify your competitor’s strongest links, and potentially find a way to replicate them. There will of course be some links that you won’t be able to copy, but it’s a great way of identifying potential sites to contact.
Directories are a much easier target to begin with, but ensure that you only submit to directory sites that are a reasonable quality. The internet is filled with spammy, low quality directory sites that will actually do more harm than good.
The next step up is contacting partners, associations, colleagues and sites of relevance to yours. This can be hard work and requires some tactics. The key is being honest in your intentions and genuinely wanting to offer value on your site. Nobody wants to direct customers away from their own site to something spammy, but if your site might actually help their customers, it’s a win win.
You don’t necessarily need a backlink to your homepage either. In fact it’s much better to have a diverse range of pages linked to, with a diverse range of anchor text. 1000 links to my home page with the text ‘web design geelong’ is going to look pretty unnatural to Google. But 1000 links spread out across all of my pages and blog posts show that people really love my website.
If you’ve elevated yourself to a content creation guru you may want to offer to write guest blog posts on popular industry blogs. This has been one of the best ‘big boys’ tactics for some time now. Make sure there’s a link back to your site early on in the article.
There are some reports that Google is starting to reduce the weight these have, but in my opinion they still offer amazing backlink power.
So it’s not that hard to start building up your site for search engine rankings. Identify keywords, write some content, get some links to that content. I’ll be honest, there is plenty more that you can do SEO wise, but this is in essence the foundation for any SEO campaign. I’m confident you will see results using this approach.
If you’d like some advice on what keywords to target for your site, and just some help understanding the report from SEM Rush, get in touch with me on Twitter and I’ll be more than happy to help out.