Beginners Guide: 6 Easy Steps to SEO Success
SEO (search engine optimization) is a mystery to many. And with an acronym like SEO, your automatic thought is "oh no, this is one of those things that's going to leave me with a headache for DAYS". But really--it's simple!
In short, SEO is the process of obtaining website traffic organically (that's right--for free!). It's simply a combo of actively knowing what your visitors are searching for, as well as placing keywords in the right places throughout your page or blog post. But don't be scared--this is easier than it sounds.
If you use WordPress, you can install a Yoast plug-in that will help you evaluate the SEO effectiveness of each blog-- which we have found to be very useful. But even if you're just kicking it old school, these six steps are going to ensure you SEO success!
And don't forget to participate in the fun experiment at the bottom!
Step 1: Pick a keyword.
How the heck do you pick a good one? Well, we're glad you asked. You want to consider what you think people will search to find the information you're providing. What would you search? (Hint: What did you search when doing research for your blog/content? That's a good place to start.) You also want to consider who you're competing with in terms of keywords. If you go too general, you might find yourself competing with really big brands who you're going to have a hard time beating. (For example: Don't try to win the "apple" keyword okay? Even if your orchard has the best darn apples known to mankind. You're JUST not going to win.)
Long-Tail Keywords (three to four word descriptions that are super specific) are often a recommended best practice because they will help drive the kind of traffic that wants exactly what you're offering and more likely to convert. But doing this also means that those who don't know precisely what they want yet, may not find you. In that case, perhaps on certain pages of your site or for certain blogs, you want to keep it a little more general.
Game Changer: It's a delicate waltz, choosing the optimum keyword to get the most traffic and the right kind of traffic--so play with it and see what works best for you. How do you know? Use Google Analytics (your new best friend--if you haven't met already, it's time!) to constantly review what your site visitors are searching, how much traffic you're seeing on varying pages and posts, and how many convert.
Step 2: Ensure keyword is in image files.
You need to consider your keyword (and/or other appropriate search keywords) when choosing your image file name (don't leave it as IMG_4056, you guys!), the image title and the image "alt text" (aka what appears when your image fails to load or when someone visually impaired is using your site).
Aha Moment: Google has no way to read images (yet, anyway) so it has to go off of what you tell it the image is. Think about how much you use Google Image search to find stuff for social posts, desktop wallpapers or hilarious memes for an afternoon giggle. You're finding all of that because whoever uploaded those images used keywords that match what you're searching in the image name and/or alt text. #MindBlown
Want to dig deeper into this? Get more deets straight from the horses mouth.
Step 3: Ensure keyword is in the excerpt.
The excerpt (also known as the meta description) is the little blurb that shows up in the preview when people find your content in a search engine and when they are sharing your link all over their social networks (and you better believe they're going to be sharing--with the good stuff you're creating and how easy it's going to be to find after you follow these steps!). If you don't add your own excerpt, the first 55 words will automatically be displayed.
Sometimes this works, but more than likely you can write something better to grab the attention of your soon-to-be readers. Write something that summarizes what your content is going to tell them, something catchy and something that includes your keyword to encourage Google to include your link in search results.
Helpful Hints: Writing great content in a few words and characters can be hard! We know--we do it all day, every day on Twitter. You've got to keep it short, sweet, simple and find a way to stand out while also telling a story. Tis no small feat! Check out these juicy tips for writing great excerpts and then, start practicing!
Step 4: Ensure keyword is in the body text.
Now, the bulk of your content. The most important part. But your content won't be SEO-friendly if your keyword doesn't pop up a few times. Be sure to include your keyword in the first paragraph or two of the body text, and if you can mention it again later in the body text - awesome! After all, the more, the better - right? Wrong!
Warning: You might read the above and think--"I'll just go into my body text and add my keyword relentlessly throughout! No one will have more keyword-age on their page! And I will win! Muhahahaha!" Not so fast. Google is smart, you guys. And it knew you might think that. Google now evaluates pages based on readability as well, so if you try and pull a stunt like that, Google is going to penalize the crap out of you!
Step 5: Ensure keyword is in the title.
Duh. This may seem obvious, but it is sometimes forgotten. We get all caught up in wanting to impress people with poetics and obscurities, that we tend to forget that if the right people can't find our content, they won't even get the the chance to be impressed. Writing a title for a blog post is sometimes even harder than writing the blog post itself (see writing a good excerpt above) but you'll get the hang of it.
Hot Tip: We love using this Headline Analyzer to help us evaluate titles for our blog posts. It scores them based on metrics like word balance, word types, length, word count, sentiment and keywords and even shows you helpful previews to see how your headline is likely to be seen. Give it a try!
Step 6: Ensure keyword is in the live link.
Now, I know you're tired. I know you're weary. But this is the last step! And, it's the easiest. Most web platforms will do this automatically (music to our ears!). You want your keyword to appear in your URL as well, so be sure that whether your web platform has done it automatically or you've had to type it in manually, it's in there. (For example: If your keyword is "yoga studios vancouver", your link could be: www.____.com/10-yoga-studios-vancouver.) Get it?
Now you're all set and ready to SEO the crap out of your own blog posts. After a few, this is all going to become second nature and you'll be watching your site traffic and conversions roll in...
But before you go, we wanted to try one last thing. We want to see how well our SEO is working! Tell us (in a comment below): What keywords did you search to find this blog?