Before even thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), please take a moment to really evaluate who your target audience is. From there, nail down your goals and come to grips with the resources you have available to achieve those goals.
If you're new to the game, the secret to SEO success is not cutting-edge content strategies or moonshot ideas. It's really more about simplicity paired with consistent execution. Increasing organic traffic via SEO always takes time and effort, which is why mapping out your strategy ahead of time is so crucial.
Having a plan and sticking to it may increase the odds of success and ideally put you ahead of the competition over time. So whether you're starting a business or simply trying to get your brand out there, here are some helpful SEO tips to get you started.
Keyword research is, quite simply, the study of search terms that people type into Google. It helps practitioners gather data for a specific objective, often for SEO or general marketing needs, according to experts like Barrett O'Neill.
Start by identifying search terms that have a combination of volume and intent. Intent (the problem someone is trying to solve with a Google search) is a deceptively simple thing, yet fundamental.
As a content marketer, your stories will only rank well for a keyword if it offers up tangible answers the searcher's problem.
Keyword intent is categorized into three baskets: information, brand, and purchase. When you successfully mix these three factors, it will help you drive organic traffic and conversions. It is also crucial to evaluate your keywords every few months. Some brands even do it once per quarter as a best practice.
Some free tools to get started with keyword research include Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Search Tool, and SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool.
On-page and off-page SEO
On-page SEO refers to optimizing pages on your site to improve rankings and the user experience. This process is done internally by inserting keywords into the proper places so search engines understand the site topic and target keywords.
Elements of on-page SEO include page titles, meta descriptions, title tags, internal links, HTML code, URL optimization, on-page content, images, and more.
These are signals that algorithms use as critical data and information to impact rankings.
Meanwhile, off-page SEO refers to all of the activities you and others do away from your website to raise a page's ranking on Google. This often means getting other websites to link back to yours to improve its authority on search engines.
Technical SEO refers to enhancing your website for the crawling and indexing phase. Technical SEO will help improve rankings by making it easy for search engines and humans to use your site.
Fundamentally, technical SEO focuses on a good user experience and making it possible to be crawled. Using popular content management systems like WordPress or Ghost will make technical SEO easier. It will require some ongoing maintenance, though, as search engine protocols change frequently.
The last, but arguably most important piece of the puzzle is content. It is essential to consistently publish at least 1,500 words of content per week to ensure that your organic traffic will grow. Though some experts will tell you that this is the bare bones minimum.
From a technical standpoint, make sure your blog posts include target keywords in the URL, title, H1 subheadings, and alt text for images.
It is important to focus on putting out helpful stories. This may mean building custom infographics, adding links to other sites, embedding videos, and more.
Finally, having a clear call-to-action for the visitor, paired with a simple conversion mechanism (such as a sign-up button or a form) in every single piece of content will allow you to generate leads and, hopefully, see a return on investment.
In the end, SEO is not hit-and-run marketing approach. It's much more of a slow-burn playbook. Approach it knowing that your efforts and actions today will eventually pay off in the long run.