The process can be complex, but there are a few simple steps you must follow.
In today’s post, we’ll walk through each step and provide tips and insights you can use for your business right away.
Organic SEO Step 1: Keyword Research – What are people searching for?
If you’re like most people you get excited about a project and jump into it before doing all of the prep-work necessary to make it a success. The same rule applies to organic SEO. You need to do the right prep work before optimizing your website.
You need to first determine if:
- people are actually searching for the phrase
- how much competition you have for that chosen phrase.
Thankfully there are many tools to help you find great keyword information.
Say you are a website design company in Minneapolis, you probably want to people to find your website by searching “Minneapolis website design.”
Putting this phrase into Google AdWords returns some interesting data. The competition for that phrase is stated as “High” with around 5,000 searches a month. Competing for this phrase directly will take a considerable amount of time (and money).
What to Look For
Most businesses should look at the keyword ideas section and find keyword phrases that are either “Medium” or “Low” in the competition column. You can also take phrases from the keyword ideas section and add a geographic location to them, such as “corporate website design Minneapolis”. You can see that the competition drops considerably, however so does the number of searches. This is something in which you’ll have to weigh the return on investment.
These long-tail niche phrases can drive a considerable amount of traffic compared to the high-level key phrases and can be much easier to rank well with.
Before committing to a list of keywords for your website you should do some first-hand research and run the searches through Google to see who you are competing with online. Review their websites to see what they are doing in terms of keyword targeting, website structure, and on-site optimization to achieve the rankings.
After determining a list of phrases that fit your business you need to figure out how you want to work these keywords into your website content.
Each page of your website should cover a specific topic or keyword / key-phrase. Use natural language and sprinkle in the keyword. There’s no need to overdo it because Google wants you to write content for people, not search engines.
To recap, before optimizing your website you need to do some prep-work. Research your target keywords to see what the competition is and if people are actually searching for that phrase. Remember to be patient with your search engine results as they can take time to increase.
Organic SEO Step 2: Improve Your Website Structure
If you are starting with a brand new website, making sure you build your website with a friendly organic SEO structure. Make sure your code is clean and concise.
Google, just like people, will read and follow your thehttps://www.mltgroup.com/local-seo-services.php information on your website more often if the content is laid out in a straightforward manner.
An SEO friendly site structure follows a logical path and organization. From the main pages to sub-topics, and more, the site should be easy to navigate:
Your website should validate at W3C (http://validator.w3.org/) although this is not completely necessary for good rankings, it does help with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance and ensuring your code is well formatted.
Give Your Webmaster These Guidelines
Finally, we come to the meat of the website, the body tag <body>…</body>. Between these two tags is what your visitors will see on screen. This is also where the majority of your on-site SEO will take place. In keeping with an organic SEO friendly architecture, your site should make proper use of the HTML tags.
Don’t build your website with tables. Instead, use div tags modified with CSS (CSS based layouts). Although tables can produce a similar result on screen as a CSS based layout, the code to create the same functionality with a table can be 3-4 times as large. Remember: the more code a page has the longer it will take to load, affecting its results in the search engines.
Organic SEO Step 3: Your On-Site Optimization
On-site optimization is still crucial to help search engines and people find your products and services. Think of it this way: if you don’t put the right information on your website how will the search engines know what you do?
Your on-site website optimization goes hand-in-hand with a search engine friendly website architecture. If your site has a poor architecture, your on-page efforts won’t work as well. There are a few HTML tags to optimize properly that is a must for every page on your website, they include the “title” tag, “meta description” tag and “h1” tag.I’ll go into detail about each one below.
Search engines use your title tag to understand what that specific page is about. The title tag shows up at the very top of your browser window. Having a well-written title tag should be common sense if you are wanting your page to come up for that keyword, however many people overlook this and leave the default “Untitled Page” text in it.
This is great if you want to rank for “untitled page” however I doubt that is what you want.
Here are a few title tag rules to follow:
- First: Be Concise. You only have 70 characters that the search engines will respond to, so make them count.
- Second: Include Your Keyword. I can’t stress this enough: if you want to come up for “blue rolling widgets”, by all means, put “blue rolling widgets” in your title tag.
- Third: Include Synonyms. If people search for “blue rolling widgets” you can also try variations on those words such as “rolling widgets” “blue widgets” etc. Each of those is words that your potential customers may search for.
- Fourth: Be Local. Local business should include their location. Most people that are searching for a local service or product will put in the region they want to find it in. Adding a local identifier to your title tag greatly increases your chances of getting found locally.
- Fifth: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible never duplicate a title tag on your website. This confuses the search engines when serving up searches to your website.
Meta Description Tag
You can find this tag in the head of the website. This tag doesn’t directly affect your page ranking, but you want to have a compelling title tag to get people to click through to your website.
Here are some good guidelines for writing meta descriptions:
- First: Be Concise. Again you have a limited amount of characters to use, about 150 for the description tag.
- Second: Be Informational. Be sure to describe what someone would see on the page. For our blue widget example above our meta description tag could look something like this: “Buy blue widgets from ABC company, a provider of blue widgets to Anytown USA since 1988”.
- Third: Don’t Duplicate. If at all possible write a unique description tag for every page on your website. This helps to tell Google what each page is about and gives them the ability to offer your customers the correct information.
Organic SEO Headings
Think of the H1 tag like a chapter heading in a book. It tells you what the entire section is about. H2 – H6 tags are for sub-headings and breaking up content logically on the page. The H1 tag has similar power as the title tag in the ranking algorithms of Google and other search engines.
Check out our rules for writing great headings:
- First: Only One Time. Each page on your site must contain only one H1 tag. Use sub-headings to give directions for sub-topics
- Second: Be Concise. The H1 doesn’t have a limit, but people should easily be able to tell what the page is about by reading it
- Third: Include Your Keyword
- Fourth: Don’t Duplicate. This actually is important for two reasons, you don’t want to have the same H1 tag across multiple pages and you don’t want to just copy your web page title tag. The H1 tag should compliment your title tag.
So to recap, your on-site website optimization is a critical step in making sure you are well optimized. Having well-written title, description and H1 tags give Google a good understanding of what your website is about, making it easier for them to give your users the correct page on your website.
Organic SEO Step 4: Off-site Optimization
On-site optimization is done at the front-end of an SEO campaign. Off-site optimization moves you up the ranks.
While the off-site optimization can be the most difficult and tricky part of the search engine optimization campaign, I will help you through some of the most common issues.
Let’s discuss some techniques and tips on the best (and worst) off-site organic SEO tactics.
Most people think that a link exchange (where I put a link on my website to yours and you put a link on your website to mine) works well for improving SEO authority. They can be helpful if you’re getting a link from a well-respected site (ex: technorati.com).
However if both sites have a low page rank this can actually hurt as your links will “bleed page-rank”, basically meaning that you are passing page-rank from your site to someone else and canceling out the effect.
You want one-way incoming links to your website. These are much more effective because they tell Google “I am a good quality resource on this topic. Others have linked to me because of it.” The more one-way incoming links you can get to your site the better.
Poor Quality Links to Avoid
If you have been researching how to generate links back to your website you may have seen links or ads directory submission services. While you can get a ton of back-links to your site quickly, they are generally of lower quality and Google won’t pay as much attention to them.
If your link profile (the break down of links on your site) skews heavily towards the low-quality sites it will take considerably more links to compete with someone who has a better link profile.
Good Quality Back-links
A good quality back-link can be priceless to a search engine campaign. These high-quality back-links require work on your end to foster a relationship with the website owner. These types of links can come from industry-specific journals or blogs, distributors or educational resources. You generally cannot simply ask the website owner to link to you (unless you are a well-known company), you will need to become an active member on their website. Show that you are an expert in a field and you may receive a link.
Write GREAT Content
This goes without saying for anything you do online. Writing good quality content helps you gain links to your website. If you have a blog, people may put a link to it naturally on their site as your information explains a subject they reference. You can become a guest contributor on authority websites to build your influence and link back to your website. These websites are usually looking for great content and having an experts view on the topics they cover can give you a lot of exposure.
Social media and social networking is here to stay. Be sure that you fully utilize your online profiles. Be sure that what you are posting to these places is interesting and informative, not a sales pitch. Your social followers are much more fickle than the general website searcher as they are inviting you into their profile. Be respectful and don’t bombard them with posts. Unless your company has a lot of news, posting once a week or so would be ideal. You want to keep your users aware of your business but not get annoyed with you.
Press Releases and Articles
Both press releases and articles have their place in a well-rounded organic search engine optimization campaign. You can describe your company, services, and offerings all you want in them, just make sure it is newsworthy. Most press release services will charge a fee for submitting your release but for this fee, your press release is getting submitted to actual news organizations such as the AP, large market newspapers and high profile bloggers.
So to recap, your off-site optimization should be done on a consistent basis. Gathering a ton of back-links at once and then never looking at it again will give you a short boost but you won’t maintain your rankings. Always write good content. Be a good online neighbor and social friend. Link to people who you feel do a good job and you will tend to receive the same. As for social media don’t over post. You don’t want to be de-friended.
Organic SEO Step 5: Analytics (Measuring your results)
After you have made your website live the first thing you should to do is install Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics (or a similar program). I like Google Analytics for a few reasons. First, it’s completely free and second, you can gather a ton a data on the traffic to your website.
When you log into Google Analytics you’ll see a graph showing the traffic for each day. This is great to get a brief overview of how much traffic your website is receiving, but doesn’t give you a ton of data as to where people are coming from or what they are viewing.
Click on the Visitor’s Tab
This tab provides more detail about your viewers on the site including the number of unique visitors, bounce rate, time on site and new visits. Each of these sections can be clicked on to get additional data.
Next, look at the Traffic Sources tab.
This tab gives me a quick overview of where people are coming to my site from, whether it be search engines, direct traffic or referring sites. As with the visitor’s tab you can click on each of the sections to gather more detail about each site or search engine. If you drill down into a specific website you can see how many visits came to your site for a particular day.
Last, let’s review the Content tab.
This section shows you the amount of traffic that each specific page on the site is driving. If you are using a landing page for an advertising campaign you can see from this section if your ads are working.
You can also see if people are not following to a certain point on your site, such as a check-out page. If your customers are not flowing to where you want them you may need to revise your on-site content to help drive them to the correct locations.
As you can see Google Analytics can supply a ton of information about your website. Even just scratching the surface you can gather powerful information about your company’s website and find places to make improvements. Google Analytics has a great help section as well if you have additional questions on what you are looking at.
You’ve learned the basic steps of creating a successful organic SEO campaign.
Now you have two choices.
One, try it out for yourself.
Two, work with an expert to get “done for you” results. If you want to try the latter, fill out the form below to get a free marketing proposal.