Google’s been making tons of updates to its algorithm lately and it can be pretty overwhelming to keep up. If you’re just getting started with SEO, or if you’ve seen your rankings slip, you’re probably feeling frustrated or confused. And you’re not alone.
Here are the 3 steps that you should take to get ranked — and stay at the top — over the long term.
Step #1. Research
First, you need to identify the right target keywords.
The best place to start this research is with Google’s (free) keyword tool.
When you’re researching and prioritizing your keywords, there are 2 main things to keep in mind:
A) Search Volume: This probably sounds obvious, but if you want to attract a lot of new customers from Google, be sure to target keywords that people are actually searching.
B) Relevance: Next, select keywords that will deliver qualified customers who are ready to buy. Don’t waste your time with tire kicker keywords, especially when you’re just getting started.
I recommend you start with the keywords where the relevance is a “bullseye,” even if the search volume is lower than others on your list.
Step #2. Relevance
Now that you have a list of target keywords you want to rank for, the next step is to edit your website so Google sees it as relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.
Fortunately this process is pretty straightforward. Here are the two basic elements:
A) Website Structure: As a general rule, you should match one keyword phrase to each page on your website and focus your homepage on the “dream” keyword you’d love to rank #1 for.
B) Page Elements: You’ll want to edit specific parts of each web page to incorporate your keywords, including your Title Tag, Meta Description, Header tags (H1, H2, H3) and body copy. Don’t go overboard stuffing your keywords all over the place — keep it natural.
Step #3. Reputation
Next, if you want to get ranked #1 for competitive keywords, you need to prove that your website is an authority on your subject matter. How do you boost your website’s reputation?
Historically, links (e.g. hyperlinks pointing from other websites to your website) have been the most important factor. And links are still critical for SEO. However, in the wake of recent Google updates, I recommend you tread carefully with link-building campaigns. Many link-building tactics that used to work are no longer effective — and some can even get you penalized.
The old rules of SEO are changing. For example, Google has begun putting greater emphasis on social media indicators. Many SEO experts expect this trend to continue, even to the point where links will no longer be the #1 factor determining your website’s reputation.
SEO is a rollercoaster ride. It always has been, and always will be. If there’s one thing you can definitely count on, it’s that Google will keep rolling out new updates for months and years to come.
How can you stay on top?
The true secret to success with SEO is actually very simple. Don’t try to “trick” Google into giving you rankings you don’t deserve. Instead, create content that deserves to rank #1 for your target keywords. If you do that, everything else gets a lot easier.