Got a great website but barely-there traffic? Then you need to be thinking about SEO, a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization.
Here’s the thing: people are on Google every day, looking for you and a product or service like yours. The problem is that your website is ranking way back there on page 3 of the search results, so your organic search traffic is, well, kind of pathetic.
I know, I know – SEO can seem like one of those insanely complex topics that keeps on morphing into another more complicated version of itself. Who can keep up with all that??
DEEP BREATH. You don’t need to be an expert to implement a solid SEO strategy. You just need a plan. The great news is that I’m about to show you my own SEO strategy, one that works regardless of what industry your business is in.
Here are 4 steps to start climbing your way to to the top of Google’s (or Bing’s!) search results:
1. Figure out 5 core keyword topics.
You hear a lot about optimizing your website for specific keywords, but actually choosing which super-specific keyword you want to rank for can be a little overwhelming. Here’s exactly what you need to do:
- Go to Google’s Keyword Tool and click on “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.”
- In the first box, type a typical question or phrase that your ideal customer would type into Google in order to find a product or service like yours. For example, you help small businesses owners protect themselves legally. Your primary service is consulting work on contracts, but you are also available for consulting on hiring and firing issues, on and offline terms and conditions, and intellectual property. So a phrase someone might Google to find your business is “how to write a client contract.” Type that phrase into the first box (without the quotation marks), leave the rest of the fields blank, and click on the blue “Get ideas” button.
- You’re going to see search results divided into two tabs: Ad group ideas and Keyword ideas. Click on Keyword ideas. There you’re going to see tons of phrases that are pretty similar to the initial phrase you searched with. Write down the phrases that most have to do with your service or product.
- You’ll also see that each phrase gets qualified with a level of Competition. Make sure you jot down that Low, Medium or High next to each keyword you’re including on your list.
- Repeat. Think about all of the problems your business solves, and keep searching for related keywords for each of those problems (for example “my former employee is suing me,” “how to file for IP protection,” or “what to do when someone is copying my materials for their business.”
- For more ideas of phrases to search, look at your website’s traffic. If you’ve got a blog where you write about different issues, take a look at which posts get the most pageviews. Those are the ones that your clients or potential clients are most interested in learning more about.
- Once you’ve got a healthy list of 15 or 20 key phrases, split them up into topics. All the phrases related to intellectual property belong to one topic, all the keywords regarding contracts in another, etc. If you can come up with 5 topics, awesome.
- Choose 2 or 3 of the phrases from your list to go with each topic. This is when the competition of a keyword becomes important. If possible, choose phrases that have low or medium competition. Obviously they need to be relevant to your business and to your site’s visitors, but if you have the choice between “intellectual property facts” and “intellectual property guidelines,” go with the phrase with lower competition.
2. Create an informative guide page for each keyword topic.
Once you’ve selected your topics, create a page on your website that’s 100% devoted to each topic. This would be the page that you could point people to whenever they ask “what’s a good reference for intellectual property law?” Use those 2 or 3 keywords you chose for that topic throughout the page, but make sure it sounds natural. (Ask someone else to read it and get their feedback – once you’ve stared at anything long enough, it can be tough to see the wood for the keyword-heavy trees.) The keywords aren’t actually the most important piece for these guide pages; you’ll always get better SEO results by creating quality, definitive content on the topic.
In short? Don’t go overboard and stuff your content with unnatural-sounding keywords – that would actually work against you. You can check out a couple of my own guide pages on Facebook Marketing and Social Media Marketing to get some ideas on how to craft your own.
3. Add links on your homepage to each of these guide pages, as well as in your navigation bar.
These guide pages should be easy to find for anyone comes across your website. Any time you use those keywords on the rest of your site or in your blog, they should link to those pages (without overloading on links). See how I linked to two of my own guide pages in the last paragraph? It’s all part of the master plan. :)
We use the WordPress plugin SEO Auto Linker to create these links for us automatically. You configure it to recognize certain keywords and phrases, and the plugin automatically links that text to the page you provide when you’re setting it up.
4. Get These Guide Pages More Traffic!
You worked hard on them, didn’t you? Well now you have to make sure they’re actually serving their purpose: to inform people about tricky subjects. So share your guide pages on social media, and share them often (without being spammy, of course)! You’d be surprised by how many times you’ll have a good reason to mention them, especially when people ask you questions on social media that fall under those topics. You don’t want to go overboard, but remember: self-promotion is a good thing. You’re probably not doing it enough! (Click here to see how I know that about you.) So open up your Buffer or Hootsuite or whatever you use for social media automation, and schedule out your posts to drive traffic to your guide pages.
But don’t think that just because your fans and followers have seen your guide pages that your promoting is done! Find some guest blogging opportunities where you can write posts related to those topics.
Guest blogging has several great benefits: it helps you establish yourself as an expert in your field, it gets you and your business in front of new eyeballs, and it allows you to build backlinks to your site. “SPEAK PLAIN ENGLISH, LAURA”. Backlinks are links from someone else’s site to yours – the more quality backlinks you have, the higher you’ll rank in Google’s search results. If the blog you’re guest posting on permits it, link back to your guide pages when you mention the very same keywords. (Check out my guide to landing some killer guest blogging gigs here.)
There you have it – a super simple guide to nailing down an SEO strategy that works. When Google Analytics starts showing you an increase in organic search traffic, you’ll know that you’ve really mastered SEO for your business!
This is how my team and I have built up our organic traffic over the past few years, and I figured it would be valuable resource for my community. But if you have some SEO tricks or tips that have worked for you, please share them in the comments so we can all benefit from them! Thanks. :)