An Inside Peek at My Crazy Simple SEO Strategy

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:

lkr-blost-SEO-basics-image1

  • 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.

lkr-blost-seo-basics-image2

  • 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.

lkr-blost-seo-basics-image3

  • 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.

notebook

  • 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. :)

Are you a total Google Analytics newbie?
Study up with The Ultimate Google Analytics Cheat Sheets.
About Laura Roeder

Laura Roeder is a social media marketing expert who gives businesses of all sizes the tools they need to make their mark on the web. She is the creator of the social media scheduling software Edgar, as well as social media marketing web courses like Creating Fame and Social Brilliant.

Comments

  1. Hi Laura – I found this really helpful – the only problem is that almost all the keywords that came up were ranked “high” and the couple of low ones were only getting 10 queries a month.
    How do you suggest choosing between keywords when they are all high competition?
    My website sells custom made, personalised gifts – a sector where there are big players spending serious amounts on ppc. While my business is markedly different, the keywords used by customers to “find me” are the same as those searching for cheap novelty personalised gifts.
    Thanks
    Jane

    • Hi Ya Jane,

      If all your keywords are high competition, check each keyword in the search engine. See what sites come up on the first page. Go and check each site and see how they use this keyword on the page you land on. If they are using in only a few places, you can still go for that keyword if you utilize the keyword properly in your business and on the page you want to focus that keyword on.

      I hope this helps
      Blessings Janet

    • Jane, since your products are quite bespoke why not try ranking for keywords like ‘bespoke personalised gifts’ or niche it down to ‘bespoke personalised gifts for women/children/men/mums/teachers etc’. Plus even if only 10 people a month are searching for some of the keywords, if you rank on the first page for lots of keyword searches, that would add up and bring really targeted traffic.

  2. My favorite tips of all your great advice in this post? SEO Auto Linker. This seems like the coolest plugin. Can’t wait to put it to work for me on my website! Thanks again Laura and the LKR team!

  3. Excellent suggestion for simple SEO. I love how you’ve broken it down and even shown exactly how to use Adwords to do your research.

  4. Hi Laura, I really enjoyed how you explained the process of developing an SEO content strategy. You also addressed the idea of linking. What are your thoughts on business who rely on back linking versus actually utilizing the keyword strategy? Again, really appreciate your SEO tactics.

  5. Awesome post & suggestions as always.

    Love that plugin and need to try it, seems like a huge time saver.

    Back to Adwords :)

  6. Hi Laura,

    Thanks for sharing your SEO strategy with us. I haven’t been putting in enough time with SEO because several of my sites were hurt in the last couple of Google updates.

    I have taken the time to do proper keyword research like you mentioned. Now I just need to get out there and so some more promotion techniques.

    I will start implementing the methods you share to see if I can get higher search engine rankings. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great day.

  7. Good Laura! One of the best practical guides for using Google Keyword Planning to help with content.

  8. Useful info however the Auto linker plugin you mentioned has some usual reviews for it as on all the wp plugin page and I noticed quite a few people say it no longer works properly and has messed up a few peoples sites it has not been updated since April either!
    Jenny

    • Kristina | Team LKR says:

      Thanks for the heads up Jenny! We’ll definitely keep that in mind.

      Unfortunately, while some plugins will work perfectly through all new versions of WordPress, sometimes there are incompatibility issues due to users’ particular setups — yes, when a site “breaks” due to a plugin, it could be because of severely outdated coding, but oftentimes it’s simply incompatibility with other plugins used, or even some more advanced themes.

  9. I’ve been really intimidated by SEO and keyword searches – until this article! Thank you for breaking it down and giving easy to understand actions to take with the keywords. So helpful!

  10. Hey Laura, I hate to splash cold water on this warm and fuzzy SEO post, but I have a serious concern. Google has made it abundantly clear that over optimizing your pages strictly for SEO is frowned upon and can have dire consequences. Also, they have done their best recently (and probably more so in the near future) to make keywords much less relevant, and the content itself to be a major deciding factor in organic search. What if, in the next year or so, your simple formula for SEO plops onto the Google hit list, and all the posts and articles created with this SEO formula in mind end up suffering Google’s wrath? I struggle with the practical concerns surrounding this issue any time I create a site, and it makes me hesitant to recommend anything SEO related since the consequences could be long term and far reaching. Who wants to go back and fix all their posts and pages after the fact? Not me… When I think about all the simple back-links littering many well meaning sites from the past, it gives me shivers!

    • Hi Scot – we tried to make it very clear in the second step that you shouldn’t go overboard with the keywords. We are basically using them as a guide to tell us what customers are actually interested in. (We talk about Google transitioning away from a keyword focus and how we are responding to it over at http://lkrsocialmedia.com/2013/10/google-not-provided-keyword-change/ )

      Our “SEO strategy” breaks down to 1) find out what our audience is interested in 2) write great content about those topics 3) make those pages visible on our own website 4) promote them on social media and other channels where we are active. This is exactly what the Googles wants, and should be Google-proof for years to come!

      • Not so fast Matt, just the act of searching keywords and choosing all low to medium competition is a measurable tactic. How can you know if, or when, the newest algorithm will start deducting points for this tactic, since most sites probably won’t have this statistical anomaly. Also, I’ve already seen evidence of posts created and posted using hootsuite conveying less benefit than those posted naturally, yet you recommend hootsuite in step 4. SEO in years past only worked because someone discovered techniques that proved effective, but those are gone and many sites are still trying to recover. The lesson learned should be that the less you worry about SEO, the more natural you’ll appear to the search engines. The only sure way in the new Google paradigm to show page #1 in search is to buy adwords, which I think is where Google wants us all.

  11. This is a great tip for content generation. Thank you for sharing. I have a question though: I am curious as to why you recommend to use the keywords with low or medium competition. I thought this was referring to advertiser competition and not necessarily SEO competition. Have you noticed a correlation between the two?

  12. Great post Laura! SEO can be an intimidating subject for a lot of people, but you broke it down into easy steps that anyone can follow.

    You also made it a point to stress how important social media is in driving traffic to a businesses website. Social media, and more importantly, having a PRESENCE on your social media, is one of the most important aspects of builidng buzz and visability around your business, therefore driving more traffic to your site.