You’ve reached to this page because you probably want to drive more visitors to your website or increase your rankings in search engines like Google or Bing.
The question you probably asked was: Should I hire an SEO professional or go at it myself?
After more than 15 years in the SEO business, I’ll say that you must start by yourself and only then come to me. When it come to SEO, it can be an overwhelming process and I prefer to work with clients that know how hard could it be, that will make it much easier to align the company’s marketing efforts with the SEO process.
So we have here a few SEO golden rules that small business owners should try before hiring an SEO professional. Try to keep at least 6 or 7 of these points and you’ll be doing just fine. And… it’s gonna be much easier for your SEO expert to join you and make your website fly high.
1. Know your users, base on search intent
Driving more visitors to your site starts with knowing who are these “sessions” on your analytics reports. Learn to look after your ideal buyer and understanding what makes them search for your content and buy your services or goods.
We are dealing with human beings, with thoughts and fears and needs, so just try to dig into their lifes, needs, challenges, understand why they buy, think what terms they will use to search for the product you have for sale. This will help you to best align your SEO and website strategy to their search intent, that’s extremely important. Try getting x10 more terms than the ones you already got.
There are a number of tools that give you valuable insights into which terms you should focus on such as Wordstream, Ubersuggest and Google’s Keyword Planner. If you need a little assistance with your keyword research, here is a great article from Jason Demers at AudienceBloom that breaks it down, step by step.
2. Understand what is Long Tail and how to use it
If you had done point #1 successfully, you will have no problem with this one:
Trying to rank for very competitive terms can be a long and costly trip and, most of the time, will lead to failure due to lack of resources. Instead of focusing solely on the most popular keywords, spend some time building out a targeted strategy around relevant long tail keywords.
Long tail keywords are longer and more specific phrases that search engine users search on when they are closer to making a purchase or finding what they are looking for. Longtail keywords are a key to a healthy, online growth strategy. In fact they make up the majority of all search engine traffic:
So if you own an wine company, instead of trying to rank for a competitive keyword such as “red wine”, try a targeted and more relevant approach such as “a red wine for dinner.”
4. Know your competition
Once you have your keyword strategy in place, identify the top competitors for each keyword and what they are doing right to get ranked in the first page of Google. But keep in mind that while competitive info can help shape your SEO initiatives, be careful not to rely solely on your competitors. Even the bigger ones make mistakes. Besides that, you want customers that love you and not your competitors.
5. Blog consistently
We want to show the site is active with great and fresh new content. You don’t have to blog every single day, but pages on your website don’t change every day. So with Google always looking for new content, blogging is a great way to push up fresh, relevant content for the search engines to index.
Remember as you blog, write your content for your ideal buyer and the challenges they face everyday. Remember the “search intent” from #1? Be human, write for humans. Don’t just load your blog posts with keywords. Use normal language, let them love who you really are, avoid keyword stuffing, but do select a primary keyword for your post paired with research from Google Trends to give yourself the best chance of your content being discovered. Make sure the keyword appears in the title, body copy, URL and meta description for the best optimization of your post. And try no cannibalizing your website pages! Meaning, don’t “steal” keywords or terms from other pages, but try using a wider spectrum of keywords to tell your story.
6. Avoid and eliminate duplicate content
One of the easiest ways to drop in the rankings and get punished by the search engines is to copy content and use it on your site. I do it all the time because it saves me time and I know Gods of the Internet hate me for doing that. Don’t do it! It’s really bad.
Google and Bing push original and relevant content to the top when users search on the terms they are looking for and suppress duplicate content and non valuable pages. So if you want to add content from another site, a simple best practice is to link to it and reference the original source.
7. Always link to internal pages
Don’t do what I do on my website! With today’s focus on content, internal linking is a great strategy to boost SEO. An internal link connects one page of a website to a different page on the same website. By using internal links in your site pages and in blog posts it improves readability for your visitors, rankings for keywords, and Google’s ability to crawl your site. And it’s much more fun to read the content of a website when it has internal links.
Don’t link to your home page but to pages that are rich in content and relevant to the topic at hand. For example, this is an article from 2018 about my top ten methods to rank in Google.
8. Try to get back-links to your site.
In addition to your internal linking strategy, external link building remains one of the most important factors of SEO and best ways to improve your rankings in SERPs. The goal of inbound linking is to get outside links from sites, directories and forums that have a solid domain authority and link them back to your site. How to measure authority? It’s really complicated, lots of tools try to do that automatically but they’re not so great. Leave that to an SEO professional.
9. Use SEO Friendly URLs
That’s a bit old and we know Google doesn’t care about it that much anymore, but making sure your URLs are clean and optimized is an important task if you want to rank highly or if you want people to click on your site when appearing on SERPs (search engine results pages). When building the URL structure of your website, it’s important to make sure it is friendly, easy to read for online visitors and makes it easy to know what’s the content is about and where that page belongs to. For example example.com/library/books/harry-potter will be easily understood that the link belongs to a book’s page, categorized as Books in the Library. That’s the basics of the friendly URLs.
10. Speed up your site, as much as possible.
User experience has become a very important factor for ranking. How fast your site and your pages load are critical to how Google ranks your site for SEO. Not only does it impact your search rankings, but it affects the experience your users have when they engage with your website. In a world of online options, visitors won’t stick around for pages, images and videos to load. In fact, pages with longer load times tend to have higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates. Always check your Bouncing in your Google Analytics reports.
11. Optimize for Mobile
In my 15+ years of career I’ve seen the born and raise of the mobile devices and their ability to have browsers and browse the Internet. In 2012 I had clients with mobile visits passing the 50% of their visits. Today, studies show 70% of mobile searches lead to an online action within just one hour. Recently Google launched their mobile-friendly update designed to give a nod to pages that are mobile optimized. If you want to find out if your pages are mobile-friendly you can simply utilize Google’s tool that checks your url for mobile-friendliness.
12. Land them softly by using landing pages
A landing page is a stand-alone page on your website where visitors land from sources such as search engines, ad campaigns, social and email marketing. It is a great tool to drive focused traffic to your site and optimize conversions. As I mentioned before, try not to cannibalize your most important, keyword-related pages. Back to the wines example, don’t have a landing page for “red wines” but try to think about an event for “red wine lovers”.
Now, reach out to an SEO professional!
I’m not gonna try to convince you to hire me. But you can reach out to me here! 😉
I gave you some good tips to give you a solid foundation of rules every site has to keep. However, depending on the competitiveness of your industry and the resources of your business you may want to reach out to an SEO professional or maybe an agency to help you along the path.
I try to keep myself busy in different project but I might be able to assist you as your SEO consultant. I can help you when looking for the right SEO firm and ask for you lots of questions, understanding their strategy, what analytics they will provide you with, and speak in depth to them.
Give me a call, I’ll be glad to help you.