A Beginner's Guide to SEO

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is so important to businesses today. As a result, companies are having to get involved, invest in learning and understanding what it means and how they can use it to achieve greater visibility and ultimately become more competitive in their market. We get asked so frequently how companies can do it themselves. Can small businesses and startups do their SEO even if they haven’t had any training or experience in it? It would be ideal as they would rather save money and do it themselves than pay a specialist. The simple answer is yes and below is a quick guide detailing how you can launch your first SEO campaign.

So let’s start with the basics: just what is SEO?

SEO is a means by which you can achieve high ranking placement on large search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, all of them in fact, through a subtle combination of activities, methods, and maneuvers, all designed to drive up the number of visitors to one’s website.

What does that mean for you? It means that if you do it correctly and you have a clear and concise and well-executed SEO plan, then you will likely get better rankings in search engines than your competitors. Let’s start with an example: you are offering SEO services in Phoenix. You would choose as your keyword ‘Phoenix SEO’. Ideally, your keyword would be what you are selling or promoting and where or how you are doing it. The aim is to boost your ranking when the search engine is choosing who meets the search criteria, and if it’s you, you are likely to get more customers.

It isn’t just as easy as chucking a few keywords into your articles; if you want to rise through the ranks and you don’t have an SEO dedicated specialist on your team, you are going to have to learn about all the other things that drive traffic to your website. You will have to understand social media and search engine marketing. You will want to know how to build links and create content management. All of these are going to contribute towards your SEO campaign. This is probably the reason why so many companies outsource SEO to firms who specialize in it. SEO companies can vary wildly from ludicrously expensive to just about affordable. Bear in mind that the reason you want to do SEO is so you can increase your sales and that is really what it is all about. You need to keep one step ahead of your competitors and grab the customers first.

How to do it yourself?

If you are set on keeping your SEO in-house and building the profile of your website cheaply, then we have put together a few ideas for you that will mean you won’t have to invest in an SEO expert just yet.

1. Do your homework and read up on SEO.

The more you understand it, the easier it will be for you to implement it. If you are intent on doing it yourself and not hiring someone who knows what they are doing, you want to be sure you fully understand what you are doing. Otherwise, you are just going to waste your time. Read about the subject. If you don’t understand it in one forum, someone else might explain it better in another. It will also help you learn all the new jargon and technical terms.

2. Understand your market.

You want to know who will be searching for you and what search terms they will be using to look for you, or companies similar to yours. You want to know when they will typically search and what their online behavior is like. If you don’t have the means to conduct market research yourself, type into a search engine the products you sell and see what comes up. If you are led to your competitor's websites, then take some time to understand what they do differently to you and how you can capitalize on their success and implement it in your campaign.

3. Familiarize yourself with keywords.

Know what keywords lead customers to your website and then optimize your site so that it is populated with these words. If you don’t know what your keywords are, get an AdWords account and use Google’s Keyword Planner to find out what you should include on your site.

4. Get your website optimized.

Once you have an understanding of just what is involved, you should put it into action and update your website to include the keywords. If your site is a WordPress one, you should install Yoast - a tool that will revolutionize your site’s optimization. It also tells you whether you have reached the dream word count or not. Just make sure your website is easy to use and understand, you want to make it as easy as possible for potential customers to buy from you.

5. Write consistently good content.

Now that you have optimized your website you want to get the word out there about what you do and that you are the best at it. Create a blog and write content that uses your keywords. Remember that you aren’t just writing for the sake of it. If you want to see conversions to sales, you want your readers to feel that what you do adds value to their lives. You have to be able to solve a problem that can’t be solved anywhere else. You don’t have just to publish text; you can share photos or videos too. Whatever you do, do it consistently - keep the same voice and have a publishing schedule.

6. Utilize social media.

Harness the power of social media. Create content that people want to share. You want to be the go-to site, the authoritative voice for whatever it is you are selling. Try and get people of influence to assist you: reach out to newspapers or magazines and see if they can share your content.

Finally, always engage with your audience. People like a brand to be conversational, someone or thing they can build a relationship with. Don’t keep people at arm’s length. And never be afraid to ask questions, it’s how you learn!

Robert Faulkner is a internet marketing expert at the Edmonton SEO Guy. Their agency focusses on local search engine optimization for small businesses across North America.

James J. Hodl (36 Posts)

James J. Hodl is a career journalist who has worked for newspapers, magazines and trade journals. A graduate of Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism, Hodl began his career as a reporter with the Palatine (IL) Herald and the Morton Grove (IL) Review before becoming editor of the trade publication Appliance Service News. In recent years, Hodl has had articles published in Consumers Digest, Good Housekeeping, Home Remodeling, Kitchens & Baths and Salute; and has contributed to trade publications serving the home furnishings, restaurant and casino markets. A native of Chicago, Hodl relocated to San Tan Valley in 2013.

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