The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to have the search engines find your site and hopefully rank your page(s) relevance so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. This is not a one-time process; it requires cycles of testing, tweaking, monitoring, and maintenance. Outlined below is a broad five-step process to develop your own strategy for SEO.
Step 1: Research
A good place to start is keyword research. You may be familiar with industry jargon, but the general public may use different terms. If you’re a custom bridal designer, you may not call yourself a seamstress, but that may be the word that potential customers are using to search for your services. Keyword research provides an understanding of the words (and phrases) that consumers use in search queries.
Start your list with what you would type in a search to find your business; then ask your customers. Add to your list plurals, phrases, and potential misspellings. Rank each keyword or phrase with high, mid or low priority.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool.
Using some of your keywords, examine the first 5-10 results in Google listings. Are they using keywords that you hadn’t thought of? Look at how they are similar or dissimilar to your web page.
Step 2: Planning
The first step of planning is knowing where you stand. Having a benchmark of current statics gives you a way to assess if you are making progress. Web search ranking on targeted keywords, website traffic, and conversion rate are a basic way to start.
Using your baselines, develop goals for improving. For more about goal setting check out SMART(blog link). Clearly define your objectives before you start making changes. Being able to measure the ROI of your efforts will help you decide the best place to invest your time.
With a better understanding of what keywords consumers use to find your products or services; identify the pages on your website to optimize for those keywords. Each high priority keyword or phrase should have a page to correspond to that search query.
Step 3: Optimize Content
- Make sure you use keyword-based titles.
- Use selected keywords and phrases in content on designated pages. Suggested guidelines are one to three keywords or phrases per content page. Make sure keywords feel natural in context; quality content is better than forced keywords-Always!
- Creating HTML and XML sitemaps make it easier for search engines to index your website.
- Don’t neglect the visitors accessing your site using mobile devices. Make an effort to create a mobile responsive website.
- Produce regular content. Consistent updates, whether weekly or monthly, keep content from going stale.
Step 4: Measure
Beginning weekly, analyze search rankings and web traffic to determine the effect of changes you’ve implemented. Keep track of measurements in an Excel spreadsheet or use this template(link).
Take some time to gain a basic understanding of whichever web analytic tool you have decided to use. Google Analytics has a library of articles and guides to help you use the tool.
Step 5: Modify and Maintain
Continuing to add and modify keywords and website content is necessary to keep improving search rankings.
Check out these other free beginner SEO guides: