The world of the internet is like a sea, and all the websites are like fishes.
But, if you put a fish in the sea, it will learn to swim by itself. It is not the case with the sea of the internet.
Here, you can’t throw in the fish (your website) and hope it will swim (rise in the SERP) by itself. You have to tend to its every need, look after it, and make sure it is better than all the other fishes surrounding it.
Only then will it survive in this sea.
The trick to surviving here is called 'optimization,' and this whole activity is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Starting an SEO campaign
Every SEO campaign begins with… no, not with keyword research. It starts with a strategy. The strategy should:
- define your target audience
- find ideal keywords to rank on
- give a plan for content creation
- put in place a link building strategy
- identify other areas to improve
- set the goals you want to achieve
Today, SEO involves a lot of technicalities. If you're a beginner who has just established a website, it is better to hire a good SEO consultant.
They know the tricks and intricacies of a good SEO campaign and can help you with everything from strategy to execution and results.
Now you’re set to begin implementing your SEO campaign.
Step #1: Critical analytics
After putting a compact strategy in place, you start with your website’s audit. Here, tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Screaming Frog, or Moz will help you do a full analysis of your site.
A thorough audit will identify your website's issues like site speed, keyword cannibalization, backlinks, and broken URLs.
It will also tell you about the pages attracting the most audience, the ones with a high bounce rate, the length of sessions on your website, etc.
Step#2: Keywords that mint money
After the audit comes keyword research. It appears simple but is tricky.
Don't get carried away by high-ranking and competitive keywords. You have to be shrewd with your choices here.
Keyword planning tools like Google Keyword Planner, UberSuggest, Ahrefs Keywords Explorer, Moz Keyword Explorer, Jaaxy, etc., will help you find keywords related to your niche.
Before starting with keyword research, understand what your targeted audience wants and how they are searching for it.
Visit social media sites and forums dedicated to your business niche. See the conversations there. It will give you an idea about the trends of your niche.
For example, if you sell leather footwear, you must have the keyword 'leather shoes' in mind. You put that into one of these tools, and it will show you all the variations of this keyword.
The trick is to find long-tail keywords with high search volume and moderate competition (if you are just starting) and try to rank for them.
Long tail keywords are more likely to make money for you than short tail and ambiguous keywords. Try incorporating user intent into those keywords, and you have set the base for a robust SEO campaign.
Step#3: Put these keywords to use
At this stage, you have a long XLS file with keywords, their search volume, competition, and top-of-page bid. Now, you have to use them in the content.
Content optimization means you have to write blogs that are optimized for your targeted keywords. You need to determine the page you want to optimize for specific keywords to avoid keyword cannibalization.
For example, if you own a hardware store online, the keyword ‘long nose plier 6″’ is best suited for the product page instead of the home page.
Make sure your content is authoritative and free of grammatical errors. It should add value to the users and not only regurgitate the information collected from other pages.
Avoid keyword stuffing (it doesn't work anymore) and ensure no content duplication on your website.
Your job doesn't only end at getting content optimized for keywords. You have to fix the URL and add the keyword to it. Modify your title tags and headings and adjust their lengths so that they appear on SERP without getting truncated.
Adding meta description and schema tags are also essential aspects of content optimization.
Step#4: What next after content optimization?
Now is the time to fine-tune the other on-page elements of your website. For a website with multiple pages, the pages should be linked to each other through internal linking. It helps search engines to crawl your website easily.
A good practice when it comes to link building is to use anchor text to link pages. For example, if you want to link to a page with the recipe of cheesecakes, your anchor text could be 'easy recipe to make cheesecake’ and hyperlink it.
One thing that happens with websites is the process of deleting old pages and generating new ones. If you have deleted an old page and replaced it with a new one, make sure all the links pointing to the old page are redirected to the new one.
If the redirection is not applied, the links will appear broken, hurting your website's ranking.
Optimizing images is also vital so that they don't slow your page down. Resizing the images and adding alt text to them also boost your website's performance.
Step#5: Fix things off-page
Not only on-page, but you are also responsible for off-page SEO to make sure your website ranks. It is a way of telling people and search engines that your website is here and they should check it out.
Some off-page SEO strategies you need to focus on are guest blogging, link building, social media marketing, brand mentions, etc.
A good SEO campaign follows the step-by-step process and leads to results. SEO is a long process that takes time to give results. Anyone who promises you a quick result is a red flag.
Tip: Get the basics right, and the results will follow.
About Michelle Joe: Michelle Joe is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences, and express herself through her blogs. You can find her on twitter: @michellejoe524