Every single online business needs to have regular traffic in order to survive. Although there are tons of different options out there for traffic generation, it’s hard to beat targeted search engine traffic from SEO. By targeted traffic, we simply mean that people are typing in phrases related to your website and are actually ready to learn about your products and services.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is simply the process of configuring and promoting a website in a certain way in order to achieve higher rankings in Google and other search engines. Although the exact algorithms are kept secret, smart marketers and online business owners have learned some proven steps to achieving higher rankings.
Five critical SEO steps to get you started:
1. Keyword Research
The first step to any search engine marketing campaign is to decide exactly which search terms you want your website to rank for. This will start with a simple evaluation of your website and your overall business. You need to understand your potential customer and what kinds of keyword phrases he or she might use to find you through search engines.
You then need to use the Google keyword tool or other software tools in order to evaluate both the search volume and the competition for your particular keyword phrases. In other words, you want to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting are receiving a significant amount of searches each month, but you also want to make sure that the competition is not unrealistic.
2. On-page SEO Factors
After you perform basic keyword research, the first step to optimization is making sure that your search terms appear in the right places on your webpage. You want to include your particular keyword phrase in the title tag of your webpage, in a header tag and meta tags, as well as a few times in the body of your article.
You want to be careful not to overdo this step. With the advent of the Google Panda update, it is very important not to stuff your keyword phrase all over your webpage. Instead, you should include Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) or theme phrases that are naturally related to your main term. This will not only help to increase your search engine ranking for the main phrase, but it will also help your webpage to be found for many random search terms that you never even planned for.
For example, a well-researched article written by an expert on the keyword “dog training” would naturally include many related keywords like “obedience, basic commands, dominance, sit, stay, down, training collars, behavior problems, dog aggression,” etc.
3. Link building 101
All other things being equal, the more inbound links you have coming into your website, the better your chances are of ranking for a particular search term. Google sees links as votes of confidence from other websites around the Internet. So if everyone seems to be linking to a particular article on weight loss, it would stand to reason that this article deserves to rank well in the search engines because it provides valuable information. Ideally, you should write really valuable content that can attract links naturally over time, but the truth is that you’ll have to do some artificial promotion to get things going.
You should have a reasonable link building plan that is unlikely to get you into trouble with Google and other search engines. For example, you don’t want to use automated software tools that create thousands of links overnight out of nowhere. Instead, if you launch a brand new website, you should make things look natural by building links more slowly over time. You should also understand that the quality of links is very important, not just the quantity. For example, if you write a guest blog post for a very popular website in your niche, this can go a whole lot further than submitting to lots of low-quality article directories that no one pays attention to anyway. Not only will this help your search engine optimization, but it can also help bring direct traffic to your website.
Another very important key to link building is diversity. You want to obtain links from many different websites and from many different methods including article submission, blog commenting, and Web 2.0 websites. You also want to use a variety of anchor text (the actual link text that people click on) in order to make things look more natural.
4. Social Media Triggers
Although the process is still unfolding, it’s pretty clear that Google is paying more and more attention to social media triggers. Facebook likes, tweets, and other social signals are being tracked because real human beings are actually recommending websites to their friends. Once again, you want to have a really valuable website that people want to recommend on social sites instead of just trying to game the system.
5. Importance of Quality Content and The future of SEO
Search engine optimization will continue to be a powerful tool for marketing your online business. Nevertheless, you should focus on long-term value instead of just trying to temporarily manipulate the rankings like so many internet marketers have done for the last several years. By doing this, you’ll have a much better chance of preserving your search engine traffic, and you will also protect yourself by finding additional traffic generation methods like social media and good old word-of-mouth advertising.