Learning how to do SEO for your website can be overwhelming the first time you try. There is just way too much information available out there and it’s pretty much impossible to know where to start. That’s why I wrote this post.
Let me break it down for you. You basically have two options:
Option A: If you’d rather spend most of your time running your business and less time in front of the computer, you can let another SEO company do all the hard work for you. Simple and easy.
Option B: Some courageous souls try the alternative option: figuring out how to do SEO all by yourself. If this is the option you chose, this post was written for you.
Day 1: Do Your Keyword Research
Before you learn how to do anything else, you need to know what keywords you’re targeting. You could have the greatest website with the most killer backlinks, but if you’re targeting all the wrong keywords, you’re going to end up with thousands of irrelevant visitors to your site every day, and the only difference that will make to your life is more spam.
There are plenty of advanced SEO keyword research tools available but if you really want to know the truth, they almost all pull their data from the same place: the Google Keyword Tool. From here you can customize your permalinks, title tags, meta descriptions, and basically anything to do with SEO.
Get to know this tool like it were your own son, because the information you’ll get out of it is worth pure gold.
Every businessman in history has asked themselves the same question: “What are people looking for?” Well, if you know how to use it, the Google Keyword Tool lays the answer right in front of your face.
How to use the Google Keyword Tool
I’ve found that the best way to teach anyone how to SEO is by just doing it. So let’s imagine that we’ve been put in charge of doing SEO for a vegetarian restaurant in New York City, and so your first step is to determine your target keywords. Even if you have some obvious keywords in mind (“New York Vegetarian Restaurant”), the Google Keyword Tool will give you ideas you’ve never even thought of.
So, Step 1 is to enter in the most obvious keyword that relates to your business, making it as generic as possible:
Depending on your keyword, Google will usually return anywhere between 10 and 100 results. The first thing you want to do is just browse. Don’t try to pin down your top 5 keywords straight from the get-go. Just look around and see what kinds of terms people are looking for. You can even ignore the search numbers for now. Just brainstorm.
Right off the bat, here are some search terms that you may not have thought of before (or, at least I didn’t):
“Vegetarian Restaurant Menu”
“Local Vegetarian Restaurant”
“Best Vegetarian Restaurant”
After you’ve gotten a good feel for what people are searching for, try typing in different keywords you might want to rank for. If you’re also interested in ranking for “Vegan Restaurant,” go ahead and type that in and see what you get back.
After you’ve searched for 5-10 different keywords that are related to your business, you can begin to narrow them down a bit. Go back and search for your keywords, except this time sort them by Monthly Searches. Whether you search by Global or Local Monthly Searches will depend on your business. Here’s the difference between the two:
Global Monthly Searches will show the average number of searches done each month all over the globe.
Local Monthly Searches will show the average number of searches done each month in the country and/or language that you have selected.
In the case of a local business, it doesn’t matter to you whether someone in Slovakia is searching for your keyword because they’re never going to visit your business. So you’re better off with sticking to Local Monthly Searches. In the case of online services where you have clients all over the world, Global Monthly Searches is more appropriate.
Either way, sort your keywords by monthly searches and take a good look at what comes up. Your job is to get a general sense of how many people are searching for your potential keywords and pick anywhere between 5-10 that you think would be a good idea to target.
Day 2: Optimizing your on-page SEO
If Google’s algorithm were a pie chart, on-page SEO would probably take up 25% of it. It’s not as important as off-page SEO, but you can’t do SEO without it. And as long as we’re talking about pies, think of on page SEO as the sugar: it might make up less than 25% of the pie, but it wouldn’t be a pie without it. Same idea.
The absolute first thing you need to learn how to do is change your title tags. Google is enamored with title tags and it’s virtually impossible to rank for competitive keywords without having them somewhere in your title.
If you run a WordPress site, it’s easy to set your title tags if you’re running an SEO-centered theme, like Thesis or one of the themes from WooThemes. If not, you’re probably doing to have to do some digging around your theme to find where to set custom title tags.
If you’re not running a site with WordPress, here’s the general rule of thumb:
<title>Your Title Goes Here</title>
However you end up changing it doesn’t matter as much; what’s important is that you do. Try to rank one main keyword per page. For example, don’t try to rank your homepage for “Best Vegetarian Restaurant NYC” and “Vegan Restaurant Menu” at the same time. Create a separate page for each and title those pages accordingly. You’ll see that it’s much easier to rank two different pages for two different terms than one single page for those two terms, and the more different the keywords are, the more this is true.
This one is kind of a counterpart to optimizing your title tags. Google also looks extra closely at your URL, so make sure they contain your keywords as well. Oh, and that reminds me. For an easy way to optimize all of your SEO essentials while using WordPress, download the All in One SEO Pack plugin and optimizing your on-page SEO will become as easy as can be.
Building keyword-rich, high quality content is one of the most important steps in learning how to SEO your website.
And it’s not as tough as it sounds. All you need to do is populate your website with original content that mentions your target keywords often. So if you’re ranking an inner page for the phrase “Vegetarian Restaurant Menu,” include that exact phrase at least once on your page–ideally more. Just don’t go overboard or Google will begin to get suspicious.
You don’t need to create 10 pages in one day–start small. Create one page today and create another page some other day. What’s important is that you’re consistent and before you know it you’ll have 20, 30 pages created for all the different keywords you think would attract visitors to your website.
Day 3: Build Backlinks
Link building is probably over 50% of SEO, maybe even as important as 75%.
Although this is the most difficult step, it’s also the most rewarding. Remember the pie chart? Link building is probably over 50% of SEO, maybe even as important as 75%. Google sees links as “votes” for your site, and whoever has the greatest quantity and quality of votes wins.
Don’t just think you can go out there and build 1000 links and automatically rank #1 for your keywords. In some niches and for some keywords this is somewhat true, but you’ll still have to be careful where you get your links from. Links from spammy and/or questionable sites can hurt your search engine ranking, as much as Google denies it. When linkbuilding, stick to safe, trusted sites that offer only white hat SEO opportunities.
So, how to properly build links to your website? There are a few ways:
Here’s the simplest one, and it’s as old as SEO itself. All you have to do is find other blogs in your niche and offer to write up a high quality blog post for their site, absolutely free. What’s the reward? You get to include a link that points back to your website in the context of your guest post. This will attract plenty of direct traffic as well as give your site some much-needed link juice. When you’re first starting out, don’t worry too much about getting links from high PageRank websites. What you really need is links (and a lot of them) from non-spammy sources. Beggars can’t be choosers.
Another simple way to get easy backlinks. Write unique articles for article directories in exchange for a backlink as well as the opportunity to get picked up by other bloggers who may want to republish your article on their own site. Some article directories will even generate direct traffic, as well (EzineArticles especially).
Here’s the hardest one: create viral content that other webmasters can’t help but link to. One of the best example of linkbait in the SEO world was a photo from Jeremy Schoemaker of Shoemoney holding an Adsense check for $132,994.97. This photo was a hit because it’s notoriously hard to make a living off of Adsense and here’s a guy who nonchalantly displays a check for over 100 grand. Talk about linkbait.
And see? I just linked to him. Works like a charm.
You didn’t really think SEO only took 3 days, did you? I hope not.
This three-step process that I’ve outlined for you can be started in just three days, but of course real SEO takes a lot longer than that. In just three days you can pull your site from oblivion to the first page or two of Google. But to reach #1 will take a more dedicated effort. And it should! A #1 Google ranking will bring you tons of traffic for months and years to come. Nothing that rewarding comes in just 72 hours. But 72 hours is all you need to get yourself on that path.
So now the choice is yours.
How dedicated are you to spending weeks and months learning how to SEO your website and working constantly to propel your site up the Google ranks? Are you up for the challenge?
If you’d rather leave it to the experts, we’re here to help. Our SEO Packages will take care of your site’s SEO so you can get back to running the business you love.
If you’d rather take matters into your own hands, that’s OK, too. Now you know all about the three pillars of SEO: Keyword Research, On-Page SEO, and Link Building. It’s up to you to work the magic.