In the past three years, I have directly managed a large number of Search Engine optimization (SEO) project for companies in San Diego. One thing I have always noticed is that a lot of businesses wonder what exactly SEO is, and what “SEO magicians” do to get a website ranked on the first page of Google. Today, I am going to break this down and answer the question while making sure that the information is not too overwhelming.
In general, what an expert SEO team does/should do to help your website be recognized (by Google) as one of the top ones in your industry and location is creating reputation for your brand name and website. Of course, we are only talking about acceptable practices by Google and not the Black Hat techniques. We all know that no one can go far cheating against the internet’s giant.
“Creating reputation” for a website is obviously as vague of a term as it gets. I am going to break this into smaller pieces explaining the details of each step.
OK; so you already know the importance of Internet Marketing and being found on Google by your potential clients. What is next? Your first step should be to figure out and decide on a group of keywords you should target to get the most out of your effort. Most of the time, we ask our clients to tell us the main keywords they believe their customers would use to look up for a service or product they offer. We also get a complete list of the main products and services the business is currently offering. Using these, we brainstorm to come up with a list of 20 – 50 keywords. Once the list is ready, the next step would be to look at the realistic statistics. While there is tens of amazing keyword research tools out there, I always try to make the final decisions based on what I get from Google’s Keyword Planner. After all, we are trying to receive traffic through Google’s Search Results. Simply enter your keywords to the Google Planner, adjust your location, and analyze the results. In most cases (especially for service provider companies), you should eliminate your keywords to 6-8 main keywords, with 2-3 of them as the main targets. Keep in mind that it is highly discouraged to optimize a website for only one or two keywords. Instead, you should create and focus on a list of the top keywords and make sure that they are consistent.
On-Page Search Engine Optimization
This is probably the tricky part. I cannot emphasize enough on how important the on-page SEO is. Think about a building. Can you build one with a weak foundation? Exactly!
I have talked to a lot of people about SEO. A lot of us have defined (or still define) on-page SEO as setting the Meta Tags properly. The truth is, setting the Meta Tags is really overrated. When talking about on-page optimization, there is hundreds of factors that play together to make a website SEO-Friendly; the order the content of the page has been coded, Content Highlighting through Google Webmaster Tools, Page Load Time, Killing any rank-juice leaks, optimizing the images and videos, using the proper header tags, and following the latest schema.org rules are just a few of such. You must ensure that your website is fully optimized before investing on any off-page SEO strategies.
Off-Page Search Engine Optimization
Now that we have discussed about the importance of on-page SEO, I feel the urge to bring out the fact that as important as on-page SEO is, conversely, so is off-page SEO optimization. As an SEO team, we spend days to research the possibilities and find out our clients’ competitors, and their main strategies. Once the one-page SEO is on place, and assuming that you are updating your website with fresh, useful, and related content regularly, you should start your off-page SEO. Off-page SEO is fun but time-consuming. Put yourself in your typical customer’s shoes and understand what they do online, where they go when browsing the internet, what questions they might have, what interests them mostly, etc. Once you answer these questions, you have a starting point. Start by writing useful articles for your target audience, and improve your business information in online directories, especially the ones your potential customers use. If you have a restaurant, Yelp is probably your best shot, for instance. Write articles and answer questions that your potential customers are probably wondering about. Directory submissions, effective backlinks, the submission of press releases, and social network optimization / activity are some of the major players in off-page SEO.
Every marketing manager should learn the importance of keeping track of where they are with their website and SEO. We offer our clients a monthly detailed SEO report. This would help the client see the progress of the project and where they stand as far as their online reputation and traffic goes.