I said I'd be sharing how I am doing keyword research and search engine optimization for my site. I'm still planning to do that. In the meanwhile, if you want to know how to get started with Search Engine Optimization the right way, here's the first step:
- Start by asking people (ie customers, employees, partners, suppliers) what they might type into a search engine in order to find what you sell. Think as big and as broad as possible. Even include words that are less relevant than others as you may find out later that they are much easier to rank high for, yet still attract the right prospect to your site.
- Plug those words into a keyword suggestion tool that helps you identify keywords and keyword phrases that you might not have considered. Consider them. Consider them all. Don't discount anything yet. This is like brainstorming. Ever been in a room for the purpose of brainstorming with that jerk who wants to shoot down everyone's ideas? In Keyword Research, in the beginning, no idea is bad. Don't be that jerk.
- On an ongoing basis, track which keywords (and keyword phrases) people are entering into search engines in order to arrive at your site. You'll need an analytics tool for this. You'll find that people enter in very strange and long phrases and arrive at your site. For example, I got two visitors this past month who searched for "how to generate leads from your website". That's good traffic even though it's only a trickle. A good analytics package helps you identify keyword phrases that are obscure but very relevant. Unless you spend 10 days brainstorming, you're not going to figure these out. But, once you do identify them from your analytics package, you can create some content around them. Imagine if I could find 100 phrases like "how to generate leads from your website" that generates two visitors/month for me.
- Use a tool that helps identify keywords that have adequate search volume, that tracks where you rank now for your keywords, and gives you an estimation of how hard it will be to rank on the first page of search engines for them. Use these three critera, plus relevance to determine your favorite keywords. Yes, now you can start crossing some off of the list. Or atleast giving them a low relevance rating.
- Make the right changes to your site in order to rank for these keywords.
- Come up with a strategy to put more content on your site. You'll most likely need to add more pages to your site. Starting a blog is a great way to do this: a blog creates a new page every time you write an article. Every time you create a new page, you can target a few new keywords.
- Create inbound links to your site using a variety of link building strategies including creating your own links on social media, social networking sites and directories; interacting with bloggers; optimized press release distribution, etc.
- Track rankings as they climb (or sink) for each individual keyword by tracking which pages of your site ranks in what place in the search engines. This helps you to determine which page on your site to modify in order to move from the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc page of google to the 1st for a given keyword. If you're suddenly on the second page for a keyword, you can basically go back through steps 1 through 7, find more keywords that are related, create some more content, build some more links. Then, you'll get to be on the first page and you'll get more and more traffic.
- Track and evaluate the value of your incoming links in order to assess which ones are helping which pages rank for a given keyword. This helps you determine how to intelligently build more links to your site in order to move from 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc page of google to the 1st for a given keyword. For example, I know that I rank high for a search for "how to generate leads using linkedin". That link (even though it's from my own blog) will help me cement that position. If someone else links to that (hint. hint) it'll help even more.
- Track your competitors keyword rankings and inbound links in order to evaluate how to duplicate your competitor's success. It's possible to do all of what I listed above on your competitor's sites. Remember the days of asking your clients for information (catalogs, brochures, pricing, how they sell, how they position products, etc) about your competitor's. All that and much more is at your fingertips. You can now figure out exactly how your competitor's get prospects to visit their websites, how much traffic they're getting because of what they're doing and whether or not they're converting a lot of their traffic into business. There's no reason not to do competitive intelligence. And now you can do more than ever was posssible before. Most importantly, you can benefit almost immediately from this knowledge by duplicating what they're doing successfully.
- Track which keywords deliver relevant visitors that convert into leads and sales.
- Repeat this process until you have more leads than you can handle. I'd argue that you shouldn't stop then, either. But, you should set your goals. Not me.
In order to pull this off, you can go find about 10 free tools, spend about 20 hours either integrating them or slicing and dicing data that they spit out, then read about 20 SEO blogs over 3 months to figure out how to actually implement. Or we can just have a conversation. I have one affordable tool, all the knowledge you need in an easily digestable form, and all the tools you need to implement it. And you'll be making progress within one month.