Search engine optimization (SEO) seems to have a mysterious shroud around it that frightens most business owners. They understand the value it can bring and how it can help their businesses, but they don't believe it is something they can conquer on their own. Instead, they shell out thousands of dollars to agencies, even though they could handle many aspects of SEO internally.
It's not rocket science. SEO is something that every business owner can and should spend some time doing. We are going to focus on the less-technical aspects of SEO – mainly creating content for the blog on your website. This type of content-driven marketing will benefit your SEO and help you establish creditability and expertise in your field.
This SEO approach is effective for internet-based businesses, software as a solution (SaaS) businesses or any type of e-commerce business. Let's take a look at how Google SEO works and the most important things you can start doing to improve your website's ranking.
How Google SEO works in a nutshell
The goal of SEO is to show the most relevant and high-quality results for the end user. Search engines need to be able to crawl, or read, what is on a website to determine what topics it is relevant for it. It does this by identifying what keywords a web page has, how established a website is and how many websites send traffic or links to that webpage.
Generally, the more links you have, the more established the website, and the more relevant content you have for your niche, the better your website will rank in search results.
Google is constantly checking every page on the internet for those aspects to determine webpage quality and relevancy. You don't need to be a website expert to focus on those aspects. You can do it by just creating good content for your website and doing it frequently. Below are a few key aspects that will get you out of the Google Sandbox and get your website ranking on search results pages for keywords in your niche.
There are a few basic concepts in SEO that you need to understand to be able to optimize your business's website. Learning these will help get your website ranked for relevant search terms fairly quickly, which will bring more traffic – and potential leads – to your website.
On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO
The difference between these two terms are the basic tenants of what SEO is built around. On-page SEO refers to what is going on with your website specifically. This includes things like website performance, blog and website content, content formatting and the structure of your website among other things. These are all the things that you control directly.
Off-page SEO is what is commonly referred to as link building, which we will cover more below. The goal is to get as many websites putting a link to your website on their pages as possible. Off-page SEO is not totally in your control. Sure, you can reach out to other businesses and try to develop relationships to get links, but if another website doesn't link to you, there isn't much you can do.
Latent semantic indexing (LSI)
LSI is part of what contributes to the Google algorithm's ranking of your website pages. The concept behind it is that Google needs signals or indicators in your content to show what it is relevant for. You should create each piece of content on your blog – and possibly even for guest blogs – to be optimized for LSI.
Each piece of content should be created around one main keyword. You should then look for related keywords. The main and related keywords serve as the indicators to Google, but you cannot simply stuff your content with these keywords. The ideal keyword density for Google is 2% to 4%. That means that for every 1,000 words, your main and related keywords should appear 20 to 40 times. I would also recommend split those total keywords, with about 33% on the primary keyword and the remaining 66% on the secondary keywords.
Here is where you should try to place your keywords in your blog posts:
- URL address
- Page title
- Meta tags
- H1 and H2 tags
- Image alt text
- First paragraph of text
- Body of content
- Anchor text for links
- Last paragraph of text
This is the process of getting other websites to put a link to your website on one of their webpages. There are a couple of different ways that you can build links. First, you can reach out to websites and try to convince them to put a link to your website in one of their blogs. But, this can be a tough sell. A better way to get links is to reach out to related websites in your website's niche and ask to do a content exchange, such as guest blogging.
Writing a blog for a website that then links back to the content on your website is one of the best ways to build links. It is a win-win situation for both websites because it gives each an opportunity to build links to a specific piece of content on their website.
Every link is not the same, however. There are do-follow and no-follow links. Every link gives you the opportunity to build equity in your website. But if the link is a no-follow, then you lose out on that equity. Either way, the link can still send traffic to your website, but typically only do-follow links will actually help you rank higher.
The level of domain authority that your website has will also determine how likely Google is to rank you for a specific search. Higher domain authority websites are ranked higher of course. Domain authority is another relevance signal that Google uses to show the best results for users. But how can you build domain authority?
The best way to build domain authority is to create good content and build links with websites that have higher domain authority than yours. Websites with high domain authority are trusted sources, so a link to a low domain authority website is saying, "hey, this website is trustworthy" to Google, thus increasing your domain authority over time.
Domain age is an important factor when it comes to the domain authority score. The longer your website has been around, the more domain authority it will build. That's why getting started early with SEO is a great long-term play for your business.
Building your business's SEO presence
SEO can be intimidating for many business owners. Spending time on something that does not return an immediate benefit is difficult, especially when starting a business. It is my belief that every business owner should spend some time doing SEO and, particularly, content marketing. SEO is a tasked that can be outsourced to agencies, but true high-quality content from knowledgeable individuals who have experience in a niche will always be better than anything an agency can produce.
Focus on getting started with SEO. Begin building your business's online presence by following the focus areas above. Creating great content will help you start to rank on Google, establish your credibility in your specific business niche and provide great marketing material. Take some time out of your busy schedule to start building for the future of your business.