As a full-time affiliate marketer, I rely on most of my website traffic to come from search engines and more specifically, Google. In this do-it-yourself search engine optimization guide, I’ll be going over the basic things I personally do to rank highly in search engines. I will also go over some of the outdated methods that you should stay away from. It’s not as complicated as you might think!
Before we get into this, it’s important to understand how search engines really work. Check out the video below to learn more about the basics:
Step 1: Perform Keyword Research
In order to properly use search engine optimization (SEO) methods properly, you must perform what is called “keyword research”. What is keyword research? Basically, it’s a way to find out what terms people are using when searching for information in search engines. You can also identify the competition and how many websites contain those terms. The goal is to find a good list of keywords that many people search for that also has little competition in the search results. So, how do you do this?
For starters, there are many services that exist to help you perform this type of research. Assuming you have some money to spend (I’ll show you some free ways to perform keyword research in a bit), you can sign up for a service like WordTracker.com. In short, WordTracker will go out and find a huge list of keywords related to your niche and even show you how often these terms are searched for as well as how much competition there is in order to rank highly for those terms. It’s a massive time saver and will help uncover article ideas you probably wouldn’t have ever thought of on your own.
Now, if you don’t have money to spend on keyword research, there are some free ways to do it. Here is how to perform keyword research for free by simply using the Google Suggest feature…
You can also use internet forums to find a good list of potential keywords. Check out the below video on how I do that.
The key here is to create a good list of phrases you want to rank for in Google instead of simply writing about anything and crossing your fingers so people will find your site. If you’re going to take the time to create articles as a way to attract new visitors to your site, you might as well create articles centered around specific topics and search phrases that you know will bring you highly targeted visitors.
Step 2: Optimize Your Content
Once you have a good list of keyword phrases, you’ll need to start creating blog posts or pages on your site centered around those keyword phrases. For example, let’s say you have a local business and you want to rank for the search term “San Diego Barber Shop”. There are some ways to properly format your page in order to rank highly for that search phrase. To start off with, let’s decide on a blog post article that we can rank for that search phrase. In this example, I’ll choose to write a blog article on “How To Find The Best San Diego Barber Shop”.
For starters, your article title already includes the phrase “San Diego Barber Shop”, so that right there is a good place to start. But there are other places you’ll want to include your keyword phrase as well. Here is a list of some places you should include it.
- Article Title: While I already stated this above, I want to reinforce that you should include the keyword phrase you want to rank for in the title of your article. This is very important.
- Article Content: Obviously, you’ll want to include your keyword in your article at least a couple times, but don’t overdo it. Make sure it sounds natural. Try to also include the keyword phrase early on in your article. Including it in the first paragraph and last paragraph is a good goal while also sprinkled throughout the article a little bit. Again, don’t overdo it and make sure your content sounds natural.
- Article Sub-Titles: In addition to including your keyword in the main article title, you’ll also want to include the keyword in at least one sub-title or heading in the article. You can also use some variations in some sub-titles. In this case, I might use phrases such as “How To Avoid Low Quality Barber Shops in San Diego” and “San Diego Hair Stylists I Think Are High Quality”.
- At Least One Image: Place at least one image in your article and change the FILE NAME of that article to include your keyword (in this case, something like “San-Diego-Barber-Shop.jpg” would work. You can also use “San Diego Barber Shop” in the alt tag or image title.
- Meta Tags: Search engines often display information based on the meta tags used on a website. Here is an explanation of what meta tags are. You should include the keyword in your Title and Description meta tags. If you’re using WordPress I strongly encourage you to download the free WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin which will help you optimize those meta tags.
Other than that, there really isn’t much else you need to do in order to optimize your page for SEO. That will give search engines enough “hooks” to understand what your page is really about. But, how many of these keyword do you need to cram in? The below video should help answer that.
Step 3: Get Some Backlinks, But Be Careful!
In addition to “on-page SEO” as I explained above, there is also “off-page SEO” which must be considered. If you have a lot of people linking to your article or post, especially if the links are text links containing the keyword you’re trying to rank for, it will be seen as a huge indicator for Google to rank your page higher for that given keyword. However, these must be natural links and not spam. Google is getting very good at determining which links are natural and which have been paid for or solicited.
So, how do you get these free natural links from other website owners or blogs? Write excellent and compelling content that truly helps readers. When you do that, your content will naturally get shared over time on other websites, blogs, social media, and other places you would have never imagined. Many of my posts and articles have even been shared by major news agencies. Just be sure you aren’t using paid link services and never spam comment sections on other websites. Google is very good at determining real links from low quality links. If you have too many spammy links out there, Google may actually penalize you.
Step 4: Be Patient And Always Diversify
Aside from doing the above, you will also need to be very patient. It will take time (maybe 6 to 12 months) before you begin ranking well for many search terms. Some pages you create may never rank well for intended search phrases, while others rank very easily. That’s why it is important to have as much content and as much diversification as possible. The more high quality articles you write, the more search phrases you have the possibility of ranking for (sometimes by complete accident), and the higher the chance you will get more traffic due to your efforts. SEO is really a numbers game. You can’t make every page rank well, but the more pages you have the higher the chances at least SOME of them will rank. Really, all it takes is a small handful of high rankings for good keyword phrases to change your entire business.
While searching for a do-it-yourself search engine optimization guide may reveal a lot of e-books, training courses, and very complex articles, this one was rather simple for a reason. The truth is, SEO is becoming outdated. Instead of focusing purely on SEO, focus more on providing a great resource for your website visitors. When you truly provide value to people, SEO happens naturally. So, take the basic steps I outlined above, then simply focus on creating awesome unique content and let the rest happen naturally – the way search engines want it to be.