When thinking about SEO you may feel like a high school senior on prom night, and that’s okay. After all, you are likely a business owner and certainly not a digital marketing expert at a Google partner SEO agency in Los Angeles staffed with the best marketing experts. That said, feeling a touch of anxiousness, hesitation, and curiosity when it comes to embracing search engine optimization is typical. What is not typical is when business owners delve into SEO with little to no prior knowledge and are able to justify their time doing it (meaning they have favorable results). These three tips will help SEO virgins experience a satisfying first time encounter with search optimization while instilling confidence. After all, nobody wants to feel like they are clumsily unhooking the bra strap of organic search optimization when they can be wining and dining SEO like a pro.
Preparing for Strong Local SEO Results
If your business growth relies on attracting local customers from surrounding communities, you will need to perform a number of tasks to set the stage for successful local results. Google bots aren’t going to place you in local search results just because you have a website. You need to spruce up to make your local strategy attractive to Google’s bots. Here are some steps:
- Match your business model to Google’s guidelines
- Create a website content strategy with geographical considerations
- Citations / NAP
- Earn reviews
- Social media
If you expect to appear in multiple places on page one of Google for local search results, you need to make sure your business model reflects Google’s guidelines. For example, Google will not accept PO Box addresses. Also, If you have multiple service areas you will need to find a way to brand each individually with a unique web page that clearly defines its differences in a way that can’t be read as a potential gateway page–an attempt to create multiple pages designed to rank for the same thing.
You will also need to consider ways to incorporate geography into your keyword and content strategy while still presenting content that reads naturally. Avoid using “day care Echo Park” as a keyword; create a few sentences that let readers (and Google bots) know what your business is AND where it is in an informative manner. Instead, write something like, ”we are proud to offer interactive day care services in Echo Park–a Los Angeles neighborhood known for strong community roots and families bridging multiple cultures”.
You will also need to create citations–multiple mentioning of your name, address and phone number (NAP) in Google My Business and in appropriate directories. Just make sure your NAP is consistently accurate, and avoid listing this in directories not related to your products or industry. In other words, if you own a gym then don’t list it an an auto mechanic directory.
Verified reviews help increase organic results. Google is purposely “hush hush” on how its algorithm responds to reviews. However, we do know that an increased click through rate and longer session durations (the time someone spends on your site) helps award authority and therefore lends to organic improvements. So make sure to use a good customer review solution to encourage more visits.
Social signals play into local organic results. Create a company profile on Facebook and share content and offers that take people to your website. If you want to rank in Local Pack, social signals will help add the needed rocket fuel.
Perform Minor Technical SEO Tasks that Deliver Big Results
Performing technical SEO tasks is similar to investing in good insulation or replacing rotted floor joists in a home: once you have a completed project you can’t see these items but you know they are contributing to a solid infrastructure. There are a number of technical SEO checklists you can download. However, many of these are overkill unless you have a massive ecommerce site or are a fortune 500 company with greater technical demands. Here are some insanely easy technical tasks that any beginner can perform. You may need to look up the steps, but these will be a breeze):
- Install Google Analytics and set up goals
- Set up Google Search Console
- Install Yoast SEO (if site is WordPress)
- Install Google Analytics plugin (if site is WordPress)
- Add H1 and H2 tags
- Customize page URLs using appropriate keywords
- Add image ALTs
- Create page title
- Add meta description
- Check Google Search Console bi-weekly for crawl errors, missing titles and tags, and duplicate content issues
- Add schema markup (use WordPress plugin if able)
These technical tasks help Google understand what your site is about and who it would benefit. A website lacking these tasks will surely face crawlability issues and miss out on ranking opportunities. Just think of these technical SEL tasks as being the screws that hold everything together so that Google can gauge the structure. Also, Google Analytics and Search Console provide valuable data that can be used to perform SEO improvements once you lose your search optimization virginity and move up into the intermediate phase that extends well beyond a third base grab and even that first home plate slide!
Optimizing Your Content
Creating content needs to be done for SEO and for the user experience. In other words, it needs to rank AND it needs to be written for specific buyer personas that will likely convert into paying customers. This is a big task, and both an art and science. It can also be very intimidating, especially for SEO virgins and those who aren’t so skilled with the pen. However, it doesn’t have to be complex. Let’s first break down the considerations that need to go into your content:
- Google RankBrain (artificial intelligence and machine learning)
- Latent semantic indexing (LSI)
- Buyer persona focused
Content marketing includes a number of other points and considerations. However, for the SEO virgin, this is an ideal starting point that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed but that will still grant positive results. When writing content, you will need to have RankBrain top of focus. This is the newest big addition to Google’s algorithm and is the third largest ranking factor. It runs on AI and machine learning. In other words, when a specific search query is made Google notices what search results are clicked on, studies engagement, and follows the user on to the next click in which it determines the best result. Then the search engine self educates itself so it can better understand semantic relationships and offer a better user experience. When you create topic-focused content that educates and entertains, Google will reward your text.
Latent semantic indexing is used to determine context by pinpointing thematic keyword usage so the search engine can understand your content context and best match it with appropriate search queries.
Once you determine your buyer personas, you will need to create a content marketing strategy that speaks to each persona on an emotional, highly personal level. LSI plays heavily into this because context is key for writing to specific buyer groups. For example, if you sell outdoor fireplaces and fire features your content directed to a bachelor in his 20s will be significantly different in context from content written for women in their 30s with small children.
Finally, keywords need to be carefully chosen. There are a number of inexpensive keyword research tools you can use that help you find new opportunities and that reveal search volume to help you make smart usage decisions. But don’t simply use exact match keywords; create longtail versions that are organic and mirror voice searches. You also want to put a contextual spin on your keywords. For example, “child-safe outdoor fireplaces” or “outdoor fireplaces safe for children” should be used in content directed at a buyer persona who has young kids running around.
Take Time to Research these Tips for SEO
If you don’t fully understand the steps in executing these steps to optimizing your website, know that it’s fine and no digital marketer would ever expect you to have a firm grasp out the gate. Take the time to research each one of these SEO tips and map out the steps required. You will be surprised at how easy it is.
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