For over ten years, I’ve had virtually the same process. When it comes to internet marketing, I simply follow SEO fundamentals. While the minutia of my process has changed slightly, the overall philosophy and process has not. I’ve read Google’s SEO guide and I’ve followed it closely. I’ve ignored internet marketing fads and I refused to jump on the latest trends that promise overnight success. I’ve stuck with hard work and a methodical system. I’ve stayed true to what I believe in and what I know has worked for me, my prior employer, and my current clients.
Strong SEO is a process that is thoroughly thought and planned. Strong SEO is targeted and it is focused. It not rushed or hurried or just managed with a shoot from the hip approach. It isn’t link building or hiring a company to obtain 500 likes for $5. It is methodical. Everyone can have their own method, but the method needs to have purpose and meaning.
My process has been and currently is the following:
Decide Who and What You Are
- Take a step back and look at yourself or company as an outsider. Write down who you are, what you do, or what you sell.
- Write down the words or phrases that best describe what you just wrote.
- Think about who your target demographic (aka website visitor) is and write down their pain points (problems) and how you solve it with your service or product offering.
- Decide what keywords you think your target demographic will input into Google or Bing’s search box to find your website or blog.
Select the Best Keyword Phrases for Your Target Market
- Review those possible keywords in Google’s keyword tool for volumes and associated phrases.
- Pay close attention to broad versus exact volumes, as they are very different.
- Now think harder. Google pushes you towards PPC keyword phrases. There are lots of lots of strong phrases that don’t automatically show, but will have solid volumes if queried.
Plan Your Attack
- Make a list of all keywords or phrases you’d like to rank on in search.
- Prioritize them. You cannot go after everything right away.
- Set a small list of must have words and a longer list of regular old keywords.
- Match up one keyword to one page on your sitemap. Make it easy for Google to know what page equals what keyword.
- Don’t just go after all high volume keywords. Find your sweet spot. Go after ones you can score on quickly and high traffic phrases.
- Double check your planned sitemap again. It needs to make sense to visitors (aka real people) and search engines.
Create Solid Content
- Write solid content to match the keywords.
- Use best practices and keep the page at a minimum of three to four solid paragraphs of text.
- Don’t over optimize. You don’t need keywords in every sentence. It is much more important that you have quality writing that is natural and that will convert visitors to leads or sales.
- Ask yourself if that content provides solid content in the eyes of the search engines. Yes it is really worth a second look.
- Ask yourself if that content will provide a positive experience for the actual user reading it. Yes it is really worth a third look. Does it answer the pain points you identified at the start of this process?
Focus on Meta and URLs
- Set your URL of the page to the keyword or include the keyword in page URL as a larger phrase.
- Create a meta title and description that is relevant to the content. Remember descriptions are sentences and not keywords.
- Reread your meta and ask yourself if it would entice a Google searcher to click into your page if it was read on the search results page.
Build Your Reputation
- Share that page on major social sites in a legitimate way – Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Build internal and external links to the page. Again, legitimate matters.
- Ignore everything else.
- If this is one of your top keyword phrases, make sure it is linked from your home page.
- If this is one of your top keyword phrases, make sure it is linked from your footer. Be careful and make you it is useful and relevant.
- Love your website. Make sure content is updated and fresh.
While there are a lot of dos and don’ts I use along the way, this is my basic process for SEO. For ten years I’ve used it and for ten years it has worked. When you look at my process, you’ll see there is some technology mixed in, but the heart of the process is marketing. Whenever I steer away from marketing, my SEO efforts and website traffic suffer. And when I push myself back to marketing, all is well again.
I’ve had web design clients want me to transfer this knowledge to them in an email or set of instructions and I can’t do it. SEO is somewhat of an art. I’m by no means an artist, but I have a gut feeling on what is right or wrong. My instinct, my search for knowledge and my process is my art form.
Slow and steady and a hard work wins the SEO war. Learn along the way, stay true to best practices, while staying clear of fads and unsolisted emails for SEO assistance. Find your process and you’ll find your SEO success.