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How to SEO: for Digital Marketers and Business Owners

What is SEO Marketing?

How do search engines work?  The search engine results page ranking factors, commonly referred to as a SERP, update frequently.  The Bing and Google ranking factors differ from one search engine to another, but consistent site structure and article structure will help you to rank better on both.Many first-time marketers wonder how SEO works. Understanding SEO deals with a number of different SEO factors. Understanding SEO can be quite difficult at first, but if you break it down into distinct pieces it is easier to do SEO.

It’s important to explore the latest SEO trends and read what others in the space are doing so that you can get some great ideas to optimize your site. Ranking factors change consistently with core updates and you want to make sure you are not making common SEO mistakes. The easiest way to break this up is to separate SEO into a few different categories.

Achieving the best Google search ranking requires dedication and SEO research to learn the key components of SEO.  Learning Google SEO ranking techniques requires watching SEO videos, SEO webinars, engaging in SEO tutorials, and sometimes having some good luck to get the best results from your targeted SEO words and improve ranking.

As you learn more about SEO you should generate your own basic SEO checklist to achieve great SEO page ranking and continually rank for more SEO search terms. Your SEO best practices checklist should include all the sections of SEO information contained below as parts of your brand strategy.

On Page SEO

On page SEO is simply the coding of your web pages and the signals that you send to the search engines based on tagging. Some of the most important tags that you can put on a webpage are going to be the Page title, the primary H1 header, your secondary H2 tags, and H3, H4, H5, etc. tags when you need them.

John Muller has argued that H1s are not as important as they once were, but many SEO professionals disagree and find that having a proper structure to articles helps articles rank quicker.

The page title of your web page, as well as the title tag, tells the user and the search engine exactly what is on the page, or should be on the page. While doing on page SEO optimization for over 10 years, some of the easiest wins that we get started by optimizing pages for the simple things first. Proper page titles and header tags throughout content help to guide a reader and create a hierarchy of the information that you are presenting on a webpage.

All web pages on your site should have easily accessible phone numbers and forms so that customers can find you and contact you. Image URLs should describe what is on the page with proper alt text, always!

Meta descriptions are also important for on page SEO.  They do not directly affect the ranking but modified or optimized meta descriptions can increase the click-through rate dramatically.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is one of the things that we find most neglected on websites that we audit. Many web developers build websites directly with themes and avoid custom coding. These Web developers are not search engine optimizers, they are closer to a graphic designer or artist and disregard Technical SEO best practices. Some of the items that we see that are done incorrectly most often include: adding images and video content without a CDN, and putting up images and videos that are way too large and slow down the website.

We also find bloated code very often if a developer has rebuilt a website with several themes over the years and doesn’t remove the previous code. Speeding up websites has been an activity that has been front and center for Google over the last couple of years, evident by core web vitals so we make it a priority to make sure coding is clean and that pages load as fast as possible.

You will always be limited by the theme or build of whatever software that you use though.  Everybody appreciates faster page speed to view what we want to see quicker!

We also like to consider redirection as a big part of technical SEO. Over time, website owners may change and reconfigure the way their contact is organized. Sometimes this leads to errors like HTTPS pages linking to HTTP pages from the previous versions. If parent categories are changed on a WordPress site, there will often be redirects that are done but some of the redirects need to be manually changed within the content to avoid redirection lips and make the shortest distance from A to B.

Content Creation

The old saying “content is king” is not so relevant these days with all of the automated content online. To rank well and have SEO website optimization, you need to research keywords for SEO and write content that people actually care about and want to read.

Writing for SEO is different from creative writing and it is important to follow structure so that you don’t make SEO mistakes.  Make sure that your content always speaks to a target audience whether it is a service page, an SEO blog post, or a product page.

The best SEO companies live and die by SEO keyword analysis. SEO rankings are commonly determined by looking at the changes in keywords and identifying ACL trends that have occurred due to content creation and link building.

The best way to find good keywords for SEO is always to research your competitors and do searches for the content that you want to rank for. Rather than just writing and hoping and praying that your content will rank better than your competitors, it’s always easier and more successful to actually read through what you are up against and build out a plan based on the keywords and structures of competing articles.

How to do SEO Keyword Research

Some of the best tools that we can use as content writers while doing an SEO content audit are free to use and have some of the best data that can be very impactful. Every website should be set up with Google Analytics and GA 4 by default.  There are Google Analytics and GA4 Training available for individuals and companies.

Good data is paramount to any kind of SEO activities. Analytics reports will show the search queries linked to Google Analytics through the Google search console.   If we cannot see where we started, how can we see success?

How to Find the Best SEO Keywords

Always start with a list of keywords that you rank for currently, a list of keywords that you want to rank for, and a list of keywords that your competitors rank for. Take note of these page rankings and compare them over time to quantify your success. Keyword research for SEO takes practice and experimentation.

Our team loves to use Google search console data, Google keyword planner in Google Ads, AHrefs, SEMrush, and MOZ. Building a list of desired keywords helps you to have a plan with attainable goals. Site SEO keyword research can be done on businesses in the market or out of the market.

When we are working with a specific niche, we will look for competitors in Los Angeles, NYC, Chicago, and Miami as an example to see what services they provide or content they are creating.  Good research helps to generate good ideas

There are dozens of other types of software that you can use that produce similar outcomes. If you have a website that has a good search volume search console can also help you to identify keywords or keyword variations that will be great to add to your content.

Don’t forget about viewing your competitors’ websites. Many of the tools mentioned above have features like content gap analysis.

How to Choose Keywords for SEO

A content gap analysis tool can help you quickly identify what keywords your website does not use that your competitors are using and ranking for. Sometimes the keywords will be things that you don’t really care about, but other times the competitors will be buying keywords that you never thought about or added to your content.

Many SEO professionals also believe in keyword density and semantic SEO play a role in content success in ranking.  Semantic SEO recommends placing similar words that are found adjacent in other articles about a similar topic.

For this article, we may want to use semantic words like:

  • SEO on Google
  • SEO word search
  • SEO keywords example

Typically these semantic keywords should be a part of your SEO on page process and be used within the bodies of text you are creating.  After finishing your content, make sure to utilize an SEO copywriter or at least get a second pair of eyes on it before you go to press!

Link Building

Link building is one of the hardest parts of SEO. We always tell our clients it’s really about relevance. Links from websites from all around the web that have nothing to do with what you sell or your geographic location are not going to do you any good.

In the early days of SEO, developers or search engine optimizers would game the system by creating links from poorly designed and irrelevant sites that would help to increase rankings. The Google Penguin update of 2012 combated a lot of the web spam related to automated link building. The reality of link building is that it’s hard to get good links from relevant websites for certain verticals. There are ways that you can get some relevant links, especially on a local basis from niche, specific directories, and reputable sites like the Chamber of Commerce in your city.

Writing really good content is a great way to earn links. If you write good content about a topic, and it ranks well, you will naturally earn links over time.

Focusing on organizations and trade groups and getting links from websites that have high traffic and great reputation will send your traffic skyrocketing ahead.

Guest posting is still done by many agencies today, but it doesn’t seem to have as great of an effect as it did several years ago. A lot of agencies are simply buying links or content from third parties rather than writing original content for websites.

Internal Linking Strategy

Don’t forget to add internal links! Internal linking is one of our favorite SEO strategies. We have taken websites that had a lot of pages and simply by optimizing the pages and doing internal linking we were able to double traffic in a short period of time for several clients. Internal linking in SEO is about showing the reader the pathway or next logical step in their content browsing process.

You need to be careful not to link so much or it can be distracting to readers. Make sure that anchor text is varied and that links point to logical pages that don’t seem forced. Most SEO professionals agree that unless you are going over 100 external links per page you’re probably okay. Otherwise, you are going to look like you were running a link farm – a website designed to hold just links and no content in order to cheat on backlinking.

Internal link structure is not quite as important as external links. However, the stronger your website and specific pages get, the more powerful links from your own site can influence your ranking on the search engines.

Local SEO

Local SEO is the process of increasing rankings for localized search queries specific to your business. If your business ranks highly for localized keywords, you will be sure to get more leads and sales.

Ask your potential agency about their local SEO checklist.  What tasks will they perform?  What did they find in their local SEO audit?

One of the things that businesses love to achieve is to rank on the local map pack of featured businesses. This can put your business higher on the page even if you’re not ranking in the organic results when somebody is looking for a specific service or looking to make a specific purchase.

Google maps and Bing local traffic can boost a local service area’s business dramatically. Local Marketing needs to be a focus for any business that is not 100% online. We recommend that businesses upload an image at least a few times a week if possible depending on their niche.  It adds relevance and also makes your business more real to consumers.

Besides optimizing your Google my business profile and your Bing Local profile, it is very important to have a clear NAP for your business. Your name, address, and phone number should ideally be consistent across the web. This shows trust to the search engine and also helps you get your website crowd by having links from reputable directories pointing to your website.

Social SEO

Let’s talk about social SEO, sometimes referred to as social media SEO. SEO and social media should really work together in execution. Social SEO is really about being complete with your social media profiles and using words and phrases to describe your business that customers would search for to find what you are selling. Fill out all the details for social profiles and make sure that contact information is consistent just like you would with Local SEO to send the correct social signals.

Social SEO is about creating content that is shareable, linkable, and more likely to go viral. Nobody wants to share or link to boring content.

Increase Social Shares

Working from the start with any new company, we are going to be creating a Google business page, a Facebook business page, a LinkedIn business page, a Twitter business page, and an Instagram business page. For companies or websites in the design niche, we may also create a Pinterest or Etsy account.

Certain verticals work better for what is called social SEO. Industries that include stunning photographs and video content have a great opportunity of getting shared and linked to through social media. The most important thing regarding social SEO is to be consistent with posting to whatever channels are relevant to your audience and make assets that are clickable and shareable.

Video SEO

How to Rank with Video SEO

SEO Video Marketing involves optimizing your video so that it has the highest chance of getting indexed and ranked on the search engines. Some of the same strategies that you use with a normal webpage also can be used with a video. Quality of content and quality of footage also play an important role in video SEO.

Choosing the Right Video Platform

There are many video platforms out on the web with the two most common and popular being YouTube and Vimeo. YouTube is a Google property. While Vimeo is not, its videos can also be indexed. Our web development team actually prefers embedding Vimeo videos, because it is easier to embed videos on our website without paying extra money to YouTube to remove the ads.

If you are in a competitive niche and you are playing ads on the videos that play on your website, you may be serving ads for your competitors on your own website! We see this very frequently on websites that have not been properly optimized by a professional SEO agency.

Always optimize your Vimeo or YouTube channel as well.  Much like social media profiles, you want to send the right signals to your audience. This is one way of making your video content stand out as viewers are watching your video.

Video Transcripts and Metadata

Meta-data and video transcripts can also help your video rank higher. There are always times when people are viewing a video where they cannot have it on full volume, so a video transcript is helpful to make your video more accessible to audiences. The metadata in the video will also help scrapers and bots to find your video and possibly re-share your contact.

Video Assets

What do we mean by video assets? Video assets are going to be things like video thumbnails that show what the video is about with a captivating image. This is always going to be better than a black screen or something that is uninteresting to a viewer. Other assets to the video are going to be the title and description of your video online.

Just like a regular piece of content, video should be placed on pages that have relevant content to what your video material is about. Additionally, it should include optimized titles and Meta descriptions. When you are working with multiple videos on a website, you should always embed the video you want to be ranked for the most on top of the page.

Your Video should not be placed in too many places either. You should place the video on one page or location so that users have to go here to see the video. It’s great to share it, but you don’t need to place it on every page of your website.

Getting SEO Results

Before hiring an SEO agency, ask for SEO examples of other clients they have worked with.  Do an SEO search of their agency and look and see if they are following best SEO practices themselves.  Ask for specific activities and what processes they use to help local businesses or local customers to find them.

Methods for every type of business on how to increase SEO performance should always be different from another company based on your specific situation. To improve your SEO and search results and gain more organic traffic start with mastering the elements above.