In case you don’t know, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what you do to get the most traffic to your site from people searching on search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
According to a recent study, the percentage of traffic that goes to sites with positions 1, 2 and 3 in search results are:
Obviously, it helps to be high in the search engine results! That’s where SEO comes in.
What’s a keyword?
A keyword or keyword phrase is one or more words that your target market might type into a search engine to find your website. You can, and should, have more than one keyword.
For example, at one of my other websites, www.ellenfinkelstein.com, I have 2 main keyword phrases: PowerPoint tips and AutoCAD tips. If you try those in Google, you’ll see that I’m #1 for AutoCAD tips and #4 for PowerPoint tips (after the ads).
Try it at bing.com or Yahoo and you’ll see that I’m #5 for AutoCAD tips and #6 for PowerPoint tips.
That’s how I get over 100,000 visits to that website each month.
Use a keyword strategy
You need more than one keyword; in fact, you need several sets. Here’s a strategy:
- Main keyword phrase: Think big and come up with a keyword phrase that lots of people search for. It will be hard to rank high for this, but think long-term.
- Several medium traffic keyword phrases: Develop several second-tier keyword phrases that will bring you traffic now. These will have fewer people searching for them, but you’ll be able to rank higher more quickly.
- Long tail keywords: These are keywords that include several words (3-5). Fewer people search for them, but you’ll have less competition, so you can rank high more quickly. If you have a local business, including the name of your town can help you to rank highly. Use these for individual posts.
If you know your audience well, you know what they need. If you write to meet their needs, a lot of those long tail keywords be included automatically.
1. Find your keywords
There are lots of keyword tools, but one that many people use is the Google free keyword tool. You use this tool to research your keyword phrases. (You’ll get more complete results if you sign up for an Adwords account.)
Enter some keywords, expand Advanced Options and Filters and specify the settings you want. Then click Search. Google will give you many related keyword phrases, telling you the amount of competition as well as the number of global and local searches. Your goal is to find phrases with low competition and high searches.
Repeat the process with other keywords until you have as many as you need. Give this process at least a couple of hours.
Then search for those terms on Google and Bing (which gives the same results as Yahoo) and see what comes up. Are they relevant to your market? The results should be your competitors.
2. Use your keywords on your site
Many people spend a lot of time looking for a domain name with their keywords. It’s great if you can manage this, but don’t worry so much about your domain name. Google, Amazon, Yahoo do very well without a keyword-rich domain name. I’ve written more about this in my post, “How to choose a domain name.” You’ll find a great secret for choosing a domain name there.
Here are the other places to use your keywords on your site:
- In the page’s Title tag: The Title tag is an HTML tag in the header of your web page. In a WordPress blog post, your blog’s title will be the page title.
- H1, H2, H3 headings: H1 is the most important, H2 is next, etc.
- In the page’s text: Use your keywords in the text in a way that makes sense. DON’T OVERDO IT! You can actually be penalized by search engines if you do. Your text should read well and make sense.
- Alt tag for images. The Alt tag is also an HTML tag. When you insert an image in WordPress, there will be a text box where you can enter the Alt text. It also helps if image file names include your keywords.
Be sure that each page has significant text content. Search engines are trying to bring searchers pages with meaningful content. What is significant? At least a couple of paragraphs.
Search engines can use a sitemap, which is a textual representation of the pages on your site. You can create one at xml-sitemaps. The link for submitting it is also there. But the search engines will find your pages without one; I’ve never used one.
3. Use your keywords off your site
You also need to get links that come into your site from elsewhere because search engines count how many incoming links you have. These links should use your keywords if at all possible, e.g. Great PowerPoint tips.
The higher the traffic of these other sites and the closer their relevance to your site, the better it will be for you. Of course, people will see those links and come to your site, so you get a double benefit.
Search engines are now putting more emphasis on social media. When you create a blog post, you should go to your Facebook page, Twitter account, LinkedIn account, etc. and create a link to the post. You can automate this fairly well in Hootsuite. This is a great task to outsource.
You can write articles and post them on article sites (see a list here and here) . You can post videos on YouTube and add a link in the Description box. YouTube is actually the second most popular search engine, after Google.
When should I start?
Do it now. Google pays a lot of attention to the age of the site and its pages. If not now, when?