How to Begin Putting SEO to Work For You

If there’s one thing we can say for sure, it’s thatmost web traffic comes from search engines. That’s why a little thing that you may have heard of called Search Engine Optimization is important.

In the face of other, more pressing responsibilities, many companies are willing to let SEO fall by the wayside. This is a mistake if you want to build a real presence online. The fact is that SEO is absolutely integral to any kind of audience-building effort. Here’s what it takes to get started.

We talked about Google AdWords last week, and while using it is critical to get traffic headed to your website, it’s only one small piece of what you can do. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by SEO, but even a little bit of education can go a long way.

Using Google AdWords and keywords in general is, of course, a big first step. You can read a more in-deep breakdown of AdWords in last week’s article, but essentially what you’re going to want to do here is figure out the keywords adjacent to your product that people are searching most and put them everywhere.

These keywords should show up in your titles, your URLs, your images — anywhere you can fit them reasonably. Before you even start bidding on AdWords, this should give you the best possible chance of showing up when someone searches for those words.

However, it’s important not to go overboard. Google has been conscious to punish people who “over-optimize”, so you have to ride a careful line.

KISSmetrics recommends sticking with five keywords or keywords phrases on each page. Pick the ones that have the best chance of driving traffic and that should be all that you need.

There’s more to be done than just keywords optimization though. One piece of search engine optimization that people don’t often think about is self-referral — linking to your own pages (See Point 4). It’s an easy thing to do and offers a couple key benefits. You can drive traffic to old content if people find a certain link interesting, and it will demonstrate that your site is cohesive and well-maintained.

So much about SEO is tied to the relationships you build with other sites. Finding influencers that would be willing to link to your content on social media or their own content marketing outlets is a fantastic traction-builder. One of the best ways to do this is looking to get yourself featured on relevant “link roundup” pieces.

These roundups are essentially lists of resources or content pieces that a certain site is highlighting, and it’s not hard to get featured. Sites that make these lists (including this one) want as many quality links as they can get on those features, especially if they make lists frequently. Reach out, show what you’ve got, and chances are you’ll get yourself featured.

But at the end of the day, it all comes down to the content you create. People sometimes forget that SEO and content marketing are deeply intertwined, and the best way to build SEO is to create content that people are genuinely excited to find. If you can make content that’s search relevant, and high quality then you have all you really need to succeed.

A good way to go about this is to identify a specific content piece (may it be a blog post, video, etc.) that is getting a lot of traction, and work to create a newer, higher quality take on the same idea. Obviously, it’s important here that you be original with what you’re creating, but it’s okay to talk about the same concepts so long as you are doing it in your own unique way.

If you’re confident that you’ve made something superior then look at the ways that first piece of content was driving traffic, and advertise yourself on all of those same places. People will be drawn to your newer, better version, and if it really gets going, you’re well on your way to building not just great SEO, but your own thought leadership too.

SEO is a complicated beast, and these are just a few of the basics to get you started. Chances are we’ll have a lot more to say on this topic in the future, so keep an eye out.

— ZK

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