A Complete SEO Strategy
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an interesting topic with huge potential for business. Everyday across various Google services several hundred million searches are performed. Some of those searches are refined and many result in visits to websites, videos, photos, news articles, blog posts, sales pages, and profiles. SEO considers how search engines work and what people are searching for to increase the visibility of a web site or web page.
For some, SEO is debatable topic with varying beliefs and hat colors. A person referred to as a Black Hat uses deceptive strategies to better rankings while White Hat conforms to the search engine guidelines. Rules can be bent but ultimately black hat techniques are at risk against the evolving search engines.
What is SEO Success?
This is a trick question since SEO is an ongoing process and the evolving search engines create new opportunity and competitors. SEO success begins when your website is generating targeted traffic and a positive return on investment in the form of sales leads, purchases, contacts, brand recognition, subscriptions, connections, etc.
The image below shows the consistency of search engine traffic specifically for PhoenixPowerSearch.com a website with near top ranking for “Phoenix real estate” and several variations of the phrase like “Phoenix Arizona real estate” and “Phoenix AZ real estate”. Last month Google, Bing, and Yahoo! sent 3,892 visitors to this website. In my opinion the value of consistent targeted traffic to a site from organic search ranking is often underestimated.
Begin with Keyword Research
A proper SEO strategy has clear keyword goals with an understanding of the content and inbound links necessary to produce the desired results. The first step is to identify keyword phrases that your target audience is typing into Google on a consistent basis. From my experience for real estate these will be “city”+”real estate” and “neighborhood”+”real estate” search phrases, “real estate” can also be exchanged for “homes for sale”.
Generally, the most common keyword phrases (aka the ones search the most) are the most competitive. Finding keywords that are localized to your market will usually have the most search traffic without being unnecessarily competitive. The two services I use the most when researching keywords are the Google Keyword Tool that reports the estimated search volume for any keyword with additional keyword suggestions, and SEMRush that also reports search volume along with Pay-Per-Click estimates, competitors, and other useful data. Use these two tools to determine the right keyword balance.
Google loves unique fresh content and so will your website visitors. Using software to browse and index millions of web pages, Google examines the site title and measures keyword density to quickly analyze any page. Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. Optimum keyword density is suggested to be 1 to 3 percent.
Include your desired keywords in the site title and blog posts titles, write content that supports your overall topic, and structure content with categories and tags to ensure Google has a clear idea of what keywords are relevant to your site.
For those with WordPress sites I recommend the All in One SEO Pack to edit title’s and meta tags, Google XML Sitemaps to properly index your site, and Keyword Density Checker to monitor keywords as you type.
Quality inbound links from other sites to yours are valuable for search engine positioning. In a recent survey of over 100 search experts worldwide inbound links are agreed as the largest influence on organic search engine rank, the top 5 factors for organic search ranking are listed below (Source).
- Keyword Focused Anchor Text from External Links
- External Link Popularity
- Diversity of Link Sources
- Keyword Use Anywhere in the Title Tag
- Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains
Some linking will happen naturally, if you’re blogging quality content it’s natural that your visitors will share or reference your content on other sites creating links for yours. To compete on competitive terms it’s generally necessary to be more proactive with link building. Some other ways to build links to your site are…
- Social Media Links – Many times social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn let you add a link to your website in the profile. While some of these social networks have “nofollow” links meaning they do not pass search engine authority there is a growing benefit both for traffic generation and ranking influence.
- Blogging – There are many benefits from blogging and one of them is link building. Blog posts can be linked between each other to boost rankings. Sites like ActiveRain that allow you to blog on them should include links back to your site. I’m a Seattle Real Estate professional.
- Comment Links – Many sites that allow comments on their posts will allow you to leave your name and website. This type of commenting for links can be considered spam if the comment isn’t of value. Your comment and link will have a better chance of being approved if the comment is thoughtful.
- Natural Links – Based on the quality of your site and the content, people will bookmark and link to your site naturally. Giving visitors ways to easily share your site with others will encourage more natural links.
- Press Releases – Press releases can be helpful for building optimized links to your site. While search engines have adapted to discount some of these mass press released this type of link building it is still used with some results.
- Reciprocal Link Exchange – Reciprocal linking between two sites can be a good way to build inbound links. This starts with first evaluating a site to determine if it is good potential link partner, then emailing the owner of the site requesting to exchange links. Software can automate requests and managing link partners for scalable reciprocal link building. I recommend Zeus or IBP for the tech savvy.
Contextual Related Posts is a WordPress plugin that will automate the healthy cross-linking between your blog posts, and it’s useful for your readers!
There are unique situations in SEO that require unique solutions. If you’ve followed the suggestions above and your website is not showing up in the search engines it could be that Google is having an issue indexing your pages properly. I encourage everyone with a site to register at Google Webmaster Central which can be useful to diagnose issues. Leave any questions or comments below and I’ll be happy to take a look!