Some companies spend truckloads of money on Search Engine Optimization—but SEO doesn’t have to break the bank. You can get big results on a small budget (or no budget at all) if you invest a little time in creating solid content. Here are 10 basic tips in a step-by-step SEO guide of sorts.

  1. Identify your keywords.
    Start with your Big 5—the top search words or phrases you want to reach. Then add all the secondary ones you like (B2B companies often have a long tail of 50 or more). Note: keywords can—and should—be phrases or groups of words; they do not have to be single words.
  2. Break them out by page.
    Once you have a list of the keywords you’d like to hit, break them out by pages. You don’t want your homepage and your “about” page, for example, to compete for the same clicks.
  3. Work the keywords into the copy.
    You’ll want to mention keywords 2-3 times in the body copy for each page, taking care not to overuse them. Don’t forget to include the basics—your city name, for instance, if you’re targeting a specific area. Be sure to include your #1 keyword in the H1 header on every page, as close to the front of the headline as possible. (Here’s a secret: Your H1 header does not have to be the page headline; a developer can tag anything on the page as the H1. So if there’s a subhead or something further down the page that showcases your keywords more effectively, tag it as the H1 instead of the header.)
  4. Create content for people, not search engines.
    Content is the driving force behind SEO. But Google’s keyword algorithms change frequently, so authenticity is key (ie: all the sneaky SEO tricks we’ve been able to pull over the years are no longer valid). Besides, thinking practically, there’s just no point in creating content that ranks well if it doesn’t persuade readers to do what you want them to do in the end
  5. Link to relevant websites and blogs.
    Google likes it when you drive traffic to other sites (and so do they). Plus, those other sites might re-pay the favor with a backlink of their own, and backlinks rock.
  6. Add keywords to images and file names.
    Oftentimes photo names are auto-generated, leaving you with a totally unhelpful zxkj3hk6zdhfkh.jpg (or something). Instead, add keywords to the names of every image and downloadable file on your site. All of those names help your SEO results.
  7. Use meta descriptions.
    Write the HTML descriptions and meta tags (160 characters) to maximize your keywords. This is the snippet of content that shows up in Google searches, so be descriptive, persuasive, and unique. Again, use your keywords as close to the front of the description as you can.
  8. Use keywords in your URLs.
    URLs are important. Don’t make them generic—make sure they use your #1 keyword. Once more, put that keyword as close to the beginning of the URL as possible.
  9. Add social sharing buttons.
    Let’s be honest: People are lazy. The easier you make it to share your website, the more likely they’ll be to do so.
  10. Create a Google+ page for your business.
    It’s a simple way to build trust with Google and will improve your ranking.

Questions about SEO? Please leave a comment or contact me, and I’m happy to help.

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