Are you an SEO newbie who is hell-bent on learning how to do SEO yourself? Whether you are self-employed, a business owner, or at a new marketing position, SEO is a valuable skill for your toolbox. The thing is, the SEO landscape is frequently changing, so you’ll need to keep up with modern techniques. This list is up to date and helps you prioritize your tasks as well.

If you want to learn how to do SEO, start with Keyword Research

Do keyword research. The first thing search engines do is to establish relevance. The keywords you want to rank for must be as strategic as possible. Keyword research is only as good as the person who does it; If you’re not prepared to learn how to do high-quality research, hire someone great and pay as much as possible to get your keyword research.

Why? Because without excellent keyword research, you’ll be flying blind. If you don’t research the value of the keywords you’re targeting, you might get page one for a keyword that doesn’t result in any rewards. Conversely, if you target keywords with high competition, you may not stand a chance at ever ranking on the first page. The goal of keyword research is to find the highest volume and lowest competition keywords possible.

Its also important to make sure that you are targeting keywords with purchase intent if your goal is to get more sales. What this means is if you’re trying to rank a sales page for a keyword that users are using for education, you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for more sales. So focus on the user intent of your keywords to make sure they align with your goals.

Once you have prioritized your list of strategic keywords, use your keyword list to optimize your website, social profiles, blog articles, directory listings, and much more. Try to commit your most valuable keywords to memory and use your keywords when you’re commenting on forums and blogs or anywhere else that can be found online such as replies to customer reviews and blog comment replies.

You should also use your keywords in your social media posts, emails, and chats, among others. Even if the digital medium you’re posting on isn’t crawled by Google, like emails, the exercise of using them everywhere possible is a great habit to make. The goal is to make your business synonymous with the keywords your’e targeting.

Website Optimization Is The Next Step

Try your best to optimize every aspect of your website. There are many signals you send to Google with your website. These include the title tags for your website, the way you use your H tags, your image alt tags and file names, your paragraph content, and more.

On-page optimization is the first place you should start once you’ve determined your keyword list. The reason for this is that your on-page optimization establishes relevance to your keywords with Google. If Google doesn’t know your website is relevant to a keyword, they won’t rank it for that keyword. The usage of synonyms and keyword variations on your website is another great way to establish more relevance. You may also want to find LSI keywords and Entities to include on your website as frequently as possible while still keeping your content readable.

Don’t forget About Your Content

Make sure your content is readable and relevant and ensure there’s enough content. Try to make your content more readable by including bullet points. Its also helpful to use bold and italic texts as well as resource links. This helps readers who skim content. User experience elements like bullet points are a search engine ranking factor, but more importantly, you want your users to read your content, not just Google. Check out this blog posting checklist for more in-depth advice on creating content.

Say Hello To Sitemaps

You need a sitemap. Sitemaps help users and robots alike by literally providing a map to the pages on your website. There are two ways to do this, by using an XML sitemap, or creating an HTML sitemap. On WordPress and other common website platforms you can find plugins like Yoast or Rankmath. These plugins help with multiple elements of your optimization, including sitemap creation. With a plugin like this you can easily create an XML sitemap. These are great if your site is changing pages often because they update as you change your website. HTML websites don’t update automatically, so you’ll need to update them yourself whenever they change.

Check Your Website Speed

Google says page speed is a ranking factor, and of course, they weren’t telling the whole truth. What they meant was the time to first byte (TTFB). TTFB measures how quickly a web server can respond to a request. It gets kind of technical here, but the idea is faster is better. A site like bytecheck is great for finding out your TTFB.
Its important to optimize your web page load time, because this is a user experience factor. User experience is just as important, if not more important than rankings. Without a fast user experience, you could end up wasting those #1 rankings. A site like GT Metrix will measure all page speed factors, and even grade a website against the average.

Build High-Quality Links and Citations

Links (also called “backlinks”) have always been the most important, or one of the most important factors for search engine rankings. Google views links to your business as endorsements. The more endorsements you have, the better your site must be. But be careful!

Endorsements from seedy websites will hurt your reputation with Google and can cause you to lose ranks instead of gaining them. Imagine if a known mobster started talking about how great you were. That wouldn’t be good for your reputation, would it? There are services like Rhino Rank that you can hire to get links placed on your website.

If you have the time, a service like HARO, Help a Reporter Out is a great way to get links to your business. Reporters post to HARO looking for people with certain experiences, and if you can respond quickly enough and contribute to their article, you can a link.

Citations are mostly for local businesses. A local citation is a mention of your business’ name, address, phone number & website on another website. There are a few kinds of citations like local citations, general citations, niche specific citations, and unstructured citations. Its important that all citations have consistent information.

Be on the lookout for our upcoming citation guide for a comprehensive guide to building citations. In the meantime, sign up for the biggest directory websites like Yelp, BBB, Chamber of Commerce, and of course, Google My Business. Make sure all the information you use is the same on each website.

Work On Your Blog

Google loves new content, and your blog is the easiest way to publish new content. Additionally, keeping a consistent and useful blog is a great resource for potential customers. Start out by writing about the basics of your business’ industry. If you’re in furniture, talk about how to identify quality or counterfeit furniture, for example. Once you’ve covered the basics, move on to new topics. If you can think of a topic that no one, or very few people have written about, that is ideal, as long as its something that people are actually searching for. You can find out what kinds of articles people are searching for on many websites such as Answer the Public. Professional tools like SEMRush do even more. It might be hard to find topics that have not been written about  if your industry is already mature or highely-competitibe, but you can still think of a new angle to approach a topic.

Plenty of posts talk about how to choose exercise clothing, but there might not be many people writing about how to choose exercise clothing for pregnant women. Even if there’s less traffic on a more niche topic, it’ll be easier to rank on the first page of search engines. Its better to get a little traffic from a smaller keyword than no traffic from a bigger keyword. Fresh content will do something else for your website, it will establish relevance to your industry. The more you talk about your industry, especially with a keyword strategy, the more Google knows what your entire site is about.

Promote Your Blog

If you find one that applies, you can use your blog articles in HARO responses. Otherwise, be sure you’re sharing your articles on all your social media profiles. You can use press releases to promote your blog posts as well. Even if it doesn’t seem too newsworthy to you, you can pay a press release service to send it out.

Take Advantage Of YouTube

Linking an active YouTube channel for your brand is a powerful signal to Google. Its also great for customers. Video has 7 times the engagement, on average, compared to written content. You don’t need to create viral or groundbreaking videos, just post videos of your work, or of advice you have to give, or anything that might be helpful to your potential customers and the general public. These videos can be optimized like anything else on a web page, and with videos showing up in search results, it gives you another opportunity to dominate the first page for the keywords your’e targetting.

Remember when talking about your products or services, to focus on the the benefits as well as the features, and not just the features. People don’t buy a new security fence just to have a fence. They buy it for the security, or the privacy or to beautify their home. They might buy it for peace of mind. Don’t brag, but instead be humble. Anyone can say they’re #1 but showing that you’re #1 goes much further. Finally, make sure to list your business name, address, phone number, and website are included in the description of each of your videos. You may also wish to include links to your social media accounts and your other videos.

Test, Measure, Test, Measure, Ad Nauseum

It’s Marketing 101. Everything you do should be tested. Then you measure it, and create a new test based on the results. This is especially important with SEO, so you know that your hard work is paying off. You can sign up for services like Ahrefs or BrightLocal to track your rankings, and services like Callrail or Callsource to track your phone calls and form fills.

As far as rankings go, if you’ve got more time than money, you could do the checks yourself manually right in the search engines, but these may be a bit skewed. Just searching the keywords is time consuming, and Google will tailor the results to your location. Sometimes its best to leave testing and rank tracking to the professionals.

If you’d like more information, please check out our other article on how to get your business to the top of Google

 

Robert Portillo, founder of Nimbus Marketing, and his family.

About the author:

Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.