4 Simple Steps to Successful, Organic SEO

September 12, 2017   /   by  Diane Callihan

The Proven Way to Drive & Increase Search Traffic

SEO is, and always has been, a bit of a mystery. I remember the days when we manually submitted new website URLs to the search engines to get them indexed.

Ranking algorithms were introduced, and people tried to cheat them. (Remember keyword stuffing?)

SEO companies popped up and claimed they could get you ranked no. 1 for your business. And then a lot of people were sorely disappointed.

I had a boss who had me add a new meta-description to our home page, and then sat around hitting refresh on Google over and over again to see when our ranking would move up.

Yeah, that’s not how it works.

Here’s my best advice about SEO: don’t ignore it, but don’t fret about it either. If you put a process in place that does the following four things on a regular and consistent basis, your SEO rank will improve. It will not happen overnight, but it will happen.

1. Research keywords. Keyword research is tricky, which is why it’s helpful that there are a lot of tools out there to help you (Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, KWFinder to name a few) . It’s important to find a balance between using words and phrases that people commonly search for, but not so common that your ranking makes grown marketers cry. Long tail keywords – a specific phrase with a few words – are much more effective than single, more generic terms.

Also think about using words that indicate your target audience’s intent. For example, if someone searches using the word “marketing”, they may be looking for marketing research, marketing tips, marketing blogs, etc. If, however, someone searches for “digital marketing agency Tampa”, it’s more likely that person is looking to hire an agency. Intent words help qualify your audience.

Develop a solid list of keywords for your business, products and services and then use the most applicable ones in both metadata and throughout your content. Experiment with new keywords too. Over time, Google analytics will show you what keywords and topics are resonating best with searchers, and you can build on that going forward.

2. Check your tech. There are a number of technical issues that can prevent your site from ranking well in the search engines. Two of the most important ones are Responsiveness and Page Speed.

If your website is not responsive, making it so should be a top priority. A responsive website simply means that the site’s design and functionality automatically adjusts to work well on any sized screen – mobile, tablet, desktop, widescreen, etc. In 2016, mobile search surpassed desktop search, so sites that are not mobile-friendly are going to take a hit.

Google has actually come out and said that page loading speeds directly impact rank. Fortunately, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to identify any speed issues so you can correct them.

In addition to those biggies, an SEMRush audit of 450 million web pages identified the top SEO tech issues as:

  • Duplicate content
  • Missing alt attributes
  • Duplicate or missing title tags or H1 tags
  • Broken internal or external links and images
  • Duplicate or missing meta descriptions
  • Low text to HTML ratio or low word-count
  • Title is too long or too short
  • Missing correct language declaration
  • Too many on-page links
  • Temporary redirects

Many content management systems today have built in features that check for SEO performance as you enter content, and make recommendations for improvement.

MozPro is an online SEO tool that has a “Site Crawl” feature which alerts you to technical issues that may be inhibiting SEO performance, rates how critical those issues are, and tells you how to fix them. It’s a great way to start immediately knocking out tasks that can improve your SEO. They offer a 30-day free trial.

Going forward, whenever you publish content, put a process in place to ensure you aren’t making any of these technical errors that can hold you back.

3. Create content. A stagnant website = a stagnant ranking. Regularly creating and publishing fresh, new content – and lots of it – is the best way to drive search traffic. According to Search Engine Journal, companies that blog have 434% more indexed pages than companies who do not. And companies with more indexed pages get far more leads.

And we’re not just talking blog posts. Create new web pages. Consider adding a resource library to your site. Create whitepapers, eBooks, SlideShares, infographics, videos, webinars, press releases and more. Form partnerships and write guest content for other sites – host guest bloggers on your site. As you gradually, consistently build up a variety of keyword-rich, SEO-optimized content, more people will find you.

4. Promote across channels. Now, take all that glorious content and promote the hell out of it. Drive traffic to that blog post through social media, email marketing, content distribution and more. Figure out what type of content gets the most search traffic and what channels seem to work best for you, and focus your efforts there. As your content is shared, and as you share other people’s content, you’ll be able to build up more backlinks and gain authority.

SEO is an ongoing process and even if you reach your target ranking, you’re going to have to work to stay there. But if you follow these basic steps, you will see organic traffic, leads and sales increase.

And hey, if you don’t have the time to dedicate to this valuable endeavor, we’re here to help. Let’s Talk.

Diane Callihan

Diane Callihan

With more than 20 years of experience writing for some of the country’s top brands, Diane helped to shape Roger West’s content strategy, lead generation, and PR efforts as Director of Marketing. She currently serves as President of Callihan Content Creation.