Fire Your SEO Company & Save $6000 With These 6 Simple SEO Steps

If you don’t get noticed, you don’t have anything. You just have to be noticed, but the art is in getting noticed naturally, without screaming or without tricks. –Leo Burnett

While many business owners view search engine optimization as a complicated, technical process, any website owner can reap great benefits by implementing a few basic SEO strategies.

confused

At its core, small business SEO boils down to finding the best keywords to attract your audience and using them in the right places, including your URL’s content and navigation. In this increasingly mobile world, every small business website must be optimized for smartphones, tablets, and whatever other gadgets loom on the horizon.

By understanding the basic ways in which your target audience searches for local resources and information, and ensuring that your website and keyword strategy are aligned with long tail search queries, you will gain a significant advantage over your competitors.

Achieve Great SEO Results by Implementing the Following 7-Step Process:

Step 1: FIND THE BEST KEYWORDS TO TARGET

The goal of doing keyword research is to ensure that every piece of content you publish online reaches the largest possible number of people within your target audience. This is accomplished by following a specific process that involves looking at both your competitors’ sites and the behaviors of your target customers, as well as using a fair amount of common sense. Then, we will use a very simple and organized approach to “mapping out” the keywords you should be targeting, based on the products and/or services your business provides.

1. Create Your Huge Laundry List

Your goal here is to generate a massive list of words and phrases, many of which you’ll throw away. Much like a sculptor chipping away the inessentials until the perfect figure is revealed, we need a huge pile of words to begin. To start your keyword laundry list, open up an Excel or Google spreadsheet. You’ll be using this as a tool to help you capture and manage keywords.

Along the top columns of your spreadsheet, list the main category of business you provide, followed by the categories of products or services you provide. In the example list below, I am using a printing shop to illustrate:

 A sample “Keyword Laundry List”

Now comes the fun part—creating the biggest possible list of potential keywords that you can muster for each of your products or services. Use any source you can think of, from brainstorming with your customers and employees, to conducting some top-secret spy work to analyzing which keywords your competitors are using. Use no filter and make no assumptions—there are no wrong answers.

Here are several great places to find potential keywords:

  • A Simple Brain Dump: Start with the type of business you own and add every possible keyword idea you, your friends, your co-workers, and associates think might make sense to target, and list them on a spreadsheet. Then add the actual names of the products and services you provide.
  • Your Customers: One of the most valuable exercises you can do is to list the most common questions you get from customers with respect to each of your main products or services. Almost without exception, every business owner can recite the three to five questions that their customers (and potential customers) most frequently ask.
  • Competitors: What better way to beat your competition than to find out which keywords are drawing traffic to their sites, then using the same ones for yours? You probably have the names of the top five to ten competitors whose websites pop up every time your line of business is mentioned. Start with these websites, but also do a few Google searches for the main service you provide, including in your searches one or two main cities to which your business caters (“Dallas Divorce Lawyers,” for example). Next, take your list of five to ten competitive websites and use SEM Rush and follow the prompts to find out which keywords are driving traffic to their sites. Add any of these search terms that apply to your business to your list.
  • Google’s Keyword Tool: is a great FREE tool you can use to do keyword research and find additional keywords you might have missed. You can either type in a search query (“Chicago Pizza Shop”) or a competitor’s website and you will be presented with a great list of potential search terms you can use. Also displayed is the search volume (how many searches are being conducted each month) and competition (how many other websites are using or bidding on a given search term). What’s really neat is that you can export your lists in Excel or text format by simply clicking on the “download” button. Add each of these potential keywords to your list.
  • Your Existing Website Traffic: Assuming you already have a website, you probably have Google Analytics installed (if not, see below for instructions). One of the many powerful functions of Analytics is the “search queries” function, which provides specific details related to which search terms produced visits to your site. What better way to increase traffic than to use questions and topics from your audience that are already working!

2. Remove Undesirable and Irrelevant Search Terms

Now you must refine your keyword list by excluding any keywords that don’t apply to your business. For the most part, these irrelevant terms should be easy to spot.

KEY CONCEPT: When It Comes to Keywords, Opposites Attract!

Don’t over-eliminate during this refining process, as many of the keywords you assume to be irrelevant or undesirable could in fact be among your best sources of traffic and leads. For example, using our fictitious local printing shop, many folks might eliminate the term “printing wedding invitations online,” as their business offers only local printing services. However, optimizing for competitive services or products that your business doesn’t offer is one of the best ways to generate traffic from potential clients performing informational queries. Using the above example, our local printer could write a great blog post entitled “5 Reasons Why Using a Local Printer Is Better than Printing Wedding Invitations Online.”

Virtually any adjective— cheap, free, low-cost, discount—can work. Even if you sell $5,000 sofas, you may influence and attain a few new customers by writing a blog post entitled, “Why Buying Cheap Sofas Costs More in the End.”

 3. Sort Your Keywords by Popularity Using Google’s Free Keyword Tool

Who doesn’t want to be popular (aside from nearly every band coming out of Seattle in the ‘90s)? Within the realm of online marketing and, more specifically, keyword research, popularity is defined as the number of searches conducted within a specific time frame (usually a month) for a given keyword. For example, with our friendly neighborhood printing company, it would be extremely beneficial to know that the search term “printing services” gets 165,000 “local” monthly searches while the term “printing shop” gets just 60,500. Measuring popularity is critical, as using the wrong keywords could result in much lower traffic!

The simplest way to measure and rank our targeted search terms by popularity is to use Google’s Free Keyword Tool. All you need to do is “paste” your keywords from your Keyword Spreadsheet into the “Find Keywords” box and hit “Search,” and you’ll see how many searches, on average, are being conducted monthly for each of your terms.

For each report you run (one separate report for each product or service category), all you need to do is download your list, complete with search volumes for each search term. To do this, just select “Download” in the space above your keyword list.

The last step is to add these search volume numbers back into your Keyword Spreadsheet. Remember to keep your keywords separated based on the primary products and service categories of your business.

KEY CONCEPT: Don’t Worry Too Much about Variations of the Same Word

A common mistake small business owners (and their SEO experts) use is to “over-optimize” websites, creating a different page and content for each variation of a word. For example, an owner of a nail salon may create unique Web pages for “nail salon,” “nail salons,” “nail spa,” “nail spas,” “nail shop,” “nail shops,” etc. This outdated tactic is unnecessary, as Google is smart enough to associate related terms and synonyms automatically. Not only is this overkill, but doing so can get your site penalized by Google for “over-optimization.”

Just as with virtually every other aspect of SEO and Google-friendly Web design, common sense rules. If you write high quality content aimed at real human beings, you’ll seldom have to worry about the technical details of each new algorithm change. In fact, you’ll probably benefit because all Google is trying to do is create a better user experience by linking folks to high-quality content.

KEY CONCEPT: Why You Shouldn’t Include Your City Name When Doing Keyword Research

Many people “localize” their keywords too early in the research process, by adding local-based keywords to their targeted keywords (“Denver printing services”). This is a mistake, as these long tail searches don’t get enough volume to be measured and reported by Google. This doesn’t mean that ranking number one on Google for “divorce lawyer in Branson, Mo” isn’t a good thing, just that it would be below the radar.

If you include localized terms in your target keywords, you may be led to eliminate your most important keywords based on seeing “0 searches” in the keyword tool.

The best way to overcome this lack of available metrics is to assume that the most popular keywords in the country are also the most popular in your town. Outside of a few particular regional exceptions, like “DWI” vs. “DUI,” or “soda” vs. “pop,” this approach works extremely well. If “printing services” gets three times more results than “printing shop,” it’s probably most lucrative to optimize your website for “Dallas printing services.”

In short, leave location-centered phrases out during the initial research process and add them in later during keyword deployment (discussed later).

4. Finalize Your Keyword Map

This step will result in a final, super-refined, and relevant, traffic-generating list that will become the “map” that will guide you through setting up your website pages, blog posts, and even online listings and advertising. All you need to do is choose the best keywords and place them into two bins based on which end of the buying funnel they reflect: Informational or Transactional.

I recommend you practice a “less is more” approach, using the most popular and relevant search terms. You can always expand your list later to capture more “long tail” phrases down the road via blog posts and videos.

STEP 2: USE YOUR KEYWORDS IN THE RIGHT PLACES

It’s time to take your ultra-refined Keyword Map and put it to use by “deploying” your keywords—placing your target keywords in all the proper places, both on your website and elsewhere.

Where to Use Your Targeted Keywords: Everywhere!

The following are some of the most popular and important places to use your keywords/targeted search phrases:

  • Your domain name and URLs
  • Titles of your Web pages and blog posts
  • Headings of your Web pages
  • Meta descriptions of your Web pages
  • Content (articles, Web pages, blogs, etc.)
  • Names and descriptions of photos and videos on your site
  • Navigation on your website
  • Internal links on your website
  • Anchor text of inbound links
  • Social media profile names
  • Social media descriptions
  • Paid online directory listings
  • PPC (Google AdWords) ads
  • In the “signature line” of your online forum profiles
  • Comments you make on other blogs and community sites
  • Guest blog posts you publish on others’ sites
  • Anywhere your business is listed (article directories, press release sites, social bookmarking sites, etc.)

Quick Steps to Keyword Deployment

1. Use Keyword-Rich URLs

It’s important that not only your root domain (website address) but also each Web page on your site includes the keywords you have deemed important to target. Many websites, especially those using older, outdated content-management systems or languages, may use “ugly URLs,” presenting “un-friendly” URLs to render Web pages  (e.g., http://www.OaklandBarberShop/page_ID=3635?.php). “SEO-friendly” URLs clearly reveal the topic of the page the URL belongs to (http://www/OaklandBarberShop.com/mens-hair-cut-pricing).

WordPress comes with friendly URLs right out of the box, as each Web page or blog post you publish uses “permalinks” to allow for URL configuration and customization. If you’re managing your website yourself, simply check out YouTube for videos on how to do this.

2. Add your keywords to your page titles

Every Web page and blog post on your site has a page title. This title, also referred to as a “title tag,” tells both Google and people browsing your site what each page is about.

 

These page titles appear in the top bar of your Internet browser and are also shown as the titles of your Web pages in the Search page results. You can easily view this page by doing the following:

  • On any Web page, right-click your mouse and select “View Source.” Look at the top section, called the “head,” and view the title tag (<title>). You can also see the title of any Web page using most popular Web browsers:

This is one of the most important ranking factors as well as being one where most small business websites fall short. Quite often, you will see “John Doe Law Firm,” or, worse yet, “Home” used as a title tag. Unless you’re trying to rank on Google for “Home,” this is not good.

Here’s a short list of best practices related to page titles:

  • Each page title should be unique. Avoid “duplicate title tags,” using the same terms on multiple Web pages across your site.
  • Each page should focus on one main topic or keyword phrase. Avoid trying to “stuff” multiple keywords into your page titles, as this confuses search engines and visitors alike.
  • Be sure to include “location-based” terms in your page titles. Now is the time to add to your Web pages the main city or town where you’re located (see: “Localize Your SEO” in this chapter for more on local SEO).
  • Keep each title tag to sixty-four characters or less. This ensures that your whole title will show up on search results pages.
  • Place the most important keywords first in your page titles (“Bankruptcy Lawyer in Cleveland” is better than “John Doe Law Offices, Cleveland Bankruptcy Lawyer”)

RESOURCE: Use the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin to Make On-Page SEO Simple

If you’re using WordPress or intend to do so, I recommend you use the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin, which allows you to configure and make changes to virtually all aspects of your SEO (page titles, meta descriptions, site maps, permalinks, and more) from a very simple, non-technical dashboard.

Once you download and activate this plugin, be sure to go through the “free tour” that pops up at activation.

3. Add your keywords to the headings and content of your Web pages

This should be one of the simpler concepts to grasp: you need to ensure that every piece of content you produce is focused on a single topic and contains your target keywords that are focused on that topic.

Although many SEO experts speak of complicated formulas for measuring “keyword density,” all you need to do is write high-quality, original articles that are focused on a single topic (ideally 5 words or more), including your target keywords, frequently but naturally.

As with all aspects of SEO, focus on the users—the people who will actually be reading or interacting with your content.

Page Headings

Just like this book, a restaurant menu, and most other forms of written communication, Web pages make use of hierarchical headings to organize and make content more readable. These headings are created using html code, which you’ll likely never see, as most of today’s CMS systems like WordPress make use of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) text editors that make writing and publishing content as simple as using Microsoft Word.

Page headings range from most to least important, from “H1” down to “H6,” and often reflect this in their font weight and size on most websites. All you need to do with regard to page headings is to include your search terms within your headers, but only if doing so is natural and serves the reader. You’ll also want to refrain from using more than one H1 heading per page.

Photos and Videos Are Content, Too!

Google applies its search algorithms to virtually every form of content on the Internet. Photos and videos are no exception. Each time you publish a photo or video, it’s important to use your target keywords when naming, describing, or tagging this media. For example, if you add a photo of your office to your home page, you’d be very well served to name the photo “Dallas Business Printing Services, Smith and Co.,” instead of “Our office.”

STEP 3: USE AN SEO-FRIENDLY WEBSITE STRUCTURE

The “structure,” or how your Web pages are laid out, is an important element of SEO. Think of your website as an organizational chart or a filing cabinet, with each “block” or “file” representing a Web page or blog post on your site. The goal of an SEO-friendly site structure is to ensure that your content is very easy to find, both for Googlebots and for your users. This can be accomplished by doing four simple things:

  1. Use a “wide” website structure rather than a “deep one.” Many Web designs make the mistake of creating “deep” website hierarchies, meaning the sites are structured in a linear, or deep, format, categorizing similar pages in neat rows and columns. While this may make sense for filing old tax returns, Web pages, especially the ones containing your site’s most important content, should remain close to the surface, near the home page. This “wide” site structure (see the image to the right in the chart below) ensures that both search and real folks can easily see and access your content from the home page.
  2. Add target keywords to your site’s navigation. The navigation or “menu bar” of your site is the primary menu for your Web page, serving as the “at-a-glance” table of contents for your website. In addition to constructing your site in a “wide” format, be sure to include your target keywords to describe each of the services you provide. For example, instead of using the term “services” in your main menu, use a target keyword or phrase like “accounting services.”

KEY CONCEPT: Use Your Keyword Map to Lay Out Your Site Design

The time and effort you’ve put into developing your keyword map is about to pay off: this map can serve as a ready-made template for laying out your website!

Each of the primary categories (of products and/or services) in your Keyword Map can be used as Web pages in your navigation. Each transactional keyword can then be used as a heading within these pages—for example, our famous printing shop, ACME, would use “Business Cards” as a page within the navigation menu. On this page, the page headings would be “Business Card Printers,” “Cheap Business Cards,” and “Fast Business Card Printing.”

  1. Add your keywords to your site’s internal links. One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve the structure of your site and increase user engagement is to employ a solid internal linking structure. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that a visitor to one of your Web pages can access any other page with just one or two clicks. Equally important is that each of these internal links use keyword-rich anchor text.

KEY CONCEPT: The Importance of Anchor Text

According to Wikipedia, “The anchor text, link label, link text, or link title is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text can determine the ranking that the page will receive by search engines.” Any time you click on a link leading you from one Web page to another (called a hyperlink, which can also be used in emails to link to Web pages), you’ll probably notice that each of these links has its own text describing where the link should take you. Anchor text is simply the words used in a link to another site. If you click on a link that says “click here,” “click here” would be anchor text. Any time other websites link to yours, it’s ideal to use your targeted keywords in these links. For example, if your plumber brother agrees to link to your site, it would be much better to use the anchor text “Los Angeles Plumber,” than, “Check out my brother’s website.” Using keywords in your anchor text, both within your website and on other sites linking to yours, helps tell people and search engines that your website is an authority on the topic these keywords describe.

  1. Ensure that your website is fast. As previously mentioned, site speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, so ensure that your site loads quickly and reliably. Aside from being “dinged” by Google, a sluggish website can also cost you money, as countless studies have proven that slow page load times cause users to abandon websites.

RESOURCE: Google’s PageSpeed Insights

To check your site speed, use Google PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter your URL and wait for a report to notify you of high, medium, and low-priority issues affecting page loading. If your website gets a PageSpeed score of 70/100 or higher, you are fine in the eyes of Google. If you’re using a popular CMS, you usually have little to worry about, as these platforms factor speed into their designs.

STEP 4: INSTALL GOOGLE ANALYTICS AND GOOGLE WEBMASTER TOOLS

Google Analytics is super-easy to install using three steps:

  1. If you haven’t done so already, sign up for a free Google Account. You’ll need a Gmail account for several aspects of your online marketing.
  2. Sign up for Google Analytics and add your website to your new analytics account.
  3. Paste the small “snippet” of code provided by Google Analytics into your website. If you need help, simply search YouTube for “How to Install Google Analytics.” If you’re using WordPress, there’s a great plugin called Google Analytics for WordPress that can help you install and manage Google Analytics.

Once you’ve installed Google Analytics, you’ll quickly be amazed by the plethora of information available: who’s coming to your site, how they got there (from Google or another search engine, or another site on the Web), what pages they’re visiting, how long they’re sticking around, and, with a little customization, even which traffic sources are producing qualified leads!

Google Webmaster Tools is another great (and FREE) tool from Google that every website owner should use. It has tools that allow webmasters to:

  • Submit and check a site map
  • Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how Googlebot accesses a particular site
  • Generate and check a robots.txt file; also discover in robots.txt pages that are accidentally blocked
  • List internal and external pages that link to a site
  • See what keyword searches on Google led to a site being listed in the SERPs, and the click-through rates of such listings
  • View statistics about how Google indexes a site, and whether or not it found any errors while indexing it
  • Set a preferred domain (e.g., prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs

Installing Google Webmaster Tools is very simple and includes the same steps as installing Google Analytics; simply log in with your Google account and follow the simple steps provided here.

STEP 5: LOCALIZE YOUR SEO

Your small business is most likely a local business, serving customers within a defined geographic region. Often called “Local SEO,” the art and science of maximizing online reach within a specific region has many nuances that make it its own category of search engine optimization.

While online retailers like Amazon.com or Zappos.com have their own challenges in improving search engine rankings and traffic, their efforts are often “global.” For example, zappos.com ranks number-one on Google for “men’s shoes.” They aren’t on the first page for “men’s shoes Dallas,” nor do they care to be.

  • Add your localized keywords to page titles and content. If you haven’t done so yet, add “location-focused” keywords to your Keyword Map.
  • Include your physical location on every page of your site. One of the ways in which Google validates and assigns trust and authority to local businesses’ sites is by checking for “citations” around the Web, trying to match the physical addresses on websites to business listings on trusted “local directories” like Yelp, Merchant Circle, and YellowPages.com. If your business is listed on local directories, Google will attempt to match up these listings with the address on your website to assign trust to your site. It’s critical to be very consistent, as Google can and often does make mistakes upon encountering “address discrepancies.” For example, if you use “STE 7” for your suite number on your online listings, be sure to do the same on your own site and elsewhere. Make it easy for Google to give your site the credit it deserve
  • Include a Google map on your site. Placing a map on your site is another win/win as it serves both masters of online marketing: search engines and visitors. Adding a map to your site is as simple as pasting a bit of code into the page(s) of your site: see here for instructions. I recommend you place the map in the footer of your site right below the address, or on your contact page if you’re going for a sleeker or more minimalist effect.

  • Claim your local business listings. These local directories are also great places to find new leads, as many of them boast high traffic numbers from consumers in search of local products and services. Although there are literally thousands of local directories out there, there are only a dozen or so you should begin with, including MerchantCircle.com, CitiSearch.com, Yelp.com, Manta.com. For a detailed list of local directories, see here.
  • Link to your Google+ Local page. Google+ Local is Google’s local business directory, which should tell you that you’ll need a profile there. While we’ll cover how to list your business online in Chapter 12, claiming or creating a Google+ profile for yourself and your business yields almost immediate improvement of online authority and search rankings, so you may want to go ahead and do it before getting to Chapter 12. To create your Google+ business page, click here.
  • Get more reviews. One the the factors Google takes into account when ranking local business websites is the number of organic reviews on trusted local business directories. If you don’t have a reviews/reputation management plan in place, get one! At minimum, implement a process that requires you and your staff to ask for reviews on these sites. Reviews are a great form of “social proof” (covered in Chapter 6), greatly enhancing the trust that new website visitors gain in your brand.

STEP 6: OPTIMIZE FOR MOBILE SEARCH

According to Searchenginewatch.com 

 “the U.S. now has more wireless customer connections than people. There are currently estimated to be 327.6 million active wireless customer connections in the U.S. The nation’s population is estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau to be roughly 312 million. This means that today there are now more active broadband tablets, cell phones, and mobile devices than people in this country.”

A quick glance around your household would likely reveal that we’re not more plugged in, but actually more unplugged than ever. One in three Internet sessions occur on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), and searching for local products and services is the perfect resource for folks when they’re on the go and in need of information.

The good news when it comes to “Mobile SEO” is that your small business can likely do without an elaborate strategy for mobile search.

In fact, most small businesses will reap 95 percent of the mobile market potential by doing just two primary things:

  • Ensuring that your website uses a mobile theme or style sheet. A quick glance at your website from your iPhone or iPad will quickly tell you whether or not you have a mobile-friendly theme. Most modern WordPress themes come equipped with mobile themes (or “style sheets”), but if not, you can usually ask your Web designer or marketing company to create one for around a hundred dollars. If you use a Genesis Theme by StudioPress.com, your site will be mobile-ready from day one.
  • Ensuring that your business is listed with local directories and GPS companies, and on local maps. If you elect to use a provider of local listings services like Ubl.org or Yect.com, your business should be listed on mobile-focused services like Onstar, Mapquest, and Google+ Local (Google Maps). The best way to test your mobile-readiness is with your phone’s map or GPS function, looking up your category of business and making certain your site shows up.

BLOG CHECKLIST

Step 1: Identify the best keywords to use on your site

  • Start with a your Huge Laundry List spreadsheet
  • Remove undesirable and irrelevant search terms
  • Measure popularity for each keyword
  • Finalize your Keyword Map with the best keywords for your business

Step 2: Use Your Keywords in the Right Places

  • Use keyword-rich URLs
  • Add keywords to your page titles
  • Add keywords to the headings and content of your Web pages

Step 3: Use an SEO and People-Friendly Site Structure

  • Use a wide rather than a deep site hierarchy
  • Use keywords in your navigation
  • Use keywords in internal site links
  • Ensure that your website is optimized for speed

Step 4: Install Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

Step 5: Localize Your SEO Campaigns

  • Add localized keywords to page titles and content
  • Include your physical location on every page of your site
  • Include a Google map on your site
  • Claim your local business listings
  • Link to your Google+ Local page
  • Get more reviews

Step 6: Implement Mobile SEO Basics

  • Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly
  • Get listed on GPS and maps sites

NEXT STEPS:

For a limited time, register FREE for my new 4-Part video series and discover the one page template I used to build a 7 figure business in 90 Days with zero tech overwhelm.

If you’re struggling with the the frustration, tech overwhelm and information overload that so often comes along with online marketing, this workshop is for you.

Sign-up for our new workshop: THE 4 DAY ONLINE MARKETING MASTER CLASS.