One of the questions I get most often from new bloggers is how to start ranking in Google for certain keywords. Fantastic! Step one is getting your site set up. Step two is where you begin the process of making things happen. Let’s talk a bit about SEO (search engine optimization), and if you have any questions, fire me an email or hit me up on Twitter. We’ll get you where you need to go.
Random doesn’t help
Importantly, it will benefit you greatly to be tactful in deciding what keywords you want to target. Most people don’t research keywords in advance, and it results in a lot of wasted effort. You can end up ranking for keywords that make sense but that don’t actually help your business.
Example: I just optimized a site for a client who is a real estate agent. Initially, she had wanted to rank for terms such as “real estate agent in lafayette indiana”. That makes sense, no? She’s an agent and wants to rank for that. Through research however, we ended up finding out that no one ever searches for the specific terms she had in mind. We could have easily gotten her site to rank well for those keywords, but who cares? She’d be #1 for a term that no one searches. It wouldn’t help her business at all to pursue those keywords.
So that’s the first big thing: do keyword research to ensure you’re targeting keywords that will bring you the type of traffic you’re looking for. Small little variations in a search term can have dramatically different results! For a video training session on keyword research, I recommend checking out this video I posted a while back. It has some great information on how to research what keywords you want to target.
How to execute
After you have keywords in place that you know are both relevant and helpful to your business, you can set out to rank for those keywords. It’s important to become familiar with SEO basics. One of the best articles I’ve read on basic search optimization for blogs is here.
This post is specifically for WordPress blogs, but the concepts are solid, and the basic principles are the same from one platform to the next. If you read this post, it will familiarize you with all you need to know to get started. I could rewrite the material here, but Glen did such a great job on his post that I pretty much consider it the best place to get started if you want to pursue search optimization on your own.
If you’re intimidated by the technical aspects of optimizing your blog, I assure you it’s not overly complicated. Once you learn the basic terms like “title tags”, “meta descriptions”, “link building”, etc, and learn how these things work together to make you rank well in search engines, it’s simply a matter of executing.
If you want to perform better in Google but don’t want to mess with the techy stuff, fire me an email and I’ll do it for you. Or, you can grab a copy of the Simple SEO course. It’s a system which removes all the mystery from optimizing your blog, and it shows you exactly what to do step-by-step. If you want to do it yourself but don’t want to mess with months of wading through technical tutorials and go through the trial and error phase, the Simple SEO course is worth a look. I know a lot of you want to get better results with your blog but don’t necessarily have the cash laying around to hire a professional to do it for you. I put this course together as an awesome alternative to hiring me as a consultant. I think you’re really gonna like it 🙂
Focus on quality, sustainability and value. Those are what power a great blog. Google recognizes and grants authority to blogs that post consistently over time.
Basic SEO principles to consider
- Post consistently: this doesn’t mean you have to post new content to your blog daily. Most people I work with are small business owners, and time is always a factor. There are still people out there preaching the old-school mentality of “more is better”. They will try to convince you that you need to write daily. It’s true that if you have more content, you have more that can rank in Google, but it’s essential to maintain your blog over the long haul. You already know that blogging is not a magic bullet, it’s a long term approach. So, do what’s sustainable. There are LOTS of very successful, profitable blogs that update weekly, some monthly. Is more better? Yes it can be…as long as you’re really going to keep it up. For most small business owners, I recommend once or twice a week. Focus on quality, sustainability and value. Those are what power a great blog. Google recognizes and grants authority to blogs that post consistently over time. If your stuff is good, people will read it, talk about it, link to it…Google is smart and takes all this into account.
- Focus on quality: as trite as it may sound, quality really does matter. There’s an old saying in SEO that goes “search engines follow people”. Basically, focus on your readers. At the end of the day it’s not our job as bloggers to trick search engines into giving us some love. It’s the search engines’ job to provide relevant results for their users. So the best, most ultimate way to rank well in Google is to simple BE RELEVANT 🙂 Yes, there are technical considerations that will make your blog more accessible to search engines, get you indexed more quickly and build more authority, but I can’t stress this enough, so I’ll repeat it…if you are creating content that is relevant and helpful to your readers, it’s Google’s job to find you! That’s what it’s there for. If there’s a single thing that will do more good for you than anything else, that is it. Create awesome content that your readers love.
- Ask for help: this doesn’t just refer to hiring me or someone else to work for you. It means asking your readers for what you want. If you want people to share your post on Twitter, ask them to do so, and make a Twitter icon easily available to them. If you want them to link to you, again…ask for it. Make it easy for them. Go so far as to provide the html, so all they have to do is copy and paste it into their site. Read my about page, and you’ll see I do this also. I ask visitors to link to me, and I put the code right there in the page, so all they have to do is copy and paste it. When people share your content with their people, it builds links to your site. It builds traffic to your site, and it spreads the word about what you’re doing. But people don’t always automatically do this; don’t be afraid to ask people for what you want. It goes a long way.
- Learn your business: by running a blog, you’re taking an awesome, important step toward improving how you engage and interact with your customers and clients. Like anything, you get out what you put in. When you take on a new tool like this, it’s easy to feel like there’s too much to learn. This makes you want to just not mess with it. I encourage you wholeheartedly to continue the pursuit. It can take a little while to learn what you need to know. Don’t put the pressure on yourself to learn every single thing all at once. Learn a little bit at a time. This post all by itself links up resources for you that can easily keep you busy for a while. Don’t rush it; just do a little at a time. It pays off huge over time!
More SEO resources
In addition to the ViperChill article I linked up above, here are a few more resources I highly recommend if you’re interested in learning more about search optimization.
- 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity – this is a comprehensive, awesome resource addressing the important concept of link building.
- SEO Basics – this is a great resource from Aaron Wall, covering the basics of SEO.
- Google Keyword Tool – in the video I linked up above, I talk about using the Google Keyword Tool for keyword research. This is a link to the invaluable tool.
Have fun! As always…that’s one of the most crucial elements of successful business blogging. Take on new knowledge a bit at a time and have fun. Trust me, your readers know when you’re having fun (and when you’re not), and it makes a big difference. If you have any questions, hit me up.