Keywords, SEO and Linking
We’re excited to welcome guest blogger, Andrea Kalli.
With keyword research, search engine optimization, and link building strategies (to get those all-important backlinks) being such an important part of your online success, you have to wonder why more people don’t take the time to do these. In my experience it’s mostly due to the fact that they don’t realize the importance, and/or they feel it is too expensive to hire someone to help them.
Look, I know that the term “SEO” and “Search Engine Optimization” can be difficult to wrap your head around, and sometimes it’s even more difficult to justify spending money on it. But it is better to think of SEO as best online business practices, or as a way to increase sales and visibility. Embrace it and use it to build your business and success!
I believe it’s helpful if people know what to expect out of these projects, both in approximately how much time is involved, and their return on investment.
It’s simple really. The goal is to:
- Get to top spots in Google’s search results pages (through keyword research, on-page SEO, link building, and social sharing)
- Stay there (by implementing an ongoing content and communication strategy)
Simple, yes. Quick, no.
SEO is a constant and ongoing process. Page 1 ranks can quickly fall off the map without active SEO activity such as new content feeding your site, link building efforts, and monitoring of web analytics. Search engines value sites more that have a consistent stream of activity, whether it be fresh content or links coming into the website.
The Social SEO: Currently, a highly important factor is the social element of your content and how it’s being shared across the internet. With the launch of Google+ and Pinterest, these sites are launching content to the top of the search results pages, even over your content that you’ve published much earlier and have worked to get it there.
Keyword Research projects take approximately 4-5 hours to complete, initially. This varies with the number of keyword phrases, but typically 5-10 is a good place to start, then build from there. There could be just one keyword research project, or several depending on what directions the initial results take you and how many variations you want to explore. All the while, look for hidden opportunities for you to tap into. You will work to determine the most relevant keyword phrases for your business and identify targeted keyword phrases that are ripe for the picking.
There’s nothing more satisfying than watching your pages climb in the search engines after a campaign.
Keyword research offers not only ideas on how to shape your website content, it also provides ideas on new blog and article content, always focusing on keyword phrases that are lower in competition yet still being searched on by people visiting the search engines. Many times the keyword phrases will not be the typical ones you would think to use when describing your own business.
If you’re having a hard time ranking higher in the search engines, this is the way to make the climb upward.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) is what is done once the right keyword phrases are identified. It should be the first step in your SEO improvement strategy.
Many times the content changes are simple sprinklings of the targeted keyword phrases identified for each page. Nothing drastic, but they make a huge improvement in how the search engines perceive the relevance of each page’s content. It’s not the same keyword phrases repeated over and over, but they will be variations on the core keywords, and utilizing some long tail keywords whenever appropriate.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this. It’s these small changes that really add up and make a big difference overall.
When done properly, successful on-page SEO adjustments will bring you immediate results in higher traffic. You’ll want to make sure your web copy is compelling enough and ready to make the sale and close the deal.
However, it’s important that you know this should not be the stopping point. The surge of traffic you’ll see immediately will typically die down in a fairly short amount of time unless you continue to add valued content on your site and work on your link building strategy, as described in the next section. A blog is a great way to add industry-relevant information your visitors will find helpful.
More ways to keep the traffic coming into your site include utilizing other resources such as social networks and video and content-sharing sites to create some internet buzz around your business and brand. Discuss topics that your target audience would find helpful, even if it is a little outside what you normally offer. This is a great time to start thinking “outside your information box”, yet still staying somewhat tied to your core business offerings.
Branch out a little bit. Think to yourself “What other types of information could my target audience be interested in that I would be willing to provide for them? How can I help them?”
You should strive to become a valued information resource for your niche and industry.
On-page SEO helps your site to gain relevance for those keyword terms.
Backlink Strategies (aka Link Building, off-page SEO) is also very, VERY important, yet can be the most time-consuming and frustrating of the three. When it comes to backlinks (links coming into your website from external websites) quality is more important than quantity.
Evaluate and determine who your competition has backlinks with and come up with a list of the most valued backlink opportunities that you need links from as well. That’s step one.
Step two is to look at other common link building techniques such as:
- creating additional quality content on your website
- industry and/or local directories
- niche social networks
- niche forums
- niche article sites
- Q&A sites
- video sharing sites
- content sharing sites
- guest blogging
- links from satisfied client’s websites
- create valuable and shareable link bait
Other valuable opportunities can include links from places where you have sponsored something, or have provided donations to. Perhaps you’ve done some pro bono work for a friend’s budding online business or venture. See how many areas we can get into here?
Valued backlinks help your site to gain authority for those keyword terms. They influence your search engine rankings.
This is one of those “rinse and repeat” ongoing tasks as keyword phrases change, your competition changes, their backlinks change, and so on. Even your own business services and products can change and evolve over time.
This ongoing process is known as building your link profile.
Tackling your competition’s sites that have more powerful link profiles requires time and dedication. The bigger the gap, the more time, effort and budget is needed.
It’s a good idea to set aside and commit to spending a minimum of several hours a month on this. If that’s too much, invest at least 2-3 hours a month ongoing.
You should always be on the lookout for valued link opportunities. The real stuff, not from link farms or other “sounds to good to be true” sites.
As you can see, it all revolves around keyword research. Everything builds from there. You’ll reap the greatest rewards by implementing all three (keyword research, on-page SEO, and link building) into a complete Search Engine Marketing strategy.
The combination of gaining both authority and relevance is your ultimate goal.
I hope you found this information helpful in determining what is involved in these types of projects.
Thanks to Andrea for sharing these important SEO practices that are key for all online businesses.
Andrea Kalli is a multi-certified virtual professional and the owner of Virtual Assist.net which offers a variety of business services for the online business entrepreneur.