If you are a small business owner with a new website, then you know that driving traffic to that website is a difficult task. So maybe you started a blog thinking that the traffic would rush in. ::crickets:: Sorry. It just doesn’t work like that. But all is not lost. There are a few simple SEO tweaks you can make to your business blog to bring in more traffic.
The people who tell you Search Engine Optimization (SEO) doesn’t matter are the people who do not need SEO. Think about it. The big name bloggers will all tell you, don’t worry about SEO, just write great content and contribute some guest posts. But the little guys know that is a load of crap. What reader is looking for you? And if they are looking for you, how will they find you?
Here’s a quick analogy. Let’s say you just bought a new car. This brand new cherry red car is on the dealer’s lot, in a sea of other brand new shiny cars. You sign the paperwork and the dealer gives you the new set of keys. But it’s missing one thing. You know what it is. The thing that makes the ”boop boop” noise. Yeah, that thing. What are you supposed to do now? Run around like a mad man sticking your key into every car hoping you find your new car? Wouldn’t that frustrate you? Now think about a brand new reader with those car keys looking for your blog. How are they supposed to find you? That’s where search engine optimization comes in.
What is SEO?
SEO Helps Your Customer Find You
If you don’t know what SEO is, here’s the quick and dirty.
Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, involves using ninja-like techniques to place your website at the top of search results. (Yes, that is my definition.) It’s a simple concept but tough to accomplish. Or is it? I’m going to present 5 simple steps that are often overlooked when it comes to optimizing content for search engines.
Step 1: Write Great Content
Ok, Maybe top bloggers are right
I have to admit; some of the top bloggers have a good point here. You could optimize the crap out of a crappy post and it would still be crap. Be sure you are writing interesting and compelling content. Not sure if it’s interesting? Find a friend, or even better a family member, who has a strong dislike for your subject and ask them to read one of your posts. Did they make it past the first paragraph? If not, you need to figure out how to engage. Some use humor, others use pictures or analogies. You have to express your personality to engage. (click to tweet)
Take it a Step Further
What the top bloggers didn’t tell you about SEO
If you really want to dominate a search term, you need continuity. Want to hit the top result for pre-fabricated model homes? That phrase should be in almost every post you write and every post you write without that key phrase should support that key phrase. We call those target keywords. I will show you step by step how to find your best keywords to target in step 5.
Once you know your target keywords, you should consistently writing about that topic in various ways. Make it interesting! Don’t just tell me how I can buy a pre-fabricated model home, give me some pictures that I can pin on Pinterest or share on Facebook. Even better, give me a tweetable quote. Blogging on a consistent topic for several months with contagious content is a solid SEO strategy. And that leads us to step 2.
Step 2: Entice Readers to Share
Sharing is Caring
The web is becoming more and more about sharing and social interactions. It is used as an evaluation factor. Part of search engine ranking method is based on how many people give you social votes of confidence. The more that people Facebook share, Tweet and Plus One, the more important your post; at least, that is how the search engines see it. Social shares also help you build links. A strong backlink profile is the number one way to increase your search engine rankings.
It’s called the World Wide Web for a Reason
A link from another website that points back to your site is like a vote of confidence. The more votes, the more popular your website. You can ask for links, beg for links, or just build links yourself. The key is to build solid links. No link farms or links from spam sites. Sorry honey, that just won’t work. There are two main types of links; links that pass on a vote and links that don’t.
No-Follow vs Do-Follow
There is a way to tag links for search engines to determine if the search engine should consider the link as one that passes a vote or one that does not pass a vote. A link with the do-follow tag passes along a true vote, while a link with a no-follow tag does not pass on a vote. Think about the elections for a minute. How many people do you know that say they are going to vote one way, but then end up voting the other way? These people are all talk but when the true vote comes, they show who they really support. A no-follow link is all talk and no substance. It does not pass on a true vote in the way that a do-follow link would. However, it is important to build a backlink profile with both types of links.
Authority Net Worth
Part of a website’s authority is determined by the number of incoming links. Any links pointing out to other sites that are tagged as do-follow subtract from that authority. Your job is to build more incoming links than outgoing. It is similar to building net worth. The more money that you earn and keep, the larger your net worth grows. A website that gives out more than it takes in will have very low to no authority. On the other hand, a website that receives more quality links than it gives will have very high authority.
Give to Receive
One of the best ways to gain links from other sites is to link out to other sites. You can do this with a do-follow or no-follow link. If you notify the other website’s owner that you featured them, chances are they will reciprocate. But sometimes this does not happen, and that’s where carnivals come in.
A blog carnival is a roundup of posts centered around the same topic. If your post is selected to be featured in a carnival, you will gain a link from the blog that is hosting that carnival. Typically, the carnival host will change each week, much in the way a real carnival moves from city to city. Each time your website is included in a carnival, it gains a new link. Typically the only requirement is to thank the carnival host by linking back to the carnival in one of your own posts. I use BloggerCarnivals.com to submit to carnivals and apply to be a carnival host.
Below are some unique sharing sites that provide a link back to your website. These are social bookmarking sites that use votes from users to determine what links should be published.
Fwisp.com: Finance social bookmarking
PFBuzz.com: Finance social bookmarking
Reddit.com: General social bookmarking
Here are a few more sites that will provide you with a social link back.
Twitter: Yes, these links do count as backlinks.
Facebook: Facebook hides data from Google, so these links tend to not carry as much weight in that search engine.
Google Plus: A plus one was a strong backlink when this service was first rolled out, however, complaints filed with the FTC could potentially reduce the benefit. (Source) However, It still factors into the equation, especially with ‘personalized search results’ based on your Google Plus connections.
Best of all these sites are free to use! Seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? Now it’s time to get into the harder stuff.
But before I do that, let’s have an SEO question and answer session.
The first question comes from Sam at FinancialSamurai.com
Q: How would you balance the SEO benefits of an SEO friendly search title vs. an entertaining title which has little SEO value?
A: This is a great question and one that many people struggle with. Many people think that in order to make a post appeal to a search engine, they have to stuff their headline with keywords. The problem with keyword stuffing is that it usually makes the headline pretty boring to a human.
Here is how to balance the need to please search engines and humans.
- Make your title catchy to humans and include at least one keyword.
- Change the WordPress permalink to include keywords for the search engines.
- Include your keywords in the description while making it catchy to humans as well.
- Change up the Meta Title to include the keyword optimized title.
Pretty simple huh? I did a post on Credit Reports recently. Here is how I used this strategy
Human Title: The Only Report Card Your Mom Really Cared About
SEO Permalink: /the-only-report-card-your-mom-really-cared-about-credit-report/ (Notice how I included the keywords “credit card” as well as “credit report”)
Meta Title: What Is a Credit Report?
Meta Description: A credit report is a way to keep track of how well you manage credit. The length of accounts, number of accounts and payment history are all in this report.
Meta keywords: credit, credit report, card utilization, credit score, payment history, build credit
The phrase ‘What is a Credit Report’ is pretty competitive. So after using this simple tactic, I haven’t done much more in the way of SEO. And this is where I agree with the top bloggers. SEO isn’t everything. But just applying these simple tactics will put me that much closer to a top ranking.
The next question comes from Lena at WhatMommyDoes.com
Q: How do you think we should optimize differently today versus, say, 2010 before Google made some recent algorithm updates?
A: The only change I made after the recent Google updates was diversifying my link profile. I never optimized by specific keywords using anchor text. If you continue to build a diversified backlink profile, increase reader engagement, and focus on more social metrics, you will be able to stand up to any further updates. We can’t plan our sites or our lives around what Google decides to do next. If we focus on our readers then what Google does really won’t matter as much. (click to tweet)
Ok, one more question. The last question comes from Brent at OnTargetCoach.com
Q: Should I use tags?
A: Yes. In my opinion, tags are purely for search engines. I use categories to help my readers navigate and tags as a catch-all search strategy. If you break down the html code for a particular post, you will see the tag=”” attribute. Tags, as well as categories, alert a search engine to subject matter. Using tags works well for free backlinks as well. If you use tags and register your blog with Technorati, they are pinged (notified) each time you publish a post. Their bots scan your post and create automatically Technorati tags which are posted on a Technorati tag page. Here is an example I found using Majestic SEO Site Explorer.
Source URL: http://technorati.com/tag/shopping
Anchor Text: shopping for a financial advisor
Target URL: http://URLREMOVED.com/2012/08/shopping
I once contacted the owner of this site to find out how he was getting these links and he had no idea. So I did some more research and I found that these backlinks are automatically created from the tags that you add in your posts. Isn’t that nice? Free backlinks from Technorati.com! But you must register your blog.
Hopefully your head is not spinning because there are still three more steps to Caveman Simple SEO! I continue the discussion in the book with simple SEO tips so you can give your personal or business blog that extra push. Here’s what comes next.
- Reach more readers by speaking the right search engine language
- Beat your competitors to the punch by using ethical tools
- Bring in your ideal customer by targeting the right keywords.
As a bonus, I also answer more questions for more advanced SEO strategies. Here are two of the questions that I will answer in the book.
Q: How can I find out the top keywords I rank for on my site?
Q: How can I determine my most popular articles and what keywords were used to attract visitors to the article?
Best of all, I answer them in a simple way and give you a step by step guide to execute so there is no confusion!
You will get all this in Caveman Simple SEO. Order your copy here!
Not a do it yourself type of person? For a limited time I am offering a discounted rate on Blogger SEO Evaluation.