I don’t typically set out to insult anyone when I write a post like this, but it invariably happens so please allow me to apologize beforehand. I’ve been asked a lot lately about best SEO practices and what I’m seeing is pretty disappointing so I decided to write about SEO basics, please utilize what I’m saying in making changes to your current website
Let’s say you have a pizza joint, it’s the ‘Best pizza in Phoenix’ in your honest opinion and you want to rank and rake in all those hungry online searchers who you know will be ecstatic to try your pizza. Here’s the rub – you want to rank for the term ‘Best pizza in Phoenix’ but that term is nowhere to be found on your website. You cannot rank for it. It’s not merely about drawing the word in on the page once and calling it good, not even close. It’s about creating real content that is original, it’s rich in education and most importantly, above all else, it’s the only keyword you are ranking for on that page. Here at Workhorse Digital Solutions we offer several services; from digital integrations, systems automation, web development, as well as On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. In order for us to even attempt to rank on the first page of Google, we need a page for each of these services. You cannot combine all of these services, throw them all on a single page and expect to get anywhere near the first page of a search result. That just doesn’t work!
It doesn’t matter how much you hope for it, how hard you pray, Google is not religious so you need to begin with the basics and create one page for one key word. Be sure to include that actual keyword on the page or you’re not going to rank.
Now let’s dig into long tail keywords. A long tail keyword takes a standard keyword and turns it into almost a full sentence. As an example; a lawyer might not be able to capture something like ‘Los Angeles lawyer’ so instead we may identify other keywords that are way less competitive because they aren’t searched for quite as often. This gives us a better shot at winning that race and ranking for something like ‘best assault criminal lawyer in downtown LA’. You can see that by adding additional words to the keyword we make the keyword long tail and even though the organic traffic might not be as high as ‘Los Angeles lawyer’ but the likelihood of you ranking that keyword becomes greater because the competition is not there. If you are just starting out, focus on long tail keywords rather than those high-traffic ones. I’m not saying it’s not possible to rank for those highly competitive keywords, but imagine you’re running in the Boston Marathon next month and you totally forgot to train, and now you’re overweight, undertrained, and even finishing the marathon will be a challenge, but you REALLY want to WIN the Boston Marathon, even though you’re going up against men and women who have been training every day for years, dedicating hours and untold amount of money to personal trainers, coaches, dieticians, and more. Can you really compete? When it comes to those high-traffic keywords – companies have entire departments dedicated to capturing and then maintaining their ranking in those spots, they’ve been fighting for it for years and you just showed up and expect to capture it without putting in the effort? Sorry, not a chance. Focus, instead, on lower-traffic keywords and long tail keywords, they might not net tens of thousands of visits to your website, but you can capitalize on getting a couple hundred and work your way up.
There’s a common misconception that I run into all the time that a company can just hire an SEO expert and everything will get better since it’s out of their hands. The SEO expert will do everything! They’ll work their magic and *Poof!* you’ll be number one on a Google search and get rich. This is absurd. An SEO expert can take care of certain things like getting your technical SEO buttoned up, they can identify good keyword opportunities, they can even get your business listed on a couple directories but when push comes to shove, you, as the business owner, still have a lot of work to do. If you’re not getting direct traffic to your website, meaning people are typing in the name of your business, then you are not an authority and you aren’t going to rank for any real keywords. If you’re not getting referrals from other websites (backlinks), and nobody is talking about your website on social media, do you think Google is going to rank your website? Sorry, that’s a big nope. Without referrals, social signals, sharing your content, or anything along those lines, Google isn’t going to rank you because, and I guarantee this, your competitors are doing these things. Are you creating high quality content that excites people and gets them talking about you? Are you replying to people that comment on your blog posts or in your businesses Facebook page? Are you responding to all your Google reviews, the good and bad? Do visitors to your website actually stay on your website, reading articles from top to bottom or are they bouncing back to Google after a few seconds? If normal people aren’t interested in what you are offering then Google isn’t going to be interested in what you’re offering. When you create something genuinely appealing it gets shared and as more and more people share it and talk about it and view what you created, because it’s good! Google notices these, Google see’s these things and Google responds so it behooves you to become an authority on your subject, to interact with your audience, to create something worthwhile to people to discuss and share among their peers. Find ways to connect with your audience or your customers, create quality content that’s shareable, that people are excited to talk about, make it so good that people can’t help but share it.
Okay so these 3 things make up a pretty basic breakdown of SEO, together they give you a certain score, a level of authority. The more of an authority you are, the bigger keywords you can rank for but without applying these basic steps, you are going to have a rough go of it. You cannot approach SEO with a brand new, 3 page website built yesterday on Squarespace or Wix and compete with real people that have been dedicating a lot of money and time in the business. SEO isn’t easy but if done right it has been the means of being an absolute game changer. I honestly cannot think of a single thing that has a better ROI for a business than adopting sound SEO principles. Take your time, fix your On-Page SEO, really understand the basics before you start going out and thinking you need a couple thousand backlinks, get listed on national directories, or dive into web 2.0.
Now this last one may sting but I’m going to be blatantly honest, and this requires you to be honest with yourself: Are you worthy of that most coveted #1 spot on Google? Are you putting in the work? Are your clients beyond thrilled with your service? I get at least 1 call a week with someone asking if we can get them to the #1 spot on Google and I can give them an honest-to-god answer within 30 seconds – Their business is really not that great, their website is outdated, ugly, and lacking in information and I have to ask, “Do you honestly feel you deserve that spot? Are you REALLY the best pizza place in all of Phoenix?” If I don’t think so, then why would Google?
This goes beyond SEO for dummies. Take small steps forward and realize that it could take months and even years to rank for real, heavy traffic keywords. This isn’t something that happens overnight. Google is Google because it provides you with the right information, if I search for the best doughnut shop near me and go to the doughnut shop that pops up first on a Google search and the place is a dump, with doughnuts that taste like cardboard – why would I trust Google ever again after experiencing something like that? Google is Google because when I search for the best doughnut shop near me and I go to that first ranked shop – guess what, those doughnuts are freaking fantastic. So ask yourself, are you really the best? Do you really deserve that coveted spot? You aren’t going to rank first if you don’t deserve that ranking and the only way to deserve it is to slowly work your way up in authority.
- One Keyword per page
- Use long tail keywords
- Create content worth sharing
- Be the business that derves to be #1
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