Optimizing engines for search? No one ever said that was going to be easy-peasy-japanesey..
The Complete SEO Checklist for Success
So you're about to launch an SEO campaign? Do you think it will be easy? It won't. You better have a plan if you want to achieve steady, long-term search engine rankings. Otherwise, you're going to simply go nowhere.
Thankfully for you, we've compiled a complete SEO checklist you can follow to ensure you obtain high search rankings and build a real brand online.
Section 1: Choosing a Niche
Before you do anything, you need to decide what niche you want to pursue. A niche isn't something like “sports” or “health.” A niche is very specific so instead of health, you will focus on weight loss. You can even take it a step further and focus on solely weight loss supplements if you want.
Gone are the days where you can build a site about a general topic. Sites like “E-how” and “EzineArticles” were sites like this and they've plummeted to the search engine rankings because of their lack of quality information. These types of websites do not create any value to search users and at the end of the day, Google wants to rank websites with authority and value.
How to find the right niche for you
Most people would agree that to truly build a quality, authoritative website your niche has to be:
1. Something your passionate about: Creating a website about something you care about will motivate you to work hard and build a real website to help people. Plus, coming up with ideas for content will be so much easier for you.
2. Something you are an expert in: If you don't know anything about your niche, then your content quality will suffer, which is exactly the opposite of what search engines want. Therefore, choose a niche you have a great deal of knowledge in.
Another thing you should consider is how you will monetize the site. However, there's a balancing act you need to follow. Don't build a site just for profit! As crazy as it sounds if you build a website solely for profit, then you're really just following the “churn and burn” style of SEO that doesn't bring long-term results.
Section 2: Keyword Research
Pre-Panda and Pre-Penguin style of SEO simply doesn't work anymore. You can't just stuff keywords all over your page, blast links to the page and rank. Instead, you'll need to get inside the head of your audience and think about they really want.
Ranking for short-tail keywords is still a great way to obtain traffic, links, and exposure to your brand but you probably won't make much money with them. Instead, you should focus on long-tail keywords, especially “buying keywords.”
Buying keywords are by far the most profitable keywords for SEOs. Ranking for weight loss is great but chances are people are just looking for information on how to lose weight, not for products. However, if someone searches, “best weight loss supplements in 2014,” they're more motivated to buy a supplement. Obviously, any keyword with the words “buy” or “purchase” is even better.
In my experience, these are the best buying keyword queries to rank for:
• Cure + problem
• Stop + problem
• Product + review
• Problem + remedy
• Cheap + product
• Discount + product
• Product + coupon
• Buy +product
• Purchase + product
• Where to buy + product
How to find Keywords
There are a variety of sources available to find profitable keywords. Google trends will show you keywords that are hot at that given time and there is the always-reliable Adwords Keyword Tool.
In addition, you can type your niche in Google and up to ten related search queries will be listed. I normally write all of these down and explore their search volume later in the AdWords Tool.
Section 3: On-Page SEO
Once you have a large list of keywords, you're going to need to develop some content for these keywords. This can be in the form of articles, videos, slideshows, pictures, etc.
Providing Value for your Readers
The real secret to a successful site is to provide value to your visitors. Give the readers what they want and they will keep coming back for more. So how do you provide value?
First, make the focal point of your site to help readers with a problem. If their issue is weight management, offer healthy eating tips, easy ways to cut down on caloric intake, and perhaps a few alternative forms of exercise. The key is to provide them with a real solution. If you do this, then you'll succeed.
Second, despite what every ignorant guru says, content length is not as important as it once was. The magical length according to gurus was around 1,000 words but in reality this is nothing but garbage. Make your content length as long as it needs to be. If it needs to be 1,000 words so be it. However, if you can provide a solution to your readers in 400 words, then do it.
Title AND H Tags
The title tag on your site should be a headline about your site. For example WebMd's title tag is : WebMD – Better information. Better Health. Before you even click on WebMd.com, you have a general idea about the website. The description tag goes even further and you should use this tag to sell search users why they should click on your website.
H tags, or headings go from H1 to H6. Depending on how your content is structured, you generally won't go much further than H3. However, in some cases you might.
To help your site get indexed by search engines, you'll need to create an XML sitemap. There are several free WordPress plugins and other services that will easily create an XML sitemap for you and it shouldn't take more than five minutes to make.
After you make your sitemap, submit your sitemap to Google and Bing, through Webmaster Tools. If you don't have an account you'll need to sign up for one and it should take you only a few minutes.
Search engines are analyzing “trust factors” now more than ever. So how can you add trust?
Step one is to create a free Google+ profile. After your profile is created, you can insert your profile into the header of your site and Google will recognize you as the author. Plus, Google will display your headshot in the SERPs, which will improve your CTR dramatically.
In addition to a Google+ page, we recommend you always create an about, contact, and privacy police page. This is for legal, safety, and privacy reasons and it's just a good idea to have regardless.
Section 4: Off-page SEO
Now things are going to get interesting. Off-page SEO is all about one thing – backlinks. Backlinks are simply links to your website from another site. Anchor text is the text that is visible displayed when someone clicks on your link.
For example, in this example, blue widgets is the anchor text: < a href=”http://www.bluewidgets.com” > Blue Widgets < /a > (remove spaces to make it hyperlink obviously)
• Answering sites
• Web 2.0 websites
• Guest Posts
• Social networking sites
• Social bookmarking sites
• Private blog network posts
Things get tricky because search engines really do not want SEOs to build links. There's a fine line between breaking the webmaster guidelines and following them.
Blackhat SEO refers the manipulation of search algorithm's using web spamming and unapproved methods to rank a site. Whitehat SEO, although inherently flawed because it still technically against the webmaster guidelines is a safer, more stable method to rank a website.
In the end, white hat SEO is the safe, proven method to build a website of value, although some black hat SEOs might disagree. Still, if you focus on building a brand that offers true value to your visitors, links will come naturally and that is what search engines want.
This may seem like a lot of work but if you do it right, it can really pay dividends. SEO is worth billions of dollars to some companies and it can be an important revenue stream for a business. Hopefully now you understand more about organic SEO and can put a plan into action to create a successful brand online.
Take a look at our tips, tools, reviews and guides on how to transform SEO into a lifestyle.
- Search Engine Optimization Tools
- Search Engine Optimization Guide
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