(This is an article I wrote years ago. Just thought I’d share it here)
Those of you who that are just starting out and want to know more about SEO or online marketing, I can feel your pain.
Companies nowadays create products and then become confused about how to market their products, or who their potential buyers are. A rule of thumb is, you create your company and product around your main SEO and marketing strategy. I will walk you through this.
The reason why SEO is so important is not because it uses shady tricks to place your website on the first page of Google’s search results. The reason is because to do good SEO, you must have a very clear scope of what your company does, who your customers are, what they look for, and how to find these customers. Don’t these information answer to any company’s core philosophy?
If you’ve read a book called the Art of SEO by the founder of SEOmoz, you will see that he now equates SEO to online marketing, and online marketing equals to marketing, so SEO = Marketing.
To explain this, SEO includes:
1. Onsite Keyword Optimization: Populate your page with targeted keywords that your customers care about. These will have to be relevant to your products. By doing so, this will also help optimize the conversion rate on your website. Also, it’s proven that customers’ buying emotions are triggered by keywords. If you use the right keywords, which are ones acquired after research, customers are much more easily converted.
Furthermore, your targeted keywords will also help Google or any search engine understand what your website is about, and the search engines will show your website to users that are searching for those or related keywords.
This is just also like in the real world. When you talk about what you know (and you seem like you know what you are talking about), that’s what people will know you as, and will refer to you when someone asks about something you can help with.
How do i do this?
Let’s say that you are operating an eCommerce store that sells motor oil, and you want potential customers to find you. To do this, you can write up each of your page’s content containing keywords or keyphrases that your potential customers search for (which would require research. Use Google Adword’s Keyword Planner Tool to find out what your users are thinking about/searching for).
For instance, when a customer is searching for motor oil to purchase, the query that they input into Google search might be “best synthetic motor oil”. Knowing that’s what they search for, you can use such keywords in moderation on the page (not necessarily the home page) that you want Google to relate that keyword to. So, in fact, each page on your website could be optimized for different keywords. Many people create separate pages for different types of buyers.
Also, each website should have a portfolio of keywords that you target. If you are small, start with 5 or so keywords. You can target 1-2 short tail ones (2-word keyphrases), and 3+ long tail ones (2+ words keyphrases). When you have more budget and manpower to create more content with other keywords, then you can start expanding your keyword portfolio.
2. Manual Backlinks: You must go to the places where your customers frequent, and participate in discussions and provide links to your solutions when applicable. This is done in forums, twitter, blogs, and social networks. This is kind of like social customer service. This is also now a part of growth hacking. By creating backlinks on different channels, you not only better your site’s SEO, you also trickle users to your site using those same backlinks.
Note (Updated 11/22/2013):
When you write your response on these platforms, make sure you are not spamming your targeted keywords as your links’ anchor text (the text of the link, like this -> this is an anchor text). Back in the days, people would spam keyword anchor text (like this -> best synthetic motor oil). Since Google’s Humingbird update, Google are now penalizing excessive backlinks with keyword anchor text. Back in the days, Google used to give a lot of SEO juice to backlinks containing targeted keywords, so many sites abused that, which resulted in a lot of low quality websites making it to the top of Google’s search results.
If you think about it, it’s pretty unnatural to write links’ anchor text using keywords. What’s more natural is using your company’s brand name as the anchor text, like StartitUp or startitup.co, instead of Start your online business. However, that’s not to say that you can’t. It’s beneficial for you if you do it in moderation, for instance if you want to use the title of a blog post as the anchor test. The % of backlinks with keyword anchor text should be the minority of your backlinks.
3. Content Marketing: You should provide insightful and easy to understand material such as podcasts, videos, white papers, simple tutorials, or blog articles to help your customers solve their problems. If you are successful in providing authentic and original content that helps your potential customers, other websites will in turn link back to your website, increasing your website’s merit and authority in the eyes of Google Search Engine.
Not only will Google trust you more, this will give you Thought Leadership or Mind Share points so that when your customers are thinking of a solution, they will think of you. This is also called Content Marketing. Every big corporation or successful startup follows this. In fact, many believe that content marketing is now the best method to do SEO. The keyword tips given in #1 should be used here as well.
4. Page Rank: You should get external websites to link back to your website. This tells Google that your website is popular and trustworthy (PR – Page Rank), because when a website links back to your website, it’s kind of like someone’s talking about you. The more people talk about you, the more popular you are. The more trustworthy your referrer, the most trustworthy you are. Also, the links and their anchor text that they use to link back to your site or pages also matter. The “merit” ecosystem is just like what it’s like in the real world.
There are a lot more details points, but the 4 points above easily points out why SEO is not only important, but has also replaced marketing in our modern world. Also, if you do these 4 points well, you would have already covered 90% of your SEO efforts.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, do shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.