Sound, Ethical Small Business SEO Strategy

In this article, I am going to share some of the things I have learned that have helped me boost several websites onto the first page of Google and obtain a few #1 rankings in the process.

What You Might Not Know About Keyword Selection

Let’s begin with a little background. The whole idea of SEO is to increase the amount of traffic to your website. This is done by doing some keyword research using Google’s keyword tool. When I do keyword research, I always click on the “exact” box because what I am interested in finding out is the exact number of local (United States) monthly searches for my keywords. I don’t even look at “broad” match because it is just too vague.

Whether you are doing your own small business SEO or hiring it out, I would recommend focusing on keywords that provide you with a minimum of:

  • 1,000 exact local monthly searches (if you are selling a national/global product or service)
  • 500 exact local monthly searches (if you are selling a local product or service)

I have learned through experience that if you are going to put the time and effort into SEO, you might as well pick up some nice traffic when you hit the top 5 spots on page 1 of Google.

Check Your Traffic Trends

Google displays a nice little bar graph in the keyword tool that shows you the trends for your keyword, but what I like to do is download the results, so I can see the actual monthly searches. Why? Because the exact local search volume is an average of the last 12 months and trends can change dramatically. I learned this lesson the hard way when I first started optimizing my own website for the term “affordable small business SEO.” When I did my keyword research, the term revealed 480 exact local monthly searches. Although this is a fairly low number, I was just starting out and the competition was lower, so I went for it.

Within a month, I had built a lot of back links and got my site to page 1 for that keyword. Then I happened to notice that the term only had 170 exact local monthly searches for each of the last 2 most recent months. Yikes! That was a big lesson for me. Now, I always look at the search volume for each month to get a better idea of how it is trending. For what it’s worth, I noticed a lot of SEO related terms enjoyed peak volume in the Dec-Feb time frame.

The SEO Myth: Getting To Page 1 of Google Is Great!

I can tell you from personal experience for that search term “affordable small business SEO”, being on the first page feels great for your ego, but it does not do much for your traffic. I was stuck in the 8th or 7th position for weeks, getting no traffic to my website. Only when I jumped up to the top 5, and particularly when I hit #3, did I start to see a trickle of traffic from organic searches on that keyword. As of August 5, 2011, I am still #3, but I hope to continue my rise.

Identifying Competition

Once I have my short list of keywords I want to go after, I analyze the competition. The tool I use to analyze the top few competitors is SEO Spyglass. You can download a free version of this program online. When you get it, you have the option of putting in a keyword you want to rank for, or a website you want to spy on. SEO Spyglass shows you how many links your competition has, what anchor text (keywords) they are using, and the web pages where they got them.

In short, if you see that your top few competitors have a lot of backlinks for the term you want to go after, you may be in for a long haul. Of course, depending on the quality of their backlinks, you still may be able to beat them. I have seen a friend of mine outrank sites with a thousand backlinks for the same keyword he had only 100 backlinks for. This is very important. I am seeing the same thing now with my website and other websites I am trying to rank highly. The quality of your backlinks matters and so does your backlinking strategy.

On Page Optimization

There are hundreds of articles on this topic, so I’m just going to hit it quickly. Since Google ranks web pages and not web sites, you can optimize every page on your site (if you want) for different keywords. Make sure your title and headers include your keyword. Make sure your keyword density is 2-5% per web page. Include a photo and set your “alt tag” to your keyword. Link your web pages together with the keywords you want to rank for. Put your keyword in your first and last sentence and make sure to bold and italicize your keyword in 1 or 2 places. Write good content that people can learn from or that they will enjoy.

Creating Backlinks

There are a number of ways you can create backlinks – you can post comments on blogs, create forum profiles, do article marketing, social bookmarking, and more. I prefer to mix in a little of everything, but I put my main emphasis on obtaining backlinks from blog networks that have a high page rank. I find that stories posted on these types of blog networks provide quality backlinks that help me outrank the competition in Google. Of course, writing articles like this one is an example of article marketing, and you will see the keyword I am trying to rank my site for in my signature below.

Once you’ve started creating your own backlinks, they need to get indexed. This is where you may need to spend some money or consult with a small business SEO services company to help you. Or, you can just wait, and hope that eventually Google will crawl the page with your link on it and index it, so you get credit for it.

Final Strategy: Ranking Video

You can get your video ranked the same way you get your website ranked: By creating backlinks to it. For one client of mine, he made a spectacular video that shows his p90x transformation. It is so compelling, we decided to try to rank it in Google. Since it is a YouTube video, we were able to get it ranked #1 for the search term “does p90x work” within about a month. My mentor once told me, “Google loves video”. This is true. Make a good video that has a call to action back to your website and then get it ranked. You’ll find that people are getting in touch with you through the video and also via your website (thanks to your great video!)

Wishing you the best small business SEO success and I will see you at the top of Google!

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