These days, more people are discovering the liberating potential of owning a business on the web. Additionally, many owners of brick and mortar outfits are looking to enhance the local visibility of their services, as more and more potential customers turn to search engines instead of the Yellow Pages to find answers to their problems.
Both groups are slowly beginning to realize the importance of SEO in getting their website in front of the customers that they desperately need to convert into paying clients.
Like many things though, SEO has two sides: shady, deceptive tactics that boost your profile in the short run, but end up getting flagged and penalized by Google soon enough (black hat SEO), and legitimate techniques that might be slower to work than the previous school of thought, but produces consistent, positive long term results.
1) Actually produce quality, useful, actionable content
This seems hard to believe, as many people have this perception that SEO involves a variety of actions that are more analogous to witchcraft than something as vanilla as article writing. Indeed, by producing detailed, informative articles that relate strongly to your subject of choice, the Google search bots will look favourably upon your site as compared to someone that merely poops out an article stuffed with target keywords and little else.
2) Ensure your page title accurate reflects what your webpage/article is about
Google’s SEO algorithm assesses a significant weight to your page title resonating with the content contained within the body of the site. Sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many web site owners miss the opportunity to insert important keywords within their titles, instead opting to be clever and witty with their page titles and subheadings.
3) Find long tail keywords that embody your site’s purpose…
These days, people aren’t using short combos of keywords like “NYE 2014”, but they are instead using long tail searches along the lines of “where to party on NYE 2014” or “the best hangover breakfasts in Chicago”. Using tools like the Google Adwords keyword tool, or a paid product like Market Samurai will help you identify keyword combos with high utilization but lower overall competition, allowing you to tap into an under-served market by tailoring your site titles, meta keywords, and content to these niche interest categories, all while minimizing your pay-per-click (PPC) bills.
4) Get inbound links from sites that have good domain authority
The sites that have the best quality links and high amounts of legitimate traffic will boost your site like crazy in Google’s eyes. If the New York Times links to you, and your competitor only has links from a bunch of low-quality niche blogs and shady link farms, who would a potential customer trust more? I think you know the answer to this one…
5) Do link exchanges with reputable sites in your niche
Of course, until luck strikes and you manage to get a link from the Huff Post or Wired or whoever is an authority in your space, you’ll have to grind up your site the slow but steady way. By interacting with and befriending like-minded individuals through blogs in your niche, you’ll soon find opportunities to link sites together, allowing all your properties to rise with the tide. As long as all the sites involved are in the same niche and boast high quality content, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting whacked by Google. That said, if you don’t feel right about linking to a certain site, it’s best to err on the side of caution and save your links for sites that you feel truly align with the mission of yours.