Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a useful tool for many small and medium-sized businesses that do not have tremendous budget for paid search and paid ads. “But I don’t have any budget to hire an experienced webmaster either!” Well, here are the 5 easy steps for any search engine marketing rookies who want to do-it-yourself to improve their company’s ranking on the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
Step 1. Define Your Value Proposition
This is the foremost guideline for every business. You must know very well what benefits you are delivering to your customers because this is how you are going to stand out from a pool of competitions. If you are selling low-sugar, gluten-free desserts, then “healthy” will be your competitive advantage over other traditional dessert vendors, and your value proposition for your target audience, rather than “delicious” or “low price” .
Step 2. Make Your Website Well-Structured and Meaningful
This step may sound easy but actually quite challenging. Remember, a clear hierarchy is the key to a well-structured website. Then you may ask, what does clear hierarchy mean? Taking the dessert business as an example: dessert is the genre of products you are selling and under this genre, you are selling products like cupcakes, cookies and macarons. Then the hierarchy of your website should look like this:
It means that you should have a home page about dessert and separate pages for each dessert category, then different flavors and price for each category. This makes your site meaningful because it helps visitors locate your webpages more easily and facilitates browsing. On the contrary, if your website hierarchy is messed up like below, then the consequence is that you will only get visitors who want cupcakes, but those who want cookies and macarons may barely know your existence.
Having a clear hierarchy is a good start. Now what you need is to add static text links (readable by all search engines, so let’s just be down to earth) to connect all the webpages, which allows search engines to navigate your site easily.
If you are able to manage the first two steps, then you are ready to move on to the following steps.
Step 3. Add Relevant Keywords to the Content
Relevant keywords should echo your value proposition. Therefore, for your dessert business, the relevant keywords shouldn’t be limited to “desserts” and “cupcakes”, specific keywords such as “low-sugar dessert” and “gluten-free dessert” should give more weight to your SEM.
One of the SEO mistakes that many rookies or even experts make is that the more keywords added, the richer the content. This is only true when the keywords are relevant, but not stuffing the content with random words that your potential customers don’t care about. You may consider using various important keywords in your content and adding them to page titles and URLs in order to broaden your SEM spectrum
Step 4. Enrich and Refine Content
Your SEO effort will be wasted if search engines are not able to understand and index your webpages. Although a picture is worth a thousand words, do not use image or video to display important content and links because search engines cannot “read” them and won’t be able to interpret them as relevant search results. Text is always your safest bet.
Having a fresh engaging content helps drive traffic and retain visitors. Keep updating your site with useful information and remove the outdated pieces. Try to add quality links to your content and link words on your site to other trustworthy sites that provide additional information for your visitors. By doing so, your site would enjoy higher traffic by visitors from those links, and a better ranking on the SERPs when the related subject is searched (too many links might give an adverse effect, so don’t be greedy!).
Step 5. Keep Track of Your SEO Performance
You’re almost done, but not yet. This step is just as important as the previous ones. You’ll never know whether your SEM strategies are effective or not if you don’t evaluate them from time to time. You might want to know: Where does the traffic come from? Direct navigation? Referrals? Or search traffic? For referral and search traffic, which are the keywords that link visitors to my site? Google Analytics provides insights for these metrics.
Keywords are not universal, so you should keep an eye on your site’s ranking on different search engines. Focus on the major engines (Google, Yahoo and Bing), if there is a big ranking difference, then you should vary the weight of your keywords to see which would give the best result on each engine. For more in-depth analysis, SEM tools such as SEMrush and WebCEO can be a great help.
Last but not least, keep repeating steps 3 through 5 to polish up your SEM strategies. SEO is not just a one-time thing.
These guiding steps are the entry-level tactics for you to improve your search engine ranking from scratch. Before you start, don’t forget to double check our SEO fundamentals to make sure that you are delivering valuable messages to your target audience consistently.
If you want to understand more about the principle of search engines and SEO without going through the entire Google Webmaster Guidelines, you may find this video handy: