Real SEO is actually quite simple, but it takes a lot of hard work to do. That’s why a lot of people would rather hide behind complicated-sounding “formulas” and “reverse engineered algorithms” and “SEO toolboxes.” Because they think there must be some “secret sauce” that will bring success overnight with no effort required. They simply don’t want to believe that all it takes is good old-fashioned hard work to get the job done.
I like to compare it to creating great art. You can become a better artist by working at it. Practice. Experiment. Study the works of artists you admire. Sketch everything you see. Spend your evenings and weekends painting or sculpting or modeling or whatever your chosen medium of expression might be.
Or you can try to take the easy way out by purchasing some paint-by-number kits and spending an hour or two “reproducing” the works of some Great Master or another.
Of course, there’s no 100% guarantee that by taking the harder road you will one day see your works enshrined in the Museum of Modern Art. But there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening if all you do is paint-by-numbers kits.
SEO is likewise easy to explain, but a lot of work to do. Before you even get started, though, there’s one thing you really should do.
Step zero: Do your homework. This isn’t SEO, it’s just basic market research — the kind of thing you should do before you launch a new business no matter whether it’s going to be strictly brick-and-mortar or online, local or worldwide. Determine if there is (or can be created) a demand for whatever it is you plan to offer. Figure out who your target audience is, where you can find them, what sorts of information and content appeals to them, what “pain point” of theirs your product/service can address, etc. If no one needs (or can be persuaded they need) what you want to offer, I’m sorry to tell you, but your chances of success are slim.
And now, three steps to successful SEO:
- Step one: Assuming there is sufficient demand and that your target audience spends any time at all online, create an attractive, user-friendly, easy to navigate website that makes it easy for potential customers to find out everything they need to know about whatever it is you offer. Include plenty of unique content that is useful, informative, educational and/or entertaining for your target audience, and one or more calls to action on every page. Be sure to use the same words and phrases to refer to your offerings as your target customers would use themselves when talking about your products/services.
- Step two: Make sure your ideal customers know about you. (This is basic Marketing 101. Above all, SEO is at its core marketing activity.) This can involve advertising (PPC or in print/broadcast media), publishing a newsletter, posting on social media, writing high-quality guest articles for reputable industry-related publications and blogs, exhibiting at trade shows, conducting direct mail campaigns, etc, etc., etc. The idea is to put yourself in front of their faces where ever they might be. (So, for instance, spending a lot of time posting on Pinterest is a waste of time if none of your audience actually uses Pinterest, no matter how many articles you’ve read about how great Pinterest is for marketing.) Pretty much anything it takes to get the word out to your ideal customers about your website, your products/services, and your business in general.
- Step three: Profit!
Easy to say, a lot harder to do. Especially if you’re still thinking SEO is some kind of paint-by-numbers formula for lazy people. But as the old saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for.
Still want more help? Google has an excellent set of resources for those just starting out, including a downloadable PDF Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Access all their resources here.