It all starts with a good list of keywords.
Good keywords will describe the following items:
- What it is it you do, where do you do it and who do you do it for?
• Describe your target market (buyers)
• Describe your target audience (buyers + influencers)
• Describe the problems you solve and services you provide
• Your geographic location (NC, RTP, The Triangle, Raleigh, North Carolina, North Hills, etc.)
Examples of powerful keywords:
los vegas wedding photographer, las vegas photography, las vegas elopement photography, engagement photography vegas, las vegas adventure weddings, destination wedding photographer
Guidelines for brainstorming keywords:
- Be specific.
- Use real words that real people would type into Google.
- Don’t be cutesy (aka don’t misspell “Bag Laydees”).
- Don’t be tagline-y (no one is searching for your poetically-named product).
- Do consider including common misspellings of your keywords.
- Don’t be jargon-y*.
- Don’t be technical*.
*Unless these are terms frequently used by your target audience and/or market
Now, you’re ready to start brainstorming keywords. Aim for a list of 10-20 good keyword phrases.
Where to use these keywords on your website (or newsletter):
- Page titles
- Page descriptions
- Page URLs
- Image file names
- Page content headings
- Early page content
- Image and possibly link alt text
Rules for incorporating keywords:
1. Think reader-first
What you write must make sense to the reader. Yes, you want to get found in searches, but you also want the human who searched for you to stick around once they get there and not think you’re a weird keyword-spouting robot.
2. Don’t repeat
Each page needs its own unique Page Description or Google will think they are identical—which means that it will assume one of the pages isn’t important because it’s a copy. The same goes for images.
Overwhelmed? Here are some tips on where to start applying your keywords first:
Use a “moving forward” strategy
Don’t look back just yet. Start using your new keywords with every new blog post, every new web page, and every new image you add to your portfolio.
Focus on the most important pages on your website
These are the pages you would like to see come up in search results—for example, your Home, Services, and Portfolio pages. Limit yourself to 2-3 pages to start, but don’t limit yourself to the items noted in the “Where to Use Keywords” section above. Think about the terms you are using in your package names and descriptions and start making sure you’ve named them in a way that reflects their value to consumers (addressing what they need and want).
Fix up your most popular pages and blog posts
Use Google Analytics in conjunction with your good judgement to decide what your most popular pages and blog posts are. You don’t have to go back to your blog posts from 2015 and start fixing the image names on every single post, UNLESS your most popular blog post is from 2015. If so, just fix that post and move on.
Speaking of moving forward, let’s move on to two other things that will make search engines really value your website.
Clean up any broken links
Search engines don’t like a broken web, so make sure you fix any broken or dead links on your site. Use a free service like W3C’s Link Checker to track down broken links. You can also use Google Webmaster tools. Either way, once you’ve got your list, it’s time to start cleaning things up.
The Easiest way to fix broken links:
- If it’s a link to another website, find similar content and relink OR rewrite your content and remove the link.
- If it’s a page on your website that no longer exists, create a 301 redirect that sends the visitor to another similar page instead of sending them to your “Page Not Found” page (aka 404 error page).
You’ll also want to make sure your “Page Not Found” page (aka 404 page) offers links to other pages your site visitor may be interested in, so you don’t lose them.
Create a long-term SEO strategy
SEO is not a “set it and forget it” thing. I know that sounds like a bummer, but what that means is that every day you have an opportunity to overtake that guy who is ranking in the space above you. If he’s not on his game, he’s out, and your and your long-term strategy are moving in.
Here are two long-term strategies you can use to keep your page moving up in the rankings:
1. Add new content regularly to your strategically designed and user-friendly website.
If someone comes across your site, they are only going to stay there if there is something awesome to do/read/see. But if you’re regularly creating fresh content and your site is easy to use, satisfied searchers will keep coming back to see what you’re up to—and to share it with their friends, family, and colleagues. (Hello, SEO Gold!) Learn more about how good website design and content affect search engine rankings in Chapter 6 of Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
2. Create links between your site and other fabulous websites.
Links both to and from your website contribute greatly to your page rank. Read more about why this works and how you can get started on a white-hat link-building strategy in Chapter 7 of Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO.
Sidenote: Wondering what this Moz thing is? Moz is a company that provides tools for analyzing and improving SEO (some of which are free!). This post is not sponsored by them, but they know SEO and are who I turn to with my SEO questions.
SEO resources to help you out:
Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO – A platform-independent and comprehensive guide explaining all things SEO, including how to perform keyword research, social media, and other strategies for increasing your site’s page rank.
Broken Link Checker
Google Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools
Creating 301 redirects – Every platform is different, so search your platform’s support site for advice. Here are instructions for a few popular platforms: Squarespace | WordPress | GoDaddy
Creating a custom Page Not Found page (aka 404 page) – Every platform is different, so search your platform’s support site for advice. Here are a instructions for a few popular platforms: Squarespace | WordPress | GoDaddy