SEO is one of those things that, let’s face it, most of us tend to put off. It’s a daunting, slightly boring task. Plus it’s not tangible. So we don’t really know if it’s because of our (tedious) SEO efforts that we’re seeing better search engines results, or something else.

But sadly, it is one of those tasks we must devote some time to on a semi-regular basis.

Not sure why you should bother with SEO? Here are just a few reasons:

  1. To be found on Google, Bing and Yahoo in natural searches
  2. Cost effective long-term marketing
  3. Builds trust and credibility by appearing high in search results
  4. Naturally creates a user-friendly website
  5. Helps beat the competition in search results

So rather than look on it as a task you’re not qualified to do, take it step-by-step.

Today I’ll show you seven simple SEO steps you can take to help optimise your website. Which will – hopefully – mean you’ll achieve a better ranking in search engines for relevant terms … and ultimately win more business.

7 Simple SEO Steps to Get You Started

1. Keyword research

Getting started means you need to carry out some keyword research. I know, this is why most people don’t even begin, but Google helps by providing a free keyword planner that can help work out the best keywords for you.

Albeit, Google has changed things slightly.

Now you have to go through as if you’re creating a Google ad campaign before you can access the keyword tool. But you don’t have to put the ad live, which means no payment transaction will take place.

So it’s still worth it.

Our article How to choose the best keywords for your VA business is a good starting block to help you through this process.

Next we come to placing those best keywords throughout your site’s content. Remember to include…

  1. Page titles
  2. Page content
  3. Page URL’s
  4. Image tags

And the best piece of advice when placing keywords into your site … think of keywords as search terms.

So not really a word at all, more like a phrase.

What would a business owner looking for a Virtual Assistant with your skills or specialism type into Google for your website to appear?

Then write full sentences naturally with those search terms included, and mix it up each time – this covers all angles which should help your site to appear in multiple searches.

2. Quality content

Spend time on this one. Seriously.

Really think about your skills and the services you’re offering. Then have that information to the side when crafting your website content.

But remember the golden rule of writing online content – or any marketing collateral for that matter – write to your ideal client.

Don’t be all ‘me, me, me’, ‘I, I, I’ … people don’t care.

They want to know what you can do for them.

So tell them. Outline the benefits of you and your service and tell them why they need you.

Another way to distribute good content is via a blog. Whilst it can be time-consuming, it is a great way to ensure fresh new content is always being published. Plus, it shows the search engines that you are handing out quality information (so be sure to make it quality!) which they love.

3. Links – internal and external

Let’s start with internal linking.

Basically, this means you link from (what should be) SEO-friendly words on a particular webpage through to another page of relevancy on your site.

This will boost traffic to your webpages – by your directional links – and be another method of gently nudging the little search engine bots to find your content by using quality words and phrases.

Now on to external linking …

When done well and naturally over time, getting links pointing to your site from other quality relevant websites can show authority (which search engines like).

But 2 stipulations here:

  1. Don’t buy links. This simply doesn’t work anymore. Google (and other search engines) are aware of this practice and don’t like it. Which means they don’t award sites for it. In fact, they’ll most likely penalise your site if they think you’ve done this, rather than naturally build up external links.
  2. The sites linking to you must have relevancy and be authoritative. Asking a family friend who runs a florist to link to your site isn’t going to do much good – unless you target florists and their site contains quality content.

4. Submit a sitemap

This is the quickest way to get Google and other search engines to index your website. So it’s a must for all new websites.

But if you’ve recently updated your website content quite drastically – perhaps you’ve added a new specialism or service – you should also re-submit a sitemap as this will get the site trawled again quicker and indexed to appear in search terms for that additional offering (when searched for).

5. Be responsive

Hopefully this doesn’t even need to be said, but just in case, make sure your website is responsive.

Responsive?

Your website will automatically adjust to whatever device it is being viewed on.

Why is this so important?

It makes the user’s experience much easier and more enjoyable, which the search engines are all about.

If your site isn’t responsive, it’s unlikely it will appear particularly high for your search terms on mobile devices (even if you have optimised your website perfectly).

6. Avoid Flash images

From time-to-time I still stumble upon a website with flash as its main landing page. It may look pretty and impactful on first sight, but it does nothing for SEO since it’s essentially an image rather than searchable text.

Either don’t use it at all, or if you really don’t want to get rid of that beautifully designed graphic, make sure you add some decent informative text elsewhere on the page.

7. Monitor your efforts

There’s absolutely no point in doing all this work if you don’t take a look at how it’s panning out every now and again.

Login to your Google Analytics to see the kind of traffic you’re getting, where they’re coming from and what pages they land on (and leave from) your site. This should give you a good idea of what search terms people are finding you by, and at what stage they’re leaving.

If you’re not getting any natural traffic through Google, you need to re-analyse those keywords and try another tack.

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