In this big 6 Steps to Affordable SEO resource page we’ll tell you all you need to know to improve the search results ranking of your website over time.
To succeed with SEO it’s essential to understand what the search engines are looking for. So, the first step is to take a look at our blog post What Search Engines Want for more information about that and then, if you’re ready, we’ll plunge right in.
1) What's your current position?
We believe it‘s vital to find out where you are first before beginning your journey to somewhere else. When assessing this website’s position we tried a few things and eventually settled on a tool called Moz.
It is complete but quite expensive, time-consuming and it provides a dizzying amount of information that leads to a steep learning curve. Not everyone wants to make that kind of commitment which is why we we’re offering Starter SEO Reports to our clients.
These reports include everything you need to know about technical issues on your site which will negatively impact your ranking. We compare your site to three nominated competitors and provide a list of keywords likely to boost your SEO Rankings.
Free SEO tools
There are a lot of free tools you can use to start building up a picture of where your website is currently at. I have listed a few tools below and Brian Dean’s Free SEO Tools listing has even more.
These are free services provided by Google to help in assessing the current position of your website and tracking its progress over time. Google Analytics tracks all sorts of information about how many people visit your site, what pages they view and how long they spend doing it.
Search Console identifies website technical problems and, very usefully, provides a list of search terms people have used to find your site in the past.
Why these tools should be located in different places is a puzzle but there you go. They are available on the web and you can get Apple & Android apps as well.
This Google test will reveal how mobile friendly your webpages are. More and more people are using small mobile screens to access the web so it’s vital that your site loads quickly and displays well on small screens.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS:
Don’t forget to establish a free Google My Business account as well. You can add add information about your business for display on Google Search and Maps.
There may already a listing for your business which Google has generated and you can claim ownership by verifying you own it.
2) Fix any technical issues
This goes without saying but, once you have your list of technical issues, it’s important to either fix them yourself or hand the list over to your webby person for action. These issues may be impacting your SEO ranking and should be addressed as soon as possible.
VERY IMPORTANT: REDIRECTION
Some issues you discover now (or later when you get to optimising the content on existing pages) may relate to the page address (URL) which you may need or want to alter. It is very important not to simply change the address of an existing page because this will lead to new errors.
Search engines and visitors to your site won’t like it when a page suddenly seems to disappear and they get a 404 Page Not Found error message. The answer is to redirect them to the new address even if it is the same page with an altered address. What you are doing, effectively, is telling site visitors and search engines who try to visit the old page that it is now at a new address.
This process is relatively involved for non-WordPress sites but there are easy ways to do this in WordPress including the Redirection plugin by John Godley and the SEO Press plugin, which we’ll get to later.
A search on ‘redirection’ for your particular website platform should bring up instructions of how to put redirects in place on your system.
3) Keyword Research
A keyword in SEO is the phrase that someone looking for your website would type into a search box. Something like ‘best apple tart’, perhaps. You will normally have to decide on a primary keyword that you want to be found for and, if you were a baker, “best apple tart” might be the one you choose.
If we were generating a SEO Starter Report for you we would first ask for your focus keyword. We would then suggest a list of alternatives you can use throughout your website to boost your ranking on both existing pages or when creating new content.
By now you will not be surprised to find that there are also quite a few free ways of doing this. The first two of these are available on any Google search page. Type your keyword into the address bar of your browser or a search box and Google will show you a list of suggestions based on what you’ve typed.’
Not all of these will be suitable but they might get you thinking about other keywords Google thinks might be important that you can use. Note them down and then hit Enter to execute the search. Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you’ll get a list of searches related to whatever you were searching for originally. Again, you may find inspiration for more keywords to use.
Which keywords should I choose?
Keyword research tools can give you lots of suggestions to choose from. You then have the task of deciding what keywords to use in your page or post.
Bearing in mind that people using search engines are all searching for the answers to their questions, one approach to choosing keywords is to go for the ones which are questions.
Our Starter SEO Report provides a list of possible keywords but you can also get that from Ubersuggest. Download it in CSV format and sort the suggestions to isolate the ones starting with ‘how’.
Hint about the hint
See how we wrote the copy in the hint to include some keywords? The title itself is a keyword and there are others in the text which could potentially help people find this page:
- Which keywords should I choose
- Keyword research tools
- what keywords to use
- choosing keywords
A keyword research tool you might find very useful is Ubersuggest on SEO guru Neil Patel’s website. It allows you to enter an existing keyword then delivers a huge list of related keywords.
It’s especially useful because it gives you an idea of how many times the keywords are searched for each month and a competition score; the degree of difficulty you are likely to experience in ranking for it. A score of under 1 should be relatively easy and over 4 is probably going to be very difficult.
Ubersuggest will also give you an estimated Cost Per Click (CPC) for many of the keywords it suggests. This is how much Google would charge you every time someone clicked on your Google advert with that keyword in it. The higher the cost the more competition there is for that keyword and therefore the harder it will be to rank for. The ideal would probably be to choose keywords with a decent amount of search traffic and low competition.
Bjorn Allpass explains how you use Keywords Everywhere and it looks like the start of a promising SEO series.
Keywords Everywhere is an extension for the Chrome and Firefox browsers which can help your keyword research enormously.
Installation is quick and easy and, when activated, it will generate lists of alternative keywords whenever you you use a search engine or perform a search on Amazon or YouTube. Like Ubersuggest, it provides data on the number of searches performed, the cost per click and the difficulty of ranking for that word.
One thing Bjorn doesn’t mention in his video is that Keywords Everywhere can be used to analyse the keywords that have been used on any web page. All you do is visit the page, click on the Keywords Everywhere button in the browser and select Analyse this page.
4) Optimise existing content for affordable SEO
Steps 4 and 5 are related and refer to best practice in naming your pages and posts and including enough keywords in them to give the search engines an idea what the content is about. This process is called on-page SEO and consists of choosing a focus keyword (or keywords) and making sure it appears in a number of places on your page or post.
These places include:
- The URL
- The page or post title
- In a subheading
- Several times in the text including the first paragraph
- In the page meta description (or snippet) which is displayed in search engine results
- In at least one of the alt-tags of the images on the page
So, for example, the title of your page might be ‘Baking the best apple tart’, the URL might be https://yourwebsite/baking-the-best-apple-tart/ and so on. By doing this, the search engines will definitely know your page is about ‘baking the best apple tart’ and they they will suggest it to people searching for that information providing it is good stuff.
SEO is a bit of a moving target but best practice at the moment is to decide on a different but related focus keyword for each post or page although it is quite fine to sprinkle some other keywords in the text. That’s why you want to collect lots of suggestions so you’ve got a different one to use for each piece of content.
There’s nothing stopping you using a focus keyword from one page sparingly in another page and it could help reinforce the original content. For example, we will in time use this page’s focus keyword ‘affordable SEO‘ on in links on other pages which refer to this one. That will give search engines and visitors another hint they can find stuff about ‘affordable SEO‘ on this page.
Now edit the page and post content
With all this in mind, your task is to edit your existing posts and and pages to optimise them for SEO. If the prospect of changing the actual URLs of the pages seems too daunting, I reckon you can leave that bit out. If you’ve done everything else, Google will know that your heart’s in the right place.
What else you can do on pages and posts
There are a couple of other steps you should take to make your page even more attractive to the search engines.
- Include illustrations and video.
- Include links to external authority sites on your subject. Don’t be tempted to use nofollow links which was widely done in the past to avoid giving the target site a boost. The search engines associate this behaviour with attempts to scam them into giving you a higher ranking than you deserve, and will downgrade you.
- Include internal links to supporting material on your website and link to the post or page as appropriate from elsewhere on your site.
- Some area of your site such as contact pages, terms and conditions and privacy statements are necessary but won’t add to your rankings. Apply a Noindex setting to them to tell the search engines to ignore them.
- Prune old content like notifications of your summer special from two years ago. There is no point to keeping those around and Google will appreciate not having to keep reading them.
In Step 4 you optimise and re-focus your existing content but remember our note of caution on redirection, above, if you change the URL of any content. SeoPress (see below) is one tool you can use for this.
Bjorn Allpass demonstrates step-by-step how to use an SEO plugin.
Our favourite way of making sure we have covered all the affordable SEO bases is to use an SEO plugin on our WordPress sites. Our current current favourite is called SEOPress and another good one is Yoast. They live at the bottom of the post and page editor and flag stuff you should fix.
The SEOPress free version is pretty complete and even provides a way of redirecting traffic from an old URL to a new one. The professional version with all the extras is very reasonably priced and can be used on as many websites as you like.
Yoast has a decent free version but the extras are pretty pricy and you will be charged for each website you use them on.
5) Creating new affordable SEO content
All the on-page SEO we discussed in the point above still applies when creating new content. That is from deciding on your focus keyword to naming your page appropriately and all the rest of it.
There is a lot to think about when coming up with new content and we found an inspirational video from SEO expert Brian Dean on how he tackled the creation of a blog post to rank on the first page of Google’s search results.
Doing the actual writing
The other very important to consider is how you should write to appeal to your readers. Our sister (brother???) site Allan Jackson Communications has a great article on writing effective copy for the web, or anywhere else for that matter. We’ll leave you read up on that in your own time but there is one important thing you should take from it.
It's not about you...
Your likely site visitor does a web search because they have some sort of problem. They wanted to know how to bake the best apple tart, for example. Your friendly smiling service, your lovely mission statement and your great team don’t mean a row of beans to them.
Many business owners insist on making it about themselves for ego reasons and boring the pants off of people who only want to know how their problem can be solved. Answer the question they ask and maybe back it up with something about why your solution is the one for them.
6) Link building
You’ll remember we mentioned that one of the most important things that search engines take into account when ranking a website is the number of external links (backlinks) pointing to it. If you’ve done your job they will know what your website pages are about and lots of links is social proof that the content is really valuable.
Your task is to build as many legitimate links to your site as possible but bear in mind that the search engines will know if you’re buying them or if you’ve exchanged links with your sister’s website. You should be on the lookout for linking opportunities including writing guest blog posts on other sites, getting all your suppliers to list your site and even getting satisfied clients to link to you on their blogs.
How to build backlinks
In the accompanying video Brian Dean explains how to build backlinks to boost your rankings and site traffic.
Free link checking tools
See what we did here?
Putting all we have learned into practice we created this page. It contains our 6 Steps to Affordable SEO program that would provide an answer for anyone wanting to improve their search engine ranking without it costing them an arm and a leg.
The page contains the focus keyword Affordable SEO in the page URL, page heading, snippet, a secondary heading, in more than one image alt-tag and several places throughout the text.
It also contains a number of links to external authority websites and internal links to our SEO Services pages and a blog post with supporting information.
We also wasted no time at all in blowing our own trumpet but, instead, put together a page that will be helpful to people who need to know this stuff.
Sharing and caring: Won’t you pretty please share this page on your social media if you find it valuable. Thank you.
Leave a comment
Do you have a question or perhaps a favourite SEO tip that we’ve missed out? Let us know in the comments but please be aware we moderate everything so there will be some delay before publication.