A Poor Man’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Google is the number one search engine so head over to their Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide if you want a comprehensive and credible SEO tutorial. But if you’re a beginner and don’t have the time to delve into the depths of SEO, here’s a quick way to ensure every content you post has a chance of ranking high on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).

But wait, who am I again to talk about this? An SEO consultant? A Search Engine Guru? Or perhaps, Google’s or Yahoo’s best friend? I don’t have any of these fancy titles or great connections. But I’ve used one of the most expensive, sophisticated, and effective SEO tools in the industry: Searchmetrics.

Do you know that it cost about $3000 a month to use their finest SEO suite? Want to know why they can charge this much? You’ve guessed it right, because they can prove results.

Most SEO professionals would tell you that research and strategy formulation are their biggest challenges. This stage is time-consuming, labor-intensive, yet manageable – even for cash-strapped website or business owners. I’m sharing with you some SEO insights from my experience with Searchmetrics but I won’t charge you $3,000 for this. It’s free and you can absolutely apply these tips right away! (You’re welcome.)

Here are some simple, actionable steps that you can follow to optimize your content for search engine discovery.

  1. Identify the keyword, key phrase or core topic you wish to rank for. You can use answerthepublic.com, keywordtool.io or Google’s Keyword Planner to brainstorm. topic search
  2. Type that keyword on Google Search to see the top 10 sites ranking for your chosen keywords.
  3. Review each content on the Top 10 list. Here are few things to note: keywords on title and subheads, post outline (structure), length (number of words), writing style/tone, images, videos, etc. Your goal here is to understand the post’s strengths and weaknesses. Pick out the good parts and seize the opportunities that your competitors miss.
  4. Get the average number of words and check the readability of their posts using hemingwayapp.com.
  5. Start creating your content based on the conclusions you draw from analyzing the anatomy of the high-ranking posts on the SERP.

SEO is so simple, right?

That’s because it’s not over. But you’re off to a good start.

There are still a lot of questions and concerns you need to think about to refine your SEO strategy. Here are other considerations:

  1. If a high-authority website is already ranking for the topic you want to cover, do you think it’s still worth creating content about that topic? The quick answer is yes. Try to get inside the mind of the potential visitor of your site and see what you’d be looking for if you visit the website. Really think about how you can serve their needs, wants, and desires with your content. Provide their basic expectations then later work on exceeding those expectations.
  2. Content can take a lot of forms: articles, photos, videos, infographic, etc. See if you can beat the competition by providing a more comprehensive guide, better images, or by answering a problem or question efficiently. The free tool, buzzsumo.com, can help you identify the format that works best for certain topics or subjects.Competitive analysis
  3. Don’t ignore internal linking. There is a reason why a series of post works better than a one-off article on a subject.
  4. Listen to Google Suggestions and see how you can answer the question better than anyone else.Google Suggestions
  5. Play around with Google Snippets. The Search Engine’s AI is getting smarter every day. This is because of the massive amount of questions we feed Google every single day. Help searchers find quick answers to their problems and your reward is a featured post on Google Snippets. While you can’t beat Wikipedia on most general topics, how-to questions tend to be easier to rank for, even for unpopular websites. 

Recency, seasonality, and timing  are also huge ranking factors. For instance, if there’s an event related to your industry, you can blog about it to increase your website’s exposure. I could go on but it takes time to implement the most basic SEO steps so try them first and return here for more.

I’d like to think that the best predictor of SEO success is how much help you actually provide searchers.

What are your thoughts?

P.S. If you’re an SEO professional, do me a favor and add more tips or comments below. It’ll help the community of content creators effectively promote their business or website. Thanks very much!

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