jonathan lackman

MCSE, MCSA, Project Management, SEO, Web Design

How to Start SEO - New Site

Author; Jonathan Lackman

Often, it's hard to know where and how to start on a large project or undertaking. Like the old saying goes; "how do you eat an elephant?" - answer "one bite at a time". Similarly, starting SEO on a new or unoptimized site is something you have to prioritize and start taking steps in the areas where your focus can have the most impact. In this article, we will outline some of the fundamental steps to get in place to set a good foundation.

We will not be talking about "how to make it to #1 on Google in 60 days" or anything like that. You see enough of that spam already. We will focus instead on reasonable steps that could be easily undertaken by a small company, individual, or corporation with whatever budget is available.

Keywords; the first step is to identify your keywords. First, what is a keyword?  A keyword is what a prospect or customer types into a search engine when looking for your product or service.  I am constantly amazed by how often I see or hear folks working on SEO and who do not have a documented (written), prioritized list of critical keywords. You have to know what your keywords are. They should be stack ranked by popularity (which is also cost and competition). Then, I would also divide into three groups;

  • "long tail" keywords - these are the low volume keywords. Although low volume, long tail keywords taken as a group will generate 40% to 60% of your total traffic, so they cannot be ignored. Long tail keywords are also cheap to buy on PPC (pay per click) so you can spend limited budget dollars on long tail PPC, and focus on higher priced keywords in organic SEO strategies.
  • high priced/high competion keywords. These can be very costly for PPC, so focus on these in your organic SEO.
  • Your #1 keyword; you have to know what is the number one keyword. If you have a spot to put one word, what word should it be?
  • You need this list to refer to when creating organic SEO, as well as PPC strategies.

How do I build my keyword list? This is a question I often hear. It sounds challenging to build a list of 100+ keywords, so here is some help on strategies to build your list.

  • Brainstorm! Rather than reprint them all, check this link for 5 online tools to help brainstorm keywords.
  • Use online tools to analyze your compeditors sites. (you don't know who your compeditor sites are?  Jeez!  Build that list as well). One great online tool is Google Webmaster Tools. You can also put "search website for keywords" into a Google search window and it will show other tools. Some of these are designed to help you optimize YOUR site, but also allow putting a compditor site in the tool to analyze what keywords are prominent on that site.
  • Run test Adwords & Adsense campaigns which will, after a period of time, "suggest" additional search terms which can be used for your list, and for organic SEO.

Now you should have a good list of 50-100+ keywords, segmented from long tail, high priced, and #1. This can be done in one evening, maybe 2-4 hours. Add on a couple hours if this is all new to you.

What NOT to do. Perhaps the most common mistake, even among some sophisticated companies, is to confuse your company or product name with your keywords. Often your company or product name are NOT keywords at all.

Lets say you have a new product with a new, made up name. Let's say the name of the product is "arftut". In the beginning of your marketing, nobody in the market is aware of your name. Nobody is typing "arftut" in Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Your name, although you love it, is unknown in the market. In this situation, you have to focus on keywords that describe the product until you build brand awareness. So, you would use keywords like "wheel polisher, polish, chome" etc. assuming this product is something that helps polish wheels. Only after you have built significant brand awareness can you treat your name as a keyword. For example, Microsoft, Apple, Chevy, Coke, are all products like this; the name itself is meaningless, but can be used as a keyword since it has great brand awareness. To recap, don't be so in love with your new product or company name that you automatically use it as a keyword. You have a limited amount of web space for critical keywords, they should be filled with keywords from your list until after you have built brand awareness.

Next steps;

  • I like to dominate long tail keywords in PPC, and optimize high cost keywords in organic SEO. This works well with small budgets.
  • Quality work counts; do not go chasing every new gimmick or spam you get. Find the market leader sites to read, research.
  • Most likely the most critical keyword placement on a site or page is the title tag in the page. Learn what works, and what is ideal.
  • Most likely, the most critical strategy to remember is that Content is King; you have to give your visitors a reason to visit, return visit, share, and hopefully buy something.

Email me with any questions using the  "contact" page.


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