Trying to get traffic to your website without a solid plan is a bit like driving around aimlessly with no destination or direction in mind. You may eventually make your way to somewhere you want to be but taking the scenic route might not have been in your original plan. 

Think of this travel scenario in context with your website.  But this time, you know you want the most direct path to get people to visit your site. With a solid SEO (Search Engine Optimization) strategy, you will have a goal in mind, and a plan for what to do to get there. Even if you’re new to SEO and you don’t quite understand what it will take to get a certain keyword ranking, or even what a realistic keyword goal is for you, it’s good to have a plan. You can always tweak and adjust both your plan and your strategy as you go along. Actually, you probably will be tweaking.  All the time.  Unfortunately, SEO isn’t a set it and forget it way to drive traffic to your site.  You need to look closely at your keywords and numbers and formulate a good strategy.

When you have a workable strategy with defined goals, and a way to track the results you are getting over time, it becomes easy to determine if your strategy is working. Without either of those, you’re guessing at best, and that’s not a good business practice. Search engine optimization takes time and effort. And if you’re hiring someone to help you, it can involve quite a bit of money. I suggest getting to know the basics so you know the value and the time it takes to get to your optimal point.

So where do you start? Learn the basics of how SEO works. Set up a good website analytics program, I use the plugin Monster Insights or ExactMetrics. Both will connect to your Google Console or Google Analytics account so you can see immediate performance on your WordPress dashboard.  This way you can start to measure what traffic you’re getting now and where new traffic is coming from. Google Analytics is a great program that will grow with you. Install it, look through the reports, start to learn to use it and expand your knowledge as you go along. 

Your next step will be to formulate a strategy. I’ve broken this down to 5 steps. 

  1. Determine your ideal target audience. 
  2. Figure out what they are looking for and what keywords and key phrases they use. 
  3. Generate high-value content around those terms. 
  4. Implement on page and on site optimization. 
  5. Track results and adjust as needed. 

From there you can expand on what’s working, identify more audiences, more terms, and create more content, and slow down on what isn’t working. One important thing to keep in mind is that search engine optimization takes time and that you’re building your site’s reputation with the big search engines over time. Don’t give up on your strategy too soon and whatever you do, don’t throw in the towel. 

Getting your SEO optimized and working for you isn’t something that will happen overnight.  You’ll need to work on this over the course of several days, weeks, or even months – depending on what your timeline looks like.  One thing I don’t recommend is to head to Google Analytics and start paying for Adwords.  This is the fastest and quickest way to lose money.  If you don’t have the right content on your site and you aren’t targeting your ideal audience, you’ll be wasting your money. 

Let’s get you started by looking at how to optimize your keywords.  And where you should start.

What are keyworkds?  These are the words your target audience types into their favorite search engine (Google), to look for more information on topics you can help them with. It’s the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. Knowing what your audience is searching for to find you will help you create the best strategy to get in more searches.

Keywords and Key Phrases

Before we go any further, I think it is important to note that we’re not talking about single words here. You’re not going to rank for “butter” for example, even if you are a dairy farmer and that’s what your customers are looking for. Instead, what you want to go after are longer key phrases that give you a good indication of what your people are looking for.  We call theses short-tail (also known as broad) – these are typically one or two words.  Then there is Mid-tail keywords  – these are typically about 2- 3 words.  They usually have more description to them.  And then there are Long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords have the most description and con be full sentences.  In terms of use, short-tail have a ton of people looking for content, mid-tail is probably where most people are going to find you but long-tail, those have the lowest competition for Google.  That means if you hit the nail on the head and you come up with the long-tail key word that people search, you are going to rank HIGHER on the Google search.  So know your customer.  The more you know about them, the longer your keyword phrase and the higher your ranking!

For example, let’s say you are a small dairy farmer who sells fresh milk at the farmers market and you’ve been hearing people say they are interested in figuring out how to make butter. A key phrase you may want to look at for a blog post or informative article could be “how to make butter at home with fresh milk” or something along those lines.  See how that long-tail keyword phrase is very specific.  If someone types that in and you are aiming for that phrase, the odds you are on the first page of Google are exceptionally well.

If I’m blogging about SEO and trying to find people interested in a training program or a short guide to help them find out what their customers and readers are looking for, I may use a phrase like “best way to find targeted keywords” or even “how to discover what people are searching for online.”  Remember, mid-tail keywords may get you some traffic but really dive into your customers and try to figure out what they are searching for.

How To Find These Keywords 

The next question is of course where you find those keywords. How can you find out what your target audience is typing into their favorite search engine? 

It starts with a guess. I hope you know enough about your topic and niche of choice to come up with a list of several words and phrases that you think your readers may be using. From there you have options.

Just Do it!

One of your best and free tools is Google. Start to enter one of your keywords and see what the autofill options are. Play with different terms and start making a list. Once you have that list, search each term and scroll down to the bottom of the first search results page. You will see a list of related searches. Add those to your list of keywords and key phrases and choose several that make sense for you and the type of content you want to create. 

Another option is to use a keyword tool. If you use Google AdWords, or have at least an AdWords account, you can use Google’s free tool which gives you quite a bit of information on search volume and the likes. If you use Chrome, I really like the Chrome Extension Keywords Everywhere.  Whenever I type anything into my search bar, a number of different phrases and options show up on the right hand side.  There are some other paid keyword tools but start with something free and work from there. 

What To Do With Keywords 

Add content to your website.  I know, I know.  There’s a lot to do.  You may be too busy to blog but you really need to look at the content on your site.  The more content, the more keywords, the more eyes on your site.  It can be that simple.  Use your keywords and key phrases where it makes sense in the title and content of your blog posts, articles, video descriptions, and any other content you add. Don’t force it. Always write for your reader first, search engine second. If you can use it in the title, and definitely use it within your content, multiple times or several variations of your main keyword within the content depending on length. Don’t overdo it, but help both your readers and the search engines see what your content is about. 

If you have the plugin, Yoast SEO, installed on your WordPress site, you can easily check on the content from the page you are writing on.  Follow the guidelines.  They’ve made it easy and color-coded.  Look at what Yoast says about your SEO, add in a keyword phrase, the metadata, make sure your slug matches what your title is, check the image, and add an alt. tag to your images.  Make your alt. tag relevant to your content.  While Google is getting better at reviewing and understanding images, words (keywords) are king to be found on Google.

Working on your SEO will take time. Don’t get frustrated. A little at a time and you’ll be working your way up the ranking ladder. I encourage you to start today with a blog post or rewrite content on your home page. If it’s been over a year, your home page may need a rewrite completely. Review and tweak.

Need some help getting your site to show up? We are happy to help! We can take a look at your site, your keywords and offer a game plan to get you seen. Head over to the Contact Us page and let us know you need help with SEO.

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