1. Have a great business
Done? Awesome, tick it off.
2. Have a great website
No? Contact Maxshmax Web/Design.
Hopefully you’re reading this before you’ve even started your site.
3. Local businesses – verify your Google page
It’s a free service, there’s no reason not to. Do Bing too.
Make sure your business details are accurate and match your website.
Start asking your happy customers for reviews.
4. Do some keyword research
Most SEO efforts require keyword research to be useful.
Know your audience
Do you know why your visitors come to your site? Do you know exactly what they searched for?
We usually have a broad idea – we know our own businesses after all – but sometimes our assumptions are a bit off, or we miss some opportunities we hadn’t thought of.
Research helps us target the keywords that enough of our potential customers are using instead of wasting time optimising for words that people rarely search for.
Research also helps us weed out the tire kicker keywords – we can determine which ones are associated with customers ready to act instead of those ‘just browsing’.
Know your competition
Once we have a list of relevant keywords that potential customers are actually searching for we need to filter out the highly competitive ones. There’s no point trying to rank for keywords that are already dominated by big companies or very popular sites, especially if you’re just starting out.
If we don’t know our competition we risk wasting our time on keywords with a very low chance of success.
Pick your battles
Keyword research helps us focus our efforts.
Even if your broad business category keywords are highly competitive hopefully we can still find some more specific phrases with surmountable competition used by a significant number of potential customers.
It’s not cheap
Unfortunately, doing the research can be time consuming and expensive. I explain more in the keyword research section.
4. Decision time
Now it’s decision time. Hopefully we’ve found some keywords worth targeting. What strategies do you want to try? How much effort or money do you want to put into it? How much of your content are you willing to change? How are you going to get other people to share your site?
And have you weighed those costs and their potential to generate quality traffic against simple advertising?
I talk more about your options and what’s involved here.
5. Start optimising
Go for it. Let me know if you want help.
Try to set realistic goals, often it takes 6 months to a year to start climbing the rankings.
6. Evaluate, research, repeat.
Be aware that Google is always changing and your competition will too so even if something is working today it may be less effective tomorrow or next month or next year. The only way to know is to keep an eye on it, repeat the research periodically, refine your methods, explore new options.