The Entrepreneur's Beginner Guide to SEO

This was originally written and published for Wavoto.

SEO is similar to home improvement. Talking about it all at once is overwhelming and you always feel like there is more to do. But, if you take a look at SEO step by step, the process is doable and your hard work will do wonders for your business. 

Let’s dig into what even is SEO, how to find keywords, the steps to improve SEO, and the two essential platforms for your SEO. 

so what is seo?

It is Search Engine Optimization (usually shortened to SEO, saying each letter), it is the process of improving pieces of your website or content to increase website visitors, organically (for free), from search engines.

In its simplest terms, SEO is all about the words you use and how they answer questions people are searching for. SEO began as a huge focus on keywords, the words people would type into search engines and find people's sites for. 

The search engine algorithms from Google and Bing have been developed to deliver the best experience for the person searching. What this means for your site is that you still need a focus on keywords, but even more on the overall experience a website visitor has on your website.

Let’s begin your 6-step quest for SEO success. 

step 1: find your keywords

This step is the heftiest but the most important. I wish I could just give you a simple list of words that will attract people to you, but these keywords are just that, keywords that work for your specific business and brand. Think of them as the terms people are searching for that would bring them to your website and content.

So how do you find your keywords?

There are paid tools you can use but when you're first getting started with SEO, I always recommend you work on listing them on your own because you can better understand your audience’s actions when you work on your keywords. 

Note: I say the word “keyword” but that doesn’t mean you need a singular word, “keyword” can also mean “key phrase”.

Here's how you can find your specific keywords:

1. make a list of important, relevant topics based on what you know about your business.

Think about the topics or words and phrases you want to rank for in terms of generic buckets. You'll come up with about 5-10 topic buckets you think are important to your business, and then you'll use those buckets to help you come up with some specific keywords later in the process.

For me, as an online marketing strategist, my buckets may look something like this:
  1. small business marketing strategy
  2. working from home tips
  3. beginner marketing strategy
  4. online marketing strategy

2. fill in those topic buckets with deeper, more specific keywords.

These specific keywords are ones you think are important to rank for on search engines (or SERPS, search engine results pages) because your target audience is probably searching already, using those specific terms.

For example, keywords around "working from home tips" might look like this:
  1. working from home effectively
  2. adjusting to working from home
  3. working remotely tips
  4. working remotely pros and cons

3. confirm the importance of a keyword using a tool.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet, but definitely is a factor, is the monthly search volume of a word. It's why one of my topic buckets isn't "online marketing" because the monthly search volume of that word is astronomical. 

This means, there is a high volume of people searching that term. Sounds great! Until you realize that if a high volume of people are searching for that term each month, you're competing with a lot of people to come up in search results.

By using a keyword tool, I can be told what the search volume of a word is to better gauge if it's worth my time to focus on or not. There are many free tools out there you can utilize, one I often turn to is UberSuggest since they provide alternative words. 

Now take a deep breath because the hardest part is over!

step 2: implement a focus keyword throughout each page on your website

Determine your focus keyword: the keyword you most want your page to rank highest for. These focus keywords tend to be your most important keywords, you’ll want to work them into these 5 places: 

  1. Title: This is the most important area to add in your keyword. Your title tag is your reader's main way of identifying your page and the first place that search engines scan. You will want to include your keyword in a natural way, so consider putting it into a "How To" or List format. 
  2. URL: On Wavoto you can have a "Friendly URL" where you can add your keyword/title/phrase separated by dashes. Take a look at this article's URL for an example! 
  3. Sub-Headers: when it comes to putting your focus keyword in other bodies of content, be upfront about it. By putting this keyword into headers and sub-headers, the audience will get the point of the text faster which is especially important for readers scanning your text. 
  4. Body Text: Throughout your blog article or webpage you will want to include the keyword, but naturally. Even though density is key with keywords, make sure you don’t sound like a broken record. Your focus keyword is still the main reason someone clicked on your page, so emphasizing it throughout your copy is important - but it still needs to read well. Read through your entire page out loud to truly hear how it sounds.. 
  5. Image Alt-Text: Search engines can't see images like we can, so they rely on alt-text (alternative text) to help them determine the relevance of an image to the article and search results (it is also the text that will be read for those who are blind and use screen readers). Whenever you have an image, fill in the alt-text with descriptive words and see if including your keyword makes sense.

step 3: gather your supporters (supporting keywords)

While you start with a focus keyword you want to support it with… supporting keywords! These keywords (or long-tail key phrases) are similar to your focus keyword. So small business website templates could be supported by:
  1. Website templates for small business
  2. How to design a website for small business
  3. Small business templates for website
Supporting keywords aren't as widely searched for, but using them can show search engines what your article is focused on and will help searchers.

Just like with your focus keyword, naturally include these supporting keywords in your page content. 

If this is beginning to feel like a lot, begin with writing your content as you naturally would and then going back and editing to make sure your keywords are specifically utilized.

step 4: backlinks

When establishing your website's credibility, backlinks are a huge help. Backlinks are a green light to search engines that your information is worthy of a higher ranking. 

Search engines will grant you higher visibility when a lot of sites are linking back to your content (i.e. backlink). 

For a blog, you’ll want to link to other articles you have or popular articles on other websites that support things you say in your own blog article. The easiest way to do this is by linking to facts, quotes, studies, or statistics. You only want to include a handful of these links.

Secondly, you will want to get other articles to link to this one, this happens after you hit publish and has a greater impact (or weight) on your ability to get found in Google search.
One way you can support your website in gaining backlinks is by providing data that others will link back to. If you’re constantly linking to studies, statistics, and facts, think about how you can provide these on your website first.

step 5: stay in the loop

SEO is a constantly evolving marketing tactic, meaning you need to stay in the know on what’s helpful or hurtful for your ranking. 

You won’t need to check on the industry news every day, but once a month try checking in to see which of your keywords are dominating the traffic brought to your site. One way to do this is by using a tool like UberSuggest… this is a way to put in your website and see the more popular keywords related to your site content. And it's free! 

step 6: take seo somewhere else besides google

Google is the major player for SEO, having over 92% of the market share for search, there’s no way around it. But there are two other platforms that can really support your SEO measures…but in different ways.

let’s talk about youtube and pinterest 

These two platforms may not be the obvious answer to help with marketing but when it comes to SEO, YouTube and Pinterest are game changers. If you’ve been wondering “should I expand onto YouTube and Pinterest?” the answer is YES! (if you’re looking for how to get started with creating YouTube videos click here)

Owned by Google, YouTube is the second largest search engine, with 2.6 billion users worldwide and 500 hours of content uploaded every minute. With 90% of people discovering new brands or products within the platform, there are tons of opportunities to grow your business and community. 

YouTube helps increase your ranking in search (or optimize you in search results) in multiple ways. 

what you need to do to rank well on youtube.

1. find your keywords

SEO always comes back to keywords (or phrases). Unlike Google (but a little similar to Pinterest) YouTube keywords are primarily key-phrases like "how to dutch braid" or "best chalk paint". Spend some time compiling keywords or keyphrases that you want to rank for on YouTube.

2. write a clear title

You've got your keyword, now add it to your title. Write a title that is very clear about what someone can expect in your video. You want to include your focus keyword in your video title, and you should also solve a problem with your title.

Instead of "Is SEO The Answer To Your Online Problems?" try "20 SEO Tricks To Triple Your Online Reach". The latter gives you a definitive list of what you will get in this video and follows up with what these tips will help you achieve.

3. don't ignore your tags

Across the internet, tags associated with content are widely ignored now...but on YouTube, they are active and help you rank. Tagging allows you to enter relevant keywords that help your videos get more views. Aim to add about 10-15 tags to every one of your videos.

4. add closed captioning

Not only does closed captioning make your video more accessible, which is always a good thing, closed captioning allows YouTube to use "read" your actual video content and be able to tell if it is what searchers are looking for (and therefore recommend it to them).

Not only is it helpful for YouTube, but it's helpful for your viewer. Many people watch videos without sound or find closed captioning to be helpful in comprehending video content while they watch and listen.

5. include your focus keyword in your description

But not just anywhere in your description, keep it in the first sentence of your description, helping to emphasize your video topic for YouTube's algorithm.

When it comes to social media for SEO, Pinterest is going to have the most impact. 

Now you may be wondering, "didn't you just tell me how important YouTube was and the impact it can have on your SEO?" - yes I did. BUT Pinterest takes what you can do on YouTube and on your website to the next level, which is why, in my book, it is the number 1 social media platform for SEO. 

Disguised as a social network, Pinterest is actually a visual search engine. Think about it, you go to Pinterest to peruse, sure, but mainly to search for something. "Short hairstyles," "thirty-minute dinners," "colorful branding,". 

what you need to do to rank well on pinterest.

1. set up your profile for success

One of the quickest ways to improve your Pinterest SEO is to add keywords to your display name. You’ll want to use 3-4 words that accurately reflect your brand, but also help you to get discovered in relevant searches. 

Using keywords in your bio is an added bonus, spend some time writing a few variations of your bio that naturally includes the keywords you want people to find you for.

Lastly, when choosing your username, make sure it aligns with your online presence. For example, Wavoto would want to be "Wavoto" on Pinterest not "Online Marketing" or some other name. Using one of your keywords as your username might feel really helpful for your SEO, but it actually muddies your brand and makes it harder for people to recognize your brand.

2. use your website 

I mean this in two ways: make sure you claim your website on Pinterest (which means you need a Business Profile) and add the Pinterest Tag to your website (on Wavoto this is really easy, you just add it to your "HEAD text" in your System Settings found in the Back Office).

Pinterest likes this because they get to qualify your website more and see if Pinterest users are finding value there, aka if they are spending a lot of time on your website. Just like with Google, if people are spending a lot of time on your website, it's going to help your Pins get seen by more people.

3. share the perfect pins

Every social platform prefers different image dimensions and Pinterest is no different. The optimal Pin size is 1,000px by 1,500px or a ratio of 2:3. This is particularly important on mobile, but Pinterest prefers to display longer images on desktop, too (and they often get the highest number of clicks).

You want your pins to be visually appealing, so you want to utilize your brand styling to help you create pins that are gorgeous and eye-catching. 

Lastly, don't forget your keywords! Be descriptive in your titles in order to increase your visibility on Pinterest and entice users to click through to your website. Aim for “Expert Guide To Working From Home During Coronavirus,” not “Working From Home Tips” or something just generic.

4. just keep pinning, pinning, pinning

There's no such thing as too much activity on Pinterest, but there is such a thing as too little.

I recommend choosing a day and giving yourself an hour to schedule pins. If you can hit 25 scheduled pins over 5 days, awesome, if not - you're still doing a great job with consistency and should keep it up!

Be sure to schedule pins that include YouTube videos, re-pins from other profiles, and all the content you have to share - new and old! Pinterest is a little like Twitter circa 2014, schedule the same pin multiple times over a day or week, just maybe switch up the visuals for it.

And just like that… SEO can begin working for you! That might have seemed like a lot… but your website, social posts, and business will thrive because of your hard work. 

SEO is one of the hardest marketing tactics to nail because it evolves so much, but if you stuck around this long, you’ll be golden. And remember, Wavoto is here for more than comprehensive guides to SEO, we are here for all your business needs. If you want to start managing all your business needs from one place… try us out for 14 days free!