SEO Strategies for Entrepreneurs (Part One)Elance_Keith | Jun 14, 2011
If you run your own company, you probably know that strategic search engine optimization can make all the difference between a flourishing and failed business. Andrew Masanto, Chief Executive Officer of Higher Click SEO Management, gives us some insights into the significance of SEO for companies and why it should be a top priority.
If you Google “outsource work” and other outsourcing-related keywords, you’ll see Elance (www.elance.com) in the top 5 search results. Elance uses Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to rank in search engines and drive awareness. But let’s say you are a manager or business owner who is fairly new to the world of SEO. You’ve taken the first steps towards building a successful business and want to get to the top of Google to get more sales.
Great idea. The big question is, “How can I use Elance and SEO to help me get there?”
What is SEO?
There are numerous ways to drive Internet traffic to your website – direct site buys, ad networks, PPC (pay-per-click) and affiliates, to name a few. One of the most popular and economical ways to get traffic to your website is SEO, which is the process of increasing visibility on search engines through the natural searches (as opposed to paid searches) in search results. There are two ways in which your website can appear on top of search engines – paid search results (Pay Per Click, or PPC) or natural search results (SEO). The picture below shows the exact difference between the two in a user search for “plastic cups.”
While you can pay to be at the top of search engines (by using PPC), SEO techniques help you rank in the organic / natural search results.
How Does SEO Work?
There are three main steps to successful SEO:
- Keyword Research / Strategy
- On Page Optimization
- Off Page Optimization
Over the years, we’ve tried to explain SEO to clients in various ways. We’ve found that the most effective method is to simply draw an analogy to real life. Google and other search engines work a lot like people do. For example, how can you find out about a person that you don’t know? You (1) MEET that person and (2) ASK others what that person is like. This is the same as what search engines do with your website. Search engines:
- MEET your website by analyzing your site content and coding (On Page Optimization) and
- ASK other sites what your site is about by analyzing back links to your site (Off Page Optimization).
This is obviously a very simplified explanation of SEO, but serves as a good explanation of how search engines work.
The key is to remember that search engines try to give users relevant search results. SEO is thus anything that assists you in convincing search engines that your site is highly relevant to a keyword.
Using Elance For SEO Help
The best SEO strategies require a lot of time and effort. Changing your site and building backlinks can be very time-consuming work.
Hiring a SEO Management Company is a good option. However, if you are on a budget, you can save money by hiring people to do the disparate elements of SEO. It will take a little bit more management work but it is very possible to do.
Step 1 - Keyword Research
The keywords that you choose for your website determine the ultimate success or failure of your campaign. In fact, Keyword Research is such a crucial element of SEO, that we would recommend doing it yourself. The key question is:
“What will my ideal customers search for when they are looking for my service / product online?”
The best way to find this out is to use the free Google keyword tool, which looks like this (as of February 2011):
Using this tool is fairly easy. The first step is to type in numerous keywords which you think that your potential customers would type into search engines. Be sure to set the tool to target the appropriate geographical location and language.
Once you’ve submitted the keywords, Google will give you a list of the most popular variations of that specific keyword. By looking at these results, you can see exactly what people are searching for in your market, as well as how many people are searching for each keyword every month. This makes choosing keywords a fairly straightforward process. There are more complicated procedures such as checking competition and assessing commerciality of the terms, but the basic procedure of using the Google Keyword Tool is the crucial basic step and will suffice a lot of the time in allowing you to identify good keywords.
Take the website Mad Cheap SEO for example:
- The primary page (www.MadCheapSEO.com) targets the terms “Cheap SEO,” “Small Business SEO” and “Affordable SEO.” These terms are all similar in theme, so this banding of keywords makes logical sense.
- The inner page (www.madcheapseo.com/seopackage/) targets the term “SEO Package," “SEO Packages,” “SEO Prices” and “SEO Pricing.” These are also similar in theme and are thus a good choice.
By allocating keywords which are thematically related to every page, the Mad Cheap SEO website keeps a strong and focused relevancy between pages. Note that allocating too many keywords to one page may spread the focus and relevancy. Consequently, while there is no upper limit to how many keywords you can rank a page for, allocate keywords in moderation (if you want to apply a very general “hard and fast” rule – 3-4 related keywords per page is a reasonable rule of thumb – but note, there are exceptions to this).
Although you could outsource Keyword Research and structuring by posting a job on Elance for a “Keyword Research Specialist,” it is such an important strategic decision that we advise that you either do this step yourself or, at the very least, thoroughly review the Keyword Research presented to you.
Click here for Part Two of SEO Strategies for Entrepreneurs.
About the Author
Andrew Masanto is the CEO of Higher Click SEO Management, a SEO agency with offices in London, Los Angeles and Budapest. Higher Click specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for business and individuals.