The step-by-step Search Engine Optimization To Do List is outlined below.
The major difference between optimizing for a new site versus an existing site is that you can take all of the correct actions from the very beginning that will optimize your site to be found, indexed and highly ranked by Google.
Key among these will be the proper selection of 3-5 semantic search phrases, creation of “Educational Conversation pages” based on these semantic search phrases, inclusion of Site Map pages (a XML version for search engine crawlers and a HTML version for human visitors), proper structuring of the Home Page, and focusing your registration and optimization efforts on Google.
There are 2 different scenarios for optimizing new Web sites – one for narrowly focused Web sites and another for sites with more pages and/or multiple product/service sections.
For narrowly focused (“small”) Web sites, the goal should be to (1) optimize the site for one semantic search phrase AND several iterations of that same phrase in the major search engines; (2) create and optimize your “Site Map” pages (a XML version for search engine crawlers and a HTML version for human visitors) and submit it to Google via Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools); and (3) optimize and submit your site’s Home Page to Google via Google Search Console.
For “large” Web sites, the fastest, most effective and least disruptive way to optimize a new site for the major search engines is to (1) create and submit 3-5 “Educational Conversation Pages” to the major search engines; (2) create or re-optimize your “Site Map” pages (a XML version for search engine crawlers and a HTML version for human visitors) and submit it to Google via Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools); and (3) optimize and submit your site’s Home Page to Google via Google Search Console. These 3-5 “educational conversation pages” should align with the major product or service sections of your Web site. I suggest optimizing 3-5 educational conversation pages in this exercise because optimizing that many pages is a formidable task.
If you follow this “80/20 Search Engine Optimization To Do List”, it will provide you with the greatest traffic volume from search engines for the least amount of search engine optimization effort.
Let’s get started!
- Whether your Web site is large or small (narrowly or broadly focused): FIRST, Sit down with a pad of paper and describe in as much detail as possible the characteristics of the major “Buyer Personas” that you are most interested in attracting to your Web site.
Buyer Persona – what’s that? Here’s a primer on the subject from HubSpot: How to Create Detailed Buyer Personas for Your Business [Free Persona Template]
SECOND, now that you have a clear idea of who your major Buyer Personas are, next you need to write down the type of “semantic searches” those folks who want to learn more about the problems that your product or service solves would search for in Google or the other major search engines.
- This step is the KEY to a successful “on the page” Search Engine Optimization effort, so put as much time as necessary into selecting these key “semantic searches”. Be prepared to “tweek” the initial selections based on what is returned when tried in Google.
- Example: simple keyword phrase search: “buy solar panels boston” (without the quotes); semantic search starts with: “how do solar panels work?” (again without the quotes).
- When you finish this exercise, you should have identified 3-5 key semantic searches that are closely related to the products, services and/or topics discussed on your Web site. And they are popular enough to attract a sizable amount of search traffic based on researching these phrases in a major search engine like Google.
Next: What To Do With Semantic Searches
- Enter your 3-5 key semantic searches only into the Google Search Engine, but do it as follows:
- FIRST, go to www.google.com, type one of your key semantic search phrases into the Google search box on that page and press the Enter key. Note the number of results returned and print the top 10 search results.
- SECOND, type the same quote into the Google search box, but this time surround it with quotation marks, and press the enter key. Note the number of results returned and print the top 10 search results.
- FINALLY, first type in the phrase “intitle:” into the Google search box, then add the key semantic search in quotes, and press the enter key. Note the number of results returned and print the top 10 search results. (Here’s what your search box entry would look like if your key search phrase was “how do solar panels work”: intitle:”solar panels work”)
What You’ve Accomplished So Far
- What you have done in this short exercise is 1) found out how many search results Google returns for the typical manner that a search phrase is entered (no quotation marks), 2) how many search results Google returns for pages that contain that exact phrase at least once (quotation marks), and 3) how many search results Google returns for pages that contain that exact phrase in the Title Tag of that page (see below).
That final step helped you identify those Web pages that have had at least some amount of search engine optimization applied to them relative to the search phrases you are working with. These pages are your real SEO competition for that phrase!
Key On-The-Page SEO Items
- For each key semantic search phrase, analyze the following 3 Web page components on the Web pages generated above:
- Page Title Tag (use the “View | Source” command in your Web browser to view Title tag)
- META Description Tag (use the “View | Source” command in your Web browser to view META Description tag)
- First 250 words (approximately) of the “visible” page text – this is the text you can actually see when viewing the page in your Web browser
Note: We will also look at visible text in each internal hyperlink pointing to that page later in this exercise
These 3 items are the most important “on-the-page” components for the search engines we’re interested in optimizing for.