Not all website designers are multi-skilled. I for example, and don’t want to boast about it, love Google optimization and SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) ranking. So I did whatever it takes to learn the basics like reading books, going to seminars, buying the latest products, and at the same time, I do the same to keep me up to date with the latest algorithm changes and search engine updates.
It is not enough to know the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), you need to be on the front line.
What I’ll reveal in this article is my Google rankings “secrets”, meaning some insights, methods and personal approaches.
I won’t go into much detail as competitors are watching, and they’d probably not understand my intentions when ranking these sites, which would turn a good, positive approach into black hat techniques.
Sadly, too many “optimizers” do just that. They work the code, the copy and the back-links to out-rank other sites, and fool Google. Yes, that works, maybe for a few hours or days, until the big G finds out (and they have the right tools and methods) and bans the site.
I am with 100% white hat methods, no tricks, no gimmicks!
Here’s what I do, step by step:
1. I talk with the client
Before I do anything, I make sure to send the customer an “SEO Assessment Questionnaire“.
He’ll have to fill that out with information pertaining to their specific target audience/country, key industry terms related to their service/business, major competitors, and things like that.
The more specific and comprehensive the questionnaire, the more valuable insights I get from my client which will help me uncover the right keywords and the right appeal.
2. Keyword research
Once the client sends the “SEO Assessment Questionnaire“, here is what I do next.
Based on the given key industry terms, I’ll perform a detailed keyword research to find the most effective keywords to rank for as well as competitor analysis.
What I do differently than other SEO pros, is simple:
*** I don’t just take customers’ keywords blindly and rank them. It’s useless to rank for keywords that get little to no traffic, as not all key terms are created equally.
3. Client feedback
Once I get the keyword list done, I’ll present the report I came up with for client approval and listen to any other additional questions or ideas they might have for me. Sometimes new keywords spring up after these discussions.
Sadly, too many people and firms skip this step, and just go straight for keyword optimization and link building without discussing back and forth with the client, and ensuring both parties agree with the keywords list and know what to expect from.
4. Content writing
Once keywords are approved, I’ll move on to the next step.
Getting the required content written for the exact same keywords we aim ranking for (main keywords, secondary key terms, and everything else in between)
How I get content is interesting: I craft it myself, or one of my team members does it. It could be quick tips, how-to articles, interviews, etc. I might also outsource content to other skilled writers who are more knowledgeable than I am to save both, myself and the client time, money and effort.
You won’t believe how essential it is to have superior content written not only by a research specialist but by an industry pro. It is one thing to have content that is inspired and re-written from other sources, vs. content that comes straight from someone who’s in the field, knows the industry jargon, and has practical experience in the niche market.
That’s why some people are charging $5 per a 500-word article, while others $50 or $150 a piece. By the way, if you want to have hot content written and impress your visitors at the same time, don’t settle for cheap or thin. Pay top rates and ask for 1,000+ word articles, when possible!
Remember: your site and its content is a direct reflection of the quality of your business, marketing and customer support altogether.
5. On-page SEO
Next phase is to ensure things such as Title tags, Meta tags, Header tags (h1,h2,h3) Alternate (ALT) image tags, etc., are right and fully optimized. That’s what we call On-page optimization.
Plus, I perform Google XML sitemap creation to enable search engine spiders/robots scour the site we optimize and index all its content: pages, images and articles. This is an essential tool/method that professionals should never forget about.
6. Website conversion tracking
There’s no reason to set up your site for a Million visitors, generate sales or clients, but have no clue where these visitors come from, what key terms they’ve typed in to land on your website, what they’ve bought, when, and so on.
That’s why the next logical step is to set up Google Analytics Tracking and perform a quick web site submission to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools, which are free services that allow webmasters and site owners to get complete details on their keywords/rankings and other essential website data.
7. Off-page SEO
A key factor in getting ranked on Google is to have other links from similar websites back to your home page, as well as to other pages. It is important to have a high volume of quality links, not just any links.
Getting backlinks (votes) from high authority sites such as Wikipedia or .edu sites, submitting guest posts on high traffic related websites, sending press releases, writing spun content and submitting them to article directories, is how I, just like any other SEO specialist, generate traffic and ranks in Google.
8. Working with Google
Google is smart, but not perfect. So we have to find and collect all these back-links that we get either manually (like through article submissions) or naturally (from other sites, without our effort or intent).
Once I gather all these back-links, I then instruct Google to index them, and that’s another thing that boosts the SERPs. In fact, if Google does not index those links, your back-links are pretty much useless for search engine optimization.
They’re good for direct traffic purposes, and that’s about half of the traffic (or less) that you’re losing by not instructing Google to index all your back-links.
Now, there are quite a few tools that help with that, both free and paid. A simple Google search will provide you with a wide list from which you can choose.
9. Rank tracking
Once done with the previous steps, I start adding my client’s site to the tools I use to track the rankings.
This is essential for measuring and improving the fluctuations in the SERPs. As you probably already know Google is always updating their database with new sites, moving pages up and down, on a daily, now hourly basis.
Our aim is to ensure your website sticks at the top.
Everybody who guarantees #1 rankings for any term, or vouches to keep your site as the #1 king for a whole month with no fluctuations whatsoever, they’re more than probably lying to you, or have no clue what they’re doing.