“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” —Lao Tzu
SEO for your website and online presence generally is one of those digital marketing activities that becomes overwhelming quickly. In fact, the first step is overwhelming if you were to do it ‘right’: looking for keywords or also called keyword research.
Since being in action, on the court, in the mix (whatever your favorite metaphor) is a thousand times more effective than trying to do something the ‘right’ way, here’s a list for getting going.
NOTE: This is not a substitute for the methodical, professional, and highly effective approach done by those brave souls who do SEO for a living. If your business seriously relies on being found, not just through your social media posts or networking or your referrals, then you really need to consider hiring a real SEO expert to dot all your i’s and cross all your t’s and look for all your best keywords—their work will have a big positive impact. In the meantime, just get started!
What problem are you really solving?
Get out a piece of paper.
Write down all the problems you think you solve for your clients.
Prioritize those problems 2 ways:
Your sweet spot for what you do well and how you make money
Your prospect’s biggest headaches
Match up those 2 priority lists the best way you can.
Start writing down how someone would ask if you solve that problem. How would they describe the problem? What words would they use? You may want to have some help brainstorming on this part. This is where you order pizza, grab some beer, and get your friends or family together to help. Or wine and cheese, or soda and chips, or green shakes and organic veggies—whatever works.
Start your minimal research
After you have a very long list of how your best prospects would ask about the problems you solve, then start looking at some search tools to see what people are actually searching on. Your looking for keywords—that’s what this is. Keywords are actually phrases people use when they’re searching for something. Think about it—do you just type in one word when you want to get an answer from Google? Of course not, at least not most of the time.
This hunt for keywords requires that you have a problem people actually search about on the web. Some problems don’t neatly fall into this category, but you can still get some ideas.
The first thing I often do is use the autofill in the search bar the Google started doing a couple years ago. I slowly start typing in a question, then I see what Google fills in for the rest of it—very revealing. Try it. Then write down what you discover because that is pretty powerful information.
I like serpstat.com to help me find keywords—especially the question kind that I can write about. Sign up for a free account, then put one of your problems from your list above in the space called ‘Enter a domain, keyword, or link’ (don’t worry about what it’s called, just go with it). Then click on ‘Content Marketing’ and click on ‘Search Questions’. You’ll then get a list of questions people actually type into search about this problem you’ve put into the keyword field.
You could use the Adwords Keyword Research tool for this as well—it’s free from Google, just requires you run through the annoying gauntlet of setting up your credit card and pretending to get ready to run a campaign. Just don’t turn it on at the end! Too bad they added all the junk—use to be free and easy.
Moz.com also has the capability to help you with this.
Truth is, all these SEO tools are expensive—it’s now a subindustry that makes decent money for playing primarily Google’s game. (Personally, I hold Google accountable for causing many headaches and unnecessary expense to small business owners everywhere who are just trying to appeal to their market and don’t want to spend all their money with Google. Who says this lives up to ‘Do no harm’—Google’s motto.)
Match the problems with stuff you’ll write with where on your website
Once you’ve discovered all this, you can start matching the problem-solving questions people ask with the web pages you’re going to answer those questions on. Some of those will be your main website pages. Others will be blog posts. What’s the difference? In a nutshell, your main website pages are always front and center and need to answer the biggest, main problems you solve for people or businesses (businesses are people also by the way, even if they will soon have lots of robots doing work). Blog posts are for reinforcing those solutions by offering small tips about how people can think about them, take action, or prepare themselves. Or for variations on the questions about how to solve the problems.
SEO involves all kinds of other technical and administrative actions you should take. You might want to read some of the best blogs about SEO that you can: searchengineland.com, yoast.com, moz.com, and others. Learn about meta descriptions and do them; learn about creating categories of content and do that; learn about timing and getting indexed and then be consistent so that happens.
Bottom line, be in action
You’re better off jumping in and creating good content, then spending 40 hours doing keyword research when you’re not a professional SEO consultant. Pay them to do that when you finally have the cash flow to support that and not let go anything else you’re doing to connect with your audience. If you can afford to pay an SEO professional up front, then do it—it’ll pay off. Until then, get busy taking small steps.