- INTRODUCTION: When you are starting with your first SEO project, you may feel as if you have been told to empty the ocean with a teaspoon, there is so much to know and so much to do. Well, don't freak out, it is not as bad as it sounds. You simply have to look at it as a series of tasks to be done. The U.S. military works this way; they look at a goal (say "Force the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany") and break it down to what needs to be done, how they can do it, what resources are needed, how to get those resources, and budgets for money and time. You need to do the same.
There is one other thing to remember: SEO is marketing. Now, in the old days all you needed was a sign and a Yellow Pages ad, and you were set. SEO is not like that; it is much less expensive in money (if you do it yourself) than the Yellow Pages, but it is much more time-consuming.
GOAL OF THE PROJECT: Get on the first page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo so you can increase sales and GET MORE MONEY!
ASSUMPTIONS: This article assumes:
3-1. This is a new business.
3-2. You have done your due diligence, including, among other things, researched your local regulatory requirements and fees, done your market research, defined your Unique Selling Proposition, written your business plan, done your keyword research, researched your time and money budgets, and secured financing (if needed).
3-3. You have a small budget and are doing this yourself.
3-4. You are in the United States. If you are in another country, then some of the steps may not apply, or additional steps may be required.
3-5. You have a Wintel PC. If you don't, you will need to find the equivalent programs.
- INGREDIENTS: You will need:
4-1. A PC with an internet connection. This needs to be as powerful as you can afford; this is your primary business tool, and you need to be efficient. A slow PC is not efficient. Again, your internet connection needs to be as fast as you can afford. You don't want to go back to the days of the World Wide Wait; you want your connection to be fast so you can get more done.
4-2. Firefox, or some other internet browser.
4-3. Word, or some other word processor
4-4 Excel, or some other spreadsheet
4-5. Notepad, or some other text editor
4-6. Paint, or some other picture editor
4-7. Knowledge of how to use Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find what you need.
- Your first step is to GET A NAME for your company. Sounds simple, right? Well, not exactly. You need to:
1-1. Write down about 25-30 names, preferably ones that feature your main keyword(s).
1-2. Ensure your name is NOT listed in
1-2-1. Google (ignore those outside your country).
1-2-2. Your local phone book.
1-2-3. The Fictitious Business Name listing for your city/county.
1-2-4. The Secretary of State's office for your state, both the Corporation and LLC listings.
1-3. Basically, you want to ensure your name is available (NOT listed) in all these places. If the all your names are taken, try again, and again if need be, until you find a good name for your business.
Get a physical address. A P.O. Box or mail drop/license hanging service will serve. You will need this for billing and business registration purposes. Check the registration requirements at the federal, state, and local governments to ensure a P.O. box is acceptable.
Once you have a name, write down about 25-30 URLs with variations on that name. See which ones are available. Again, you want to include your major keywords, if possible.
Once you have chosen your URL, buy it through a domain registrar such as Yahoo or GoDaddy.
Research and choose a web hosting service. Personally, I use GoDaddy since they offer a template service with unlimited tech support. They are also rock-solid reliable; my site has been down for 20 minutes in 7 years!
Establish your e-mail addresses with Yahoo, Hotmail, and GMail. Why? You want these as logins for the analytics.
Get a fax number. An EFax account will work. It may be old-fashioned, but it is still a good thing to have.
Get a phone number. You will want something that Craigslist will recognize for phone verification. Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon cellphones work; MagicJack, MetroPCS, and Google Voice do not. Vonage SOMETIMES works, and sometimes does not.
Register your business with the federal (IRS), state, county, and city business licensing departments. This will eat up a large portion of your budget.
WEB SITE STARTUP AND ON-SITE SEO.
Design and build your web site. You want to build basic SEO into this from the beginning. Ensure your Unique Selling Proposition is built in from the beginning.
DO YOUR KEYWORD RESEARCH AGAIN. You should have already done this as part of your due diligence, but you need to do it again.
Ensure all images have ALT tags.
Write a unique title for each page of your site.
Write a 150 character or less meta description.
Build about 2-3 different keywords into each page of your website. They must occur naturally on the page. DO NOT just put in your keyword 100 times! SEO is increasingly about relevant, original, quality content, which above all means GOOD WRITING.
WRITING: Everything you write on the web site or for you postings MUST BE:
16-1. Run through a spell checker.
16-2. Run through a grammar checker
16-3. REVIEWED. It is way too easy to miss something as simple as a missing word, or two similar words that do not interchange. Spell checkers and grammar checkers can only do so much. For example, if you misspell FROM as FORM, Word (or your word processor) will not catch it. There are several techniques to do this:
16-3-1. Put it to one side for a day or two, then read it again.
16-3-2. Read it letter for letter backwards. Weird, yes, but it works.
16-3-3. Have someone else read it for you. Address the questions they have in the document.
16-4. If English is not your first language, and you are marketing to native English speakers, have a native English speaker review it, if possible. Make the required changes. Remember, you are asking them to review your language usage so you can increase your sales. Pride of authorship is NOT appropriate in this case.
You will need to write longer descriptions, as well, for the business listing and yellow pages sites. See the Basic Directory Posting Tutorial I wrote (it is in the Tutorial section of this forum).
When you write a description, run it through the word count tool in Word, too (Tools, Word Count). Keep track of how many characters, including spaces, it is, as well as how many words. You will need this for directory postings later on. Keep this in a *.txt file; word processor files have a habit of adding strange characters which interfere with your work.
DOCUMENT! See Paragraphs 32, 33, and 34 for more details.
You will want to make an e-mail address on your web site for your listings and directory postings.
Review and publish!
Hey, I'm done with my on-site SEO, right? Uh, no. There is still a lot more work to do, amigo, but you could not do it until you had a live site.
- Now you need to register your site with:
Bing Webmaster Tools
Don't forget to upload your sitemap to Google and Bing. If you are using GoDaddy, it is easy to generate this. If not, just go to one of the many sitemap generating sites on the web.
Put the verification codes you get on your website and republish.
Now register your site with as many yellow pages sites as possible. Many will require phone verification, so have your phone handy! Even though this is technically off-page SEO, you want to get it done early, so people can start finding you.
Now sign up for as many business listing sites as you can. Start with Yelp, Merchant Circle, and Manta, and go from there.
Now you need to sign up for social media sites. You want to start with:
Wordpress (or some other blogging site), if you don't have a blog on your website already.
YouTube (if you are video-capable, or your business is video-friendly).
and go on from there.
Hey, John, wait a second. What does this have to do with ON-SITE SEO? Patience you must have, yes.
Once you have signed up for all of these (and you did keep track of your usernames, passwords, and URLs, right?), establish a way for people to comment on you without allowing them into your account. This will take a little time and some learning.
Once you have the appropriate URLs, then you want to put them on your web site. The easiest way is to have the icon on your web site. The easiest way to get the icons is to go to Google, Image Search, and look for an exact size. You want the icons to be mostly, if not all, the same file type (i.e. JPG or PNG). If you get them all the same size, it makes it look professional, and is easier than having to adjust the size in Paint. At least in GoDaddy, I can put a link in the image; when you click on it, it will take you to that URL.
When you do this, remember the goal of this part of the project: You want to make it easy for people to "like" you. So, put the icon and link for the social media sites, your blog, and your business listing sites on your site in a place that is easy to see.
Republish when you are done putting up the links.
- Go to a website grading site, such as HubSpot or DIYSEO, and see how you did. Tweak as needed.
You are now done with the basic on-site portion of your project. However, you will want to ensure that each of the social media websites, your blog, and your business listing sites all link to one another. Basically, if someone goes to your blog, or your Facebook page, or some other site, you want them to be able to click on your icon and go right to your site, or your blog, or another social media site.
- You started this when you registered your site and signed up for the yellow pages, business listing sites, and social media. Now you need to do several other things to get more backlinks. You will want to use a combination of:
List with the Local directories for Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Directory postings (see my tutorial)
Classified ad site postings (see my tutorial on Craigslist in the Tutorials section of this forum).
Press release marketing
Forum commenting and posting
Video postings. YouTube is not the only video site, you know.
A note on blog commenting and forum commenting and posting. Make sure you are contributing relevant comments and posts; if you don't, you most likely will be kicked off that site. Make sure your comments are spelled correctly and are grammatical. I can't tell you how many people can't write plain, clear, simple English. I understand many people (maybe even you) are not native English speakers, but please, try to write in a way that others can understand!
- A note on Paint. Paint is a basic picture editor found in most versions of Windows. Learn to use the version on your computer. In mine, I can:
- Convert JPGs, GIFs, PNGs, and BMPs to one another.
- Change the size of a file, including to exact pixels.
- Rotate and flip the images.
A note on text editors. There are more text editors out there besides just Notepad. Notepad is basic, and it comes with most versions of Windows. If you need more capabilities than what Notepad provides, try TextPad. You can get that at CNet.
CNet is a very useful site; you can download a lot of useful programs for free. It is the first place I go when looking for a program to help solve a problem.
Documentation: You will want:
33-1. A folder on your PC with all your SEO information in it.
33-2. A *.txt file with all your:
33-2-1. Listings for directories. Don't forget to have the number of characters and number of words adjacent to the text of the listing. As you go along, you will need to rewrite your postings to fit the requirements of various sites; keep those here, too.
33-2-2. Your website URL; also include up to 5 subsidiary links for "deep link" directories.
33-2-3. URLs for your social media, business listing, and blog sites.
33-2-4. Basic contact information such as name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Your fax number, if you have one, goes here, too.
33-2-5. Your keywords. Keep track of the number of words and the number of characters, the same way you did with you directory listings. You want both comma separated and space separated keyword lists.
Hey, John, why keep all these in one file? So you can access the data quickly and easily. After all, how many files do you want to have open at one time?
33-3. Your logo file, if you have one, goes into this directory.
33-4. A spreadsheet where you keep track of all your logins, postings, and rankings. You will want at least 5 pages:
- Usernames and passwords for various key sites, such as Google Analytics
- Directory postings
- Yellow Pages postings
- Other postings, such as for business listing sites.
On these pages, you want to keep track of the name of the site, its URL, your username, the password, the e-mail account you used to establish this account, any security questions and answers, and the date you listed with them.
- Rankings. You want to see results from your work, so you will want to keep track of where you rank on Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Now, let me tell you there are tools out there to do this work for you; however, they are only looking for ONE specific URL. As part of your SEO project, you will be listing with many different sites, from Google to Craigslist to the yellow pages. Frankly, you are less concerned about WHICH site generates traffic (or phone calls) so long as it DOES generate traffic.
You will want to keep track of:
-- Which site
-- Which site
- Which site
Under Keyword you will put which page you are on.
You will want to have at least 2-3 keyword phrases for which you are looking to rank your site.
Under Site you will put an abbreviation which says which site you are on. For example, I have had my listings come up, not just from my web site, but from Digg, Manta, Craigslist, MerchantCircle, and Yelp, among other sites.
Keep track of how many Google backlinks you have.
Keep track of your Alexa ranking, the increment between two days, and the 5-day moving average.
Keep track of your pagerank.
Complicated? No, not really. You can do all this in about 5 minutes a day or so.
Learning. SEO is an ever-changing field, so you need to keep up with the changes. Look on the web for some people who will send you e-mails, e-books, etc.; read them and keep them. Review them when your business is slow. Also, look for some forums where you can learn and contribute.
Tools. You will want to find SEO tools that fit your needs. Again, look on the web; there are a bunch of tools out there. Find a few and use them as needed.
If you have experience with such things as web design, then you will be able to complete the project faster. If you are hiring someone to do it for you, then it will be faster (but more expensive). The more experience you have, the faster it will go; the more learning you need to do, the slower it will be. My experience shows:
Name, e-mail, get the URL, etc. (steps 1-8): 1-2 days
Register with the government: 1-2 days, depending on whether you need to drive to their offices or can do it on line or on the phone.
Basic web design: 1-7 days depending on your experience and the size of the site.
Registration with Bing, Google, Yahoo, DMOZ, Alexa: 1 day
Registration with yellow pages sites: 1-2 days
Registration with business listing sites: 1-2 days.
Social Media: 3-5 days depending on experience, number of sites you list on, etc.
Putting the links on your site, and linking each profile to the others: 1-2 days
Web site grading and tweaking: 1-2 days.
Off-Page SEO: Daily, 1-2 hours a day, until you take your web site down.
Hey John, how soon will I be up on the first page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo? Just a few weeks, right? Umm, no. It will take months. What I have outlined here are some "white hat" techniques. "Black hat" techniques are available, that do get you listed higher and faster; the downside is when (not if) Google finds out about it, your site will drop off the rankings, and may even be banned. Do you really want to risk that?
You will want to do the best job you can. I saw a stat the other day; there are 550 MILLION web sites out there; over 300 MILLION were started up in the last year. So you can see the competition is stiff. You can do it, but it is harder than it used to be, and the better you do youR job the easier and faster it will be to achieve your goal.
REMEMBER THE GOAL: First page of Google, Bing, and Yahoo so you can generate MORE INCOME! Good luck.