9 SEO Basics That Everyone Should Know

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of obtaining high rankings in Google Search. Yet Google algorithms change at such an alarming rate that it can seem impossible to keep up. Fortunately, rather than chasing the latest updates, simply staying the course can help you gain and maintain high rankings. Before you go looking for the most recent tips and techniques, make sure your basics are as good as you can possibly make them. Here is what you must know about basic SEO.

1. SEO Is an Ongoing Process:
Too often, business owners make the assumption that SEO is a one time commitment. The reality is that it is something you must continually monitor and tweak over time. Like regularly scheduled car maintenance or health checkups, keeping a close eye on your SEO can minimize the time and effort that is required to fix most problems. Addressing issues as soon as they occur is always better than putting them off.

2. Content Is King:
Long gone are the days of poorly written web pages stuffed with unnatural keywords. Today, SEO demands that you provide high-quality, authoritative content on each page. At a minimum shoot for 500 words, but 700 to 1,000 or more words are preferred. Organize your content for web readability, using lots of sub-heads, bullets, images, and other features to break up walls of text.

3. Keywords Matter:
Exactly which keywords you choose to optimize for makes a big difference in your success. Use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to identify relevant keywords your ideal prospects are searching to find your products or services. Then edit your web pages and/or create new web pages that are 100 percent focused on your target keywords.

4. It’s NAP Time:
NAP refers to your business Name, Address, and Phone number. Google reviews your NAP listed on your website, as well as your NAP listed on other websites across the internet. For example, business directories publish your NAP and this information needs to match the information listed on your website. If there are any discrepancies, then your search rankings will suffer.

5. Above the Fold Is Where It Counts:
“Above the fold” is from an old newspaper term that referred to the spot where the newspaper was folded. Today this phrase refers to the part of a web page that a reader can see without scrolling. Use this space to capture the attention of your prospect right away and encourage her to keep reading. Use engaging, useful, highly relevant content to minimize your bounce rate, or the percentage of people who click immediately back off of your page.

6. Mobile Optimization Is Crucial:
In today’s always-connected world, savvy shoppers move effortlessly between multiple devices, and they expect websites to travel with them. To take this into account, Google released an update to their algorithm in April 2015 in order to include mobile-friendly factors. In other words, if your website is not easy to use on a mobile device, then your search rankings will suffer.

7. Get Fast Results from Local SEO:
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your Google My Business profile for searches within your local area. For example, when you search for a nearby dentist, then you’ll see a map in the Google results along with dental offices near your neighborhood. Those “map” results are the Google My Business results. Ranking your profile on the first page is typically easier and faster than traditional SEO to rank your website. The key is to complete and verify your profile, ensure your NAP is consistent across the internet, submit your business to online directories, and encourage your customers to post reviews on your Google My Business profile.

8. Social Media Cannot Be Ignored:
Social media has become an increasingly important part of a solid SEO strategy. As stated above, content is king and social media is the content superhighway. Engaging, high quality content can be shared virally across social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which in turn drives more visitors, more links, and more conversations that can help improve your search rankings.

9. Tracking Is Essential:
Without tracking in place, how could you possibly know which parts of your SEO campaign are working and which need some help? Google Analytics is a powerful and free tool that lets you analyze your search rankings and user behavior on your website. Use the data to determine which web page rankings are driving traffic and conversions, and which web pages are on the 2nd page of Google and just need a little push. 

What Type of Google AdWords Campaign Is Best for You?

If you are new to Google AdWords, you might be completely unaware of all the different types of AdWords campaigns from which you can choose. Most people think solely of the ads that appear in Google search results.

If you are new to Google AdWords, you might be completely unaware of all the different types of AdWords campaigns from which you can choose. Most people think solely of the ads that appear in Google search results. This makes sense, because anytime you run a Google search, the list of ads is easy to see. Yet this is just a fraction of what Google AdWords has to offer. Choosing which type of AdWords campaign to use depends largely on exactly what you sell and who makes up your target market.

The Search Network

The search network is where I recommend most businesses start. After all, people who see your ads in search are actively looking for whatever it is you sell. In many ways, the search network is the new Yellow Pages. In the “old days,” people looked up what they wanted under a category heading in the phone book. Now they do the same thing in Google. Plus, if you target the Search Partners in your ad campaign, then your ads will display not only in Google search, but also other Google partners such as Amazon, AOL, and Ask.

The Display Network
The display network consists of over a million news sites, blogs, articles, and other websites that accept text ads, banner ads, and video ads from Google AdWords.  This type of advertising is often called “interruption marketing,” because it interrupts what the viewer is doing rather than showing up when that person is actively searching. That means to be successful with display network advertising, your ads and landing pages need to be carefully crafted to this specific purpose, rather than simply reusing your search network ads.

The Shopping Network

Do you remember the old department store catalogs? Sears still puts out a particularly nice one known as the Wish Book for the holiday season, though it’s also digital now. Anyway, the shopping network is the online equivalent of a catalog that stretches across not just a single company, but thousands.

If you sell products rather than services, and you have an online storefront for customers to complete their purchases, Google Shopping might be an ideal choice for you. Your ads will appear not only when users specifically search within Google Shopping, but also when a regular search triggers Google Shopping results. Just be careful. You are only allowed a product image, price, and name, without the text that accompanies a search ad. Make sure your ad speaks for itself.

The Video Network

If you have spent much time watching YouTube videos, you are probably aware of the pre-roll videos, which look much like traditional TV commercials. However, unlike a traditional television commercial, you do not have to pay every time an ad begins. Instead, the video network uses a pay per view (PPV) advertising model. Pre-roll ads give viewers the option to skip through the ad. If a viewer clicks the Skip button, you are not charged for that display. In addition, a regular commercial requires the user to make a phone call or type in a URL to take action. In a pre-roll video ad, all the user needs to do is click on the video to visit your website.

The App Network

The app network focuses specifically on getting prospects to download your mobile app or digital content, or to engage more fully with your app. The ads are displayed only on smartphones or tablets, and redirect the user to the appropriate download site or spot within your app.  The app network is geared toward those targeting the younger generation or trying to build a robust market for their apps.

Managing Multiple Networks
If you’re just getting started and you know potential customers are searching for your products or services in Google, then I recommend setting up a search network campaign.  If you have an e-commerce business, then the shopping network is another opportunity to gain additional exposure.

Once your search and/or shopping campaign is working well, then expand to the display network to get in front of potential customers while they are surfing the internet.  Also, if you have the resources to create a pre-roll video ad, then the video network is a great opportunity because there is still very little competition, which means lower ad costs.

Regardless of which networks you choose, be sure to test different ads and landing pages for each campaign.  Just because one ad and landing page combination works well in the search network doesn’t mean it will work well in the display network, and vice versa.

Want more Google AdWords tips? Get my Ultimate Google AdWords Checklist.


10 Steps to Create a Profitable Google AdWords Campaign (From Scratch)

Creating a Google AdWords campaign is both exciting and terrifying for many business owners. AdWords has the power to change your company’s fortunes, but whether it will be for good or ill can be tough to predict. Fortunately, following a proven recipe for success can remove a great deal of the guesswork and vastly improve the chances that your campaign will be profitable.

Creating a Google AdWords campaign is both exciting and terrifying for many business owners. AdWords has the power to change your company’s fortunes, but whether it will be for good or ill can be tough to predict. Fortunately, following a proven recipe for success can remove a great deal of the guesswork and vastly improve the chances that your campaign will be profitable.

1. Verify Customer Demand
No matter how amazing your AdWords campaign is, your hard work and money will be for naught if the search volume is simply not there. Use Google’s free Keyword Planner tool to check the keyword phrases for which you want to optimize. This tool lets you analyze a great deal of data, from how often a phrase is searched to how much you’ll likely pay per click to advertise on the keyword. You can also get suggestions for similar phrases.

2. Basic Math
Once you have narrowed down the keyword phrases that interest you, it is time to perform some basic math. Calculate your maximum cost per click (Max CPC) according to the following formula:Max CPC = (average profit per customer) x (1 – advertising profit margin) x (conversion rate)For example, your average profit per customer might be $200. Perhaps 1 in 100 prospects turns into a sale, and your target profit margin on advertising is 20%. Then the formula would look like this: Max CPC = ($200) x (1 – .20) x (.01) = $1.60*Note that if you are just starting out, you will need to estimate these numbers. Later, you can use historical data to calculate your real numbers.*Compare your max CPC to the estimated CPC in the Keyword Planner tool. If your max CPC is higher than the estimated CPC, you are in good shape. If it is significantly lower, then you’ll want to put off using that particular keyword phrase because it will likely be unprofitable.

3. Monitor Your Competitors’ Intelligence
KeywordSpy and SpyFu are incredibly useful tools that let you track your competitors’ historical ad data. You can see at a glance which keyword phrases your competitors are using and how well they are performing. You can also scrutinize your competitors’ ad copy to see what kinds of ads resonate with your target market, and figure out how to differentiate your company within the marketplace.

4. Find Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
After reading through several competitors’ ads, you should have a good feel for the kind of ads you want to write. Now you need to decide how your ads will answer your prospects’ most basic question: Why should I choose you over every other option, including not making a purchase at all?Play to your strengths. What does your company do better than anyone else out there? Is it something that customers find valuable? How can you turn that strength into something that differentiates your company from everyone else’s?A great example is Domino’s 30-minute guarantee. Those ads don’t even mention taste or quality. Domino’s focused on a single aspect — fast delivery — and turned it into an empire.

5. Create an Irresistible Offer
An irresistible offer is what convinces your prospects to take the plunge. To be successful, your offer must:

  • Provide Value: The benefits must outweigh the price.
  • Appear Believable: Shoppers are skeptical, especially online. Tell them why you are running a sale or giving something away for free.
  • Reduce Risk: Provide some sort of guarantee.
  • Include a Call to Action: Tell your prospect exactly what you want him to do next, and make it crystal clear how to do that.

6. Write Compelling Ads
Each ad needs a strong 25-character or less headline that repeats the keyword phrase and convinces your prospect that you can solve a problem or fulfill a need. You also get two lines of 35 characters each to describe your USP, benefits, and call to action. Get creative, using the work you already did in the previous steps.

7. Develop Congruent Landing Pages
Rather than directing your ads to your homepage, develop a tightly tailored landing page for each ad that fulfills the promises made in the ad. The more congruent the experience, the more likely a prospect is to continue along the path towards conversion.

8. Use Conversion Tracking
Conversion tracking is the only method you have to determine which ads are generating sales. To track online conversions, just grab the tracking code from the Google AdWords tool and add it to your e-commerce receipt page or your webform thank you page. To track offline sales, invest in a separate phone number that you only use in your ads and landing pages.

9. Change Your AdWords Settings
Google’s default settings are not always in your best interest, but they are easy to change. Set the Keyword Match Type to Phrase, which displays ads when a prospect types part of your keyword phrase. Also add a list of negative keywords. When a searcher uses one of your negative keywords, your ad will not be displayed. For example, if your keyword phrase is “office space,” make “movie” a negative keyword to avoid displaying the ad to people searching for the film of the same name.

10. Optimize Your Campaign
After you enable your AdWords campaign, the next step is to optimize it based on your tracking data. Raise your bids if your keywords are profitable but you are not yet ranked No. 1. If a keyword is not profitable, lower your bids or pause that keyword. Test different versions of your ads to maximize your click through rate. Also test different variations on your landing page to determine which one maximizes conversions.

Starting an AdWords campaign is always a bit of a gamble, and there are no guarantees. But following this recipe and staying on top of your data will help increase your chances for success.

Want more Google AdWords tips and advice? I put together an AdWords checklist to help you get your campaigns set up for success. Click here to get my Google AdWords checklist.