The content on your website and blog that you so thoughtfully crafted is only meaningful if someone who has a problem finds it, and finds you. You can, of course, go deep–in practice and pocket–and employ an SEO agency to help you move up in the rankings. But for most of us, basic search engine optimization will do. Here are a few quick, simple steps to take every time you put a piece of content out.
Start with a list of keywords
Think about what services or products you offer, what problems you’re trying to solve, and how potential clients with those problems are searching for solutions. This exercise for identifying SEO strategies also helps you figure out and focus on your core purpose.
Need some help? Try WordStream or Google’s Keyword Planner. For instance, if you’re a divorce attorney and someone is looking for help, they’ll obviously google “divorce attorney.” Using Wordstream, you discover that potential clients are also entering specific locations, which makes sense since someone who’s about to get a divorce in Duluth, MN won’t be looking for an attorney in St. Louis, MO. So you’ll want to add location to your keyword list.
Create a keyword spreadsheet, make a copy, and put it up on the wall where you write. Consult this spreadsheet when you write. Use it as a guide but feel free to abandon it occasionally when you’re writing from the heart on a topic that doesn’t fit into a tidy category. And don’t keyword stuff your copy so that it becomes unreadable. Use keywords strategically but sensibly.
Title is important
Let’s use this post as an example. I could have used the title “Basic Search Engine Optimization” only which would bring a lot more traffic, but few related to the legal industry. This blog is about providing useful information to lawyers and legal professionals, not the entire world. Remember, it’s not about a ton of unique visitors or page views, but the right eyeballs. Beware of getting caught up in the numbers game.
How important is the title? Check out this bit of advice from Kenneth Grady during his presentation at the Social Media for Lawyers and Law Students at Michigan State University College of Law:
— Dan Lear (@rightbrainlaw) June 27, 2015
If you keep your title to 60 characters it will display properly on the search results page. But again, use this as a guide. If, occasionally, you have a descriptive title that’s on-point and exceeds the character limit, go for it.
Blog post and website copy word count and format
Don’t get bogged down with the length of your post or web page. It’s less important than the substance. Some, like Seth Godin, do well with a daily output of 50 word blog posts. It helps if you’re a best-selling author several times over. For the rest of us, 500 words is a good length for blog posts with 300 as a minimum. A bit longer for web pages and landing pages. Don’t be afraid to chop. Be succinct. It takes longer to edit and edit and write shorter copy and your readers will appreciate it. I chopped this post down significantly during the editing process to under 800 words since, after all, it’s about basic SEO. But if you’re in a groove about something you’re passionate about, go ahead and feed your soul with an occasional 2,500 word epic.
People scan before reading, so just two simple formatting tips for easier reading: Use shorter paragraphs, and headlines or bulleted lists to organize your copy.
Effective meta description
This is the last step in your quick and easy SEO plan for each piece of content you put out. It’s the snippet of text that appears under the title on the search results page and when you post articles to Facebook and other social media platforms. Keep this overview of the post to 156 characters or less. Keep it specific and action-oriented. Let the readers know what benefit they’ll gain from clicking through to read the piece. Include the keyword(s) you identified for the piece. These are bolded in search results.
That’s it! There’s a lot more to SEO, but you’ll do fine with these simple steps.
NOTE: You’ll also want to check with your webmaster to make sure that your site is mobile-ready since more people are searching on mobile devices these days, and Google now boosts the rankings of mobile-friendly pages and decreases those that aren’t.