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This article was published on January 13, 2016

How many keywords does it take to change a lightbulb: An SEO survival guide

How many keywords does it take to change a lightbulb: An SEO survival guide
Lauren Gilmore
Story by

Lauren Gilmore

Content queen

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in c Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling. Find me on Twitter or email me.

In the marketing world, there are a ton of bad SEO jokes:

Where do you hide a dead body? On the second page of Google.

But beyond the one-liners, SEO is some serious stuff. Especially when it comes to keeping your white hat squarely on your head.

SEO helps your business by ranking your site – the higher your website ranks, the higher the chances of visits to your site. Basic SEO is fundamental – and essential – but it takes time to master it.

Unfortunately, you can easily get caught up in blackhat SEO when trying to outrank your competitors. If you’re performing shady tactics or breaking rules, chances are you’re going to hurt yourself in the long run.

And everyone seems to have a recipe for SEO success. This is why we’ve broken down the basics of SEO so you can save your sanity, protect your integrity and still get that revered number one spot.

What are the benefits of SEO

SEO isn’t going anywhere. And as search engines grab more of the market share – 92 percent of customers regularly read online reviews – it won’t be long before everyone is online searching for something.

And you want to be at the top of their search.


What are some other benefits of correctly using SEO?

  • Results are cost effective. Organic listings are completely free. When you are listed at the top, you don’t need to pay per click or allocate a budget for advertising, – it’s the gift that keeps on giving. And since SEO also targets users who are actively searching for products and services like yours, the traffic resulting from SEO is more qualified than many other marketing strategies, which means you have a better ROI.
  • Tangible increase in web traffic and conversions. Top positions on result pages receive a majority of the impressions and clicks, so ranking in these top positions can result in significant traffic increases for your website. SEO will help you gain better rankings in search engine result pages and this translates to more targeted visits and, ultimately, more customers.
  • Brand awareness through better rankings. Users are more likely to trust that the first listing in Google is a reputable company. You’re the guy the competitors want to beat. The further back you are in rankings on Google the more people are skeptical about your website. The more your pages and content rank in high positions in the search engines, the more chances you have for users to see your content and associate with your brand.
  • Your competitors are doing it. Do not underestimate the power of search engines and SEO – and don’t forget that if your competitors are doing it themselves. If your competitors are doing it, they’ll appear before you get all those hits that can lead to sales before your website will – even if your site offers better services or prices.
  • SEO is good for social media. A webpage with high rankings will also gain more social media exposure. The relationship between SEO and social media is co-dependent – social media popularity is good for SEO purposes and SEO brings more social media visibility.


How to do it right

SEO isn’t a one-time event. Nor is it about instant gratification.
Search engine algorithms change regularly and results often take months to see. SEO requires a long-term outlook and commitment. So commit yourself to the process and be patient.

Below are some additional to-dos to keep in mind.

  • Build a great web site. While this may seem like a no brainer, you really need to be honest with yourself and ask “Is this site really one of the best on this topic?” If you don’t really deserve to be at the top, you won’t be. So if it’s not worthy, fix it.
  • Have web analytics in place at the start and use them. SEO isn’t only about massive amounts of free traffic. It’s also about conversion. And the only way to know what’s working is to track it. You should have clearly defined goals for your SEO efforts and the web analytics software in place to see what’s producing the best results. Knowing will help you better optimize your site as a whole and know which efforts are worth focusing on and which ones should be let go.
  • Create great content with readers in mind. Readers are looking for information that solves a problem, not a sales pitch. Educate potential customers with thought leadership content, answers to complicated questions and tips on a particular subject. The trust, credibility and authority that content marketing creates knocks down sales resistance.
  • Optimize for the right keywords. Take advantage of free keyword tools such as Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, Keyword Discovery and Rank Tracker. Be as specific as possible but absolutely do not overstuff your keywords. Just don’t. Besides being super annoying for readers, Google and other search engines will filter out pages largely devoid of useful content.
  • Use your keywords as anchor text when linking internally. Anchor text helps tells spiders what the linked-to page is about. Links that say “click here” do nothing for your search engine visibility. If you absolutely must have a call to action, try to at least include some relevant keywords in the link. Additionally, optimizing your anchor text is important, but don’t use the same text for every link.
  • Take advantage of local search opportunities. If you’re running a business that focuses on customers within a certain city or region, it’s important to learn more about local search. Optimize your site to catch local traffic by showing your address and local phone number prominently. Submit your site to free local listings services. And make sure your site is listed in directories such as CitySearch, Google Places, Yelp and other local based sites and review networks.
  • Look for link quality over quantity. Much like content relevancy, you should also place a higher emphasis on link quality. A single link from a popular blog might do more for your search engine rankings than thousands of low quality directory links. Sure, they’re harder to get, but that’s also why search engines place such trust in them. Always focus on getting links that are relevant to your site and industry. And whatever you do, do not buy links. It will get you nowhere.

In conclusion, completion, end, final…

With a few simple tweaks to your SEO strategy and knowing the basics, it shouldn’t take long to move up the ranks on search engines. Just be sure to always have your white hat handy and a good sense of humor.

Read next: Marketing the TNW Way: SEO and running Screaming Frog