How to do SEO without money and (almost) no time

Search Engine Optimization

As an SEO consultant, a very popular question I get asked is simply: “How much?” How much is it going to cost me to increase my Google rankings?

I think you first need to ask how much it’ll cost you NOT to rank at the top. The first result gets 33% of the clicks. Results #2 and #3 follow with approximately 18% and 12% of clicks respectively. Less than 10% of people click the “Next” button at the bottom of the Google page. So really, if you’re not first, you’re last.

Still, I do understand that there’s situations where you essentially have no time, no money, but you still need to start seeing your website bring in some more tangible results.

Perhaps you’re just starting out,… or maybe you’re working on a personal side project.

In this blog post, I’ll explain to you what you can focus on RIGHT NOW that won’t take up much of your time, or money, but can still make a difference for your website rankings.

Let’s dive in!

How does SEO work anyway?

Unfortunately, too many assume that SEO means trying to trick search engines into miraculously ranking your site above others. It doesn’t.  SEO simply means building a site that is friendly to search engines.

Simply putting better content on your pages – content that keeps the search engines happy – means you have a really good chance at boosting your rankings and get more search engine “love”. Of course, it will by no means be everything you’ll ever need to do for SEO, so please don’t think this is the one and only answer to the question of how to do SEO on your own. Covering such an extensive topic would take WEEKS if not MONTHS of teaching and ongoing learning. That’s why people like me have jobs. But regardless, there still are little things that you can do yourself, and one of them is writing better content.

But what exactly is “better content”? Hold on for just one moment, I will get to that! First I’d just like to be clear about two more things:

How to write better content – the mindset

writing for search engine optimization

  1. To write “better content”, you first ABSOLUTELY must know what kinds of keywords, phrases and terms you want to be found for in Google. What do you want the searcher to enter into the small white box, and as a result, have your website come up as the first suggestion? Is it “vacations in Hawaii” or “how to boil a chicken”? Whatever it is, start collecting your “dream wish list bucket list” of keywords you want to rank for in Google – and then be prepared to have those words actually appear on your pages. You simply cannot rank a site anymore for words that aren’t even being mentioned on your website.
  1. Next, your website does NOT just consist of your home page. Most small business websites have at least 3-5 pages, and you need to look at them individually. For each page you have the opportunity to rank that page for a particular keyword, a set of keywords, or topic. Have a browse through your keyword dream list bucket list. Could you make some groups within them?

Example: You’re a tour operator and your website has a page for each type of tour. Perhaps you offer winery tours, and then you also have horseback riding tours. As long as these offerings are separated into actual different PAGES on your website, your work is then to individually look at the theme, topic, and writing of each of those sub-pages – not just at “your website” as a whole.

Group your keywords from step 1 into groups that make sense logically. Like anything “wine” will be in a group and anything “horses” will be in the other group. That’s how it works. You need to do your best to somehow start distinguishing the pages – so that you, but not only you, Google also, can clearly know what topic which page is talking about.

How to write better content – the nitty gritty

Okay, now this is the section I promised earlier, the nitty gritty of how to write “better content”.

Imagine for a moment that you’re a search engine robot who knows absolutely nothing about your business or your website. When you do come across your web page, how are you going to know that your page is about a hotel in Vegas unless you actually use the words “hotel in Vegas” on your page?

This is the basic principle of making your web pages delicious to both search engines and humans, and therefore writing “better content” that packs an SEO punch: Use your keywords repeatedly throughout the text, but (and this is the balance you must find), without sounding unnatural, clumsy, or unnecessarily repeating your keyword way too many times.

Super important!!!

I need to iterate the importance of writing natural-sounding text on your website pages though. Don’t just “sprinkle in” your keywords everywhere you possibly can. That’s called keyword stuffing and is an old and outdated practice. Just,… put your keywords in as they make sense, and naturally write about your topic. ABSOLUTELY use variations of your chosen keyword just as you would in a normal conversation. It is perfectly okay to use “Vegas hotels” instead of “hotel in Vegas” or use the plural, “hotels in Vegas” and can still do absolutely great for that search phrase.

It’s also totally okay for the words “hotel” and “Vegas” to appear non-adjacent in a sentence. For example:

“Leave your luggage at your hotel, grab your friends and start exploring Vegas!”

would be a great sentence to include on a page you’re trying to rank for “hotels in Vegas”. Just don’t say:

“Leave your luggage at your pad, grab your friends and start exploring the town.”

That 2nd sentence doesn’t carry any one of the keywords you want.

An example

seo consultant in bcHave a look at the SEO Copywriting Example on the left. Click on it to make it larger and legible. Please bear with me here, and read this non-highlighted version first, just as if you were a normal reader on the web. Notice if anything bugs you. No? Nothing? Yeah, me neither.

In the next image I have highlighted how this text is very smart for search engines.

search engine copywriting content

The writer must obviously have optimized for something like “best gluten free cinnamon buns”, but the text does not sound clumsy, unnatural, or over-stuffed with keywords. The writer has used all sorts of variations, combinations, or pieces of anything “best” “gluten” “free” “cinnamon” and “buns”. Google pieces this together for you. In your page copy, you don’t have to always repeat your words “in sequence”, or exactly at all (you might want to do so in the page title, another story, but you don’t have to do so in page body content). See if you can recognize the magic of this work in the following picture.

Now, after making sure that you use your chosen keyword (and variations thereof) in your website page, there are a few more things to consider if you want to write a web page that packs the ultimate SEO punch!

The 5-step “Does My Content Rock?” checklist:

write more copy1. Write More Content

Does longer content rank better in search? It sure does. I recommend pages have a minimum of 500 words, optimally even longer. Pages of 1,000+ words really enable you to provide value for readers, engage them with your content, all of which helps you establish authority and expertise, which translates into “importance” to Google, which propels you to the top of the ranking results. As you know, Google is also just trying to do its job, which is to provide the searcher with the single most relevant, best website link as a result to whatever was typed in as the search query. So make sure Google thinks that YOUR page is the best solution.

Use this simple free web page word count checker tool to count your words per page.

seo content structure2. Use Headings and Sub-headings

Headings and subheadings on a page essentially describe your content in little mini-chunks to search engines. They also make your articles ‘skimmable’ and guide readers through the text. Make use of this! Use headings to structure your content (for readers), but then also use them to prominently incorporate your main keywords (for robots).

 

Use paragraphs and lists3. Use Paragraphs and Lists

Chunky blocks of text are hard to read and not what you want. For best results, keep paragraphs short (2-4 sentences). To achieve a certain page length, structure your page with headings and subheadings, and follow the headings with a few paragraphs each. Use the odd bullet-point list in there too to make your point and to visually break up the page layout.

highlight important text4. Highlight

Another way to highlight certain aspects of your website text to search engines is to bold the lettering. Whatever is in bold, must be more
important! And here’s the tweak: put things in bold that also contain your keywords.

seo consulting5. Remember Your Humans

Think about your target audience and write your pages to address their needs or questions. Don’t assume they already know anything about your business. Describe yourself over and over to them. Use their language. Repeat what you’re saying and put it in other words. In today’s world, writing for search engines means writing real, useful content for real readers on the web.

You’re Ready!

Do not be scared to be “too fabricated”, “too methodical”, or “too clumsy” with any of this. Just go for it, start writing (or re-writing) now!

What do you think?

In my consultancy, I have personally seen websites climb the Google ranks with no other SEO work but re-writing page copy, which is something you can quickly, easily, and inexpensively do yourself.

If you’ve liked this article, please share and pass it along to your friends.  I’d also love to hear what you thought in the comment section below.

Happy ranking!

Further reading

My SEO process

10 Terrific Tips for More Website Traffic, Sales & Profits for Tourism, Travel & Hospitality Pros

First page of Google by the numbers (full stats and research on Google page #1) – Link to external site

Free web page word count checker tool – Link to external site

Images courtesy of jesadaphorn and ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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