12 StepsPlenty of people don’t really get how to do search engine optimization. Even a lot of the professional SEO specialists out there are so caught up in their mathematical manipulations that they forget the basics.  Here are twelve steps to doing solid, long lasting SEO, and they’re not all that hard.

Step 1: Do a comprehensive keyword analysis.  You should have a list of keywords that’s between 20 to 40 words long.  These keywords will tell you how people are looking for your topic.  You may not use all of them specifically in metatags, at least not at first, but it’s a good idea to have them so you have a good idea of what people are looking for most.

Step 2: Write a decent website in HTML.  You should have at least five to ten pages – minimum – to start with before expecting to get visitors in any quantity whatsoever.  These pages should be quality information, not a catalog of product descriptions.  Provide plenty of background and context on the core subject of your website.

Step 3: Write metatags for each individual page on your website.  These metatags should have the keyword(s) or phrase(s) that define the page in question, along with an eye-catching title and description.  Titles and descriptions don’t show up directly on your page, but they do show up in the search engine results pages.  Considering that the results page is where a visitor decides to visit your website or not, the title and description have to get people to want to click.

Step 4: Set up a traffic analytics program on your website.  A good analytics program tells you where people are going, what they’re doing, how they’re getting to your site and how long they’re staying.  All of this is valuable information when trying to maximize your site’s appeal and ease of use.

Step 5: Create an accurate XML sitemap. This helps your site get indexed better, so the search engine spiders don’t miss important pages. Creating a visual sitemap for visitors – with clean, non-confusing navigation paths – can help them find your important pages as well.

Step 6: Get quality inbound links.  You can do this by asking people you know nicely, by participating in communities, or by waiting for the high quality information you’re providing to serve someone else as a reference.  This last is, of course, the slowest.

Step 7: Start a blog, and update it religiously.  You don’t have to do it every day, but you should at least do it every week.  That’s the only way you’ll build a loyal following that looks forward to your new content.  Of course, if they’re not on the same server, your blog and your website should be interlinked. If you can’t write yourself, hire a professional SEO copywriter to do your writing.

Step 8: Publish SEO articles, and start guest blogging.  Make sure it’s about your core topic (keywords) that will lure people into your website. The idea is to provide quality, relevant information that will make readers want to know more.  Again, these should be high quality, well written and informative articles.  They should also lead to specific landing pages, not all to your home page.  For example, if you’re providing information about one of your products, the link at the bottom should go to your product page, not your home page.  Readers aren’t going to go navigating your site in order to find your product.

Step 9: Get listed in directories that specifically cater to your particular product or service.  Some themed directories will let you list for free, some charge a small fee.  Be careful to only do this with quality directories.  Having a link on a link farm will only get you blasted by the search engines.

Step 10: Maintain your website.  Get a program that will check for broken links every so often, and fix them promptly.  If you have too many glitches on your server, your visitors will fly away like so many migrating birds.

Step 11: Resubmit your website’s updated sitemap every time you make an addition or move a page.  This both allows the search engines to offer up-to-date information to their users, which they like, and you become more trustworthy to your customers because they can see that someone’s home, so to speak.

Step 12: Provide a contact form of some kind on your website so that your customers can talk to you.  Don’t do a “squeeze page” where a visitor has to give up an email address before he or she can read the rest of the site, but do provide something through which people can make comments or ask for more information.