Though the benefits of SEO are extensive, the idea of putting SEO strategies into practice can be intimidating.

As many as two-thirds of small business owners say their main struggle is finding new customers. However, only 17% of small businesses invest in SEO.

Why is that?

Some are intimidated by the work SEO seems to require, while others simply have no idea where to begin. But here’s the good news — SEO doesn’t have to be scary. By focusing on the simple tips below, you can jumpstart your SEO strategy today and start seeing great results within months.

SEO is also for everyone, not just large online businesses or tech companies. If you’re a company with a web presence, it’s firmly in your grasp to learn about (and leverage) the powers of SEO. From online marketplaces to moving companies, SEO can benefit all businesses.

But first, what exactly is SEO, and why does it matter?

SEO stands for search engine optimization. At the most basic level, SEO is a process by which you make sure your business’ website can be found online. It is the practice of increasing your website’s traffic by ranking higher on search engine result pages.

You probably use Google dozens of times a day, so you know that being found through search engines is important to your business’ long-term success.

In fact, studies show that the first result on search engine results pages receive 33% of all traffic for that search phrase. The second result receives just 18% of the traffic, and the percentages only decrease from there, with less than 6% of traffic ever reaching the second page.

But imagine how many new customers you could bring in if you could rank in the top 5 spots on Google for certain queries! Now, consider what would happen if you eventually ranked #1! You would see an immense increase in traffic, and the more traffic to your website, the more opportunities you have to convert visitors into paying customers. Now that sounds really good for business.

How do you achieve these results?

You need to optimize your website for search engines.

Search engines are judgemental. Bing, Google, and others search engines rank web pages on search engine results pages (SERP) according to what they judge as the page’s relevancy and reputability. For example, if someone is searching for a “real estate agent in Tampa,” Google is going to rank the most relevant results for that search term — from best to worst.

That’s why a website titled “Tampa Real Estate Agents” is going to be shown on the first page of results, while a website titled “Tampa Tacos” does not rank highly.

Dozens of factors impact how much search engines “like” a website or how relevant they think it is to certain search terms. The good news is that a lot of those factors are actually in your control.

In fact, there are hundreds of SEO strategies out there. You don’t need to be an expert to get started. By following the simple tips listed below, you can jumpstart your SEO efforts and begin seeing your site’s ranking increase in no time.

Identify and leverage relevant, high-volume keywords

Keywords or queries are the words that individuals type into search engines. To help potential customers find your site, you need to figure out which keywords they are using. Thankfully, you can do just that by conducting some basic keyword research.

There are millions of potential keywords out there, so you need to make sure you focus on identifying the keywords that are most relevant to your business.

To start, put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

What do they want?
What kind of questions would lead them to your business?
What search terms do you want to make sure your website ranks for?

Think about it this way: If you’re a pizza business in Detroit, you know you want to come up on the first page of search engine results when customers type “pizza places in Detroit” or “best pizza in Detroit” into the search engine.

After brainstorming a list of relevant keywords, you need to choose the right keywords to focus your SEO efforts on. The best keywords are those that have the highest search volume — that is, keywords that have the highest number of individuals searching for them monthly.

There are plenty of free online tools for keyword research as well as paid tools, which can help you find a keyword’s search volume while discovering related keywords. Before you know it, you’ll have a lengthy list of keywords ready to help you jumpstart your website’s SEO.

In the image above, we use SEMRush to compare Keywords, Volume, and Keyword Difficult for our example above. Generally, the higher the volume of the keyword, the higher the Keyword Difficulty (and the harder it is to rank highly). True SEO wizardry comes when you’re able to identify queries with high volume, but low KD.

Prioritize your site’s most important pages

SEO can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t prioritize your efforts.

Take a look at your current website and create a list of the pages that are most important for your business goals. For example, if you’re selling a product, you should optimize your product pages that directly drive sales before anything else. Your main landing page also has a big impact on user conversion, so make sure it tops your list.

Optimize existing content

As mentioned earlier, the pages search engines deem “the best” will rank the highest on search engine results pages, and that’s where you want to be. The good news is that you can jumpstart your SEO efforts by following a simple formula for your existing web pages. Optimize a few key elements of your web pages, and you’ll be significantly closer to a higher ranking on search engine results pages. Here are a few places to focus your SEO efforts:

  • Keywords: Perform keyword research as stated above, and focus existing on-page content around one or two specific keywords per page.
  • Page Titles: Grab the reader’s attention, include your target keyword, and keep your title under 60 characters.
  • Headers: Use your keyword in H2 headers, which you can create by selecting “Heading 2” when editing your page in your CMS.
  • Body Copy: Focus on creating long-form content, and make sure you disperse your keyword and variations of your keyword throughout your post. However, be intentional about where you place your keyword — you don’t want to make your content unpleasant to read.
  • Images: Add relevant, high-quality images to your pages. Clearly label your images using alt-text.
  • Meta Description: A meta description is a straightforward way to describe your content to search engines. Make sure your keyword is included in the description.

Source: Ahrefs

Create great content

After you optimize existing content, you need to make sure all new content you create (whether it be new landing pages or blog posts) is also search engine optimized. Make sure the SEO elements above are included in your content but don’t forget the importance of creating truly helpful and high-quality content. This builds your audience for the long-term, and as readers engage with and share your content, it will help you naturally rank higher in search results. High-quality content that both your readers and search engines will love has the following characteristics. The content is:

  • Original
  • Practical
  • Accurate
  • Concise
  • Engaging
  • Answers a reader’s question
  • Solves a reader’s pain point
  • Published on a consistent basis

Prove your credibility by linking out to reputable sites

You can also optimize your blog posts and landing pages by including links to credible, relevant websites.

External links are helpful to your readers, while also showing search engines that you recognize quality content and that you want to make your website as valuable to your visitors as possible. Linking to websites with a high DA (domain authority) — a search engine ranking score developed by Moz — is a best practice for SEO. You can check a site’s DA for free using online tools.

We’re big fans of Moz’s free Chrome extension (pictured above). With the bar, you’re able to easily track the DA of any site you visit.

Write guest posts for other blogs

When deciding how relevant or high-quality your website is, search engines consider the number of backlinks you have – that is, the number of links pointing to your website from other sites. That means that while it’s important to include external links on your website, you should also work to get other people to link back to your site.

So, how exactly do you get backlinks?

The easiest method is to write guest posts for other websites (like this) and include links within the copy of the post a hyperlink that links to either a blog post or landing page on your website. You’re already an expert in whatever your industry is, so you just have to find the right places to share your knowledge. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Research and create a list of websites relevant to your industry.
  • Reach out to these sites and tell them about your experience and what you can offer their site’s audience.
  • Double check that they will allow you to include do-follow links in your blog post, as opposed to no-follow links. No-follow links won’t directly help boost your search rankings.

While it may take some time to find the right place to guest post, having a post published with links back to your site can really jumpstart your SEO efforts.

Be mobile friendly

Finally, having a mobile-optimized site will do wonders for your SEO efforts. Search engines want to provide their users with the best experience and content on the internet, and they take website navigation seriously. If you don’t do your best to give users an awesome experience on both desktop and mobile, you’re less likely to appear at the top of the search engine results pages. And since a big chunk of browsing sessions happen on mobile devices, investing in a mobile responsive site is both great for SEO and for making your product or services more appealing to website visitors.

Image Source: Google

Though we may have thrown a lot of information your way, remember that SEO is a marathon, not a sprint.

Adopting a few solid SEO habits to start with, and slowly adding on additional practices, later on, can provide you with a solid SEO foundation. To recap, remember these 7 tips for how to jumpstart your efforts:

  1. Identify and leverage relevant, important keywords
  2. Prioritize your site’s most important pages
  3. Optimize existing content
  4. Create really great content
  5. Prove your credibility by linking out to reputable sites
  6. Write guest posts for other blogs that link back to your site
  7. Be mobile friendly

SEO doesn’t have to be overwhelming. With a few tips, you can become an SEO wizard in no time, and get your website ranking at #1.

Want more tips?

Check out these 12 free ways to improve your SEO.