Greetings from Austin,
Most professionals realize the importance of a solid SEO strategy to rank high in search results. However, most quality consulting firms charge upwards of $1000/month to fix site structure, keywords and backlinks. Don't trust anyone that guarantees you first page ranking; it's a scam! Good news: how to dominate Google search results is public knowledge if you know where to look. I've learned a lot about the process thanks to curiosity and ambition. That's precisely why I'm creating this definitive guide on search-engine optimization (SEO). As the saying goes, the best place to bury a dead body is on the second page of Google. Don't get me wrong, word of mouth is a great way to get new clients in the door, but your website should also rank on the first page for relevant keywords to future-proof your business success. How are you going to stand out from the competition? Google is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, you just can't ignore it if you want to survive in today's digital landscape! If you would like to learn more about the following tips, don't hesitate to contact me.
1) Create a Google Analytics account
You need to link a Google Analytics account to your website in order to determine what you're doing right and where you can improve. More information on setup is available here. This powerful tool allows you to drill down into virtually every dimension of website usage. It's a complicated beast that I've yet to master. Keep putting one foot in front of the other...
2) Get a Google Plus page
Granted, it's not a popular social network compared to the other big four but the SEO value is enormous! You should be posting content on a regular basis to remind Google that you're an active business. Make sure to add a profile photo since it will be prominently displayed next to your search listing.
3) Get more reviews than your competitors
I can't stress this enough! Make sure you have more positive reviews on Yelp and Google+ than your competitors. Search for a keyword you want to rank for and you'll notice a large section at the top/side dedicated to reviews. This is why reviews are so important for your SEO success. Don't be afraid to reach out to family and friends; ask them to put in a good word for your business. If they're a true friend, he/she will be happy to oblige. ;)
4) Submit your website to search engine directories
There are plenty of options out there to accomplish this goal. If you want to pay for a quick automated approach, I would recommend MOZ Local. It submits your website to the major search networks and gives you an overall score. However, if you're not afraid to get your hands a little dirty, submit your website manually to free directories available here. Make sure the information you enter is consistent across all networks. Search engines are a stickler for rules.
5) Start your own blog
This is self-explanatory. Maintaining an active blog demonstrates to Google that your business is actively involved in generating fresh content. Write "definitive guides" or "Top 10" lists like this one. These are widely considered link bait to attract attention and encourage others to share a backlink, and therein lies the strategy.
6) Backlinks from reputable sources
This is often the most difficult aspect of SEO. It takes time and diligence to develop relationships with popular bloggers and news sources. This is where face-to-face networking comes into play. Get out there and just start meeting people at events. Side note: You should actively add your contacts on LinkedIn and update them on your progress. Backlinks from websites with a high PR score are essential for your long-lasting success. It's easy to check your global rank on Alexa. Just enter your website and compare it to others. If it doesn't rank at all, that means you have lots of work to do. Don't rest on your laurels just yet. Check out Open Site Explorer to determine where your backlinks are coming from.
7) Post videos to YouTube
Google loves to rank YouTube videos highly. In fact, videos are 50x more likely to show up on the first page of Google versus standard pages. Embed any videos directly into your website for more views and comments. In case you didn't already know, Google owns YouTube... so yeah, it goes without saying that you should have a presence on the most powerful video platform ever created.
8) Request a free site audit
You can get a site audit from WebCEO - my favorite free tool for web metrics. This full report is invaluable. Alexa requires a Pro trial account which you can cancel before the membership expires. Many quality SEO firms will provide this service free of charge. There's no shame in getting the data and leading the initiative. Why hire someone when you can do it yourself for free?
9) Speak Google's language
No robotic voice synthesizer necessary. Here's a checklist:
Are your main headings in <H1> tags? No more than one per page!
Are your subheadings in <H2> and <H3> tags?
Does the search listing title and description include your keywords?
Does the title page contain your keywords?
Does the main heading on the page contain your keywords?