If you're looking for some new, profound or revolutionary "trick" to getting #1 rankings, you can just stop reading this post right now, because you won't find it. In fact, there is really nothing new here. Then again, there is really nothing new to good SEO. Sure, you might learn about some new avenues or a particular strategy, but not here. Not today. This post is for those looking for some good, solid, foundational SEO.

SEO can ultimately be completed in a handful of steps. But don't let the simplicity of these steps fool you. Time, skill and understanding are still required for good SEO that gets results. Here are some core SEO concepts and a bit of information to get you started growing a great SEO campaign.

Step 1: Pick Relevant Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of all your web marketing efforts. If you haven't done keyword research, you are not ready for SEO. In fact, there is a good bet you're not even ready to have your website built. Yeah, keywords are that important!

Keywords are like the pig of the marketing world. One magical creature gives you ham, bacon, sausage, chops, spare ribs and pork rinds. Similarly, keywords can help you build navigation, titles, descriptions, content and blog posts! Who knew, right?

Without knowing your keywords, you really can't know how to market your site to your visitors. You might do a good job if you're your own target audience, but you're not. Get over yourself.

Step 2: Plant Quality Tags

There are three tags that you need to be most concerned about. Freeze tag; duck, duck, goose; and smear the, uh, guy holding the ball. Wait, wrong kind of tag. The three website-related tags are the Title tag, Meta Description tag and the H1 tag.

The title tag is your single most important piece of web marketing real estate. It's a significant signal to the search engines for ranking and it's (usually) the link in the search results to your page. That means it better be good.

Your meta description tag has no real search engine ranking value but it is (usually) the descriptive text below your title in the search results. Again, you want to make this as compelling as possible with the the space you have.

The H1 tag is the content heading at the top of the page. This offers both search engine value and user value as it's (usually) the first thing the visitors see when they land on the page. This needs to tell them what the content of the page is.

Step 3: Produce Compelling Content

Content is the reason people come to your site. It's the reason people stay on your site. And it's the reason people buy whatever you're selling. I know that's news to a lot of people who think people come to their site for for the products. They don't.

While your audience may want to purchase your products or services, it's the content that brings them. Without content your site is just another site hocking a bunch of products or services. Your content tells your visitors what it is that makes your products or services different.

If you don't have good content, or very little content, you're likely experiencing greater than average site bounce rates. You won't get everybody to read every word but give them the words necessary to help sell what you're selling.

Step 4: Dig Into Architecture and Usability Issues

Every site has problems. Yes, that means yours, too. You just don't know it because you haven't discovered them yet!

While mostly hidden, architectural and usability issues are often the biggest roadblocks to having a successful website. Your web developer didn't know about them, your visitors may not notice them, but your SEO needs to find and fix them if you want to gain a competitive advantage.

Site architecture and usability issues can be uncovered via a number of tools. Broken link reporters, Google webmaster tools, Analytics tracking and a plethora of free and paid SEO tools are available to analyze and test various aspects of your site.

Step 5: Fertilize Your Link Sources

On page optimization is good, but the engine that really makes it perform is links. Links can be achieved via social media interaction, content development, bribery, begging or by laying down a threat, though I don't recommend the last two.

Links (and social shares) tell the search engines that people like you. In fact, they like you enough to tweet, share, like, plus, retweet, or link out to you.

Getting links and social shares are tough, unless you bribe or beg. And even then it's a challenge. So how do you do it? Revisit step 3.

Sure, there is a lot more that goes into a solid organic web marketing campaign, but these are the five basic things that you have to do to build up your glorious organic search engine ranking garden.

Image Credit

January 23, 2013

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs regarding this topic, top 10 tips, top 5 essential techniques for SEO, this article is the one I find it covered the most essential and yet not too difficult to understand tips for SEO leaner. Thanks!

I think site owners are still looking for the "secret" to SEO success and the secret is that there isn't one. There is no quick and easy (and sustainable) way to the top except the good ole fashioned way and that takes work. You have to get the basics on lock down in order to move forward successfully.

Nice reminder on the essentials, Stoney. RE Step 2 We recently spent a great deal of time working to improve CTRs for our organic SERPs for our law library pages and this meant crafting a compelling (as noted above) meta description. We moved away from title keyword repetition and instead looked at our SERP competition and tried not emulate them but instead to make ours more attractive (legal info for non-lawyers). Also using the H2 tag with a supporting or secondary KW phrase can help your SERPs especially if you use it (and/or variations) in other internal linking, particularly using the jump anchor on your URL (#H2keyword).

The evidence is in GWT on the increase of CTR and also improvement in SERPs because as your CTR improves Google recognizes the value of the SE result to users and may push your page higher in the rankings.

I think this is a great starting point for achieving higher organic rankings and I've personally used several of these recommendations in the past and they've worked great for me. I usually tell clients that it's better to get your website to rank higher organically than in the paid advertising sections simply because it's longer lasting and you get more bang for your buck. Thanks again!

It's amazing how many clients and companies I've met that are averse to changing their H1 tag or even having one on page. They have a site that they say that want to rank for a very specific keyword, but they don't even want the keyword on the page! Most times it's due to designers or other creative types saying that the H1 will ruin the aesthetics... that's just crazy to me.

As far as everything else goes, number 3 is by far the hardest one (depending on what industry you're in). It's easy to write about entertainment... movies, video games, celebrities. But how about when your clients are potato chip bag manufacturers or doctors that only accept Medicare... it becomes much tougher to get that awesome content, but at the end of the day that's the only way to do it.

@Chas - I wouldn't necessarily stop using keywords in the meta description because that is helpful to maintain the scent. However making it compelling to generate the click is more important. Both is best IMO.

@SEO - Keyword difficulty is important in order to manage expectations, however I don't think an SEO should ever run away from difficult terms. Especially when finding a bunch of similarly themed terms to rank can help boost the ranking for the difficult phrase.

@Bifford - agree on the H1 and content changing issue. I've run into that before. I don't think it's that hard to create compelling content. Well, it would be for me, but a great writer can do it. My team does it every day and I am simply amazed!

hi i am new to seo basically i do it only for my website 15 days before on my website title bar there are 4 keywords, for first keyword my website rank 9 position on google and second keyword my website rank 13 position on google search but when i change first keyword to second and second to first both keyword ranks 300+ on google search why this happen i am confuse

I agree with the other assertions that there is no secret to SEO success. There is just hard work. With that said though, you can measure the success of different tactics and use that to outline your strategy moving forward.

We all know we have to get the links... I was hoping for something more specific

Great strategies to implement. No doubt links from social sites have much authority and Google likes these links.

Great comparison. I too have been reading up on SEO and the tips and tricks people offer and this is one of the better ones. SEO is so important now for any size company. I want to make sure I know as much as possible.

Content marketing is the new SEO. If you provide high-quality, unique and relevant content (maybe a well-designed infographic), you will get links to your site. As a result, your SEO visibility will be increased.

All sound advice. I'm struggling with social though, as my business is inherently un-social. Law. Social seems to be where it's at nowadays though.

great post, i will mention in it in my blog.

I think organic rankings is much important than making an ad campaign. that reason is the Organic ranking will last longer than the ad, although it needs to be adjusted from time to time. I mean you can create like 5000 backlinks and that's it, the backlinks is a non-end process and should keep doing it.

and when you make such links, focus more on making links from social media because Google loves incoming links from social media platforms.

Thank you stoney for this post, providing great content as always :)

I think number 3 is probably the biggest thing esp. with the changes Google is making. Good quality content that people want to share is a must.

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