There’s no magic bullet, no special secret to SEO. I would suggest that ninety percent of it is about content and networking. You can’t buy SEO ranking guarantees from someone else, and I suggest you stay away from anyone who makes you think that SEO is done in secret behind their closed doors. In fact, other than investing in a well-built site, most of your SEO investment should go into writing relevant content, updating it frequently, networking with other blogs or websites, and getting involved in high-profile offline activities which will give you online publicity. If you are a business owner, you should hire a content professional who can help you write custom content for your site, get you published on other sites, and properly direct and focus your SEO and marketing efforts.
You have to produce high quality, relevant, and unique content. It’s an excellent idea to have a blog and/or other features that generate new content on your site. Having relevant keywords in your content is important but you shouldn’t worry too much about it, because if you overdo it search engines may think your are stuffing keywords, which is a bad thing. Write normally, write regularly, write well. Generate ideas and produce original content. Eventually, you will get noticed. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or time consuming. What’s important is writing and updating your site on a regular and consistent basis. Yes, it does require some time commitment, but it’s worth it. You kill two birds with one stone: you improve the content on your site and your SEO. Additionally, writing keeps you on your toes. It makes you think, do research, learn new things, and generate ideas.
Backlinks (links from other sites directed towards your site) are also very important for SEO, and for that you need to network a lot. Of course, good content on your site comes as a prerequisite because other sites will link to you only if they see your content as relevant and interesting. Going out there and networking, publishing on prominent websites and blogs and getting yourself recognized is your next SEO effort, which, along with writing good content for your own site, you should maintain and advance on a continuous basis.
You also have to network offline. Get yourself out there, get involved with offline activities that can gain you publicity. For example, sponsor an event at your local school, do some charitable work, or contribute to your community in some other meaningful way – and you may get a good chance of being mentioned on prominent local websites.
The other 10 percent
No doubt, it’s essential for SEO that your website is SEO-optimized and well-programmed. The code must be clean, uncluttered, and lightweight. It has to adhere to the best SEO practices such as meta-tags, schema markup, alternative text for images. A good developer will also know to set up things like Google Analytics so you can measure your site performance, and XML sitemaps so search engines can index your site.
Responsibility for some other parts of SEO – namely, site speed and content structure – is divided between you and your web developer.
Another important factor in SEO is site speed. A good developer must write quality code that is lightweight and optimized so your site loads as fast as possible. However, it’s not only your developer’s job to ensure the fast performance of your site. Much of it depends on what hosting you purchase. For example, a website on a cheaper shared hosting performs slower than on a better quality dedicated hosting, because shared hosting is what it is – the bandwidth is shared with lots of other sites on the same server. Some hosting companies provide additional options to speed up your website, such as caching or serving pages via a CDN (content delivery network) which usually improves performance. Above all, site speed largely depends on correct site planning, which comes back to your content strategy. You, together with your content strategist and/or web designer should plan the website in a way that avoids using cumbersome features, excessively large images or too many images, or fancy animations and other unnecessary scripting, all of which slow down your site.
A well-built website should leverage natural content hierarchy such as headings, sub-headings, lists, and designated areas for side notes and related content. Your web developer should apply proper markup to indicate the role of each content module and its place in the overall hierarchy. However, planning site hierarchy and adhering to the proper formatting rules in your routine content writing is back in your hands or in the hands of your content specialist. Going forward, your web developer or content specialist may create a style guide outlining the proper content rules for website updates.
The most important things you can do for your SEO are simple, cheap, effective, powerful, and they are in your control. The key to successful local SEO is writing, publishing, and connecting with other sites and within your community.