If you’re a small business owner who’s new to SEO, the sheer volume of advice out there might seem a little overwhelming. Despite all the myriad things you can do to boost your rankings, there are nine essential factors that should be focused on before all else. Keep reading to understand these nine keys to successful SEO, so you can use them to reap rewards in your traffic, leads, and sales.

Create content to delight your visitors

Google is smarter than ever before. The search engine can now judge the genuine quality of your content to a human visitor. It does this by paying attention to indicators that show if the reader is gaining real value from your page, or not.

Some see this recent development as a hassle for SEO. Gone are the days when you could write rushed nonsense and still rank well. But this is an outdated viewpoint.

A healthier attitude is to simply focus on providing more value than your competitors. This will allow you to leapfrog ahead of those still stuck in the old mindset of trying to trick Google.

How can you deliver this value? Create posts to solve the problems your reader is trying to solve. Present them in a clear and entertaining way. Add images, infographics, and videos if suitable.

Create long-form content to cover even very small issues extensively. Longer posts tend to rank better, as both individuals and Google see them as offering more value.

It’s a good idea to study the existing results on page one of a keyword search, and think of ways to provide a better result for the searcher. Google will see this and reward it. There are various excellent tools to help you analyze your competition, such as Ahrefs, SEMRush, SpyFu, and BuzzSumo.

Choose low hanging fruit for your keywords

Rushing to rank for a keyword without prior research is rather like climbing a ladder before checking it’s leaning against the right wall. There may be no more important step in your SEO than selecting the keywords you wish to target.

It makes sense to go for keywords that require the least work to rank for. When starting out, consider these low-competition keywords. You can use the previously mentioned tools to find them.

They’re often long-tail keywords; short phrases consisting of three or more words. Competition can be so low for many of these phrases that virtually no backlinks are even required to reach page one.

Individually, these keywords may not garner that many monthly searches, but if you target many such keywords, your traffic will build over time. When your site is more established and has earned higher domain authority, you’ll find it becomes easier to rank for the more generic, competitive keywords of your niche.

Optimize pages for your target keyword

It’s still important today to have the keyword in a few places on your site structure and on the page. Put it into your title tags, heading, page url, and also into one or two outbound links within the text.

You want the keyword in your content, at least once or twice. Once in your first paragraph is considered to be good practice. But don’t go overboard with this. Google no longer appreciates the once-popular act of keyword-stuffing. In fact, if the keyword is in your text too many times, it will work against you.

Write an engaging meta-description

The meta-description is the short piece of text that appears in Google’s displayed results, just below the url and blue title tag. You can use this short page description to entice searchers to click. Also include your keyword in it once. Even though Google often rewrites these descriptions, a keyword mention here will still help your ranking.

Target multiple related keywords with each page

With long-form content it’s quite straight-forward to target multiple low-competition keywords with each post. Different headers and sections of your post offer opportunities to cover varying angles of the topic, and also other closely related topics. This way, you’ll find that a single page can rank swiftly for a handful of long-tail keywords.

Link out to high-authority sites

If you wish to demonstrate to both Google and your visitors that you are indeed providing real value, always link out to a few websites with high domain authority. This means linking to well-established and respected sites in your industry or niche. You can use Ahrefs Free Domain Authority Checker to check the domain authority of any website.

Domain authority is measured from 1 to 100. For smaller niches, a site with 50 domain authority might be considered high. For broader markets, you’d want to link to sites with domain authority of 70 and above.

Interlink well within your own site<

An important SEO factor that’s often neglected is linking to other highly relevant pages within your own website. This serves as another indication of value, and it also helps Google’s web crawlers find more of your content faster. There’s a good tool, LinkWhisper, which can help you work out which pages on your site could benefit from interlinking.

Actively gather backlinks

Backlinks still hold a great deal of sway with Google. The higher-competition your targeted keyword, the more backlinks you’ll need to reach page one. The other websites linking to your page should ideally be established, well-reputed sites, with high domain authority. It also helps to have the targeted keyword in the link-text every now and then.

In the long run, the number one strategy for gaining backlinks is to create fantastic content, which people simply want to read and share. This organic backlinking requires no effort. All it takes is time.

In the shorter term, you can also do much to gain back-linking traction. Firstly, link out to other content creators in your niche, and email them to let them know. Many will appreciate it, and start linking back to your content in return.

You can also simply reach out to websites via email, asking for a link from a particular point in a published article of theirs. If it’s suitable and will add value to a portion of their piece, this will often be agreed to. There are many other ways to garner quality backlinks, such as guest-posting, press releases, and publishing white papers or ebook guides.

Set up a Google My Business profile

This final tip is for businesses with a geographically local presence and clientele. It’s a simple yet powerful SEO strategy, and surprisingly few business owners know how to take advantage of it.

Each local business can set up their own profile page on Google for free. The Google My Business profile then shows up at the top of the page when people search for a geographically local service, product, or store. Claim your Google My Business page, fill out the details, use enticing pictures, and you’re quite likely to jump the queue to the top of page one.

The landscape of SEO may be complex, but the most effective fundamentals are easy to grasp. If you can put these nine strategies into action with consistency, then before long, you’ll be seeing page one results and rewards.

If you would like help with your small business SEO ranking in Anchorage Alaska, we are happy to help! We can help with on-site SEO optimization as well as local Google My Business profile set up. Please complete the form below to get a quote.

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