Have you ever questioned why your SEO firm is a monthly charge rather than a one time program?  It may seem like SEO is a linear process, whereby you add the content for every keyword you want to rank for and then move on to building links and then watch rank grow with time.  I assure you that SEO is by no means linear.  It is a highly cyclical process by which you continually refine your content, add more content, and continually link to that content.

The cycle starts with research.  Decide what keywords to focus on begins with who your target audience is and what is your product/service.  The real strategy behind the research element is deciding what is going to give you the best return on your investment.  This is because it would be incredibly costly and nearly impossible to be ranked for certain keywords.  The internet market has matured and the very algorithms that made google who they are have resulted in most web traffic consolidating in the biggest players in their markets.  You have probably observed this issue yourself which can make one feel defeated before even embarking on a search engine optimization program.  At the top of the page are the paid ads followed by directory type sites.  These are the biggest sites on the internet that have spent millions of dollars building links and are just massive directories of information but are nine times out of ten not really what a customer is looking for.  Wikipedia is usually the first.  It is probably amazon taking the next 4 spots on the list.  Followed by various directories.  It may feel like you have little opportunity to compete online at all, but you can compete; it really comes down to how you select your keywords. Selecting those keywords is beyond the scope of this article, but in short, get into a google adwords program and look up keywords that are relevant to your services, google will then suggest hundreds of variations on those keywords and let you know how much traffic those other keywords get each month.  Look for multi word keywords with decent traffic.  The more keywords in the phrase, the easier it is to get ranked for those keywords, but conversely the fewer number of searches being done.  For example, you may not be able to rank for electrician quote, but you can rank for electrician quote in New York or for commercial electrician quote (just examples).

Once you have decided which keywords to go after, you need to make sure those keywords are on your site.  No matter how many links come into your site, if you don’t have the target keyword on your site, google is not going to deem you relevant.  The strategy in this phase is where to place those keywords.  You first need to decide what the ideal number of pages to have on your site and where customers should land.  You don’t want customers looking for an electrician quote to show up on your contact us page first.  To prevent this, you need to make sure that you are not using Electrician Quote on the contact us page and instead use Electrician quote on the Electrician services page and add contact us information in your call to action on the electrician page.  Then make sure that your keywords are in the title of the page, in the H1 tag and in the body of the page.  You may want to be targeting multiple phrases, but can’t really build out a single page for each keyword, so the next step is to think about your secondary keywords.  The most important keyword will go in the H1 and title and be multiples times through the content, the secondary keywords can be put into sub sections with H2, H3, H4 tags followed by mentions in the content, just don’t try to get too many secondary keywords onto the same page.  It will end up being counterproductive towards the overall SEO program.  Secondary keywords should be limited to variants of the target keyword.

After keywords have been added to your site, you need to give your statements credibility.  Anyone can add keywords to their site, but google does not necessarily trust that because the keyword is there that you are the most relevant result for that keyword.  That is where link building comes into play.  As you get others to link to the page with content, the search engines give you greater credit that your keywords are relevant.  Some links are more credible than other links and the structure of the link can have a large impact, but overall, if someone links to this content, then you are more likely to have a better position in the search engine rankings.

The next step is to let google recrawl your site.  They are regularly doing this although the frequency depends a lot on how often you add content, how many pages you have, and how many inbound links you have.  You have to give them time to find the new keywords and decide how valuable the new content is to search engines.  You should generally wait 2 to 4 weeks to let the changes trickle into search engine rankings.

After a couple of weeks it is then time to start the process over.  Get into your rank tracking software and look to see which target keywords you are ranking for.  If your content was good, you will start to rank for keywords that you did not rank for previously.  If your content was inadequate, you will still not show up.  It is also possible to lose rank on a page because you added the wrong keywords and has made google confused about what the true subject of the page is.  After seeing how you rank after an on page content change, you are now ready to determine which pages you still need to focus on (no search engine ranking yet) and can focus your next round of research and content on those pages.  The pages where you now rank for a target keyword should be the pages that you would want to focus your link building energy on and will instead monitor growth in rankings rather than the presence of a rank.  After a few months, it may make sense to add more content related to that keyword, but you don’t want to be too quick to add content to a page that is already ranked as you risk compromising the established rank.

To summarize, while SEO is formulaic in how it is done, the formula must be repeated continually keeping in mind that while it is fine to continually add content to your blog, with regards to your key page content, you need to make sure that you space out content additions to give time for the search engines to provide feedback on the content in the form of search engine rankings.