A lot of people ask me if there’s a trick to getting ranked No. 1 in Google for a specific keyword or keyword phrase; the short answer is “No.” And while you can’t just flip a switch to rank high for “XYZ service,” there are a lot of things you can do to improve your search rankings. Here are four essential steps to developing a solid search marketing strategy and improve your site’s “findability.”

Identify your audience

This is the most important step in this process because it lays the foundation for everything ahead. Identifying your audience correctly is essential to search marketing success because it determines who you are targeting your keywords toward. The first step in identifying your audience is determined by what kind of website you have. Are you providing information? Are you selling something? From there, you need to decide if you’re trying to attract individuals, businesses or both. Once you have decided on who your audience is, it’s time to identify which keywords best fit your site’s purpose.

Keyword research

Many people think that if they include every possible keyword in their content or on their site, that they will rank for whatever that want to. That may have been true five or 10 years ago, but Google’s gotten a lot smarter and has a lot of mechanisms in place to fight against over-optimization. What I suggest is limiting your targeting to one or two keywords per page. This means that if you have a 12-page site, you shouldn’t be targeting more than 18-24 unique keywords throughout your entire site. This might not seem like very much–but trust me,–if done well, that’s all you need.

Here are some of my favorite keyword research tools: Google AdWords, Google Trends and Bing Keyword Research Tool.

Optimize your content

Now that you have determined what keywords you’re using and where they will be in your site, it’s time to write your content. The most important thing to keep in mind when writing content for the web is to forget about search engines while you write it. Write for the user, not Google or Bing. If you write your content about XYZ service, that phrase, or a variation thereof, will be sprinkled throughout your content naturally, not stuffed. As long as you keep your content current, relevant and well-written, Google will take care of the rest.

Writing your meta data

Your meta data is what search engines use to determine the purpose of a webpage. It’s also what users see in Google and Bing. When writing your meta data, it’s important to make sure your chosen keywords are in the front of both your title tag (the title of your site) and your meta description (your site’s description). That way, when Google or Bing crawl your site, they will see your keywords quickly and understand the site’s importance. Similarly to writing your content, it’s important to write for the user, not the search engine. Keep everything human-readable, clear, compelling and concise.

These four steps are by no means your ticket to the No. 1 ranking in Google or Bing, there are too many outside factors (social signals, backlinks, etc.) that also determine your site’s worth. But when combined with an effective online marketing strategy, you will be able to take the above information and begin seeing improvements in your site’s ranking.

If you have questions about any of this, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Trademark Productions for more information.

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