If you are new to marketing, getting started with SEO can be a daunting task. SEO jargon such as backlinks, crawling and black hat can seem convoluted and vague in meaning. This is why I decided to put together this 3-Step plan, to help demystify search engine optimization (SEO). So, what exactly is SEO?

SEO Today

It may not have occurred to you that SEO is vital to your integrated marketing strategy. In the past marketing was centered on reaching as many prospects as possible via trade shows, radio, television, newspapers, direct mail, and cold calls. Today, according to webhostingrating.com, there are over 130 million registered websites on the internet. 4 million blog posts are published on the internet every day. On Google alone, over 2 million people conduct searches each day. To achieve brand presence online SEO must be part of your marketing strategy.  SEO involves modifying your website and content to improve your rank on Google’s search engine. Having a solid SEO plan will enable you to successfully plan, implement and optimize your online business. For this reason, I have developed a simple 3 month SEO guide to help you get started. You should note that it will take approximately 6 months for you to start seeing results. SEO does not happen overnight but with patience and hard work, you will reap the rewards.

How Google Decides which page ranks #1

Google has gotten good at ranking web pages for every possible search query. Google has an algorithm to make sure that searchers get the best answers. 94% of people that use Google only click results on the first page, if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they usually don’t bother clicking on subsequent result pages instead they rather adjust their search query and start from scratch—this is why optimizing is so crucial to your marketing strategy. If you don’t rank on page one for certain search terms you practically do not exist on the internet. There are some solid indicators that Google employs to rank your site, and they all center on user experience. Google has data on how long searchers stay on your website (known as bounce rate). Google can see how many other websites are linking to your site and a myriad of other technical KPIs such as page load speed, broken links, and search engine brand queries.

3 Step SEO Guide

Search Engine Optimization is a continuous process but it is not rocket science. As long as you follow this step by step plan, you will get results.

3 month SEO guide -infographic

SEO Tools

Having the right tools are essential for your SEO strategy. If you are a small business, entrepreneur or startup, you may not have the finances to invest in the more robust SEO tools such as SEMrush and Ahrefs. Luckily, there is a lot of free online software you can use to kick-start your SEO efforts.

Free SEO Tools

If you want to optimize your campaign for search engines, these are the tools you should use in coordination with this 3 month SEO guide. It’s not necessary to use all of these tools together. Some of these selections are optional but I recommend that you try them all and decide which works best for you.

WordPress

WordPress is the world’s most popular and supported web builder.

It is imperative to note that there are two versions of WordPress. WordPress.org and WordPress.com. Both basically do the same thing (enable you to build a multi-faceted website) however there are subtle differences. To put it plainly, WordPress.com is very limited, the more features you want, the more you have to pay. There is a free WordPress.com package but it is heavily restrictive in terms of features and functionality. I highly recommend you select WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com. WordPress.org is 100% free and comes with all the bells and whistles; you can monetize your website, have full control over plugins, custom themes and ads, the only caveat is that you have to find an external hosting service to host your website, but I have found that websites like Bluehost and Hostinger to offer very cost-effective hosting packages which, at the end of a 12-month period, would be significantly less than what you would be paying for WordPress.com.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free web analytics platform which provides you with data and metrics based on your website traffic. Having data on your inbound traffic allows you to have a better understanding of how users interact with your website, thereby enabling you to optimize your website and SEO efforts. Google Analytics is essential to your search engine marketing efforts.

Google Search Console 

Google Search Console helps you monitor your website’s performance on Google Search Engine. It provides you with useful data, such as how often your website appears on Google, how many people view your website on google search engine and which keywords your website is ranking for. There are a lot more technical features at your disposal, but since this guide was written for newbies, I will keep it simple.

Google Keyword Planner

SEO keyword planner

Google Keyword Planner is free. The only caveat is, you have to have a Google AdWords account. Google Keyword Planner is great for sourcing keyword ideas, finding how much search volume certain keywords are getting and how competitive keyword.  Google uses historical statistics and traffic forecasts to help choose the best keywords for your campaign.

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a great tool for competitor research. The platform provides you with data keyword’s volume, the average cost per click, and how difficult it is to rank for it. You can also see what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Specifically, Ubersuggest allows you to take all the keywords that you’re already ranking for and find long-tail variations of that keyword. Ubersuggest will generate a list of hundreds of other long-tail phrases that you can mix into your content and just instantly grow your traffic.

Neil Patel SEO Analyzer

Neil Patel SEO Analyzer provides you with a free website analysis report which can help you pinpoint SEO errors that are hurting your ranking. I also recommend using SEOptimer has a useful alternative, both audit tools are great if you need a quick but detailed analysis of your website’s speed, health, score and much more.

Keywords Everywhere (chrome extension)

Keywords Everywhere is a very popular keywords research tool. All you have to do is go to keywordseverywhere.com, install the extension for your Chrome or Firefox browser, and then the magic happens. Enter any search query and you will be able to get data around the keywords that you typed.

SEO tool- keywords everywhere

Keywords Everywhere provides you with the search volume per month, the CPC, and also the keyword difficulty. It’s a very useful SEO tool.

Soovle 

Soovle is an amazing tool for keyword research. It provides you with search results by scraping out the most searched and related keywords from important search engines like Amazon, YouTube, Google Suggest, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Answers.com, Bing, etc. It is going to be a very useful tool if you are building a keyword list in AdWords or need keyword ideas for your blog.

Conclusion

It does not matter whether you’re a blogger or a small business, using the right SEO tools for keyword planning, link-building and data analysis are crucial to the success of your marketing strategy. With the many SEO tools on the market today, it is difficult to decide where to begin. However, the platforms I have listed in this 3 month SEO guide are risk-free and will get you started on the right foot. Keep in mind, as your business grows you will need to invest in more powerful tools. Best of luck!