Business owners have enough to think about on a daily basis without the additional intricacies involved in search engine optimization.

If you’re not even sure what it is, search engine optimization is the process of making adjustments to your website in order to attract visitors who are searching for your content.

You may have heard that to do that is a complicated process. I’m here to tell you that yes, there are over 300 factors that Google (the only search engine that counts at the moment) takes into account toIt’s really not that complicated.  Complex, yes! But not complicated.

Is it easy? Maybe, or maybe not, depending on whether you like to dive into keyword gap analysis, on and off-page SEO, backlink gaps, HARO links and much more. Is it necessary? No, but it is recommended. The only reason you may have to not optimize your website for search engines is if you are a famous brand and you don’t need to.  In which case, you still are using SEO because your brand is already optimized!

Most of us don’t quite qualify for that. But we do want to be found when someone searches Google for our services.

So we do certain things in a certain way, at certain times, in a certain order to be able to be found as easily and quickly as possible for keywords that our potential audience is typing into a Google search.

That’s all keywords are, by the way. A lot of entrepreneurs just starting out are unsure what the meaning of keyword actually is – a word or phrase that our potential website visitor might type into a Google search box.

Which brings us to the first of four simple steps that I’ve broken this whole thing down to:

  1. Research.

What are we researching? Well the SEO experts call it keyword research, but what it boils down to is audience research. You just need to know what your potential clients are looking for.  That means you have to know what they are missing in their lives, what their pain is, and what an ideal solution might be to alleviate that pain, whether it’s how to make an old small bathroom look new and shiny, or how to quit smoking.

Knowing our clients inside and out will furnish us with just about all the keywords we need.  At that point, we can turn to some of the other tools available to us to refine those phrases, understand what the inherent risk or cost might be in optimizing for them, and understand how difficult or easy it’s going to be to compete with our competitors for that phrase.

2. Relevance

Once we’ve determined our keywords phrases, we can then make the effort of incorporating them naturally into posts and pages on our website. Simply providing your audience with quality content will take care of about 80% of this – but there is a 20% gap in SEO that has to be addressed by making sure we have our on-page optimization ducks in a row.  Fortunately, we have plenty of SEO-enhancement tools available to us including AIOSEO and the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.  These tools offer guidance on page optimization for focus keywords, and can really make the optimization process go faster and with more accuracy.

3. Authority

Another aspect of SEO is off-page SEO, in other words, developing a reputation as an authority in your niche. Backlinks from other sites to yours go a long way toward indicating to Google that your site is an authority. And let’s face it, if you have a lot of other website linking to yours, there’s probably a good reason! Other ways to establish authority (and get more backlinks) are to write a book or an e-book, start a podcast, post videos on YouTube, and post regularly on social media.

4. Maintenance

Finally, maintenance is a crucial fourth step in optimizing your website effectively. Keep content fresh by posting regularly to your blog, changing page content, adding photos, and more. This tells Google that you are actively monitoring and maintaining your site, which increases its value to potential visitors.

Those are the four basics of SEO.

If you’d like to dive deeper into the topic, check out my Ultimate SEO FAQ here: The Ultimate SEO FAQ