You might have heard about SEO and how you can use it to get more customers for your business.
But how does it actually work? What do you need to do to get SEO to work for your business?
To a beginner, SEO can appear technical and complicated.
Even if you want to begin learning about SEO, the amount of information about SEO online can seem overwhelming.
If you Google SEO, there are over 400 million results:
With 400 million results, where do you even begin?
The good news is that you don’t need to go through all the millions of SEO content to reap the benefits of SEO.
In fact, you can see results of SEO by learning and applying the very basics of SEO.
That’s not to say that you will be an expert in a few days. Like any other skill, you will need to spend a lot of time and effort to become a master in SEO.
But we are not aiming for expert level SEO skills at this stage. Instead, we are aiming to learn just enough for you to make an impact on your business.
This will put you one step ahead of business owners who are relying on luck to improve their online presence as well as make it easier for you to learn more advanced SEO strategies and tactics down the road if you choose to do so.
Whether you choose to do your SEO yourself or hire professionals to do it for you, you will be better equipped to do business in the digital age.
In this guide, I will share with you the basic SEO strategies I have used to build my organic visitors from 100/month to 10,000/month.
(Click on the link below to learn more about my SEO journey:
From 100 to 10,000 Visitors a Month: How to Grow Traffic Using SEO in Malaysia)
By the end of this guide, you will be able to make changes to your website and see immediate improvements to your website traffic.
Alright. Are you ready? Let’s start at the very beginning.
What’s in this guide
What Exactly is SEO and Why is it Important?
Off-site SEO: Building Credibility and Reputation
- Guest Posting: Writing articles for other websites
- Broken Link Building: Replacing broken links with your own
- Back to backlinks: How many types are there?
- What are keywords and why are they important?
- Finding Keywords in Your Niche
- Find More Specific Keywords with These Techniques
Keyword Popularity and Competition Analysis
Putting it All Together: Your SEO Game Plan
Now, the Bad News: SEO isn’t Everything
What Exactly is SEO and Why is it Important?
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO for short, is a process of making it easier for people to find your website when they are searching for something relevant to your website on Google, Bing or other search engines.
I’m pretty sure everyone reading this site has used Google before so I won’t go into too much detail on how searching for things online looks like.
What I will focus on is how SEO will be helpful for you as a business.
For that, I want you to join me in a bit of make belief.
So let’s say today you are a lawyer in KL and I am someone who just got into some legal problems and want to find a lawyer to help me.
Naturally, as someone who believes Google has the answer to everything, I go to Google and type in ‘lawyer in kl’:
As you might notice, there are over 600,000 results!
But I’m a lazy person. I won’t look at all 600,000 results. In fact, I’ll probably only check out the links on the first page:
If I find a helpful lawyer from the first page, I’ll probably never click on Page 2 and beyond.
And if the lawyer offers me a great service at a good price, I’ll probably stay loyal to them for life and even recommend them to my friends.
This lawyer will have thousands and thousands of RM worth of my business over my lifetime.
All from a single Google click.
Now, I want you to think about what this means as a business:
Given a choice, would you rather be on Page 1 or Page 10 for a search for ‘lawyer in kl’?
The choice is obvious.
If you want to make more money than everyone else, you’d want to be the first listing on Page 1 of the Google search results.
If you are on Page 10, you might as well not exist in the eyes of those who are looking for help. Most people don’t even click past Page 2.
I’m not even making this up.
A study done by SmartInsights showed that at least 30% of all visitors click on the first result on the first page of their Google search results.
The clickthrough rates drop to 12% of all visitors for the third link on the first page and drop even further down to just 2% for link #9 and #10 at the bottom.
This means less than 2% of all search traffic click beyond Page 2.
Let’s do the math:
For a total of 1,000 visitors a day, at least 300 will click on the first link on the first page and less than 20 will click on links after Page 1.
No matter how great the businesses after Page 1 are, they will not be able to show their customers their full potential if the customers never find them!
The goal of SEO is to get more people to visit your site by having your site be listed on the first page of Google.
Although having visitors does not necessarily mean you make money, but if you have zero visitors, I can guarantee that you won’t make any money.
0 visitors = 0 revenue
More visitors = more interactions with your brand,
More interactions = more leads,
More leads = more conversions,
More conversions = more revenue.
More traffic = more revenue
Now that you know why SEO is important for your business, it’s time to get our hands dirty and find out…
How to SEO
SEO might sound like a very technical skill, but it doesn’t always have to be.
In fact, the most important skill you need for SEO is a common skill most people have: writing.
That’s because one of the most important parts of your website is your content. The better you can write content for SEO, the higher Google will rank you.
But that doesn’t mean you need to be the best writer in the world or even get an A in your English tests.
All you need to do is you follow the Search Engine and Human-Friendly Content Blueprint.
What is it?
Let’s take a look:
Search Engine and Human-Friendly Content
There was a period of time in the early days of search engines that it was incredibly easy to rank on Google.
All you had to do was repeat your keyword everywhere on your website – in your headlines, in your content body… everywhere!
This keyword stuffing activity was effective enough to rank your site on the top pages on Google within a few days, or even a few hours.
The bad news was that these articles were over-optimized to the point that they were completely useless, like this article about cheap flights:
As someone looking for ‘cheap flights’ online, content like this will not be too useful for you.
If Google showed you articles like this every time you looked for something, you would probably lose faith in Google and use a different search engine instead.
If everyone left Google for another search engine, it would have gone bankrupt by now.
Luckily for Google, that’s not what happened.
In the last couple of years, Google has completely changed their search algorithms and ranking methods so that you get to see the website with the most relevant content and highest authority ranked first.
Doing this keeps you, their users, happy because you can get answers to your questions quickly. The more satisfied you are with Google, the more you will use it and the more Google will stay as your preferred search engine.
The flipside is that if you are a content creator, you won’t be able to get away with lousy content. In other words, if your content is low quality, good luck getting it ranked ?
This is why as someone doing content for SEO in 2017 and beyond, you will need to make sure your content is not only SEO friendly but also human-friendly as well.
Let me explain what I mean:
The Search Engine and Human-Friendly Content Blueprint
So you’ve decided to make content that Google will rank.
The next question is: how?
Although SEO is not an exact science, a lot of marketers have taken the guesswork out of the components that make up content that Google will rank.
I have summarized almost everything that has been researched about content into the graphic below:
Don’t worry if this seems like too much to swallow. I will break down each component for you so that you will know exactly what to do.
Let’s begin at the top:
(From here onwards I will be mentioning ‘keyword’ a lot. If you don’t know what keywords are yet, click here to jump a few sections down to read about it before going ahead.)
Headline: Include Keyword, Make it Interesting
I’m sure you’ve heard of the anecdote, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover.’
In the case of content, the ‘cover’ here refers in part to its headline. It’s the first thing people will see when they search for you on Google.
Especially when you have 9 other links on the same page competing with you for the same user’s attention, you only have seconds to grab your visitor’s attention quickly and make them want to click and look at your content.
As the saying goes, ‘You can only make a first impression once.’
So no matter what topic you are writing about, make sure you write an attention grabbing headline.
Here are some resources you can learn how to create great headlines:
30+ Ultimate Headline Formulas for Tweets, Posts, Articles and Emails
51 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Conversions
You can even use headline generators like these to come up with new ideas:
Portent Content Idea Generator
Finally, make sure to include your keyword into your headline. That will help improve your rankings on Google from a technical point of view.
Before we move on to the next component of the content blueprint (first paragraph), let’s look at another part of the headline that is important to consider: the topic.
Topic: Write about topics that people find practical
Although the topic is not technically only part of the headline, it is often the very place you begin building your article from.
Picking the right topic can make the difference between people reading your article from top to bottom and people ignoring your article.
More importantly, though, it can mean the difference between people seeing you as an authority, or only a news source.
By positioning yourself as an authority, you will be able to more successfully sell your products and services.
In this sense, if your goal is to sell products and services on your site, it is much better for you to position yourself as an authority rather than a news site.
The biggest difference between an authority site and a news site is this:
Content on an authority site is often practical whereas content on a news site is often entertaining and informative, but seldom practical.
Take a look at these two headlines. Can you guess which would fit on a news site and which would fit on an authority site?
A: ’10 Common Dog Breeds in Malaysia and Where They Come From’
B: ‘The Best Method for Removing Ticks from a Golden Retriever if You Live in Malaysia’
If you guessed B as the content authority site content and A as the news site content, you are right!
(If you guessed wrongly, it’s alright! Now you know ?)
In Article A, all the reader gets is information about the dog breeds and their origins whereas, in Article B, the reader gets practical information on how to solve a tick problem on their dog.
People who look for and read B-type content are more likely to be looking for solutions to existing problems whereas people who look for and read A-type content are looking for some quick entertainment.
If you were a website selling dog-related products or services, you are better off writing more B-type rather than A-type content.
Now your question might be:
How do I come up with practical topics?
The good news is that you can find them where people are talking about them.
Online, the easiest way is to check the Facebook groups and forums where your target customers are hanging out.
These are places where they are most likely going to talk about their problems to their peers.
Listen in on these conversations.
Going back to our Golden Retriever example, here’s a Facebook group I might join if I was interested to find out what Golden Retriever owners were talking about:
By paying close attention to your target customers, you will be able to come up with topics they are truly concerned about.
Other than Facebook groups and forums, community events or conferences are also great places to talk to your target customers.
Keyword research is another great way to come up with topic ideas. We will cover this in more detail a little later in the guide.
First paragraph: Explain the problem, give the solution
After your headline, your first paragraph is the most important part of your content.
It’s the very next thing they will be reading after they click on your link on Google.
They want to know:
Is this article going to help me solve my problems?
Is the solution they suggest really going to help me?
Is this something I already know?
What exactly will be discussed?
You need to address all of these concerns in the first 10 – 20 sentences of your article. Don’t wait until the very end of your article to reveal your solution.
Most of the time, your readers won’t have the patience to wait.
Instead, apply the Inverted Pyramid format for your content and begin your content with the most important part on top.
As you move down your article, discuss your solution in more detail with the most important part on top:
This way your readers won’t lose your readers by showing them boring, irrelevant content.
Content Body: Small paragraphs, easy to understand sentences, break up ideas into smaller headline, include images
If you have done a good job hooking your readers through the headline and first paragraph, your next mountain to conquer is the content body itself.
Here, some of the same rules apply:
Don’t bore your readers. Talk about what’s important first.
On top of that, you also need to format your content body in such a way that it makes it easy for your readers to keep reading.
By making your paragraphs 1 – 3 sentences long. If you haven’t received the memo yet, writing a paragraph in 2017 requires a whole new set of rules from the ones you learned in school.
One of the main reasons for this is because more and more people are using their mobile phones to read your content. What may appear as two lines on a laptop will appear as 4 – 5 lines on a mobile phone.
In fact, Statista predicts smartphone usage in Malaysia to continue going up from 19.9 million to 23.31 million users by 2022.
If you want to capture the attention of all these smartphone users, you better be ready to make changes to how you format your content.
To show you what I mean, consider these two paragraphs about Mars I extracted from Wikipedia. Which would you prefer reading?
If you are like most people, you will find ‘B’ easier to read than ‘A’. It’s the same content, except that I broke down the big chunk of words in ‘A’ into 3 smaller paragraphs in ‘B’.
Other than breaking your content body into small paragraphs, make sure to also write all your sentences in an easy to understand way.
Avoid jargons and keep your sentences simple enough for a primary five student to understand.
To help you with your sentences, consider using the Hemingway app.
It is an editor that will let you know when your sentences are too long or too difficult. This way you can always edit them to be shorter or easier to understand.
The next thing you want to do in your content body is break up your content body by using headlines every now and then.
The reason for this is because many readers tend to skim through content. By placing headlines in your content body, you can help them to have a broad idea of what your whole article is about.
As an added optimization, remember to include your keywords into the headlines.
Finally, try to include images and graphics every now and then so that your content will not be text-only. Most people would appreciate some images now and then.
You can convert data into charts and graphs and find relevant stock images to break up the text. You can get free, high-quality stock images from sites like Pixabay and Unsplash.
Don’t be stingy with words. Keep them between 800 – 3,000 words
In the same era when it was easy to rank your website on Google by keyword stuffing, it was also easy to do so by using 300 – 500word articles.
Nowadays though, unless you have a really good angle, it’s pretty difficult to get your sites ranked using 300 – 500word articles.
In fact, one research found that the average length of Top content on Google is a whopping 2,416 words!
But does that mean you need to create a 2,000+ word content for your website?
Though longer articles outperform shorter articles, you should not simply start churning out long articles for the sake of having long articles.
Obviously, if the question requires only a 1-2 sentence answer, it would be a waste of time to write an entire 2,000+ word article on it.
Instead, make sure to pick topics that require a longer explanation so that every sentence in your content adds to your visitor’s understanding of the topic.
Generally speaking, your articles should be between 800 – 3,000 words long.
Use Yoast SEO plugin for Keyword Optimization
Yoast’s SEO plugin is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress websites.
Although the paid version has full features, the free version is more than enough for most sites.
Use the Yoast SEO plugin to help you further optimize your content for SEO. Here’s how to use it:
- First, install the plugin on your site. Click here to check out a useful guide to help you install the Yoast plugin on your website:
- Then, configure the plugin and use it to optimize your content for the keywords you are targeting. Follow this guide to learn how to do so.
Although this can be a bit challenging technically for beginners, I would recommend that you go through both guides and learn how to use Yoast SEO for all your content.
Personally, I’ve seen a huge improvement on my site since I began using the Yoast SEO plugin.
URLs – Keep Them Short and Relevant
Take a look at the URL for this guide. If I had included all the words in the title it would have looked like this:
But instead, I shortened the URL to:
Although the URL length will not directly affect your SEO in a technical way, short URLs are easier to share than long URLs.
Other than that, place your keywords in your content URL as well. This will help people who find your article on Google to further understand what your article is about.
It’s a small detail, but it does make a difference 🙂
And that concludes the content blueprint.
What I have just explained to you in the content blueprint is part of something in SEO known as ‘on-site SEO’. As the name suggests, this is what you do on your website to improve your page rankings.
But on-site SEO is only half the equation to SEO. Especially if your website is new, you may not see a big improvement in your rankings if you only work on on-site SEO.
The other half of SEO is something called ‘off-site SEO’. This means things you do outside of your website to improve your rankings.
How do you do that?
Let’s take a look:
Off-site SEO: Building Credibility and Reputation
As I mentioned earlier, off-site SEO is about what you do outside of your website that helps your website rank on Google.
But what does this even mean? What can you do outside of your website to improve your Google rankings?
The short answer to that question is this:
You participate in activities that will help you build links back to your site. These include writing guest posts, fixing broken links, writing comments on other people’s blogs and so on.
To illustrate what I mean, take a look at the graphic below where I show you the difference between off-site and on-site SEO:
These links back to your site is what’s known in SEO as ‘backlinks’. To Google, each link represents a vote of trust for your site – if other sites are linking to your site, you must be someone they trust and your content must be good enough.
As such, the more people link back to your site, the more credible and authoritative it appears.
In general, the more backlinks the better.
But not all backlinks are created equal.
Some backlinks can help your website rankings more than others. We will go into more details about the different types of backlinks a little later in this guide. For now, let’s look at some common ways to build backlinks, starting with…
Guest Posting: Writing articles for other websites
Guest posting has been around for a long time.
The idea is simple:
You write a really good piece of content for another person’s website. This piece of content is tailored especially for the audience of the website you are guest posting on. In exchange for your content piece, you get to put a link back to your website on their website.
They get content. You get a backlink.
Simple enough right?
The only problem with this strategy is that many people are doing it the wrong way. Instead of being useful, they come across as spam instead. Because of that, fewer websites are willing to accept guest posts these days.
Don’t fret though. This doesn’t mean that guest posting is dead. If you do it the right way, you can still take advantage of this win-win strategy that has worked for millions of blogs around the world.
To get you started on the right way to do guest posting, take a look at this resource from Problogger:
Find and Pitch the Perfect Guest Posting Opportunities
ProBlogger’s guide is one of the most useful one published and it will teach you everything you need to know about how to get your first guest post.
Broken Link Building: Replacing broken links with your own
Another common link building strategy is known as broken link building.
The idea is this:
You find a website that links to a content piece in your niche that no longer exists. Since this link will lead visitors who click on it nowhere, this link is known as a broken link. You email the website owner your link to replace the broken link.
The website owners gets a broken link fixed. You get a backlink.
There’s nothing much else to it.
To get started with broken link building, check out this comprehensive guide by Moz:
The Broken Link Building Bible
When I first started Entrepreneur Campfire about four years ago, Facebook wasn’t as big as it is today.
There were even people who said that creating a Facebook page was not important, especially when it came to SEO.
Nowadays, that can’t be farther from the truth. These days, the likes and shares on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter count toward your Google rankings.
This means that on top of your ‘normal’ link building SEO strategy, you will need to include social media into your mix at some point.
Social media is no longer something even SEOs can ignore. I will be covering more about social media strategies in the future so do subscribe to Entrepreneur Campfire if you want to get updates on social media and other useful strategies for your business.
For now, check out this study about how social signals influence rankings by Cognitive SEO:
Do Social Signals Influence SEO? A 2016 Study on 23 million shares
Back to backlinks: How many types are there?
Before we conclude our conversation about off-site SEO, I thought I should touch on the different types of backlinks and why it is important for you to know how to differentiate between them.
The first types are the follow and no-follow backlinks.
What’s the difference?
Follow links are backlinks that count towards your ranking on Google and no-follow links are backlinks that Google don’t count towards your rankings.
The more follow links you have, the higher you will rank.
This does not mean no follow links are useless, however.
Although no-follow links don’t contribute to your rankings, they can still be useful to promote your brand to a whole new audience and even get long-term traffic from a popular website.
The second types are links from high authority websites and low authority websites.
A high authority website is a website that many people are already linking to. These are websites like Wikipedia and educational websites with a .edu extension.
Low authority websites, on the other hand, are websites that not many people are linking to. These are websites like personal blogs of people who are not famous or other corporate sites that do not have much useful content that people will want to link to.
Generally speaking, getting one link from a high authority website will help you in your rankings on Google much more than getting 100 links from low authority websites.
Think about it this way:
Getting a link from a high authority website is like getting an endorsement from a company like Microsoft or Apple whereas getting a link from a low authority website is like getting an endorsement from your friend.
The former will have much more weight in a job application than the latter.
Getting more follow links from high authority websites will help you rank higher in Google than getting a lot of links from low authority websites.
And that’s how you can use some common outreach strategies to build backlinks to your site.
Now, let’s look at another important part of SEO: keyword research.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use keyword research as part of your topic research. So, what are keywords and how can you make them useful for your SEO strategy?
Let’s find out:
How to Do Keyword Research
What are keywords and why are they important?
Keywords are one of the most commonly mentioned terms when people talk about SEO.
But, what are they?
Although keywords may sound like a technical term, they are simply the words people use when they are searching for something.
For instance, if I am looking for a good recipe for a chocolate cake, I might type this into Google:
The words I type into Google, ‘best chocolate cake recipe’, are the keywords that I use in my search query.
If you are running a website selling chocolate cake or its ingredients, information about these particular keywords might interest you.
You might ask:
How many people are looking for these keywords every month?
How many other websites have written about this and are those websites authoritative?
What other related keywords do people look for?
Knowing the answers to the questions above will help you decide whether or not to produce content on the particular topic.
Finding Keywords in Your Niche
Now your next question might be: What if I don’t know keywords in my niche? Where do I even begin?
The best way to begin is with some brainstorming. Ask yourself:
What are some common words people in your niche use?
(For example, if you are running a fitness center, your typical customer will use words like, ‘lose 10kg’, ‘workout routine’ etc)
What are problems your customers face?
(Again, in the fitness niche, your typical customers may have problems with ‘lose stubborn fats’, ‘daily meal plans’ etc)
And so on.
Brainstorming taps on your own experience. The more experience you have, the more accurate the keywords you can come up with. Though you won’t come up with completely accurate keywords, it is a good place to start.
Keep track of all the keywords you come up with in an excel sheet or a notepad.
But don’t stop there.
Continue looking for more keyword ideas by researching and reading the conversations your potential customers are having in Facebook groups, forums like Lowyat.net and Q&A sites like Quora.
By the time you are done with researching and reading, you would have added more keywords to your list.
Your complete list will give you an idea of what kinds of words and phrases your customers are likely to use when looking for products and services in your niche.
More importantly, you can use them as ‘seed keywords’ to find more specific keywords.
Find More Specific Keywords with These Techniques
Now that you have a list of keywords, let’s look for more specific keywords.
More specific keywords will give you a much better idea of the exact words and phrases that people are using to look for products and services in your niche online.
The closer you can match your topics to the exact words people are using online, the better you will be able to help them with their problems and convert them into your customers.
Let’s take a look at some of my favorite ways of finding more specific keywords.
UberSuggest is a tool that helps you find keywords related to a particular keyword.
It’s easy to use. You just have to go to UberSuggest.io and key in your keyword. Click on ‘Suggest’ and let UberSuggest do its magic.
When I key in the keywords ‘healthy food plan’ for example, UberSuggest comes up with over 200 related keywords:
These include keywords like ‘healthy food plan to lose weight fast’, ‘healthy food plan for pregnancy’ and so on:
Choose the keywords you think are most relevant to your business and add them to your list.
Other than UberSuggest, Google’s autocomplete queries is also a great place to look for more specific keywords.
Autocomplete is simply the suggested queries that appear when you type anything into Google. They represent popular queries that are searched that are related to your keyword.
Like when I type ‘healthy food plan’ into Google, Google autocomplete shows me other queries like ‘healthy food planner’, ‘healthy food plano’, ‘healthy food plan delivery’:
‘Searches related to’
Lastly, another good place to look is at the bottom part of the Google search results page under ‘Searches related to’:
Like Google autocomplete, these keywords represent popular keywords that people are searching for that is relevant to what you have searched for.
Again, choose the keywords that you think are most relevant to your business and add them to your list.
And that’s it. By using these three techniques you would most likely end up with at least 20 – 30 or even hundreds of new keywords to add to your list.
Now that you have a list of keywords, you need to do this one important thing first before you jump into creating content for all your keywords: Keyword Popularity and Competition Analysis.
Let’s take a look at how you can do that.
Keyword Popularity and Competition Analysis
By now you might have anywhere between 50 to a few hundred keywords. Some keywords will be more useful to you than others. But how will you know?
That’s where keyword popularity and competition analysis comes in. As the name suggests, in this process we will be analyzing a keyword for two things:
How popular is it? That is, how many people look for it every month?
How competitive is it? That is, how many other sites have covered the topic so far? How authoritative are those sites?
The more popular a keyword, the more traffic you can expect from creating content from it.
However, if a popular keyword is also highly competitive you will need to spend a lot more time and money to rank for that keyword.
Ideally, you would want to create content for keywords that are both popular and not too competitive.
This way you can get the best of both worlds:
More traffic and lower costs of trying to rank for it.
Now, let’s look at how we can find out how popular or competitive a keyword is.
To do this, you need to first sign up for a free tool called the Google Keyword Planner (GKP).
If you don’t have an account for GKP yet, follow the instructions below to sign up. Feel free to skip ahead if you already have an account.
Signing up for Google Keyword Planner (GKP)
Before you can use GKP tool you need to sign up for an AdWords account.
Below are steps you can follow to set up your AdWords account:
- Before you can sign up for AdWords, you need to first have a Google account. If you don’t already have a Google account click here to register one.
- To sign up for an AdWords account, click here.
- To use AdWords without starting a campaign, make sure to click on ‘Skip the guided setup’ link so you can go straight into AdWords without setting up a campaign.
4. Once you’re inside, head over to ‘Tools’ and look for ‘Keyword Planner’
And that is how you set up AdWords and access the Keyword Planner inside. Once you are inside Keyword Planner, you will see a page like this:
Now that you are inside GKP, let’s look at how you can analyze your keywords for popularity.
How Popular is Your Keyword?
A keyword’s popularity can be measured by something called ‘search volume’.
Search volume simply refers to the number of times a keyword has been searched for in Google.
To find out how popular a keyword is, click on ‘Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category’ in GKP. Write down the keyword you want to analyze and click on submit:
Under the search volume column, you will see an estimate of the keyword’s search volume.
As you can see, ‘flowers’ is quite a popular keyword worldwide, having an estimated search volume of between 1M – 10M.
Generally speaking, the higher the volume, the more popular a keyword. Personally, I would focus on creating content for keywords that are at least in the 100 – 1k range.
However, I’ve also had success with targeting keywords with less search volume. It really depends on how you structure and angle your content.
For now though, try to focus on more popular keywords.
Other than popularity, the next time we have to look at is competitiveness. Let’s find out how we can do that.
How Competitive is Your Keyword?
On the same page right next to the search volume you will see a column with the title ‘competition’.
Here GKP will tell you if a keyword is ‘Low’, ‘Medium’ or ‘High’ competition:
Generally speaking, you would want to target keywords that are in the low – medium competition range.
High competition keywords can make your job much harder than it needs to be. High competition keywords are usually dominated by big brand names already so it would be much harder to beat them.
By doing a popularity and competition analysis of your keywords, you will be able to narrow down your full list of keywords to a list that has at least 100 – 1k search volume and low – medium competition.
Before we move on to the next section though, I’d want to leave a disclaimer about GKP here:
GKP is at best a good tool to help you get a rough estimate of the popularity and competition for a keyword. There are many other, more accurate ways to do a popularity and competition analysis for a keyword. I will cover these in another post. So make
There are many other, more accurate ways to do a popularity and competition analysis for a keyword which I will cover these in another post. So make sure to subscribe for updates at the end of this post if you want to find out.
For beginners though, GKP is a great free tool you can use to help you with your basic keyword analysis needs.
Putting it All Together: Your SEO Game Plan
You are finally a few steps away from completing this guide. If you’ve made this far, give yourself a pat on the back.
If you have taken the time to check out the tools, links, and strategies I have explained so far, you are already one step closer to being able to see the impact of SEO on your website.
But we are not done yet.
Everything you have learned so far was useful. But it is not nearly as useful as this one ‘soft’ skill that I hope you will keep in mind on your SEO journey.
That one skill is having the right mindset.
Cliche, I know. But it’s true.
You see, I knew about SEO since the day I started blogging in 2011. But I told myself, ‘Too technical. I don’t think I’ll ever be good at it.’
I had this limiting belief until last year when I finally told myself:
Hey, I’ve got a little time. Why don’t I give SEO my best shot?
I didn’t have much to lose.
In less than 1 year, I turned 100 visitors a month into 10,000. No big deal to most SEOs, but to me, it was a big deal. I had never seen 10,000 visitors a month before.
Now, at the time of writing, over 16,000 people read Entrepreneur Campfire every month.
Same skills, different mindset.
Other than mindset, the other ‘soft’ skill you need in order to see results from your SEO efforts is this:
I’m going to be frank with you:
SEO is probably not going to help you if you are only going to create one piece of content and never update your website again.
To see results from your SEO efforts, you need to be ready to put in effort into creating content on a consistent basis.
Although this does not mean you need to create new content and update your blog daily, you must at least not allow your blog to be updated only once or twice a year.
So how often should you update your blog?
There is no gold standard for how often you should update your blog. It really depends on many factors like your niche and competition.
To help you decide how often you should update, check out this resource from Neil Patel:
5 Simple Steps That Will Help You Determine How Often You Need to Blog
Once you have determined how often you need to blog, the next thing you should do is to have a content plan in place.
What’s a Content Plan?
A content plan is what it is: a plan for your content. You use it to decide:
What are you going to write about (topics)?
How often will you be writing?
What will you be publishing about this week, next week and so on?
What I like doing is organize my content plan on Google sheets. My content plan template looks something like this:
click to enlarge
You can use any template you want, as long as it helps you to organize your content based on your publishing schedule.
Now, the Bad News: SEO isn’t Everything
Although I’ve spent the last 6,000+ words explaining how SEO works, I’m not gonna lie:
Nowadays, SEO isn’t everything.
SEO is a great strategy for getting organic traffic, but there is a few instance whereby it will not be useful:
#1: When you don’t know how you are going to make money from the traffic
Even if you get a lot of traffic to your site, if you haven’t decided how you are going to make money from them, you may be unnecessarily wasting your time.
As you are gradually build up your website, you have to decide on the important question:
How will I make money from the traffic?
The earlier you can make a decision on this, the faster you can convert casual visitors into loyal customers.
If you have trouble deciding how to make money from your traffic, check out two of my articles about how online businesses in Malaysia make money:
5 Ways to Start an Online Business in Malaysia in 2017
15 Popular Online Businesses in Malaysia and How They Make Money
The first article gives you an idea of the five common ways websites make money in Malaysia and the second article is a collection of real life examples of websites in different industries making money online.
#2: When you see SEO as a short-term strategy
SEO is a long-term game.
You won’t see results until months after you start improving your SEO.
If you need results immediately, it would be much better to use paid advertising channels like Facebook advertising and Google AdWords.
There are pros and cons to each method, but personally, I prefer mixing SEO with paid advertising channels.
SEO doesn’t need to be hard or technical. If you understand the basics of SEO it can be simple to get your site to rank on Google.
You have learned just enough about SEO to help you get started on your SEO journey. But the journey doesn’t stop here.
To see results from SEO, you will need to be ready to take a lot of action and be consistent. You won’t see results unless you invest in SEO for the long term.
Even if you decide to hire someone else to take care of your SEO for you, knowing about SEO will still give you an advantage over business owners who choose to remain ignorant the details of SEO.
Although this is only the beginning of your SEO journey, I believe this will help build the base for you to continue building your site SEO traffic.
If you have any questions about SEO, feel free to send me a message here or comment below.
Lu Wee, thank you for such a great post. I took quite some time to read through this article. This is really a useful and resourceful sharing. Keep up the good work!
Btw, there are some duplicate entry/repeated sentences in this post.
Glad to know you found it useful. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll get it checked =)
– Lu Wee
Hi Lu Wee,
This is a brilliant SEO guide.
It’s rare to see such a well thought out SEO guide in Malaysia!
Thanks for the compliment. Hope you’ve found it useful!