By Killian Kostiha | For every business, from the start-ups to the larger groups, a proper SEO strategy is a must have. Taking into consideration that it can lead a certain number of visits for free, because you don’t have to pay for each click, in comparison to PPC (Pay Per Click) campaigns in Google Adwords, SEO has an interesting ROI.

While having a SEO consultant in your team can help you to save time, to benefit from an expertise and to go deeper within your strategy, there are few tricks that could help you to set-up the basics that will help your pages to surface for the queries that you target, for free.

Follow the performances using Google Search Console

What is Google Search Console?
The first step to implement the SEO basics, is to use Google Search Console in order to get various insights about the way Google scan and rank your website.

That tool is quite handy since you will be able to have access to several dashboards that will help you to better understand what’s going on with your website:

  • Search Analytics: Keywords that are leading traffic to your website.
  • Crawl Errors: Monitor errors like the 404
  • Links to Your Site: Websites that are linking your pages.

Google Search Console offers over 20 dashboards and covers the three areas every business should look after when it comes to SEO: technical, content and external links.

How to set-up Google Search Console?
To use it, just connect the tool (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/) and “add a property”, which is most likely your domain name such as https://www.yoursite.com/.

Then, there is a need to verify the ownership and several methods are available.

The common practice is to upload the HTML file at the root of the server and to click “verify”.

That’s it! Google Search Console is now set-up but note that:

  • It might take few days to get the data for the reports available.
  • If you use the HTML file method, make sure the file remains overtime in the server.
  • Baidu, Yandex and Bing also provide similar free tools.
  • If you need to follow certain sections of your website, you can then create new reports for your sub-folders. For instance, if you have a multilingual website, you can validate https://www.yoursite.com/sc/ so that you will have dedicated data for that particular section.

Find keyword opportunities

As you know, SEO is mainly about keywords: users are searching information in Google, then you will need to highlight the relevant terms in regards to your own niche that could help you to get more visibility.

However, different keywords have different monthly search volumes and it is a key step to highlight the ones that will most likely bring you more traffic to increase your audience.

The question is, how to find keyword opportunities?

Use Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a tool that allows you to know the monthly search volume, the competition, and the average bid in Google Adwords for a given keyword.

To access this data, just connect the tool (https://adwords.google.com/home/tools/keyword-planner/), type a keyword that is related to your industry and get the data.

For instance, if you are a florist in Hong Kong, the following terms might be relevant:

While Google Keyword Planner is free, note that:

  • The tool now gives “estimation” for the monthly searches and you will need to run a PPC campaign to unlock the data.
  • Other tools like Keywordplanner.io also provide that kind of data but it is mandatory to subscribe to a monthly plan.
  • While the detailed statistics are not available if you don’t run a campaign, that tool can help you to prioritize the keywords you want to target as well as to give you more idea about the semantic field of your industry so that you can create new pages to target new queries, and therefore, benefit from more pages to increase your organic traffic.

Moreover, Google Keyword Planner still allows you to use geo-targeting features in order to understand what are the key terms for a specific country or city.


Add keywords directly in the content of your pages
Now that you have identified the keywords that are relevant for your business, there is a need to implement them into the content so that Google will be able to understand the topic of your page and therefore, rank it for the targeted keywords.

Moz.com released a handy infographic that shows how to have SEO-friendly pages:


Title tag
This is the title that pops-up in Google and there are several rules that should be respected:

  • Unique: No duplications among the pages.
  • Keyword oriented: Use terms searched by users.
  • CTR oriented: Attractive and describing the page.
  • Short: Around 60 characters not to have it cropped.

For instance, the title tag above targets the right keywords but is too long so Google crops it which prevent the users to read it fully.Most of the CMS in the market allow you to amend that tag.

Meta Description
This is the description that pops-up in Google and there are several rules that should be respected:

  • Unique: No duplications among the pages.
  • Keyword oriented: The search term will be bolded.
  • CTR oriented: Attractive and describing the page.
  • Short: Around 300 characters not to have it cropped.

For instance, while the meta description for our SEO agency could include up to 300 characters, it describes our services and it’s catchy enough to get more visibility.

Most of the CMS in the market allow you to amend that tag.

URL
URLS can also help to improve the semantic field by using keywords, such as, https://www.yoursite.com/rose-bouquets/.

Here also, there are several rules that should be respected:

  • Being readable to make it easy for internet users.
  • Keyword oriented to help search engines to understand the content of the page.
  • Follow the site’s structure.
  • Avoid spaces, special characters and use hyphens to separate the words.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing

Most of the CMS in the market allow you to amend the URLS.

Headings
Headings aim at structuring the content, such as a book with a title (H1), paragraphs (H2) sub-paragraphs (H3). They have a strong impact and should follow certain rules:

  • Unique:
    • No duplications among the pages
    • No duplications with the title tags (over-optimization)
  • Implementation: In the content itself, not in the header, footer and/or sidebar
  • Keyword oriented: Use terms searched by users.
  • Structure: Tags must have a logical structure with a single H1 per page, followed by H2, H3, up to H6 according to the length of the page.


Most of the CMS in the market allow you to amend the headings in terms of wording but you might need the help of your IT team to do the necessary changes in the code to have a structured heading plan.

Images
Optimising the images has two assets:

  • Improve the keyword targeting strategy since tags are scanned by search engines.
  • Improve the rankings in Google Search and in Google Images.

SEO-friendly images should:

  • Have a ALT Tag (alternative text) which targets keywords, describe the image and should be unique.
  • Have a caption (if it’s compliant with the layout of the pages), which targets synonyms, describe the image and should be unique.

Track the rankings
Now that that you have identify the right keywords for each page you want to improve the rankings for and that you have enhance the keyword targeting, they should better perform in Google’s search results.

While there are different solutions to follow the rankings using paid tools like AWR Cloud, Google Search Console can also help (for free) through the Search Analytics report.

As you can see, that reports will list the keyword your website ranks for and provides data about the number of clicks per keyword, the impression, the CTR and the rankings.

However, Google Search Console will list the first 1000 ranked terms and does not allow you to add keywords that you would like to target but where you’re not ranked yet. In order to do that, you might want to use a paid tool to be able to get more detailed statistics.

About The Author

Killian Kostiha started to work on SEO in 2008, in France. He has more than 10 years experience in digital marketing and has worked in various countries (France, Spain, Bulgaria, Hong Kong).

He works in Hong Kong since 2014 and was SEO manager in iProspect Hong Kong (digital marketing agency) and Lane Crawford before starting in own agency, Get Clicks, where he offers customised SEO and content marketing solutions for SMB, start-ups and larger groups in France and in Hong Kong.”