This week, Michael MacMillan, of SEO Brunch, hosted our October #Info4Impact with over 20 of our members. Michael is an independent SEO consultant who has been working in SEO roles since 2009 and his passion for this topic is unmatched. After an hour of useful tips, tricks and knowledge sharing, we just couldn’t resist sharing what we learned.

To Michael, SEO is like a garden – in order to make it grow, you need to put in a lot of upfront elbow grease. Building the garden beds, preparing the soil and planting your seeds all take time, but once all that work is done you can’t just walk away. SEO takes a lot of work to get going, but like a garden, once you’ve got your bed planted it still takes maintenance and continuous care.

Let’s start with the most important thing – what is SEO? Search engine optimization is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. There are four major SEO signals that come into play:

  1. Authority – having a trusted website
  2. Relevancy – how the website relates to the intent of the search
  3. Popularity – social media pages, number of links and amount of search results
  4. Technical – website page speed and security

Now you know what SEO is, where do you start? Michael shared with us a couple of key things you can do to kick-start your SEO garden.

  1. Google my Business – fast, free and simple! Google my Business can help customers find your physical location, increase your search visibility and act as another communication channel for your customers.
  2. Keywords – add your keyword as close to the front as possible in your title. Keywords in your description will not influence Google’s algorithm, but they will be bolded, which can draw the eye and improve your click-through rate.
  3. Optimizing Content – when it comes to optimizing content, write for engagement and when possible include your keyword within the title or first paragraph. Note, this is not a hard & fast rule, customer engagement is still king and should be thought of first before stressing about your keywords.
  4. Backlinks – linking back to other non-competing (but relevant) businesses provides you with an opportunity for cross-promotion. If you’re linking to another company in your article or on your website, reach out to them and let them know – they may want to help promote your content, which will then increase your SEO signals.

Top 5 Free tools to support and maintain your SEO efforts:

  1. Keywords Everywhere – once you download this tool you’ll be able to say so long to all the time you’ve spent researching keywords manually. This Chrome plugin allows you to get the search volume for any keyword by going directly to Google and just typing it in! Armed with this information, you will know what phrases you need to use to get the most traffic.
  2. Screaming Frog – this free tool can be used to review your website and identify issues that could diminish your performance in search results, such as missing titles and descriptions.
  3. Answer the Public – this source helps you discover what questions are being asked and is essentially an automated autocomplete tool. If you know the questions being asked, you can generate more ideas and stronger content.
  4. Moz.com – is an excellent beginners guide to SEO, with a forum full of great knowledge!
  5. Google tools – Google Search Console and Google Analytics are great go-to tools to use, we highly recommend spending some time and getting to know them.

Want to know more about building and growing your SEO garden? Check out SEO Brunch!

Now, we’re off to find out about building those garden beds…