What is SEO (or Search Engine Optimization)? SEO is simply the improvement of your blog or website to help it appear more often and more visibly in Google and other organic search engine results. For instance, it is because of SEO that Little Blue Deer always appears in the top 3 results when someone searches “custom blog design.”
Do you offer SEO services? No. Search Engine Optimization is a specialized service unrelated to website and blog design. In fact, contrary to popular belief, most SEO is actually not done on the blog or website at all, but through backlinking. What is backlinking? Backlinking is, in short, a link that is directed to your website or blog. Google gives more credit to a blog or website with a number of quality backlinks, and therefore it ranks higher in search results. You can think of it like this. Quality backlinks tell Google that many people are interested in your blog or website, and therefore, of course they are more likely to direct users your way. It’s sort of like going to a restaurant with a long line out the door vs. an empty one. Of course you’re going to want to eat at the busy one, a long line says “We’re worth it!”. Same with backlinking. Backlinks are key.
Since you do not offer SEO, do you offer any referrals? Yes. These have not all been tried and tested by me, and results are in no way guaranteed. However, here is a list of some known providers of SEO services:
I have physically spoken to and considered using both Generation Web and Fluid SEO. Both are U.S.-based companies with very solid customer service. You can most likely expect to pay upwards of $700 per month for SEO services. If you contact them, it will most likely be a very pleasant chat without a high-pressure sales pitch, if you want to make an investment, these are probably both worth looking into. 180 Fusion is a very popular national SEO firm, I am unsure of their pricing structure however, they have a very strong web presence. Their reviews here are mostly positive, feel free to check for yourself. If you want the reassurance of large, national company this is probably an excellent choice.
Finally, because I have some basic understanding of SEO, I have generally outsourced my own backlinking over the years through sites like Odesk and Upwork. I am currently working with a contractor at Fiverr.com. He is extremely knowledgeable and no-frills, so once again, if you are looking for more of a hand-holding experience, I strongly recommend that you look into one of the larger firms. If you are interested in a backlinking package, where backlinks are added off-site, with no reporting, I can assist you in coordinating this (for a small additional fee) as a monthly package starting at $300 per month. You will need up to 5 keywords you want to rank for to use this package.
SEO services are not inexpensive. You can reasonably expect to pay well upwards of $300 per month for white hat, or legal, trackable results. SEO is fiercely competitive and you simply can’t cut corners.
What if am not able to afford a professional SEO service. What can I do on my own to improve my SEO rankings? There are many options for DIY SEO available to site owners and bloggers. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Pinterest. Everyone loves pinning. I get half of all my site traffic from being active on Pinterest. What does this mean? First of all, I ensure that my domain is Pinterest-verified, and I have enabled Rich Pins on my site (see my tutorial on how to do this here). Little Blue Deer offers a Pin It button as an add-on to custom blog or site design, so that users can easily pin your images onto Pinterest. The more your images are circulated and repinned, the more traffic is driven to your site. Also, simply having an active Pinterest profile, pinning a lot, following and liking a lot and joining Pinterest group boards is great for SEO, even if you’re not pinning your own pins.
- Incorporate a blog. If you only have a blog, not a full website, great! Google loves blogs because the content is updated frequently (fresh content is key). If you have a website, consider adding in a blog page to the site. Then, use it! If you are a Boston-based interior designer, post about New England design trends, or use the blog to highlight your own recent projects. You can incorporate keywords (eg. “Boston interior designer”) into your blog posts. Additionally, once you publish a blog post, share it on places like digg.com, stumbleupon.com and reddit.com. Also be sure to share to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.
- Make a video. Google also loves YouTube. It doesn’t have to be flawless, but creating a YouTube channel and posting videos, then linking to your blog or website is excellent for SEO.
- If you have a physical address, be sure to set up your Google+ page for business, using your address. This is a great step by step guide that shows you how to add your business to Google listings.
- Claim your blog on Bloglovin. If you have a blog, make sure you claim it on Bloglovin.
- Make sure that the pages on your website or blog have plenty of content. Huge photos are gorgeous but a few paragraphs of introductory text clearly stating what you do speaks volumes to search engines. Meta tags are old-school. Descriptive, on-page content is extremely important.
- Use alt tags for blog images. While alt tags are fairly outdated, it doesn’t hurt to add them.
- Try Facebook or Instagram ads. Facebook and Instagram ads are inexpensive ($5 or so per day) and you can carefully craft the audience that views them. You will need to have a Facebook business page set up for your business first.
- Know your keywords. To do any kind of SEO, you need to have some keywords in mind. Keywords are what a reasonable person might use to search your blog or website. For example, some of my top keywords are “custom blog design,” “blog design,” and “blog designer.” These keywords are fairly broad but I have been in business for 8 years and am well-established so my site is naturally fairly competitive. Establishing a set of keywords and utilizing them in your site content and blog posts is smart for SEO.
- Use 450 words or more in blog posts. Break up your content with photos or quotes (no one wants to read a blog that is a novel), but content-rich posts are excellent for SEO.
- Create a Google Analytics account or use Jetpack Site Stats to monitor your blog or site. See which posts perform the best, and try to create similar posts in the future.
- Do it the old fashioned way. Any “Get page one ranking in one month” claim is a scam. I have spent years building my site up. When I first started blogging in 2009, I literally went to 75 blogs a day and left comments on them. Blogging is reciprocal, so for a blog, the best way to get seen is to visit other blogs. Leave a friendly comment (NOT “come visit my site”) and establish relationships.
Be realistic. Back to the restaurant analogy. A long-established business is generally more reassuring to patrons and more consistently popular than a brand-new one. Google knows how long your domain has been registered and your SEO results display accordingly. You simply cannot start a brand-new blog or site with a brand-new domain, and expect to have it come up first (or even necessarily on the first or second page) of Google search results. Not possible. Have patience, and follow the steps above, and your ranking will rise in no time!
A blog or website designed by Little Blue Deer will be search engine optimized by default, meaning that we use WordPress and the Genesis theme which includes the latest in light, clean code. It will also be mobile-optimized which is extremely important in SEO. However, as stated above Little Blue Deer is not an SEO firm nor do we provide SEO services. The links above are only references and my own personal experience, and we are not in any way responsible for any loss in page ranking due to use of any above-listed vendor.