The toughest part on your way to mastering any skill is always making the very first step. SEO is no exception to the rule, and there’s no better way of getting reliable beginner advice than looking up to some of the top SEO experts and firms on the market.
A couple of weeks ago, we asked 19 notable persons about their best advice for anyone who’s just starting out with online business and wants to use SEO as a way to drive traffic to their website.
Here’s what they had to say (responses listed in the order they were received):
#1. James Agate – SkyrocketSEO
To anyone just getting started with a website who wants to break into their market with some decent search engine visibility, I would recommend in the first instance looking to your customers and devising 1-2 pieces of solid, authority content which you can use as part of your sales process as well as for attracting prospective customers via social media and in terms of SEO it can be leveraged for links (to obviously help boost your rankings).
The key thing with the content is to ensure it is a platform for developing your thought leadership because this can earn you links passively, it can be used in proactive outreach to secure more links and finally it can lead to incredibly valuable links as you get invited to contribute to other websites as a guest author perhaps.
To be honest with you, every situation warrants a slightly different strategy so it is always best to seek the advice of a credible professional if you are at all unsure about your direction.
#2. Gareth Hoyle – Manual Link Building
With an annual growth rate of over 100% from the last 3 years, MLB are constantly changing the product offering to suit what is working on Google right now.
Combining this link building knowledge with the intelligence that LinkRisk offers and you have a link building company capable of making intelligent and data driven decisions.
Our advice to new website owners – don’t be greedy – take your time and create a brand around your offering – Better to slowly grow than yo-yo in and out of the SERPs due to overly aggressive link building – If all you are doing is chasing the algorithm, you will slip up eventually! –
#3. Bill Hazelton – Spirecast.com
One of the key things to remember about the new paradigm in SEO is that links have to be earned not built. Earned links or earned media really doesn’t fit into the old content churning model that we’ve seen in the past. Your content assets really have to be the centerpiece of your SEO strategy, not an afterthought. The reality is that top shelf content that’s going to earn links requires an investment and a level of commitment that most online businesses are simply not willing to make. So, content really needs to be approached as a critical investment in your brand rather than a simple line item expense.
#4. Yasir Khan – Quantum SEO Labs
Quantum SEO Labs specializes in implementing natural methods that leaves Google search rewards out of the equation but focuses on rewarding readers instead to earn quality backlinks. This has helped us improve our industry leading clients business and established us as a trustworthy provider of top quality SEO services.
My advice to anyone looking forward to SEO as a means to drive traffic to your website is to not be too obsessed on what algorithm changes are rolling out but to focus on quality at all times. This way, you’re guaranteed to benefit from any updates to Google search algorithms.
#5. Kelvin Gibbons – BlueGlass Interactive
We specialise in search and content marketing, working with clients such as Disney, eBay, Wonga, Vistaprint, UCAS and Conde Nast.
Our team has huge experience in managing digital marketing campaigns and has an integrated mix of skills to manage full-service online marketing campaigns.
Never stop learning. Attend events, build relationships with people in the industry so that you can have a network of trusted contacts. Keep reading on latest trends, but most importantly put it into action. Being ahead of the curve is hugely important, but reading is only half of it – you need to be out there doing it and putting these ideas into practice to learn what it really means!
#6. Brian Dean – Backlinko
I only do a bit of consulting through the site, so the best success story would be the blog itself. In 9-months it’s gone from zero to 18,000 visitors per month in a very competitive industry.
The piece of expert advice I’d give someone just starting out is spend less time reading articles and more time studying the Google results. Most articles are people’s opinions on SEO and what works. While there’s a place for that, nothing beats evidence from the real world. So use a tool like ahrefs or Majestic SEO to see what links are actually working…and then do your best to get the same links.
#7. Kristi Hines – Kikolani
If you’re just starting out a new website, don’t get tempted to buy into cheap SEO services. If someone’s offering 100 backlinks for $5, then they’re more than likely going to get you spammy links that you will pay dearly for in the long run. Your best bet is to educate yourself on quality strategies or wait until you can afford someone who really knows what they are doing.
#8. Pratik Dholakiya – E2M Solutions
E2M Solutions is India’s fastest growing premier digital marketing agency, driven by innovation and inspired by results. We believe in the power of change-we help brands change for the better, by taking advantage of the limitless opportunities that keep presenting themselves in the revolutionary world that is digital. We started our operations back in September, 2012 and within the period of one year we now have 55+ active customers with excellent success stories. We helped (and are helping) our clients succeed by helping them recover from any Google penalties they had and implementing ethical & standard SEO/Link building as well as content marketing strategies.
We believe that if you’re starting a business, you must have passion as well as willingness to accept the challenges in this ever changing industry. You never know which strategy would work today and would not tomorrow. So keep on working hard and make yourself available for the challenges ahead.
# 9. Zac Johnson – ZacJohnson.com
The world of internet marketing, blogging and PPC have a lot to offer. For anyone who is just starting out I would recommend they focus on their niche audience using long tail keywords or start a business around your name and identity. This will allow you to always have a well branded name for yourself and your business.
These are the same principles I’ve been focusing on for the past 17 years. At first I was an affiliate marketer, site creator and even focused on some PPC marketing. Now I’ve been able to take everything I’ve learned and experienced over the years and build them into a powerful brand of my own.
#10. Neil Patel – QuickSprout
By writing such great content for your ideal customers, you will end up building a loyal audience of people who will follow what you have to say and spread the word about your company.
Content marketing is one of the most effective and affordable strategies. No matter what type of company you are or your skill level when it comes to writing, you can leverage content marketing. A good example of this is how we achieved great results at KISSmetrics through infographics (See why content is the new SEO )
Just make sure you give it some time as it can easily take 6 months to a year for you to start seeing good results. But trust me, the investment is well worth it.
#11. Mike Ramsey – Nifty Marketing
The most important thing you could possibly do is develop a passion for the industry. That will be your fuel for the late night studies and tests that you run that will make you extremely valuable to your company. I don’t think this is a job where you can be successful and make a name for yourself with bare minimum effort. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.”
Mike Ramsey is the founder and President of popular Local SEO firm Nifty Marketing, based in Idaho. Nifty Marketing specializes in local Search Optimization for small and large businesses.You can circle Mike on Google+.
#12. Simon Penson – Zazzle Media
Digital marketing is in a really exciting place right now. It means that there is an opportunity for newcomers to really make a mark in the industry quickly by being smart and understanding how change will affect the strategies and tactics being used going forwards. Change equates to opportunity and by taking a more holistic, integrated approach to all parts of the digital marketing mix you can maximize returns and make a real name for yourself quickly!.
To do that think about how search, social and influencer marketing channels can be tuned most effectively to deliver targeted audience for the brand you are working on and use data to lead any decision making process. Back it up with a powerful, data led CRM strategy too, that keeps you in touch with every new visitor and invest heavily in amazing content.
#13: David Leonhardt – The Happy Guy Marketing
Create a website that impresses people. Not flashy (unless you are selling bling), but one that looks authoritative in its field – design, content and functionality. Make sure pages are all crawlable.
Think like a customer. That is the foundation of “keyword research”. Make sure to use on your pages the words your customers will use when looking for your services or when seeking a solution to a problem that your product will solve. Then write a page for each set of words they would search with – make sure that the page answers the questions or needs that brought them there (or, more specifically, helps them find the answers in your product).
The search engines are looking for stuff that people like. They want to send people to pages that are proven people-pleasers; that is their business model. So you need to do a LOT of networking through social media, across the blogosphere and with others in your sector who do not compete directly with you. The more the search engines see your website mentioned, the more impressed they will be.
Stay away from anything contrived. The more contrived, the worse it is. Yes, get your friends to share your content. Yes build up a following in social media. But anything that sounds like a “scheme” is extraordinarily dangerous, unless you know what you are doing (in which case, it is just ordinarily dangerous).
#14 Gail Gardner – GrowMap.com
First you have to understand the basics. Figure out who your target audience is and how they search for you. That is part of keyword research. Use the tips in my posts about choosing keywords and using them in your writing.
The best resources I’ve found for knowing which SEOs are most respected and also for SEO resources is the Quora page at http://www.quora.com/Whats-the-best-course-training-book-or-resource-on-SEO
Local SEO is very important, so be sure to read David Mihm’s blog and Michael Blumenthal’s Understanding Google Places and Local Search blog. There is also a very useful Google Places for Business Category Tool.
Threadwatch.org is a good place to get SEOs to discuss topics with you. Read Dr. Pete’s Top 1 SEO Tips for 2013. Contact me if you’d like access to a Trello board I created. I organize and save all the best tools, solutions and tips I find there.
Gail Gardner from GrowMap.com is not an SEO, but works with top SEOs and mentors bloggers and small businesses in writing with SEO in mind. You can find her everywhere under her username “growmap” including Skype which is the best way to reach Gail.
#15 Ron Cripps – MarketingTilt
For those starting a website in 2013 and beyond I would suggest you use WordPress with a theme that is mobile responsive, Why? this type of site is viewable in traditional web browsers and mobile devices without the need of additional coding or a completely separate website.
Next create social profiles on Facebook,Twitter. There are many more social networks you can join but these are the most important at the start. You’ll also want to have access to Google+ and Google Places for Business and submit the website to Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics and a YouTube account if you plan to create videos.
Next is planning the content around what you are selling the “cornerstone content”. It’s no longer a suitable SEO strategy to simply add a product page with an image and a buy now button and hope to rank in the search engines, you need to plan the content structure and then use that content to funnel any prospective customers to a page where they can purchase a product or service or subscribe to a newsletter. Using good content on the site will build trust and make you look like the authority with site visitors which makes it a very effective SEO strategy.
Then use email marketing to build trust and convince the potential customer that the product or service is right for them. Everything is now structured around conversational search in Google and if you plan the content correctly and offer value to readers you will be rewarded with back links from external sites as well as better rankings in Google.
Everything discussed above should be part of any good SEO strategy for a start up website.
#16 Gabriella Sannino – Level343
Don’t do it. Don’t pigeon hole yourself into being just an SEO expert. Don’t get me wrong, SEO is a great asset and discipline to have in an arsenal of other components for your online marketing visibility.
But in order to really and truly help a business online and be visible online, you need to understand: it’s not just about SEO. It’s about branding, building authority, creating awesome articles that give you credibility, building an online community, keeping your customers happy, etc. Those are just some of the things involved in creating a successful online campaign. Besides, being an expert in any SEO discipline is an ongoing process.
As you already know, Google’s constantly updating their algorithms in order to reach a seamless connection between human behavior and how we search for things. Being an SEO expert is simply too narrow of a focus. Actually, one of my favorite SEO geeks, Bill Slawski, said “Sometimes there are no textbooks for what you want to do, like SEO – Be the one who influences what will be written about it.” I would recommend becoming an expert on DAO (Digital Asset Optimization). You’ll have a better chance at getting steady work.
Gabriella Sannino is an International SEO consultant working with Level343, an International Marketing and SEO company, based out of SF, California. Our team of specialists is comprised of six global consultants that cover 14 languages.
#17: Ann Smarty – My Blog Guest
Get very patient: There are no shortcuts and unless you understand that you have a long way ahead, you’ll be discouraged too fast. Forget about “get rich fast” articles. Yes, those things happen but only to those who deserve it!
Prepare to read and educate yourself a lot. I would start with something long and solid (This guide is a good start). get very thorough with what you read online. Don’t just rush implementing everything. Read more than you write / ask for the first 3-4 months.
Focus on your content. My main rule of thumb: “Don’t publish unless you 100% happy with your content”. If you love each article you are publishing online, you’ll see genuine interest to your content (this will be your #1 step to getting link and social media shares)
#18 Tadeusz Szewczyk – Onreact
SEO is not just SEO today. It sometimes is but in most cases it’s just a part of a bigger picture or the other way around it’s just a smaller part, like local SEO or international SEO. So you either specialize in something special not everybody knows or you become more of an generalist able to combine more than one discipline. Not many people are good at that interdisciplinary approach either.
So for example I specialize in SEO for Germany but I also combine blogging, social media and search and write about it for a global audience. So find a niche or offering that is not yet so competitive. For example I rarely see a good combination of UX, CRO and SEO despite these disciplines being really like siblings. No matter what you do, make sure that you are not just a generic SEO like millions of others. Be unique enough to stand out.
Brand yourself with some special skills so that people can associate them with you by heart. It can even be your target market. Do not try to sell to everyone everywhere. I don’t only mean geographic location though. SEO Texas is competitive as well. Other than that make a lot of friends who spread the word about your and your specialties. How do you get friends? Give out what you want to get.
#19 Jayson DeMers – AudienceBloom
Don’t roll with the wrong crowd. There are lots of forums, discussion groups, and websites littered with terrible information on SEO. SEO has changed so much over the past couple years that the tactics that used to work two years ago will actually have negative impacts on your search visibility these days. Moz, Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Search Engine Land are the best sources of information when it comes to learning about what to do (and what not to do).
In essence, SEO these days comes down to three core components: Content, Inbound links, and Social Media. Without any of these three components, your strategy will be at a severe disadvantage. These are the elements that set apart true brands that care about their customers, from the fakers. Ensure that your website has great content on it, and work to acquire quality inbound links from other authority publishers and websites in your space. Bolster your content publication efforts with an effective social media campaign to build your brand awareness and exposure, and you’ll be all set.
Jayson DeMers is the Founder and CEO of AudienceBloom a Sealtle Based SEO and Social Media Marketing agency. He is also a regular contributor for top publications like Search Engine Land, Forbes, Entrepreneur.com and HuffPost.
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