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Getting more web traffic is a challenge for any business owner. This is especially true if your business is new or small, since there’s so much competition out there on the web. There’s no way around it – if you want to attract more visitors and build your presence online, you’ve got to know at least a little about SEO. Fortunately, you can learn (and apply) the basics of SEO by yourself, even if you don’t have the budget to hire a SEO company. This SEO guide lays out four strategies you can use to boost your search engine rankings and get more traffic.

1. Create a content strategy.
Content is one of the cornerstones of modern SEO. It helps people find you in search engines, and if you use it well, it can make you stand out from the competition. Content is too important to ignore, so if you don’t have a content strategy in place yet, you should make one as soon as possible.

First things first, though: what exactly is content? Many people think of blog posts when they hear the word “content,” but blogging is just one type of content creation. Videos, infographics, ebooks, white papers, and courses are other types of content you can leverage for more traffic.

The most important element of building a content strategy knows your audience. For your content to have an impact on readers, it needs to be both relevant and useful to them. If you’re not sure who your ideal customer is, spend some time figuring that out before you do anything else.

Once you know who you’re creating content for, think about how you can help them best. One good way to do this is to come up with a list of questions your ideal customer might have. For instance, if you’re selling vitamins, your audience might wonder things like, “Are there health risks to taking iron supplements?” or “Do I need a vitamin C supplement?” Try to answer a question with each piece of content you create. That way, you can be sure you’re providing real value, which is what builds brand loyalty.

2. Use social media the right way.
Social media can help boost your rankings and traffic, but only if you use it the right way. Used the wrong way, social media is nothing but a time-waster. Here’s how you can make it work for you.

First, know which social media platforms your target audience uses. There’s no point in building your presence on Instagram if your customers are all on Twitter. Limit your efforts to your audience’s top two or three preferred social media channels, instead of using all of them.

Beware of coming off as overly promotional on social media. Many businesses make this mistake, and it tends to turn potential customers off. If you push your product or service nonstop, people will get annoyed – no one likes a pushy salesperson.

Instead, use social media as a way to build connections with your target audience. Be friendly and helpful, and look for opportunities to chat with customers. This strategy won’t bring results overnight, but in the long run, it’s very effective for bringing you more traffic and creating a loyal customer base. Of course, it’s still okay to promote your brand a little bit, especially if you’re running a sale or another special event that your audience might appreciate. Just don’t overdo it.

3. Pay attention to your off-page SEO.
What is off-page SEO? In short, it’s your reputation outside your site. At first glance, off-page SEO might not seem relevant to your site’s rankings, but it actually is. The better your reputation around the web is, the more people will trust what you have to say, and the more links you’ll get to your site. Backlinks, of course, are a major ranking signal, so your off-page SEO should be a big part of your overall SEO strategy.

Social media is one of the biggest ways you can improve your site’s off-page SEO. Other ways you can boost your reputation and your authority include guest posting on other people’s blogs, answering people’s questions on forums and discussion boards, and providing fantastic customer service.

It’s important to keep in mind that quality trumps quantity when it comes to off-page SEO. Make sure all your contributions around the internet are professional, well-thought-out, and genuinely helpful. People will be able to tell if you’re just networking for the sake of getting more links. The best way to earn a great reputation is to give freely without expecting anything in return.

4. Target the right keywords.
Let’s go back to content strategy for a moment. Creating great content is important, but if you don’t know what keywords you want to rank for, all your hard work might not help boost your rankings much. If you haven’t done so already, create a list of keywords you’d like to rank for, and focus on using them naturally in your web copy and content. If you’re working with a SEO company, they can help you choose good keywords, but you can also do it on your own.

Not sure where to start? Consider aiming for long-tail keywords first. Long-tail keywords are searched less frequently than very common keywords, and they tend to be much more specific. For instance, it’s hard to rank for “bread” because there’s so much competition for that keyword. However, it’s much easier to rank for the long-tail keyword “how to bake potato bread.”

Keep in mind that, while targeting keywords is important, keyword stuffing is never a good idea. Keyword stuffing makes your content seem forced and spammy, which is a huge turn-off to visitors. Google has started penalizing sites that stuff their content with keywords, so don’t be tempted to do it.

Wrapping Up
SEO is challenging for everyone, even seasoned webmasters. With some persistence and patience, though, you can learn the basics of SEO and improve your site’s rankings. Use this SEO guide as your starting point, and don’t expect overnight results. In time, your hard work will pay off with more traffic and conversions.

Joel House helps small to medium businesses grow their revenues through increased search traffic. As the owner of Australia’s highest ranking SEO Company, he has a burning desire to help small businesses with SEO that actually works. When he isn’t helping small businesses grow, he is furiously reading to stay on the cutting edge.

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