What is Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is a component of the earliest stages of the buying process: Attraction Stage. Understand what SEO is, how search engines work, and what you can do to boost ranking.

SEO Keyword Research and Selection

  • What are search keywords?
  • How do I pick the right keywords for my business?
  • What are best practices for keyword research?
  • How do I know which keywords people use to find my website?
  • How can I expand the list of keywords I am using?
  • What is the difference between long-tail and short-tail keywords?

Keywords are the words that people type into search engines. They are basically the subjects or questions that people want to learn about.

To attract people who are interested in what your site has to offer, you’ll need to research what people are looking for in your line of business. What questions need answering? What do your prospects care about most?

You’ll need to start by considering who your customers are. It might be tempting to talk about how great your company is and how awesome your products or services are, but this isn’t what your customers care about (just yet). Put yourself in their shoes and make a list of words they might be searching for.

As you make your list, categorize your keywords according to where they fit in the buying process. Are they simply becoming aware of a problem they are facing? Are they considering their options or different kinds of solutions? Are they making their final decision on who to do business with? The information you present on each web page will vary significantly depending on where your customers stand in their buying process.

Now, expand your list of keywords by searching the web for alternatives. This gives you a great source of synonyms, related phrases, or other permutations that people are looking for in your industry. Add all these alternatives to your keyword list…as long as they relate to your business and the interests of your target market.

There are tools to help you analyze what keywords your website users are already using to find and access your website. Google Analytics or Hubspot Sources offer great insights on where your web traffic is coming from and what people are doing to find your website. Maybe they’re being referred through social media, or perhaps they’re finding an article that you wrote months ago.

You’ll need to decide which keywords present the best opportunity for you to rank for. Remember that there are probably tons of other websites out there trying to do exactly the same thing…and only 10 can make it to the first page of each search result.

Some keywords are going to be much harder to rank for than others. A very general term like “Sports Cars” is pretty broad and a small website would not get many qualified visitors from this.

Alternatively, a more specific play on these keywords might narrow the field to a more select group, allowing you to compete more favorably. Consider what we call a long-tail keyword such as “Red Italian Sports Cars from the 60’s”. This might focus on the specific users you’re targeting and give you a better chance of ranking high.

Targeting keywords that are very broad could mean big challenges with achieving high search rank, and ultimately attracting either unqualified website visitors or people who just don’t care about your offerings. It’s much better to choose a specific niche for each page and target your audience more acutely.

Note that just because your keyword is long-tail and more specific, this doesn’t mean it will be easy to rank for. Ranking is a function of how competitive the environment is for your specific search terms.

Again, tools like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools or Hubspot Keywords allow us to analyze what the level of competition is like for every possible keyword. We also recommend search engine audit reports that evaluate your website in great detail as compared to the existing top 10 websites in your search result. These comprehensive reports outline every strength and weakness of your onsite SEO and what steps you should be taking to improve your results.

Some further SEO strategy:

– It takes time for websites to develop credibility in the eyes of search engines…measured in months or even years

– More website traffic doesn’t always translate into more business. Targeted strategy is best

– Evaluate the competitive set for each keyword to find a niche or opportunity

– Set a process in place to continually develop content around keywords

The next step is to learn how to optimize web pages for search engines.

How to Optimize Web Pages for Search Engines

  • How and where do I optimize pages for search engines?
  • What types of links do I include on my web pages?
  • Is user experience important for SEO?
  • Do I need to optimize for mobile?
  • What are inbound links?
  • How can I be found in local searches?

Now that you’ve carefully selected your keywords and crafted beautiful, customer-focused content for your web pages, we need to optimize the page where it will be featured.

It’s important that both your users and search engines quickly understand what each page is all about. Search engines go through a process to index each page, and you’ll want to make things easy for them.

First, optimize each page around a specific keyword. Be sure the keyword you select accurately reflects what the page is actually about.

Add the keyword to the page title. The page title shows in a few places like the browser tab and the actual link shown in search results. You can include your company name, but after what is called a “pipe” – a vertical bar in the title of the page.

Example: “6 Critical Steps for Search Engine Optimization | Web Design Phoenix”

Add your primary keyword to the URL. If it’s a longer url, use dashes to separate each word. Search engines don’t like blank spaces so much. If you’re changing the web page url, be sure to set up a 301 redirect to permanently deliver your users to the correct page.

Add keywords to page headers and within the content. Don’t artificially or awkwardly throw your keywords into the discussion…use them naturally. Google is smart, and it knows when you’re doing this and will penalize you for it. Google is also really good at recognizing synonyms and context, so mix things up a bit.

Add keywords to image alt text if there are any images on the page. Google can’t understand what images are depicting unless you tell it. This is where alt tags come in, and how images come up in search results. Good alt tags will complement the subject matter on your page.

Add keywords to the meta description. Meta description is the small body of text that appears in search results beneath the page title. This serves as a short summary of what the page is going to be about. While this doesn’t affect SEO so much, it does help users quickly understand what the page is about and will increase clicks. This text should be no longer than 160 characters.

Include relevant links in the content. Don’t go overboard…perhaps a link or two per paragraph is enough. This contributes to the trustworthiness of your site and often enhances the user experience.

Internal links refer to relevant pages on your website, whereas external links credit sources outside your domain. Both are helpful in terms of user experience and credibility with Google. External links, when used appropriately, give Google the impression that you have done your homework, helps you build connections, and gives your readers additional resources.

Writing great content will earn you what we call “inbound links”. This is when other sites credit your page and provide their users with a link. Google interprets this as your site being credible and trustworthy…of course depending on the nature of the referring website. Not all inbound links are created equal.

All links should have anchor text with your keywords. Anchor text is what the link itself says. Rather than “click here”, a good link might read “3 Website SEO Pitfalls”.

Optimize for mobile. Be sure that your layouts are completely mobile responsive. This means that information on the site adjusts to smaller screen sizes. Menus shift and button enlarge to accommodate finger tapping. Small fonts and miniature links are not good for mobile users, and Google knows this.

Images should be sized appropriately to speed refresh rates. Modern mobile design principles are moving toward longer scrolling pages rather than menus requiring multiple clicks.

Some further search engine optimization thoughts:

– Make sure you site is designed intuitively and easy to browse…don’t hide stuff

– Always show users the next step they can take with your business

– Good content will earn inbound links…perhaps most valuable in the eyes of Google

– Seek out online directories where your site could be presenting – great for inbound links

– To optimize for local results, set up your web listing in Google Maps.

Adding Business Details to Google Maps

Things change over time…business locations, phone numbers, staff, product & service offerings. Your customers need to know where to find you…and just as importantly, Google wants you in their search results!

Phoenix Search Engine Rankings – September 2016

Web Design Phoenix ranks in Google’s top 3 for at least 30 different search terms representing approximately 2,340 monthly searches. We rank 1st in 10 different Google searches, 10 Yahoo! searches, and 7 in Bing. There’s no secrets in strong SEO. It’s about regularly contributing, relevant, well written content over a long period of time. Search engines are charged with arranging websites according to who appears best at whatever subject matter is searched. Think of all your favorite frequented websites…fresh, relevant content does the trick every time.

Beware of anyone selling you on quick SEO fixes…it just doesn’t work.

Search engine ranking

Funny Stuff – SEO and Content Couples Therapy

This is not only hilarious, but also quite true. The ongoing battle between catering to search engine results, and actually producing a great user experience are conversations we have every day with out clients. Fortunately, search engines like Google are getting better and better at recognizing an improved user experience.

End result, deliver content that your users love…and Google will love you too!


6 Tips for new SEO content

1. Use unique content
A SEO text is always unique and is best if copied by others who know it just is not better. Google has declared war to “duplicate content”, so resist the temptation to use prefabricated product descriptions, press releases or one copy to one. Plagiarism is just bad form and is very well recognized and punished, “unique content” provides the user with added value and will be rewarded by Google.

2. Choose the right keyword density
Too high “keyword density” can have a detrimental effect on the ranking. As a reference point densities between 1 to 3% are often recommended.
SEO should be part of your marketing strategy, just like in traditional marketing competitor and customer analysis is crucial to find the appropriate keyword density for a to specific text.
Keyword research and the use of the right keywords are the key to success.

3. Take advantage of the power of Headlines
Part of the success is to find the right headline. The title and the signature of a text, are your moneymakers in Google search results. The title, a clickable link, the signature, the description below. It makes sense to add a “Call-To-Action” encouraging the user to click. The so-called “CTR” (Click Through Rate) is measured by Google and used to assess relevance of a page.

4. Satisfy clients information needs
The length of a text is another important criterion, that should not be neglected. At least 300 words should do the trick in most markets, but look at your competitors. If a higher ranking page has more than 900 words, it might be an indication that your text also should not fall below this number of words. Google wants users to offer the best information, the more information a text has the more the user is satisfied. Pages that satisfy users search for information get rewarded.

You can increase the own target audience with synonyms, of course. Your customers are individuals who have their own ways to search for things. Do not stubbornly insist that a particular keyword appears in a certain frequency. That’s yesterdays SEO.
Even semantically related topics should include good SEO texts. Each audience will use their search terms in context.

5. Strengthen your content
A good SEO text is optimized not only to a particular topic, it should be at the same time also used to strengthen the internal link popularity. Meaningful links to own subpages should the visitor and the search engine provide the opportunity to discover your content treasures. Again, one should not overdo it, even if the Wikipedia is a prime example of an excellent internal linking, so disturbing to many links in the text as well the flow of reading.

6. Spice up your content for the eye
But all the words and information, do not bring one more if the content was prepared not according to a reader-friendly for the web. A good outline of the text with subheads, meaning portions and images and graphics are often tip the scales. Take the chance to win with pictures, more visitors from Google Image Search. Images SEO is often neglected by many site operators wrongly.

SEO texts must be scannable to our eyes, so you can classify them quickly by relevance. So you offer anchor points in the form of thick printed words in the text on which your readers can orient.
You want all the not afford itself, but a professional to do the work for you? I recommend you have a look in my text listing.

Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Pigeon

There’s no denying that getting penalized by Google can seem like the end of the world but the reality is that you need to focus on repairing the damage rather than being afraid. So, no matter what Google Update has affected you, just read onward and see how you can deal with penalties.


Google Panda issues can be triggered by duplicate content, thin content, plagiarism, a poor user experience, keyword stuffing and other similar problems. Not only that, but it can also cause you to drop in search results or even getting removed from them. What you need to do here is to:

• Check your site for duplicate content and replace the duplicate with original content
• Check for plagiarism and, again, replace that with your own content
• See if there’s thin content on your site
• Start creating an audit for keyword stuffing
• Fix all the issues you find as the penalty can go away since your site will get revisited


Penguin is usually focused on removing or downranking the sites that have an unnatural link profile. If you have paid links, links that are coming from sites that are created only for SEO, from poor quality sites, overly optimized anchor text and so on, then you might be in danger of getting downranked by Penguin.

You can do the following to see if you were hit:

• See if there are any penalty risks, tools like SEO SpyGlass are a great choice here
• Try to remove all the harmful links


Hummingbird is an algorithm focused on content quality, and that’s why you need to avoid a poor user experience, keyword stuffing and exact match keyword targetings.

How to adapt to Hummingbird:

• Make your keyword research better by expanding it, try to find new keywords
• Understand and discover the audience language and focus on addressing it
• Focus on concepts rather than exact matching.


It’s an older algorithm that focuses on local search and it’s triggered by pages that are poorly optimized, which don’t have good backlinks, NAP inconsistency or which don’t have a citation for the local directories.

What you should do?

• Perform proper local optimization
• Create a Google My Business Page
• Check and ensure that the NAP consistency is there on your content
• Try to get featured in local directories

Mobile friendly update

Your site needs to have a viewport configuration, a great mobile friendliness and even support plugins. You need to focus on:

• Making your sites mobile friendly and responsive
• Take a test to see if your site is mobile friendly and adapt it properly


RankBrain is a system that was created to rank algorithm changes and it helps offer higher quality results based on stuff like machine learning and relevance. Issues can be caused by a low quality user experience and the lack of relevance features that are query-specific.

How to deal with RankBrain changes:

• Try to create a better user experience
• Understand your competition by researching them

As you can see, each Google Algorithm focuses on specific things so it all comes down to you to address the issues and either repair or prepare yourself properly. Try to focus on following our ideas and instructions, then the results will definitely pay off.

Fresh Content: An Essential for SEO Success

If you have a business, and you are using a website for the purpose of increasing your market reach, you will most probably be concerned about strategies that will help to increase your visibility. In this case, one of the most critical would be search engine optimization.

The main goal of SEO is to achieve higher rankings in search engine sites, anticipating that yourwebpage would appear on the top of search results. With such, more than just an effective website design, you also need to make sure that you have relevant content.

Keyword optimization is necessary, but one thing that is often missed by many is the importance of fresh content. One of the principles of search engine marketing necessitates that it is never enough to have content on your website. It is vital to make sure that it is fresh.

Why Fresh Content Matters
 Known as the king of search engines, Google tends to favor websites with fresh content. This is why, more often than not, the ones that appear on the top of results are those with most recent contents. This in itself is already sufficient reason to believe that having fresh content is going to be vital for being engaged in a successful SEO strategy. In order to evaluate which ones will appear first on search engine results, a “recency” factor is used, and hence, more recent contents could improve rank. 

More so, if your website has fresh content, this will also be an opportunity for you to use more keywords. As we all know, keyword optimization is one of the most important components of SEO. Therefore, the more keywords there are in your webpage, which can be attained through adding more content frequently, there is a higher likelihood that your ranking will improve. 

It is also an excellent way to be an authority in the eyes of Google, which is tantamount into having higher rankings. This is an effective SEO strategy to make you an authority site, and hence, having the potential of frequent indexing. 

How To Add Fresh Content
One of the most important components of SEO marketing that can prove to be an excellent way to add fresh content is through having a blog. With this section in your website, it is possible to add fresh content at least once or twice a week. Just make sure that the contents are optimized with the right keywords. Aside from blog, a press section in the website can also improve your SEO ranking. Moreso, another thing that can be done is to have social media feeds, which can be an effective way for crawlers to be attracted. 

Our favorite SEO Blogs

1. Search Engine Land
2. SEO Moz Blog
3. Matt Cutts
4. SEO by The Sea with Bill Slawski
5. Copyblogger
6. Search Engine Journal
7. Search Engine Watch
8. The Marketing Pilgrim with Andy Beal
9. John Battelle’s Search Blog
10. QuickSprout with Neil Patel
Of course there are dozens more out there, but  these are just a few
of my personal top favorites. Enjoy!
Best wishes,
John Alexander
Founder and CEO