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Where do you first start with SEO – Keyword Research, On-Page, ..?

Sameer Panjwani speaks about the first things you should do when strategizing an SEO action plan for your site. Too many people are confused as to where they should start. Should you start with keyword research, should you focus on on-page aspects or should you even start with SEO?

All these questions and more are answered with a clear course of action on how you should start with your SEO.

If you have any follow up questions or have any other video requests, do post them in the comments section below. 

Transcript – 

I’ve been asked the question by user. And this question comes one to many times.

I’ve got a site, what do I do?

How do I start?

I’ve got a client the other day, he asked me – “I have an E-Commerce site, and I don’t know where should I get started with my SEO. Should I even start with SEO?

Or should I do PPC?

That’s a good question. So let me focus on just the SEO aspects.

First question is – “Should you even focus on SEO for your site?

Because there are many businesses like yours or could be any one elses’ out there where you might not even need SEO or SEO or might not be the best or most feasible option available to you.

If you’re just starting out a business, if you have a product to sell, like my friend in this case, he wanted to sell a particular product. I won’t get it to the specifics, but essentially what product he wanted to sell, you do not necessarily need SEO to get started with that site because he could have very well just test it and validated his business model by first doing PPC, seeing if the market accepts his product, and then focus on SEO.

But leave that example aside. Many of you still want to look at SEO as an avenue to gain consistent traffic organically over a period of time. So let’s figure out how we can go about that.

So let’s take an example. I use to run a site, I still do run the site called Choiceofhomes.com. It’s a site that has been languishing for many years.

Now if I had to pick that site, and I had to resume SEO, where should I start?

That would be a good example because it’s a site which has I’m guessing like many of you out there have a site, but haven’t really done much SEO for it.

So, how do you go about it? Should you start with your on-page optimization, should you start with keyword research or should you start with just going about guest-posting?

There is always a first step to SEO and that first step is getting your basic structure right. Your basic website architecture up in the correct format. So if your website, point no.1, your website should be first get your domain set up right. You should have Canonicalization set up.

So, example, the domain I’m talking about is ChoiceofHomes.com.

Choiceofhomes.com, if you type www.choiceofhomes.com. and then you type Choiceofhomes.com without the www, both of them should point to the same URL.

Similarly Choiceofhomes.com/index.php should redirect back to the main site without the index.php.

So point no.1 is Canonicalize your domain and preferably if you can get the HTTPS version of your site up like https://choiceofhomes.com. That’s gonna give you a slight pump in the ranking because Google has started valuing SSL secured sites a little more than non https sites.

Once you get that, then you’ve got to make sure that all your pages have, you could even have a five page content site or a single page content site. It does not matter but what you need to do is you need to make sure that you have your target keywords in mind.

Now, keyword research is hard for a site which is new. There are very high chances that you’re gonna compete in the market which already many players are there.

You’re not gonna be new. And in this staying niche is very difficult to find a new opening, a new market.

There are people who are searching in a certain way and they’re gonna continue searching that way. And they are gonna target those very same search terms.

But you can be smart about it. When you go about your keyword research, you’re gonna find terms which are very high in volume, you’re gonna find terms which are low in volume, but if you have to be smart and practical.

If you’re starting out from small. The smartest way would be to go for terms which are slightly more niche, more specific, more targeted towards a specific audience.

Suppose I took this example of Choiceofhomes.com, when I started this site, about 10 years ago, I was targeting the term home for rent and homes for sale.

Now, back then, I rank no.1 on Yahoo. When Yahoo was very popular. But now if I had to look at it. Homes For Rent, Homes for Sale, I know without looking at the volumes and looking at the competitions, those terms would be highly improbable for me to go after at this point of time.

So, what I would do is I would try to micro niche the keyword into something more narrow. So, could I go for home rental listings in a particular state or could I go for affordable home rental listing or could I go for luxury home rental listings.

Of course, it comes down to the business model that can you microfy or can you niche down your business to or cater to a specific audience?

If not then may be it makes sense to go for the broader term but then you should still go and target create specific pages which cater down to the micro level aspects of micro keywords, basically.

Because you do not want to go after the big terms initially, you’re gonna be disheartened, SEO’s hard, you’re gonna be competing with the bigger players out there.

So, give yourself a chance and the best way to give you a chance is start with realistic terms which cater to a very small niche and which you feel you can cater to very well.

Once you’ve chosen that term, and choose that term well, be strategic, be smart, be realistic. Once you’ve chosen that term, then you wanna make sure that your site is optimized for that term. What should you do? Every page should have a few seed terms. Well, I’m just talking about one page, your home page right now or your one main page which you’ve chosen as your target term.

The very basic step is of course you include the word, it’s synonyms, relevant words around it.

But what’s important is that every other page on your site should link with similar or exact anchor texts and that’s a basic step which I see many people get wrong.

Internet linking is highly under optimized, and highly, an opportunity which goes a baggy. And it’s quite frustrating to see so many sites get that wrong.

So if you have a blog post or if you write anything on your site, you create opportunities intentionally to link back to your target page with those target terms. Be smart about it. Don’t waste opportunities like that.

Every piece of content, everything that you write about, should link back with that target term.

So if had to summarize, choose a term which is small nichified, optimize for that term, get your domain canonicalized and every opportunity that you have to internally link to that page with that target term. That’s what you should do. Then yes, you go to  the off-page aspects of link building and trying to network with others in your industry to get links back to your site.

But that’s too broad a topic to get into and if you are some one who just starting out, I wouldn’t focus too much on that.

I would say try to build value first, get your basics right, and then may be you can watch some of my other videos where I talk about how we could go about link building.

But yes that’s where I would start for SEO. Get your basic website structure properly, get your content in valuable content, that necessary.

Keyword targeted content and I don’t mean that you just repeat the same keyword multiple times.

Be smart, strategic. Another very tip that I follow for myself and I share with my team is, search for that term that you’ve chosen in Google, see the top ten sites. Check those, open each of those pages, see what are the other terms. If you’re using Mondovo, use Mondovo’s On-page analyzer for each of those URLs.

You will see in the keyword analysis table, you will see a list of other terms that they have mentioned.

When you go through the top ten results, all the keywords that they are already putting their content, make sure that you include some of those words as well.

Because that is what Google looks at. Google determines that those words have a high co-relation with your target word. So if you want to really optimize your page perfectly, you want to not only include that word but take the top ten sites, do an on-page analysis for each of those words.

See all related words that for some reason Google’s rank those sites because of their on-page content. They don’t ignore on-page completely. It’s a very major factor still. So, include those keywords in your content, be smart, be strategic about it. Don’t overdo it.

And importantly which is frustrating that I see so many people get it wrong, every opportunity that you have to internally link to your target page, which are target keywords you must not miss out.

So that’s where I would start and do watch my other videos for followup tips on how could proceed.

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Sameer Panjwani

Sameer Panjwani is the CEO & Founder of Mondovo.com, an online marketing toolset that helps you track your rankings, monitor your site stats and research your competitors'. A man of many talents, Sameer occasionally writes about social media marketing, content marketing and SEO. In his free time, he loves reading about the latest trends in SEO as well as spending time with his two little daughters.

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