SEO Basics is owned and operated by Sierra Pacific Marketing in Clovis CA

While many people consider SEO to be complicated, I believe that SEO is nothing but an extension of traditional marketing. Search engine optimization consists of 9 main steps

  1. market research
  2. keyword research
  3. on page optimization
  4. site structure
  5. link building
  6. brand building
  7. viral marketing
  8. adjusting
  9. staying up to date

Market Research

Do you have what it takes to compete in a market? 

The first step is to search the major search engines to see what types of websites are ranking for words which you deem to be important. For example, if mostly colleges, media, and government institutions are ranking for your most important terms it may be difficult to rank for those types of queries. If, on the other hand, the market is dominated by fairly average  websites which are not strongly established brands it may be a market worth pursuing.

Keyword Research

What keywords are people searching for?
Keyword research tools are better at providing a qualitative measure than a quantitative measure, so don't be surprised if actual traffic volumes vary greatly from the numbers suggested by these tools.

In addition to looking up search volumes for what keywords you think are important also take the time to ask past customers how they found you, why they chose you, and what issues were important to them in choosing you.

Site Structure

How should you structure your site?

Before drafting content consider what keywords are your most important and map out how to create pages to fit each important group of keywords within your site theme and navigational structure based on

  • market value
  • logical breaks in market segmentation
  • importance of ranking in building credibility / improving conversion rates

Make sure

  • your most important categories or pages are linked to site wide
  • you link to every page on your site from at least one other page on your site
  • you use consistent anchor text in your navigation
  • you link to other content pages (and especially to action items) from within the content area of your website

If you are uncertain how deep to make a portion of the site start by creating a few high quality pages on the topic. Based on market feedback create more pages in the sections that are most valuable to your business.

On Page Optimization

It is hard to rank for keywords that do not appear in your page content, so each page should be organized around the goal of ranking for a specific keyword phrase, with some related phrases and related keywords mixed into the page copy.

Unique descriptive page titles play a crucial role in a successful search engine optimization campaigns. Page titles appear in the search results, and many people link to pages using the page title as their link anchor text.

If possible create hand crafted meta description tags which compliment the page title by reinforcing your offer. If the relevant keywords for a page have multiple formats it may make sense to help focus the meta description on versions you did not use in the page title.

As far as page content goes, make sure you write for humans, and use heading tags to help break up the content into logical sections which will improve the scanability and help structure the document. When possible, make sure your page content uses descriptive modifiers as well.

Each page also needs to be sufficiently unique from other pages on your site. Do not let search engines index printer friendly versions of your content, or other pages where content is duplicate or nearly duplicate.

Link Building

Search engines view links at votes, with some votes counting more than others. To get high quality links (that help your site rank better) you need to participate in the social aspects of your community and give away valuable unique content that people talk about and share with others.

Link building strategies

  • submit your site to general directories like DMOZ, the Yahoo! Directory, and
  • submit your site to relevant niche directories
  • if you have a local site submit to relevant local sites (like the local chamber of commerce)
  •  join trade organizations
  • get links from industry hub sites
  • create content people would want to link at


Brand Building

Brand related search queries tend to be some of the most targeted, best converting, and most valuable keywords. As you gain mind share people will be more likely to search for your brand or keywords related to your brand. A high volume of brand related search traffic may also be seen as a sign of quality by major search engines. 

If you build a strong brand when people search for more information about your brand and other websites have good things to say about your brand, these interactions help reinforcing your brand image and improving your lead quality and conversion rates.

Things like advertising and community activity are easy ways to help improve your brand exposure, but obviously branding is a lot more complicated than that.

Viral Marketing

Link building is probably the single hardest and most time consuming part of an effective SEO campaign, largely because it requires influencing other people. But links are nothing but a remark or citation. 

The beautiful thing about viral marketing is that creating one popular compelling idea can lead to thousands of free quality links. If your competitor is building one link at a time and you have thousands of people spreading your ideas for you for free then you are typically going to end up ranking better.

You can search social news or social bookmarking sites like Digg or to see what stories related to your topic became popular. 

Measuring Results


 How can I tell if my SEO campaign is effective? The bottom line is what counts. Is your site generating more leads, higher quality leads, or more sales? What keywords are working? You can look at your server logs and an analytics program to track traffic trends and what keywords lead to conversion.

Outside of traffic another good sign that you are on the right track is if you see more websites asking questions or talking about you. If you start picking up high quality unrequested links you might be near a Tipping Point to where your marketing starts to build on itself.

Search engines follow people, but lag actual market conditions. It may take search engines a while to find all the links pointing at your site and analyze how well your site should rank. Depending on how competitive your marketplace is it may take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple years to establish a strong market position. Rankings can be a moving target as at any point in time

  • you are marketing your business
  • competitors are marketing their businesses and reinvesting profits into building out their SEO strategy
  • search engines may change their relevancy algorithms

Keeping up to date

How do you track the changes in the SEO market?
SEO changes continually so monthly market research will keep you informed of trends that may affect your SEO efforts.