Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

For anyone that operates a business site, SEO can make or break you. That may not be pleasant to hear, but the facts show us search engine traffic is often the lion’s share of acquisition. Ranking on the first page of Google essentially boils down to tons of traffic with the potential for gobs of conversions. If you are not on the first page, it often means just the opposite.

In the digital world, SEO is something that must be learned and applied effectively in order to survive. The problem that most folks encounter, however, is where to begin in the vast sea of SEO tactics and strategies. Backlinks, speed, keyword density, optimization techniques; there is a lot to learn. For newcomers, it can be a bit overwhelming. Even SEO veterans can get frustrated every now and again due to its constantly changing nature.

But as a marketer or small business owner, you are probably already strapped for time and resources and don’t know how you can manage to cram all of this information in with your already inundated schedule. While it is true that acquiring an intimate understanding of SEO practices can consume quite a bit of valuable time and energy, there is another solution; minimalist SEO.

This method likely won’t get you to the top of the SERPs for keywords with serious traffic behind them, but it will get you on the board for more niche keywords and long-tails, and increase your overall traffic from your current standings. Let’s take a look at some of the tenets of minimalist SEO and how to apply them to your business model for increased visibility:

Help Those Who Are Already Looking for You

Again, this method won’t land you in the top spot in the search results for keywords that are highly used, but you can secure yourself the number one seat for those that are already looking specifically for you. These are people that have already heard of your company, people who you have connected with in the past, and similar groups of folks.

Chances are, these people are not going to be Googling general keywords to find your site; they will be more specific than that. Identify keywords and phrases that are specific to your business and use the Google Analytics tool to see how those words rank. Find some that are suitable to your business that few sites are ranking for and make the necessary adjustments to your website. This simple alteration will make your site much easier to find for those who are already trying to track you down.

But don’t stop there; if there is a term that you think people might search when looking for your site or the type of services you provide, type that into Google too and see what comes up. Any terms that you think will improve your standings that don’t already have loads of traffic, feel free to apply to your site. You can always test and make tweaks later.

Optimize Title Tags and Meta Tags

What exactly are title tags? Title tags are the title of the page the user is currently on and can be seen at the top your browser. These tags also appear in the search results as the clickable link that describes the webpage displayed. These are an important part not only to SEO but to the user experience. If your title tags make little sense, do not contain keywords, or are not optimized for maximum impact, you are missing out on tons of potential traffic. The simplest and most effective way to craft these tags is to include one keyword along with a descriptive phrase to tell the visitor what the page is about.

Meta tags are a bit different. These are the little blurbs below the title tag that give users an idea of what is actually on the page. While this information won’t get you ranked any higher, it is vital text for searchers. A compelling meta tag can effectively captivate a potential reader and draw in additional traffic. Do be careful with your choice of words here though as you only have about 150 characters to use. Do your best to make this section unique and interesting so that viewers will want to visit your

Optimize File Names

When the Google-bots crawl a site, they are not merely crawling the copy of the page; they are also taking a close look at the file names for the images that are being displayed. The best way to optimize these images is to include a short description that accurately describes the picture, as well as a relevant keyword that you are trying to rank for. Keep things brief though, if the file name is too long it will ultimately harm your SEO potential.

Optimize Content

This is going to be the most critical part of the entire process. Content marketing is an incredibly effective tool for driving visitors to websites, ranking high in the SERPs, and developing a viewer base that comes back again and again.

While it is important to sprinkle keywords throughout your content, remember not to go overboard. Above all else, the content should be written with the reader in mind. If keywords are awkwardly jammed into the text, you will lose a reader’s attention, trust, and your own credibility. Some appropriate places to add keywords would be in the sub-headers of the piece and in the headline itself. Do your best to craft a working title that will not only intrigue readers, but will also rank well with Google.

There is a nearly endless supply of information and knowledge online surrounding SEO. This is merely a bare-bones strategy intended to produce introductory results. But we all have to start somewhere; by building this basic foundation, you’ll be ready to branch out to more complex SEO practices.