Are you a local business ready to tackle the competition the smart way?
Yes… Then congratulations on taking the first step by finding your way to this guide!
In this Local Houston SEO Guide, we are going to teach you how to make your business stand out… Stand out where people are looking for what you do! Because there is a lot of information in this guide, we have broken it up into three parts.
You can read the whole thing at once. Or digest the information bit by bit. As a general rule of thumb, we would recommend you to read this guide by sections. Then test the concept by doing some hand’s on SEO yourself. So ok here we go…
Art & Science of Houston SEO
SEO, which stands for search engine optimization. It is both a science and an art. SEO is a science because it involves you performing quantitative and qualitative analysis. Grading your website performance. Using analytic tools, a successful web owner is one who consistently tracks his or her web page. And does the same for blog post performance and optimization strategy.
Meanwhile, the artistic aspect of Houston SEO enters the game when the website owner needs to translate the collected data or analytics into action. This includes testing the content and layout of the website. Then optimizing the call-to-action pop up’s or buttons. Followed by changing the color scheme and icons to make the site mobile-responsive.
As you can see, SEO is more comprehensive (and complicated) than what people usually believe. Now that you have the right concept about SEO, let’s get started. We will start with some keyword research and planning.
SEO “Keyword Planning”
Keywords play a vital role in your SEO success. Put simply, keywords are words that are commonly used by people in your niche market. For example, a user who is looking for a restaurant near Houston. He or she will type, “Houston restaurant”, “restaurant Houston” or even “restaurant near (zip code)”. Considering that an SEO’s number one goal is to optimize search experience. Key word phrases is where you start… Helping people find answers fast. Find them fast on your website starting with your URL, meta text, content, headers. Then again in the menu and of course body content.
A quick way to get started on keywords is to create a free Google AdWords account. It’s easy and convenient. The account also comes with a free keyword planning tool so you can search up keywords and see their corresponding search popularity (aka the number of searches that is performed on that particular keyword per month). Before you get started, however, here are 4 keys you need to remember about keyword planning:
SEO “Keyword Relevance”
Whether you are a newbie or a veteran to Houston SEO, you’ll want to start your keyword planning with general, industry keywords. Going back to our restaurant example, some keywords in your industry will include “restaurant”, “dinning”, “food”, and so forth. At the time we did this search, Google AdWords showed that the keyword “restaurant” has a search popularity of 2,740,000.
As much as it is tempting to pick that keyword and stuff it all over your website (not a great SEO strategy), ranking for the word “restaurant” will do you little good if you are located in Houston. Even if you did a great job and ranked #1 on Google for “restaurant” (a mission-impossible attempt), you are not going to get a lot of quality leads. People who are searching for restaurants from California or other parts of the country/world will quickly leave your website. You are then left with lots of irrelevant traffic, little leads, and a ridiculously high bounce rate. When choosing your keywords, you want to choose base on relevance, not search volume, which leads us to our next point: Specify Your Keyword.
SEO “Specific Keywords”
Just how specific can you get with keywords?” you may ask. Our answer: As specific as you can get without cornering your business. Continuing our restaurant example, if you are a restaurant owner in Houston, your primary business interest will be getting search traffic from those living in Houston or the nearby community. This means you will need to specify your keywords by combining your generic keyword “restaurant” with a location “Houston.” We did a search on “Houston restaurant” and got the popularity search of 8,100. There were 4,100 searches for “restaurant Houston”, and 480 for “restaurant in Houston”.
While the keyword popularity may not be as generous as the generic keyword “restaurant”, you are definitely getting more quality and relevant visits from potential customers who may just drop by to give your place a try.
SEO “Keyword Pool Narrowing”
What we talked about in Key #2 has a lot to do with local SEO. Local SEO focuses on personalizing SEO for local markets. This concept rings especially true for local businesses just like yours. When you start with your keyword, Google Adwords recommends you to have only 15-20 keywords. That way, you can generate quality content that focuses on your top keywords, while having ample opportunities to repeat a few keywords three to four times throughout your writing.
SEO “Keyword Competitiveness”
When you create your keyword list, you want to maintain a healthy mixture of keywords base on their popularity and competitiveness. High-end keywords are generic ones like “foods” and “restaurants”. Moderately competitive keywords can be “Houston restaurant”, while the lower-end ones may include “restaurants in Houston”, “Italian restaurant Houston” (assuming you serve or specialize in Italian foods”, “Italian food Houston”, and other longer, more specific keywords. A great SEO strategy will involve you integrating various levels of keywords throughout your website to improve ranking potentials.
Planning (Writing) Your Content
Now that you have your keyword list. It’s time to plan your content. When it comes to creating a new website, most site owners make the devastating mistake of jumping right into the writing process. Only to find out quickly that you cannot get too far without rock solid planning.
Remember the pre-writing steps you learned in grade school? Now it’s a great time to apply what you know in real life. Because your website is your primary means to communicate and interact with your readers. Start off with an outline of the pages you want the website to have. While you are at it, assign a few keywords to each of the pages. This way every page will be professionally optimized for search engines.
Time To Plug In Your Expertise
Now it’s a great time to apply what you know in real life. Because your website is your primary means to communicate and interact with your readers. You need to plan your content strategically. Start off with an outline of the pages you want the website to have. While you are at it, assign a few keywords to each of the page so every page will be professionally optimized for search engines.
On the other hand, if you already have a website, here are a few things you may want to run through to fix any existing or potential SEO problem:
Eliminate Duplicate Content
Whereas great content is king, duplicate content is your greatest foe. It can severely frustrate your website reputation and ranking. Search engines like unique content. Content that is well-written improves user experience and boost your brand visibility by making you authoritative and credible. So fix and/or rid of any duplicate content to make every page and blog post a joy to read.
Create Nice and Descriptive URLs
An URL is the website address that helps both search engine crawlers and your visitors to understand the content of your page. A URL such as www.example.com/.php&id=12345 tells the user nothing about the page. For SEO purposes and user experience, it is best for you to use a short but descriptive URL like www.example.com/how-to-write-great-content. Make sure to include your keyword in the URL to improve page ranking.
Customize Your Title Tags
As the name suggests, title tags or title elements refer to the title of a page, blog post, or document. Title tags are often seen on search engine results pages (SERPs) so users can get a snippet of what the page is about. Because title tags are one of the first things a user will see, they can dramatically boost your SEO Houston social sharing efforts. Review your title elements to see if they accurately describe your page’s content. When possible, try to include one of your keywords in the title tags, while striving to keep your character count between 50-60 characters. Anything more than that will result in your title tag getting cut off and not displaying properly.
Write Your Meta Descriptions
Whereas title tags describe the title of the page, meta tags refer to the short description right below the title tag. According to Moz.com, “Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise explanations of the contents of web pages.” It should be limited between 150 and 160 characters. Although meta tags weigh much less in Houston SEO ranking considerations, they are extremely important when it comes to capturing readers’ attention and maximizing your click-through rates. So instead of leaving your meta tags blank and let the search engine pick and choose what to display, we recommend you to customize your meta tags and write compelling descriptions for the SERPs.
Get Popular – Build Links, Make Friends, Take Houston SEO to Next Level
Like everything else in life, having friends who support and believe in you can help you through the valleys of life. The same principle applies to online marketing.
Once you got a website up and running, it’s time to go out and make some friends. Just as you may invite people over for tea, lunch, or dinner in real life, inviting people to visit your website requires you to serve them some goodies too. Online hospitality requires website owners to honor their visitors’ time by providing great content for consumption.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to offer free ebooks, materials, or consultation in exchange for subscriptions, links, contact information, and more. To see this in action, visit websites that you know will be optimized. A good place to start this process is doing a search for BBB accredited SEO companies in your area.
Here are a few more things you can do to build up your network and earn quality links:
- Niche Directory Submission
Directory is the place where business can list their names, location, and contact information. Niche directory submission is extremely helpful because it gets your business name/brand out to your target industry. The directories can be either free or paid. As a result of submission, you will get a link from a relevant website. While this type of links may not be of premium quality, they are a good way to start building up your website’s link profile.
- Request Links
You can also research relevant websites and request links from them too. However, because you are trying to earn links, you probably should consider providing complementary content in exchange for the favor. This is why most website owners end up guest blogging or guest posting for other websites. Doing so helps them to get their names out to the world, while having the opportunity to link back to their website.
- Create Link-Worthy Content
Producing high-quality Houston SEO content is the way to build quality links. Instead of parroting other people’s ideas, strive to be a thought leader by saying something significant and newsworthy. People like original ideas. Many will be more than happy to share and link to your content if they recognize you to be a leader in the industry.
Final Words about Houston SEO
SEO is ever-ending and ever-evolving. Constant practice and learning are necessary to keep you in sync with the SEO updates and changes. Start your journey by applying these SEO practices today and experimenting with various strategies for best results. Feel free also to give us a call at (832) 857-0065 if you have more questions on Houston SEO.