Improve Keyword Rankings Using Basic SEO Techniques

Interested in ranking higher on Google? Of course you are! Who wouldn’t benefit from being on page one of a Google search?

Problem is you don’t know the first thing about search engine optimization (SEO). That’s ok! There are lots of simple things you can do to make some BIG IMPACT on your website’s Google rankings without having to be a technical or SEO wizard.

At its core, SEO is pretty simple. People search for a term or phrase and Google looks to see what webpages best match the search query based on a very complicated algorithm. While the algorithm itself is incredibly sophisticated, many of the tactics you can use to rank better under that algorithm are not.

Step 1 – Choose a page and keyword to optimize

If you don’t know what keyword you’re trying to rank for, Google won’t either. Take a moment to think what your webpage is about. For example, let’s say you’re a bakery called “Piece of Cake” based in San Francisco and you sell specialty cakes and cupcakes. You might think “Well I’m a bakery, shouldn’t I be trying to rank for bakery?” In short, no. The keyword “Bakery” is far too broad to even hope to rank in the top 50 search results. While “Bakery” most likely has a HUGE volume of search around it, it is also HIGHLY competitive and therefore extremely difficult to rank for. You’ll have much better success choosing a search term or phrase that is more specific to your business. Also, keep in mind people tend to search in questions or phrases not on single words. Search terms that are questions or phrases are called long-tail keywords.

Here’s where things start to get a little tricky. You want to optimize for more specific long-tail keywords but you don’t want to be too specific. With very specific long-tail keywords, it is much easier to rank highly but the search volume may be so low that you won’t benefit from being highly ranked. What you want to do is choose a keyword that has high search volume but relatively low competition. For example “Cupcakes in San Francisco.” It’s broad enough to include a decent volume of search queries but specific enough where the competition around the keyword may not be quite so difficult to crack. Now that we have our keyword, let’s start optimizing!

Keyword Difficulty Analysis from

Note: I used to lookup the search volume and keyword difficulty. But you can use Google Webmaster Tools and get almost the same information and it’s free!

Step 2 – Understanding Metadata

You may have heard of metadata before or maybe you haven’t. But if you haven’t, let me fill you in. Metadata is information that goes between the head tags of your page. It’s hidden from the user but search engines see it. In fact your meta title and meta description are what Google returns in their search results when someone searches for your webpage. Google also gives your meta data extra consideration as it expects the title and description to provide insight as to what your page is about. If your site is running on WordPress there are several great options that easily allow you to edit and update your meta data without ever having to touch HTML code. My favorite is Yoast SEO.

When crafting the language for your meta title and meta description you should be sure to use the keyword(s) you’re trying to rank for. In the page title, you want to include the topic of your page and the name of your company. For example “Specialty Cupcakes in San Francisco | Piece of Cake.” This tells people, and Google, what your page is about and what your company name is. You want to be sure to keep your page title between 50-60 characters to avoid Google cutting off your page title for being too long.

For the meta description you get a few more characters to work with, 156 characters to be exact. So again using our example above, your meta description may look something like this: “Piece of Cake offers the most delicious cakes and cupcakes in San Francisco. Choose from hundreds of designs, frostings, fillings, and more!” Notice how I used our keyword in both the page title and meta description? Now that we have our meta title and description complete let’s move on to our headings.

Improve Keyword Rankings with Yoast SEO for WordPress

Step 3 – Properly Structuring Headlines

Your headings are the page titles and sub titles you see on your page. But rather than titles they are called headlines. They rank in order from 1 – 6. Headline 1 having the most sway with Google and 6 having the least. That said, Google will not recognize more than one Headline 1 or H1 as it’s most commonly referred to. The H1 is typically the same as your meta title, minus the company name at the end. Your second headline and 3rd headline can be used more than once. Think of your page in terms of an outline.

Your H1 is the main topic of your outline while your secondary headlines, or H2’s, are the points you’ll cover supporting your main topic. Your tertiary headlines, or H3’s, will be any topics or arguments supporting whatever you discuss under your H2 and so on and so forth. I very rarely move beyond h3’s. As with the meta description it’s great if you can work your keywords or phrases into your headlines but it’s not as essential for your h2 and h3 and often times you’ll need to force it to fit them in which isn’t good either. You want your page to flow naturally so it doesn’t disrupt your users experience on your page.

For Example, our page outline may look like this:

  • H1 – Specialty Cupcakes in San Francisco
    • H2 – Cupcake Design Options
      • H3 – Sprinkles and Fondante
    • H2 – Cupcake Filling and Frosting Flavors
      • H3 – Choose From 80 Different Frosting Flavors!
      • H3 – Choose From 25 Different Filling Varieties!


That’s it! You’re now on your way to becoming an SEO wizard! If you’re interested in seeing what type of impact these types of adjustments have on your keyword rankings, I encourage you to sign up for tools like Google Webmaster Tools (free), (paid), or (paid).

One last thing to note, search engine optimization is long term game. Your rankings won’t jump up over night. It may take Google a few weeks to properly index and rank your pages. So don’t get frustrated if you don’t see improvement right away. Your rankings should gradually improve over time. If you have questions or need help please contact us, we’d be happy to hear from you!

How to Add Google Analytics to Your Website

Sometimes I tend to forget that while a lot of web technologies are old-hat to me, they may be new or even unknown to someone else. Recently I’ve noticed that many of my clients aren’t using Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is arguably THE most essential tool for any website. It’s a free tool from Google and it provides invaluable insight into your websites’ traffic, engagement, and conversions. Even if you aren’t ready to dig into the data just yet, you should still setup Google Analytics to collect your data so you have it when you are finally ready.

It’s a simple process but may be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before and odds are, if this is your first website, you probably haven’t. So let’s walkthrough the process on how to get started.

3 Simple steps to setting up Google Analytics

1. Setup a Google Account

The first thing you need to do is signup for a Gmail account in order to take advantage of Google Analytics. Don’t worry, it’s simple, fast, and free. Just fill in the required fields and click next step when you’re done.

Create Gmail Account or Login

Now you just need to authorize your account. Google will send a text message to your mobile phone, simply enter the code into the authorization field and that’s it! Congratulations! A whole new world is now open to you! You can now setup google analytics, google webmaster tools, a youtube page, a google plus page, and much much more!

2. Signing up for Google Analytics using Gmail

Now that you have your own gmail account, you can now register for google analytics. Click the link here or type in to get to the signup screen.

How to Setup Google Analytics

Now just click “sign up.” You’ll be taken to the analytics signup page. You’ll need to pick a name for your account, enter your website address (Example:, industry, and time-zone.

Register for Google Analytics

For the data sharing settings, I typically just leave all of those boxes checked. When you’re done, click “Get Tracking ID.” You’ll need to accept the Google Terms and conditions. Once you’ve accepted the terms, you’ll be taken Google Analytics Dashboard. Here you’ll see your Google analytics Tracking ID as well as the block of code you’ll need to add to your website.

3. Adding Google Analytics to Your Website

There are several ways to do this step, so depending on how your website is setup you may need to do this step a bit differently. If you’re running WordPress, there is a pretty simple way to accomplish this. Download the Google Analytics plugin by Kevin Sylvestre and simply copy and past your tracking ID.

Google Analytics Tracking ID

However, if you prefer not to use a plugin you’ll have to add the code block the old fashioned way. Simply copy and paste the code block after the opening body tag on any page you’d like to track. If you are using php, I like to use a php include so I don’t have to copy and paste the entire code block on every page. That method goes a little beyond the scope of this article but if you’re interested you can find more information here.

Google Analytics Code Block

That’s it! Your website is now setup to start collecting analytics data!

Note: Google Analytics takes roughly 24 hours to start displaying data. So don’t worry if you don’t see any data in your dashboard right away.

For more information on Google Analytics and how to take full advantage of it’s features check out some free training courses from Google.

The Three Best WordPress Plugins for Beginners

There are tons of articles out there about what the best WordPress plugins are and which ones you should be using. But when you’re starting out, seeing a list of ten or more “must have” plugins can make the thought of adding plugins seem pretty overwhelming. When it comes to plugins, less is more. You can create some pretty big impact without cluttering up your WordPress install with a ton of plugins. So, if you’re ready to start adding plugins to your WordPress site then here is a list of what we think are the three best WordPress plugins. They are simple, powerful, and perhaps most importantly they are FREE!

WordPress SEO by Yoast

If you only ever install one plugin on your site, it should be WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin adds perhaps THE most important tool you will ever use on WordPress. This plugin adds a small dialogue box at the end of every page and post that prompts you to fill in a few fields. These fields are: Focus Keyword, SEO Title, & Meta Description. If you also add a target keyword in your “Focus Keyword” box,  it will score you based on how well you’ve written your content in regards to that keyword. The SEO Title and Meta Description fields allow you to quickly summarize what your page is about in a way that entices users to click on your page from google. This helps increase your chance of landing that organic referral traffic you’ve been after. There are a ton of other features packed into this plugin that are simply wonderful, but as a beginner this is perhaps the easiest and best WordPress plugin to help you improve your website.


This plugin probably came pre-installed in your WordPress site but if it didn’t, make sure you get it. Akismet is a must have for those making use of the comments feature in WordPress. This plugin has really only one function and that’s to block spam. Nobody has time to sit and sift through spam. Do yourself a favor and get this plugin. The basic version is free and if you do decide to upgrade the paid versions are very affordable. Believe me this one is WORTH IT definitely one of the best WordPress plugins for beginners. Just be sure that when you activate this plugin you also verify your account with Akismet. It won’t start blocking spam until you do.

Akismet is the Best WordPress Plugin for filtering SPAM


Remember the old adage “Hope for the best but plan for the worst?” Of course you do; it’s good advice. Every website should have a good backup plugin just incase disaster strikes and you need to restore your website. BackWPUp is my favorite backup plugin for WordPress. BackWPUp allows you to fully back up your WordPress site and then store the backup files to a number of locations like: Email, FTP, Rackspace, Dropbox, Azure, SugarSync, and more. It also allows you to setup a recurring backup schedule. You can choose what type of backup you want to do (full or partial), which is another great feature. I hope you never have to restore your site from a backup but if you do, BackWPUp makes the process about as painless as restoring from a backup is going to get.

There you have it! The three best WordPress plugins for a beginning WordPress user. There are a ton of other wonderful WordPress plugins out there to choose from. If you have any questions on the WordPress plugins above or are looking for other recommendations, just drop us a line. We’d be happy to help you find just the best WordPress plugins for your website.