In order to show up at the top of Google search, you must BE REAL. There are no quick tricks that will last when it comes to Google’s search engine. People connect with authentic people. They buy from people they know and trust. This guide will take you first through improving your website with content and then next week, we’ll cover steps you should take with SEO.

No tricks!

Websites that just show a bunch of keywords at the bottom of the page, are not going to put you at the top of Google search. Google constantly refines their formula, so if you are relying on tricks it may work one week, but there is no guarantee it will work next week. I was at a networking event once, when a guy said the key to show up on Linkedin or Google was to have his keyword “photographer” show up 12 times in his profile. Next time I saw him he admitted that it worked for 3 days and then it didn’t. Instead of spending your time relying on tricks, website owners should focus their time on their content.

Create content focused on your niche
Businesses can only stand out from other businesses on three strategic levels: price, innovation & by targeting a certain niche market. If you are a small business, you can’t survive by being the cheapest. Innovation only works if you are the only one selling your product. For example, you created a tool that makes crushing apples easier. But realistically the only way most of us can stand out is by picking a niche and creating content people need in the research phase.

Many people, books and websites talk about SEO like its a magical formula, but in reality it all comes to down to compelling content based on your niche. A book I recently read called “A Website that Works” by Mark O’Brien shared this tip – if you add a minimum of 2,000 words per month to your website, Google will automatically place you higher than your competitor that has a static website that never changes. If you often update your content, Google knows to send out its Google bots often to check for new update.

While content marketing does take a lot of work writing content, O’Brien estimates that you can easily get 20% of your leads through your website. No more cold calling and hoping the next networking event gives you your next big break. And really the information you are writing is what you are most likely already telling your clients in person, by phone or Skype. You know why your product or service is better than the competitor, so think of a blog as a letter to your potential client.

But this only works if you pick a niche and specialize in creating content that your targeted niche wants to know. This can be in the form of a blog, video, ebooks, podcasts or even a webinar.

Have a blog

A blog is the BEST resource you have to get to the top of search engines. Google rewards the websites that publish at least 2,000 words per month. Creating content that brings people to your website is called Content marketing. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get 20% of your leads online? With a regular blogging platform it can.

To illustrate how this works, let’s take a real world example from my own website. My most popular page is “How much does a logo cost?” Why is it the most popular page? Because I chose a headline that people are actually typing into Google. When customers fill out my contact form asking for a logo design estimate and I ask how they found me – the most common answer is “I googled ‘How much does a logo cost’ and read your article & liked the way you explained it.” What is the phrase that your customers are typing in about you?

Think of a blog as a way for you to get free advertising.  While a Facebook ad will get you X results for 30 days, blog posts will last a lifetime.

Tell your brand story

Part of the amazing thing about blogs, is it allows you to tell your brand story every week. Part of a brand story is the tone of voice and blogging is the perfect place to let this shine. Is your company personality fun & geeky? Write that way. Is it more of a hippie cultural where anything goes? Write that way. Just make sure it matches the same message you convey in person, in your marketing materials and in social media.

Your website needs to sound well, human. I just read a book called “The Story Wars” that says that the most successful brands are based on moral myths. The author  “offers three simple tools any brand can use to break through, earn fans and become an icon: Be Interesting, Tell the Truth and Live the Truth.” Every human being has a unique story, just like every business has a unique story. Are you telling yours? Read more about How to Create your brand story.


Make sure your keywords are listed in the copy on your site. If you are a winery near Chicago and do not have the text that says “winery near Chicago” your site will not show up in search engines when people search for “winery near Chicago.”

For example, one of our clients came to us and asked “What can we do to show up as number one Authorized Disney Vacation Planner in our Collinsville, IL area?” I suggested they blog at least 2,000 words per month and start talking about where their clients were located into their blogs posts. But most importantly make it sound natural. No one wants to read text on a website that sounds like a robot. The results? They are number one for their key phrase “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner:”

So, how do you find your top keywords? Next week we’ll give you free sources to help you find them.

Choose a headline that works

Many of the most popular articles have three things in common. One, they reference your keywords. Two, they are short and three, many have a number in them or say “How to”. For example, my: 10 ways to increase your web traffic and How to create a fantastic Facebook page.

Create a strategy

Before you start any new marketing platform, it is essential that you have an online marketing strategy. This process will help you define your ideal customer, your goal, who is going to manage it, and budget concerns. Is your goal to get people to sign up for your newsletter? Then include an email sign up box through out your content. Do your customers love Facebook? Then make sure you use Facebook Open Graph for commenting and include a Facebook like box with fan’s photos.

Set a schedule of updates

You can do this by creating a detailed color-coded calendar or make it as simple as a list of topics to talk about that month. If you work better with deadlines, like I do, you could also put on your calendar “Blog due.” This way I see it on the calendar every day and can brainstorm while I go running or am driving. (Two of my best places for ideas!)

Next, we’ll get down to the nuts and bolts of how SEO works and what you need to pay attention to. Click here for Part 2: How to be Number 1 on Google with SEO.