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Did that title get your attention? I’m not the smartest guy in Canada but for the past 3 plus years Google has had me ranked #1 for that search phrase. When I did that in July of 2009 it was a neat little gimmick to first, see how fast I could get to page 1 and then top spot and second to show people how easy it can be to rank for long tail search phrases with low competition.

Long Tail Search Phrases

Did that just make you say “what”? Let me explain. If you search on Google for “landscaping”, the search engine algorithm (a long, ever-changing equation that calculates over 200 minute factors on every website page to determine search engine results) searches through its database of billions of web pages and delivers up the top 167 Million of them that relate to the search phrase “landscaping”.

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But then if you search for “front yard landscaping” the competition is narrowed down to just over 4.7 Million results. And then when you add the word “ideas” to the end of that, you are down to just 1.25 Million competitors.

Landscaping2 Simple SEO Advice from the Smartest Guy in Canada

Coincidentally our client Cedargate Landscaping comes up in position 5 in the organic search ranking for that phrase but also in position 3 for the short tail search phrase “landscaping”. The point being, that it is easier to rank high for a phrase that includes three or more words in the search query and once you gain a high position for the less competitive phrases you can turn your focus onto the more competitive ones.

So the phrases of three or more words are the long tail search phrases. To gain quick ranking in the search engine results, going after the long tail first is the key. By doing proper keyword research to identify long tail phrases with low competition and relatively high search volume, you can be assured quick positioning at the top of search engines as long as you use the right strategies and best practices. More on that later.

My example of the Smartest Guy in Canada is a great example of a long tail phrase with low competition, but actually very low search volume. It was fairly easy for me to rank well for that term and it has taken a bit of effort to maintain since we did have someone try to compete for the top spotbut they gave up after a year.

Content is King (yawn), Content is Jedi Master Yoda!

The term “content is king” has been thrown around so much that it has become like white noise. I don’t think it has the same impact that it once did. So think of content as Jedi Master Yoda, the most powerful Jedi in the whole galaxy!

However you think of it, well written keyword focused content is critical to your SEO success. Once you have identified the long tail keyword phrase you want to target for that page you need to sit down and start writing or hire an SEO copywriter to help create powerful content.

Good content is not about you. You need to focus on your visitor. What problem do they have that would cause them to search for that phrase. In my landscaping example above, the best long tail phrase in terms of lowest competition and high search volume is “front yard landscaping ideas”. So the content on the page should not be focused on landscape design, or landscape architecture or anything other than front yard landscape ideas.

Writing great content is not as easy as you might expect, or perhaps you are well aware of how challenging it can be. My recommendation would be to hire an experienced SEO copywriter who can put your thoughts and expertise into content worthy of a Jedi Master.

Are people searching for ideas in the early or later stages of their buying process? Probably early, so it’s a good time to give them something of value in exchange for their email address and start nurturing a relationship with them. More on that in a future blog post. Be sure to subscribe to my blog.

A Jedi is nothing but a guy (or elf) with a fancy sword without The Force. The Force is where a Jedi gets his power. Similarly, high-quality inbound links are where your content will get its power with the search engines. Each link pointing to your content is like a vote, telling Google that your content is important and valuable. Links are like referrals for your business.

Credible inbound links are preferred. Just like a referral, the more credible or believable the referral source the more likely it is you will get the business. So a .gov website linking to you or from amazon.com or facebook.com will carry a lot more weight than a link from bobsyouruncle.com.

Professional link-building services are a great way to create hundreds of high quality inbound links to your web pages. The process of building high quality links is extremely time consuming and requires a certain skill set to do properly.

There are some good tips that I recently came across if you prefer DIY Link Building:

Guest blogging

Other ideas for a successful link building campaign include guest blogging. The general idea behind guest blogs is to get a link to your website posted on an already established website/blog. These links tend to carry more weight in Google because they are harder to acquire. Some sites will have very stringent requirements for the types of articles they will accept, so links from these sites have more value. Another popular and highly successful method is to contact bloggers or webmasters in your niche and simply ask them for a link. Or, ask to be a guest blogger for the sole purpose of getting the chance to link your guest blog posting back to your site. Establishing relationships with reviewers, authors, professors, enthusiasts, topic experts or anyone else who is operating a website in your niche area, whether it be through social networking or message boards, is a great way to build a network of people who might be willing to reference your website in their content.

Join web 2.0 site

Joining a web 2.0 site is an excellent method of developing search engine friendly links. If you are not familiar with the name, web 2.0 is the term used to describe websites that have a social networking component to them. Sites like Squidoo, StumbleUpon, and Delicious generate most of their content from the site users themselves. These types of pages facilitate interactive information sharing as well as collaboration, where you yourself can add articles that include up to 9 free backlinks per article to your website. Don’t duplicate any of your existing articles on your website and use them for either Squidoo or HubPages though, as search engines are filtering out content that way.

The best way to build links and create strong SEO benefits through Squidoo.com is by creating unique content that focuses on your keywords. Always try to incorporate multimedia, such as videos or images to gain more trust and authority quickly. It only takes a few articles until you’ll be able to add on a number of backlinks in your articles to your main site. I also really like Squidoo’s RSS feed widget, as this gives nice backlinks plus context to the links, which is great for search engines.

And finally, source your own networks for possible opportunities to build more links. Business contacts, suppliers, distributors, family members, friends, even your children’s school, all have the potential for providing you backlink opportunities. If you have been nice to them and they like you, ask for a free backlink on their website. Of course, the higher page rank or relevant websites you can link to, the better. If you can manage to obtain powerful and valuable links from websites like edu.com, that would be highly beneficial to you SEO efforts.

There are a lot more tactics involved in SEO to help you compete and surpass your competitors in search engine ranking results. The aforementioned tactics are basic initial strategies that help build a strong foundation and starting point for your SEO efforts, and will immediately help you move your website traffic and search engine ranking results to the next level.

Read more.

And there you have it! SEO 101. In a nutshell that is all I did to rank #1 for “Smartest Guy in Canada” was write some good content, blog about it and build some links from various Social Media channels. It took about 4 hours to get to page 1 and within a couple days I was in the top spot.