Give me a frank definition of SEO, please
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to the practice of getting your website listed higher on search engine results pages, or SERPs. If you type in “Mongolian hats” on Google and click search, the resulting page is a SERP. If you have an e-commerce site that specializes in Mongolian hats, but your link doesn’t appear on the first page of Google’s results, then you need to optimize your site. Sounds easy enough, right?
Do I need to care about SEO?
SEO is crucial to any company that is dependent upon an internet presence, and it is important for all others, too. Anyone who buys stuff online and everyone who has a phone in today’s world is probably fluent in the language of internet use. Billions of searches take place every month. Behind the scenes, SEO professionals are tweaking their websites to rank a little bit higher for their target keywords. If your business is competitive, then you must invest in SEO. Get on the bandwagon or you’ll be left behind!
A keyword is the golden currency of SEO. It is the lifeblood, the thing that makes or breaks a website. To be more direct, a keyword or string of keywords (keyword phrase) is the thing around which you structure each individual page of a website. When someone types something into the Google search bar, the words they input are the keywords that Google’s robot, Googlebot, scurries off to find. That robot scans the entire internet, finding and indexing every website, “reading” to find out which keywords are relevant to which sites and how strong that relevance is. To judge the relevance of a keyword, the Googlebot finds on-page and off-page clues.
On-page SEO and what you need to know
When you hear professionals talking about on-page SEO, they’re referring to what you can tweak directly on your website in order to increase traffic. Here is a brief round-up of the steps, in order, that you must take to ensure proper SEO:
Optimizing a website begins with keyword research. Software like Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Soovle, Moz, and FreshKey are uber-useful. You’d be surprised how many more people search for “pizza recipes” than “pizza restaurants”, which goes to show that research counts.
User-friendliness – Site architecture
All your efforts at on-page SEO will be useless if your website isn’t fun to browse. The number one way to keep people on your website is to make it intuitive and attractive.
Title, Description, URL
Each page of a website should contain meta data. Meta data is not visible on the page itself, but works behind the scenes to tell Google what’s up. Meta data consists of the title, description and URL (also known as the slug). The keyword should occur in each of these.
Apart from the meta data, the keyword should show up on the page, too. This means it should appear in the on-page title and body content. The longer the article, the more often it should occur. Google prizes versatility, so craft sentences that use the keyword alongside a variety of other words. If this article is targeting for “SEO basics,” then Google will give me extra credentials if I write somewhere “basics of SEO.”
The Googlebot gets around the net by following links. It appreciates a well-connected website, which means links between your posts, and outbound links to relevant third-party sites are good. And a little hint: placing keywords within the blue hypertext makes Google all giddy.
Don’t forget off-page SEO
No website is successful without a good off-page SEO strategy. This refers to everything that happens away from your website which promotes higher SERP rankings. Did you like the round-up above? Here’s another one:
Websites with more inbound links from trusted pages are held in higher esteem by the Googlebot. There are tons of ways to get backlinks to your website from others. Submit to all the search engines and internet directories. Get listed on business directories like Yellow Pages, post your link to forums, answer queries and submit your URL, share your product stamped with your website address.
This plays into the idea of inbound links, but having a presence on social media does more for your company’s exposure than SEO. The power of Facebook, Twitter and Google + is undeniable to say the least!
The Googlebot is actually a spider
I’ve been purposefully misleading you in order to press a very important point. We’ve been calling the Googlebot that goes around indexing the whole internet a robot, but it’s really more like a spider. It crawls. And it makes sense. SEO is an inherently web-like process, whereby everything is interconnected in some way. The more connected your website is, the higher it shows on the SERPs. So go out there and weave the best web you can.