SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. So what is Search Engine Optimization or SEO?
Simply put, it’s optimizing your site for search engines to better your chances at receiving more traffic from an organic search engine result. Actually ranking and growing the traffic, that’s not so simple. SEO has evolved over the last couple of years and these days having a SEO strategy is more complex than having keyword rankings, title tags, and backlinks. All of those are important, but to really get traction you need to have a content strategy in mind. Before you get to the content strategy, you need to build out a good foundation. Here’s what you need to know about the basic building blocks of SEO.
5 Simple Must Knows for SEO
1. Make Sure you Have All the Basics Covered
What does that mean? That means before you start promoting your site, make sure it past a series of basic requirements for SEO best practices.
These things matter for basic SEO:
- Map out all your URLs and optimize every page for your primary keyword phrase
- Submit a sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools
- Make sure all your images are web resolution friendly. Big image files can weigh down a site. Optimize your images by placing keywords in the image file and alt text.
- Check your site speed
- Have a mobile friendly site (most sites come out of the box mobile friendly these days, but it’s good to make sure your mobile site is performing)
- Here is a link to a basic SEO master template that I have created to get you started. You can’t edit it, but you can make a copy and work on it from there.
2. Keyword Rankings and Strategy Still Matter
- I don’t care what people say…keywords still matter. It’s not about keyword stuffing, but rather it’s about knowing where you stand in the competitive space and how you plan on competing in that space. A good keyword strategy helps drive the entire content marketing strategy. Diving deep into keyword research helps you find keyword variations that your top competitors are ranking for. Think of it as casting a net, the wider your keyword variation net is, the more traffic you can get. Plus, if you start ranking for a variety of less competitive keyword variations that are closely related to the vanity keyword (the most competitive keyword that has the highest level of competition) the better your chances are for ranking for that keyword. Why you might ask? Because Google loves relevancy. The more relevant you are for that search term, the more authority you will gain in the search results.
3. On Page Optimization
- Once you have your keywords mapped out to your sites pages, you will want to make sure each page is optimized for this keyword. This is called on page optimization. I use a plug in for WordPress called SEO Yoast. It’s free and simple to use.
- Basic on page optimizations include the following:
- Keyword in Title Tag
- Keyword in URL ( not a must, but recommended)
- Keyword in the body of the copy
- Keyword in the H1 header
- Keyword in the image alt text
- Keyword in the meta description ( Meta descriptions are more for click through rate. Make sure you have a call to action)
- Internal and external linking
- Link internally to at least one relevant page
- Link out externally to at least one other resource other than yours
4. Off Page Optimization
- Off page optimization is another way of saying external link building. I recommend doing off page optimization after you have already optimized your pages for the primary keyword you want to rank for. Exact match anchor text still matters, so if you can get an external link for your target keyword, you’re in business, just don’t over do it. Google penalizes sites who use spammy link building tactics. One high ranking external link is more valuable than a lot of low quality links. When doing external link building, it’s quality not quantity that matter.
- Guest posting is great for exposure. Not only do you usually get a quality link out of guest posting, you can build a name for yourself as a leader in the industry. Some places accept contributions, others may take a little more work getting in the door. Network with people in your industry to see how you could fit in to their niche and offer to write a helpful article for their blog. Chances are, they will be grateful for your help.
5. Social Media is Good for SEO
- Google has repeatedly denied that social signals are not a ranking factor, but many people in the industry believe there is a correlation. The more likes and shares that post has the more relevant Google may see it, and as we know, Google loves relevancy. Besides social signals as a ranking factor, there are ways that search and social work together. You definitely want to make it easy for your visitors to share the content on your site and well as like or follow your social media profile page. This helps boost your visibility and could potentially bring new visitors to your site. If the content on your site is good, people will stay on your site and hopefully view more pages. We do know that time on site and pages per visit is an indication to Google that your content is relevant and they will take notice. This means that time on site and pages per visit is a ranking factor, so if you can get more visitors to visit your site through social media and people stay and view multiple pages, there is a correlation.
- Pinterest helps get you back links. Not only does Pinterest help with visibility, you will also get some SEO out of it. It’s a good way to get started.
There are many good resources I recommend reading to get started on learning the basics of SEO.
Moz SEO 101
I’ve used the Moz platform for a long time and the founder Rand Fishkin is an SEO icon in the world of SEO. This is where I got started and if you want to know all the nittyl gritty details, they go over it. If not, save that for later and keep reading this article.
Search Engine Journal SEO 101
Good updates for all levels of SEO.
For me one of the biggest things I learned is that there isn’t a one size fits all strategy for every company, but there is a basic lead generation formula that all businesses should have in place. Your company has specific customers and a specific value proposition, so you will need a strategy that resonates with them. Part of the whole online experience isn’t just getting the traffic, it’s what the visitors do once they get there, but I digress.
These are just some basic tips to get started with SEO. This is SEO stripped down to the basics, but I am a firm believer in setting up a good foundation to build on. If you would like help setting up your SEO campaign, contact me for a free 15 minute consultation.