Do you need someone to tell you in short exactly what SEO is? Do you want to know in basic terms how to do SEO?
I’ve put together a simple guide explaining what SEO is, how it works and how you can learn to do it.
Many businesses vision SEO to be some mythical creature that only coding wizards can be the master of. This is not the case at all as anyone can learn SEO and can be a lot easier than some people may think… it just depends whether you have the time. SEO is a full time job and is something that needs to be continually worked on which is why online businesses hire marketers to do it for them.
What Exactly Is SEO
Let’s get down to business which is… what is SEO? In short, SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is what marketers do to improve organic search engine rankings. I used the word ‘organic’ as you can pay to get to the top of Google but getting to the top of the ‘organic’ search results is free and can have higher and more long-term ROI.
SEO is the umbrella term used for all the different factors that marketers work on to improve organic rankings. Such factors include building an SEO friendly website, on-page optimisation, content marketing and increasing authority. I will go into each one of these factors further on so keep reading.
How Does SEO Work
If you’re anything like me, you pretty much Google everything and anything to get the information or answers you’re looking for. When you Google something though, have you ever thought about how Google determines the order of websites listed on the search results page?
Google has these little spiders that they send out to crawl all websites of the world that want to be found. These spiders will gather information on websites such as what they are about, their backlink profile and much more. Once they have gathered this information they will then create an index which Google uses to match the data on websites to your search query.
Can Anyone Learn SEO
Anyone and everyone can learn SEO, it just depends whether you have the time to learn it and whether you have the time to action what you have learnt. Not only that but time will also need to be spent continually monitoring and optimising throughout the lifetime of your website.
As a business owner though, it helps to have an understanding of SEO and how it works so you can better hire marketers and also manage and monitor performance. Whether you are learning to do it yourself or want to have an understanding of SEO to manage it, I have listed below the fundamentals to make SEO work.
How To Build An SEO Friendly Website
The first thing you should start with is your website to make sure it is SEO friendly so that those little Google spiders I spoke about earlier, can crawl it and index it quickly and correctly. Whether designing a brand new website or wanting to improve the one you already have, SEO starts with the architecture. You need to structure your website so search engines can easily find its pages. To do this, make sure all pages on your website are a part of a hierarchy. For example, your most important page is your homepage which will then link to your category pages which then link to your service or product pages. Pages that aren’t within the hierarchy cannot be found by Google no matter how important they are.
On-page optimisation means to make changes on your website to help improve your organic search rankings. You can do the following on-page changes to optimise your website:
- HTML Title Tags – Title tags is what will show as the header on the search engine results page. If you want to have a good click-through-rate, make sure your title tags are relevant to the page they belong to and are compelling.
- Header Tags – Use H1 tags for your main headings and H2 tags for your subheadings. All of these headings should include a target keyword that is relevant to the page it is about. Heading tags are a powerful ranking factor as search engines will use them to understand what website pages are about.
- Image ALT Tags – Search engines can’t read images so they have no benefit to SEO unless you add ALT tags to them. ALT tags are what search engines will read to understand what the images on your website are.
Content Is King
‘Content is king’ has been a popular term for a while now as content became an important ranking factor for SEO. Google favours websites who publish regular content that is valuable. The more you are publishing valuable content on your blog, the more Google’s little spiders will crawl your website and the more indexed pages you will have in the search engine domain.
It is important to note however that content will only help SEO rankings if it is valuable and not generic. For example, a blog post containing unique data your business has collected would be more valuable than a blog post wishing one of your employee’s happy birthday.
Building Your Domain Authority
One of the most important rankings factors is building your domain authority which can be done by generating backlinks. This can be the hardest ranking factor though as it is the only one you don’t have full control over. Backlinks are when other websites and blogs link to your website or blog post. The only way to generate these natural backlinks is through quality content. When thinking of ideas for blog topics, think about whether people would share it and talk about it.
The one thing you should always avoid is link farms or marketers promising 1000 backlinks in 1 week. It is not about the amount of backlinks you get, it is about the quality! Check out my tips for 2016.
I'm Paul Gordon an SEO freelancer who has spent the last 16 years helping businesses expand and grow through effective SEO strategies.