Welcome to SEO Basics
You are probably wondering what Search Engine Optimization is and if your business needs it. You may also be a marketer or SEO just getting started in your career. I hope to provide this Search Engine Optimization Training to explain the basics, and then you can decide if this is a marketing process you need for your organization. If you're starting your SEO journey, this training should hopefully be a guide.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization is the process in which you optimize your website to be indexed by Search Engines. The goal is generally to increase the visibility of your website, increase the amount of organic traffic to your website, and improve the conversion rate of visits to customers.
Search engines are constantly crawling websites, trying to index as much information as possible to display to people using their service. Basically, Search Engines can only show the information they find on the web.
You will want to make sure these search engines pick up the right information and display your information to the right people when searching for your products, services, or solutions.
How do I Search Engine Optimize my website?
Let's start with the strategy for SEO:
There are four areas we suggest covering to make sure your website is properly optimized.
- Code - Ensure your website is properly coded, loads well and timely, and contains few errors. If a search engine can't find it, it can't index the page.
- Content - Keyword-rich content that builds expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. The content should be ready for humans to read but have some technical elements in place.
- Community - Strong backlinks from credible, relevant websites and websites with increased authority. Leverage existing relationships.
- Competitors - Get to know what the competition is doing online and identify which efforts will be easier or harder based on the level of competition.
Next, let's get SEO tactics:
There are some basic tactics when it comes to SEO. Here are some tactics you should implement to SEO your website.
- Know what your website is doing. Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console for your website.
- These programs will give you data on the traffic to your website, the words people use to come to the site, which pages they visit, and much more.
- You will also get data on errors Google sees and suggests you fix.
- Audit your website. There are free tools to check several of the factors we outlined above. Auditing your website will help you create a baseline for your website. If the results are less than desirable, you should have a clear idea of what elements are working, broken elements, and what should be improved over time.
- Check the code for errors. You may need a web developer or SEO to help you figure out how to fix these errors.
- Check your rankings. You want to get a read on how your website is currently ranked, including which pages and keywords the search engines have ranked for your website.
- Check your backlinks. Ensure you are associated with relevant websites, watch for sketchy links, and shore up links you may be missing.
- Check on your competitors. Some of your competitors may have already engaged in SEO or have been around for a long time. Learn what they are doing, and work that into your plan.
- Check the User Experience. Does your website have the information people are looking for? Is it easy to navigate? Does the site load quickly and mobile-friendly?
- Make an SEO Plan. Make the plan before you start making changes. Be sure that:
- It fits into your broader marketing efforts.
- Leverages your existing resources.
- You are investing the right amount of time and energy into efforts that improve your broader marketing goals.
- Start fixing and Improving. Once you have the plan, it's time to start making changes to your website.
- Fix code errors. Start with missing and broken content, work into the duplicate content issues. This is called Technical SEO.
- Optimize your pages. Start improving the quality of your pages by fixing title tags, meta descriptions, and using headers. Make sure your important pages have at least 300 words on the page, and the content contains the words you want to be found. This is called on-page optimization.
- Work on a backlink campaign. Look at your offline relationships and online connections. Is there a way to formalize a connection between these websites? Is there an industry website that can provide a backlink?
- Check on your competitors. How is their website set up, and how does the website load on various devices? What keywords and phrases are they using? Work some of this data into your website, making it uniquely your content.
- Check up on the changes. Once you have made the changes give it a few weeks and check your Analytics and Search Console data. You should be able to see the improvements taking effect. Ideally, you can also start getting more phone calls or closed businesses.
Remember a few key things.
SEO is about quality over quantity. It's better to have quality content, keywords, and backlinks than have a bunch of phony and fluff stuff. Search engines are getting smarter and will penalize people trying to game the system. Better to focus on speaking to potential customers that may actually want your product or service.
Write to the humans, format to the machines. The search engines are trying to emulate human behavior, and they take signals from web visitors' actions on your website. Make sure the site is useable and readable by humans. Then go back through and make small changes that satisfy the machines. (Like me checking all the grammar for this post).
SEO should fit in the Broader Marketing Efforts. Let's say this all works for you. Are you ready for more people to come to your website? Are you creating content that fits with the broader guidelines and marketing goals? It should all fit together.
Watch for Shaddy SEOs. There may be a point where you need to hire an SEO to help you with your efforts. Know what they are offering, what they will do, what they need from you, a clear timeline, and clear deliverables. There is a myriad of people that offer SEO services.
SEO is a Marathon of Continuous Improvement. Given the dynamic element of the internet, you need to keep working on your website to make pivots, create new content, or optimize pages as your rankings change. New websites are coming online, and your competitors may also be working on an SEO plan.
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Free SEO Resources
I have assembles some SEO Resources for anyone that wants to do SEO themselves. You can find some tools, processes, and forms you can use for your SEO journey.