I was chatting recently with one of my best friends from school who works in digital marketing.
We were talking about SEO and looking at the different strategies online marketers use in helping businesses get higher rankings on search engines like Google and Bing.
I find it interesting as a writer specialising in online content, how I’ve had to learn and develop my own knowledge on SEO.
I’m happy to admit I’m no SEO expert, I’m not a digital marketer but I realise you can’t write web content without understanding SEO on a basic level.
SEO can be a complex subject for some people, particularly if you’re a small business owner unfamiliar with online marketing techniques.
If you speak to some digital marketers they make SEO sound like a science. Getting high ranking positions is an ongoing battle for them. You’ll hear all about ‘white hat’ and the more dubious ‘black hat’ techniques some people use to beat Google and get poor quality (web spam) sites to artificially rank higher than they should.
Sometimes I feel SEO is made more complicated than it needs to be. Through everything I’ve read, heard and listened to, I’ve come to the conclusion that SEO should come down to this:
“It’s just about creating great content”
Get this right and SEO shouldn’t be a problem for you.
How to get the basics of SEO right?
Firstly lets remind ourselves what SEO or Search Optimisation is. SEO is about making sure that your online content, your website can be found by people using search engines.
Search is the most common online activity after email. With all these millions of people looking for products and services, you want to do everything you can to make sure people find you!
On page & off page SEO
Off page SEO All about building inbound links. You want quality websites to link to you. By linking to you they’re giving you a vote of confidence, a thumbs up. A link to your website is an endorsement and the search engines will take this into account.
You want to create content that will attract other people linking to you. That means content of high value. Can you create content that provides insight or analysis on trends and developments in your industry.
A lot of people use search engines to find answers to questions, to learn how to do something. Helping your customers or readers should provide you with more content ideas and this should hopefully result in more people wanting to link to you.
Getting inbound links is crucial for SEO but outbound links are also important. When creating online content you should always link out to other related articles and pages across the web. Search engines will be looking out for these links when trying to identify the subject matter of your content.
On page SEO is really all about keywords. You need to get your keywords right.
Think of a short list of keywords relevant to your business. These should be words that you customers and readers will be using when searching for your product or service on search engines.
How competitive are your keywords?
Some keywords are more competitive than others and will be harder to rank for. Examples would include, ‘solicitor’, ‘plumbing’ ‘marketing’ you’ll struggle to rank on search engines if you use competitive general keywords. The more people who are searching for a particular keyword, the more competitive it becomes.
Think about using keywords that are less competitive, more specific to your business, but which should hopefully rank better. Be specific if necessary by including keywords that relate to your location or a particularly specialism about your service or product you provide.
Get your title and headings right
Always look at using your keywords in the titles, headings, and sub-headings of the content your creating.
Also include keywords in the following
Your URL – The URL is your web address. For example the URL for my blog is http://www.rodneydennis-blog.com/ Having my name in my web URL has helped me rank as the top Rodney Dennis according to Google. There’s a lot more Rodney Dennis’ out there than you think!
In your URL use keywords that are relevant to your site’s content. This will make it easier for your users and search engines to understand what your website or page is about.
Your Meta description tag – This is the snippet of text under the title of the web page you find after a search result. A page’s description meta tag gives Google and other search engines a summary of what the page is about. You should look to include some of your keywords in these summaries
Don’t forget Social Media
Social media is now playing a greater role in SEO. By promoting and creating content on the three big social media sites of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn you can drive more traffic to your website.
Google and other search engines are taking this into account in search results. If people are sharing your content on social media, this is another endorsement.
Don’t use social media just for the sake of it. If you want to start using twitter ask yourself if it’s really the right platform for you. Think of a content strategy you want to put in place. What are your goals, what type of content are you going to create?
Google wants to reward you
There’s a lot more you can learn about SEO depending on your own time and interest. From what I can see, SEO isn’t an exact science; different people have different ideas on the type of strategies and techniques that should be used.
I also think SEO is a relatively new discipline and things are always changing. Techniques that were popular a few years ago, like ‘keyword density’ are now seen as outdated.
Google is always developing and making adjustments to their algorithms. Remember Google are providing a service – Google wants people to find the best, most useful and appropriate results when it comes to search.
Google doesn’t want poor quality websites and content ranking highly by manipulating SEO techniques. It’s always frustrating when you search for something and the top 3 or 4 sites listed aren’t really what you’re looking for.
The credibility of search engines like Google relies on them being able to deliver good quality, trustworthy search results. This is why Google are constantly adjusting their algorithms because they want the best websites to rank highest.
This is why I don’t think you should over analyse and get stressed out about SEO. It really does comes down to creating great content – that’s ultimately what Google is looking for.
If you can create great content you’ll be rewarded with better search rankings.