Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
There is a lot that goes into search engine optimization (SEO). Because Google has had years to develop their algorithms, and they are constantly updating and changing them, it is getting harder and harder to “fool” the system. This is great for those who are contributing their website the right way; not so great for those who are taking shortcuts and trying to cheat the system.
But even for those who are optimizing their site the right way, which is supplying content and optimizing in a way to show that they know what they are talking about and to help Google rank them appropriately for their content, there are still some techniques and methods that are necessary to know and understand. Here are the basics of SEO; these are the key concepts that you need to know so that your website can be ranked better on Google.
Understanding the Terms and Definitions
As website content developers, we often get stuck speaking in jargon. Jargon such as “content development” and acronyms like “SEO,” “SEM,” and “SERP.” Before you can really jump in and start to optimize your website, here is a breakdown of what these terms mean.
Website Content/Content Development – Content is essentially the “stuff” on your website that is not the coding or layout. Basically all of the written words on your site are content. While pictures and graphics are also content, we specialize in written content. Without written content, and without developing new content, Google and other search engines won’t know how to find you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – SEO is making sure that your site is written and laid out in such a manner that Google can find you. While written content is the most important part, there are other pieces that help Google understand exactly what your content is all about.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) – SEM is really the ultimate goal of SEO. You want your site to rank highly on Google, so that people come and buy your service or product. You use the search engines to market your goods or service.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – SERP is a simplified way of saying, “get you to the top of Google.” Here we like to keep things simple, so you won’t find this term used much. Instead we focus on, “Get FOUND online.” or “Get to the top of Google.” It means the same as “improve your SERP” (most people use Google, and “to Google” something essentially just means “search for” something).
This list could continue on and on, but that is why we have a glossary on our site. If you see a word you don’t know, check out the glossary as it is likely defined over there.
So by using website content development, and search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, we help move websites up the results on Google. Here is basically how that is done.
The Components of Search Engine Optimization
SEO has a lot of different moving parts. But it all starts with the written content on your website.
Content is King
You have probably heard the statement, “content is king” before. And while that holds true in most senses it does need to be taken one step further. Content is indeed king, because without anything written on your site there is no way that Google will be able to determine what your site is all about. But there are stipulations.
Terribly written content is worse than no content. Google has special algorithms that can determine the legibility of your website content. If it’s a jumbled mess of words (or if it contains a lot of spelling errors or grammatical errors), then you would almost be better off without any content at all.
Small content snippets won’t help much. If you’re posting blogs or pages that have just a paragraph on them, you’re not doing yourself any favors. Longer, well thought out, content is what you need. But different lengths have different pulls as well.
Google wants to see that you have taken time to write content that is unique to your site. That means that those words have never been published anywhere before. Google also likes to see content that is longer. Under 300 words and you will have trouble getting your point across, or using keywords in a relevant manner. Over 500 words is better, but the current algorithms are actually favoring those pages that are 1200 or more words. Writing longer articles means you put more time into writing, thus those pages are more valuable.
Just posting a bunch of content to your website is a good start. But you still need to tell Google what your site is all about. Think of it as though you have a stand on the side of the road where you sell all sorts of fresh vegetables. They are laid out and displayed, but you still put up signs saying “fresh vegetables” and individual signs saying what each item is (“carrots” “tomatoes” etc.). The same concept applies to your webpage.
There are numerous components of internally optimizing your website. Most of them people will never actually see.
Alt tags on pictures – You want your pictures to be tagged (in the coding) with your keywords.
Meta Descriptions – When people see your page on their search results, they can read a snippet of what it is all about.
Titles and Headings – A huge block of text is not only hard to read, but also hard to determine what the topic is. Breaking things apart with titles and headings will help to clarify, and give Google something to draw upon when determining content.
Internally optimizing your written content is almost as important as writing the content itself. Fortunately once you understand what to do, it’s not terribly difficult to optimize it.
But your job isn’t completely done after tagging and internally optimizing. In fact, you have just gotten started. There is a lot of work to do outside of your website as well.
Backlinking – Backlinks are an often overlooked part of having a website. Basically put, you want to make sure that you page isn’t just a single blip on the Google radar. Instead, you need to have little touches all around the web. Ideally these backlinks would be built by other people as they reference your website as a resource. But often you will need to build them manually. Backlinks can be posted in guest blogs, online directories, comments, and a host of other areas.
Forums and Promotion – In order to get the word out that your website is around, you need to “advertise” that your site is around. In the end your site will be popping up as people search for key terms, but in the interim you need to make sure that people know you’re a resource. Forums are a great way to help others and show off your skills, and promoting yourself (via guest blogging and other methods) is another way to advertise without huge expenses.
Social Media – One of the ways that Google moves you up in the ranks is if you have a lot of traffic to your site. All of that content and optimizing shows Google what you have; traffic proves that people want to read and like what you have. Social media is a fantastic way to drive traffic to your site, and using it appropriately can be a huge benefit for you and your company.
The end goal of your optimization is to bring in a lot of traffic that ultimately converts to paying customers. That traffic is a method of boosting your search engine rankings. You write, and optimize, high quality content. That content is then search engine optimized, and it brings you up in the results. A higher placement on Google draws in some visitors to the site. Google tracks those visits, and raises your placement even more. This brings in more traffic and the cycle continues.
Search Engine Optimization for Dummies
As we mentioned earlier: search engine optimization incorporates a whole host of concepts, tasks, and ideas. These are just the highlights of each of those tasks, and there is a whole lot more in every category than what was touched upon here.
Here’s the hardest part of optimizing your website: finding the time to do it. Researching and writing content can take hours out of your week. Editing, optimizing, and promoting can suck even more hours from your already limited time. In the end, you don’t have time to run the business that you are trying to optimize.
That is where Sery Content Development comes in. We have a dedicated team that can analyze, optimize, write content, manage social media, promote, and do all of that work for you. You focus on what you do best: running your business. You leave the search engine optimization (SEO), content writing, social media management, and web worries up to us.
Interested in learning more about our web content services? Want help running your social media sites? Think you can do it all on your own, but need to know where to start? We can help. Give us a call at 406-839-7787 or fill out our contact form for more information.