The Complete Guide to SEO Marketing
Managing SEO internally can be rewarding with the right tools and resources. We outline all the basics of what you need to know to start setting up your company’s SEO strategy.
What is SEO
Search engine optimization or SEO in simple terms is how you get more people to your website by ranking higher on search engines. There are three core concepts in SEO:
SEO is important because of the amount of content available online. Search engines like Google need a system to rank the best web pages. The goal of Google is to make the best experience for someone searching for an answer. As the internet and SEO evolve the optimization of a web page becomes about the quality of the content and the ability a page has to distribute that content.
If you search SEO on Google you get over 55 million results, this article is about how you can stand out in our crowded online world.
Your content is the most important part of your page, but how do you decide what content to write?
Your first step is keyword research. A search engine is all about the search term or keywords used in the search engine. Users can type in a single keyword or a bunch of words together known as a long tail keyword. You need to focus your content on one topic to help make it clear to your readers and the search engine what you are writing about.
To get started with keyword research you need to know your audience and their problem or question. Once you know your general topic you can start focusing your article. Here are a few tips to do that:
- Find questions people have about your topic.
Use websites like Answer the Public, Quora, Reddit, and Facebook Groups to understand what your customers are talking about.
- Flush out keywords in each topic that cover the main ideas
- Use tools to help you find the best keywords
Google’s free Keyword Planner can help you get started. In the planner add your new keywords and Google will show you how many people are searching for each word, and other words like it.
- Find keywords that you can rank for
It’s important to find your sweet spot, keywords with large search traffic are often very competitive and hard to rank for. Long tail keywords will have more room to rank higher because they are searched less and tend to be more focused. You are looking for words that have search traffic but aren’t too difficult that you will have a tough time beating out the top spot. Ubersuggest is a free tool that tells you how difficult the competition for your chosen keywords will be.
Once you have decided on your topics keyword list, you can start writing your content. It is good to find two or three of the top articles on your topic that are ranking for your keywords and make sure you are adding to the conversation above and beyond what those articles offer. Use a tool like Ubbersuggest or SEMRush to gauge what is winning in that keyword, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.
When you are done writing ask yourself does your content add value your competition doesn’t have? If your article is the same or lacking find a way to add something that top spot doesn’t have like extra tips or additional steps (or even a great visual).
The technical part of SEO sounds difficult but because of technology the basics have become easier to do with some light research. There are some things that must be set up on your website to help ensure Google understands what is on your page.
Design and Usability
The first and most important part of your site is the design and usability. Can your reader find what they are looking for and does your website work on all devices? Here are some important things to watch out for:
- Make your site mobile friendly – over 50% of users are now on mobile and it is no longer acceptable to have a site that isn’t responsive to any screen size.
- Site speed – people give up after 3 seconds, if your page didn’t load they have moved on. Google puts a great emphasis on site speed and you can use the free Google speed checker to make sure your site is performing properly.
- Site Security – You may have noticed that most sites now start with https instead of just http. This is because of an SSL certificate which is a safety feature that encrypts customer information to the server the website lives on giving an extra protective layer to your customers data. As the internet grows security becomes more important and search engines like Google will no longer rank sites they deem to be unsafe. To get an SSL certificate here is an easy to follow how to.
Website SEO Tips:
- Write for people not just for the search engine. Do not stuff your article with your keywords!
- Make it easy for readers to share your content on social (social sharing can help you reach more eyeballs).
- Make your content scannable. Not everyone will read your article so make it easy for them to understand what is going on without reading the whole thing.
- Image text matters on your page. Your images can also come up on an image search (which is often less crowded) and give credit to what is written on your page. Don’t skip over your images, take the time to label them properly with your chosen keywords.
The structure of your site is important to help people navigate your site easily, create an outline for search engines.
But what is site hierarchy?
It is like the map of your website and how people should read it. For example Your hierarchy should start on your home page then lead to support pages or blogs, then links within those pages. Your URLs will outline the hierarchy of your site like a road map for readers. Your blog may look like yoursite.com/blog/blogname/ This lets your reader and the search engine know they are in your blog tab under your blog name. While this is not mandatory it is best practice to have a hierarchy for your main pages.
Tip: Most top ranking (top 10 on search engine) pages have a short link (URL) of 96 characters or less. A shorter link can help your ranking. Add your keyword in your link to help even more.
The difference between page and site hierarchy is that site is the whole website and page is each web page on your site. Most sites like WordPress and Wix naturally create page hierarchy as long as you use headings and bolded text. Your page hierarchy is your header tags usually referred to as H1, H2 and so on.
A meta description is the short snippet about your website that comes after your title on the search engine.
In technical terms and to the search engine it is what explains your website. Search engines would use it to rank your site based on the keywords in the description but it is no longer a large part of the technical algorithm. That doesn’t mean you should forget about it because people read your description. They use it to decide if they want to visit your page, and if it will cover what they are searching for. Clicks to your site are important to your search ranking and help improve your position.
If you use the Yoast plugin on your website your meta description can be filled in on each web page under the Yoast tab. Yoast SEO is one of the most common on page SEO tools used at this time. There is a free and paid option.
A site map is an XML file that lists all of your website’s URLs for a search engine. The map tells the search engine when pages are updated and what the relation is to each page. You can commonly find your site map at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml or you can check your sitemap on Google Search Console (a very handy SEO tool) or a free site like seositecheckup.com.
If you have a small website and need a site map up you can use free tools like xml-sitemaps.com to create a site map. We advise working with a specialist like Blue/Meta if you have a larger website to ensure your sitemap is correct..
Domain Authority was designed by a company called Moz to help score pages for search engines. Moz has a free plugin that estimates your authority over other websites. Authority has many factors but the main are linking factors – or how many people link to your page because they find it useful. Search engines look at how many people link to your content and share it on social media, gauging how many people use your content helps search engines decide how useful your page is to others.
SEO may seem complicated because of all the acronyms and tools that are required to do it but, as the internet evolves so does SEO. In the simplest possible way of explaining this complicated marketing style SEO is about the importance of what your website has to say. The more people that understand your site, use your site, and share your website, the higher it will rank on a search engine so more people can benefit from your useful content.
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