The Basics of SEO for Beginners
the basics of seo for the tech-inept
10 things you need to know About search engine optimization.
By Gaelan Simpson
I went to an evening class to learn all things SEO. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is super important if you have a brand of your own. Which inevitably, you do. Because even if you are not running a fire publication like this one, you yourself are a brand. Basically, SEO is the God hand that guides Google to promoting your webpage, or, well. Ignoring it. It’s hard to find a concise piece on the interwebs that explains SEO clearly, so I’m posting this for you all, as I wish someone had done for me.
Please note: I use the term “keywords” a lot in here. For those who don’t know that means, here is a very simple definition from Tech Terms:
“Keywords are words or phrases that describe content. They can be used as metadata to describe images, text documents, database records, and Web pages. A user may "tag" pictures or text files with keywords that are relevant to their content. Later on, these files may be searched using keywords, which can make finding files much easier. For example, a photographer may use a program like Extensis Portfolio or Apple iPhoto to tag his nature photos with words such as "nature," "trees," "flowers," "landscape," etc. By tagging the photos, he can later locate all the pictures of flowers by simply searching for the "flowers" keyword.”
On to the lessonS.
1. Know your market. For starters, the information you publish should be useful. Ask questions your customers would ask. Learn as much about them as possible, understand their wants and needs. Answer what their questions might be. Address their desires. Write about these elements in a clear and direct way on your platform.
2. As a rule of thumb, the more places you can show up on Google, the better. This is what all of my tips are getting at. Which leads me to Lesson No. 2: When writing content, use bullet points or lists when you can (See what I’m doing here?). These articles will often come up as “Feature Snippets” - which is a good thing for you in the internet space.
What are Feature Snippets? I asked curiously in class.
The answer: When you Google, “why is my dog snoring?” the “Feature Snippets” are the short answers that pop up in rows toward the top of the page.
3. For those who want to get on the first page of a Google search, you need to know how to stand out. There are only 20 spots on this first page, and depending on what you’re writing about or advertising, it can be a highly competitive space. So, how does Google pick who’s on that front page?
Keywords! (see definition at top of article)
4. Perhaps you’re now wondering, “how do I find my own Keywords?” I project this because I was wondering the same the same thing, in class. This appear to be an overwhelming task for those of us who are not confident with our back end coding skills. Picking good keywords is especially tricky if you’re advertising an oversaturated market niche.
Luckily, there are free services for folks like us who help us sort our Keywords.
Use Google Keyword Planner, AKA Adwords. You have probably heard of Adwords. On this platform, you can type in what keywords you think make sense for you (i.e. Online Report Trends) and they’ll show you which alternative keywords have the highest engagement online. Yahoo!
5. Some general Keyword tips. You will want to use 2-5 Keywords on average, always. While one simple keyword sounds great in theory, it’s actually too vague. No one will find you online if you use one vague Keyword to guide your webpage to the e-world. The longer your keyword sequence is, the more intent a searcher had to find you/your product.
An example of this: Think about someone searching “shoes” versus “men’s size 10 moccasins” on Google. The person who was searching the moccasins is likely to make a purchase as soon as they find this product — starkly opposed to the individual who’s randomly looking up “shoes.” Make you customer’s search for your product/service as easy as possible by including descriptive Keywords.
6. The most important parts of every webpage you build and article you share are your page title and your meta description.
The “meta description” means the keywords in the first couple lines under the title or in your URL. Make them as specific and to the point as you can - again, use keywords here (in a full sentence so you don’t look daft).
7. Create a Wikipedia page on your brand if you haven’t already. You need to pay a small-ish sum of $100 - $250. But once you’re in there, Google will likely pull that data on to their main search page when someone’s looking up your product’s name: another way to increase your visibility.
8. YOU NEED TO START USING, LIKE RIGHT NOW: Google Analytics and/or Google Search Console. They’re free! We love free!
Google Analytics: Displays data about traffic, show where that traffic is from, which pages are performing the best, what countries your visitors are from, and more.
Google Search Console: Shows you errors on your website (font too big/small, links broken, etc). They show which keywords rank the highest for you on your site. You can see how much traffic each keyword is bringing. Very useful stuff if you want to get nitty gritty.
9. The more times people reference your site and articles that originated from your site, the higher you’ll be ranked in Google’s eyes! And remember, the higher your rank, the closer you are to getting to the top of that first page of a Google search. Tip for this? Send your content to publications and see if they’ll feature your work. Guest blogging is great for this, too.
10. Don’t be overwhelmed by these tricks of the trade! They are crucial. They are also nothing to be scared of. This is coming from me, which is huge.
Get going: Enjoy a glass of wine while you click around the back end of your site this evening. Adjust your Keywords. Make your URL’s concise. Set a date in your calendar two months from now to check back on your analytics and (even the tech-inept) should see an increase in hits.