SEO MADE TO WORK
SEO To Help Websites Index:
- What is SEO?
- How do search engines work?
- How do I know if my content is being crawled by search engines?
- How do I measure my SEO?
- Integrating SEO
- Do I need Paid Search to rank?
- Do I need Back Links?
- What are Featured Snippets?
- What is the Future of SEO?
- How to keep up with change?
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization which means you’re optimizing for search engines. Search engines work by having a bot (a software program) that crawls the internet. It does this by following links. Links from your site to other pages on your site, and links from one site to another. The crawler arrives at a page, reads the code, and stores the information. That stored information is called the index. Your initial goal is to be indexed by Google, Bing or any other search engine. In other words, if you are indexed, you will rank and appear in the search results for a particular search query.
Ranking in the search results is determined by importance and relevance. A complex algorithm scans through hundreds of variables to decide where your page lands. Many of those variables are what you’re aiming to optimize. Those variables might include the topics you’re writing about, who is linking to your page, how your website is programmed, and even if you’re mobile-friendly. Search engines even evaluates the quality of the pages that are linking to you.
This is a very exciting time for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but very frustrating too. SEO is a way you can reach millions of people who are searching for you or your business to answer a problem they may have or to buy a product they may need. There’s no more powerful kind of marketing that you can find. Every business should be doing it. You’re missing opportunities if you don’t do it.
SEO is a strategy that will help increase your odds that your website page will show up at the top of an online search result. Although SEO has really changed and has gone beyond just being showing up as number one in Google. Today, most people still think only of the search engines and the web page listings when they want to do well with SEO. It’s important to understand some of the basics of how the search engines work in order to succeed is online optimization. A search engine will go out and find pages from all across the web and stores all those pages in what we call an index, or you can think of as a big book of the web.
How do Search Engines Work?
Each search engine has their own recipe with lots of different factors that work into it. Google alone has 200 different factors involved in each search. These factors are divided into 3 categories:
- Content Categories: Things you can do on a page, like you’re writing and keywords.
- Architecture: Things that you can do technically to control how the page may render or how the search bots scan your site.
- Influence: Things that are not directly in your control but may have an influence. Such as how pages or links are socially shared or the way people are linking it your page.
Content is the foundation of a successful SEO strategy. Having great content you can be assured that everything else will be successful going forward. You want to provide answers to people. You want to provide something that goes beyond just selling to them. Furthermore, you need to think about how you’re writing your content. Are you writing it in a way that someone who is seeking your information is thinking and speaking the same way you do? Are they searching for information using the keywords (or synonyms) you have used within your content? It’s important to research and do some searches for the terms that are important to you and your business. Look at the content that’s showing up in the top results. Read through some of that content and look how it compares to your content.
Website Architecture is just as important to succeed with SEO. If you don’t have your technical house in order, people might never see your content. You may have wonderful, great, stellar content but if you have technical limitations the search engines may not understand it.
- If you’re using a lot of images, are you using alt tags?
- Do you have ordinary text that can be understood?
- Do all your pages in your website have unique titles?
- Can the search engines crawl your site?
How Do I Know If My Content Is Being Crawled By Search Engines and is SEO Acceptable?
Both Google and Bing provide free tools that will tell you whether or not you have problems with your website. Google’s is called Google Search Console. Bing’s is called Bing Webmaster Tools. In both cases you can and should verify your website with these tools and then they will report back to you if you have any Technical SEO issues. They’re free…easy to use…and something you should, definitely, take advantage of.
How Do I Measure My SEO?
A common question people have is, how to see if their SEO strategies are working or not, and how to benchmark their sites against other sites? Should 20% or 30% of your traffic come from SEO? That is not an easy question to answer. However, if 90% of your traffic is coming from SEO, it’s probably too much. Because then you’re in danger that you’re getting too much off a search and you haven’t diversified. But, the metrics you should be looking for is that your SEO-related traffic ought to be increasing month over month. Keep in mind, it’s the traffic you should be looking at, not keyword rankings. And If you’re seeing your traffic rising every month, even if it’s rising a little bit, you’re on the right track.
The base starting point for almost all online marketing is keyword research. This affects everything from web design to site messaging to navigation to the content of the site.
However, it’s important to remember that your SEO efforts don’t exist in a vacuum. They are just one of many kinds of marketing activities that you should be doing and unfortunately, a common mistake is that people may assume SEO is all they need to do.
SEO actually goes beyond just the top listings in Google, it can involve videos, or a special section where news content appears. And if you’re a local business, there’s a mass of local business listings that both Google and Bing control, and that you can interact with. And it’s not even that you have to be on Google or Bing. If someone’s looking for a local business, they may very well turn to something like Yelp or local directories. It’s important to use all the things that are available to you.
Furthermore, you will need to give attention to your vertical spaces too. These very niche or specialized areas will give you more opportunities to appear within the search results.
SEO can even extend to things like voice recognition and search. At its core, it remains that you understand how your audience is searching for you or your business.
Do I Need Paid Search to Rank?
There are more ads on the Google results pages than ever before pushing the other links down the page. And there’s more content overall to compete with. But it doesn’t necessarily mean your SEO is less valuable. People oftentimes still pass over all those paid links. They may also pass over special boxes, because they still seek out the links below the paid search, believing the real information they want to have is from the organic search results., so it’s still valuable to be there if you can do both paid and organic. Furthermore, if Google is elevating its local listings higher in the results and you are a local business, that’s prime real estate that you want to be tapping into and should be tapping into as much as you can.
Do I Need Back Links?
Back links are important. Links are, in a way, how search engines count votes for whether a page has value or not. However, every link does not count the same for all webpages. Some links are given more credit and more weight than others. If you wrote something that was about making pizza, and you had links from 10 food websites pointing at you, those probably are trusted and count a lot more than if you had 10,000 links from non-food sites pointing to your site. Search engines are trying to weigh links, and count the ones that have value to a site.
Search engines are also trying to understand what the link is about? For example, if you search for a book, and you get Amazon coming up in the search result as number one, part of that may be because there’s a lot of people who point to Amazon with links, and say in the links, books, or say in or near the link, the word books. But, if you search for cars, you will not get Amazon coming up as number one because they don’t have a lot of links that are relevant and or saying they’re about cars.
So, it’s important to keep in mind that the links you want to link to your site or the sites you are linking to, should be content this is something of value to your target audience and correlates to your website. If there is a website out there that has an audience that you think would be interested in your site, you should try to get a link from it. But if you’re looking at some of the schemes and mechanisms, and tools that will just get you hundreds and hundreds of links from random places, they will not be helpful for you, and potentially get you into trouble with the search engines, which could cause your site to go down.
What are Featured Snippets?
Google’s search engine has changed from just trying to give you links to material, to actually giving you direct answers to your questions, which is called featured snippets. It is a little box found at the top of the search page with a definition or direct answer inside it. Google’s goal is to answer your question without having to send you someplace else. Over the years it appears to have been sending traffic to the featured website, to the degree that we don’t have many discussions about whether the snippets are a good thing or not.
How Do People Search?
In general, people do fairly short searches, two to three words. However, with voice search, people use many more words, and perhaps searching in ways that they wouldn’t have thought of before. In an effort to keep up, search engines are trying to compensate by using machine learning to link short common searches to very long ones. For example, if you typed in “Local SEO Company in Nashville“, that kind of search is very common, and the search engine will have a very confident answer because it sees that kind of search all the time.
If you typed in something like, what’s the weather like in Nash in December? It’s more arcane and unusual, and it may not know how to match that with the traditional methods people use, they would just kind of fall back and try to find pages with all those words.
People search in different ways. Search engines do have some technology where they’re trying to overcome the large variations of searches. Another important thing is that people assume that all the search results are the same. What they search for and what they get back, they may assume is the same thing everybody gets, and the reality is, there are no normal search results. All the search results are going to be impacted by your location.
Search engines will also alter your search results to offer you sites you will like. If you’re constantly going to one site for results, maybe for product reviews and so on, but you just for some reason always go to Google to do the search, it may boost that particular website up higher, and you might then assume that everybody sees the same kind of results, but somebody may not because they have a different search history on their computer.
What is the Future of SEO?
SEO is constantly changing. It seems like it’s reshaping itself sometimes every six months. Apps are a continuing questions of whether or not you need to have them, and whether you want to start making use of things like progressive web apps, or whether you want to make AMP pages. Some businesses will need to develop apps. Other businesses might be all right without apps as long as you’ve ensured that your web content is mobile friendly.
Another exciting area of SEO is what’s happening is the world of Bots and Assistants. Assistants are devices you use to interact with, usually by voice, such as, Google Assistant (Google Now), Siri, or Cortana, where you speak to them, and they come back and they give you a response. Or you may speak to them to tell them do an action, and if they understand how to do that action, they do it. A bot is a little more sophisticated. It’s designed to take your request fulfill a series of requirements. It’s more than asking your bot for the weather, it’s telling your bot if it’s hot, you want it to turn on the air conditioning. And the bot would go through and check and see that it’s hot outside, and see that your air conditioner is wired up in a way that I can interact with it, and turn it on. Or, you could tell a bot, you want to order flowers and it could automatically pull out florist delivery places you have already stored, credit card information, and the people you want to send it to. You will be able to say, “I want to send flowers to my mom”, and it knows exactly what to do, and how to make it happen.
How to keep up with change?
SEO is constantly changing and you will want to keep up with the changes. You can attend SEO conferences or read online resources. Some popular resources are:
- The SEO Post
- Search Engine Journal (SEJ)
- Search Engine Land
SEO Help Forum:
- Webmaster World
Search Engine Blogs:
- Google’s Search Blog
- Bing’s Search Blog
Those resources will help you keep up with the latest news. However, having rich content with researched keywords is the core to SEO that still remains. Best practice is to have your content speaking in the primary language that people are using to seek your information. Having things like descriptive titles may be a small factor in overall, but is very useful to the search engines. The fact that your site is always accessible to search engines, different kinds of designs can come and go and you will still have a site that is always friendly to the bots. One example is about AMP, or the Accelerated Mobile Pages. They didn’t exist a year ago, and now it’s a whole new way of coding pages and making them friendly for people who are on mobile devices. If you stayed focused on the fundamental aspect, then the specific doesn’t matter. You can always learn the specifics as they come along.
SEO help for Small Business?
Deciding to hire an SEO professional is a big decision that can improve your site and save you time. I will provide your site with all the tips and tricks it will need to get ranked while eliminating any damage to your site. I will take the time and provide you with useful SEO fundamentals, including:
- Review of your site content or structure
- Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, errors
- Content development
- Keyword Research
- Optimize your Google My Business Profile
- Many more…