What is SEO? A Beginner's Guide

May 28, 2019
Posted in News
May 28, 2019 Tyler Carroll

What is SEO?

Websites, Email, Social Media and –> SEO??

Why SEO might be the most important tool moving forward.

BUT WHAT IS SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization

It’s a rather boring phrase that essentially means “How well you rank on Google”

I mean it actually means how well ALL SEARCH ENGINES FIND YOU but let’s be honest… Google is what we are really talking about here (sorry Bing).

All companies want to be found easily by customers searching the web.

Your customers want it to be easy too.

IN FACT do you know how unlikely it is for a person to click on page 2?

There is a run on joke with SEO geeks which goes like this..

If you want to hide a dead body put it on PAGE 2 of google search results

According to research on online ad network Chitika only 5% look beyond page #1.

As we all do when we are looking for anything online, Google is often where we begin our search. Meaning if you CAN be found easily on google there is a good chance that many customers with cash ready to spend will follow.

Long story, short, a little attention here could have big payoffs.

Search Engine Real Estate…

All about Location, Location, Location

Here you see a very familiar Google Search Results Page.

Top in Orange – Paid Search Results meaning if you click on one of these links Google makes money and a Company paid money to have you click on the ad. POWERFUL RIGHT? You can literally charge a customer a buck or two by clicking on these ads… and Google prays you do!

Bottom in Blue – Many people jump right over ads, I know I do…but why? Most people are conditioned to trust in Google’s ability to give them the content they are looking for within the first 5 links.

IN OTHER WORDS… WE NATURALLY CRAVE ORGANIC RESULTS.

Results merited to amazingly effective content that google statistically knows is right for us based on searches like ours and similar traffic.

When first starting out many company jump to Google Ads to bid for keywords (more on that below), however the long-term goal is to appear on google’s first page organically!

It’s not easy to do and doesn’t happen over night. It’s really about user experience.

Google has modified its ranking to favor pages that readers spend the most time on. They will even notice if people are leaving the first link to visit the next and will bump up link #2 after this happens enough. Their business is to provide the most relevant information possible and they rely on our interaction with pages to support how they rank our page.


What everyone wants to know… How to get on first page of Google?

Let’s discuss some of the tools available to us to improve our Search Engine Optimization organically!

It starts with quality content that people want to see

Website

Websites with a great user experience and design that load fast with the right amount of information at the right time separated by pictures, info-graphs, interactive elements (such as a slider), videos, blog posts, social media links, product, and pages. This is the most overlooked aspect of SEO.

Make users never want to click the back button

-Niel Patel, SEO Expert

Blogs

This will help your website establish authority with search engines since every additional blog article counts as another indexed page filled with searchable content.

How to optimize for SEO? The elements of a good Website and Blog post are discussed later in this article.

 

Links – Not all are created equal…anymore.

Links

O man, is there an interesting story here!

(hate history? jump to (The Right) Links- in bold below)

Back in the day Google put a lot of emphasis on ‘Backlinks’. Backlinks are links on OTHER sites that link to YOUR site. They link to you.

Not too long ago there were SEO guys creating 30-50 websites just for the sake of linking to one main website to ‘Trick’ the google algorithm into thinking that the main website was obviously super credible with all these other websites linking to it. Thus google ranked it highly because of all this popularity behind it.

Those days are long gone so DO NOT try this today. Unless you want the Penguin.

I spoke to someone recently who told me he had a guy do this for him (and it worked incredibly) until Google served him with a big, fat PENGUIN PENALTY. This is pretty much Search Engine jail time. Google removes any trace of your existence on the web and it takes a lot more than a well-written letter to reverse that nightmare.

That is an example of BLACK HAT SEO tactics, they don’t work any longer, there may be a couple more loopholes but it’s just a matter of time. Google has and will continue to advance.

This article is all about WHITE HAT SEO tactics that may not be as effective as the hack mentioned above but it’s the safest way to play and guarantees you’ll get to play all-day, everyday.

Now that you are all filled in… Let me try this again…

(The Right) Links

Quality Over Quantity. The more links you have from reputable companies the betterGoogle is no longer concerned with ‘how many’, now a days it’s more of a question of ‘from who?’. If the New York Post, or some other ‘high-traffic’ website blog links to your content, that’s worth gold. Beg your fiends in the companies they work for to mention your company in a blog post and your rank will certainly improve.

So you have a killer website, made some blog posts, and know the benefits of links. AWESOME. You now know more about SEO than 85% of people with websites out there. Now let’s separate you from the pack even more.

Below is a list of ALL the Google tools you will want to know exist to understand and optimize your web traffic.

You may not need them or want to use them right away but it’s helpful to understand what they do and how they can help you in your journey to the top.


Basic Search Engine Optimization Tools Guide

Google Search Console (formerly google webmasters)

How your website interacts with search engine crawling and queries. Any issues Google has with your site that may be effecting your rank is in here.

What can you find here?

  • Amount of search queries which pages from your site were in results.
  • The top search queries which returned your pages in Google.
  • The number of times your page(s) were visible in Google’s search results.
  • The amount of times your listings was clicked on for a particular search query.

Google Analytics

 

How users/visitors of your website interact with website.

What can you find here?

  • The amount of time that your visitors spend on your site.
  • The count of pages your visitors viewed.
  • Bounce Rate aka The amount of visitors who landed on your site and left immediately.
  • The visitors geographical location, age, device used and gender.

Google My Business

 

The best way to get your business on the google map and recommended to customer searching near you.

What can you find here?

  • Add your business to local google search results and google maps.
  • Create a business profile, including pictures, products, and promotions.
  • Give your customers an easy way to get directions, call or message your company.
  • Get insights on customer demographic.

On-page SEO tools

For WordPress its the Yoast SEO plugin whereas Shopify you’ll see “Search engine listing preview”. Both help with appropriate keyword in the title, description, SEO title, meta description, URL handle, and image Alt text.

What can you find here?

  • Tailor the look of Search Results. Whether it’s Yoast or something else they will feature a preview that allows you to see how your page or post will look like in search results.
  • Analysis Tools and Metrics. This feature checks page or post-related things such as length of the posts, a presence of a meta description and whether it contains the focused keyword etc.
  • Meta and link elements. Gives youth ability to customize the pages which would be shown by Google in its search results and which won’t be.
  • XML Sitemaps… What is this? A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them.

Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site. With its most advanced XML sitemaps feature, this plugin creates XML sitemaps automatically and informs Google and Bing of its existence.

When do you need a sitemap? If your site is…

  • Really large with many pages.
  • Has a large archive of content pages that are isolated or not well linked to each other.
  • Is NEW and has few external links to it.

More information on sitemaps can be found at google support pages.

Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords)

When you are willing to pay to rank using particular keyword you specify to google. These ads can appear on youtube, on google affiliate sites (display network)  in addition to google search results (search network) and google affiliate search sites (Remember “Ask Jeeves”, ya… that’s one of em).

What can you find here?

  • Increase brand awareness instantly.
  • Faster results than organic SEO.
  • Outrank competitors ads.
  • A/B testing to understand which ads are most effective.

Google Ads is your best friend when you want to speed things up. However it’s just a temporary solution for the greater goal of ranking organically.


How to grow organically

There is no one sentence answer. Google’s Algorithm has advanced and a lot of the tricks that worked before, don’t any longer. Speaking of this you may see me mention the google “Spider” aka “Crawler” this is the program that will check your site to see what valuable information should be indexed, thus “considered for ranking” within Google.

Tips for website:

  1. Write pages (and blogs) with keywords in mind. Beware of keyword-stuffing which has diminishing margins of return to the point where it could negatively effect your account. Don’t be afraid to use relating keywords as Google knows to look for them.
  2. Use On-page SEO tools so when your page is fortunate enough to rank on the first page of google your page looks appealing.
  3. Only use 1 H1 header tag exclusively for the page title, use H2 and H3 to support the content. Google crawler’s understand your page better when it uses proper header tags.
  4. Title and Alt tag of images should share the same keywords as the page they are used on.
  5. The “Spider” recognizes Bold and Italicized content as emphasized so it’s beneficial to use them for the sake of reader and bot.
  6. Embed Videos from Youtube where you can to save space. Google owns Youtube so they naturally favor this approach. It will also generate more views, likes and subscribers.
  7. With proper path/slug/permalink so if you were selling t-shirts on one page you don’t want the URL of the page to be Mybusiness.com/copy-copy-2 but Mybusiness.com/t-shirts so when the google spider searches crawls your page it will understand that this page is dedicated to T-shirt and be validated by your H1 header that says “T-shirts”
  8. The more content you have the more photos you should have. Google likes to see long pages with images to break up the text and so will readers. Google pays A LOT OF ATTENTION to user experience, the longer a user spends on your page or blog post the more reputable it seems to Google.

Tips for Blogs:

  1. Blogs should contain NEW information about TRENDING subjects. It will improve chance of shares on social media and from websites. 
  2. You want a focused Blog article including a lot of depth in the topic.
  3. Google likes long articles. Around 2500 word count increases your chances of rank and shares.
  4. Formatted correctly with proper structure using H1,H2,H3 mentioned above.
  5. With proper path/slug/permalink as mentioned above.
  6. Make sure that you are using On-Page SEO to include the same keywords found in your blog post so those looking will find your article and enjoy your amazing content.
  7. Signal words- Most people wont read every word of your blog (I’m onto you). For those who prefer to scan content Signal words help find the content they are here for. For example using headers like “First of all”, “Secondly” and “Finally” help people who would otherwise bounce find the information they are looking for.
  8. Use On-page SEO tools like Yoast SEO to make your search result appealing.

By the way, If you are wondering how many how long a 2500 word count blog post is… I’m at 2124 words at this point. I know right? I thought I was already there, but I digress…


Tips for Links:

  1. Write quality content that people will love and want to share. Blogging about the latest news or trend will help.
  2. Ghostwriting/Write for Ezines… is no longer a good idea. Apparently this is one of the Black Hat SEO tricks that google does not favor, so please reread bullet 1 and don’t forget it!
  3. Do NOT try to backlink sites that are not considered reputable.

The takeaway

Google is smart and getting smarter everyday. Don’t write for Google, write for your audience.. and google will come.

Search Engines are like a feral cat.

You don’t run up to it and expect to catch it. You have to move slowly, show that you mean no harm, pretend it’s not there. Bait it with some good content no one can resist and it will slowly and methodically make it’s way to you if you have done your job right.

Dragon Media helps small businesses get online. We send a photographer to your business so you have photos, graphics and videos for your website and social media channels to improve your SEO.

 

Written by Tyler Carroll

 

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Tyler Carroll

Tyler Carroll is an Alumni of Cal Poly Pomona with a Degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems. He previously sold his shares in an Online Arbitrage Company he started in college that grossed over 1.3m in less than 2 years. Since his resignation, he has travelled South America Solo for 3 months marketing Drone services along the way which pivoted into passion for media creation. Media, Entrepreneurship and Tech has been Tyler's passion for years. He served as President of an Entrepreneurship club at Cal Poly and enjoys spending his time collaborating with creators and business owners.

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