What is SEO about?
To put it simply Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of strategies that aims to grow a site’s visibility in search engine results. SEO includes keyword research, driving traffic to your website, marketing your site and making it friendly to search engines and, consequently, improving its rankings.
To illustrate let us say you are writing about how to make crème brulee. You will want your article to show on page 1 or at the top of the results to someone who is searching for “crème brulee” and in order to do this you should employ SEO techniques and tools.
Today search engine algorithms have changed so much that the SEO landscape is fast changing. Search engine companies such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have been making changes in an attempt to make search results more relevant to readers and users.
So it is now not just a matter of making your site friendly to search engines but, even more so, friendly to people.
So why should this matter to you as a website owner?
SEO is about optimizing your blog, your posts and your website as a whole to make these visible to search engines and to readers. When your site is visible you are able to drive traffic to it; traffic means potential business to you.
Your chances for conversion is increased as your website traffic increases.
Today there are billions of people online searching for information and solutions to their concerns and problems and having a website will help you establish an online presence that could serve their needs. However, majority of these people would more likely click on one of the top pages in the search results.
If there are billions of people searching online for solutions, there are also tons of other websites competing for their attention. If you want to get these people to your website you need to have your pages rank as high as possible with the search engines. And SEO is the way for you to do this.
SEO can put you ahead of the competition, thus, paving the way to more conversions.
It has been joked in google circles that “If you ever need to hide a dead body, you should place it on the second page of Google search results”.
Sounds funny but it actually has a ring of truth to it. If your page is not on page one of the search results then your chances of being found during search queries is drastically lessened.
Thus, the need to underline the importance of SEO if you want your website to be seen and visited.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is optimization of your website posts and pages that will make them rank in search engines and pull in more traffic. Optimization includes all the factors that make up a post or a page that can influence how well that post or page will rank.
One of the factors that make up on-page SEO is relevance. As Google has become smarter and more vigilant nowadays one of the criteria it looks for in a post or page is how relevant it is to the query.
Relevance means well-written posts and pages that are relevant to the search query and that aim to benefit the reader or audience.
Considering that you have only a few seconds to engage your audience on your site, you must offer your them relevant and interesting posts that will hold their attention and give them a great website experience.
When you have great content you are able to drive more user engagement and traffic to your site. And more traffic means higher chances at conversion.
Title Tag <title> and H1 Header Tag <h1>.
These two tags contain the title of your page and these can have the same content although these can also have different content. The difference lies in where these tags appear.
When someone searches the net for a keyword and your page appears as one of the search results, the title tag is what is displayed. This is also what is displayed at the title bar at the top of a web browser and becomes the bookmark title when a surfer bookmarks your page.
H1 Header appears within your webpage and does not normally appear in the search engines. H1 header tag is used to create a title at the top of a page and is the one with the largest text size.
Search engines usually give more importance to the title tag, thus, this should show the engines that your page has relevant content. H1 tag, on the other hand, gives an introduction to your page’s content, thus, this should be created with the reader in mind.
Header Tags H2 to H3.
You can subdivide your paragraphs in to sub sections by using H2 or H3. H2 represents a subheading of H1 and H3 represents a subheading of H2.
Headings and subheadings help in conveying to Google what the main topics and sub-topics of your post are specially if you post is long. It also makes your post easier to read if you divide your post into sub sections.
The description tag simply contains the text that appears below the title of your webpage in search results.
What is Off-page SEO?
Off-Page SEO on the other hand are the things that you do outside of your website to make your pages and posts rank in search engines. The results of off page SEO gives search engines a good indication of how users see and perceive your website. A website that is popular with users and other websites will be seen by search engines as a useful website.
Off-page SEO essentially aims to get quality backlinks to your site. When your site gets backlinks this tells Google that your site is trustworthy. Thus, link building is one of the main off-page SEO techniques.
Link building refers to developing external links to your website or making other sites link to your website. When other sites link to a post on your site, this is just like telling Google that your content is good and your article is very useful.
The more sites linking to your site the higher your rank will go in the search engines.
To get quality backlinks, again, quality content is essential. When you create quality, useful content you give your readers and other websites reason to link to your post and pages.
It used to be that article marketing or submission of articles to article directories was a very effective way to get backinks.
But not anymore.
The new Google algorithms now view this type of links as low-quality links and may even be detrimental for your site’s ranking. Although there are still a lot of people who use this technique today, this technique may soon become outdated and ineffective.
Because the new algorithm aims to produce quality content online and improve the online user experience, getting backlinks naturally is the way to go as far as Google is concerned. You can do this by commenting on other quality sites, creating a strong social media presence by sharing your posts on these social media sites, joining forums and generally optimizing your presence online by interacting with other people and websites.
What are the types of SEO strategies?
There are 2 sides to search engine optimization and it would be good for you to know what these are so you are aware
Black Hat SEO.
In black hat SEO, you optimize your content only for the search engines and give no consideration to the people who will be reading these. This technique results in trashy articles. And when Google finds them chances are these pages will get banned.
Banned pages equals no content equals no business. Simple as that.
The risks are so great that I don’t advise taking a chance on it.
I have never endorsed the use of black hat SEO strategies but I am including some examples here just so you know what they are:
Stuffing a short article with keywords. You have probably seen articles that barely make sense as they are stuffed with keywords to make sure that the search engines pick them up. This used to be an effective strategy for ranking, but not anymore.
Using keywords in an article that are irrelevant to the topic. This is a practice where irrelevant keywords are inserted in to articles for the purpose of ranking for those keywords.
Article spinning . there are a lot of article spinning software for sale out there which “spin” one article into several “new” articles. The articles produced are usually of poor quality and this can get you in hot water for duplicate content.
Posting duplicate content . Google has always hated duplicate content, more so now that algorithms have changed significantly.
Buying and selling links. Google sees these techniques as link schemes and is quick to penalize sites that do these.
Link baiting and switching. This is done when a good, well written post is produced and when the post gets a lot of attention and links, the content is changed to an article that sells a product or service
Comment spamming . There are available software that will leave comments on several blogs with the objective of getting a lot of backlinks to your site. Used to work but Google has become good at detecting these spammy comments and quick to penalize sites doing this.
These are only some of the black hat techniques being employed out there which I personally do not recommend.
White Hat SEO.
White hat SEO focuses on the human visitors to a website and gives emphasis on strategies and techniques that will benefit them.
I have always advocated building an online business that is sustainable, thus, only white hat techniques will truly work for me. To learn more about how to build a sustainable online business see my post here.
Write for the benefit of your readers and not to rank. Your articles must be written for the benefit of your audience. Google loves a website that offers great content that will benefit readers.
The Google Panda algorithm targets “thin and duplicate content with little or no added value”. If you want your website to stay within the good graces of Google, then create content with your audience first and foremost in your mind.
In writing your content, make sure the content:
- Is original
- Is very relevant to your website topic
- Will be beneficial for your audience
Make sure your whole site gives your audience a great user experience
- Include a combination of written text, graphics and video presentation to create more value for your readers.
- Build a site that can be accessed in any platform – PC, phone, tablet.
- Make sure your site is well built, performs well and is easy to navigate.
- Organize your posts and pages so that users can easily find what they are looking for.
Do proper use of keywords
Post Panda, optimizing the use of keywords is still a factor for getting your pages ranked. However, whereas in the past, online marketers were only concerned with keyword density in their articles, more focus is being shifted now to, first and foremost, creating good content.
Google loves good, readable articles. And creating well organized and well written content that is relevant to your topic is what will make your site look good in Google’s eyes.
But this is not to say that keywords have lost their importance. Keywords are still a factor for ranking websites so you should still optimize the use of keywords in your posts and pages.
However, DO NOT stuff your articles with keywords you want to rank in. This will ring the alarm bells for Google and if caught you may get penalized for this.
Build quality inbound links to your site
Inbound links (or backlinks) are links that come into your site from another website. Getting a lot of inbound links tells Google that your site is an authority on your site’s subject.
However, you must make sure that the inbound links you get are from quality, authoritative sites. Getting links from spammy sites will just get you into trouble.
So what is SEO about?
SEO is a marketing strategy that focuses on techniques that will get your sites ranking in search engines.
However, SEO is not just about creating sites that will be good in the eyes of search engines, but more importantly today, it is more about creating a site that will be useful for people.
SEO now goes beyond making your site technically acceptable to search engines.
If you really want your site to rank well in search engines, it is equally important that you create visitor engagement and give your audience a great website experience too.
This is one sure way to build an online busines that will be sustainable for years to come.