Like it or not, understand it or not, SEO is very much here to stay. If you are doing any kind of business online, whether you are actually conducting online transactions or you are just marketing your products or services, you need to know how to optimize your online presence for search. Given this, there’s been surprisingly scant emphasis on the simplest, most basic ways you can fully optimize your business’ website without draining your pockets, keep up with all the changes, and still have the time to spend on running your business.
Yes, it is possible!
I’ve really got two goals with this post:
- Explain why you need to worry about SEO in 2013 and beyond.
- Go over the bare bones essentials you need to do to play nice with the search engines. I’ll briefly explain the basic principles and direct you to the best free tools and tutorials to help you get there. Bookmark these resources because they are constantly updated.
SEO can be So Easily Overwhelming. The rules, that are confusing to begin with, just keep changing as the platforms and technologies that host all the creation, exchange, and consumption of content continue to evolve.
Through it all, people keep claiming that SEO is dead. Has the death knell really sounded for SEO? Not at all! If anything the need to optimize your content so that people can find it and place it is more important today than it ever was.
Just think about it for one minute.
Do you realize how much content is being created, uploaded, and shared in that minute? According to one recent infographic, each minute Google performs 2 million searches, 72 hours worth of video is uploaded to YouTube, 70 new domains are registered and 571 new websites are created. There are 1.8 million likes on Facebook, 204 million emails sent and 278,000 tweets posted…
And that’s just a slice of the Internet.
Those who weren’t happy with the recent changes made to Gmail, and Google+, or even Facebook are missing the point, and as Google refines its search results to make them more personalized and relevant, you have to admit they are on to something very powerful and useful even if you are not a fan of what they are doing.
The bottom line is that you have to do what you can to help the search engines index your content and rank it properly so that your target audience will be able to find it. Think of it this way: you’re doing your targeted visitors a service by helping them find you. If you do the work (most of which actually doesn’t require much effort), you put out good content, and you’re patient, you should begin to see results.
And, hey, what’s the alternative: spend hours creating incredible content that no one can find?
The SEO Basics You Need to Worry About for Your Business Website
All SEO topics can really be put into three basic categories:
1. Optimizing your content– The goal here is to make sure that the search engine can figure out the topic of your content and help direct relevant online searches your way. This mostly involves including relevant search terms and related phrases in the text, post titles, subheadings, as well as the “alt text” of any images you may use. Some of this process can be automated a bit; the rest doesn’t require much additional effort once you get the hang of it. The key is really being in tune with the kinds of questions and information your target market is looking for when they go online.
2. Optimizing the site structure, navigation, and urls– The goal with this second category is to structure the site in such a way that it is easy to follow and navigate, and that the site’s main elements and pages are appropriately emphasized. Doing so gives a site credibility and helps the search engine decide on the importance of various pages. The actual steps involve creating a sitemap, making sure there is no unintentional duplicate content, creating page and post urls (permalinks) that focus on the content’s main key terms, and making some minor changes to the site’s template. Most of this can be done automatically or requires only a little bit of knowledge and effort.
3. Off-site SEO– This can really be broken down into two major categories: link building and getting social signals from the people who are within or influencing your target market. This is one of the least understood aspects of SEO in 2013. Link building is still important, but the kinds of links that will help your site the most are those that appear naturally within the content of other relevant sites. In other words, you could spend hours emailing people trying to get them to link to your content. But you might as well just spend that time creating content that truly attracts the attention and links of your targeted readers.
The final element is the social sharing and engagement from members of your target audience. This is important because their activity will be increasingly influential in helping others who are connected to them find your content.
This last category is where the real work of SEO lies. You really need to make an effort in creating the content that your target audience is looking for; seek ways to make that content more valuable than anything else online (for example, you could add commentary on the subject based on your personal experiences or expertise); and finally know how and where to promote it.
Realize that even if you are doing all you can to optimize your site and your content, it may still take time before you get significant traffic from Google- this is especially true if your site is new. So hang in there, and maximize your traffic generation efforts via non-search efforts, such as social media, guest posting, and building an email list.
The Best SEO Basics Resources Online
The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites from Yoast.com- If are using WordPress and you don’t have the free WordPress SEO Plugin from Yoast, then go over there now and install it. Do not pass GO, do not collect $200. I was using All in One SEO pack, until I found this and haven’t looked back since. There are a ton of really great features, many of which are just running in the background. Even if you are not on WordPress, I still recommend reading through the guide mentioned above and going through each and every step. It’s extremely practical and to the point. So, if you’re pressed for time, start here.
The Beginners Guide to SEO from Moz.com- This guide very clearly and thoroughly explains all the basic principles of search engine optimization and ranking. This is put together like a mini course. If you take the time to go through it, you’ll come out with a good foundation in SEO basics.
If you are on Blogger, and you want information directly from the horse’s mouth, then you should take a look at Google’s SEO guide. They did a pretty good job on it, and it will help you find out where everything is in Blogger.
If you are running a local business, then make sure your site is optimized for local search. The best guide out there for this, is over at Quicksprout. How to Optimize Your Business For Local Search and Social Marketing.
That’s it. This list was kept short on purpose. Like I mentioned above, be sure to bookmark these pages and check back for updates. You’ll get all the SEO basics you’ll need without getting caught up in all the constant changes and shifting trends.