What SEO Is
These days, it’s not uncommon to hear the term SEO, but for those of us who are new to the game, it can be a bit confusing.
The term SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and was born out of the want and need to have a particular website show up on the first page of a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) for a certain keyword or phrase.
SEO is an organic method for driving traffic to your website.
The higher up on Page 1 you are, the better because people are more inclined to click the first thing they see.
Put plainly, SEO is making your website appear favorably on a search engine, specifically Google.
What SEO Isn’t
- Contrary to the old ways of doing things, SEO isn’t cramming a million keywords into your website. Please don’t do that unless you want Google to penalize you and send your website into oblivion.
- It’s an all-organic way to get people to your website.
- SEO isn’t a quick and easy solution to your marketing. It takes time and effort to see it work. Don’t expect to see major results in a day, a week, etc. It could take months.
- It’s not something you do once. Keep doing it. You need to continually update your site with content, products, blog posts, etc. Google needs to know you’re not dead!
- There’s no secret keyword that’ll boost you onto Page 1 of Google. If there was, everyone would be on Page 1…which is impossible!
Now, let’s get into the two types of SEO: on-page and off-page.
We’ll start with on-page first.
Think of your website as a book. It has a cover and pages within.
The cover should give you an idea of what the book is and what you can expect to find inside while the pages contain everything the reader is looking for and anticipates.
The art of on-page SEO revolves around content (blog posts, videos, images, etc.) and the keywords used.
This is where the “optimization” part comes into play in SEO.
The Book Cover (Meta Tags):
Every page on your website has a title (go ahead and take a second to look). These titles are the first thing people see when they type in a keyword/phrase into Google and come across your website on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
Subsequently, beneath each title is a description section that gives people (and Google) a brief summary on what the page is about.
The title and description found on SERPs are called meta titles and meta descriptions (also known collectively as meta tags), respectively, and is used by Google (among other parameters) to categorize your web pages in their database. This is how your website gets found.
Let’s say one of your web pages is about the hair salon services you offer. In order for Google to index this page correctly, they’re going to look for words and related terms contained in the title and description.
Sample title and Description:
Meta Title: Professional Seattle Hair Dying, Perming, & Trimming Services
Meta Description: At Seattle Hair Salon, we offer the finest in hair services from haircuts to dyeing. You won’t find hair service prices this affordable. Call today!
Based on what you put for the title and description, Google will pull related words such as hair styling, hair styling prices, Seattle hair salon, hair dying in Seattle, etc. and then categorize them into the database with sites that have similar keywords.
Keep in mind, you also want to make sure your meta titles and descriptions are readable by actual human beings and not just Google.
The Book Pages (Content):
At some point in your SEO journey, you’ll hear the phrase “content is king.” When we talk about content, we’re talking about written text, video, and images. Content can take many forms from articles and blogs to infographics and interesting videos.
Content is something that should engage its viewers. It’s a medium that gives people useful information, make them think or feel an emotion, or take an action.
Good content is something that is share-worthy; something that makes its viewers want to share with their peers.
Applying SEO to Your Content
Just like your website, content requires SEO implementation as well.
All great content is optimized for the internet meaning they apply SEO basics such as implementation of targeted keywords.
With written content, it’s easy to put keywords in since everything is already text-based, but what about with video and images?
Most video platforms (YouTube & Facebook) and images actually give you the option to write things in the title and description. This is where you’ll be entering keywords in a descriptive way that is meant for readers as well as Google.
One of the most important things to do is to add alt-text to your images & videos.
Google is advanced, but not THAT advanced yet. Right now, Google can only read and analyze text, so it’s crucial that you add text to every piece of content you have.
Alt-text is descriptive text that is used within the code of a video or image. This can usually be done within the website creator you’re using (ex: Square Space, WordPress, Wix, etc).
Also, be sure to name your file something that describes the content of the video/image like: dogsplaying.jpeg or hamburgerflippingchallenge.mp4
You get the idea!
Everyone still here? Perfect!
Okay, like the name implies, we’re no longer on the website; we’re “off-page”.
Off-Page SEO is the art of getting people to link to your website.
This is done through social media, guest-blogging on other people’s websites, having your website mentioned on someone else’s site, etc.
I need to make this clear.
You want QUALITY websites linking back to your page, not just any old websites made by your grandma (no offense grandma, we still love you).
In the world of SEO, quality websites are ones with high Domain Authority.
Domain Authority is a website’s credibility and relevance online. These websites are seen as reliable and trusted by many people.
An example of a website with a high domain authority is CNN.com.
Source: Moz Open Source Explorer
If, by some stroke of luck, CNN linked back to your site, your own Domain Authority would skyrocket.
But of course, that’s not the reality for many website owners.
The goal is to connect with website owners who have websites with higher Domain Authority than we do.
As mentioned before, some ways to do Off-page SEO is to guest blog on other people’s websites, write amazing content, so people share it, and so on.
Off-Page SEO is a topic within itself, so let’s leave that for another time!
That’s it for now!
With your newfound knowledge, you’ll be able to tackle SEO with a better understanding.
SEO is an art and a science combined.
Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things out.
Author: Peter Ma, SEO/SEM Specialist and Ads Manager
At Shared Culture Concepts, we create, test, analyze, and revise your strategy constantly.
We’re continually learning and evolving with the world of SEO to keep your strategy fresh, so you’ll be in great shape!