SEO 101 – What You Need to Know First

A well-optimized site can bring you more business and name recognition than the most expensive advertising out there.  But with so many people talking about it and so much information to wade through, much of it contradictory, how can you tell the difference between what’s helpful and what’s hype?

In this post, I’m going to demystify some of the hype and tell you what you can do to improve your site’s optimization.

First things first …

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it refers to the art and science of trying to get your site as high as possible in search engine results.  Since each search engine wants to provide the best, most useful results, SEO is largely about providing useful content in your website.

Content is Key

If you get nothing else from this article, I want you to remember one thing:  People go to the internet for information.  Whether they’re shopping, catching up on headlines, or trying to find their favorite author’s next release, they’re going to the internet to find something out.

The best search engines have extremely savvy spiders (little bits of code that ‘crawl’ over your site to see what it’s about) to search out quality content to get people the information they’re searching for.  Long gone are the days when reciprocal links and meta tags were all you needed for good SEO.  These days, if you want good rankings, you need good content.

What this means for you is that you’re more in control of your website’s SEO than you might think because you control the content.

Make it clear

Did you know that one of the most frequent recommendations from SEO experts is to have a professional writer write your content?  That’s because writers will write clearly and well, without grammatical and spelling errors.  Writers are also adept at using a few words instead of many, and a few information-packed paragraphs are better than pages of rambling.

Why is this important?  Because people go to the internet for information, and if your site isn’t clear and well-written, visitors won’t bother wading through your site.  They’ll just go elsewhere.

Make it relevant

Your website probably already includes a lot of what your visitors will be looking for—your services, your bio, your upcoming events, etc.  But make sure you’re also including information that can’t be found elsewhere.

Try putting in extra information for your visitors.  What can they expect from working with you?  How are you different from your competition?  What are your values?  What does every one of your clients want to know?  What do you tell every client?  What do they need to know before they work with you?  Where can they start?

All of these things can either be in your main content or can be valuable blog posts that can send people your way.

Keep it current

Whatever you decide to do, mix it up and keep it current.  Give people a reason to return.  Also, spiders love fresh content.  They keep count of how many people visit.  If you’re constantly updating your information and people keep returning, spiders are going to assume you’ve got good information on your site that other people might want to know about, and rank you higher in search engine results.

Remember, search engines make their money off of ads and those ads need to be accurate to pay well, so search engines have good reason to be right about what’s on your site (and all other sites).

Inbound Links

A huge way that spiders judge your content is how the rest of the web reacts to it.  Are other people linking to your site?  How many of those links are quality, inbound links?  Focus on providing information that people will be interested in and want to link to from their blog or website.  (After all, they want to update their content, too.)

And keep in mind, reciprocal links don’t work anymore.  Spiders aren’t interested in whether you can simply trade links with someone, or if you’ve signed up for a huge database service.

It also doesn’t help much to link to sites that aren’t relevant to yours.  You’re not going to improve your SEO much if you trade links from your biz website to your cousin’s tractor store.  (Unless your cousin is John Deere and you sell farming equipment.)

So, how can I build natural, inbound links?

Try writing a useful article that people might want to share on social media, or talk about on their site.  Do you have a great story about how you began your work, what motivates you, or something that all your Right People would find useful?

But pictures and expensive design are important, too, right?

Not as much as you might think.  While the initial impression people get from your site is important, most people seem to ignore pictures and go straight to the text.  Whether it’s because they assume a picture is the ever-prevalent advertisement or simply because they’re focusing on what they’re looking for—information, they don’t seem to care as much about pictures as text.  So, keep the content of your site clear and relevant.  Make it as easy as possible for your readers to find out about you and your services and make sure the pictures enhance your text, rather than overshadow it.

What about all the money I gave my SEO expert or designer?

It probably wasn’t money wasted.  Other than content, there are a lot of ways your site can benefit from quality design.  A clean design, well-constructed page titles, and industry-focused keywords are just a couple of the behind-the-scenes things that a professional designer can do for you and your site’s SEO.

However, always beware the designer who says they can get your site listed at “number 1.”  It’s just not possible.  The search engines are too sophisticated and their algorithms change too frequently for someone to promise those kind of results.  Look for a professional who will encourage you to be involved, and will be happy to handle the technical side of things.

Be patient

Don’t wait until the week before your sale or launch to start worrying about SEO.  Focus on building a great site with useful content that others will want to link to, and be patient.

That sounds like a lot of work.  How can I fake it?

You can’t.  The search engines are too savvy.  Instead, focus on having great content that is useful and relevant.  Try to provide information that isn’t readily available everywhere.  Update your content on a regular basis so people have a reason to keep visiting.  Work on building quality in-bound links.  And hire a reputable professional to handle the rest.

One last note…

Now that your content is current, useful and clearly-written, and your website professional is taking care of the technical side, sit down and create your next thing.  What better way to update your website than to include new information about your next, upcoming creation/book/class/ecourse?  Ultimately, that’s the best promotion you can get.

Want to know more?  Check out my SEO Workshop download. It’s a 90 minutes, pre-recorded workshop and workbook with everything you need to know about good SEO practices.