SEO – Without All the Geek Speak
What is SEO, anyway?
When you’re setting up a website, you’ll see the term “SEO” regularly, and you may have started wondering what the heck SEO is in the first place!
SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and it essentially is the science of establishing a website in such a way that it shows up highly in search engines.
Why is SEO important?
A website may be one of the most effective tools for your business (in fact, for some people, their website is their business!), but if you cannot understand SEO, your website is unlikely to do you much good.
For example, if you sell walkie-talkies, you may have a website, but when someone searches “walkie-talkies,” you could be back on page 74 of the search – in which case, anyone browsing for walkie-talkies will never find you! “Build it and they will come” does not relate to websites.
If you understand SEO, however, you could get your website on the first few pages when someone searches “walkie-talkies” – obviously making your site more relevant to their search which would make search engines more likely to show more people your site.
There are two primary keys to SEO: keywords, and backlinks. Keywords are certain words or combinations of words that you aim to incorporate throughout the content of your website, to ensure your website will be more likely to appear on search engines when people search those keywords.
For example, if someone searches “find deals on wristwatches,” and you have incorporated these exact words into the content of your website, you will be more likely to make an appearance near the top of the search! For more details about keywords read my article titled, ‘How to Choose the Best Keywords for Your Business‘.
Alternatively, backlinks are links that other people have posted, directing readers to your site. Each time someone posts a backlink that takes readers to your site, search engines see this as a sort of social proof for your site, indicating your site has relevant information which can boost your rankings (the higher-ranked the website that provides this backlink, the more valuable it will be for you!).
You can gain backlinks by simply providing quality content on your site and encouraging people to share it, or you can gain backlinks with a backlink builder – which allows you to provide content for other sites while linking back to your own!
How long is it going to take for my search engine ranking to rise?
This is a great question and one that people that provide professional SEO services are accustomed to answering. Sometimes, your search engine ranking will skyrocket all at once (back to the walkie-talkies example: if Chicago O’Hare purchased walkie-talkies from you and linked to you on their site, you would see a quick spike in your search engine ranking!), but typically, you will need a little bit of patience.
Continue incorporating keywords and drumming up backlinks – and continue monitoring your search engine ranking – and you will soon find that you are climbing higher and higher. And of course, the higher you climb in search engine rankings, the more successful your site will be!
Does this sound fairly easy so far? Great!
Here’s the bad news: There’s a lot more to SEO than just adding some keywords here and getting some backlinks from there. Search engines are always changing their algorithms to adapt to spammy marketing techniques and other less than on-the-level efforts.
Not surprisingly, search engines have been favoring sites that deliver great, relevant content. I know that’s what I expect to find when I do a search online. If I’m looking for the best microphone to record videos with, I ‘d hope to find people that have written or made video reviews, comparisons, specs, and of course, retailers selling the product.
What I don’t want to find is a link for the microphone that takes me to a page obviously designed to just sell me the microphone without providing any useful information or worse, to a page selling anything but the microphone I’m searching for.
So, just adding some words you want to rank for isn’t the most important factor in ranking anymore. It’s an easy rule to follow: Deliver unique, quality content that’s relevant to your site, business or service. If you’re writing an article about something you’re very familiar with, including the keywords, and words related to the keyword, should automatically happen.
The search engine crawlers are getting so sophisticated they’re starting to understand how typical human speech works and can tell just by saying things like “amazing fondue” or, “incredible dining experience”, that maybe your article should get some attention for your keyword “best restaurants” because you’re obviously having a discussion about this topic (which is relevant) versus just stuffing as many “best restaurants” into the article as possible.
Include keywords you want to rank for in a natural way and share it. Others will share it if you’ve done a good job.
When writing your content, just try imagining that a friend has asked you to tell them more about the subject. This voice will serve you better with the current search engine algorithms. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Let’s pretend you know about cameras. If I tell you I’m in the market to buy a new camera and I would like your input, which response sounds better to you?
“So, you’re in the market for a new Digital SLR Camera? If you’re not sure what kind of Digital SLR Camera you should buy, I wrote an amazing guide for Digital SLR Cameras you can download here. It will explain all the information you could possibly want to know about Digital SLR Cameras from different Digital SLR Camera body styles, Digital SLR Camera lenses, Digital SLR Camera prices and where to buy your new Digital SLR Camera to get the best deal.”
“I’m excited that you’re interested in getting a new camera and feel honored that you’re asking me for my input. Before I dive into too much information and ramble on, we should talk about what you plan to use a new camera for. Are you using it for snapshots like you would use your camera on your phone or are you interested in photography as an art and hobby? If you’re thinking about learning the art of photography there are a few digital SLR (single lens reflex-what you see is what you get) cameras that I would recommend…”
So? Which one sounds better to you?
Ok, I may have exaggerated the use of the keywords in the first example but, I’ve seen writing like this. It’s awful to read and you can tell it serves one purpose; to get you to sign up for something. It’s not there to offer any real value. The search engines are onto this kind of writing and want to reward those taking the time to produce relevant, quality content that’s unique.
Make no mistake, using keywords is still helpful for ranking. It’s just not as powerful as it once was.
Optimizing your SEO is incredibly valuable to your business site. IM Einstein can help you get backlinks and content on frequently visited forums and blog. The wide array of search engine optimization (SEO) tools IM Einstein uses can help your small business get those ever-important keywords, while we also use Site and Market Analysis tools to help analyze your site and any keywords you choose for their effectiveness and desirability.