Search Engine Optimization

Alright, let’s be honest, there are a lot of snake oil salespeople out there selling that they can do search engine optimization (SEO) as a service for businesses.

What’s worse is that everyone knows they should be doing SEO for their website and other online assets in order to compete with the escalating competitive landscape on the web, but it’s still somewhat of an unknown topic to everyone outside of the SEO industry.

To some folks, SEO is the equivalent of Bigfoot; we know he’s out there, but can’t find him.

So what is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website to get organic, or unpaid, traffic from the search engine results page (SERPs) (That’s Google.com, Yahoo.com and Bing.com, yes we know there are others, but those are big players. Oh and we forgot to mention Amazon.com too).

In other words, SEO involves making certain and strategic changes to your website design (backend structure and architecture) and content in order to make your site more attractive to a search engine based on the search query typed in by a potential client/reader.

The strategy choosen, or work completed is done with the hopes that the search engine will display your website as a top result on the SERPs.

Don’t Trust Everyone

Now, anyone that promotes that they can “gaurentee” that they can get your website to the top of the SERPs for a specific keyword or content topic has got to be good or full of doodoo. Some are, most aren’t…good, thus full of doodoo.

How long does it take to raise rankings?

When we work with clients on SEO, the number one thing that we stress is: moving a website up the ranks isn’t going to happen overnight.

Depending on whether it’s a local, national or international (world) SEO strategy, raising SERPs ranks could take months, if not a year to make a dent. Of course this all depends on the keywork/content difficulty to penetrate and competitive landscape.

Has this helped?

Has this enticed you to want to ask more questions? Good! Let’s connect so we can help not only educate you in the SEO ways, but help your site move up like The Jefferson’s.

SEO Success Factors

These are usually the lowest hanging fruit in the SEO world and most times, forgotten:

Sitemap

The sitemap helps the search engine know the structure and of your website and is the simpliest way to tell the search engines what pages reside within your website. Sounds simple, but most folks either don’t or forget to submit the sitemap.

Mobile Optimized

Mobile-optimized is another important facetor as more people use mobile devices than desktops to access the web these days. This also brings along another set of design skills as people read content differently on a mobile device than on a desktop, so where content is placed and how it’s placed is just as important as the content itself.

Google Search Console

Everyone should have their site verified at Google Webmasters Tools, now known as the Google Search Console. It’s said to help with your sites page indexing, but even if that’s not the case, there are other tools there that Google Analytics doesn’t house.

SSL Certificate

A few years ago Google began requiring that all websites start encrypting their website with an SSL Certificate. These certificates help encrypt the challens between the client and server when visiting websites. Will you be taking sensitive information from users on your website? Then you’re going to want one installed.

Page Speed

Page speed has been cited as one of the main SEO ranking factors for years. Google wants to improve users’ experience of the web, and fast-loading web pages will definitely do that.

There are more factors than just this for On-page SEO, but I feel these are the lowest hanging fruit to work on for each page.

Meta Content

This includes your page’s title and desctiption tags. At the very least the first thing that’s done after a page has been created and content has been added.

Keyword in H1 Tag

There should be a connection between the title tag, the H1 tag and the content of the page.

Proper User of H Tags

Header tags, otherwise known as H tags are an important and technical way of telling Google how your content is structured.

Keyword in URL

This should be a natural item to check off as you should have a one to one connection between the title of the page and that title residing in the URL of that page.

Using Keywords in the Pages Copy/Content

Although Google has moved away from a keyword centric algorithm and now relies on the quality of the content of the page in order to rank (Yes I know, it sounds like a, “Duh” comment), you can’t write about SEO with writing…the word SEO on the page. Make sense?

The Length of the Content

This changes yearly. It’s bounced around from 350 – 650 words to now almost 2,000 words on a page in order to rank well. But, I’ve also seen pages as low as 50 rank well. The take away from this is the higher quality the content, the better change you’re going to rank higher.

Duplicate Content

This not only covers copying content from another page, (Do not do this. Period.) But also using the same content over and over on your website. Do this and you’ll be the black mark of death by Google (See below on ways to get around this).

Canonical Tag

What’s a canonical tag? A canonical tag tells search engines that content on this page is referenced somewhere else and that page should be considered the master copy of a page. Using a canonical tag will remove problems with duplicate content and getting red flagged by Google.

Image Optimization

Alt and title text, captions, and descriptions should be used so Google can have indicators of what the image is of. Yes, Google cannot tell what an image is…in most cases and algoriths have shown that Google can tell that a picture of a cat is a cat and not a Flerken.

Outbound Links

Linking to authoritative pages can send out signals of trust to a search engine, but sending out too many can also work against you (Ever seen a link dump directory?).

Internal Links

Google a few years ago updated their algothrim to put more enphasis on the content of a page rather than just how many keywords reside there. Linking like content to each other within a site builds a tighter content web within a page and builds the strenth between them. It’s what Hubspot calls “Topic Clusters” and is a content strategy I like to work with on websites.

Off-page SEO is all the activity that happens outside of your website and impacts your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs). These activities are usually based on the authority, relevance and trust of your website.

Where On-page SEO resides with all the actions you have control of on your site, Off-page optimizing happens everywhere outside of your website.

All in all this comes own to links directed back to you essentially telling not only SERPs but other users that your website is popular, relevant, has authority and is trusthworthy.

Links!

Backlinks! Backlinks are the backbone of Off-page SEO and are also considered the golden goose of this discipline.

Most of the time a domain pointing it’s site back to you is a good indicator they see you as a content authority. These aren’t impossible to obtain, but very difficult as you are relying on others to link back to you and you can’t force it. How do you get there? Write the best, high authoritative, trusting content you can. “If you build it, they will come.

Three main types of links:
  • Natural links are ones that occurs on it’s own. Here’s an example: You write one of the best blog peices, or a page on your site is seen as an authroity for a topic and other bloggers or companies link back to that page because of it’s trustworthiness and other defining reasons covered above.
  • Manually built links can best be describe as those found in the footers of webpages a designer might place under, “This website was created by The Tiki Pirate, LLC“. It’s not bad and yes I do it from time to time because if I weren’t practicing what I preach, what kind of professional would I be?
  • Self-created links are…bad. Just stay away from this. This discipline is consider and usually placed under black hat SEO  tactics.
    • Some examples to steer away from are:
      • Online directories
      • Forums
      • Blog comment signatures
      • Press releases with optimized anchor text
Off-page SEO that doesn’t deal with links

Links to your website are the most common practice for Off-page SEO strategies, but there are more.

Keep in mind that any activity that happens outside of your website that improves your search ranking position can be considered Off-page SEO.

Non-link examples:
  • Social media marketing – This has changed in the last few years. We were attending a conference in Cleveland where Chris’ SEO hero and guru Rand Fishkin (Founder of Moz.com and Sparktoro.com) ran experients that although you can raise the rankings of a page by sending a ton of social media traffic to a website, it’s only for a short period of time. This doesn’t mean that the amount of mentions, links and shares to a page will hurt it’s chances of ranking higher.
  • Guest writing/blogging – Guest blogging is a method used by the owners of blogs to increase traffic to their sites. These bloggers will provide content to similar blogs that reside in their industry in order to build credibility and exposure.
  • Linked/unlinked brand mentions – Ok, so let’s say you’re a blogger or are writing about a topic that fits into our wheelhouse of professional services; for example: I’d recommend The Tiki Pirate, LLC for an SEO expert. If you were not to link that back to this website, that would be a linked/unlinked brand mention.
  • Influencer marketing – This is something that has come up in the past few years with the inventions of Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms. It’s a form of social media marketing involving endorsements and product placement from influencers, people and organizations who have a purported expert level of knowledge or social influence in their field.

You want to start beefing up your site and becoming an authority in your particular field? This is where the magic is after you’ve completed everything that’s above. Well, almost everything as these strategies are what help with Off-page SEO and link building.

Not all pieces of content are created equal and a keyword and competitive research project should take place before the writing does.

Blog Posts and Articles

Can you write? Most say no, but in reality there is no better person to write about what you do than you. There are a multitude of different strategies we can employ to help bring out this keyword rich, topic cluster content so it can be placed on your website.

Ebooks, Whitepapers and Case Studies

Want to showcase a successful project’s results and how you went about it? This is the category to write for.

How-To Guides and Tutorials

These are gold usually. We’ve all read the, “Top Ten Tips on How to Change a Light Bulb” type of blog post or articles.

Videos and Audio Recordings

These are great…if you get them transcribed and that content is placed on the page alongside the video/audio recordings.

Infographics or Other Visual Content

For a while there, infographics were all gold whenever they were posted. We like to subsidize written content with these visuals to make them more interesting and a better change of Google or another search engine ranking the content.

Need help with your SEO?