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What is SEO? An overview and definition

…or said another way: What is Search Engine Optimization – if you don’t know what the acronym means

What is SEO: an overview and definition
What is SEO: an overview and definition

If you are unfamiliar with the term SEO – or if you have heard about it but not exactly sure what it is, then here’s an overview and definition so that you can understand what it is used for and even explain it to someone else, like an expert.

A search engine is a web site like Google or Bing or Yahoo. Its where you can find resources on the Internet by entering search terms. Simple terms like “organic dog food” or more complex phrases like “where in Tampa can I find organic dog food”.

The search engine will provide a list or web sites that answer that question and ranks them in order of relevancy. So the top site on the results page should be the best resource to answer your query. This is achieved by analyzing all kinds of criteria about each web site. The search engine scans web sites across the Internet and then indexes them based on the key words that they are about.

So what is search engine optimization or SEO for short? Its the process by which a web site owner customizes their web content pages – including the home page – to make them appealing to search engines looking for a match for specific keywords.

How is this done? There are three basic steps, although there is much more to SEO than just these, but they are the start of a strategy.

STEP 1: Research keywords

The first step in any SEO strategy is to identify what keyword or set of keywords (often called a “keyword phrase”) to optimize a web site and its web pages for. Choosing the right keywords will result in large volumes of traffic arriving on the web site if they are keywords that are typed into a search engine frequently. LEARN MORE about keyword research

STEP 2: Optimize keywords on a page

This process involved editing text and programming code on a web page to help search engines recognize it as a good page to rank for a particular set of keywords and to list it in their search results. LEARN MORE about on-page optimization

STEP 3: Get linked

This process – also called in-linking – is the work done to get other websites to link to your web site. It can be done by listing a site on free directories, getting mentions in other peoples blogs, getting media mentions and in some cases buying links (although this can sometimes be ill advised) on prominent web sites. LEARN MORE about In-Linking

STEP 4: Track and analyze

This process is about evaluating what keywords you have been ranked for on Google and Bing and then looking for ways to improve these rankings through  optimization and in-linking.

STEP 5: Create valuable content and continue to optimize

After an initial execution of steps 1 to 4, your ongoing job will be to create great content on your web site that positions you as an expert on the web in the areas that you specialize in an what to be known for. This is critical to your success in SEO. If you want high rankings on search engines you MUST become a content creator and update the content regularly.

Of course these steps only give you a basic overview of what SEO is, but should now have a basic understanding of the process and why its important. To learn more, join our Ultimate Digital Marketers email list. You will receive a free copy of our ebook Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed ebook. To order it, CLICK HERE.  There is a whole chapter dedicated to SEO in the book. You can also find out more by clicking the banner below.

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SEO in-linking 101

In-linking is one of the most important and most overlooked techniques (by newcomers to SEO) in search engine optimization. Understanding how it works and how to do it will help you grow your site traffic quicker than any other SEO tactic.

SEO in-linking 101:

SEO In-linking 101

What is in-linking?

It’s the process of getting other websites to link to your website. And it’s very important because search engines like Google and Bing use these links to decide how valuable your website is.  Each third-party site that links to one of your web page is a vote of confidence.

High number of credible third party links = site popularity = top search engine ranking on Google and Bing

An easy way to think of in-linking is to call it a referral. Think of it like this:  Would you be more likely to go to the theatre to see a movie that you a) saw a preview for on TV, or b) that three of your best friends recommended?  Probably the latter of the two scenarios would more likely influence your choice to go see the movie.

So, when another company puts a link to your site on their site it sends a message to search engines that your site has content that’s good enough to share.  That makes it valuable.  And as a result, your site moves up the search engine ranks.

5 easy ways to in-link:

1. Ask for a link. Search for similar sites that match the keywords you’d like to be ranked for. Email them and ask them to link to your site in exchange for providing free content to them. Or guest post on their site and in exchange, offer them to guest post for you.

2. Pay for a link. Find sites that get a lot of traffic from individuals in your target market. Pay them to link to your site. Or, provide them with an ad that links to your site. Text links in the body of an article are always preferred however and are assigned a higher value to search engines. CAUTION HERE: Some ads are coded so that they are not used by search engines as a referral link. Their web site uses no-follow tags to tell a search engine to disregard them. These have zero value for SEO purposes.

3. List in free listing resources. List your site in free business directories.

4. Make yourself available to the media.  Provide your expertise to online media outlets – get interviewed. Ask that the writer link their article or show notes (in the case of broadcast) to your web site.  This will help you gain major clout with search engines because media websites tend to be highly ranked.

5. Share content on social media. Share your content on social media. People who find it valuable will share it and it will get linked in blogs.

Important information about in-linking:

Be judicious about guest posting.  A few years back there was a high number of SEO gurus that caught on to guest posting. Naturally, they used it to their advantage.  They would provide the same article to large quantities of web sites.

Google caught on and adjusted their algorithm. They clamped down on the entire process.  So now, if they decide that you are mass sharing the same article just to get links, your site will be penalized. You will actually fall down the search engine ranks.

Google counts links and actually looks at the content of the site that is linking to your site.  For example, if your website is about horses and it is linked to by a site about knitting it won’t be as high a vote of confidence as another website about horses.

Google considers the position of the link. If you a third party site puts a link to your site in an article of a popular web post versus the bottom of a page that gets less attention. Google sees this as more valuable.

Create content that is good link-bait.  The best links are the ones that happen naturally and organically so create content that is the best on the web.  People will naturally share it especially if it’s a bit unusual and rare.

Anchor text in the link is important.   If a site links to your site about dog food and presents the link as it’s url it won’t be as influential as a statement, such as linking the keywords words: “Check out this site about dog food reviews“. In this example the linked keywords tell Google what the linked site is about.

Cross-link all your web properties. Wherever you can link to your site from web sites you own.

Link inside your web site. Cross-link pages on your website. If you write a post and mention a keyword from a post you wrote on another topic, link to the post. This will also keep site visitors on your site and engaged with your brand. And it helps Google understand your content better based on the words you crosslink.

In-linking takes time but the end results is more site visitors, which could lead to more sales.  It’s the third step in the process of basic search engine optimization strategy. To be most effective, you’ll also want to check out the articles on keyword research and on-page optimization.

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How to pick the right keywords for SEO

How to pick the right keywords for SEOPicking the right keywords for search engine optimization is one of the most important steps you can take in SEO. It can lead to volumes of traffic arriving on your web site for free if you do it right. If you do it wrong you’ll end up with a trickle of visitors and a lot of wasted time and effort.

The best way to start your research is to make a list of the keywords – or more accurately “keyword phrases” you think a web search would type into a search engine such as Google or Bing to find your web site. Then search for them on Google and see what web sites and content come up. If sites that you compete with come up then you’re likely on to the right keyword phrases.

Quick Keyword Research Strategy

The next thing to do is to try combinations and variations on the keyword phrase and see what Google suggests in its pop out search menu. These are phrases  a known to be searched on in Google index and likely have good traffic behind them. For example, start typing “dog food” and Google will suggest common searches that use that keyword.

keyword research on google
Use Google to see what keyword phrases are auto selected

 

For the time-pressed SEO, this could be all that you need to determine what keyword phrase could be valuable.

Of course it doesn’t tell you the best keyword phrases or the search volume you’ll likely to get by winning a top spot with this phrase. But this is a quick keyword research strategy that can be done in a few precious minutes.

Google’s Keyword Research Tool

Google has a nice free keyword research tool called  Keyword Planner which is built into Google Adwords. That’s the search engine’s paid keyword ad suite and it is a good place to do your SEO keyword research.

Using it you’ll get a good sense of what a particular keyword is worth per click and what the search volume is for the keyword phrase.

To find it visit Google Adwords (click) then log-in with your Google account (a Gmail log-in will work) or create a new one because you will need this for a Google Analytics account and Google Webmaster.

After logging in to Google Adsense, click the “Tools” menu to the far right, then choose the research option you find most appealing. I like the “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category” option.

great free keyword research tool
Google Keyword Planner is a handy free keyword research tool built into Google Adwords

 

Paid Keyword Research Tool: WordTracker

At Cyberwalker Digital we like to use WordTracker, a paid that runs $27 to $69 per month depending on which plan you choose. The base plan works fine unless you plan to do international search engine optimization and need multiple country data.

WordTracker lets you input keywords to find related and suggested keywords that are getting good search volumes. Once you have identified a series of phrases you can use a secondary tool to determine search volumes. It also lays out for you several key indicators as follows:

VOLUME: This is the number of searches estimated for the keyword phrases per month.

COMP: This is competition rating. The higher the number the more competition there is to win a high ranking on this keyword. “Cars” has a volume of 1.2 million searches per month and a COMP value of 45.22. So that would be a tough keyword to win. Of course the pay off would be high. The keyword phrase “iphone 6” has more than 6 million searches but a COMP value of 35.65. This value is handy to compare similar keywords however. Use the volume and  competition values to determine which is a better keyword phrase to chase.

IAAT: This means “In Anchor and Title” and shows how many web sites have the keyword phrase in their page titles and linked in inbound links from another site. It’s an indictor of keyword popularity and shows what you are up against. If the IAAT is a high number you are for some hard work to win ranking on the keyword.

KEI: This is Keyword Effectveness Index and goes up when the keyword popularity increases and goes down when there is lots of competition. You will never see a KEI larger than 100. You want high volume and low competition so a moderately rated KEI is likely to be attractive. Use it to compare keywords too.

 

paid keyword research tool WordTracker
Paid keyword research tool WordTracker

The Ultimate Keyword Research Strategy

So what to do? Design a keyword phrase portfolio that has a blend of low volume keywords that are easy to win and moderately high volume keyword phrases that you have a shot at with some effort.

You might want to add a few “golden” keyword phrases that would would love to win. Tracking these will give you an indicator of how successful you are against top competitors. In a niche these are fun because with time and with great content and persistence you can win them. They are the golden eggs you can attain. If you can win national single word keywords (like “cars”) then you’re doing really well.

Even a regional win like “cars for sale in Tampa” will take some effort. If your business has a local angle then its worth making this kind of keyword phrases of of your golden eggs.

Bottom line though: start with the easy stuff. Cut your chops. Learn what works and get more aggressive as you develop your skills. And be sure to celebrate every win as your organic search volume grows.

Google’s mobile SEO update: What you need to know

Google recently announced a change to their search engine algorithm that will come into effect on April 21, 2015. If you have a website, you need to know about this change because it could massively diminish the amount of business you generate from search engine traffic. Especially, if your web site has not been recently updated so it displays well on mobile devices. Here is what Google announced:

Starting April 21st, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

This means that  mobile-friendly web sites will get a significant boost in web traffic. These sites will climb the search engine ranks .

Web sites that are not mobile-friendly will be penalized. Ranking decreases for sites with negative usability metrics.

Google’s mobile SEO update: What you need to know

The impact on your business could be major if you site ranks well on Google. Your company could lose a great deal of organic traffic and consequently business. Companies that sell directly on the web could be impacted directly.

Is your site mobile-friendly?  Find out using Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.

The easiest way to find out if your web site is mobile-friendly is to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly test.  All you have to do is enter your URL. Google will analyze your web site and provide you with your current status. This is what you’ll want to see: Google's mobile seo update: What you need to know

 

If you don’t get the: “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly” response you need to do some work to update your web site so it is mobile-friendly.

What you need to do if your site is not mobile-responsive?

You may not want to read this but, you’ll need to completely redesign your site so that it is mobile-friendly. There are no short cuts that comply with the Google algorithm.

Though, there are four triage solutions that could buy you some time while you put together resources and find someone to rebuild your site.

Here are some short-term solutions you may want to consider:

  1. Install a mobile-friendly site plugin. This is not ideal, but if it takes you from no mobile  functionality to some functionality while you implement a more robust solution its not a bad short cut.  Your webmaster should be able to do this in a few hours.
  2. Build a mobile solution that looks for mobile devices and redirects to a subset of mobile friendly pages for high page rank content (pages that rank well on Google).  This should include your homepage and contact pages. This again is better than nothing and will not prevent a loss of SEO ranking completely. Google recommends against it but says its not as bad a no mobile strategy. This would buy some more time likely.
  3. To properly resolve this need a “responsive” redesign that will serve the pages to different devices using CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) technology. This takes the content of the page and formats it for the screen it will be displayed on. 

If you need help figuring out what to do you can ask the experts at Cyberwalker Digital. We’ll give you free advice and guide you to resources that can help you.  Our team of web site strategists and designer understand the changes you are facing and can develop a strategy that supports your SEO efforts

Click the button below to send provide us with your  url that’s being affected by Google’s algorithm change and any questions you have. We will contact you within 24 hours (on a business day) with actionable solutions. CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW:

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How to do on-page SEO yourself

How to do on-page SEO yourself Here’s a quick tutorial that will walk you through how to do on-page SEO yourself. It will tell you where you need to place your seo keyword phrase to optimize your web pages for best results with search engines. If you want the full information and process, order our free 60-page book, called: Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed, at the bottom of this page.

How to do your own on page optimization

 

1. META and TITLE tag:

There are a series of tags in the header of each page – between the tags that contain information that describes the content on the page. The two tags you should focus on are the <TITLE> tag and the META DESCRIPTION tag.

The TITLE tag contains the words that show up at the top of your visitors web browser. They are also an indicator of page content. In other words, this is what people see when they pull up a description of your site. So, it’s a good idea to use language that’s enticing along with placing your keyword phrase here. Your page’s keywords should go in here.

They should also be the first words in the META DESCRIPTION, followed by no more than 160 characters. (Google doesn’t pay attention to anything past 160). You will find the tital tag and meta description tag on the back end of your WordPress site below the text box.

The META DESCRIPTION tag also describes the pages content and is used as a summary preview when the page is index by Google. Here’s what the title and meta tag would look like on the back end of this article.

Title Tag Example: <title>How to do your own seo</title>

META Description Tag Example <meta name="description" content="How to do your own seo? This quick-read article will give you the basics on seo.CLICK HERE." /> *Quick tip:  Put the words “CLICK HERE” at the end of all your meta descriptions. It’s a call to action that emphasizes the web searcher click on the link and go to your site.

2. URL tag:

Make sure your keywords are in your URL or web page name. Keywords in a URL are a great indicator of the page’s content so Google will use this as a key indictor on ranking the page. On the back of your WordPress site you can edit your url by clicking on the edit button beside the permalink under the page or post title. See image below for placement. As you’ll see, the title of the post and URL have the same keyword phrase.

seo1

 

3. <H1> and <H2> tags:

Your seo keywords should appear at least in one set of the headline tags on your page using the <h1></h1> tags. Be sure to use <h2></h2> or <h3></h3> subheads through the article too and sprinkle related keywords in these. If you don’t know much about web code putting a phrase in h2 tags is easy.

And so you are clear what h2 tags do, if you look at the bold headlines in this article, for example where it says “how to do SEO yourself” above, that’s an h2 headline.  You can size headlines easily and here’s how:

When you are in WordPress writing an article, flip over to text mode by clicking the “Text” tab at the corner of your text box (beside where it says” Visual” – top right of the screen). Then, locate the phrase you want to bold.  Put the h2 tag code around it.  That looks like this: <h2>How to do your own SEO</h2>

4. Image ALT tag:

Using one image for each page or post is essential for seo best results. Search engines look at the “ALT” tag description of the image.  Your keyword phrase should be placed in the alternative tag box. This is what the back end of the image looks like on this post.

howtodoyourownseo

 

 

 

5. Body text:
Your keywords should appear three to four times through out the body text on a page. Feel free to use synonyms. Use this Keyword Density tool to ensure the density of your keywords is done.  If you put too many keyword phrases in your text, the Google algorithm will penalize you.  This practice is called keyword stuffing.  A lot of seo’ers tried to trick the system, but Google’s been adapted to deal with this.

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to learn seo yourself. If you have any questions give us a call or order the book, which includes up to 30 minutes of free coaching.

If you’d like to learn more about SEO, order our 60-page ebook: Digital Marketing Secrets Revealed. Its free! To get your copy of the book now, click here:

 

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