Feeling out of your depth? Our SEO for Dummies guide introduces businesses to the in’s and outs of search engine optimization (SEO) and provides best practices, tips and tricks you can use now, and how to plan the best strategy for your industry.
If you’re a new business owner or you’re creating a new website for your business, all you hear is how important search engine optimization is. It’s true that SEO is arguably the most important part of your digital marketing strategy.
If you’re new to the idea of SEO, here are the “SEO for dummies” basics you need to know.
SEO for Dummies: The Basics of Search Engine Optimization
While it takes years of experience and research to become a true SEO expert, these basics will help your site show up on Google in no time.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization means is the practice of optimizing your site so it shows up toward the top of search engine results. If you’re a dentist, for instance, SEO determines if you show up on page 1 or page 10 of the Google results when someone searches for “dental cleaning near me.”
Core Ways to Improve SEO
A successful SEO strategy is all about understanding how Google determines a page’s relevance and reliability. Here are some of the key ways to improve your site’s rankings.
Each page of your site should have SEO metas in the code. These metas are like a label for Google to quickly determine what the page is about.
There are three metas each page needs: a title, a description, and keywords. The title and description are just as they sound. However, keep in mind that not only does Google see these, but users see them as well.
Do a Google search and take a look at the list of results. The blue headers you see are the titles for each page. The gray text under each page’s title and URL is its description.
Keywords, on the other hand, are only seen by Google. This is just a list of terms that apply to your page. For instance, the keywords for this page could include “SEO tips,” “SEO for dummies,” “what are SEO metas,” etc. You’ll want around five keywords for each page.
As Google gathers results for a particular search, it looks at how recently each site was updated. The more recently your site has been updated, the higher it will rank in the results.
You should aim to update your site’s content about once per week or more. The best way to do this is with a blog.
Each time you post a new blog, you do more than give your site a recent update for Google to see. You also get a chance to optimize for new keywords and you get a new piece of content to share on social media.
A backlink is a link that goes to your page from another site. If other sites are linking to your page, it shows Google that you probably have helpful, accurate information. While these have a strong impact on your SEO, backlinks can be difficult to get.
A good way to get backlinks is to get your site in front of bloggers in your industry. You can also write guest blog posts for other sites who will let you include a link to your site within that blog.
Keep in mind that the more reliable and successful the site that gives you a backlink is, the more that backlink will help your SEO.
Another indication to Google that a page is relevant and helpful is the number of views it’s received.
It sounds frustrating at first: you need page views in order to get more page views. There are ways to get those initial views besides Google, though.
This is where social media marketing ties into your SEO. By posting your article on social media and spreading the word, you can get those door-opening clicks and views. You should also include your blogs in email marketing e-blasts for the same reason.
Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who come to your site but only visit one page before leaving. Google sees a high bounce rate as an indication that people think your content is relevant at first but then realize it isn’t what they wanted.
You can improve your bounce rate by incorporating links to other pages of your site within each page. Another helpful strategy is to include similar articles at the end of each blog or page, suggesting other pages the user may find interesting.
Optimize for Your Local Area
If you’re a local business rather than online only, you want to optimize your site for your local area. Make sure your business name, address, and phone number are prominently displayed and consistent throughout your site. It’s important to make sure Google Maps shows your correct contact information.
It’s also helpful to include your city name in your SEO metas. For instance, one of our keywords for this page could read, “SEO expert in Houston.”
Google might not know whether you’re tracking your SEO performance, but your results will show it regardless. The only way to know if your SEO is working and how to improve it is to track your SEO performance and review it often.
What Not to Do
Have you ever heard the term “black hat SEO?” This refers to underhanded strategies companies use to improve their SEO. It primarily involves tricking people to their site without actually having legitimate content for them.
Google is constantly updating their algorithm to identify sites using black hat SEO and punish them in their rankings.
One of the clearest examples is keyword stuffing: throwing a ton of often-searched keywords into the content of a page even though they don’t apply to the content there.
Another frequent issue is including excessive links, like links that are less than 90 words apart. If a site has too many links, Google reads it as spam.
Taking Your SEO to the Next Level
The “SEO for dummies” tips above are just a start, but they’ll help you start building a more successful site in no time.
If you prefer a professional rather than taking a DIY approach, contact our professional SEO team.