Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
So you’ve started an online business or blog, and that’s wonderful! But now you have to deal with the mysterious-sounding concept of search engine optimization or SEO.
What the heck is it?
In a nutshell, SEO is one of many ways to market your website, so you get more visitors, more subscriptions for your email list, and ultimately make more money. We all want that, right? Adding SEO practices to your site helps people find you when they’re looking for a particular topic using a Search Engine like Google or Bing.
There are two types of SEO:
- on-page SEO
- off-page SEO
In this post, we’ll talk about both kinds of SEO and why you should use each for your business.
SEO involves your article titles, pages, blog posts, headings (H1, H2, etc.) Also, SEO helps you develop good titles, and write results-driven meta descriptions.
Remember, good SEO is all about improving the content on the internet, not detracting from it.
And, search engines want to send their audience to high-quality, relevant, and HONEST content.
See my tips on creating content in a productive way
So let’s start learning about SEO and how you can use it right away.
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SEO and Google
Google is the absolute number one search engine and it has a huge influence over SEO.
Think billions of searches a year! With those types of numbers, you have to pay attention to google trends and what people are actually searching for when setting up your SEO strategy.
Google’s job is to deliver quality information to their audience, and they’re laser-focused on doing that.
So, when you think about SEO, you must think about what Google tells us are best practices for website owners, to ensure that your audience can find you.
You’ll have no luck if you try to reinvent the wheel or think you can trick the search engine. Don’t waste your time here.
Thankfully, it’s easy enough to use good SEO practices to get found.
The Two Types of SEO
On-page SEO is anything you do on your website to help search engines differentiate between valuable content and content that’s not so important. Things like the content itself, how you format the content (such as the types of headings you use), the titles you give the content, all matter here.
Off-page SEO is all about anything you do off your site to help your website look more attractive to search engines and your audience. This gets you links back to your site (backlinks), that help your audience and the search engines know that your site has expertise on the topics you cover.
On-page SEO is a way to make your site more easily accessible, usable, and findable. There are many SEO tactics you can use right on your website. Each will not only help the search engines find the content your audience wants, but will also make the site a lot more attractive to readers.
Always remember that USERS are the most critical consideration when it comes to your website. You don’t build your site for yourself; everything you do should focus on the end-user experience.
Here are the main factors affecting on-page SEO:
- Content – All the content on your page including keywords
- Content formatting – How you format your content (paragraphs, heading types, etc.)
- Smart URLs – Choosing the right URL structure – use user-friendly words
- Internal linking – How and what you link to within your site (you want to link to content within your own site and other legitimate sources)
- Image alt text – The description of all images – you put this in the alt text of your images to describe to Google what the graphic is all about
- Navigation – How users navigate your website and allow search engines to crawl your site
- Meta descriptions – How you describe each post in the meta description
- Keyword density – This represents the ratio of keywords to other content within the post
- Site map – Helps search engines index your site and (if public) helps users find things
- Site speed – How fast your website loads each page that your audience clicks on
- Usability and accessibility – How easily your users understand and use your site
- Responsiveness – How well your site adapts to different devices, window and screen sizes
Try to pay close attention to these parts of your website. They will improve your traffic, help you get more sign-ups for your email list if you have one, and hopefully make you more sales. It’s one of the most critical aspects of building a useful website that works for your business.
Off-page SEO are techniques that you use off your website to improve search engine results so that you can pull more traffic. Using off-page SEO tactics can help build your brand, build connections with your audience, and send traffic to your website.
You can use any or all of these strategies to improve your off-page SEO:
- Social media – Using the platforms your audience uses can gain you some respected backlinks to your website
- Participation in discussions – Commenting helpfully on discussion boards, forums, blog posts, and on social media
- Guests blogging – Submitting original and unique blog posts and articles to high-ranking authoritative websites and blogs
- Branding – Your branding should be consistent with all the things you do on and offline
- Trusted directories – Use association directories like the Chamber of Commerce or well-known directories within Facebook groups
- Press releases – Sending out press releases is a legitimate way to get attention and links
- Speaking – Whether it’s in person, in public, or on a podcast, it’s a great way to build your brand
- Q & A sites – Getting a link back to your website by answering questions that are within your niche can make you an authority
- Video marketing – Using video through Facebook Lives, Zoom, YouTube and other mediums to spread the word
- Customer service – Providing fantastic customer service – please will share your information if you treat them well
- Email marketing – Getting people on your list and then marketing to them via the list
- Influencer marketing – Using popular influencers like Cloris Kylie (a truly lovely person) to talk about your products and services
There are so many things you can do off-page to build awareness and improve your image to readers and search engines. You ultimately want links from authoritative sites that go to your website, as this will improve your ranking and customer satisfaction.
Typically, the first place to start with search engine optimization is with on-page strategies and tactics. A wonderful tool to use is the plugin, Yoast, which will make SEOing your content a breeze. Just install onto your site and follow the step-by-step directions!
Additional resources for this post
Beginner blogger or writer? Check out this course from Horkey Handbook
If you’d like to learn more in-depth SEO strategies and training, here’s a great resource (free course with signup)
Download my technical checklists – it includes SEO checklists so you don’t miss any steps.