Demystifying SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a bit of a mystery to new site marketers.

I admittedly blogged for years without considering SEO or why it might be important to allow others to search strategically for my blog’s content.

Magnifying GlassMy approach to SEO was rudimentary. I tagged general topics and formal names. I didn’t really worry about anyone or anything else. After all, I figured my blog’s audience would see my social media promotions, visit the site and fall immediately in love with all of the fabulous information I have to offer.

It never occurred to me to consider a whole world of online viewers who might be interested in my content. Instead, I sought to help a few people in my niche with whom I had regular contact, never considering that I could provide valuable information to others in my field who I did not know.

Aren’t young, naive bloggers cute?

I still don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about Search Engine Optimization. The truth is that its formulaic needs are way too close to math for my taste. But I certainly want people to read my content and learn from my blog, so I’ve learned too. I’ve read a lot about the importance of SEO and how to successfully implement it into your site. Here’s what I know for certain, based on my readings:

Use Keywords

Once you determine your site and/or post’s topic, you should focus in on a few keywords related to it. I use the Google Adwords keyword tool to verify that I’m using the most searched keywords on topics.

Use these keywords in your blog’s headline, in the URL, in the text, and in the meta keyword section. You also should use certain content-related keywords in your site’s general categories. Using keywords in this manner will help your site become recognized by search engines as a source on your subject.

For more on SEO and why it’s important to get your site recognized, read The SEO Cupcake from Duct Tape Marketing.

Write Good Titles

Titles (or “headlines,” as the newspaper nerd in me calls them) are essential to getting your post read and optimizing it for search. You need a clever keyword-focused title that represents your post. Keep it short, simple and creative.

For more on writing good titles let’s go straight to perhaps the most prolific writer on the subject of blogging, Darren Rowse at ProBlogger. Check out Darren’s post, How to Craft Post Titles that Draw Readers Into Your Blog.

Link Carefully

Links to and from your site are essential in increasing your PageRank. This is important since you want to be near the top when someone searches for your subject matter. Most research has shown that people don’t read past the third page of search results. I argue that most people never get past the first page. We search, find what we need, and then we move on.

You should link out to strong sites using keywords or keyword phrases. I use Alexa to determine the strength of a site to which I’m considering linking. Perhaps more importantly, I link to sites I follow regularly and support. I never link to a site that hasn’t been updated regularly or link to a post without reading it entirely.

It’s a bit more difficult to get others to link to your site. You can do this by writing great content, building a strong reputation in your field/niche area and guest posting.

Here’s another great post from Darren Rowse about getting backlinks, 11 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Being Linked to By a Blogger.

Be Social

Social media not only leads people to your site, it allows them to share your content with others, perhaps even on their own sites, therefore helping increase your ranking.

It’s important for you to share your content and make it easy for others to share it as well by prominently displaying social sharing buttons on your webpage.

Participating in social media is not optional in today’s consumer-driven world. You must engage online with current and potential customers, sharing information you find relevant to them. Finding the correct audience and building a relationship with them will lead your business to success–online and off.

For more on the important relationship between social media and SEO, read Social Media and SEO: 5 Essential Steps to Success.

This post certainly won’t tell you everything there is to know about SEO. I don’t even pretend to be an expert on this topic. However, this post provides a foundation for optimizing your site. Hopefully it helps take some of the mystery out of Search Engine Optimization.

Let’s Talk Nerdy!

What did I forget? What do you see as an important aspect of Search Engine Optimization for professional sites that I did not include in this post? Let’s share and learn together.

Real Nerds Read!

Here are some other resources I recommend to learn more about Search Engine Optimization. Please note that both Jeff Goins at Goins Writer and John Saddington at Tentblogger did great series on SEO for Beginners. I recommend that you read them both.

31 comments
Angela Cucuietu
Angela Cucuietu

Thanks Kenna, very good tips and very well written article...

FReyes
FReyes

I think SEO is very important and I didn’t know much about it until reading this post. I thought the link on choosing the right SEO keywords was interesting. This site explains how to focus on what your already writing about and not to be too broad with your keywords. I also agree that your title post has the most powerful words that you’ll write. I have a better understanding now about SEO’s and what they mean.

Ashelihud
Ashelihud

I had this posted on Wednesday but due to technical difficulties here is my input!

I agree with all the things listed in this post but my suggestion and I think the trick to the whole grabbing an audiences attention is to be controversial or make a debate. Or use powers words. Go back to the core marketing and psychology tactics and use them! This was listed in one of the sub articles posted in this discussion. In order to get views and make your name known you have to be forceful and intelligent. Everyone wants to listen to someone who appears to know what they are talking about. Going into power words I agree, Free, stunning, and discover are great ways to pull attention to your blog. Little things like that can add so much and it's minimal work on your part.

malexander
malexander

SEO is very important to ensuring your website gets the more viewers possible. We run in to this frequently in politics. When you search for a candidate's name, it should almost always be the first result. I know that when I look at Google searches, I mainly stay on the first page. It is important to tag your website so it appears within the first page of results when someone googles a candidate. Also, it is nice to be able to search for a company or person and have their Twitter appear on the list of search results. SEO is important to getting more readers to your blog or more viewers to your website.

KoriCasey
KoriCasey

I had never heard of SEO before reading this, but I'm really glad you explained it and I feel like I have a better understanding of what it is. Page Rank, titles and important keyword are an important in getting your blog out there for the world to read and this really helped me understand that better!

eayoung
eayoung

What is SEO? lol, I have never heard of this. And I still am not true about I know to much about it. I do like the part about having important titles. in one of my classes on campus, my professor told me if I am bored at a airport, and I seen a press release, and the title was not interesting I would not read it, she proved it to us be seeing if we read a certain article, same article different titles. So i like the point about having a interesting title. I also like having videos and graphics on a site.

jcmalone
jcmalone

I feel that Page Rank is the most important aspect when considering SEO. Google has so much power in the internet that it is so important to be high up on the search list. I also think that a basic knowledge of HTML is useful when updating a website. Linking your site to social media networks allows viewers to see your site, and re-post or re-tweet so that their followers can see. SEO is something that can easily be forgotten, but is also something that is important to keep up to date.

JKA
JKA

haha I am definately one of those naive blogs because i never heard of SEO before reading this. But with SEO being important to help your site makes it a great success in the social media world.

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

Meta data is oh-so-important. I have a basic knowledge of HTML, and meta data has always mistifyed me- mostly because of lack of time/energy to understand a concept that wasn't central to my job at the time. But, as I was examining one of TentBlogger's posts on the topic, he talked about a crawler that helps you clearly see the info a spider bot would see. I know that this was covered in your post under the keywords section, but I think it's very importance.

Nik T
Nik T

I think you might have left out an important point on videos and images. If your blog can be made more informative or useful with the addition of videos and images then you should probably add them because they can help some site viewers that might be visual or audio learners. Also with regards to SEO your video or image might come up on a search which would in turn bring more traffic to your site.

jai.grant
jai.grant

I have often wondered what keywords are useful when it comes to searching the web. I think it is very important to understand how easily and accurately one’s website can be found. Reading this blog, I do not think anything was lefted out. I would like to elaborate on the importance of what keywords are related to a blog topic. I would not only check to see how my site appears on Google, but on Yahoo, Bing, and any other common search engine as well. By doing this, I can be sure the same keywords, used to find my topic or site, works well on a variety of search engines. I learned something new from reading the blog and chapter, and will be sure to utilize SEO techniques which will definitely be beneficial to my future websites.

AustinClarkEnnis
AustinClarkEnnis

Again I have very little experience in this subject, blogging/SEO, but I would say another thing to add that may even go in the "Key Words" section is citing your headings within your blog posts. Also, as for the social media aspect, I think it may be a good idea to every now and then post something on FB or your Twitter feed reminding your followers, especially newly gained ones, of your blog site and post the link to it. My 2 cents...

BruceSallan
BruceSallan

I'm with you, Kenna...SEO is so important. I just get lazy with it...

KoriCasey
KoriCasey

@malexander I rarely go past the first page of search results. Most of the time I don't even go past the first four or five!

FReyes
FReyes

I agree that it is important to tag your site so it appears on the first page of a search engine. I think that most people focus just on the first page of results when searching for information.

Ashelihud
Ashelihud

@malexander I like how you tied this to Politics! No in response to Aschexnayder I always go up to page 6 in searches! Is that weird?

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

@malexander You're so right. I read to the second page of search results maybe once a month, if that. But I hadn't really considers how the page rank of your social media could matter. I wonder if there are any ways that you can change that in a more targeted manner- many of the above techniques would work, but others won't.

Nik T
Nik T

@KoriCasey

I'm with you and Austin on this one, I hadn't heard of it either. The things you listed as important would definitely get your blog/site more recognition on the web.

FReyes
FReyes

I also didnt know much about SEO's before this post. I though the site about important title and keywords was interesting too. I think it is true when it says the title has the most powerful words you will write.

KoriCasey
KoriCasey

@eayoung I had never heard of SEO either until this post. And I agree that videos and graphics really make the site more interesting!

Nik T
Nik T

@jcmalone

I agree fully. I am pretty sure every time I get on the internet I hit up google to search for at least one thing. If your site isn't coming up on google searches odds are your views are very limited.

malexander
malexander

@jcmalone I definitely agree that page rank is the most important aspect of SEO. Google is the solution to everyone's problems. I usually look at the first three or four links that appear on Google and ignore the rest. If a site appears on the second or third page, I may never look at it. I feel like most of the population does the same thing, which is why page rank and SEO are so important to a website's success.

malexander
malexander

@aschexnayder I definitely agree that having a basic knowledge of HTML is very beneficial. Even if you're blogging using WordPress, you can still input keywords and HTML that will make your page show up higher in the search results. I think that people who try to build their own websites often forget about the behind-the-scenes information that really makes the difference.

Ashelihud
Ashelihud

@aschexnayder I learned a lot from your techie lingo....crawler, spider bot!!!! I love it! I also think that keywords is a sneaky way to be recognized. The little things in life are what work.

jcmalone
jcmalone

@aschexnayder I agree, HTML is an important thing to know when running a website although it can be very confusing to learn and understand. The more information available the better it will be when establishing SEO.

jcmalone
jcmalone

@Nik T You make a good point when talking about images and videos coming up in a search engine. Numerous times I have found a website by clicking on an image in Google Images. It is important to tag and label your photos and videos on your blog so that they come up in multiple Google searches, also original photos are always really cool to see.

JKA
JKA

And with that it would get more people to follow or pay attention to your page, I agree its a good idea. @AustinClarkEnnis

aschexnayder
aschexnayder

@jcmalone @nik T while I hadn't thought about it since the blog post about images, you're so right. Utilizing your SEO techniques in all aspects is really important- even for images and videos. Do you have any interesting ways you could do that? I suppose the first step is to tag your photos in the HTML with good keywords- any other thoughts?

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