Or: Getting to the Front Page of Google
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization is an important tool in the modern digital marketing toolkit. It is a method for writing webpages and content that attempt to gain better visibility on the most used online tools: search engines.
Anyone with a computer who wants to know anything uses search engines. If you want people to see your online site, you probably want to optimize for a better position with those search engines.
There are a couple ways in which you can improve your search ranking: through gathering inbound links, having detailed and descriptive webpage descriptions and tags, and writing the best content on the internet on a particular subject.
Before I get into the specifics for any one of those topics, we have to know how search engines are ranking sites. The most commonly used labels among SEO professionals are Page Rank and Domain Authority. There are several similar ideas that other companies use, but Moz’s Page Rank and Domain Authority are the most widespread I’ve seen.
Page rank says how valuable your page is at engaging the people who are asking the questions of their search engines. We will be going over the factors that go into that later, but it’s basically ranking the quality of the webpage as it relates to the keywords that people are searching.
Domain Authority is a ranking of how trusted your site is as a whole. Domain Authority is a sliding scale that gets increasingly harder to compete the higher the number gets. It is easy to raise your Domain Authority when you’re starting out, but as you compete for more internet trust, you will be fighting against larger brands and more established websites.
You can see how Moz ranks your site by downloading their toolbar for google chrome here.
Now, if you’re serious about getting a better ranking on search engines, then you have to be ready to write some great content.
As I mentioned before, inbound links are important for raising your SEO profile, and your page rank. These are links coming from other sites that lead to your site. The more trusted and highly ranked the pages that have links to your site, the better your site looks to the search engine.
People don’t just go around giving links to any web page. Your page needs to be worth linking to. This means that you need to be providing some kind of value through each page that you have on your website. The best and most valuable web pages get lots of links, which increases the page rank and domain authority, which increases search engine visibility, which often leads to more links.
Write good content, or provide a valuable service, and your web rankings should improve.
Now, if you have good content, and people are linking to your page, you should be seeing results. If you aren’t you might be in a period where the googlebots haven’t crawled your site in a while. This can happen and it means that the search engine hasn’t recognized your changes yet. This is normal. You can read more about how google organizes the internet here.
If you’ve been going on weeks without seeing the change that you expect, then it is possible that you haven’t formatted the content in a way that the bots can tell what is important. This is called tagging your content.
In WordPress or other content management systems there is often the option to tag blocks of text or code with tags such as H1, H2, H3, title, meta, and on and on. When we’re looking at beginner SEO, the most important tags are H1 and title. These are what you should be using to label the most important phrase of your content.
Do not overuse your high value tags. If you do, the bots will think you’re being vague with your content and not focusing on a single issue. This could lead to worse results than if you had never used tags at all.
So, once your page is showing up on Google we’re done, right? Wrong.
Now that you have a little more traffic, the search engines will be watching how people interact with your site. The longer the users stay on the site, the better the bots think your site it. The more pages they click through, the better it looks. Once you start ranking, SEO becomes much more about how people interact with your site than how the bots see it. The bots still need to be able to read it, but if people show the bots through their actions that your page is not useful, the page will lose it’s ranking.
My next post will be about how you can improve your pages so that they are better for the people who visit them.
Now that you have a basic idea of how SEO works, go and improve some of your existing pages. Just remember: keep it simple.