SEO Made Simple
Updated: Jan 21
Spoiler Alert: There is nothing simple about SEO. There. I said it.
For those of you who are artists, bakers, and candlestick makers, this may provide some relief to hear that the struggle is real. But wait! Don’t skip this blog. It is still important to understand what SEO is, the components, and how it benefits you or your business. SEO is more than finding those magical key words that fertilize your website to make it bloom and grow.
SEO is shorthand for Search Engine Optimization. Clear as mud, right? The core essence of SEO is to make your website easier to find and more useful to the searcher.
Think of your website as an entry in a massive global encyclopedia. By following SEO practices you can improve how people can find you and your products/services. SEO practices help Google and other search engines (Yahoo, Duck Duck Go, Bing, etc.) discover and rank your site.
Google, by far, is the number one search engine worldwide. 3.5 BILLION Google searches are made every day and 90% of all searches made from desktops are using Google. So yes, learning to rank higher with Google is important. Google has replaced the old-school Yellow-pages, Webster’s Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica combined. If an individual wants to know the best dog groomers in the world or in their hometown, they Google it. If someone wants to buy purple widgets from Romania, they Google it. If someone wants to know what a purple widget is, they Google it. Don’t understand widgets at all? Go ahead. Google it!
Let’s break this down. SEO typically has four components: Content, technical SEO, on-site SEO, and off-site SEO. Leanne Wong offers a more digestible breakdown: Content (keywords, relevance); authority (backlinks, guest posting, social links, outreach); technical (indexing, crawl-ability, broken links); and user experience (page speed, bounce rate, time spent on site).
The next two blogs will tackle each of these.
Your website is essentially a brochure, annual report, digital business card and online shopping mall or reservation portal all rolled into one. Your content needs to say and show who you are, what you do, products/services offered. Websites are more than words but should be visual, too.
Wong notes that there are two elements for creating a high-ranking website: Content that provides value and content that is link-worthy.
Value. Content that provides value is content that is helpful to the visitor by answering their questions (who, what, where, when, why and how). Using key words that identify these basics help searchers find your product. Is someone looking for a baker nearby to them? Or a baker that ships to anywhere in the world? Are they looking for bread? Cookies? Cakes? French Pastries? Or are they looking for baking recipes or schools? This is why it is important to be specific about your offerings and on each page. Don’t assume the only people looking for you are people in your hometown or that everyone landing on your site knows where you are located. Lastly, your content needs to be relevant and the easiest way to be relevant is to update it frequently. Stale websites that are outdated get lower rankings and plants the seed of distrust to the user as they now wonder how accurate hours, location, pricing, and offerings are.
As director of Astoria Sunday Market I used to get a lot of inquiries from people asking if we were open or telling me that they can’t find us. One particular afternoon I got a call from someone saying they couldn’t find us and wanted driving instructions. None of my instructions made sense to her and she got angry asking “what kind of games are you playing on me?” It turns out, they were looking for Astoria Sunday Market in Astoria, New York, not Astoria, Oregon. I laughed. They laughed. After that I made sure our location was listed on every page and prominently noted on the homepage.
Content that is link-worthy. Wong says this is the holy grail of SEO. Getting others to share your content because this grows your presence organically versus growing using ads. Wong shares a few tips:
· create in-depth content, such as long-form articles (about 1,200 words) – think about adding a blog to your website
· add visual appealing images that enhance your content
· create infographics that breaks big chunks of info into bite-size snacks.
· create sharing links! Make it easy for others to share your content.
Some easy ways to improve backlinks to your site is by engaging with guest bloggers, offering thoughtful reviews to others, and adding your site as part of your signature, being reviewed, and taking advantage of opportunities such as joining a local chambers, professional associations or service clubs. Using your social media that shares your weblinks is another opportunity.
Phew! This has been a lot of info to digest and yes, it sounds like a lot of work (and yes, it can be a lot of work). But investing time to improve your website and how you attract new visitors that can turn into new shoppers and new clients is worth the effort.
Plus, the more you know the better equipped you are to choose a web content developer or SEO specialist to help your website grow!
References & Helpful Links
Bond, Conor (2019, revised 2020). 27 Google Search Statistics You Should Know in 2019 (+ Insights!) WordStream. https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2019/02/07/google-search-statistics
Constantin, Gajura (2020). SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide. Newswire. https://newswire.net/newsroom/blog-post/00121433-seo-made-simple-a-step-by-step-guide-for-2020.html
Miller, Marcus (2017). The Four Pillars of an Effective SEO Strategy. Search Engine Land. https://searchengineland.com/four-pillars-effective-seo-strategy-285584
Wong, Leanne (2020). SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rank on Google. https://www.leannewong.co/seo-made-simple/