For anyone starting a new website, making sense of search engine optimization can be a major source of frustration. After all, thousands of self-proclaimed industry experts have written countless books, articles and blog posts about SEO, and yet it remains one of the Internet’s most enduring mysteries.
There are several reasons why it’s such a difficult subject to explain, the first being that it’s an ever-changing field. Search engines use advanced algorithms to produce search results, and they change the algorithms constantly to improve the accuracy of their results. Advice from an article written three or four years ago may no longer apply, or even worse, it could actually hurt your website’s search engine results.
Another reason it’s hard making sense of search engine optimization is that you are unique! Every website is different, every business has their own audience and every business owner has their own set of goals. Many of the techniques from one website to another may appear to be the same or similar, but a successful SEO strategy will be a little bit different for everyone.
Content is King
There is one fundamental thing that a website needs in order to gain substantial rankings in search engines, and that is content. Website content can be a number of things, from the text on a page, to pictures, videos and files.
Adding new products or publishing new posts on your website is an excellent way of adding content. Optimizing your website becomes much easier, when you have a lot of content, and you will have a much better chance of getting the search engine results you want.
Many people aren’t comfortable writing, but remember, you’re a professional! You get paid for what you do, and your opinion matters. Talk about your business and how you achieve the quality products or services you offer. Another good place to start is product reviews or comparisons showing how your product does a better job than the competition.
If you are simply not comfortable writing content on your own, consider hiring bloggers to write content for you. You can often find writers on websites like Fiverr, where you can hire a blogger to write a post for five dollars. The quality of for-hire writers vary, however, so shop around before hiring someone because the information should still be accurate and interesting to your customers.
Whatever you do, don’t just copy and paste other people’s content into your website as your own. Not only is it illegal, but search engines are like middle-school English teachers: they will reward you for quality original content, but penalize you heavily for plagiarism.
Keywords and Key Phrases
Keywords, or key phrases, are another fundamental part of making sense of search engines. A keyword is basically what you would expect someone to enter into a search engine if they were looking for information a page on your website offers.
It would be nice if people could enter just one word into a search engine and your website would show up as the first result, but unless you’re an up and coming Amazon or Google, that will be hard to achieve. There are over a trillion websites to compete against, so appearing in single-word searches often require paying for the spot.
A more realistic approach for most of us is to make use of “long tail keywords”. Chris Anderson popularized the term “long tail keywords” as a way to describe the phenomenon where many low traffic keywords can collectively send you more visitors than a few high-traffic keywords.
Each time you have new content ready to add to your website, try to imagine that you’re a potential customer and you need the information you’re about to add. What would you enter into a search engine to try to find it?
Now the tough part: think about what you would search for without using conjunctions (of, a, but, or, for, yet, so, nor) and you’re well on your way to having the right keyword or key phrase. The reason is that conjunctions are considered “stop words”, meaning search engines like Google will stop considering the words you use as a phrase when they run into a conjunction, possibly rendering a valuable key phrase worthless.
It’s a good idea to actually search at least Google and Bing using the phrase you chose to see who your competition will be. The fewer Amazon size competitors there are, the better chance you will have to get the top results.
Next, try to work the phrase you chose into the title of your new content, as well as in the body of the text a few times. You want the key phrase to blend into your content so it reads naturally, but don’t overdo it. Using the keyword too many times can actually penalize you.
Adding content to your website regularly, and finding the right keywords for each page on your website are fundamental in getting good search engines results. Master these two tasks and you will see more and more traffic from search engines.
What are your tips for making sense of search engines? Let us know of Facebook or Twitter!