‘How do I show up on the 1st page of Google search results?’ I hear it all the time. You need to master Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here are some SEO basics, explained in plain English for the Non-Geek.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the process of improving a website’s visibility on search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. There are more than 200 factors that affect a website’s ranking within search results these include its user experience, content and load speed as well as trust or authority factors such as the number and quality of other websites linking to it.
Search Engine Optimization specialists improve on these factors in order to position a website higher on the search results page.
Why do I need to bother with SEO?
We use search engines every day to find information, products or services. Regardless of your industry, there are people out there searching for the products and services you offer and if you are not positioned on the first page of Google when they do, it will be your competitors they find (and do business with), not you.
Don’t be fooled that SEO is just for online businesses either. According to statistics around 43% of Google searches have local intent. Search engine usage continues to rise as more people go online and it will only become more important as time goes by.
SEO is a lot of work. Can’t I just pay to be on top of Google search results?
You cannot pay to be at the top of the natural or “organic” search results – the main results which appear on the left hand side on Google. The order of these results are determined by Google and are influenced only by factors relating to the relevancy of a website to a particular search query.
Related to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is Search Engine Marketing (SEM). This is the process of advertising on search engines. In the case of Google, sponsored advertisements appear in the right hand side column and sometimes in a block of 2 or 3 just above the organic results on the left hand side. Commonly SEM uses a pay-per-click model, which means the advertiser pays only when their ad is clicked. In an ideal world you would do both SEO and SEM since having 2 results on the search engine results page will significantly increase your exposure.
What’s the difference between paid and organic results?
Paid results are the sponsored advertisements that appear mainly on the right hand side of the search results page. Advertisers bid against each other to have their ads shown and pay the search engine only their ad is clicked. Google’s paid ads platform is known as Adwords.
Organic results positions cannot be bought by paying Google, Yahoo or Bing but can be influenced through Search Engine Optimization. Here’s a helpful article that explains the difference between paid and organic search in more detail.
How can I see which pages of my site are indexed?
To see which pages on your site are indexed, type this search string in to the Google search box: site:mydomain.com. So if we were checking for this site we would type site:sarahsantacroce.com
Which free tools can I use to help me with SEO?
Here are a few free tools that I like
- SEO Quake – This is a browser plugin for Chrome and Firefox which tells you some key information about your website’s SEO as well as providing diagnosis on what to fix.
- Google Keyword Planner – A free tool from Google where you can learn the search terms your prospects are using and how many searches are performed per month. Note you will need to sign up for a free Google Adwords account to access.
- Yoast – This a plugin for WordPress which provides simple instructions on how to optimise your website’s blog posts and pages.
What makes a good SEO expert?
Up to date knowledge and a deep understanding of SEO and its intricacies are a prerequisite for any individual working in SEO.
However, it usually takes a whole team of people to offer true expertise in SEO since there are so many skills needed to get the best results; highly skilled content creators are required, as are writers, video creators, infographic designers and manual link builders who painstakingly do everything by hand. An enormous amount of dedication and skill from a variety of experienced people is needed for quality SEO with long lasting results.
If you are considering investing in the services of an SEO professional, here’s a short blog post that will help you make an informed and intelligent decision about who you use.
This great content was brought to you by James Reynolds.
James is the founder of Veravo which consists of two search engine marketing agencies; SEO Sherpa and Click Jam. He is also the host of the Traffic Jam Podcast. James is fanatical about all things search, social and content on the web, from his blog, to Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. He is a contributor to several leading publications and mentors start up companies in his free time.