SEO for Beginners: What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. Another term you’ll hear a lot in this area is SERPs, which stands for Search Engine Results Page. The reason SEO translates into profit is that consumers will normally select links on the first page of the results — commonly the first 3 links on the results page. Links beyond the first page rarely get click-throughs.
What this means is, when someone searches for YOU, can they FIND you. Now, if you’re Starbucks, SEO might not be that important because searchers are just interested in finding where the nearest Starbucks is, they’re not looking to find a coffee shop. So, they type in Starbucks and, of course, your listing is 1st in the SERPs.
But for most businesses, SEO has a huge impact on profitability. That’s because folks aren’t searching for you by name. They’re searching for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. If you convince Google you can do this better than other websites out there, you’ll head the SERPs. The closer your link is to the top of a SERP, the more likely searchers will click-through to your content.
You can stack the deck a little by using Google AdWords, which is basically paying Google to put you on the top of the SERP, or in the right sidebar. Learn more about using Google AdWords here. When we talk about SEO, we mean organic search rather than these paid searches.
Keywords and SEO
Keywords are the search words consumers use when searching for the stuff you have. Keywords is really a misleading as consumers mostly use phrases when searching the internet. Your first SEO task is to figure out how consumers might try to find you.
That’s why Starbucks isn’t too concerned about SEO, because folks are searching for Starbucks so they’re going to be at the very top of the 1st page of search results. But, likely consumers aren’t searching for you by name. They’re searching for the things you sell. If sell children’s party dresses, for instance, consumers might use terms like child’s Easter dress, child party dress, child special occasion dress, girls dresses, children clothing, girls clothing ….
SEO for Beginners Step 1: Determine your Keywords
Now, lots has changed in the SEO world with the introduction of the Penguin update, but you still need to know how consumers might try to find you. So, the first step is to identify what keywords your customers use when searching for your product. There are lots of ways to do this:
- Ask customers in your store or try Facebook questions
- Listen to what consumers are saying about you and your competitors in social spaces like Twitter.
- Host a contest to come up with the best description of your products
- Brainstorm with others knowledgeable about your business, such as employees
- Read ads for similar businesses
Not all keywords are equally good. Some words are just harder to get page 1 search results because there’s so much competition. Other words don’t get enough searches to make it worthwhile. So, you need some way to figure out what keywords to use. I use Market Samurai, which is made by the same company who made Domain Samurai we used to help us find a good domain for our new blog. I’ve worked out a special arrangement for you with my good friend, Eugene Ware, from Market Samurai so you can download Market Samurai for FREE.
Here’s the link to our demonstration of Domain Samurai, which you can download for FREE.
You can also use the FREE Google AdWords Keyword Tool available from the earlier link.
SEO for Beginners Step 2: Develop an SEO Strategy
There are really 2 types of SEO: on page and offpage SEO.
What is On Page SEO? On page SEO refers to things you can do in your posts. I use Yoast who created a great plugin for WordPress called WordPress SEO. You can see a video I created that shows you how to install that plugin here. Armed with the Yoast SEO plugin and your keywords from Market Samurai, you’ll laser target high-value traffic to your site. These tools save you hundreds of hours learning the coding and behind-the-scenes aspects of being in the #1 position for your keywords.
What is OffPage SEO? As the name implies, offpage SEO is based on how search engines view your authority. Google, Bing, and other search engines figure searchers will be happier if they serve up links from someone who knows what they’re talking about than someone whose information is likely to be WRONG. Search engines rely on others to tell them you know your stuff — so the more websites that include links to your content and the more your content travels in social media — Facebook likes, Tweets, etc. the smarter search engines figure you are. One of the changes wrought by Penguin is low quality links or links outside your area will actually hurt your SEO. So, all those old tools for creating lots of low quality backlinks will now backfire — and I say good riddance. Google doesn’t like folks gaming the system and neither do I.
The same is true about your products — search engines figure your products are better if other websites link to yours and customers talk about you in social media.
We’ll go into much more detail on these topics in future posts. Until then, here are links to some great SEO experts if you want to learn more: