Optimizing Your Website For Search Engines Is Critical To Getting New Customers, But How Does It Actually Work?
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is probably the most misunderstood, and overly-complicated term in marketing. But does it really need to be so complicated that you need to hire a team to handle it? I’m going to say “No” and here’s why.
In this post we’ll break SEO down into the main components, and show you how to get the most from it without getting bogged down in all the messy technical parts.
This will also be a great way to easily get more FREE traffic and potential customers to your website!
Let’s take a shallow dive into what the term means, how it works, and what you can do to improve your website’s chances of getting free (organic) traffic.
What Is SEO?
First off, let me say that I think the term “Search Engine Optimization” is a ridiculously over-complicated phrase to begin with. Search Engine? Optimization? Who came up with that? It sounds like someone needing to find importance in fancy words.
First, a “Search Engine” is simply a tool that lets humans quickly access specific parts of the web they need. Want to find shoes? Put that into a Google search bar and it’ll bring back 1.6 millions websites that talk about shoes.
Second, “Optimization” is a nice way of saying bowing down to the demands of the search engines at any given time. Do what they say, or risk no one being able to find your website. End of story.
Ok, that may sound a little harsh, but it’s true. In years past, search engines have been notorious for changing the way they rank websites, without sharing with web developers how to improve their websites to account for the changes. It even got a name in 2002 – “The Google Slap.” One day the folks at Google changed the algorithm used to assess websites and millions of online businesses “disappeared” virtually overnight.
This is similar to when the U.S. Government added the requirement of a social security number to claim dependents on a personal tax return. In one year millions of babies were “wiped off the face of the Earth.”
Yes, websites need to be friendly for search engines, like Google, Yahoo, Bing, and the others, but what does that mean?
Well, first off your website needs to be accessible by “crawlers”. When Google assess your website they “crawl” it and judge it based on a number of factors, like speed, mobile-friendliness, ease-of-use, and the ratio of free content to sales pages.
I could go on to drown you in the technical details of web SEO, like page titles, H1 tags, meta description, and on, but instead we’ll talk about that when we get into the tools that will help you get all that in place.
For now though I want to talk about the idea of what SEO really is. It’s my belief that SEO should actually be called Search Engine Conversations. Why? Because as much as search engines are judging website based on technical aspects, they’re more so judging it on the basis of how valuable to the content is on the site.
The Hidden Truth Behind SEO
Behind all of the H1 tags, page speeds, and other technical elements mentioned above, there’s a much simpler side of SEO that most experts won’t tell you. Why? Because if everyone knew this the whole SEO side of the digital marketing industry would implode, and folks would lose their job.
What’s the secret?
SEO is actually just a gauge for how well your website is playing with others on a conversational level.
That’s it. That’s the big secret.
Is your site connecting and being connected to other popular sites with hyperlinks in a way that make it easy for the average human to get value from it?
At its core, the Internet is simply an exchange for people either posting information, or searching for it.
Posting comes in the form of webpages, videos, images, podcasts, blogs, and so on.
Searching is powered by sites like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Amazon, Social Media, and others.
Search engines allow people to quickly find what they’re looking for across the 50+ Billion webpages on the web. Without them, it’d be impossible to effectively find anything on the Internet.
Think about this, if you only spent 30-seconds searching all 50 billion webpages on the Internet for something specific it’d take 190,258.75 years to complete just one search. Google does it in less than 1 second.
This is why Google is such a powerful and profitable company. They control the flow of information on the web by controlling what everyone sees, and, more importantly, what they don’t.
Across the hundreds of products and services Google offers, nearly 80% of their revenue still comes from search ads. That’s crazy! Little ads like the one pictured below are worth hundreds of billions of dollars every year. In fact, 2021 may be the first year Google surpasses $200B in ad revenue alone.
How Do Search Engines Know What To Show?
But how do the search engines know which sites and webpages to place on the first few pages of the search results? Well, they simply find the ones that others are spending the most time on, or talking about the most using links to and from that site, then list the in the search results.
Every webpage created can include a link (hyperlink) to another webpage that either leads to another page inside the same website, or links to another webpage on another, more reputable website. When more sites link to your website, and when yours’ links to other popular sites, it raises your SEO score, a.k.a. “Domain Authority” (DA).
A higher DA tells the search engines that your website is a reliable source for information, and when folks go searching for what you’re offering, they’ll be delivered straight to your website’s doorstep to consumer the trusted content, and buy the products/services being sold.
BOOM! Free traffic which can lead to free sales. Pretty great, right?
How Do You Boost Your SEO Score (Domain Authority)?
There are 3 main ways to increase your standing with the SEO Gods, like Google:
- Publish free content regularly: 100 posts in 100 days would be amazing, 365 posts in 365 days is even better, but strive to put at least 1 free piece of valuable content on your website every week. Do this and over time your website will automatically get more eyeballs of people who need what you’re selling.
- Link to other trusted sites whenever possible. Every industry has thought leaders and influencers. Tap into their authority to boost your own status by knowing who they are, what content they’ve created, and link to it in your own blog, podcasts, or vlog.
- Entice others to link to your website/pages. One of the fastest ways to launch your SEO into the stratosphere is to have other websites with tons of domain authority link to your site. Connect with other bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers for joint interviews.
SEO Made Easy On Any WordPress Website
Ok, I’m going to focus on WordPress websites for a minute, but the same principals apply for any website out there. Make sure these elements are in place for every webpage, blog- podcast- and vlog-post on your site and watch your SEO rankings and free traffic grow overnight.
There are great tools available on the web to help make sure the factors involved in SEO rankings are properly in place. Personally, I think these mostly go too deep for the average human to get involved with, but do as many as possible to please the search gods.
- Yoast SEO: This is probably the most well known SEO plug-in for WordPress websites. With a free version and PRO versions, users are able to add vital SEO elements, like page headlines, meta descriptions, and social posting templates. They will also scan each page to see which major elements might be missing, including keywords in the headings, or transition words in the writing to make the page easier to consume.
- RankMath: With a more user-friendly interface, RankMath helps make navigating the SEO gauntlet of WordPress a little easier. Many of the tools found in Yoast and Yoast Pro are available, but laid out in a way that makes mastering this seemingly difficult task more palatable.
- 3rd Party Solutions: There are a host of other tools available to making SEO approachable and possible.
At the end of the day, SEO is about making everything on your site as accessible to the audience your targeting as possible. Are scientists your target audience? Speak intelligently, detail as much as possible, and the audience will eventually find you.
Aiming to educate folks on the best ways to care for their backyard pool? Skip the scientific methods and show them the sure-fire ways to troubleshoot common causes they may have, and how to maintain a pool once it’s healthy.
Either way, talk everyone as if they’re standing in front of you, and those who need to find what you’re saying will eventually find you, buy from you, and if they have a good experience, will refer their friends.
What’s Your Favorite SEO Tool/Strategy & Why?
Tell us about it in the comments section below!!!
Thomas Buttino – Search Engine Conversationalist