IF YOU FIND YOURSELF CRINGING when you hear the acronym “SEO,” you aren’t alone. Many professionals struggle to understand what Search Engine Optimization is and how they can apply it to their websites. This free SEO Guide for Beginners, written by a beginner, covers all of the basics of SEO and even explores some more advanced tactics, such as link building.
Search engines have completely changed the way we use the Internet. Very rarely does one access a website by entering its URL in the address bar anymore; most of us habitually Google keywords that yield a list of sites we are most likely looking for. Google even has its own browser now, Chrome, which allows users to search in the address bar. We rely on search engines to present the most accurate, relevant results to us. This is why their algorithms, the mathematical formulas by which they determine the hierarchy of web pages, are perpetually evolving to better serve this purpose.
Content is forever king!
As content creators, it’s crucial that we understand how search engines find, index, and rank certain websites. While there are no set-in-concrete rules, we do know that search engines place a very high emphasis on the quality and quantity of content that is on a website. You’ve probably seen those websites that try to manipulate the search engines by stuffing keywords into meaningless paragraphs, just so they rank for certain terms. It’s frustrating. Fortunately, though, there have been a couple of drastic changes in the past year to Google’s algorithm that have severely impacted sites that try to cheat the system.
Another way search engines perceive a website is based on the number of outside sources that link to it. Makes sense, right? Websites that are interesting, helpful, and worth people’s time are going to see strong traffic from outside references. Creating content that is worthy of such attention isn’t easy, though. Naturally, the same breed of webmasters who shamelessly stuff keywords into nonsensical paragraphs have also found ways to acquire links with little effort. Tactics like this are referred to as “Black Hat,” and are definitely not recommended for long-term success. The search engines are pretty smart, after all, and have found ways to identify these sites and remove them from their indexes (the worst possible punishment the Google can inflict).
SEO for success
The beauty of the World Wide Web is that measurements are presented in real time, and the accuracy of those results is unlike anything seen before in traditional media. Through the various tools available, we can grasp how many pages a specific visitor viewed, for how long, and at what point they decided to either make a conversion or jump ship. Having a greater understanding of SEO will forever change the way you think about your website and how you can make it a thriving destination. Check out our free SEO Guide for Beginners and let me know what you think!
Derek Mabie is president and co-founder of Evolve Digital Labs, a St. Louis-based SEO Agency that educates clients and transforms their websites into ROI-generating machines. Derek has more than a decade of experience in the digital marketing arena, and has worked with several established brands (Bacardi, Dean Foods, and Embassy Suites, to name a few). Follow him (@derekmabie) and Evolve (@evolvedigitally) on twitter!