Almost every company has the talk about improving their online presence, and the term search engine optimization (SEO), quite frequently, gets thrown around the discussions without having a full understanding. Companies develop blind campaigns to improve their site traffic and online exposure as well as improve their current revenue stream but lack a direction. In my experience, most businesses just do not understand search engine optimization, but that is exactly why we are here; to help you improve your business! So, here is a quick tutorial on the basics of SEO.
SEO vs. SEM
As I have sat through a plethora of marketing meetings, many companies will talk about search engine optimization (SEO) in the same context as search engine marketing (SEM). However, the two are vastly different. While search engine optimization is considered a fine art used to improve a website’s overall search-ability, search engine marketing is where you pay for the exposure provided by search engines (i.e. Pay Per Click marketing). Another major difference is the man-power involved with SEO is significantly greater than SEM.
What Is Involved In SEO
In the conversation, this is (typically) where companies are in awe of what actually happens with an SEO campaign. However, it is a place that we specialize and love to help those businesses understand how to improve their company. SEO involves a full understanding of what search engines desire while being able to translate user-friendly content into those particular molds. This is an ever-changing science as algorithms are altered on a frequent basis. With that said, SEO specialists also need to know your company inside and out. Details like your target audience, your time frame for improvement, and your overall company goals are merely a few of the considerations when a search engine optimization campaign is developed. We also complete competition analysis for your specified keywords. So, the long and short of what is involved with SEO is:
- Research of search engines
- Consultation with the company
- Research of the company
- Research of the competition
- Alteration of content to fit target audience (and utilize keywords)
- Alteration of site mechanics (explained in the on-page breakdown later in this article)
- Analysis of alterations
- Consistent and ongoing research/analysis
White Hat vs Black Hat
To be honest, I don’t think it’s even appropriate to talk about Black Hat SEO as it is frowned upon by almost all search engines (especially the major ones). With that said, here are some examples of this form of SEO (so you can stay away from it):
- Hidden (or invisible) text
- Cloaking (content delivered to human visitors is different than that presented to web crawlers/spiders)
- Repeating unrelated phrases to manipulate search engines (most likely keywords)
- Overall “spamdexing”
Now, white hat is the right way to go with search engine optimization. It is the concentration of providing high quality content to users. The content that is developed is meant solely for the user experience and not entirely for search engine spiders. This helps obtain a true natural ranking amongst search engines and is a great way for you to expand your online reputation.
Off-Page SEO Breakdown
Off-page search engine optimization refers to the ability to build links pointing to your site. This includes internal and external links. While internal links are easily created as you have the ability to do this throughout your content, external links are a bit more difficult as it requires you to get the attention of related high-authority sites and seduce them to link to your site. With that said, there are various link building strategies that exist to maximize the exposure of your site. We have gone through these backlink strategies previously and will provide more information on other techniques later in our blog posts.
On-Page SEO Breakdown
As we get a bit more in depth with search engine optimization, the term “on-page SEO” comes up quite a bit, and is the primary part of the two SEO aspects. Here is a quick rundown of the elements with your on-page SEO:
- Page Title — Utilize a concise, descriptive, and keyword rich title for each page. This should involve approximately 60 – 70 characters and be user friendly as well. Remember to make sure your title describes your individual page content as this is also what is shown in search engine result pages.
- Page URL — Try to include the page keywords within the page address. With that said, though, try to make the address as concise as possible.
- META Description — Granted this is not something that you view on a regular page, but you can see this in the page source code. It is the description that search engines utilize when they search through your site, and what is used in most search engine results (under the page title). Be sure to use keywords, but in a user friendly way. Also, make sure you keep the description within 150 characters.
- META Keywords — Once again, these are not displayed on a regular page, but is a factor that search engines take into consideration as they are found on the source page. Some search engines ignore these keywords, but others weigh them heavily. Make sure that you only include up to 5 keywords that are oriented to that particular page. This means that you don’t want to have the same keywords throughout the entire site. Please make sure, though, that you are careful with your choice of keywords as you don’t want to have more than 20 (give or take) keywords throughout the entire site.
- Page Content — Header elements should include keyword rich statements. Search engines pick up that the header elements are important words that describe the page content. Header elements are designated by “h1″, “h2″, “h3″, and so on. Be sure (as mentioned above) to write your content for your human visitors and not for the search engines. This means that you still utilize keywords, but you don’t abuse them to the point that you are spamming.
Overall, search engine optimization can get to be a complicated and complex discussion within a business. Remember to stay focused with your SEO campaign, and that it is important for you to understand the essence of SEO as well as what is involved with the optimization process. Keep in mind that we love to help you improve your business to don’t hesitate to contact us today for additional information or a consultatation.