Your Simplified Guide to SEO
SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It’s not as scary as we’ve made it out to be and there are major benefits to some simple steps of implementation. We want you to see those benefits, so today we are breaking down SEO for you. It’s time to put some strategy behind our search engine results.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. SEO can be a really complex topic to cover so in this blog post we will break it down to the basics, tell you where to invest your time with SEO, and prove to you that it’s not so scary so you take action and get started.
BREAKING DOWN THE BASICS
Keywords are the words that you think your audience will be searching for. They are also the words that when searched you want Google to show your content in their search results. Don’t overcomplicate this, you aren’t starting at ground zero.
Start with 5 or so main topics you talk about on your website and/or blog and create a spreadsheet with these as your columns. Next, start brainstorming a list for each area with as many thematic words around each bucket you can think of. Insert any hashtags around each topic you’re currently using that are general and make sense for a keyword. If you are having trouble coming up with new words you can always enter your base words into the google search bar and see what suggestions come up in the guided search.
Keep this master keyword list handy and refer to it anytime you’re writing content for your site. You want to infuse as many of these words where you are writing on your website whether it’s a page on your website or a blog post.
SEO title is different than the post title or page name. Naming each blog post is a critical step because this is what’s going to determine if someone is going to click through and read the content. Now, a clickable title like “5 Things You Need to Know About Email Lists” might be different than one we would write for SEO purposes. Let’s say the keyword we’ve identified for this post is “growing an email list” because the post is about how to build your email list. The SEO title allows you to name the post with SEO in mind while also naming it creatively so people click through and read.
So the title of the blog post is “5 Things You Need to Know About Email Lists” and the SEO Title is “How to Grow an Email List”. The blog post title is what is shown publicly to your audience and the SEO title is what search engines use to determine what the content is about.
The next SEO term is what’s called a slug. This is what the actual link to the page or blog will look like. SEO best practices state that the slug should be short and contain your focus keyword if possible.
This description is what will be shown as the first few lines of text under the title when your content shows up in search results. Think about when you google something, you’ll see about 8 or so post titles that Google believes the best match your search text along with 2 lines of text below it to help you determine if it’s what you’re looking for. This is the meta description and if you haven’t been writing meta descriptions, Google will automatically just grab the first few lines of text on the page. This is an opportunity to write click-worthy meta descriptions because it’s not enough to just show up in google results, you also need to get people to see your content and click through!
A final definition to cover before we can get into the good stuff is “alt text”. This is the text that is tied to an image. This is text that explains what the image is and it’s important because it can be used by search engines in addition to the text in your post or site content to figure out what you’re writing about.
HOW TO INCORPORATE SEO INTO YOUR WORKFLOW:
Start with your focus keyword first. It can be tempting to write a post and THEN figure out what your focus keyword and titles are going to be. But, it’s so much easier if we do this the other way around. Come up with a clickable title and strong keywords for your audience and create content around those. This will save you time and energy trying to force a keyword or strong title later and I believe this will make your content stronger as well.
Keep track of what’s working (and what’s not). Install Google Analytics to help direct and redefine your strategy going forward.
At the end of the day search engine optimization is ALL about proving to search engines that your site and content is the best so that it will serve it up when your audience is looking for solutions to problems you can help them with. Create valuable content serving your audience and the search engine optimization will follow.