This is a rather lengthy post about SEO. While you will not learn everything you need to know about SEO from this single page, you can rest assured knowing that there is a LOT of material about SEO all throughout this website.
What Is SEO?
SEO – or Search Engine Optimization – is a critical component of any digital marketer’s toolbox. By optimizing both onpage and offpage factors, a professional SEO expert can put your website at the top of the search engines with ease. Now, getting to the top of Google and staying there are 2 separate issues and doing either one may take considerable time and/or effort.
But suffice it to say that getting a #1 spot on Google is an achievable goal.
Proper SEO starts with picking the ideal keywords for your website and then going about creating content for it and publicizing it. In a nutshell, that’s really what SEO is – good content coupled with referrals.
Onpage vs. Offpage SEO
Simply put, onpage SEO consists of the things you need to do on your own page to optimize it for the search engines. Generally speaking, with onpage SEO, you are attempting to explicitly tell the search engines (like Google) what a particular article (we’ll be referring to “pages” and “posts” as articles for simplicity).
That means you are using your keyword phrases that you want to rank well for in your content: In the title, URL, Htags, images, videos, categories, and tags, as well as in the body of the article.
Seems simple enough, right? Make it easy for the search engines to discern what your articles are about so that they can begin ranking them with their search engine algorithm.
Don’t overdo it, however. Doing so can get you penalized in all sorts of sordid ways and the last thing you want to do (or have time for) is have a discussion with Google. Keyword stuffing is the single biggest onpage SEO culprit, so just be aware that trying to “stuff” in your keyword phrase(s) for any given article is a really, really bad idea.
Offpage SEO, on the other hand, consists of all the things you can do off your page. In a nutshell, offpage SEO boils down to the number of links you have coming back into your site from other sites. These are called “backlinks,” and they are the key component in Google’s search algorithm that spans over 200 factors.
Think about that for a moment. Google evaluates over 200 different data points in its search algo, yet backlinks are very easy to see as the single biggest factor.
Why is this? Well, if I link back to your site, you can bet that I trust what’s on your site as being truthful, dependable, and relevant. Further, I’d have determined that your content that I’m linking back to actually helped my readers.
I don’t really care about your users, but I’d walk through broken glass to help my users and/or customers. So you can bet that if I link back to you, your stuff is good.
At least that’s the whole premise behind Google’s giving backlinks a ton of weight in its search engine algorithm.
Of course, with anything so well-known and powerful, some SEOs exploited backlinks for a very, very long time, and have been since the importance of backlinks became quite apparent.
And, of course, Google realized this and went on the offensive by discounting backlinks it found pointing to sites that it thought were “spammy” or bogus or “black hat.” Recently, with the Google “Panda” and “Penguin” algo updates, Google began actually penalizing sites that it deemed were participating in SEO spam.
(It’s clear that all the “p” in all the algo animals stands for “penalize” – I can’t wait for Google Piranha!)
The bottom line in SEO is that if you want to get ranked near the top of the first page of Google, you either have to wait a really long time and spend countless hours “doing SEO” or you can speed things up a bit with grey- or black-hat SEO practices.
Google thinks everything is unnatural and wants to now penalize those websites and their SEOs who have cracked the SEO code and achieved success.
The Future of SEO
It’s becoming clearer by the moment that social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in getting sites ranked. What remains to be seen is the value of social media in proving a website’s worth and therefore giving it a leg up on the SERPs (search engine results page).
For now, it’s terribly important to get likes, shares, and +1s as well as backlinks if you want to get your websites ranked high (and who doesn’t – it’s “free” traffic).