What is SEO?
When I first started online I saw the three letters SEO everywhere. All I knew was that it was a big deal and it was something important to succeed online.
But what exactly is it?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is basically how to get Google (and other search engines like Bing and Yahoo) to sit up, notice pages on your website and rank them highly on their search engines.
The aim is to be on the first page of results when someone researches for a topic relevant to the content on your website page.
Click through rate studies show that the first result of a Google search gets a click through rate of about 36%.
Can you guess what the click through rate for the second result is?
Nope. It’s 12.5%.
And third place is about 10% and it decreases from there.
So you can see the importance of search engines ranking to getting traffic to your website.
When someone finds your webpage using this method, its called “organic traffic” or “free traffic”.
Have you have ever wondered how the search engines come up with the results when you type in a search?
The search engines have developed mathematical algorithms that send out “spiders” and “bots” (short for robots) out to your website and discover if your website is useful, interesting or of low value. These bots and spiders “crawl” your website and compare it to other websites with about 100 or so ranking factors. These factors include things like domain age, keywords, backlinks, fresh content and much more.
It may come as a surprise, but I bet you have already seen SEO in action.
Let’s say, you are looking for a new French door fridge for your house. And one of your main considerations is that it is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. So you go into Google and type in, “most efficient French door fridge”.
And these are the search results.
Let’s say you go into the first result, TopTenReviews. We know that there is a 36% change that you would click on the first result.
And you scroll through their extensive reviews of the Top 10 French Door fridges as follows:
At the end of the comparison table, they also summarize which fridges are the favorites and why:
You might have already done lots of research before this point, so you decide to click on one of the blue links. It then brings you through to the “Home Depot” website to purchase the fridge.
You are a happy customer and live happily ever after with your energy efficient new French Door Fridge.
Wait…so how does SEO feature in this example?
Well, when you searched for an energy efficient French door fridge, Google’s algorithms would have gone to work to bring up the most relevant and popular results.
The first website, TopTenReviews has achieved the first place in Google rankings by SEO.
It is important that the TopTenReviews website ranked first for the keywords “best energy efficient French door fridge” because someone like you typing this phase in is likely to be looking to buy a fridge. You are “targeted traffic”, someone looking to buy.
On the other hand, if they ranked for “French doors”, which is something completely different, the website would get traffic but not targeted traffic. People looking for French doors are likely to click out of the website immediately after realizing its not about French Doors at all.
And because they have provided such a comprehensive review, it is likely that you would click on one of their links or ads on the side to purchase a fridge.
These links are called affiliate links, and Home Depot in this example would pay the website owner a commission for the sale of the fridge (affiliate marketing).
In this case, the website owner is relying on SEO and organic traffic to get visitors and potential customers like you. And when you click on one of their affiliate links to purchase, CHA-CHING, the website owner gets paid a commission.
So to summarise why SEO is important:
Website Rankings + Targeted Traffic = Revenue!
So Where Do You Start Learning About SEO?
You can spend years learning about SEO and you will never learn all there is to SEO. That is because SEO is constantly changing with search engines refining their algorithms.
So is there any hope for newbies?
Don’t worry; you don’t need to be an SEO expert to run a successful online business. You just need to know enough to be successful.
Learn SEO in little chunks.
Look at it as a fun challenge, something to keep chipping away at.
To start you off on your SEO journey, here are 5 Things You Absolutely Need to Know about SEO and Your Website
1. Don’t Create Low Quality Pages
Don’t provide content that is plagiarized or duplicated. Don’t create pages with sparse content that are filled with affiliate links.
The search engines have methods to determine if a page truly provides unique content and value to its searchers. So a low value page that isn’t unique or doesn’t provide much value will not rank well.
2. Don’t Buy Backlinks to your website.
This used to be an effective way of boosting your website’s SEO back in the day. However, lots of people abused this progress and you could pay a fee to get countless backlinks to spammy websites to boost their SEO.
So now Google and the other search engines seek to discount the influence of such paid backlinks. Because of the abuse, backlinks are now viewed as low quality content.
In fact, websites caught buying links to participating in link schemes risk severe penalties that will seriously hurt your rankings. So don’t do it!
Include only quality links that are relevant to your content. This will fare much better than a 100 times more spammy links.
3. Don’t Use Automated Programs To Artificially Promote Your Content on Social Platforms
I thought I had found the secret keys to the treasure as a newbie when I found automated programs that artificially promoted my content to social platform to boost my website’s traffic.
Don’t waste your money. These kinds of programs sound amazing but they actually leave footprints that can easily be detected by the search engines and search engines don’t like this so you will be penalized in the search rankings.
4. Do Produce Fresh Content Regularly
Being consistent is key. When you first start out, set yourself a posting schedule and keep to it.
It’s easier said than done. I’m not the most consistent at posting either but you just have to keep at it. The good news is writing posts gets easier with practice.
If you feel daunted about writing, don’t be. You don’t have to be a writer to write valuable content. See writing to your readers as communicate with a friend. Think about what your friend’s problem is and how you can help them resolve this problem.
Did you know its actually more effective to write the way you would speak online?
It is actually easier for the reader to digest.
People don’t want to read perfect prose describing the “crimson sun setting into the dusk” kind of writing that we did in English class.
If you are struggling, this was a valuable resource I used when I first started out on how to write a 500 page Article The Easy Way.
5. Do Create Valuable High Quality Content
Create content that provides value to your website visitors. Write pages primarily for visitors and not for Google. Help your visitors resolve an issue, or save time by providing insights and research findings.
After all, search engines are looking to constantly improve their algorithms to achieve one thing – the best relevance to people’s searches. So creating genuinely valuable content over trying to “game” the system is definitely the way to go.
Do keyword research to ensure you rank for valuable and high return key words in your niche
This strategy is about not just getting visitors to your website, but getting the right kind of visitors – i.e. the kind that turn into paying customers.
This is where you use a keyword tool to research keywords that have the following 2 characteristics:
- High Traffic
- Low Competition
Why is that?
Because for starters we want a keyword that lots of people search for. If not one is searching for a certain term then why write content that nobody wants to know about.
Once we know lots of people are searching for a certain keyword, we want to know what the level of competition. The higher the completion, the harder it is going to be to rank well for the keyword.
So why not choose the path of less resistance and try to rank for these low hanging fruit with high traffic and low competition.
I think this is the MOST fun and exciting part of SEO and it is a free way of generating relevant traffic to your website.
Are there any low hanging fruit left for me?
That was my no.1 question. I thought surely with the numerous websites online now, all the low hanging fruits would have been taken.
However, I’ve found that with a great keyword research tool. I’m finding them all the time.
Have a go for yourself:
I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with SEO and keyword research. Please share your stories below 🙂