SEO is the process of gearing online content towards the algorithms used by most major search engines. Basically, it’s about getting your posts to check all of Google's (or whoever’s) boxes so that they will put your content in front of as many viewers as possible.
At its purest, SEO is really all about creating good content that people can actually benefit from.
While marketing experts spend years training how to master SEO it can be done by anyone willing to put in the time and work.
Consider this your search engine optimization for dummies class. So, without further ado, read on for a SEO crash course.
How SEO Works
No SEO crash course would complete without touching on the three basic factors that go into ranking on Google. Consider these factors the core pillars that support all other SEO considerations.
Any post that wants to find online success needs to be able to prove its relevancy to the search engine. This is usually accomplished through headings and keywords, evenly and regularly dispersed throughout the article.
For example, one of the keywords in this article is SEO crash course. By including the words SEO crash course in our post, Google knows that this might be a good source to put in front of someone hoping to learn more about SEO.
The topic might be on point, but what kind of credibility does the writer have? Search engines explore this topic in several ways, backlinks being the most prevalent among them. We will talk about backlinks later on in our SEO crash course (hey, there it is again).
Usefulness is a little bit complicated in SEO terms. Google doesn’t actually know how useful your content is but it does know how people interact with your website. Do they read through the entire article? Once they have read through it, do they move on to another one or bounce off, back into the wider world of cyberspace?
Most search engines assume that the more time people spend on your site, the more useful it is. Therefore, it's important to give people a good experience.
Why Ranking Matters
When was the last time you looked past the first page on Google? Yeah. Everyone else too. If your article isn’t one of the first to come up for its keywords, it probably won’t ever get read. This means you want to be on the first page. Unfortunately, so does everyone else. You just have to outwork them.
Keyword Research and Content Creation
There are many ways to do keyword research and no single method is necessarily better than the next. However, most experts agree that there is a specific order to work in.
Find Your Root Keywords
First, identify the root word—the starting point through which most searches related to your topic will begin. In keeping with our own example, “SEO” is a good root word. Not everyone who reads this will have typed “SEO crash course” into the search engine.
However, because the word “SEO” is strung together in a variety of different sequences, it is likely to attract a range of different readers.
Dig a Little Deeper
Ok, so you’ve found a good smattering of keywords. What comes next? Now it's time to check up on the “suggested search items” and “searches related to.” You can usually find these at the bottom of most search engine pages. This will give you a healthy supply of additional words and phrases to keep in mind.
Other Keyword Research Resources
Consider other sources as well. For example, Wikipedia usually features tables of contents that can be rich breeding grounds for keywords. Meanwhile, Reddit can be used to find out what sort of language people online are actually using about your topic.
SEO and Content Creation
Once you’ve found five keywords you are ready for the next step in our SEO crash course: Creating and optimizing your content. There are many different types of content-led SEO techniques. Just choose one to start and you're off to the races.
3 Keys for SEO Optimization
There are three keys to SEO Optimization: title tags, internal linking, and content optimized for the user experience. Title tags denote relevancy. Internal linking keeps people on your website for longer, and user-optimized content makes it all easier to read.
Why Backlinks Are Important
3 Qualities of Powerful Links
Of course, Google is smart enough to prioritize high-quality links. Productive backlinks are highly relevant to your topic and placed editorially, which is to say deliberately, on the page.
Link Building Strategies
Here’s the problem: there is a lot of stuff on the internet. Even really great articles often go ignored and unnoticed. How do you build links in a crowded marketplace? Strategize.
The skyscraper method has you find top-performing articles, and then one-up them. Go more in-depth than the top Google search. Get better links, better pictures, and better content. Etc.
Competitor Backlink Analysis
Competitor backlink analysis is similar to the skyscraper technique. Go in, look at where your competitors are getting their links from, and see if you can improve upon it.
Other Link Building Methods
You can also actively ask for links. Look for articles that are missing links that could be relevant to your topics and ask the website owners if they would be interested in using your content. You can do the same thing when you notice broken links in an article.
Start Putting SEO to Use and Watch the Results!
If you want to succeed online, SEO is mandatory. Don’t let it frustrate you. Success takes time and a whole lot of experience. Learn how to work with the algorithm and watch what it can do for your content. While results probably won’t come overnight, good, steady work will be rewarded eventually.
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And if you found this helpful, you may want to check this out: The 10 Most Important SEO Metrics to Track Organic Performance.