Learn More About SEO & Digital Marketing
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of using techniques to increase the number of visitors to your website or content on the web by improving its position in search engines. With good SEO practices, your content or site will appear higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) on Google or other search engines. To understand SEO, it’s essential to review the different types of SEO and the various terms used in the industry.
Why is SEO important?
Think about the last time you wanted to buy a product or a service online. What’s the first thing you did? You probably fired up Google and gave it a search. Thanks to Google, we can now easily find what we need with the search engine. On the flip side for marketers, that means we need to figure out how to stand out and show up on the search engines. Showing up in the search engine is so critical because the searchers are expressing interest in a product or service that you offer and that is your chance to show up.
Think about it like this, if I was selling shoes and I went around offering them to every person on the street, I’d probably have a tough time making a sale. If I sold shoes to people in a shoe store, I’d probably have a lot more luck. When people search for something they are coming to you and expressing their interest. All you have to do is show up.
SEO vs. SEM
Now that we understand the power of the search engine, let’s compare SEO to another search engine option, search engine marketing (SEM). With SEM, or Google Ads, advertisers can pay to show up for specific keywords. Say we sell shoes, but we are struggling to show up in the organic search results, we could go ahead and bid on keywords related to the shoes we sell using Google Ads. You might be thinking, “Wow, I can just pay and be at the top!” Well there are pro’s and con’s to Google Ads compared to SEO.
While Google Ads provides the convenience of quicker results, good SEO often provides more sustainable results over the long-term. If you invest in SEO with content, backlinks, technical optimization, other SEO techniques, you will be able to reap the benefits of good SEO for a while, for free. With Google Ads, no matter how good your campaigns are, you will need to pay for every click, every time.
I sometimes think of it as renting vs. buying an apartment/house. It’s really tough to save up enough to buy something, but once you do it, you have it forever. With renting, you get the short-term benefit but at the end of the day you need to keep paying to live there. Doing SEO right is a great way to build long-term value to your business and continually be found.
3 Types of SEO
Mastering SEO is an art and a science, but for starters let’s get to the basic pillars of SEO. The first pillar is on-page SEO, which is what actually exists on your site. Think about the content on the pages, the headers, the user experience, etc.
The next up is technical SEO, which refers to the technical parts like crawlability, sitemaps, and site speed.
Finally, you have off-page SEO which is primarily about gaining credibility from other relevant sites via backlinks. Backlinks give the search engine the proof that other reputable sites value your site.
5 Tips to Get Started in SEO
Adding high-quality content to your site is probably the single most important thing you can do for your SEO. Do some keyword research to find out what people are searching for related to your product or service and tailor your content to what people are interested in.
Having good content boosts on-page SEO, might drive traffic by ranking on its own and increases your chances of getting a quality backlink. Content is king, and the higher the quality, the higher the value. Also, do it consistently because fresh content can influence rankings.
2. Text Formatting
Make your articles easily scan-able for the users and search engines by using appropriate headers (h1, h2, etc.) and using things like bullet points to improve the reading experience.
3. Image Optimization
Optimize your images for page speed as well as accessibility. If you need to, compress your images to improve page load time (or use caching). You also want to make sure to use alt tags on your images to indicate what the images contain.
4. Internal Linking
Internal linking can create an awesome network of content and information for both the search engines and users. Say you have an article about 10 ways to run faster, within each of the tips you may want to link to an article/page about that specific technique. This can keep people engaged and let them go deeper into the site, and it helps the search engines understand the linking of your content.
5. Keyword Research & Tailoring
To rank for certain keywords, you need to do the research to know which keywords are best and then tailor your content accordingly. The best keywords for you to target will likely be a combination of keywords with high search volume as well as relatively low competition.
Say for example you are selling pens online, ranking for the term “pens” will likely be impossible (unless you are Amazon or Staples) but you might be able to rank for “cheap pens online” or “ballpoint pens online.” Knowing what keywords you are trying to rank for in search is the equivalent of knowing your audience for a product when launching.
Key Terms for SEO
Keywords are the most critical part of SEO and refer to what users, clients, and customers search to find a specific type of content. For example, when looking for an SEO class, you may type “SEO classes in New York” instead of just SEO. The goal of SEO practitioners is to determine which keywords are related to their business and use these keywords on their website and blog to help customers find their content. Learn more about keywords in search.
Organic search refers to search results that don’t include paid content. While it’s more difficult to rank higher in organic search, if you do, the results are advantageous. Companies and individuals rank higher by using keywords effectively in page titles, headings, and throughout their text.
Paid Search or PPC
Paid search techniques involve paying Google Ads, Bing Ads, or other search engines for premium placement at the top spot of search results related to a specific keyword. Such strategies are useful, but only if you understand how to price your ads. Other terms often used synonymously with paid search are PPC, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), and Google Ads (technically it is a tool for paid search). Learn more in our Google Ads blog.
The techniques you use on your web content to improve the position in search engines including adding keywords, keyword placement throughout the document, and web design.
This refers to things not directly on your website that will affect the ranking of your site. This includes things like social media, backlinks, and other methods used to drive traffic to your website.
While anyone can learn SEO, taking an SEO class will provide you with essential training in which techniques are most effective for you. SEO classes will teach you which tools to use to find keywords, and how to use keywords on your website once you’ve determined the right words to use. You’ll learn other strategies that affect SEO performance, such as having a mobile-friendly website and content that is updated regularly.
Writing SEO-friendly headlines, using images to optimize SEO, and incorporating meta tags are just a few popular strategies you will learn in our one-day SEO workshop. In our more intensive SEO and Digital Marketing classes, you’ll develop an entire SEO strategy and digital marketing campaign.