What is Search Engine Optimization?
What is SEO? Search engine optimization is simply a strategy for ranking on Google for certain keywords.
Keywords: word or phrase that people search for in Google. When you’re deciding the keywords you’re going to target, it’s important to research what keywords will help your site rank. Ideally, you want to choose a keyword that is specific enough to limit competition from other (larger and better-funded) websites, however that also has a fairly high cost-per-click.
This presentation is focused on more basic concepts for beginner webmasters, things that you can do on your own without our help or the help of another agency. So I’m not going to go into depth on CPC or other advanced topics, though some are included in the module we will share with you at the end of this presentation.
Cost-per-click, or CPC is what advertisers pay Google every time someone clicks on their site. This cost is market-regulated, so you are pretty confident that a high CPC means valuable visits to your site. How do you find this? There are some free or inexpensive websites that give you just this information. They give you powerful analytical tools for your keyword research.
So, now that you know which keywords to target, how do we get our site to rank for those keywords? In this presentation, I’m talking about organic SEO, which is cheaper in the long run than paying for advertising, and which you can do for your own business.
To understand this type of SEO, it’s important to understand the basics of Google’s algorithm. The algorithm itself is incredibly complex and is consistently being updated to keep SEO professionals from gaming the system. In a nutshell, it is software that searches through links in the Internet to give you the most relevant results for the specified keyword.
I’d like to emphasize that keeping up with metrics and the constantly changing algorithm requires a significant time investment. Let’s say, dedicated about one day a week for learning if you really want to up your game.
- Links: hyperlinks from one URL to another. More on this later.
- Index pages are sites that have been scanned by Google and deemed worthy of inclusion in their index, from which they pull search results.
- URL: Uniform Resource Locator, also known as a web address. Ie. SayulitaInsider.com
Google strives for neutrality among its search results, prioritizing their customers (“Searchers”) over businesses to give the Searchers the best possible content. Let’s say you want to rank for Seafood Restaurants in Sayulita. In the early days of the internet, it used to suffice to make a page that said Seafood Restaurants in Sayulita, Seafood Restaurants in Sayulita, Seafood Restaurants in Sayulita, and so on.
Well, this wasn’t a very helpful webpage after all, and Google quickly got wise to this as well as other, more sophisticated ways of gaming the system. They are constantly updating the algorithm to improve the quality of search results. Google’s general guidelines for Webmasters are available online and you can find them in the link in the modules we share with you. (Aquí encontrarás las directrices para webmasters en español.) Failure to abide by Google’s guidelines can result in penalization and even removal from the search results. There are helpful videos and tutorials in the link provided, which I invite you to explore on your own time.
So now we know how search engines work, and we have a basic vocabulary, we’re ready to drive traffic!
The three big pillars of SEO: Content, backlinks, and site optimization
- Content that is unique
- Fast site loading
- Easily navigable
- Limited number of ads
- Shoot for 2000 words, more is better Add 5-10 (or more–more is better) ORIGINAL photos, correctly-sized (for loading speed–guidelines for photo sizing and naming are in the module)
- Instead of IMG_5.jpg, change the name to seafood-preparation-catching-the-fish.jpg, or another relevant description of what’s happening in the photo.This can help your photo rank in Google image searches. use the phrases seafood, seafood restaurant, seafood restaurant in Sayulita liberally in the blog post, though not gratuitously. The content should be aimed at the reader first and Google second.
- Shoot for shareable content. If you have an original gif or image that you think will appeal widely, use it!
- Use your experience and expertise when writing!
So from Search results => reader found the Website => reader converted to follower => convert to loyal/paying customer
Long story short, they established a rapport, and Trisha will meet this follower’s husband in person tomorrow. Through her blog, Trisha is an authority for everything from restaurants to property in Sayulita.
And this is just one of many such interactions between blogger and reader. This all came about through Trisha’s high DA and high ranking on Google.
To understand the amount of linking power and authority that are transferred from a backlink to your site, we use a fun term: link juice. In general, backlinks on pages/domains with higher authority give you more link juice and thus better ranking.
Anchor text is the text that displays on a hyperlink. You may notice in the module that I used long, fairly descriptive anchor text. You may also notice that the anchor text looks natural, includes certain keywords for which you want to optimize, and reads like normal in the context. This is intentional to show best practices. You can vary the anchor text and include multiple links to the same page, but make sure it still reads naturally.
Let me note here that there are two types of backlinks from external sites: dofollow and nofollow. Dofollow links are the default, and they transfer the PageRank from the page they are on, and thus more link juice, to your site. Nofollow links do not pass PageRank. However, it is important to have both, because it looks more natural to Google.
Branding-the first step of building links
- Make your brand clear–bar YamBak vs. Club YamBak vs. YamBak brewery vs. YamBak Brew Works. Pick one and stick to it.
- Use as many free sites as possible–FB, Google business, Twitter, IG, Pinterest, etc . Free and easy, and gets Google’s bots looking at you.
- If you take only one thing from this presentation, it’s “sign up for the free sites and post content on them all.”
Another way to get backlinks is guest posting. Most sites that offer backlinks in exchange for articles want high-quality authoritative and long articles. So if you love writing about your topic this might be a great way for you to gain authoritative backlinks. However if you do not like writing or do not want to dedicate the time required, you might skip this step.
- Seafood “write for us”
- Seafood “guest post”
- Seafood “submit blog post”
- Seafood “submit article”
A quick search returned The Seafood Blog Project, which “often [accepts] guest contributions for publication on [ their] blog” Fishtankworld.com, fishlab.com, among others. You can then research both their page Rank and Authority as well as the guidelines for their blog post submissions.
If you’d rather eschew the sometimes strenuous post guidelines, you can try simply commenting on relevant blog posts. Comments usually have fairly lax guidelines, so they are easier. Make sure that your comments are relevant, complimentary, and informative so that they stand out from the spam comments. -Make your name something like “Tim from SayulitaInsider.com” -If the site owner appreciates your comments, you can ask to turn your comment into a link. Be polite, and sometimes they will do that for you. Also, you can try reaching out with a testimonial to a relevant site that you actually enjoy, and sometimes that can earn you a backlink.
THANKS AND YOU’RE WELCOME. There are other factors in SEO, which we will be happy to discuss with you at a later date, but hopefully this presentation has been informative and not too dull. We have just now sent you the module with all this information and MORE! Thanks a lot for your attention, and I’ll see you all at the bar. Like I mentioned, backlinks are supremely important. One great way to gain natural backlinks, as I mentioned before is to create compelling shareable content. This can be tricky but you are all creative, intelligent people, and if you are passionate about your subject, you can create short, fun videos, informative graphics, or other content that you think people will share, and that will ideally “go viral” it can be a great way to gain backlinks on authoritative sites like Facebook.
If you’re going to do a website launch or other large event, it can be helpful to make a press release for it and send the release to news sites that you think will be helpful for you. El Sayulero, VallartaDaily.com, Mexico News Daily, and if you have an announcement that could have a larger reach, try a larger news service.
The reason this is the third pillar is that it is likely to have the smallest impact on your ranking. However, it is the one that will keep your viewers engaged, on the site, and coming back! Site optimization at its core is fairly simple and straightforward. Remember Content is King. Obviously content will grow in the fullness of time and through good, old-fashioned elbow grease, but be consistent, ask for outside help if you need it, and your site will grow slowly but surely.
Make sure your site is mobile-friendly! More and more traffic is coming on mobile devices, especially as millennials grow and younger people start “surfing” so to speak, and you want to make sure you’re gaining traffic from these demographics. Most, though not all, WordPress and other CMS themes these days are optimized for mobile, so when you choose one, make sure it is.
CMS stands for content management system, and is the software used to create and manage and modify digital content. Common CMS’s are WordPress, GoDaddy, and Wix, but there are hundreds if not thousands of other options available.
Look at your site through the front end. Check the loading speed–bear in mind that many places in Mexico, especially rural Mexico have low bandwidth connections, and statistics show that if your site takes more than three seconds to load, most mobile users will give up and hit their browser’s back button.
One of the most common culprits of slow loading is photos with large file sizes. As someone who takes large-format, panoramic photos, I will upload both a large version (usually near the upper limit of what my CMS allows) and a smaller version. I will make the smaller version between 600 and 1000k (I use LR to manage the file sizes) and make it a link to the larger version. On the larger version, I set a message to encourage viewers to be patient 🙂
Use title tags and blog-post titles that are understandable. This is the text that Google will show in the search results, so make sure it’s both relevant and understandable for your potential audience.
Finally, take a look at your site navigation and ask a friend to do the same to get a second set of eyes on it. Make sure it’s understandable and fluid. Follow every link you find and make sure you don’t get any 404 errors.