Understanding The Basic Principles of SEO

Steven Spencer's picture

Fort Lauderdale Native Sergio Aicardi Explains It Here.

In a perfect world, I would be able to explain how SEO works in fine detail but according to many case studies most web users don’t have the patience to even read a post that is over 1000 words. So I am going to summarize the most common techniques that are used to successfully “Get your website to show up on Google”. Yes, that’s right, contrary to what some people may believe, it takes hard work to get top rankings for highly coveted keywords. It took me a long time to rank our company site on page one for “SEO Fort Lauderdale” which is the most popular search term for someone in the SEO industry that has a marketing company. The reason is quite simple, it boils down to a Darwinian theory which is “survival of the fittest”. In other words, any website can rank but it’s dependent upon how “fit” (or optimized) your website is. So let’s talk about what search engines consider a “fit” website to be.

There are two fields of SEO, one is called “On-Page” SEO, which is comprised of all the website's factors (your website). The other is called “Off-Page SEO”, ironic isn’t it? Off page SEO is made of all the things you do to improve your websites search engine credibility indirectly (i.e. social media engagement). Believe it or not, Google has the intelligence to see that your company Facebook profile only has 2 friends and that your competitor’s Facebook page has over 2,000. And that probably has something to do with the fact that they are ranking on Google and you are not.

When it comes to on-page SEO, if the Website Supply built your website then you are probably already covered. If not, then you will need to go through this handy check list:

Website Navigation – A search engine will “crawl” your website with programs that emulate a visitor. It will click on every link and analyze content, images, URL structure, navigation paths etc. If the crawlers that scan your site find content that is related to a common group of keywords then that is going to increase your chances of showing up for those search terms. The most common parts of a websites navigation that can be optimized are. Your page titles, descriptions, content, images and URL structure. So if you can, try to add your keywords in those locations bearing in mind that you should never “overdo it”.

  1. Page titles and descriptions are used by the search engine to show your web page in the search results and it is the first thing the crawlers look at. Just like humans, the search engines read from left to right, top to bottom so try to include your keywords in your titles and descriptions accordingly. See example image for a page that the website supply shows up for “Web Design West Palm Beach”. Notice the terms highlighted in the title and description are in the keyword.

 

  1. On Page Content – Your on page content is a very critical part of the SEO process, you need to plan your strategy out wisely. In the case of setting up an eCommerce SEO campaign, I always recommend writing your own product descriptions that are 100% unique because you will have the opportunity to have better content than your competitors on each page of your site. The more pages you have with great keyword rich content the more pages that will show up on Google if you follow through with the rest of the SEO factors. Remember, never overdo it when it comes to using keywords, only use keywords when they sound natural in your content. It never hurts to link to relevant pages in your site when you mention something that relevant. For example, I might link to my SEO basics page to show you another relevant source for learning more about basic SEO practices.

  2. Images – images are not seen by search engines the way you and I see images because they don’t have eyes, duh! So the only thing you can do is tag your images with image alt tags, Google tells you to do this in their SEO best practice PDF so it would be wise to do it in my opinion ;) One way to check if your images have alt tags is to hover over them and you will see the alt text show up.

  3. URL structure- Last but not least, another gold nugget opportunity to get your keywords in your website structure so that those little pesky crawlers can find them and assign a level of relevance to your website. When it comes to URL structure, you may need plan things out methodically, especially if you have a large website or a shopping site. This is because of what I said earlier, crawlers read from left to right, top to bottom. So when a crawler reads your URL, you want to make sure that from left to right, you can squeeze in as many keywords as possible.

Off Page SEO – The SEO Basics

Relevance is the key, and since Google cannot see your website like a human can you must resort to proving your relevancy through content and other “digital signals”. Some of the most common signals that search engines can evaluate are;

 

  1. Back links – this is a term you will hear a lot if you start to get into search engine marketing. Back links are merely referring pages that link from one page on a website to a page on your website. The number of web pages linking from one site to another are called “referring pages” while the number of WEB SITES linking to another site are called “referring domains”. A link from a powerful website is worth more than a link from a site with no value or one that is solely created for the sake of obtaining links (known as link farms). Over the years, SEO’s that were lazy took advantage of this and now Google regulates back links by monitoring quality over quantity so it’s important to hire a company that knows that they are doing if you are going to our source back link building.

  2. Engaging Content is also crucial and will work hand in hand with your back link building strategy in that you will need to produce content to get links. For example, I offered to write this post for The Website Supply because I am capable of producing high quality and engaging content which will benefit the readers who are interested in learning about SEO. In the content, I have referenced my website which Google will then attribute to my website in the form of a referring page. The content is related to SEO and that will show the search engines that Steven’s website and my website are related to SEO. If I have more content like this on the web when compared to my competitors it’s likely I will show up higher than them.

  3. Social Media Engagement – What better way to know if a company or website is a legitimate source to do business with than to see how the size of their social audience? It’s the equivalent of getting references from a company before hiring them when shopping around for a service provider or vendor. Search engines can’t really communicate with business owners so the next best thing to do is to check out their social profiles. If they have a large audience that is following them and re-sharing their content, chances are they are a legitimate and popular source.   

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