What is SEO?
SEO is not trickery. First and foremost, SEO is speaking to your target market via your content (the words on each of your web pages). But SEO is also learning to write that content to your target market knowing that at least three very sophisticated algorithms (Google, Bing, Yahoo) are also reading, interpreting and indexing your words in order to determine when each of your pages is relevant to search phrases entered into a search box – on the fly. Yes, on the fly! Each of the 3.5 Billion searches made each day on Google alone serve up results that are freshly calculated each and every time.
So, in terms of SEO, this means that you want your content to be ranked highly in those search results that are relevant to what your website does. And, more precisely, understand that each page of your website can (and should) rank independently of each other. When someone enters a term into a search box (referred to as keywords) that you would like to be visible for in the search results, how you have written your page and how you have set-up your page to help the search engines understand it, will impact your rankings on that particular keyword.
So, if you sell 500 widgets or have written 500 blog posts (each blog post is a page), each widget or post can (and should) be optimized on a different keyword. If your SEO is smokin’, and you rank high on all 500 pages, you can begin to understand the potential traffic that your website can attract using organic search results.
How should SEO best-practices effect the content on any particular page? Or, in others words, what is content optimization? Or, in other words, what are the best practices for optimizing page content? Or, in other words, what is SEO copywriting? Or, lastly, what is SEO friendly content?
Of these five questions, which one is the best way to say it from an SEO perspective? Which one should appear on a page optimized for that keyword? The answer must begin with keyword research using a tool like Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner.
- SEO best-practices – 880 searches each month in the U.S. – Medium competition
- content optimization – 140 searches each month in the U.S. – High competition
- optimizing page content – zero searches each month in the U.S.
- SEO copywriting – 720 searches each month in the U.S. – High competition
- SEO friendly content – 40 searches each month in the U.S. – Low competition
The correct answer, in my case, is #5 – SEO friendly content. The correct answer for a blog post written by, say, Rand Fishkin at MOZ, would probably be #4, SEO copywriting. A brief discussion here to understand the reasoning is critical to a solid foundation in SEO. This page is optimized on the keyword “What is SEO” which receives an average of 8,100 searches each month in the U.S. but which also has a Low competition. I know that optimizing my pages on Low competitive keywords is what I need to have a chance at ranking. Why? Because there are many SEO companies and authors that have been doing this longer and have many more citations across the web that give them a much higher likelihood of ranking on the highest competitive keywords in our niche. I call it The Rule of Some versus None. If I optimized a page on SEO copywriting, my page regardless of how perfect the content or immaculate the on-page optimization would never see the light of day in the rankings (unless you scrolled down to say number 350!) The competition is simply too great and their popularity, as measured by things like external links, Domain Authority, PageRank, MozRank, MozTrust, etc., give them the great rankings on the most competitive and most voluminous keywords.
When competition enters the SEO fray, everything else stops being equal. So, in my case, until my popularity increases I am relegated to low competitive keywords to have a fighting chance of ranking highly. I’d rather have Some traffic by using low competitive keywords versus NO traffic from using high competitive keywords.
So, how do we increase our popularity in the search engines eyes? Enter Link Building, a vital component of an Inbound Marketing game plan. External links from highly authoritative and relevant websites pointing back to your website or web page, are interpreted as good things. They are citations or votes of confidence for your product or brand. A consistent increase in the number of these external links and other forms of citations like mentions, likes, shares, etc. all say to Google and others that your efforts are paying off, that people are talking about you, that you are doing the right things to increase your web visibility. Over time, this effort will be rewarded by higher PageRanks and Domain Authority and you’ll find yourself able to rank higher on some of the most sought after keywords in your niche. In the meantime, look for ways to earn those links (see post on Link Building) and increase the number of pages on your site. A blog is a great way to do both. Remember, if you had 1000 pages each optimized on even a low competitive keyword that received just 50 searches each month, you would have a fighting chance to “win the click” on 50,000 search results every month!
Other than great keyword research and content, what else does any web page need to be fully optimized?
To fully optimize each page gives search engines the clearest understanding of the page and, properly executed, will give you the best chance to rank on your properly chosen keyword. This keyword must show up in the page’s URL, Page Title, within the page content (2 0r 3 times in a natural way is the best practice), Meta Title and Meta Description at a minimum. It also helps to bold the keyword, italicize it, H1 it in a heading all without making it sound stuffed or unnatural. It also helps to include the keyword in any alt tags that define images on the page.
I hope this has answered the question What is SEO (there’s my keyword again…) and has provided you a clear understanding of at least the most important keys for successful SEO. I urge you to read my other posts for more details not covered here.
Good luck and thanks for any feedback or links back to this post!! If you like it, please share it. Thanks.