Last updated: 8/28/2014 ← Very important! Techniques change over time!
This is a basic SEO tutorial. I will probably blog about other SEO related issues in the future, but this is not an SEO blog. There are plenty of SEO-specific resources around the internet. I’m not trying to compete with them. It is important for everyone practicing internet monetization to know some basic SEO fundamentals, which is why I’m writing this guide.
What Is “SEO”?
“SEO” or “Search Engine Optimization” is the practice of optimizing content on a website for better search engine rankings. It also entails doing several other “offsite actions” to further increase search engine rankings.
How Does Google Choose What Ranks?
Google has a complex algorithm full of thousands of ranking signals. Most signals are small, but there are some very relevant ones. Google is constantly updating their algorithm to provide better search results, as well as to remove any “instant ranking loopholes”.
The most important part of SEO is the onsite element. Without having content on a website, you’ll never rank for keywords or search phrases related to that content. For example; to come up in Google for “Pink Unicorns”, I would have to have some sort of content somewhere on the website that is about pink unicorns.
There are many elements to copy, images, and everything else that affect a website’s SEO. Here are the main things to consider:
Header Text – The header text is very important. Only have one <H1> (Header 1) per page and make sure that keywords and search phrases are contained in that text. You can have multiple <H2> or <H3> texts on a single page.
URL Structure – The way the URL is structured can greatly help with SEO. Containing keywords seperated by dashes (“-“) is most optimal. You want to have as small of a URL structure as possible though. It’s kind of a double-sided sword and the technique is to making a URL that doesn’t look spammy to readers, contains a key phrase but is kept short.
Images – Google likes images. Not as much as text, but Google is well aware that the surfers like multimedia content to go with the reading. There’s methods of optimizing images for SEO as well. The file name should resemble a URL structure; “keyword-rich-file-name.jpg” or whatever. Also, be sure to add alt text and a title to the image.
Copy – The copy of the webpage is probably the biggest element. You’ve got to have plenty of text (I say at least over 350 words) that is relevant to the search queries and keywords being targeted. SEOs will throw out exact keyword densities to have. I say ignore all that and just write good content. Just have SEO in mind while writing that good content and remember that you’re trying to target specific search queries.
Internal Linking – Having links from one page of your site to another can help raise up the entire sites SEO. Google will crawl these links and look at the “anchor text” (highlighted words you click on). The anchor text generally gives an idea of what’s on the other side of that link, therefore Google uses it to help better determine what the linked-to page is about and ranks it accordingly.
Site Age – Older sites that have been around for a long time tend to be more trustworthy than the website created yesterday. In addition, older sites generally get links built to them naturally over time (See below).
Site Speed – Site speed and loading time is used as a small ranking algorithm.
SSL / HTTPS – Having your website secured by SSL will now result in a very small ranking increase.
Google looks at how other websites are interacting with your website to get a better idea of how credible it is and what the sites about. Therefore, there are various methods of optimizing offsite content to make your website rank better.
Linkbuilding – This is “SEO” according to many SEOs. The number of links going to your site has long been a signal used by Google in it’s algorithm. But wait! Not all links are created equal. Google looks at the number of sites linking in as more important than the total number of links. Links from bigger sites will also count for more than links from smaller sites.
Citation – This is mainly used for local search. Google looks for the mention of a brand, along with the address. Google will also look for some of the keywords mentioned on any of these directory pages as well. This is primarily for Google Map results and other localized queries.
Social Signals – This is disputed in the SEO community. Many SEOs feel that social signals have an affect on SEO. Many others feel that it’s only a correlation, and that shared content is also linked-to content, and that the actual social shares aren’t doing anything. Google bot does crawl these links though, and using social signals can help get webpages indexed faster.
And there’s the basic SEO 101
Of course there’s a lot more to it, but this is the basics. If you mind these best practices and ranking signals, you’ll do alright at SEO. Keep practicing and see what works to rank content higher. You’ll learn over time. Also, with new Google updates happening all the time, the techniques change fairly frequently.