What Is SEO: Your 2019 Guide to Basic SEO
Updated: Jul 6, 2019
You've at least heard of SEO, or you probably wouldn't be here reading this right now. The question lurking in everyone’s mind is “What is it, why should I care and what’s in it for me?”
If your website were a car, then SEO would be the engine. Cars without engines won’t take you anywhere, regardless of what the body looks like. Without SEO your website won’t go anywhere either, regardless of what it looks like. It doesn’t matter if you built it yourself, had your son’s best friend, Tommy (who knows all about computers!) build it or if you paid some fancy schmancy web designer thousands of dollars to build it. If your website is going to go anywhere, it needs SEO. Of course, there is the option of you pushing it along, one slow step at a time, but there’s no need to work that hard, my friend!
SEO is a verb, not a noun. It’s ongoing and is something requiring regular and routine maintenance, just like your car. The 2 types of SEO are known as on-page SEO and off-page SEO. First we’ll take a look at the basic components of on-page SEO.
On Page SEO- The technical stuff
On-Page SEO is primarily coding, written in a universal computer language that search engines, like Google, can understand. The coding defines the contents of your website to search engines. If you sell tires on your website, basic on-page SEO tells search engines a.) that you sell tires and b.) your geographic area
. Now, when someone does a search for “where to buy tires near me”, Google can find your website and show it in the search results.
We’ll talk about where it appears in the results later. First, let’s talk about the basic elements of on page SEO.
HTML Headers- Coding that defines the hierarchy and the structure of your web pages. There are six levels of headings: H1 to H6, with H1 being the most important. Headings represent a group of introductory or navigational aids that contain one or more attributes that gives the browser more information about how tags should appear or behave. (/www.tutorialrepublic.com)
Schema Mark-up- Structured data used to provide information to search engines that gives them a better understanding of the content of a webpage and also provides the user with highly accurate search results. There are free schema mark up generators that allow you to fill in your information and gives it back to you in the proper HTML format that you can cut and paste into your website.
Meta Descriptions- A small snippet of text, about 155 characters, usually containing keywords, that summarize what a web page is about. Well written meta descriptions can increase click-through rates to your website. Think of it as organic ad text. A well written meta description conveys value, includes a call to action, matches your content and contains your most important message in the first 120 characters. (themeisle.com)
Keywords- Words used to describe and define the content of web pages, or a brief summary of the page.
Language- Tell search engines the primary language of your website. For most of us in the U.S., we’d choose “English”.
Canonical Tags- Tells search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or "duplicate" content appearing on multiple URLs. (moz.com)
Page Titles- Tells search engines (and your audience) the main idea of a webpage. For instance, the title of your “about” page might be: “About L&R Tires”
URL’s - The web address of each page within your website. The more specific, the better. www.l&rtires.com/aboutus is a specific URL for your about page.
Favicon- The little image displayed next to the name of your website in a browser tab.
Mobile Readiness- Your websites compatibility with mobile devices. If your website isn’t mobile compliant, Google will not display your website to someone searching from a mobile device. With over 80% of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, you want your site to be compatible.
When your on-page SEO is done well, you won’t need to worry too much about it. It’s a good idea to partner with a company that will monitor the technical data and perform updates as needed, but it isn’t a requirement.
Off Page SEO
Off Page SEO is everything you do for your website away from your website. It’s what allows your engine to run. The effort you put into it, the more you’ll get out of it. Off-page SEO is the ongoing maintenance and should be considered a part of your long term strategy. Blogging, social media activity and online directory citations are all a part of off-page SEO. Let’s look at the details.
Link Building- Creating back links to other websites that are similar to your own and to high authority websites (i.e. Amazon, web.me, Facebook) build trust with search engines. Link building is probably the hardest and most highly impactful off page activity for your website.
Social Media- Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Youtube and Instagram are among the most popular social platform and widely used around the world.….. Establishing and maintaining your social presence with consistent updates, as well as interacting with your audience boosts your rankings in search engines. It also aids in staying front of mind with your customers, builds brand loyalty and increases awareness. Each platform has a different number of recommended posts per day/week to maximize your reach. Post too few times and no one will see your posts in their feed. Post too many and risk getting flagged as a spammer.
Online Directory Citations- Google My Business, Yelp!, YP Local, the Better Business Bureau are all examples of online directories. Claiming your listings and updating your business info with consistent data helps local people find you. It tells search engines your location for “near me” searches.
Content- Blogs and press release articles are two examples of off page content that have a huge impact on your search ranking. Blogs can help to establish your business as an authority in your industry, provide useful information to your audience and generate more leads. Statistics show that businesses with an active blog generate more leads than those without. Well written blog articles can be considered content marketing. John Deere pioneered the concept of content marketing in 1895! Content remains the reigning king of SEO.
The fact of the matter is that if your website lacks SEO, you’re going to have to work much harder to drive traffic and generate leads. You can learn SEO yourself, but it takes A LOT of time and a commitment that, unless you desire to become an SEO full time, won’t be a feasible venture. SEO is expensive and that’s because it’s hard and takes time. It is worth the investment to hire a professional with a good track record and reputation to implement it for you.
Many of the build-your-own website companies have the on-page capabilities built in, but you do have to know what to do and how to do it. Many of the off-page activities can be handled by you, or someone in your office. You can also hire an outside company to manage it for you.
When you have an understanding of the basic elements of SEO, you’re on a different level than the majority of business owners in America. One thing one must always keep in mind about SEO, is that it is an ongoing activity that takes time, patience and hard work but the results are real and measurable.
If you need help with local SEO or social media management, contact Thin Air Marketing Group. You’ll be glad you did!