SEO or Search Engine Optimization is not hard.
Yes, it is complex, but no, it is not hard. If you are new to this world, there is one main thing you need to understand.
The first step is to comprehend the ultimate goal of the search engines. Understand this first and the opportunities will be endless!
I will show you how to rank in Google and other search engines without getting caught up in the vast field of SEO.
Let's start by talking about the key players in the search engine optimization game.
The main 3 players in the SEO world
To understand this concept, let me put it in simple terms:
Imagine you are going to a library and you need to find the best book that will give you step-by-step instructions on how to make the best Italian-style pasta.
However, this library is no common library. It has over a billion books, and there is no way you will go through all of them to find the best one.
What do you do? You ask the librarian.
This librarian is not an ordinary librarian either, they have read all the books in this library. But even by knowing all the books, it is very hard to pick one. It is very hard to pick the best one depending on your needs, what you are specifically looking for, your taste, etc.
Imagine if there are 1,000,000 books about Italian cuisine, all claiming to have the best recipes for pasta. How do you pick? You have to pick only one, and it has to be the one that will answer the question and also beat every other book that talks about Italian cuisine. This is where the librarian’s job will become very hard as they will have trouble picking one out of the million.
As you may have guessed it, this represents you, the search engine and the Internet.
The librarian: Google, Bing, Yahoo, including any other search engine browsing through content such as when you search for a video on Youtube or you search for a pin on Pinterest.
These are all librarians having the same problem, picking the undisputed best book, website, video, image, post, that responds to your query (meaning what you typed on the search bar).
And the library? It’s the whole web! And yes, with more than 1 billion websites, and over 4 billion web pages.
More so or less, this is how it is played out, and it plays out every time you are looking for something in Google (Or the other mentioned search engines).
Once you write a query on their search bar, algorithms come in and it is how search engines rank content, and how they will make sure you find the best Italian-style pasta in the whole Internet with one search (or at least they try)!
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Now that you understand the players and understand the one problem that search engines were built to solve, you can now learn what SEO is.
If search engines are trying to give you the best answer out of billions, they must have a way of picking that one answer (first page listed on your search query).
As a matter of fact, they have many, many conditions and rules of picking the best answer, and by the number of people using Google, for example, I would say they have a pretty good system for picking that answer. If they didn’t, you would probably not be using them as a search engine.
So SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is all about writing and posting content that ranks high on search engine queries. If you do this, your website will get tons of organic traffic, and if done correctly, tons of people going through your sales funnel as well. One of the most popular SEO topics is learning which parameters Google uses to get your content ranked.
For example, if Google through their research finds that the most popular and valuable posts have images on them, and start ranking posts with images higher, you should probably make use of images in your posts too!
However, I do not want you to focus on the search engine algorithm and their rules and conditions for now. If you do, this is where a lot of people get it wrong, as Google doesn’t release their algorithm parameters for a reason. Mainly because it is their secret sauce, but also because their goal is not to rank content that has built with the only purpose to rank high.
You have to focus on what I said earlier, the search engine’s job (the librarian), is to give you the best, most valuable and popular answer. If you just write content systematically written to rank high, it will not work.
Optimization starts with value.
I will repeat it as it is probably the most important thing of this blog post: Optimization starts with value.
I will explain what value means next.
How to SEO - Optimize your content
As I mentioned before, each algorithm has their own set of parameters and ways of looking for the best answer to the search query, but in this blog post, I want to talk more about the overall strategy. In a way, I want to focus more on your content and how to write content that is valuable. If it is valuable, it will by default rank better than something that is not valuable. I will also give you some overall and specific tips, but instead of overwhelming you with conditions and rules, you need to first understand what Google is trying to do and how you would get there without focusing only in conditions and parameters.
The key when you are optimizing your content is to have complete posts that answer the full question. If you have the need to go to another page for more information, it is probably because it was either missing information, not what you were looking for, not specific on your search or not clear enough, among other things.
Based on this, here are your first tips on writing content that is optimized:
- Write complete information that is clear, concise, organized, user-friendly and easily accessible
- Write content that answers specific questions and leaves the user without any further question
- Brings exaggerated value, meaning that brings all sorts of pertinent information the user may have about that specific topic, again, in an organized, clear and concise way
This is easier said than done, but this is what you must always be aiming for.
If you are fulfilling the three tips above, you will get these reactions from users (you are aiming for these too):
- Users will be sharing your page on their social networks and contacts because they believe it is an interesting piece of content or because it is useful
- Users can find all the information on your page and will rarely leave it for another page
- Users will link your page on their pages as a source of information or as a link of high interest
- Users will stay longer on your page, visit other pages on your website and your website will have low bounce rates (bounce rates = when people leave your page right away)
Now, if you get these reactions all the time, you are doing exactly what I mentioned earlier, and the main key to search engine optimization:
You are writing content that is valuable and popular.
Valuable because people find it useful and interesting, and it solves the question (and future questions) the user has.
Popular because it is being shared among people, and once again, solves the question (and future questions) the user has in the best form and manner.
How to optimize your content for search engines - Actionable tips
Before you move forward to my quick summary of tips (and there will be another, more expanded blog post about these tips and more), you need to understand that there is no easy way to rank 1st on Google.
If your blog post does not bring the kind of value that I was talking about earlier, forget about getting ranked 1st on Google. Remember your competition is all the other pages trying to rank for the same question and search query!
Here are tips that you can use right now to help your blog post be more valuable and achieve more popularity:
- The longer the better - the longer your post, just might mean the more complete your answer is!
- Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate.
- Use images - graphics helps the reader get a better sense of your post, and makes it easier to read. Can’t imagine a 2,000 word-post without a single image.
- Make sure your post loads fast - users are impatient, and one way to do this is to make sure you don’t use heavy images (you can compress them using online tools such as TinyJPG).
- Make sure your title is specific and pertinent to the question you're answering
- Organize your content and help the user to stay on track - make sure to use headings, subheadings, bullet-points, highlight important information, and break your paragraphs.
- Make sure it answers a specific search query and make sure it is clear what you are answering (example: me writing a blog post about SEO, and my title says “How to SEO”).
- Write for topics where you see a window (not much competition or you believe the posts for this query aren’t valuable enough)
- Use short on-topic URL’s (example: example.com/how-to-tie-a-tie).
- Make it easy to share your post (include social media sharing buttons)
- Make your website is mobile-friendly
- Optimize your website so that users explore other sections and pages of your website
- Include a META description, this is the overall description or "preview" of your post and make sure it is on topic and properly describes what you are answering
- Research your topic and make sure that what you are saying is 100% accurate
- Google the question you are answering and write a better post than the page ranked #1
These are just the start to help you rank better in Google. Although there are many more things you can learn, realize that all those tips all bring us to the best tip you’ll ever get:
Write content that is user-friendly, valuable, and answer a specific question targeted to a specific segment.
Next steps on how to learn more about SEO
I want to insist on what I said earlier. Learn to write valuable content first. No matter what you do, your content will not rank first if it is not valuable, user-friendly and answers a specific question.
Once you’ve mastered this, it is time to learn more. You can start by learning more about how users use search engines and how they interact with it.
Then, maybe about keywords, more about Google’s algorithm, about link-building, tools you can use, and much more.
The SEO world is big and your learning may never end as Google is always doing changes to their algorithm based on popular trends of content and how users interact with the search engines change. Also, obviously to make it more accurate and better.
But always remember, search engines will always be trying to solve that same problem that our librarian from before had.
Now that I have explained more about what SEO encompasses, let me show you some resources that may be helpful to you.
Resources to help you build valuable search engine optimized posts
Let’s start by stating the obvious. Tools are useless unless you know what you are doing. Having said that, use these tools to accomplish what we said earlier. Create valuable content, track content and see if your content is working.
This tool right here will tell you if your page loads fast enough. If you are waiting for more than 5 seconds in today’s society, you will go right to the next page. Ideally, you want your website to load under 3 seconds. However, under 5 seconds is fine.
Most of the times when your website is loading slowly, it is because you have pictures that are too heavy. This tool right here will compress your picture while keeping your image quality high.
Talking about pictures, remember you need some on your post. This website provides with thousands of free to use stock images.
I didn’t explain anything about keywords. However, I can’t write a resource section without mentioning this. Google Keyword Planner shows you trends and analytics about specific keywords and queries. The overall goal is to find search queries you know you can write valuable posts about, but also that they do not have much competition (not many people write content about). This tool is free.
This tool gives you a look at how your website ranks in terms of SEO authority and backlinks. It is free to use.
A quick note on backlinks: Something you will come across in your SEO learning. Basically, avoid low-quality links, or spam links. It is not about the number of links going to your website, this can actually harm your rankings. It is about high-quality linkbacks. Example: A link back from Forbes is better than 100 linkbacks from random websites. Please do not get spam websites to put your link, it will de-rank you!
Helps you count and track how many shares your posts get. As mentioned before, a post that gets shared a lot, it can only mean is valuable! Unless it gets shared for the wrong reasons.
A post with grammar/spelling mistakes is a sign your post is no good for individuals reading it, and for Google. This free tool will help you make sure your post is written without mistakes.
Get your post a boost and share it on all your personal or business social media channels. This will help you spread the word as well as boost your SEO. This free tool will help you manage your social media and makes it easier to share your post everywhere.
This tool will help you find search trends, from Google! It can come very handy when thinking about topics to write about.
Increase the value of your post by adding infographics, illustrations, charts, etc. Canva is a free tool to help you create all of these, and is as easy to use as PowerPoint.
There are many, many more tools out there that are free that can help you, but I think this is a good start (if there are any that you would like to mention, please do so in the comments!).
Don’t let SEO overwhelm you
There are probably thousands of posts about SEO and everything around it. It is very easy to get overwhelmed with all this information.
I want you to remember that there is no easy to do SEO. There is no shortcut, you cannot avoid it. The one thing that matters above all is the quality and popularity of your posts.
As long as you remember the problem search engines are trying to solve, you can rest assured that writing valuable, user-friendly and high-quality posts will always be the best strategy.
This strategy not only works for blog posts, but for videos, images, and anything that can be sorted by a search engine.
What will you write about next? Let me know in the comments!
Also, if you enjoyed this post, make sure to share it to your connections.