SEO is hard!….. I hear that and the following phrases all the time!
“I don’t understand that stuff” “I am glad to be working with you guys because SEO is confusing to me”*
This is fine. People don’t need to understand SEO but it would certainly be better if they did. Because I also hear these phrases A LOT.
“I want my site to be number 1 on Google.” “SEO is very important to us – we need to rank well in search results.”
Of course, I hear this a lot. Being found in organic search is a great way to grow your brands reputation, inform more visitors, and ultimately create more customers for your business. In this article, I’ll provide a few key elements to SEO. The fundamentals if you will. These fundamentals are easy and anyone can do them!
So listen up.
Crawl-ability and Getting Indexed
For starters, your website needs to be crawlable. Period.
If search engines cannot crawl your website they cannot index and organize your content and they will not display your website in search.
Simply put search engines like Google have a massive army of robots called spiders that “crawl” the internet and find websites. They may already know about your website and revisit every once in a while or they may discover you through a link on a “known” website. Your website’s sitemap will also help them crawl through your entire website. Generally speaking, if you have a website that is properly built and well coded or you are using a DIY website builder the crawl-ability of your site will be handled.
Getting indexed is where the rest of the fundamentals come into practice. Once you’ve been crawled, Google then indexes your website and decides what your website is all about. Each page and post. If you aren’t properly indexed it’s a lot harder to rank.
It’s All About Your Content Baby!
This is why I Believe SEO is a lot easier than most people think. Google cares a lot about your content. If you don’t have anything to say there’s nothing to rank in search results. This is really fundamental to understand. Indexing is all about content.
Thus the phrase, Content Is King.
Every time someone enters a search Google and other search engines try to deliver the highest quality answers for that search. Making content that is valuable and educational is a major part of ranking on search engines. The important thing to remember here is that the content must be valuable to the searcher, not the search engine.
Search engines are beholden to the searcher. Users expect to find their answers easily and quickly. If you are trying to create content while thinking about Google instead of your audience it will reflect in the way Google indexes your content.
It is also important to think deeper than the superficial. If you produce generic content that doesn’t dive into details it will be a lot harder to rank. Don’t freak out. Content is useful for more than just SEO, but it is fundamental to an SEO strategy.
Research Your Keywords
We need to know our audience. How do they search, what do they care about what is interesting to them? These questions will help us dial in and improve our content.
If we spend a lot of time writing about turtles for example but through research, we discover that our audience cares about tortoises instead we can optimize our content and improve how Google indexes our content. In the same way, we may learn they care a lot about how to shelter and feed a tortoise but not at all about what to get them for their birthday.
What we are getting at here is that with good research we can create content that better matches a searcher’s intent. We are in the age of the semantic search engine.
Search engines don’t want to just match keywords but also the meaning and desire of the searcher. The better we research our audience the better we can create content that meets their intent.
With research we start to require tools to better understand our website and how Google views our content, otherwise, we’d be flying blind! Start using freely available tools like Google Search Console and use the data to drive your research.
We’ve written an entire blog post on this topic: Leveraging Google Search Console to Improve Your Keyword Targeting and Monitoring. Be sure to read through that article to build a process so you can refine and optimize your content over time.
User Experience Matters
The last fundamental aspect of SEO is all about how your content is packaged. This relates to the experience the user has on your website outside of the content. Simply put does your website have the following dialed in.
- Mobile-friendly design
- Clean understandable navigation
- Fast page load on any device
- Accessible and clear design
- Again this comes back to who the search engines work for. The users. It is important to the search engine that the question is answered (with your content) in an easy and compelling way.
Is your website well designed, easy to use, compatible with any device, and speedy? Great! If not these are things you’ll want to address.
There is a reason this is the last section of our fundamentals. Because again without good, useful, and researched content your website will not rank the way you want it to. Great design and fast page loads speeds are important but they won’t make up for poor content.
The final fundamental on my list is understanding that your website does not exist in a bubble. Many people make the false assumption that it is about them versus Google when in fact it is them versus everyone else producing content focused on the same audience and keywords.
You have to take a bigger view than just yourself and understand your competition. Some keywords will be very, very, very competitive, which means they will be harder to rank. While others are easier to rank for quickly. These low hanging fruit may not have the traffic volumes but will still help you find new traffic and potential customers.
Here it is important to be realistic about your abilities and understand that you may need to get help from a professional. Increasing your competitiveness is always achievable and if it is the right strategy for your website it can pay big.
Go Forth and Rank!
These are the fundamentals of SEO and truly anyone can approach SEO and start working on ranking their website with this approach. If you want more information ask your questions in the comments or shoot me a message or email.