Everyone’s got to start somewhere, even the Karate Kid, and before you can pull off a one-legged crane kick to a bully’s stomach, you’ve got to start with the basics, the wax-on, wax-off of SEO.
Beginning my SEO career with only a background in IT, but having a background in IT would prove to be a great asset; however, having no experience in marketing would prove to be a great challenge. I started where many people in SEO start, with the basics, specifically link building. Six months ago SEO directories was still a strategy used by some for link building. Then came the Penguin 2.0 update and out went the directories. I’ll still list a client in a directory if the site is classy and highly relevant, but only in those circumstances. Seeing these changes in strategy as a new SEO specialist was eye-opening. I realized then that SEO techniques and strategies will always be changing with every algorithm update, and the key to success in the industry is to stay up-to-date on the latest changes.
Link building is the process of linking to your website from other websites. Googles crawlers find these links to your website and see your website as being more relevant than ones with less relevant links going to their site. The more relevant and the greater the authority the link has, the more it will help you in your rankings. For example, a link to an SEO site from a website that list the top SEO companies will help the SEO website more than a link coming from Yellow Pages.
Keyword research, a phrase every SEO specialist dreads. No one wants to do the research but everyone needs and uses the keywords. This is a boring, tedious process, but the backbone of your SEO/Internet marketing campaign. I’ll give you the quick version: Create a Google Adwords account, go to keywords research tool, type in some phrases you believe to be relevant (1 phrase on a line), check “exact”, uncheck “broad”, and try to only choose around 150 words/phrases. Choosing only 150 can be hard, I rarely manage to do it, but 150 should be your goal. You can then export these phrases you’ve selected to an Excel file, sort and categorize in order of relevance. I do core, primary, secondary, and tertiary. Other people on my team do a category for long tails (longer search phrases). This is my short and sweet version of keyword research. Keyword phrases should also be run through other programs such as Keyword Discovery or Wordtracker, but these are less valuable than the Adwords keyword tool.
On-site optimization is a very important aspect of SEO. I personally feel title tag, meta description, name of sub-page, and on-site content sit at the top of the priority list. Your title tag is the text in the tab at the top of your browser. This text will be the anchor text for that page (the blue link in the Google listing). Google places a lot of authority on this text when determining what results to show users. Meta description is important not because it necessarily helps your rank, but because it’s where Google pulls the snippet from. The snippet is the content under your anchor text that provides a description of your site to the user. A well-written meta description will substantially help your click through rate. The sub-page name is yoursite.com/sub-page-name. Placing relevant keywords here can significantly help your ranking for that page. Since the Penguin 2.0 update I have seen a dramatic emphasis on exact match domains (despite Google’s insistence that EMDs are less relevant now). While I believe the authority placed on these exact match domains is temporary, it will most likely remain a ranking factor. Your on-site, or on-page content should use relevant keywords, or keyword phrases, and variations of those phrases on pages, articles, or blog posts. Google’s crawlers read every page and when finding these relevant keyword phrases they see that this page is relevant to what the searcher is looking for. Of course there are other on-site factors, but these are at the top of the list.
Content creation is a huge part a good white hat SEO strategy. First, you should do keyword research using Google’s Adwords Keyword Research Tool. Find some keywords and phrases people are searching for in regards to the topic about which you would like to write. Take these words and create a catchy, relevant title. Then write an article, blogpost, or new page for your site. Articles and blogs should be at least 400-500 words and include the keywords phrases 4-5 times and use variations of those phrases when appropriate. Always put readability first, as user experience should always be your top priority.
Does social media play a role in SEO? Well, being as of recently our site’s Facebook page has been ranked in the top 5 for one of our main keyword phrases, I’d say ‘yes’, social media definitely has some ranking factors. I am an all-around internet marketing specialist; however, this happens to me my specialty.
To give you some quick tips we’ll start with the most used social network, which is, and probably will always be, Facebook. You can also use these tips when setting up your other social network accounts. First: the title of your page. If you don’t pick a username for your Facebook page it will use the title of your page to make your URL. As you can see here, we still use that URL for our page at Dragonfly SEO as our social campaign is still young https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragonfly-SEO-Baltimore-Maryland-SEO-Company/237224089658893. This is perfectly fine to start your campaign and an easy way to drop some keywords into your URL, but after starting a successful campaign I recommend choosing a unique username which will then be your URL. Place relevant keywords in that username, Facebook.com/YourCompanyAndKeyword. Make sure you choose the proper categories for your page. This is how Facebook will index your page and show you to their users. This becomes very important if you start running ads as Facebook caters, and allows you to cater your ads to people who will be interested. The same way you use keywords in your on-site content you want to use to describe your company in the about section of your page. Facebook business pages are usually public and can be crawled by search engines. I want to say the more likes, shares, and check-ins you get the higher you rank, but I’ve seen some poor quality Facebook pages rank in the top results. I’m assuming that there is a temporary glitch in the algorithm. I do believe Google correlates social pages with the company site and the more interaction on your social network the more relevant your company site is to searchers. You should post to your networks 3-6 times a day, but you don’t want to become annoying to your followers and get unliked, or unfollowed. Your posts should be interesting and not always related to your field of business. Share other people’s links and other companies’ info. Make your page a resource people want to use. Do not, I repeat, do not make every post an ad for your company, or a link to your company site. This is seen as spam and will make your social campaign fail. These tips can be applied to all networks; I just used Facebook as an example. Obviously, you will have to adjust your strategy accordingly for each network.
I’ll leave this topic with G+. While it’s still very new to the social scene it is Google, so in turn will help your rankings in their search results. Many people say they have great social campaigns on G+. I personally don’t care for it that much as of now, but I do believe it will get better with time. I think G+ needs to find its niche in the social world, so it can stand out.