Updated: Aug 17, 2021
The Simple Answer to SEO? It isn't simple.
A (Nearly) Complete Guide to SEO.
Here's the thing about Google. First and foremost, Google is an answering machine. Its job is to give the best answer possible to every query it gets.
Search Engine Optimization (or SEO), is the art of optimizing your overall online presence so that it can be found on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
"Page ranking is a lot like credit: those who don't need it, have it while those who need it most, struggle to get it..."
In simple terms, SEO helps your website be the answer when Google gets asked about products or services. The bad news is that total and complete SEO is never really complete. The good news is that there are some basic fundamentals that can help you get started.
The "Pay-to-play" Option
Google Ads are great. They're basically guaranteed placement on page one... if you have the money to pay to play.
But what if you can't afford to pay for Google Ads, or if your business is in an industry with insanely expensive keywords? That's just it. Digital ads have traditionally been the lowest cost option, but that trend is beginning to change.
According to Neil Patel, over the last year alone, the cost for...
Google and YouTube ads have increased 108%
Facebook Ads have increased 89%
TikTok Ads have increased 92% (largely because TikTok is new to the ads game and have vastly improved their ads options)
The good news is that even the little guys can rank right up there with the big guys (and often even beat them), without having to pay to play using Google Ads or even other platforms, as long as they have the right strategy!
First, you need to understand how your website gets found. Web crawlers (or as we in the digital marketing world like to call them, "Google Bots") crawl the web collecting data.
Google's mission is to index and organize all of the world's publicly accessible online information. The Google bots are how they acquire and organize the data needed to do that. Once information is indexed, search results can be delivered via Google's multiple ranking algorithms.
Why you should care about Web Crawlers
The crawlers start with the last indexed information for a website and look for new, changed, and fresh content with high quality and value.
Boy, that sound's arbitrary, doesn't it? I can hear you now: "What makes a high-quality web page? Who determines what's high-quality? Do I even stand a chance?!"
Google actually has some pretty strict guidelines for what it considers a high-quality web page. Humans use these guidelines to teach algorithms what to look for. This means that no matter how big your company or website, you can get found if you provide quality!
I promise, search engine optimization isn't as hard as it sounds, and you CAN get found on Google... with some regular work.
Have you ever noticed that when you search for almost anything, it's always the big companies that show up first?
Page ranking is a lot like credit: those who don't need it, have it while those who need it most, struggle to get it.
For example, if you search for restaurants near you, you'll most likely find that Mc Donald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, and others consistently outrank the little privately owned eateries.
Why? Because they're better known. Not just as a food chain, but by Google.
Each location typically has a Google My Business listing, multiple Google reviews, and even social media accounts for individual locations. In other words, they have a very strong web presence. Google knows the recommendations and how easily recognizable these establishments are, so it recommends them first.
How Does Google Decide What to Recommend?
Google considers many factors when deciding what to recommend.
For example, search intent. If a person searches for one or two words, they're typically in the info-seeking stage of the search process. So, Google will recommend pages, blogs, and articles that provide information about the topic.
If it's a product name, Google knows that most of the info-seeking is probably done, so the person is likely looking to buy or see reviews. Typically, people get more specific and a bit more wordy in their search when they know what they are looking for.
Why do you and I get different results when searching for the same thing?
If I search for something, there is a good chance I'll get a different result than you.
The reason behind this is that when deciding what answer to give you, Google considers your search history and location.
The more you search for things, the more the algorithms understand your individual preferences, habits, and the better it gets to know you.
For example, if you search for recipes a lot, Google might assume that you want to know what ingredients you'll need for shopping if you search for food. If you eat out a lot, Google knows that too (thanks to location tracking), and might recommend restaurants near you.
Google doesn't just want to give the best answer possible, it wants to give YOU the best answer possible.
So how do I get the crawlers to notice my website?
First thing is first, you will need your website to be indexed in Google (and other search engines). Often, whoever helped you set up your website can help with this, but if you are flying solo, you'll want to become familiar with Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager.
The process typically involves adding pieces of code to the back-end of your website, followed by a verification process.
Don't worry, my budget-conscious friends. All of the above are free tools provided by Google and tend to be fairly user-friendly. If you struggle with setting these up, I know a guy who can help.
As mentioned, setting up a Google My Business account is also a great (easy and often overlooked) way to boost your website's SEO. You want to fill out the profile information as completely and accurately as possible.
"Content is King." - Bill Gates
Build Out Your Content with a Focus on Value.
As Bill Gates once said, "Content is king." Aim to provide fresh content on a regular basis that provides value to your website visitors.
Google isn't just looking to recommend those who link to and cite the world's best information, it wants to promote those who add value.
How to Help Google Find You
1. Make Sure it's Fast and Mobile-Friendly
Websites that are responsive (look good and load quickly on any platform) outrank those who don't. Your website content should be designed with mobile in mind. If the first meaningful content takes more than 3 seconds to load on any device, your ranking can suffer.
2. Title Tags
Your page, blog, post, or whatever you're creating needs to have a great title. Title tags are the headlines that tell Google what people should expect. Ideally, your title should be between 5-15 words and contain strong (related) keywords.
3. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the 160 characters or less elevator pitch for your page. Each page should have a unique meta description so people know what they'll find if they click the link. Try to avoid keyword stuffing or duplicating meta descriptions and know that, in the eyes of Google, a missing meta description (or title tag) is the same as a duplicate.
"What happens if I forget to add a Meta Description or Title Tag?"
If you forget, Google will grab info it thinks is relevant and display this for you. The problem is that it may not make sense which will turn people off.
4. Tie in Social
Remember how I talked about the big fast-food chains and how they get found first? Part of this is due to the fact that they have total brand awareness through Google. The Google bots don't just search your website for content, they search all websites for content that may be related to you so they know who to recommend for what. Having your social media platforms linked to (and on) your website is a great way to help Google understand who and where you are.
So Much More, So What Now?
As I mentioned, SEO isn't easy. It requires a comprehensive approach and full attention to detail. If you're ready to get found, but still aren't sure where to start, contact Adelmund Digital Strategies for a free initial consultation today!