SEO for Dummies, Part One
For many people, SEO can seem like the elephant in the room. You know your business needs to deal with it, but you would rather not be the person responsible for the task. Indeed, when most people think SEO, they assume a complex and time-consuming process akin to transcribing the entire internet itself.
You’ll be happy to learn, then, that SEO can be learned in ten simple steps. If you don’t have a dedicated marketing team at hand, confront that elephant and take your growth to the next level!
Just as a house needs a solid foundation, so too does your SEO strategy. In this case, your toolbox includes Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Analytics will play a major role in tracking and analyzing how visitors interact with your site, while AdWords provides keyword research capabilities. Google Webmaster Tools lets you view your site through the eyes of Google.
If you already have a site, you will want to conduct a site audit to ensure you are compliant with Google’s increasingly stringent regulations. A good tool is the Moz Site Audit Checklist or WooRank.
While a site audit can take up significant time and energy, this is an unavoidable stage in SEO. Penalties for pre-existing violations can be harsh and ultimately threaten to undo much of the hard work you have put into your site.
An important part of SEO depends on those three “w’s” at the beginning of your page. You can choose to allow for the “www”, but this means search engines will view your website as two separate sites- a move which badly damages your rankings and link quality.
If you are serious about SEO, you need to invest heavily in keyword research. For your site to really stand out against the billions of Google search inquiries per month, you need to appropriately optimize.
Once you get a good understanding of what your audience is searching for, everything else should really fall into place. Some tools to get you started include:
- Google Trends
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Google Suggest
- Google AdWords Keyword Planner
Navigation, as a part of SEO planning, is important for two reasons. First, it is vital that visitors to your site are able to navigate smoothly and quickly through your site’s pages. Secondly, search engines must be able to find clear connections between individual links and pages.
To accomplish both of these goals at the same time, you need to build universal navigation. Identify why visitors come to your site, identify your top exit pages, and what search terms are used on the site. Next, divide your products and key pages into categories with useful names. Finally, input these categories into your universal navigation. Keep in mind that if you use drop-down menus, they need to be in HTML in order for search engines to read them.