If you’ve spent even a few minutes with a person in marketing you’ve probably heard the term SEO. You may even have a vague sense of what it is. But if you haven’t spent MORE than a few minute talking about it, you probably also feel a little intimidated by it. Don’t be. You don’t need to be an expert to have make your website basically search engine friendly. I’m going to tell you a few tips to make SEO easy.
What is SEO?
First off, let’s start with the basics. What is SEO? SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization which is exactly what it sounds like. If it doesn’t sound like anything to you just yet, don’t worry.
Search Engine Optimization means making your site friendly to search engines. It’s kind of a misnomer since the name implies you’re optimizing the search engine, but in reality it’s your site where you are doing the work. But no point focusing on false naming. We’re here to help you get found.
Basically, search engines like Google and Bing crawl the internet to find and index information so that when you look for something, they can give you the best results.
What Does that mean in Practicality?
In practice, SEO is a series of steps you take to make your website easy to find.
Some people spend entire careers teaching people about SEO or performing SEO for companies. I’m one of them.
But here’s what most people won’t tell you.
SEO isn’t that complicated.
It’s true that there are thousands (if not millions) of articles written about SEO. And most of them are useful. I’m certainly not accusing people of trying to swindle other by selling SEO services. Like I said, it’s something I do myself.
But what people who do SEO for a living do is get into the nitty gritty. You don’t need to know everything they know for your website to be able to be crawled adequately by search engines.
When you hire a professional to do your SEO, there are a number of tasks they may be performing.
Part of SEO is on-page and part of it is off. Some companies do both and others specialize in one or the other.
Off-Page SEO is about getting backlinks to your site to get more authority for your company. This can include guest blogging, writing in industry journals, talking on message boards and asking friendly companies and business organizations (such as the Chamber of Commerce) to link back to you.
On-Page SEO is about making sure your website is crawlable. That involves making sure the meta data is correct, the write tags are used and everything is in the right place.
Doesn’t sound easy yet? You feel faked out?
Don’t worry: I don’t expect you to understand most of what I just said. It matters but it’s not the most important thing.
Let’s Make SEO Easy – the Secret
Here’s the secret you don’t usually here about search engine optimization and how to make it easy.
The most important thing about optimizing for search engines is optimizing for readers.
Take a second and breath that in.
To make SEO easy for yourself, you simply start with good writing.
sWhen search engines started they were more primitive and they were easy to game. Black Hat SEO practices were developed to trick the search engines. I wrote about one such marketing mistake in my Halloween blog.
People would put in terms that people were searching for but hide them in places that readers couldn’t see them. For example, people would put white text on a white background. They would over repeat words ad nauseam.
But guess what? When people got to those pages and didn’t find what they were looking for, they left.
And eventually search engines caught on.
Today search engines are far more sophisticated and do you know what search engines value the most?
A Positive Reader Experience!
Ever read an article that was mostly a series of links or one that repeated a word or phrase awkwardly and repeatedly?
Those were written to game the search engines. Did you enjoy them? I seriously doubt it.
Today search engines know how to recognize black hat SEO. And they know what a positive reader experience looks like.
Want to make SEO easy? Write for your readers, not for the search engines.
If you’re a good writer, you are about 80 percent of the way there. The other tips and tricks and SEO best practices I mentioned earlier are great and nice to have but they will get you nowhere if your writing has bad punctuation, or looks like it passed through a couple of translation tools.
Of course if you really want to make SEO easy, hire someone. I always recommend hiring professionals to do things you don’t either:
- have professional experience in, or
- really get enjoyment from doing.
I know that for new businesses it’s not always easy to hire pros for what you need though.
If you’re not at a place where you can hire a professional, start with good writing. Then as soon as you’re able, hire someone to make it better.