If you've been around the internet long enough, you probably heard about something called SEO. Advocates of SEO go on about how it does wonders for your website, but it becomes so shrouded in mystery with all the tech jargon they use. It ends up feeling like there’s an SEO club and the first rule of SEO club is not really explaining it well enough to the rest of us.
But I’ve done some research to help shed some light on SEO and what it really is all about.
What is SEO and why is it important?
On Wikipedia, it explains SEO is “the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.”
It just seems like a lot of work just trying to understand the initial definition in the first place. And you’re probably wondering “What the heck does ‘organic’ mean? The only organic things I know about are the fruit I buy from the grocery store.”
The definition can definitely be explained more simply. Cutting through the fluff, SEO is short for: search engine optimization. It’s basically a fancy way of saying that there’s different ways to make your website rank higher in a search engine, making it more easily found, and will ultimately get you more people to visit it.
Think about your own experiences doing a Google or Yahoo search. You didn’t skip to page twenty or thirty-two, but you probably did click on the first few websites on the first page of your search.
Here is a list of SEO jargon you may still be confused about, but I’ll explain it so it’s easier to understand.
1. Meta tags
Are we suddenly learning how to speak alien?
Down to basics, meta tags are code that you can include into your articles to inform search engines the type of information you’re providing on your website, such as: who create the page, how often it’s updated, what the page is about, and what keywords are included on the page.
Many search engines use this information to rank your website appropriately.
Keep in mind, meta tags are different from HTML code. Meta tags do not influence the formatting of your page; it’s hidden code, only used by search engines. Meanwhile, HTML code is what you use to format your post, determining if you want words bold or italicized, centering text or not, etc.
2. “Clean” URL
On your website or blog, tweak your URL by changing it and including keywords from your article, though keep it short too. You want an URL that will make it easier for people to remember it and to share it. Plus, it allows your website to be easier and quickier to find on search engines.
3. Keywords Phrases
Keywords are the most important aspect of SEO. It’s how people find you when they do a search.
Think about your own experiences. When you are looking for a specific topic, what are you most likely to type in?
We recommend using: Google Adwords Keyword Tool or Google.ca/Trends. It will help you find out what the most popular keywords people are using during their search and then you can use them too so they can find you more easily.
Here are some tips on using Keyword Phrases:
- Use keyword phrases at least 4 times within your article
- Use multiple variations of the keyword phrases – singular and plural versions, abbreviations, acronyms (ie. SEO vs. search engine optimization) and synonyms
4. Internal & external links
Internal links are the links you have in your articles that leads to another article your website. This helps keep visitors on your website longer, which is a good thing!
External links are the links you have in your articles that leads to another article on someone else’s website.
Instead of including the full URL in your article, use anchor text to embed your link. In simple terms, anchor text is the keyword or keywords in a sentence you use to embed a link.
5. Image alt-tags
When people do a search, they check web results and image results. Be sure to name your images with keywords that will make it easier for people to find, then it will link back to your website.
Here’s some tips on how to make your images SEO friendly:
- Name all of your images in a way that describes what they are
- Use dashes between the words, instead of underscores (ie. orange-cat.jpg instead of orange_cat.jpg)
- Do not use symbols: %, &, $, *, ~
6. Social media signals
What the heck are “signals”?
Let me make it more simple. In translation, it means using social media.
Use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social media platforms to get broaden your reach and gain a bigger audience. As your audience grows, there will be a better chance for your content to be shared.
This tells search engines to rank you higher because your influence is growing and you are becoming more reputable.
And there you go! Now you can finally brag about knowing what SEO is and why it’s awesome for your website.
Leave a comment below what you may start putting into practise on your website or if you’re more experienced with SEO, let us know what you do to improve your site.