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October 7, 2020

SEO “How-To” Guide

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of those things that may seem too technical and complex for a small business to implement themselves. However, it’s easier than most people think.

According to Moz, a leading expert on SEO, “It is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” Since we’re talking about search engines and Google has 90% of all searches on the internet, most of the best practices are with Google’s algorithms in mind.

For the sake of learning, let’s pretend we’re a shoe company. Let’s begin, step by step. Welcome aboard SEO Shoe Company! Congratulations on your first day. Let’s get started!

Google search bar

Keywords

Keywords are the foundation of how all searches are conducted and how your site is found. They are the words and phrases that people use when trying to find online content on a search engine.

Your goal is to figure which keywords are most popular and most relevant to your business. That way, you can use them to optimize your online content. This will help you rank in the top results for those keyword searches. Finding the keywords can be easy. There are dozens of websites dedicated to identifying keywords that pertain to your business, which also have a high volume of searches. Remember to keep updating your information because the phrases people use and their popularity change over time.

Here are some of ways you can implement keywords:

  • Use the keyword in the title of the page on your website
  • Use the keyword in the URL (ex. SEOShoeCompany.com/sneakers/blue)
  • Use the keyword, and variations of the keyword, on your site pages and in blog content
  • Link the keyword on one page of your site to another

Keyword Questions

Keywords that come in the form of a question are extremely valuable to businesses and their efforts to drive web traffic. Consumers often ask questions and the search engine will search websites to answer that question. If SEO Shoe Company can answer the question, that can bring amazing traffic to our website. Let’s say a consumer searches, “How to clean dirty sneakers?” It may not seem like a big deal for most. However, here at SEO Shoe Company, we know the power of that question. If they’re finding the answer on our site, that increases our brand’s recognition.

Longtail Keywords

Next are long tail keywords. These are long, specific phrases that consumers use when they are closer to making a purchase. For instance, someone who searches, “Men’s shoes,” is less likely to buy than someone who searches, “Men’s running shoes, blue, size 10, best prices.”

Determining what kind of long tail keywords line up with the services and products your business offers can help boost traffic and hopefully sales. After finding these keywords, make sure you implement them naturally into your content. This could be within a heading of a blog, a blog itself, or a description of a product or service. Don’t just add in the longtail keyword, hoping for results. Also, ensure that you use different variations of the keyword to fill the gaps between different searches, so no potential consumers pass through the cracks.

Keyword Density

It’s critical to point out keyword density, the number of times the keyword appears. It may seem smart to overload your page and content with keywords, but this would be a critical mistake.

In the early days of search engines, the content that would rank higher in search would be the pages that had the highest density of the relevant keywords. This became an obvious problem because we could just write, “Shoe, Shoe, Shoe,” over and over again and be the top page in the search results. Safe to say, Google and other search engines have updated their algorithms to prevent that and even penalize pages for breaking the rules.

Hand holding the golden key

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)

Another way to optimize the site for search engines is by understanding how the backend of the website is structured. HTML is the code that makes up the website. Search engines, like Google, send out bots called “crawlers” to collect and catalog information from websites.

Most think they have no control over the actions of the bot, but Google allows you to direct their crawlers in many ways. Likely, you’ll have pages that you don’t want bots to crawl such as admin pages or “Thank You” pages (displayed after a purchase).You can block the crawlers from looking at irrelevant pages using “robots.txt.” (i.e., SEOShoes.com/robots.txt).

Here, you’re able to suggest which pages should and shouldn’t be searched, as well as the speed at which to crawl. You might want a crawler to spend more time crawling a page with lots of information as opposed to one with very little. Directing the crawlers helps optimize your “crawl budget,” which is the average number of pages a crawler will visit before leaving.

HTML code

Navigation

Navigation is how easily each page is found and how clear that path is. Crawlers search the site’s pages by going from link to link. Navigation needs to be clear and ordered as to be as efficient as possible, so creating a sitemap is beneficial for you and the crawlers.

The map helps you organize the site which in turn helps you manage it. You can’t let any important pages get lost through a convoluted strand of links. On the crawler’s side, it gives them a clear illustration of what is important to crawl. Google allows you to build and submit a sitemap here. This is a great tool to use but should not be a substitute for good, organized navigation.

Indexing

Lastly, you need to focus on where the pages end up. This is the index. It is where the pages are sorted based of the relevance of the user’s search.  This index is controlled by the search engines. This means when I search, “shoe,” on a search engine, the search engine will pull all the relevant pages from their index. Luckily, you also have influence on how the search engines index your site. Again, a good understanding of HTML helps here.

Google’s site has lots of valuable SEO information. It has guides that will help you through multiple aspects of SEO, a reference page, updates on what is new to SEO guidelines, case studies, tools that help test your SEO efforts, and a help tab. It is a one-stop-shop for all your SEO needs.

Hand mapping out navigation on white board

SEO Shoe Company

Let’s review what we just learned and see how it can be implemented for SEO Shoe Company. First, we learned that keywords are the foundation of SEO and there’s different types like questions and longtail. We, as a company, must find those keywords, and for us they would be things like, “Women’s heel size 6.5 gold,” or simply, “running shoes.” We can take those keywords and imbed them in our website. Whether it’s on the page title or in content that we’ve created, placing these words into our pages will boost our SEO for those types of searches.

Next, we must get better about HTML. We should sit down and figure out which of our pages we want indexed and how we want them to be search. At the same time, we should also be thinking about how our website is laid out. It wouldn’t make sense for us to hide the sneaker section within the boots section nor would it make sense to not link the boots section to the home page. We need clear organized pages to ensure the crawlers can access all the material we want them to. We, at SEO Shoe Company, have a lot of work to do, but everything we learned today makes it that much easier to do.

SEO is a dense subject. Entire books have been written on the best practices and many more will come. No matter how much information there is, it is not as complicated as it looks. It takes times and studying, but every business can and should implement good SEO practices. Where should you start? Try a search engine, we’re sure that can help you find some relevant content based on your keywords.

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