Here in Seattle, we internet marketing folk get really excited when big marketing conferences such as MozCon take place in our own backyards, and this week I can almost feel the excitement (or maybe that’s just happiness because we are finally having our 3 months of non-rain). In any case, I am doing a little review of the SEO basics for my small business readers before I start blogging about all the new, cool technology trends that I’m learning.
We all know the search engines and their sneaky secret algorithms are insanely important, and we also know that producing useful, relevant, quality content in our blogs, website and rich media is vital to SEO success. But here is a little reminder of WHY and HOW those things work together.
When I first started designing and promoted webpage (yes, a long LONG time ago) we used to hit the “submit a site” to each of the search engines to ensure it would be crawled. While that is no longer necessary it is important to have clean, clear content that the search engines can crawl and interpret easily. Most SEO folks will tell you to make sure your site has a site map. The site map isn’t for you; it’s for the search engines. Especially if you have a larger website with complicated links, those search engines gain a better understanding for your site and are able to better crawl it with the site map in the mix.
For the purpose of planning your website content, it’s helpful to think of the search engines as an index of a big old-fashioned book. Like at the end of books, search engines serve us by reading through everything on the internet and pulling out what you might need to know when you ask by a specific term. Because Google crawls your site and checks out your content, you want to make sure each page contains specific and concise description of your business or product. The more work you do to make sure your keywords and descriptions are on-target, the easier it is for the search engines to set the right traffic your way.
In addition to crawling and indexing websites, the search engine’s job includes ranking all the sites to bring the most relevant websites to the searching individual. I will go into more details about how search engines decide their rankings in a later post but the algorithm includes hundreds of factors such as links, page authority, keyword usage, metadata and a whole lot more. All your search engine optimizations revolve around getting a better placement in search engines, thereby increasing your chance of being found. In the last couple of years Google launched algorithm changes under the names of Panda and Penguin in an effort to clean up this ranking system and get rid of “spammy” or low quality websites. As long as you weren’t doing any black hat or sneaky SEO stuff, you were probably a-ok with this, but for those who got bumped from this there are a slew of tools you can use, including those by Moz that can help you get your website back in order.
So those are the basics for now, folks. Soon to come is more industry news on how the online marketing industry is, yet AGAIN, changing, and how your small business can keep current.