Your One-Stop SEO Guide

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Person pointing to Google Analytics on computer screenSo you’ve built a website and then people just come, right? Unfortunately, that’s often not the case which can be very frustrating (especially if you’ve spent a lot of money and resources on developing your site). So, rather than spamming all your friends and family, how do you get people to know about it and find you?

Thanks to Search Engine Optimization (aka “SEO”), and Search Engine Marketing (ie. “SEM”), there are a number of things you can do not only to help the health of your website, but ultimately to boost your rankings in search engines like Google, which will gain you visibility and traffic.

Where to start? We’re here to help break it all down for you in easy to understand terminology. Use this cornerstone page to navigate to all the areas of We Rock Your Web that discuss SEO and you’ll learn why this is such a critical part of your brand’s online presence.

Article Overview

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Computer with SEO on screen

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization, which is the process of enhancing a website’s content and components (images, URL structure, etc.) so it can be more effectively discovered by search engines (like Google). In it’s early days, SEO was purely for search engines to understand your content more easily. But today, with so many web pages on the world wide web (and knowing that the majority of web traffic comes from search engines) it’s become a critical skillset to help businesses stand out from the crowd and rise to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages – i.e. what you see when you type a search into a search engine’s search box.

How Do Search Engines Find Me?

You might be wondering how your prospective visitors find you. If they’re not coming to your site directly (i.e. typing it into the browser after seeing your website on a billboard), or via a social network (think Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.), the majority of your traffic will come through search engines. If they don’t visit you through a paid ad you’ve placed, they’ll find you in what’s called the organic search index. These are the results below the ads you see on Google when you type in a search query. These visitors will only see you if a) the search engines know about you first, and b) the search engines like your content enough to feature it above competitor’s content.

Google Organic Search Results Example

How exactly do search engines find my website you’re asking? Thousands of robots called “spiders” (sent out by the search engines) crawl the Internet looking for pages. For example, the spider used by Google is called Googlebot. Once it finds an individual page it then becomes “indexed” meaning it’s in the search engine’s database of content to choose from when offering up search results. That database is also referred to as a SERP, or Search Engine Results Page (pictured at left, I’m guessing this looks familiar to you).

That means your page can now be found by just about anyone on the planet – well, in theory at least. If you have a million competitors indexed for the same thing, they might have trouble finding you at the bottom of that large pile (i.e. on the 100th page of the search results). This is why it’s everyone’s goal to get to the first page, which is what SEO and SEM are all about.

But first, you need to get your content indexed. Almost every site automatically becomes indexed once it goes “live” on the internet, but it could take a day or two for the spiders to find you. It’s an essential first step in being discovered.

What Is the Goal of SEO?

The goal of SEO is two-fold. One, to find out what people are searching for in your industry, and two, to optimize your website so that your pages are ranked as highly as possible for these searches. For example, if 3,000 people per month search for “seo tips,” but only 30 people search for “how do people find my website”, you may want to have your writers focus on the former topic.

It’s important to note that keywords don’t play nearly the role they used to. In fact, many of our pages are now ranked for keywords that don’t occur on the page even a single time! In other words, don’t get lost in the weeds when it comes to keywords. Find a general concept your audience is looking for and write your content accordingly.

Never Neglect Your Visitors!

One thing that I’d like to point out now and that I’ll point out again and again is that while you get more involved in search marketing and various search optimizations, you should keep one rule in mind at all times. That is, to never neglect your visitors in favor of search engines. In other words, when making changes to your website, do so with your visitor in mind. Don’t make changes simply because you think the search engines will like them. The search engines change their algorithms so often that changes made purely to appease the search engines tend only have short-term benefits.

What does this mean exactly?  Some SEO enthusiasts will get so caught up in search engine optimizing and marketing their site that they end up catering more to the search engines (machines), instead of the human beings they’re doing this all for to begin with. Bottom line is – when you’re deciding on whether or not to use or engage in a particular search optimization, always ask yourself first how this will affect your visitors experience on your website.  After all, the search engines were built to help users find things, and ultimately they will be catering to the user as well.  So it’s in your best long-term interest, not only for your users, but for your search campaign as well, to cater first to your users, and second to search engines.

You’ll run into plenty of SEO’ers that will advise you otherwise, and there’s a whole branch of SEO called black hat that do nothing but try and reverse engineer and manipulate the search engines into giving them higher rankings. While this works in certain industries, it’s a short-term strategy that in my opinion should by avoided. The only potential benefit I’ve seen to black hat tactics is to hedge against a drop in traffic to your white hat (natural, user-centric content marketing) strategies, because let’s face it – the search engines get it wrong now and then.

What Are Keyword Trends?

So you’ve got your website pages indexed, great. But how do you know that readers are actually searching for your content? A big part of SEO involves analyzing what your visitors are searching for and then producing content accordingly. Our Keyword Trends Article shows how easy it is to use to use various keyword tools to find out what customers in your industry are searching for.

How Do I Get My Website To Show Up First?

Want to land on top of the huge heap of search results, most importantly in front of your competitors? We get it. We hear you. And, let’s be honest, we all want to get to the top! We get asked this million dollar question all the time. While Google’s secret sauce and the methods driving their search “algorithms” are more secretive and protected than Fort Knox, there are basic tenets and common sense that can get you ranked without being a technical SEO nerd.

We’ve spent years researching, learning, and applying our SEO learnings, and we’re willing to share them with you for free. Check out our in-depth guide on How to Optimize Your Website along with a handy SEO Checklist and with some effort, you’ll be zooming to the top in no time.

Are There SEO Tools That Can Help?

Just when you think you’ve done everything you can to optimize your site, a new Google update comes along and then you’re shifting gears again. Even for companies with whole teams dedicated to SEO it can be overwhelming to keep up with the ever-changing industry (yes, including seasoned SEO’ers like us). So that’s why we can’t recommend adding SEO tools enough to help lighten your workload. They will become your new best friend and you’ll learn to love them. Since there are dozens of these platforms on the market, we’ve put together a comprehensive, detailed guide that can make your job easier. In our Best SEO Tools article, we’ve reviewed the best for each category including the pros and cons for each company along with pricing, features and more (updated regularly).

Got Questions?

Hopefully, you’ve gained some valuable lessons about SEO and have a bit more insight on how it can help your business. But understandably, you probably still have questions. We’re here for you! Just leave us a comment on the respective article you were reading, or hit us up below, and either us or a member of our seasoned readership may chime in with their expertise.

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Alex bring a series of in-depth articles on search marketing and content management systems as well as troubleshooting tips to We Rock Your Web's collection. He is an avid tennis player, nature enthusiast, and hiker, and enjoys spending time with his wife, friends, and dogs, Bella and Lily.

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