Search Engine Optimization for Dummies – The Internet is Forever Changing

dog sitting to the left of a chalkboard pointing to the writing on it; SEO, content, marketing, etc.

Before I get started on search engine optimization, let’s take a quick look at the many changes that have happened since Google first came to be the most used search engine.

It was back in 1994, when Google first came on the scene and by 2000, they were the most popular search engine.

Yet… back in the 90s, hosting a website was very expensive, so most website owners would publish everything on one long page.

When Google took control of how websites were being ranked, they started changing the rules. They decided that all that long content had to go!

No more making our website visitors scroll to find all of the information they wanted. That’s when arrows to the “next page” started appearing on the bottom, right-hand corners of our browser windows, seen when visiting popular websites.

Now let’s zoom forward to 2019, and we can see that Google now insists that if you want a post to rank well, not only must you have relevant content BUT your posts must now have no less than 2000 words that are relevant… that is if you want your content to rank well in their search results for your keywords.

Sound confusing?

I’m with you, as I felt the same way… until I learned that nowadays, those who want quick answers to their question are more apt to use their cell phones or other mobile devices; Where real researching is done from a laptop or better still, from a desk top computer.

Researchers still prefer the information on ONE page, and never mind this “click here for more” nonsense after a few paragraphs that became an acceptable style on websites back in the late 90s and early 2000.

Make sense now, right?

Why do I say that Google expects at least 2000 words on relevant content?

Well, you can see the image below (a screen print from seositecheckup.com) said to be of a comment made by Eric Enge himself.
screen print of a quote said to have been made by Eric Enge

And… even though blogging converts the best out of all other internet marketing actions, you still need social media signals to help your site rank.

In other words, it is not only good to have backlinks to your business fan page on Facebook for example, but you now need to have social media users literally mention your business brand in their comments on their own social media accounts.

Everything SEO Should Understand Machine Learning

It was brought to my attention that on July 20, 2018, Google updated their General Guidelines. Apparently, these rating guidelines are NOT actually how the Google algorithm work, but rather how Google TESTS their search results in order to make sure their scripts are working as they intended them to.

Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are apparently being used at this point in time, thus the importance of having your brand being mentioned. You can even use press releases that are created regularly, podcasts, etc. to help with increasing your authority.

On-Page SEO

Tony Wright, CEO and founder of WrightIMC, said it best…
screen print of a quote said to have been made by Tony Wright

Here are basic ways that you can optimize your website:

  • you need to have your content answer a common user’s questions for your chosen niche,
  • make sure that your site search offers relevant results,
  • that your conversion process is short and sweet,
  • if you sell items from your website, ensure your repeat customers can restock commonly purchased items easily, and that new customers can buy from your site without filling in a lot of forms,
  • that you provide good customer support for questions related to your business. You can use chatbots to help answer common questions and/or procedural tasks if necessary, and
  • if you have a physical location for your business, make sure customers can easily navigate to your business (in other words, have your business listed on Google MyBusiness).

Your social media profiles (all of them) should be fully optimized too, in order to establish your brand’s trust in the “eyes” of search engines.

Those big businesses that your local business MAY be competing with in Google search results have their own social media branding, SEO, and networking experts either on staff or hired under contract, as these specialties are now a full time job.

So, if you find yourself overwhelmed with these tasks, you might give serious consideration in hiring someone (or a company) to handle your social media accounts for your business.

As for paid advertising, if you would like to know how Google ads are calculated or how much Facebook ads cost, a little research will provide you those answers.

Digital Marketing Manager Kinga Hulewicz offers readers 35 Tips That Make SEO Work For Your Website, stating “Regardless if you already work, live and breathe the internet or if you’re just about to craft your online presence, there’s one magic term that you’ve probably heard of – SEO.”

Website Rankings are Ever Changing

What Other Factors Help Optimize Your Website?

NAP

Your business Name Address and Phone number, commonly known as NAP, must be exactly the same everywhere. This means that if you shorten your street address to “ST” in one place, it MUST appear that way everywhere you have shared your NAP.

The same would be if you use punctuation in your NAP, then you NEED to make sure the same punctuation appears EVERYWHERE you share your NAP.

Your brand name has to be exactly the same everywhere too, and you should be using your main domain link where necessary.

Google MyBusiness

If you want your local business website to rank, then setting up and verifying your Google MyBusiness account (which issues you a postcard sent to you in the mail) are vital to having this setup, as this is the only means Google has to determine if the address you provide for them actually exists.

They no longer allow business listings at PO Box addresses in order to prevent fraud.

Make sure you have your Google map created and embedded in your website, and that you complete as much information as you can in your Google MyBusiness account.

The higher your website ranks organically, the higher your Google MyBusiness page will rank.

For businesses with a physical address, be sure to add directions from your place of business from many different points in your city. All you need to do is go to your town or city center (let’s say your city or town hall), and then setup the directions from there to your place of work.

Upload relevant photos and videos to your Google map and Google MyBusiness (GMB) too.

And… be sure to get reviews added by your customers too as these can also help your GMB rank.

Plus… check out the website that Google allows users to create. It is only a one page site but definitely will help your ranking to use that option too (more on this below).

Google Map Citations

Apparently, a Google map citation is a mention of your business along with your NAP that appears on another website. These can be business directories like Yelp, Yahoo Local, Yellow Pages, Goldbook, etc., and these do NOT necessarily need to include a link back to your website. The more of these types of listings you can gain the merrier, obviously.

You could also consider becoming a Google Guide and earn points.

Organic SEO

  • Use geomodifiers – also known as a geo tags… a location specific keyword that can be used in addition to your normal keywords used to gain rank for your website.
  • Focus on vertical SEO – meaning to make sure you have a Facebook fan page for your business, a YouTube account, a Twitter account, LinkedIn, etc., so that when someone types your business name into Google, all of your business accounts appear in their search results.
  • Consider creating an Amazon product – like an ebook or a kindle book or a product to sell relevant to your niche, of course. Amazon is fast becoming the 3rd largest digital market seller in the United States, behind Facebook and Google.

Featured Snippets in Google Search Results

These are the paragraphs you will see when you ask Google a question (when using a desktop computer) that answer your question you just Google searched.

If you do NOT want your website to ever appear in a featured snippet, simply follow Google’s guide on opting out of featured snippets.

Some SEO experts claim that you should ask Google questions about your niche, and when you receive a list of questions users have asked, you should be sure to provide clear cut answers to those questions in your content.

They have also suggested that you bold the first paragraph of your post that is the answer to the question and be sure to use the question as your title.

This technique is totally untested by me, so if you decide to give it a try, you can let me know in a comment below, as to whether this worked for you… or not.

Backlinking

Linking your posts and pages internally is still important, yes. However, external links remain important to organic SEO too.

Make sure to add backlinks to your Google MyBusiness account too. Your embedded Google Map also acts as a backlink.

Also, be sure to have your social media accounts linked (usually using icons) from your website, as well as links to any of your Tumblr, WordPress, or any other microblogging social network accounts that you have used to detail your business on.

Another method in optimizing your website that you can use is to literally spy on your competition to discover what backlinks they are using and get the very same links for your website.

screen print of SpyFu's website

Create a Social Fortress – Why Social Media Can Boost Your SEO

Can Social Media Really Help my Site’s SEO

Attention to Image SEO

Make sure your images have the ALT text (also known as ALT tag) completed properly so that screen readers used by your visually impaired website visitors can tell them what the images are about. NEVER use ALT text for stuffing keywords as that is what the image Title (also known as Title tag) is for.

This will help your website images appear on Google images.

screen print of WordPress's Add Media showing location of ALT text and Title

Make sure your images are fully optimized so they load faster, especially for mobile users.

…don’t forget, these are the same option you can use to SEO your Videos too (though, you would need to use different spying site)!

Mobile SEO

All website owners were warned in late 2014 that sites need to be mobile friendly by early 2015, or suffer a lower ranking in mobile searches, and this still applies. It seems that mobile users would sooner use mobile apps as they do not like using their devices to view websites.

Here is a great advantage to completing the free website on your Google MyBusiness account (told you I would talk more about this option), as these sites are made to work best on mobile devices.

Making a mobile site efficient as well as conversion friendly is most important, as beautiful graphics are not the focus for mobile users. Drop down menus are NOT recommended either as they tend to frustrate most users. Keep your site clean and crisp.

The differences in user experience on desktop and mobile devices are truly much different.

Schema Markup for SEO

Make sure your website now includes schema markup as this is now an absolute “must have” for reviews as this is another easy way to gain an advantage when your content appears in Google search results.

SSL Certification

Since early 2018, if you want your website to appear in mobile searches, and rank well in ALL searches, you MUST HAVE a SSL certificate (HTTPS) for your website and you need to make sure that ALL your website pages are secure.

BONUS TIP on Optimizing Your Website

That tip is Voice search, and it is a lot different than typing searches into a search engine from your computer, as it is used mainly on mobile devices.

The rumour is that by 2020, optimizing your website for voice search will be the thing to focus on for ranking your website.

screen print of a partial Google search result

By starting to optimize your content now (to answer questions in 1 or 2 short sentences), you may find your content ranking high in search results once all search engines are ready with voice search results data.

Hope you have found this article helpful and I am looking forward to hearing from you should you decide to leave me a comment.

 

 

Sources

https://seositecheckup.com/articles/top-5-seo-trends-to-pay-attention-to-in-2019

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-updated-quality-raters-guidelines-26101.html

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-trends/281053/

 

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