Nothing frustrates me more than acronyms. You can make them up whenever you want to, and they can stand for anything and you’d never know. IHTP. What does that even mean? I have to pee? Igloos have terrible posture? Infamous hummingbirds take precedent? See? Could be anything I want it to be. That’s what I felt like when I first started working with content and SEO.
- What the heck is SEO? Search Engine Optimization.
- What is SERP? And why does it keep coming up?
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Pages, and to a business, that is the most important page on the internet. Other than their own website of course. The search engine results pages are the pages of results that you get after typing in a search phrase on a search engine, like Google or Bing. Pfft. I got that, I know what that is. Why is that so difficult? Well, when you’re a business or you have a website of any kind, you want to be at the top of that page right? You want anyone searching in your niche to come to you for advice. But how do you get to the top of that page? That…is a whole different thing.
How do SERP’s work?
Well, as stated, this is the results page that web users receive upon searching keywords or phrases into the search engine. Your listing may not show up for someone in Arizona if your business is based in Maine. This is because the artificial intelligence behind all search engines tailor the SERP’s for users based on different things. There are some factors that you can’t change such as physical location, or the user’s browser history, or the social settings surrounding the user. As the “a.i.” behind the engine changes, the factors for the SERP’s change. That means your keywords may make you appear further down or even higher up on the page. So you need to do regular check ins.
Types of Results
Yes, that never ending supply of suggestions based off your two word Google search has more than one kind of result. It’s not a right or a wrong. It’s more a question of how did they get there? Was it natural? Or did someone pay somebody for a favor? No, seriously. There is an option to pay for that prime real estate at the top of the results page. If you have the budget for it, it doesn’t hurt.
Organic searches are totally free! This involves a lot of SEO to optimize the visibility of your site on that search results page. But it’s not always foolproof. You could have the best SEO team member your company has ever seen, but that competitor of yours hired someone to do their SEO professionally and keeps coming in above you. If you’re really tired of playing cat and mouse in these organic searches, you can pay to win. Your call.
Types of Searches
There’s just one right? Type in the keyword and and get results. Well, that’s the process, but the different types of searches drastically change the types of results that a user will get.
Informational searches are just that. A search for information. Say you wanted to search for information on a historical writer: Shakespeare. It wouldn’t do a company much good to pay to have ads on this SERP, “William Shakespeare” isn’t usually a search that will provoke much commercial follow through. It isn’t intended to be a search to buy anything, the search is only looking for information.
Navigational searches aren’t necessarily related to location, though it does work somewhat like a compass. This is the search that we all know well. You remember seeing that one book somewhere, but you can’t remember who wrote it, and you don’t remember where you saw it. Was it something you saw on the local bookstore page? No, it didn’t show up on their website search, time to go to Google (or whatever search engine you prefer). “Undercurrent book” That type of search will pull up a ton of results right? (I tried, there are a ton of results.) But where is that one website that jogs your memory? There it is! The one result the user couldn’t think of without a little help from the all knowing SERP.
Transactional search, sounds promising right? That’s because if you’re a business trying to do online business, this is the type of search you need to focus on. Yes, organic searches will pop up on the results page, but paid results will also do great here. These are the searches that have commercial intent, aka, intent to buy. (Buy being a strong keyword in this branch of SERP.)
With me so far? This is a lot to take in, so let’s take a quick break and answer some questions.
- What does SERP mean? – It means Search Engine Results Page. You know, the one that links anything remotely close to what you searched.
- Does one time SEO last forever? – NO. You have to keep doing it. Over and over. Until your niche either stops changing, or becomes obsolete.
- Are you an organic result? Or can you drop some coin to get that penthouse results spot?
- What type of search are you? 411, Compass, or the Dolla Dolla Bill?
Questions? Ask me through the contact page. Want more info on the SERP’s? Join me on Sunday, February 28th, at 10:00 am EST to find out HOW all of this determines the order of the results.
Keywords for Website SEO
When you are building your own website, you’ll find the word “keywords” is used an awful lot. But what exactly is a keyword? Obviously, it’s all the things you add as tags, right? Well, no. Those are tags. Technically, they’re the same thing with one small difference. One is internal, and one is external. While the words you tag are used to find things within your website, the keywords are the words or phrases used to find your website through internet searches.
What Are Keywords?
This is what a web user types into a search engine when they’re surfing the web. So, thinking of “keywords” as single words may not always be your best bet. Keywords are often phrases. Think of it this way; when you’re looking for the best pizza place around your vacation spot, do you just type “Pizza”? No. But you might type something like “Pizza near me”, or “best pizza in <insert location here>”. These would be GREAT keywords if you were a pizza place. But if you do that and think you’re done, you won’t make it to the top of that results page. So now you need a strategy.
If you have a business or the spare cash for your website, there’s tons of sites that you can use to help with the heavy lifting. I’ve personally used Google AdWords with a previous agency and can attest to its value. It’s affordable and gives you access to all the things you’d need while building your online presence. There’s SEO consulting, Keyword planning, AdWords (to build those little Google Ad boxes). There are some other SEO tools that you can use as well, but the prices increase a bit. SEMrush for example seems to be on the rise in Indeed listings these days. From what I’ve seen, they all seem to use the same aids, but I have seen some SERP Analysis reports that seem to receive high praise from their users. Think carefully about how much help you need, and how much budget you can a lot to such a tool. Now, in my research, I was able to find a Google hack. It’s fairly simple and quick, but there’s a lot of steps to describe. So, if you want to know how to get into that free version, click here for my walkthrough.
SEO Tools That Could Work For You
Don’t forget that these thing rotate as fast as the latest hashtags. To keep your posts relevant, you’ll have to alter your keywords routinely. How routinely you need to do this will depend on your niche. Is your category a fast paced and stay on your toes deal? Or does your area of expertise usually stay the same with rotating trends? This will determine how often you need to update your keywords.
Do your research. Keep on top of the latest fads. Check out your competitors. All of these things are important for valid keyword application. Got questions? Drop me a line!
A blog takes a lot of work, and you know you have to update your content routinely. Research gives businesses the range of posting between 2-4 times a week. Not only is this a good practice for your content writers, but it helps to build your company up in the eyes of your audience. The more posts you publish, the more your brand awareness grows, the more you establish your expertise and authority in your niche, and the more you can guide your viewers into partners. But your blog posts aren’t the only things that need regular maintenance.
You should be checking comments daily. If you require approval prior to comments being published, you should be sorting through pending replies every day. There are a few types of comments that you can collect on your website, and each type needs to be sorted and handled differently. Allow good comments to show on your website, and answer any legitimate replies. You can leave sporadic praise to your company, but if something truly has no value or counts as spam, trash it.
Your plugins and themes need to be kept up to date too. It could go totally unnoticed to you if the creator of your blog template has made changes to the layout you’re using and caused your whole page to be rearranged. Your plugins could have new updates that you want to download. It’s possible that nothing has changed and this step doesn’t require any work, but you should still check through things just to be sure.
If you have opt in forms on your site, you want to test these as well. Maybe you’d rather do this further apart, and nobody would blame you, but it does need to be done. This is to make sure that the emails or texts are going through as planned, and to make sure there are no issues with signing up. During this process you should make sure all of your text is up to date. If you changed the name or logo of your company, you don’t want your old information going out in emails right? Added a partner? Make sure their signature is on there as well. Make any needed updates here as needed. Make sure you’re sending the “Thank you for subscribing” messages, or that there are no spelling errors on the completion text on your website.
You should be scanning your site for issues and other malware regularly as well. Text isn’t the only thing that could go wrong. There are many scanning sites and programs that you can purchase or subscribe to that will run the scans through your site for you. This requires a little research into exactly what you need, and what your budget can allow for such a service.
Check up on your web hosting stats on a regular basis as well. This includes speed, security, and satisfaction. Did you know that a 5 second load for your page is considered too slow? After unsuccessful page load of 3-4 seconds, a customer is likely to move to the next site. Your competitor’s site. Slow loads are a no go for anyone anywhere. Mobile devices could grant you even less time. Don’t forget that when a consumer enters your site, they expect that you are doing what you should to protect them from any online germs. Security on your site, is your problem. Far too many hosting providers don’t think this is their problem, but it is up to you to keep your website running healthy. Remember, any negative experience a customer has is likely to go to someone else through word of mouth, or the ever feared Twitter.
You’ve done a lot of Quality assurance on a weekly basis if you’ve followed this guide so far right? So monthly is where you do the big stuff, and if you’re keeping track of what you’re doing along the way, this won’t be so daunting. Your “about me” section should be updated if you’ve done something different. Has a major thing happened in the world that has effected your niche? Have you done anything differently this month? Married, had kids, reached a career goal, totally revamped your site? Let everyone know here. If they’re loyal to your content, chances are, they’re curious about you too. But it’s not just your “about” page that needs to be updated. Check all of your pages and posts, can anything be archived or updated? Now is your chance to do it!
Check for broken links. Yes, every link on your website needs to be checked. If you’ve changed your pages, you need to make sure anything that mentions that page in an internal link is updated too. Now not all of your changes are going to prompt a change in the url, in fact, most changes won’t. But if you’ve deleted the page to start over, you’ll want to know where you linked that page in a post so you don’t end up with a page that says “Oops, looks like the content you’re looking for isn’t available!”. I cannot tell you how much I hate seeing that message pop up. Especially if this is your business, you need to avoid those 404’s at all cost. If you make a URL Doc listing where your internal links are, you have a way to quickly reference them during this monthly check. And if you know you ran last month’s check on January 31st, you only have to check the February posts.
And the final tip I have? Check out my SEO article on how to keep your website optimized for better visibility on the web!
Blogs are a LOT of moving parts when you really get into it. I figured it would be simpler when I first started, but I’m glad it’s not a one and done process. It keeps me involved in my content, which I use as motivation. So enjoy your process, and if you have questions or comments, I’d love to hear from you!
“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this Gina, I’m not hoity toity like this guy is!”
“He’s taking you to a sports bar right? Can’t be that bad.”
“It’s a private member’s sports bar, I can’t get in until he gets here!”
“Oh. Wow. Those things exist? LOL. Ok maybe he IS that bad.”
“Gee thanks.” A car purrs into the valet line that puts my Hyudai Accent to shame. “Ok, he’s here. Wish me luck.”
He saunters over in his freshly pressed suit, his hand stretches out for mine and I raise mine for a handshake, though he plants a kiss instead.
“Rebecca I presume?”
“Everyone calls me Beccs.”
“Beccs it is. You may call me Johnny. But don’t tell anyone I gave you permission.”
He laughs and links my arm through his as he flashes a card to the guard. He pulls back the velvet rope, and holds the curtain to the side as we enter. We are taken to a table immediately and given a bottle of chilled freshly opened champagne.
“The usual Mr Ducator?”
“Yes Charese. And Rebecca? Order anything you like.”
I skim the menu quickly and order the parmesan risotto as a side to the rosemary chicken and he smiles in approval. He picks up his glass and holds it up to the center of the table.
“To a prosperous blind date Beccs.”
I lift mine to his quickly so he isn’t left there with his arm up for too long, and the drinks slosh onto the tablecloth as mine hits his too hard. I feel my face flush like an iron poker is being inserted under my cheeks.
“Oh my gosh. I am so…incredibly sorry. Oh my gosh.”
He laughs at my attempt to clean the table with my napkin, and simply pulls the soaking table covering from under our glasses without knocking anything over, and sits back down pouring us both a fresh glass.
“So you’re a magician?”
“I shudder at the term. No Beccs, men of my stature are expected to be skilled at entertaining those around us with ease.”
I smile awkwardly and nearly choke at the gulp of liquid I sip too fast. The whispers echo around me as I look away to calm my reddening face. What are they whispering about? My bumbling or his skill?
“Uh…Uh Beccs. How about a little music?”
He summons over a waitress and requests the music be turned up. But he doesn’t do it fast enough. I can hear them laughing behind me. I turn around out of instinct and there he is. Blown up on the television.
“That’s right folks. The mystery of the birthday clown has been solved. His true identity is none other than society’s very own, Jonathan William Ducator the third.”
I turn around, and he is sinking under the table as his rich friends laugh him from his seat. My fingers dance across the keys to Gina, “He’s sooo not that bad.”
Your website rocks! Your content sounds great, your colors are perfectly matched, your layout is easy on the eyes, so why aren’t you getting visitors? It could be that you have an SEO issue. You’ve heard SEO before, but what IS it?
SEO stands for search engine optimization…that didn’t help you either? The short version of it is this: SEO is the process to improve upon your site to rise to the top of the SERP’s (search engine results page) when related terms are searched. SEO is a tool used on your website to increase the external visibility of your work.
I know, it’s a huge process, and it’s confusing and tedious. But isn’t everything worth doing a bit of an undertaking? Before you can DO the work, you have to UNDERSTAND the work.
Optimization. What does it mean?
As previously stated, the goal of SEO is to improve search results. The search engine will pull pages related to a search phrase and rank them to show results. When was the last time you searched for a business or a service? How far did you scroll before you stopped thinking “I passed all the good ones”? It’s not always true that the best services come to the top of your search results, but it IS true that the best optimized websites appear at the top. If your business is a reupholstering service, you need a dedicated page telling people how you offer this service.
Did you know that Google automatically creates listings for most businesses? If you go to Google My Business, you’ll be able to search for and “claim” your business pages. This way you can keep all of your internet presence in your control. You can use this dashboard to keep your ever changing data up to date.
Keywords and how to use them.
So SEO means to optimize your website in order to improve your search results and drive website traffic; how do I do that? One of the biggest things you need to work on is keywords. Your “target keywords” should be paired with their natural content. It’s advised that your target number of keywords should align with the number of pages on your website. Each page should be individually optimized for the best results.
Don’t try to add quantity. One page, one search phrase. Plain keywords on the other hand, can include as many phrases or words as are relevant. If your business is a publisher, you can add; publisher, publishing, editing, editor, books, novels. You can include all of the genres that you work with as well. Do make sure to research the keywords, no matter what your company or service is, as there are bound to be some negative keywords. For example, publishing brought up minimal returns for “best” and “bestselling”. You’d research your content, make sure you research the keywords that get people to the content.
Are keywords the only tools for SEO?
Not at all! Another major tool at your disposal is ‘internal links’. You can link your own content, within your own content. Now you don’t want to do this so much that people are getting lost going in circles through your pages. But internal links are extremely important. It’s one of the easiest ways to boost your results as each page (or post) has been individually optimized, and therefore will give you a double target page for one search. “Fantasy Publisher” will bring up the original content, and the page that contains that link.
You can also use tags, titles, and image captions to your benefit. These are just as important, as these things are often overlooked. If you are sure to add your tags for your images, you could rank higher in an image search than you do in a regular search. As it’s overlooked, there’s less competition. Driving traffic is driving traffic right?
How are ranks given on the results page?
Google actually uses a scale that you should live by when it comes to SEO. EAT. No, not food. Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy.
Expert is the level at which Google compiles a list of connections between things like authors of content, brands, and topics to compare the level of expertise.
Authority is a little more heavy lifting. This is the research portion of your content and web build. Look into your niche and find the important community sites. Make sure you’re adding value to these places as it will drive traffic right back to your own page. Put yourself out there to bring a wider audience to you.
Trust is just that, trust. With the internet being such a useful tool for businesses, it’s sadly become a useful tool for scammers. How is your online reputation? Do you have followers? A steady flow of likes and comments? Are you active on your social media pages? All of this will affect your trust score in the EAT scale.
There are so many things we could continue to talk about when it comes to SEO, but this will work for a general overview. One thing to be aware of it the rising reliance on mobile traffic. Mobile devices are always at our fingertips no matter where we are, and the percentages of mobile traffic is well over the halfway mark. The exact percentage depends on where you look, but over half is a safe bet across most result pages. So you definitely want to use something like Browserstack to make sure you know how your website shrinks to fit different screen sizes.
The last thing I have to say on the matter is this; SEO is a constant. The process is always changing, the more you have to alter what you search for, the more you as a business need to alter how you’re found. SEO specialists stick the minimum amount of updates for your website at twice a month, but suggest weekly if you’re able. If you’re new to SEO, feel free to start at once a month until you get the hang of it.
Good luck! If you have questions, I will do all I can to answer them in the comments below.