SEO (search engine optimization) can be extremely confusing to someone new to marketing or website development. To be honest, SEO can be confusing to us marketers as well because Google is constantly updating its algorithm. For the most part, SEO can be simplified down by comparing the process to the way your local library operates.
Do you remember the old card catalogs at the library?
These card catalogs helped you determine where you could find a particular book (or types of books). The catalog essentially was the master “key” to help you find what you were looking for.
Let’s just say the internet is like your library. The internet has millions of pieces of content and it is important to match a list of local pizza places when someone searches for “pizza near me”. In order for the searcher to land on the right content, Google (or other search engines) will play the role as the ‘card catalog’ system with its complex search algorithm.
To continue this analogy, you could assume:
- Library = Internet
- Google = Card Catalog System
- Book Series = Website
- Books = Web pages
- Book Title = H1 header
- Chapter Titles in a book = H2 Headers
- Sub-sections of a chapter = H3-6 headers
- Content/Pages in a book = page content (paragraph)
- References to other books in a series = Internal site linking
SEO Tip #1: Organized Content
Now, let’s assume that you wrote a book series (a website) and you give the book a good name and the entire book was one chapter long. Do you think anyone would want to read it?
The librarian would probably look at the book and think “I don’t know how to catalog this book. It doesn’t make much sense.”
That is what Google is doing when you create a piece of content. Organization is a big factor to help Google determine if your content should be shown on page 1 or page 10.
If a book lacks a proper title/Author/chapters (meta info), it’s hard to add to the catalog properly, so some users may not find the card in the catalog or the book on the shelf where they expect (equivalent to showing up on page 2+ in google). Similarly if a book’s content is unclear or poorly written, it may be difficult to know if it belongs in a certain section of the library (non-fiction, romance, comedy, science, etc… this is where having a niche/focus can be important, otherwise a page can be in limbo between categories).
Here are the main areas to focus on regarding Organized Content:
- Good title and headers (headers that maybe ask a common question on a topic)
- Content with sufficient length for the items it addresses (more is generally better, but maybe talk about how you can look at other content that shows up in google to see what the competition has – skyscraper method)
- Appropriate links to other relevant content (internal and external)
- Emphasis on explaining what the page is about early on in the first paragraph or two (imagine a synopsis in a book)
SEO Tip #2: User Friendly Content
In addition to organized content, the content needs to be user friendly.
If you were to publish a book with 3 pt. font, your readers wouldn’t get through the first sentence. In addition, you want to make sure the reader can get to the material within a reasonable time. Having a slow website is like publishing a book that has 10 blank pages before the first chapter.
There are a plethora of ways to build a site that performs to enhance the user’s experience. For the most part, these are the main areas to focus on to ensure a good user experience:
- Ensure all meta info (page title, excerpt, image, etc) are well optimized/written.
- Ensure pages/site are accessible within a reasonable amount of time – doesn’t have to be lightning fast, but should be fast enough to not cause bounces (mobile speed is also more important than desktop loading speed)
- Adding appropriate links to content and page/site (site structure)
SEO Tip #3: Quality Content
Having great content can give you the best chance to have that specific page catch fire (go viral).
When authors write truly compelling books, they often end up on a talk shows, which helps them get thousands of people considering to buy their book.
When you create great content online, the same effect can happen. If your piece of content gets shared on Reddit to a group of 500,000 people, you are bound to get a ton of traffic to your website. When Google sees that other people or sites (in this case Reddit was linking to your site), Google will make a mental note that says “People like this page. Let’s move this toward the top of the search engine results”.
Remember, great content has the best chance of catching fire if it is shared with the right people or groups. If you aren’t marketing yourself, you might as well assume no one will find it.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand SEO better and can help you strategize the way you develop your website and each page of content. If you have any questions about SEO or want to talk about SEO in general, feel free to send us a DM.
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