Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be simplified. It is like schoolyard dodgeball. The captain always picks the athletic kids first. And the nerdy kids get picked last.
Google is the captain. They get to pick who shows up on page 1 for any searched keyword. It’s in Google’s best interest to choose the athletic kids. They’re the popular websites, articles, blogs, YouTube videos, etc.
Those picked last, well, they’re the weaklings, the spam, fluff content and misleading websites – it’s page 10 and beyond for those folks.
The first step in converting online web surfers into clients or customers or readers is making it easy for them to find your website, video, blog, etc. SEO is the act of effectively completing that first step.
Why SEO matters
- SEO will drive your content higher on Google search pages.
- The higher you are on Google search pages the more traffic you’ll generate.
- And if you rank high for keywords relevant to your business, the more quality web traffic you’ll receive.
There’s no tricking Google
What do you think Google wants to do when you search “Boston Red Sox”?
They want to put the most relevant Boston Red Sox information on page one. That means the Red Sox website, a link to the latest game coverage, etc.
The job of Google search is to provide the most relevant content based on a given keyword search. It’s in their best interest to perfect their search so that you use them instead of other search engines, like Bing or Yahoo.
If you own a socks company based out of Boston called “Boston Sox”, that exclusively sells red socks, it wouldn’t make sense for Google to display your web page every time ”Boston Red Sox” is searched. In all likelihood the user who types in “Boston Red Sox” is looking for the baseball team. If you’re the owner of the sock company it might make more sense to gear content and headlines for keywords like “designer red socks” or “custom socks”. If the owner tried to sneak baseball related content into their keywords and titles to generate traffic, Google would quickly learn that based on the rest of your website content, you really aren’t the baseball team, rather you’re trying to ride the coattails of the team’s search power. That’ll send you straight to page 10 and beyond.
Google will keep you honest.
There are several tactics used to optimize your website for search engines. The more tactics employed together the better odds your website will rank higher for its target keywords. Here are four starters:
- Be targeted: Write Specific Content for a single search term or phrase you want to target.
- Be relevant: Produce content that users actually want to read. If its good people will share it. This is called Content Marketing.
- Build links: When people share or host your links that means you’re link building, which is one of the ways search engines evaluate whether your content is athletic or weak. If many other web pages contain a link to your web page, Google’s algorithm then makes the assumption that your website is credible and they will rank it higher in search results.
- Write smart headers: Structure your content with appropriate headers by determining the core message of your content. You must put yourself in the shoes of the person searching for your content to determine which keywords make sense. Here’s an example from marketer Dean Hunt:
Let’s presume we are writing about SEO headlines. As an author, I may be tempted to create a headline like “Killer SEO Headlines”. But who is going to type that into Google?
So I could be more specific and write: “How You Can Write Great SEO Headlines” Sounds like a decent headline… right?… wrong!
You see, nobody is going to go to Google and write in second person. Remember, you need to get inside their mind, what would they write? They would put the focus on themselves, e.g “How Can I Write Great SEO Headlines“. Notice how I used “I” instead of “you”.
A safer bet is to simply be non-specific: “How To Write Great SEO Headlines”. In this example I used “to” instead of “I” or “You”.
So next time you are writing a headline with the aim of earning strong Google rankings, think about the actual words your target market would use to search for your content on Google, and let those words drive your headline.