SEO for Non-Techies

By Matt Massey

SEO is a term thrown around by most people in the digital world, but what does it mean and how does it work? More importantly, how can you become SEO savvy without hiring a consultant and without investing hours into developing a solid SEO plan, only to possibly see everything change before you are able to capitalize on your time and effort?

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization; it is the process of receiving website traffic from non-paid searches via recognized search engines. The major search sites such as Google, Yahoo, Bing and others rank a user’s search results based on what they feel is most relevant to the user’s desired search.

SEO in the most basic form is purely a word-based “science” used by the search engines. For many businesses this is where they fall short because they fail to use the correct words in the correct areas. You could have the best site full of the top bass lures, but rank very low on SEO if you just label each lure as Lure 1, Lure 2, Lure 3. If someone performed a search for Lure 1 you would rank high, but a search for the best lure for bass fishing and you might not even appear on the first few pages. You need to remember that words are what drives SEO and whenever possible use the correct terms and words to describe photos, videos and products.

SEO Recipe

SEO as stated is word-based, but it also works off of links to and from your site, freshness of content, social media, and geographical location. For this article we’ll use the example of “Best Bass Fishing Lure“ as our search and discuss how to get your site high on the search engine results.

Words

Since SEO loves words and key terms, let’s dive into explaining that process first. In your site’s header you will need to ensure your key words or terms are there and are accurate. If you title your site John Doe’s Micropterus Salmoides Fishing Attractants you are surely to receive little SEO help. First micropterus salmoides is a term many anglers may not know; it is the scientific name for largemouth bass and a term few anglers would likely put into a search for the best bass fishing lures. A better title for the site would be John Doe’s Bass Fishing Lures. This instantly tells everyone that your site is about bass fishing, lures and your name is John Doe. By having your site titled correctly it will be identified faster by search engines.

The next location crawlers (the electronic devices that crawl throughout the web looking for sites and updates to sites to give users the best, and most current returns on their searches), will look is in your headers. When you break down your individual areas of your site keep the terms bass, fishing, lures and even your name all visible. The more the crawlers find these terms they are looking for, the higher your site’s ranking in search.

The final location crawlers look for the key terms is in your body or the copy of your site. Most sites have some text throughout them; make sure your key terms are listed there as well. When describing a product or providing an alt term (alternative name for a photo or a link) have bass, fishing, lure and your name in there as well. The more the merrier, but make sure that it fits and is applicable. Having a crappie lure with a title of bass fishing lure will help with SEO for bass lures, but will do nothing for someone who is looking to catch crappies.

Your name is also important to SEO and your site’s ranking. If you are well known by local bloggers or share the same name of someone famous or infamous, your name will affect your SEO ranking. The more times a term, in this case your name, appears in different websites the more valuable of a key term it is. Search engines look for words and a name is simply a word to them. If your name is well known then use it in your key terms, especially if your name is also your store’s name. On the same note, if your store’s name were a geographical location such as Lake Guntersville Bass Shop you would enjoy a very positive SEO return based on searches on Lake Guntersville and bass fishing.

Links

Links to and from your site helps add credibility to your site for SEO. It can also hurt your SEO ranking if your links are dead ends or only to other sites you own. Having local anglers link to your site in their blogs where they specifically mention your lures will boost your SEO overnight. By the same token, linking back to that blog will help your site as well. Having only links out and few links back is something to avoid as well. Giving web traffic to other sites through links out is great, but you also need to receive links back to your site to appear valuable to SEO crawlers. Crawlers also weigh how trusted a site is and how much traffic those sites receive. SEO is complicated but manageable with a bit of common sense and understanding the rules.

Keeping it Fresh

Websites come and go, and even if you do nothing to them they seem to last longer than that fruitcake you received last holiday season. SEO crawlers scour the web daily looking for fresh and new content; no one wants out of date information so search engines want to do everything they can to ensure the newest information appears on the top of their lists. When you add new lures to your site, the crawlers will find this and use this information when serving up search results on the newest bass lures. Even if you sell nothing from your webpage, going in monthly or quarterly and just updating or touching your site will help with your SEO because it shows your site is remaining fresh.

Social Media

SEO gurus differ on social media’s impact on a site’s SEO, but at the end of the day, the more mentions for your site’s name the better your SEO ranking. Your Facebook page with links to and from your site counts very high towards SEO, as Facebook is a trusted site. It also will generate many clicks for you and let the crawlers know you have fresh content. Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites will do the same. Blogs will return a greater result, especially if you are not the author of the posting and provide a direct link to and from your site. Work your social media skills to include your entire site’s name and a link back to it whenever possible.

Location

Geography plays the smallest part in SEO most days, but at times it is the deciding factor on where you rank in a search result, especially with the widespread usage of mobile devices. If you are traveling and looking for a local store that sells the best bass lures, your store’s geographical location will come into play. If you’re in Alabama doing this search and limit your search to geographic location, a shop in Illinois will likely come in very low on the list.

Why Worry About SEO

No matter what you use your website for, SEO is something you should concern yourself with. Most people rarely go deeper than the first few pages in a search for a product or a business. Most will end their search within the first two pages of results. If your store constantly appears low on user’s search results and off of the first page then you need to worry about SEO and get to work on your site’s SEO.

One concern many businesses have with SEO is that it is dynamic and constantly changing from day to day. You all have businesses to run and little time to work on SEO daily, but you need to keep up to date on your work. A good solution would be to slowly work your way through your site each week, making sure that you use good solid generic terms and that all of your terms are the same on the site. Using largemouth bass on one page’s header and large mouth bass on another page’s header will hurt your SEO and make your site look a bit off. It is far better to sit down and come up with your key terms and use them wisely throughout your site than to use different terms on every page.

No matter where you start or when you start, you need to ensure that your usage of key terms and links are in proper balance for the web crawlers and for users. Your site may be just to give people information on your store, or it may be your store. Both site styles need to keep the balance and help people find your site through search.

If you’ve attempted SEO and succeeded or failed, or are more confused by SEO now, let us know on our Facebook page or through our LinkedIn group. Ask questions and share what you have found to be easy wins or roadblocks in this quest to the top.