Marketing - SEO

The Art of SEO Basics

What’s SEO all about?

These days it’s important to optimize your content for search engines. Everyone talks about SEO (search engine optimization), but what is it and how can it help you? A good SEO strategy takes effort and requires long-term commitment. But let’s start with the basics!

Search engines want to know which sites offer the best value to users based on their search queries, so they use spiders to crawl billions of sites to index key phrases and better present accurate results to the user.

SEO refers to the practice of optimizing your website and content so that it is more easily found by users who are searching for the content you provide. It’s about enhancing your chances of discoverability and not just leaving it up to chance!

The Basics

There are two types of traffic that can lead visitors to your site: organic traffic and paid traffic. In this article I’ll mostly focus on organic traffic, which are the results search engines offer up when a user searches for content similar to yours.

First off, it’s important that all pages on your site be optimized for SEO. This means that you need the following at least:

  • Every page needs its own title (in the content you should provide ALT attributes to images, and links as these are very useful for SEO)
  • Think about your URLs (use relevant keywords in your URLs, instead of, use
  • SEO Description (you should have an SEO description for at least the key pages of your site, in some instances it is better to leave this area blank as Google will create its own description after crawling the site)
  • SEO Keywords (these are the SEO bread and butter!)

Meta tags are important because they show up as your search engine snippet:

Search Engine Snippet

Search Engine Snippet

Digging a little deeper

There are other items that have a significant affect on SEO that you might want to think about, you can take care of these items while you are still in the web development process, don’t wait until all is said and done to then worry about SEO! The earlier you start thinking about it in conjunction with your site design and development phase, the better off you’ll be.

Items that should not be overlooked:

  • Social Media: mentions and links on social media promote your content, increasing your ranking
  • Laying out your content correctly and using proper <h1> tags and <p> tags where required
  • Provide relevant, fresh content, do not just throw a bunch of keywords throughout your text! Think about your content!
  • Be thorough and detail oriented: use image captions and ALT text.
  • Try to avoid linking to words like Click Here, instead be descriptive and include a call to action such as: To read more, visit our site.
  • Link building: link to other trust-worthy sites that have relevant content to yours

WordPress and SEO

Google loves WordPress and WordPress has a host of features to help you with SEO. There are countless SEO plugins that make optimizing your site easily.

Here is what I consider to be the best SEO plugins for WordPress at the moment:

Once you install and activate these plugins, they will add custom areas for you to update your SEO information.

Here is the overview of a post in a WordPress site with the All-in-One-SEO pack installed

All-in-one-seo-plugin view

Post view of SEO categories in All-in-One-SEO Pack plugin

Here’s a more detailed view of the SEO section inside the post page:

All-in-One-SEO-Pack plugin inside page

All-in-One-SEO-Pack plugin inside the post page

Here’s an overview of a post in a WordPress site with the WordPress SEO plugin:

WordPress-SEO plugin inside a post

WordPress-SEO plugin inside a post, choose your focus keyword!

It forces you to chose a focus keywords and it will guide you on where to place those keywords so that you can appear higher on search results.

Using an SEO plugin will save you time in optimizing your site.

Following Through

Ideally, you should keep up with your SEO strategy and review keywords every 6 months or so to make sure they’re still on target with your content or service. There are several tools available to help monitor your SEO rankings. But of all the tools out there if you only have time for one, use Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a robust tool that will help you track key characteristics of your site data, such as:

  • Audience demographic (new and return users)
  • How many users come to your site via a mobile device or a desktop
  • Bounce rate of your site (why users leave and which specific page they bounce off of)

There’s just one caveat: as of September 2013 Google has started to encrypt organic search tracking. So unless you want to pay to get your keyword data (with Google Adwords and other tools), if you want to find out the search terms that drive organic traffic to your site, you’ll have to dig a little deeper.

For example:

  • Look at the top landing pages of your site in Google Analytics
  • Consider using Google Webmaster Tools for more refined analytics
  • Use other SEO tools, mentioned below

In case you want to do some more in-depth SEO research check out these tools/services:

HubSpot – With HubsSpot you can track your competition, research keywords and review your analytics data via a user-friendly interface.

cognitiveSEO – cognitiveSEO lets you analyze your links data, guides you in optimizing your link-building, and let’s you “spy on your competitors and get insights on their link building strategies”

SEMRush – SEMRush is a powerful tool for tracking your competitor’s organic’s positions, performing keywords and ad research

Additional Tools for your SEO arsenal

Wordtracker – Discover high-performing keywords

SEOQuake – A Firefox add-on that collects search engine statistics

Google Webmaster ToolsGoogle Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google.

HitTail – HitTail has a powerful algorithm that reveals real-time keywords used in searches

Search engine optimization is a critical component of any website project. These tips can help you get a head start.

About the author

Patricia is the Founder of Upwards Content, a fledgling content creation/management business. If you like my articles, follow me on Twitter!

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