SEO is ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and this basically means that you’re trying to get your website to show up in search results. Of course, you’re not going to be able to show up high in every search result and so this is where keywords and targeting come in.
A keyword is essentially a word or a phrase that people are going to search in order to find your site. When people go shopping online, they will almost always start with Google. And when they start with Google, they will begin by searching for the thing they want. Very often, this will mean that they search for something like ‘Buy Hats Online’.
If you can target that precise phrase so that your page is the top result, then you will not only be able to reach the right demographic– but you’ll be able to target them at the precise moment that they’re actually planning on buying something!
The same thing happens when someone looks for information– they might search for ‘How to Lose Weight After Christmas’ or they might search for ‘Fitness Articles’.
Again, you can bring more people to your site and that way hopefully create more loyal followers, simply by making sure that your pages come up as top results for those terms.
SEO has the huge advantage of being highly targeted and allowing you to reach anyone rather than just people who are your followers or who are part of the same network as your followers.
The only problem is that SEO is also arguably more complicated than the other forms of marketing we’ve looked at so far. That and it is never guaranteed. That is to say that you can spend years doing SEO or pay the very biggest SEO service in the world and still not see any improvements.
Let’s take a look at why that is and how to give yourself the best chance of success …
In order to get to the top of Google, the aim is to try and understand how Google works, how Google decides which sites are worthwhile and then how you can manipulate those factors in order to move your site to the top.
Google works using ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’. These are small programs that search the web by following from one link to the next. Each time they find a new website, they then add that website to a giant index and will assess the subject matter and the quality of that site by looking at who is linking to the page, how the page is laid out and what the subject of the content appears to be.
If we knew precisely how Google’s algorithm worked, then we could get to the top of the search results with guaranteed certainty. As we don’t know this though, all we can do is make educated guesses and hope that those get us to the top of Google.
When Google first became the dominant search engine, the algorithm was fairly straightforward and was generally quite well understood by marketers. Back then, we knew that:
Back then, it was easy enough to manipulate Google into doing your bidding. All you had to do was to create a website with lots and lots of content, repeat the same keywords over and over again and get lots of other sites to link to you.
It was literally a matter of whoever worked the fastest could get to the top of Google the quickest.
Though, this also led to some very bad practices. People would ‘stuff’ keywords into their text, repeating the same few phrases over and over again. People would pay for links. People would steal content and ‘spin it’ (swap words for synonyms) and generally, Google’s results started to become dominated by spam.
Google clamped down and introduced some smarter rules and algorithms. These updates to its system were known as ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ and they really shook up the internet marketing community.
The new Google is much smarter when it comes to looking for content and now values quality over quantity to a large degree.
A few examples of the changes:
This sudden change resulted in a lot of sites being removed from Google altogether, which badly hurt many businesses. As you can imagine, this caused quite a lot of outcry!
What’s important to remember is that website owners are not the customers that Google is catering to. Google is catering to users who want to use Google in order to find high-quality content.
Thus, Google’s main and only objective is to ensure that the content it shares is relevant and interesting to the people searching for it.
What is the best way to handle good SEO? Simple: make sure that you are providing great, relevant content. When you do this, you are aligning yourself with Google’ goals. Every change that Google makes will ultimately help more people to find your site.
The sites that try to ‘spam’ Google or trick it, will only be damaged each time that Google has an update.
With all that said, how do you go about carrying out SEO for your site in this day and age?
The first thing to do is to fill your site with as much relevant content as possible. Notice how SEO and content marketing naturally go hand in hand already?
Ideally, this content should be long-form (at least occasionally) and should contain links to other sites. Again, the same things that make your content high quality for your readers are the things that Google wants to see.
Do some keyword research to find what it is that people are searching for and what you should try to target to get the ideal traffic to your site. You can find the volume of people searching for specific terms by using the free keyword tool Jaaxy (Check out here my review).
Try to make sure that the terms you search for aren’t too competitive, however, as otherwise, you can end up going against too many other sites and giving yourself an impossible task.
As mentioned though, Google doesn’t just like you to keep repeating the same keyphrase over and over.
Instead, the objective is to lace it into the content a few times as naturally as possible while also including synonyms and related terminology. This should happen naturally and it should never distract the reader.
From here, you can then go about building links from high quality, relevant sites. There are certain sites that Google already trusts and you can spot these by looking at which ones are already at the top of Google and which ones are featured in Google News. Google also likes big, recognized brands and it likes.edu and.org domains.
While it might be hard to get links from those sites, you can think of this a bit like ‘degrees of separation’.
In other words, if you can’t get a link from Harvard, look for a site that does have a link from Harvard and see if you can get a link from them!
One of the best strategies you can use to build links is something called ‘Guest Posting’. Here, you are essentially going to contact big blogs and offer to write content for them for free.
This content needs to be relevant and high quality so that they are tempted to go ahead and publish it. Rather than charging for your writing, you then make the deal that you will get to link back to your website, within the body of the text.
One way to avoid going head-to-head with the biggest players in your niche is to focus on local SEO. Local SEO is simply SEO that places local keywords front and. If you live in Santa Monica and you run a hairdresser, then you would try to rank for ‘Santa Monica Hairdresser’ and you would build links from other local companies.
It’s much easier to become number one for a specific search term like this and even if you are running an international business it can be a good idea to start local and then branch out once you have built local momentum.
Avoid anything that looks spammy or manipulative. Try to avoid patterns and encourage your visitors to share your links online. That’s what Google really wants to see: sites with lots of links on the strength of their quality.
One way to do this is to write link bait. This is content that is so useful, so interesting or so shocking, that other people want to link to it and include it in their debates or share it with friends.
When creating your links, avoid trying to use only your keywords in the anchor text. Sometimes the best anchor is just ‘Click Here’ or ‘This Article’. Again, this looks more organic and natural and this means Google won’t think you’re paying for your links.
Don’t try and trick Google. Just create high-quality content for your readers, while keeping Google’s algorithms in the back of your mind.
There are unlimited training courses on SEO out there. But how can you say whether it’s a good training course or not?
I have collected six quality factors for every SEO training course so you can determine the quality very quickly and easily.
Obviously, one quality you should look for is a track record of success over a period of time in search engine optimization and search engine marketing.
One quick way to check is to do a Google search on SEO training city, where the city is your local area. (eg. SEO training Brisbane or Brisbane SEO training).
It also pays to check their SEO client portfolio. If so, are their clients happy with their SEO work?
SEO is a dynamic industry. As search engines update and improve their ranking algorithms, so also must SEO companies update their methods of getting and holding good search engine rankings.
If the SEO training course you considering is focused on keyword density, link exchanges and creating complex meta tags, then choose again. These factors used to be very important 3-5 years ago. Not so now. The best SEO these days is about keyword research, anchor text, article marketing, directory marketing, getting one-way links and using social media.
If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is. If the SEO training course you are considering promises to show you how to rank in the top 5 in Google for any search term then find someone else. As a famous movie once said” They’re dreaming.
SEO is hard work and it does take time to rank well for competitive keyword phrases.
Determining the best keyword phrase to optimize for and then executing the optimization over a period of time will eventually yield results.
Does the SEO training firm use qualified trainers? Make sure your SEO trainer is both a good classroom trainer and experienced in SEO.
SEO theory should be backed up by hands-on practical experience where you get to immediately apply your new learning. Avoid any SEO training course where you are lectured to for a day or so without any hands-on experience. The best SEO courses are a combination of theory, example, and practice.
Where possible you should have the opportunity to work on a real-life SEO project and get the instructors help with that project.
The half-life of any training course is about 4 days. Unless the theory is applied or revised, it leaves a short-term memory and must be relearned. Make sure the training that you purchase includes some level of e-mail or telephone support.
If they do, make sure you use it even if it’s just to make sure you are on the right track with your SEO projects. Good quality handouts, notes and access to online resources is also something to look for.
As you can see, it is not that hard to determine the quality of any SEO course with these six quality factors. Do you know any SEO course that has all six of them? Let me know by writing a comment below!
Also, I know a course SEO course that has all six of them. It is called Wealthy Affiliate and they offer a lot of SEO training in the affiliate marketing niche. However, I think the information is great for everyone who wants to learn more about SEO!