So glad you asked. This is a semi-complicated topic, so before you read any further, take a moment to get your DrudgeReport fix, then obligatorily view the pictures of your friends’ kids in your Instagram feed before diving in with us…
Now that you’re back, let’s start at the beginning.
What is SEO?
We like Moz’s definition of Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
“SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.”
The most important thing to be epic at:
Write great content that is relevant to your customers. Tell stories that stand out, and be engaging so that others will naturally want to share your content and other websites will want to link to it. Earning backlinks to your site is like getting virtual high-fives that set off a positive signal to Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, which in-turn boost your search engine rankings and send more eyeballs your way. This is called link building.
Google’s Webmaster Guidelines lists these basic guidelines to help their web-crawlers (Internet-bots which index the web) find your content:
- Ensure that all pages on the site can be reached by a link from another findable page.
- <>Provide a sitemap file with links that point to your important pages to Google Search Console.
- Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most).
- Make sure that your web server correctly supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header.
- Use the robots.txt file on your web server to manage your crawling budget by preventing crawling of infinite spaces such as search result pages. Keep your robots.txt file up to date.
- Submit it to Google at http://www.google.com/submityourcontent/.
- Make sure that any sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online.
Tips for discovering valuable keywords.
Think like your customer. How would they find you online? What are they typing into their search bar? Target one specific keyword per page. This is not always easy, since you must still structure your content so it provides value to the reader by: helping to solve problems, answering questions, providing information, or advertising your products or services. But keeping additional focus on your target keyword will provide value and visitors down the road.
Here are ten keyword research tools to try out. 61 experts agree these are the best.
Track and measure SEO efforts for success.
- Traffic sources: direct, referral, and search
- Search engine referrals: Google, Bing and Yahoo
- Visits by keywords & phrases
- Conversion rates
- Number of pages on your site getting traffic
So, how long does it take to see results from your SEO efforts? Well, it depends.
Should you hire an outside SEO firm, or build an in-house SEO team?
It depends on the particular situation of your company, but Forbes lists the following signs for when you should outsource your SEO campaigns:
- Not enough revenue generated
- An overworked staff
- Missing key deadlines
- Strategies aren’t well-documented or detailed
- Campaign performance isn’t good
It’s also worth noting that, typically, outsourcing your SEO campaigns and strategies costs less (approx. $36,000/yr) than managing SEO in-house with a typical 2-3 person team ($200,000/yr). Budget is a big decision-making factor, but perhaps the right answer is a combination of both an internal and external team. If you find yourself bogged down by tasks instead of seeking ways to improve the overall performance and updating strategies, then it may be time to outsource.
- The Beginner’s guide to SEO – https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
- Signs it’s Time To Outsource Your Marketing http://www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2014/10/14/7-signs-its-time-to-outsource-your-marketing/#1625ca5e4ed8
- Online Marketing: When to Outsource & When To Do It In House
- 61 Experts Reveal Best Tools For Keyword Research