Are you an Internet marketing expert? We all are. In fact, just a quick cruise around Quora or LinkedIn reveals that at least 1 out of every 4 or 5 people online must be an expert in some form of Internet marketing. Social media, SEO, community management, we've got "experts" and "gurus" covering every angle of online marketing.
Want to be just like them?
I'm going to give you the quick-and-dirty guide to being an SEO "expert." Remember, being an expert merely means you have to know more than the people around you. This will certainly accomplish that. Now, although I was being a little cheeky earlier when I said this would make you an expert, the building blocks are all here. If you take it upon yourself to study these points further, you certainly can be a "real" expert rather than someone who just plays one on the Internet.
Nearly every idea in SEO can be thrown into one of the following six headings.
1. On-page Optimization
It all starts here. You can't build a successful SEO campaign without optimizing your page per SEO best-practices. Remember, this list is merely something for you to follow up on, so we're going to run through the points quickly:
- Keywords—Research them and find the best balance between competition levels and the amount of traffic they'll bring you. One to two (max) keywords per page. Be sure to use them in...
- Title tags—Each page should have its own title tag. Don't try to rank for your URL or business name, as that should come naturally.
- Meta descriptions—Use them to describe the page and get readers to click when they see the description in the search results. You should probably use a keyword.
- Meta keywords—Skip 'em. For the most part all they're doing is telling your competitors what you're attempting to rank for. Not really worth the time.
- Robots.txt—Tell search engines what to index and what not to. Also set up your URL structure so that the "www" and "non-www" version of your site redirect to one or the other. Otherwise it's viewed as two separate sites (c'mon Google, get your act together).
Obviously, this isn't anywhere near all of the steps you need to optimize your page, but it'll certainly get you started. Remember, I'm not giving you the fish, I'm teaching you to fish.
It's king; plain and simple. If you aren't producing high-quality content, then you're going to be way behind your competitors that are. Google updates have ensured that low-quality content is no longer enough to secure favorable rankings. In fact, low-quality content could get you pushed so far down in the search results that even Matt Cutts himself couldn't find you.
Remember, content doesn't necessarily mean written word. With the rise of the term "content marketing," I'm always baffled at the people who think content simply means writing blog posts.
Content is also...
- Smoke signals
- Ad copy
- Social media posts
- Blog posts
- Shared images (Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, etc.)
Links are important, but not as important as they used to be. In the future, they'll be even less important than they are now.
Links are a quality-over-quantity thing. One link from a high quality source is worth more than dozens of links from a spammy blog. Remember that, and it'll serve you wisely.
Tip: Avoid SEOs selling 1,000 backlinks for $5. These are terrible links and can do more harm than good.
In general, if it seems way too cheap, there's probably a reason for that. Real SEO takes hard work and a lot of hours. I couldn't get you one high-quality link for $5, let alone 1,000.
4. Social Indicators
According to Search Metrics, Facebook shares are second to backlinks among search engine results placement ranking factors. We've also seen Google experiment with indexing Twitter, and use its own social network, Google+, to determine where sites should be ranked in the search results.
Social is a huge factor now, but it'll be even bigger in the future. Pay attention!
According to... umm... everybody who has ever spewed this statistic, mobile Internet use is set to overtake desktop and laptop use in 2015. In some countries—in the developing world—it already has.
So what's this mean for you? It means you need to optimize your site for mobile. Responsive sites are the new "thing," but you can also use a traditional site and make a mobile version of it. The point isn't how you get to the finish line; the point is realizing that you have to get there eventually. Pick a way to make sure your site is mobile friendly and run with it.
Also, you might want to take into consideration some mobile search statistics that I just so happen to have right here:
- Over 50% of traffic on mobile devices starts with a search engine.
- The most common searches on mobile are for local business.
- Searchers are typically looking for an address, phone number, hours of operation, or a menu. Give it to them.
This alone could be several books, DVDs, college courses, etc., so please don't expect me to do it justice in a single blurb.
Analytics are Google's answer to the Internet marketing question: "How do I track my results?"
There are simple stats that everyone uses, like...
- Unique visitors
- Average time on site
- Bounce rate
But analytics is way more beastly than a simple tool that tells you how many people like you and how much they like you. Bigger corporations have entire teams working on the stats they gain from analytics and analytic-type software.
Do you feel like an SEO expert yet?
Man, I hope not.
The information I gave you was is basic as it gets, and it's something anyone can pick up in.... oh... about 10 minutes by reading an article. Real SEOs live and breathe their craft. They know the ins and outs of the industry, and they are constantly adapting to the natural ebbs and flows of the niche.
So, if you want to be one of us, start with this article and use it to guide your searches for information. Dive in-depth to each of these topics and you'll find answers, as well as new questions. Once you run out of questions, wait a few minutes until something changes... then start the process again.
Welcome to the world of SEO. You're now an expert.