Let’s say you just built your first webpage. You’re ready for business: be it advertising, e-tailing, affiliates or any other monetization strategy. Before you see any conversion, however, you need traffic – lots of traffic.
Welcome to the basics of search engine optimization (SEO for those of us in the business). My name is Rob Stretch, student entrepreneur from the University of Missouri, and I’ve been invited to walk you through some basics of SEO practice.
What is Search Engine Optimization exactly?
If you break apart the phrase, you see that search engine optimization is merely “optimizing” your page for the engines. In a nutshell, this means getting your page to rank higher on the SERPS (search engine result pages) for Google, Yahoo, Bing, Ask.com and the other search engines of the world.
The higher your page ranks in Google for different key words, the more traffic your site will see. Get your page to rank #1 (be at the top of the SERPS) and you should be getting hits from everybody searching for your keywords online.
What makes for good Search Engine Optimization?
Folks in the SEO camp usually break down the practice into two parts: Internal SEO and External SEO. Internal SEO is what you as a publisher can control. This includes keyword research, picking a domain, editing meta tags, sitemapping, page layout, and internal linking. Internal SEO is a great place to start and it is essential for optimizing your site to its full potential.
But External SEO is where you will really start seeing results. External SEO is often referred to as “link building”. The more blogs and websites linking back to your site across the web, the higher your page ranks on the SERPs. Search engines run on algorhythms, and links back to your site are a major way to score more points. The link building process involves reaching out to other bloggers and webmasters and offering free content, link exchanges, widgets, basically anyway to get them to link to your site.
How do I start the process of optimizing my site?
There are seven things that you need to do. And they’re all critical to building your SEO.
1. Research your Keywords
If you haven’t registered a domain already, do some research first. I recommend Google’s Keywords Tool. This will let you pick keywords and see the global monthly search volume for each set.
2. Pick a Domain
Simple enough. Pick a domain based on high-volume keywords. I would recommend using only two or three.
3. Construct a Clean Site
Make sure your webpage is visually appealing and easy to navigate. Every page should be linked back to the home page and other appropriate pages without ever hitting the “back” arrow. Make a sitemap and submit it to the major engines.
4. Get some Tools
For monitoring your sites traffic, I use Google Analytics.
For monitoring SEO statistics, download the SEO Toolbar. This will tell you Google Page Rank, number of backlinks, competitor statistics, and a variety of other vital information.
5. Start Making Friends
Reach out to other bloggers in related fields. Search their sites for email addresses or phone numbers. Offer them posts with free useful content in exchange for a few of your links. As soon as you get your name out there and start offering useful content, other posts will follow. Remember: content is king.
6. Think of Creative Ways to Link
Make a widget and offer it to bloggers in a related field. Do you run a mortgage blog? Make a mortgage calculator that links to your site and send it out to people. The more useful it is to them, the more likely they will post it giving you a free link. Get creative!
7. Get some Help
SEO might seem easy but it is a science. Plenty of people know a lot more about SEO than you (and me) and plenty make a living off just optimizing. You could get help by reading popular SEO blogs or outsourcing your marketing efforts completely.
Hope this short tutorial on SEO helps you out! Good luck to all young entrepreneurs. Remember: you can’t succeed in anything unless you try. Thanks.
Nick Tart: Since I relaunched my site on January 1st, 37% of my traffic has come from search engines. (Which is fairly low because I had a StumbleUpon rush that sent 600 visitors.) But this is traffic that I didn’t have to work for except for optimizing my pages from the outset. In other words, this stuff is critical to the success of your site. Thanks for the post, Rob! I agree with everything you’ve said.
Want more SEO tips? Search Engine Optimization 101: 9 Basics to Ranking Well
Or more advanced SEO strategies? How SEO, Social Media and Email Marketing Work Together