SEO Doesn’t Have to be Scary
When people talk about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), they make it sound like some kind of insanely complicated union between art and science that few have mastered and only some can comprehend.
In reality, it’s actually pretty simple, especially when you shrug off the need for a “home run” article that gets millions of hits and instead focus on good content that consistently delivers a reasonable amount of views.
Is the algorithm that drives each search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) complicated? Hell yes! Not only that, but it’s being updated all of the time to deliver “better” results (I put the word better in quotation marks because the meaning of the word might be defined by a search engine’s need to generate profit through advertising optimization). You need to accept that you will never be able to perfectly optimize every single piece of content you produce. Even if you could, that optimization at that moment may not be the best it could be a year from now. Not only that, perfect optimization for one search engine doesn’t mean the same thing for another.
The Many Faces of SEO
Most people think that SEO relates to choosing a few keywords, using them often in your content, then waiting for results. What you need to understand is that search engine ranking is much more complicated than just getting a couple words right. Search engines track a scary amount of information when it comes to website traffic. It’s not just, “Is this article optimized for this keyword?” It’s more like the following:
- Is the basic content of this page optimized for a particular keyword phrase?
- Does the page contain pictures that are optimized for the keyword?
- How many pictures are optimized and how are the descriptions unique to each picture?
- How many headers include the keyword and do they repeat too often?
- Is the keyword “cheating” by being used in an inappropriately repetitive context?
- Are there videos embedded on the page that are related to the keyword phrase?
- If so, how many people watched the embedded video?
- How long were people on the page?
- When people left the page, did they go back to the search engine, or did they click on a link within the website?
- How many other websites are linking to this page for the keyword phrase it’s optimized for?
- Where are the visitors coming from?
These are just a few concepts that will give you an idea of how complicated trying to following optimization rules can be.
This may sound crazy, but I don’t want you to worry about SEO too much. Instead, I want you to follow a few simple principles when it comes to creating content and maintain them forever. Once you get good at these few different aspects of SEO, you’ll do them without thinking. I don’t want you thinking about SEO all the time. I want you to worry about creating awesome, useful content instead.
Your article title should be catchy, include your Targeted Keyword, and be no more than 55 characters long. 55 characters is the ideal length for most search engines. If the article is about writing ideal article titles and my Targeted Keyword is “optimizing article titles,” I may use something like “5 Tips for Optimizing Article Titles for SEO.”
The URL Slug is the address of your webpage. You need to simplify your Article/Page Title for your URL Slug, but still include the subject of the article and your Targeted Keyword. If the title of the article is “How to Optimize Your URL Slug for SEO” (with the Targeted Keyword being “URL Slug”), then your slug will be something like: http://www.MarkdeGrasse.com/optimize-url-slug
Headers are an extremely important part of optimizing your webpages. Most webpage editors will feature some kind of dropdown option for specifying header tags. Your article will ideally feature 3-5 headers of varying levels. Each one should include your Targeted Keyword or a variation of the Targeted Keyword. If the article is, “How to Optimize Webpage Headers for SEO” with the Targeted Keyword being “optimize webpage headers,” I may include the following headers:
- 3 Essentials When Optimizing Webpage Headers
- Your Webpage Headers Must Be Interesting
- Webpage Headers Are the Key to Success
- Optimizing Webpage Headers Can Be Fun
TARGETED KEYWORD USE IN CONTENT
You need to use your Targeted Keyword throughout your articles, but you don’t want to overuse it. If you use the Targeted Keyword in inappropriate contexts or deliberately repeat the word/phrase in an annoying way, the search engines will dock your ranking and it could hurt your website overall. Try to include the Targeted Keyword at least once in each paragraph and don’t be afraid to use variations of it within the content itself.
Ideally, each article you produce will feature 3-5 pictures within the content. Each picture should be uniquely titled and feature an “alt” description that includes the Targeted Keyword or some variation of it. If you have a picture of someone
performing a kettlebell swing, your picture title could be “2-Hand Kettlebell Swing” and your “alt” description could be, “John Smith of Kettlebell Mega-Systems performs the 2-Hand Kettlebell Swing Exercise.”
If possible, you should always include a video related to the content in your article. Embedded videos should be optimized similar to pictures. Depending on your platform and skill set, you may be restricted from including too much in the way of a description, but you should at least be able to include a title for the video. Again, try to include the Targeted Keyword and a unique title for the video. For a demonstration video featuring the 2-Hand Kettlebell Swing, you may title it with something like “How to Properly Perform the 2-Hand Kettlebell Swing.”
While many search engines are claiming that they are no longer using Meta Keywords when finding and ranking your webpages, I’ve personally found that it still makes a difference. Include your Targeted Keyword (I suggest using only 1 or 2 Targeted Keywords) in the Meta Keyword field on your page.
Meta Descriptions should be 150 characters or less and should be able to entice people to click on your article all by themselves. This is what will show up under your link on search engine results. It should describe the most interesting aspect of your article and include your Targeted Keyword.