Let's try this again :)
Last week I promised a blog entry on whether you, as a website owner, can do SEO for your site, by yourself. After thinking on this topic a lot this week, I decided to break this into a 2 part series. Reason being - most of the people who need SEO help the most, have never even heard the term, never mind applied it to their website.
My definition of SEO (search engine optimization) is this:
- Making sure the search engines can access and index your entire site
- Helping the search engines figure out what your site is really about, and
- Figuring out what people are actually searching for, so you can provide content that people are actually looking for.
You can have the most beautiful, user-friendly website, and still rank poorly in the search engines. SEO helps drive targeted, qualified traffic to your website. One way to think about it is that
- Good web design is primarily for your site visitors, and
- Good search engine optimization is primarily for the search engines.
Of course, there is a lot of overlap, and if you find a web designer who creates SEO-friendly sites, you've got it made in the shade ;) But, this is sometimes a helpful way to think about SEO.
Fundamentals of SEO
When I'm thinking of adding new content to my site, I always start with some good keyword research. By figuring out what people are actually searching for, I can provide content that is filling a need, and this will help to ensure that I will actually get visitors to that page.
The chart above is from Google's free keyword tool. Let's say I want to put up an article on teething. I plug 'teething' into the tool, and it spits out related keywords/key terms. As you can see above, the term 'teething symptoms' is searched for approximately 8,100 each month.
The little blue bar in the far left hand column indicates how much competition there is for that term. A fully white bar indicates no competition, and a fully blue bar indicates extremely high competition. In the case of 'teething symptoms', there is little competition, so this term will likely be easier to rank for (*the competition represents the number of advertisers bidding on these terms in AdWords. While not a direct representation of how many websites are targeting the term, the numbers do tend to correlate somewhat. i.e. High Adwords competition usually = High SEO competition).
From this point, I can take that keyword/key term, and using other keyword tools, confirm that it is frequently searched for and not highly competitive. Additionally, I can do a Google search for the term, and analyze what my competitors are doing to rank well for the term. Then all I have to do is figure how what's helping them rank so highly for that term, and employ those techniques, only better (see, isn't that easy? ;)) Now I can focus a page on the term teething symptoms, and voila!
So, next week, 'Can YOU do your own SEO on your site?'