Fundamentals to Understanding SEO

If you remember when the training wheels were on your bike, the thought of riding without them was daunting and scary. Once your parents took off the wheels and you learned the required skills of balancing, steering, pedaling and braking, riding a bike seemed so simple and easy to understand.

The same is true for SEO. If you don’t understand the basic foundation, it will seem like a foreign language. My job is to take off the training wheels for you so you can steer your way in the right direction with your SEO strategy.

1. On-site SEO

If you were to build a house and the foundation was in terrible condition, you’d have a lot of issues, regardless of how nice you decorated the interior. The same is true for SEO. You need to have a great foundation on your website, which consists of the following:

  • Unique text content
  • Internal link architecture
  • Bot accessibility
  • Sitemaps
  • URL structure
  • Server response codes

Don’t be intimidated by these tech-sounding terms. If you contact a website developer, within two to three hours, he or she should be able to do an audit of your site to make sure the foundation is solid.

Tip: I highly recommend taking this route. Oftentimes, our agency identifies an issue with the foundation of a client’s site, which holds the company back from its true potential in ranking well on Google. Having an audit done will ensure your foundation is rock solid from the beginning.

2. Unique website content

Duplicative or unnecessary website content can also hold you back from your true ranking potential. I can’t tell you how many businesses we’ve worked with or consulted for that have duplicate content on their site or a messed up URL structure.

Below are several examples.

  • City level pages: A business will try and rank for all suburbs around a city or all cities in the state by having a similar page for each one. By doing this, Google can detect that this is manipulative and oftentimes duplicative content, which can impact your ranking in a negative way.
  • Unnecessary pages: We’ll often see service pages broken down into sub-service pages, which isn’t always a good thing. For example, how many people are really looking for a display remarketing company in Columbus, Ohio? We have a page for online advertising, where we mention our focus on display retargeting, but we don’t need an entire page for this.

3. Title tags

I just did an SEO consult with a business owner who was debating between the services he wanted to rank for on the homepage. I asked the simple question, “What is the revenue breakdown between service A vs. service B?” Once I figured out that service A drove more revenue and was also expected to be the service that would continue to drive more revenue, I told him the main focus should be on service A, since that pays the bills.

The title tag on your homepage is one of the most important components on your website. Choose wisely based off of actual business metrics when deciding what to include in the title tag.

4. Quality backlinks

Backlinks are the foundation to Google’s algorithm. Once you have a good site structure in place, you need to focus on acquiring backlinks. A backlink is simply a hyperlink that points back to your site. You need to focus on quality over quantity.

There is a metric called domain authority that will provide you with a score on a scale of 100. You can find out your domain authority by using Moz’s tool; you can also compare your site to your competitors’ sites. How your domain authority stacks up to your competitors is one of the best indicators in the SEO world to determine where your site will rank on Google.

Tip: To acquire more quality backlinks, sign-up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). You’ll get daily pitches from media outlets in your inbox and can respond on behalf of your company.

5. Digital PR

HARO is just one way to acquire authoritative links. If you want to really succeed, you need others sites to mention your site on a consistent basis, which will help you generate more backlinks. This can be accomplished by taking the following steps:

  • Reach out to industry-specific reporters to let them know you’d be available for expert quotes pertaining to your industry.
  • Reach out to industry-related websites and offer to share your expertise by contributing a guest blog post.
  • Reach out to partners, vendors, clients or customers to ask them to list you on the “partners” page of their sites.
  • Reach out to clients or customers offering to provide a testimonial on their site, which will also include a link back to your site.
  • Reach out to city-related magazines and publications to provide insight on your local market.