Basics of SEO – August 5th, 2014
This free SEO webinar was presented by Attracta on August 5th, 2014.
Joe: Hi, and thanks for joining us for today’s webinar on the basics of SEO. That’s what we’re going to cover today, the basic principles of SEO on-page content, link building, a little bit of keyword research. My name’s Joe Knipp. Today I have with me Greg Webb.
Greg: Hey guys, my name is Greg. I’m part of an SEO team that has successfully ranked over 10,000 websites in the last few years, so I have some good nuggets of information to share with you all today.
Joe: Again, we’re going to cover some keyword research, what elements of your own page content matter, and then Greg’s going to give you a rundown on good link building strategies.
What is SEO? SEO is the process of improving a website, so that it will appear in the organic results of search engines. Now, when I say the organic results of search engines, let me give you an idea of what I’m talking about here.
Up here, in this area as well as this, all this column down here, these are paid ads. That’s PPC. You’re paying for ever click that someone gives you there, and it’s based on a bidding system. Whatever people, however much competition there is for the specific keywords that you’re triggering your ad to show for, that’s going to determine how much you’re actually paying per click. Things like lawyer get as much as $75 per click to get to your page, so PPC can get pretty expensive.
What we’re talking about is these organic results right here. These you don’t pay for. You just have to kind of earn them through authority of your site, just having all the right things in place. That’s what we’re going to try to help you out with here a little bit today. Also, so you’ll see some local results, Greg’s going to give you some rundown on that.
Greg: Yes, so as you guys are probably aware, there are certain keywords that trigger what we like to call local results. Another term for that is just the Google map results, the Google local pages that you receive on some search queries, whereas other ones do not trigger these certain local results. If you type in a certain keyword like bike shop and then the city name, even if you just typed in bike shop, I’m pretty sure that’s a localized query. That’s going to give you the rundown of the people in your area that provide that service or sell that product, wherever they’re ranking for.
It’s going to list those businesses in order of importance. Google is going to obviously provide you with results based upon what they think is going to be the most beneficial to you. If you type in a bike shop, it’s going to give you the most trusted bike shop with the most reviews first. This bike shop also has lots of what we call directory citations, which is higher able to rank your website on Google local maps and the local pages.
Another term that we like to use for this area at the top is just called the Google Seven Pack because it’s actually seven different listings that show up. You can just experiment with a few keywords of your own. If you just type in coffee, for instance, coffee is going to be a localized keyword. Instead of giving you national brands of coffee beans, it’s going to tell you where’s the local Starbucks there. Where is the local … Wherever your local coffee shop is, and it’s going to list those in order of importance.
The way that Google treats local results is different from the results that you’re going to get on just the regular organic search engine results pages. This requires just a little bit different SEO strategy. Like I said, there’s some things that Google likes to take into consideration that are called directory citations just instead of regular backlinks. We have a really good idea as to what it takes to rank a site globally, and it’s actually pretty cut and dry. It’s pretty easy to trust your ranked sites these days.
Joe: All right, so when you start any SEO campaign, the absolute first step is keyword research. What are people searching to find my type of business or services? That should be your main question you’re asking yourself. Again, if I’m a bike shop in St. Pete, I need it to be very clear on my website, in the right areas of my website’s code, that I am in fact a bike shop, and I exist in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Google does provide a keyword, what they call keyword planner, Google’s keyword planner. This will let you do different things. You can … If you have your own keywords in mind, you can type them in. It will show you the average monthly searches for those keywords, and it will give you a basic idea of the competition level for those keywords. Now the competition level is in PPC, not so much for the organic results, but there is a little bit of a correlation there. It gives you a little bit of a guideline.
Greg: Yeah, the whole idea that Joe is trying to get across is that it’s important to choose keywords that get a high number of monthly searches, but they don’t give you way too many results. Because if you’re going after keywords that are way too competitive, obviously, it’s going to take more time, take more money, take more SEO strategy in order to rank highly for those keywords.
I like to believe that there are still good keywords out there in every possible niche, whether you’re in weight-loss or make money online. Those are the two most popular niches out there. There are still good keywords that you can find. It’s just going to take a lot of time and take some really good critical thinking in order to identify those keywords. Then you can tailor a campaign to help you rank them. The keyword research part is extremely important. Don’t neglect to do a thorough job here because if you choose good keywords, it’s just going to make this, your SEO, way easier than going after these impossible rankings.
Joe: Once you’ve completed your keyword research, once you’ve determined what keywords you’re going to target, it gets down to the on-page of SEO. This is just making sure in the right areas of your site codes you’re incorporating your keywords. Now, it’s important when you’re incorporating keywords, you can’t just keyword stuff. You can’t just write bike shop, bicycle shop, different variations of your keywords. It has to read naturally.
Google’s taken a lot of steps to make sure that people that are just stuffing their content with keywords are not appearing in the search result. Google’s, the entire purpose of what Google is trying to do is to return the most authoritative, relevant sites for the search query. In that process, it started filtering out sites that are just trying to do SEO. They are not actually trying to provide their user with any valuable information. They are just trying to get their website ranked. They are trying to filter those results out, so you’ve got to make sure you’re providing useful, solid information to your users.
Greg: Yes, so not only solid information that they can use, but have more than just simple text content. What do people like to see? People are really big into watching videos these days, so having some really interactive media on your site is a great idea. It’s just going to make things way more easier than if you have a few different YouTube videos of examples of whatever you’re promoting. You have some good pictures. You have some other rich content that people can engage with.
Google is going to reward your website a lot better than a site that doesn’t take the user into consideration, so websites that Google does not like are websites that are just chocked full of ads, way too spammy looking. Too many ads above the fold when you go to the website is a huge red flag. Keyword stuffing, having your keyword in your content way too many times is another red flag. It’s just a really good idea to not really focus so much on turning a buck from your website but actually trying to, like Joe said, provide really user-friendly content that people can identify with and engage with.
Joe: Real quick, I’m going to break down some different elements on a couple of different webpages, kind of show you good and bad SEO that we see on some pages.
At the very top here, this section right up here that I’ve just covered up with my yellow line. That is the page title. That is … It’s not shown anywhere on the page except for at the top of the browser or at the top of a tab, but when the website is returned in a search query, it’s the page title that is the actual blue link that is pointing to your page.
You’ll also notice, if you’ve ever googled anything, the words that you’ve actually typed in search are returned in bold. That’s why it’s so key to have your page title have some keyword rich content in it. This particular website, they do lake management, so his page title starts off with lake management. That’s good, solid keyword value in that.
Then there’s also heading tags. Heading tags are another key area to have good keyword value in it here. Again, he’s got his lake management here in his heading tag. Any larger, emphasized text is probably either a heading tag or any kind of emphasis on text, Google reads that when they go through your page’s code. They’ll see that, okay, this text is emphasized. There’s a reason for this text here. This website believes this is important. You always want to make sure you have, again, some good keyword value in that.
Here’s some bad SEO on this page. You’ll see here on these … These are also heading tags: our approach, our methods, our customer care. There’s no real key value. Nobody’s going to type in our approach to find this business. What you want to have there, again, lake management, pond management, something keyword value in there.
Greg: Yeah, or just explain a little bit better what you’re approach is. If I were to edit this website, I’d make it say our approach to lake management; our methods for keeping lakes clean, smart, and effective. Using good keywords in these headers is really key to Google picking up this page for the keywords that it’s trying to rank for.
Joe: Then here’s another example. This one’s a little blurry. I hope you can see it. At the top of this, his page title right up there, it’s just his name, Charles Stark. Again, unless somebody knows who this lawyer is and is looking specifically for him, he doesn’t have a lot of search value there. This is an attorney’s website. He does corporate and business law. It should probably say Corporate Attorney, Charles Stark, or Business Attorney, Charles Stark.
Now down here where we saw on the last website where it said our mission, our approach, and stuff like that, this guy’s got a similar thing here, but he’s actually got keyword value. He’s got corporate business law, estate planning, and tax law. These are things that people might actually search if they are looking for to find this guy’s service. That’s an example of better heading tags to a site.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely, and this guy’s site isn’t too bad at all. He’s got his contact information right here on the home page; name, address, phone number, email address. People can find him if they are looking for him real easily. You’re not being smothered in advertising. You’re not being hit over the head with pop-ups and ads. It’s very clean and to the point. Although he can improve on his page title, his site isn’t really in too bad of shape overall.
Joe: That goes into a little bit of the onsite SEO. An analogy we hear a lot is SEO is like an election. In order to win, you have to dress the candidate. That’s what we just went over, the onsite areas. The areas of your page’s code that you want to make sure has some good keyword value while still providing useful information.
The other side of it is offsite. It’s building links to your site. Links can sort of be thought of as votes for your website in search results. The more links that you have, the more popular search engines believe your site is. Greg’s going to give you a good breakdown on link building.
Greg: Yes, so first, what is link building? Let’s just go over that. Link building is basically the process of getting links from authority websites. It signals to Google that your website is also trustworthy and of a high caliber. I like to use the example if you get a link from the Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, or something. There’s an article, and they link out to your website from that article. That’s going to be a really, really good link because the Wall Street Journal or Huffington Post is a high authority website. They have a lot of … A huge reader list, a huge amount of people go to these sites daily.
Google trusts these websites. If you are tying your website in with theirs, it’s like a handshake to your, to websites. Google is going to pump you up on whatever the search ratings are for that keyword. This is the kind of thing that you’re not always going to be able to get out, get these links on your own. You’re not going to be able to really contact the Huffington Post and get a link that goes to your website. Unless you really are doing something cutting edge that people really care about, chances are that it’s not going to happen.
What are you going to do in this case? You’re going to have to build links artificially. You’re going to have to build links manually on your own. You’re going to have to hire companies to build these links for you, but this is the kind of thing that should be done on a regular basis, no matter where you’re getting your links from. You definitely need to pay attention to your keywords because that’s how you’re able to rank your keywords.
In addition to working them into your onsite, if you’re trying to rank for business and corporate law, not only do you want that on your website, but you should be building links for business and corporate law. Being there’s an actual hyperlink on whatever the article is for that keyword. You click on that keyword, and it takes you to your website. Those are … that’s basically what I’m talking about when I’m mentioning keyword optimization. That’s the content that you’re looking for.
There’s so many places to get links these days, but it’s really important to pay attention to quality over quantity. Sure, you can get a lot of links. It might even be a good thing, but you don’t want to focus on the really cheap, high-volume, spammy links. Because although you could go to a website like Fiverr and get 10,000 of these with $5, it’s not a really good value. You’re just going to be potentially over-optimizing your site with way too many of these links.
That’s pretty much your main enemy when you’re link building, is avoiding over-optimization, keeping Google off your back. If Google notices that you’re trying to rank for a business in corporate law and every single link goes to your website for that keyword, that’s another huge red flag. Because it looks like you’re trying to manipulate the search, and you’re trying to pull a fast one on Google.
They don’t like to lose money, and they don’t like to have anybody trick them by building links for too many keywords. What are they going to do in this case? They’re going to hit you with an over-optimization penalty. You’ll have to remove all of your links and start over from scratch. The best way to avoid happening, from happening, is to stay out of trouble and avoid over-optimization.
How do you avoid over-optimization? There’s a few different ways you could do it. Here is a tool that we use quite frequent for here. It’s called Ahrefs.com. I believe it is free to make an account for just very basic use of the website, but if you want to do any advance keywords … Sorry, if you want to do any advanced features and really get pretty deep into the system, then you’re going to have to pay a monthly fee. I apologize also that it, this is also very difficult to read. We’ll try and think of a better way to clear this up next time so that you guys can actually read these websites that we are sharing.
Basically what you’re going to Ahrefs for is to just get a number of backlinks for your website. You can type in whatever your website name is, your domain name is. You hit search links. This system is going to tell you how many links are going to your site. You may only have 40 or you may have 4,000 or four million links. Chances are your competitors have a lot of links, so this is also a good tool if you want to use for competitive analysis or reverse engineering your competitor’s websites. If you want to know exactly where they’re getting their links from, you can come into Ahrefs and get a breakdown of that.
Let me just give … I’ll just wrap up my point of over-optimization, and then I’ll pass it back over to Joe. The thing that is really helpful about Ahrefs is not only does it tell you how many links are going to your website, but it actually gives you a breakdown of which keywords are being optimized. Here we just put in a St. Petersburg bike shop, and here are some of the keywords that are pretty powerful.
It says St. Pete bicycle and fitness. That looks like a keyword that they’re ranking here. Most of the links are actually going towards the link as keywords. St. Pete bicycles is another one. Any keys that are related to a bike shop, renting bikes, buying bikes, anything like that, those are the kind of keywords that these guys are targeting. You can see a full breakdown of this in the Ahrefs backend. Definitely a great tool to use. If you can get a paid account, definitely go for that because you will find yourself using this quite a bit. Ahrefs is going to be your best friend.
Joe: Yeah, all right. That’s kind of it for our basics of SEO webinar. If all of this is too much for you, we do have a managed SEO plan that starts at $149 a month. We’ll do the keyword research for you or with you. We’ll help get your website set up, properly optimized for your keywords. Then we’ll build links for your website month over month and help your rankings improve.
Also, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, just keep an eye out. We’ll be doing more webinars. It’ll get a little bit more in depth with this, so at attracta.com, look at the webinars page and see when the more advanced webinars are happening, and we’ll give you more information on this.
Greg: Just to recap, really quickly, let’s just kind of go over the highlights that we talked about today. Before you start any SEO campaign, the first thing that you’re going to do is keyword researching, identifying the keywords that you want to target. Then you can tailor either your content for your onsite or tailor your backlinks towards ranking those keywords.
If you’re working on local SEO, ranking in maps, that’s going to require a slightly different SEO approach. Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s ranking organically on the search or ranking on Google maps or whatever it is, we can definitely assist you with that. Don’t be shy and reach out to us if you guys can.
We’re just going to take a break now and answer any questions that you guys have. I know that we kind of give you a very basic overview of the things that you should be looking for when you’re doing your SEO. If you guys have any real-life examples that you want to throw at us, or any more in depth questions that we didn’t really scratch today, feel free to just drop that in chat, and we’ll take those one by one. Go ahead and send them over. We’ll wait for a few minutes while you guys get them together, and then we’re going to wrap things up.
Greg: Okay, so we have a question here from Scott Nelson. What site building program do you recommend? That’s a great question. There’s a ton of different … You can just hardcode your website, or there’s all sorts of things that are called CMS. It’s content management systems. For me, personally, I’m a huge fan of WordPress. It’s free. There’s a ton of themes. It manages your content great, and there’s a huge community of users that contribute to this with free plugins and stuff like that.
There’s all sorts of SEO plugins that let you optimize your site titles. They’ll even kind of review your content and tell you, are your keywords in your content notes and stuff like that. There’s a plugin, if you do get into WordPress, there’s a plugin called Yoast SEO. Sorry, Scott, that was WordPress. Just WordPress.com, that’ll show you. It’s just a content management system. There’s a ton of different themes for it, so you can kind of almost out of the box have something that’s right along the lines of whatever theme you’re looking for, whatever color scheme layout and stuff like that. Then you’ve just got to put your own content in there.
It’s really hard to beat that. There’s some other ones. There’s Joomla and Magento, they’re a little bit more complicated. WordPress has just such a knowledgebase in it that you can dig into. If you’ve never used it before, you can spend a little bit of time and actually get up to speed on it pretty good. Good question, Scott. Anything else?
Here’s a great question from Barbara. She says, “Does link building mean I have …” Sorry. Does link building mean links I have on my website or links others have on their sites that link to me? That’s a great question, Barbara.
We’re specifically talking about links that are on other websites that link out to you. Now, you can certainly have links on your website that go out to other high authority websites. If you talk a lot about day-trading or something on your website, you link out to NASDAQ or something, authority on stock markets. Having outbound links from your website to other authority websites, the technical term that we use for that is called co-citations. It’s a good idea to have a few of these links, but too many co-citations can actually hurt you.
What we were talking about today is just the fundamentals of link building. Meaning if I have a website, and Joe wants a link. Joe wants a link that goes to his website on basket weaving, I just actually happen to have a basket weaving website, too. I’m going to link up to Joe’s website, and he’s going to get a nice little boost for whatever that keyword is.
That’s what we mean by link building. It’s the kind of thing that definitely needs to be performed on an ongoing basis. Chances are your competitors are building loads and loads of links. You can see those quite easily just by putting your websites into Ahrefs. Whatever you decide to use for your link building
program should be done on an ongoing basis.
The term that Google likes to use for that is called link velocity. If you have ten links that go to your website this month, and you have two months of no links, that’s not good. If you have three months in a row where you get ten links every month or 30 links every month, that’s definitely going to … It’s going to portray really healthy link velocity, and Google, they’re going to reward you. Definitely don’t sleep on the link building. Attracta can help with that, but if you have any other advanced questions on where to get high quality links, feel free to drop us a line. We have a few other good tools that you guys can use.
Scott’s got another question. How important are likes and such for websites on Facebook and Twitter, etc.? This is becoming more and more important. I couldn’t give you a percentage of how important that is, but having your Facebook and having your Twitter integrated into your website, that you’re active on social, yeah, is an excellent sign to Google that you’re an active website.
That’s another part of the search result. Google wants to … They don’t want just static content all the time. If the website hasn’t been updated in five or six years, it’s much less likely to perform in search engines. That’s where you can really leverage social media, by putting out posts, tweets, and all that stuff. It can show that you’re active. You’re still providing information to your users through these different outlets. A good social media strategy is really good on several levels. It’ll be good for your SEO. It’s also just good to constantly connect with your users, remind them that you’re out there, that sort of thing.
Here’s another good idea. We didn’t talk about this at all today, but actually having a blog on your website or on its own, some web address that links up to your main website is a great idea. An example of that is if you are a web marketing agency, it’s good to have a blog that talks about current best practices for ranking websites in Google and keeping websites healthy and safe, and that sort of thing.
Again, just putting the focus on providing high quality content to your users is the most important thing that you guys can do these days. Content is king whether you’re optimizing your Facebook page to be the best that it can be and actually engage with users on Facebook. If you’re just working on making your blog have the most intelligently written articles that you can possibly make, content is king, regardless. Definitely doing that will help.
Joe: A little bit of a follow-up to that. One thing always, again, keep in mind your keyword strategy on your blog posts. We’ll go back to the bike shop analogy. If I’m a bike shop, and I’m writing about a recent repair that I did, keep your keywords in mind. If bike parts is my keyword I’m focusing on on there, maybe the title of the article is best bike parts for repair, something like that. Then within your own … Within the article, if you use the words bike parts, use that as your anchor text to link to if you have a parts page on your site.
Good link structure within your own content to your own, some more content on your own site, is also very valuable as far as Google’s concerned. They want users to be able to access information easily. When you have a good structure that way, it shows them that you’re a good strong, solid site that way.
I think that’s about it. We’re going to wrap it up here. Thanks for joining us today. If you got any more questions, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re interested in our Managed SEO program, just go to the website. You can sign up through the web for it. Thanks for joining us.
Greg: Take care, guys. Have a great one.