The Basics of SEO – Lesson 1
What’s The Difference Between On Page SEO and Off Page SEO?
OK, lets get the definition out of the way first (as we are covering the basics today) SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, it is the practise of optimizing your website in various ways to get a higher placement in search results for terms related to the topic of your site.
For example: Your site may be at number 15 in Google for the keyword (or key-phrase) “French Polisher in Kingston”, you would ‘do’ some SEO in order to move it up to a better place (the ultimate target being position 1) in Google for the same phrase.
Search engines use what is known as an algorithm to compare every site on the Internet. A software program known as a spider, crawler, bot or google bot visits each website to assess the content on the pages. It uses this information along with other factors to compare and rank similar sites so that the search engine can provide the most relevant results for a user for any given search term.
There are two main elements to SEO, On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO...
On Page SEO is the way you optimize the words on the pages of your website and the way you label your site with titles and descriptions to give the search engines a better understanding of what your site is about.
Off Page SEO is what you do on the rest of the Internet to promote your site to make it look important in the search engines (many) spider eyes, which is mainly achieved by having other sites linking back (aka a back-link) to your site (a sign to the search engines that others respect your content).
On Page SEO
The Content On Your Website
So as I’ve just mentioned, on page seo involves the words on your site, so we need to make sure there are actually some words on your site for a start. Now i realise that appear to be an obvious thing, but if for example you have say a giant flash animation movie, a big picture or any kind of ‘carry on to the full site’ forwarding link as your homepage then I’m afraid your homepage, in the eyes of the search engine spider… has no words on it.
You must ensure that your homepage contains some content that specifically talks about what your site is about. You don’t have to waffle on but it needs to some fairly meaty content. A 500-1000 word article talking about your company or service would be fine, just be sure to actually use the words you want to be found for in the content.
If you are a gardener and landscaper be sure to mention the words gardener and landscaper, but don’t just go and cram the page with your target key-phrase all over the place, it must be natural or the whole exercise will backfire badly when either:
A. The Google bot thinks its un-natural, it must be a spam site and penalises you for keyword stuffing.
B. A potential customer finds your site, sees that you keep repeating yourself and labels you a moron.
Titles and Description
This is the other important factor in On Page SEO, the title an description (referred to sometimes as meta title and meta description) is the title and snippet of content that is usually displayed in the search listings for a website. Sometimes when the title and description has been left blank or is of low relevance the search engines will display a snippet from any part of the content that it sees as the most relevant part of the page for the search term.
Its important to get these Meta Titles and Descriptions right, mainly because the search engines use the information in these areas to understand what your site is about and its best if you have some control over that. But just as importantly they are your chance to entice a searcher to click through to your content, its your headline and hook.
Example: For the Mario’s Pizzeria website a bad homepage title would be something like: mariospizza
A good title would be something like: Mario’s Pizza | Delicious Fresh Pizza | Free Delivery
Which catches your eye the most?
The same applies for the description, except you have about the size of this sentence to entice searchers yet be descriptive enough for search engines.
You can see how the search engine is displaying your site to searchers by typing in the full URL of the page into the search box. Eg: http://www.digitalmarketinghq.com
Off page SEO
Links / Link Building / Back-linking
This is the process of getting links (aka hyperlinks) from other websites back to your site, this can either be in the form of a website owner or webmaster discovering your content, thinking it interesting or relevant to his or her audience and therefore linking to it. Or it can simply be done by entering your web address when you fill out profiles on other sites, forum profiles or your Twitter bio for example.
The search engines see links going to your site as votes for your content, the better the content the more people will share it by linking to it. In this system however not all votes are counted equally, a link from a high authority website surrounded by some relevant content is worth much more in ‘link juice’ than say 100 forum profile links. It takes some intelligence to build valuable links back to your site which will be much more productive in the long run than spending all day registering at forums.
Links can also be built up by social bookmarking your pages on services such as Digg or StumbleUpon, submitting your site to web directories, listing your advert on classified sites, writing guest articles for other websites and by posting links on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and G+. (But at the time of writing only the Bing search engine is privy to the data from Facebook, not Google).
You can also leave a link back to your website by commenting on blog posts – such as this one :). Just make sure you add some value to the readers and keep the comment relevant to the blog post in some way, spammy comments get deleted more often than not and are therefore a waste of everyone’s time.
1. Take a look at your Title and Description as its displayed in search listings, can you improve on them? Could they be better worded? Or more eye catching?
2. Make a point to leave a link to your site wherever you can whilst surfing the Internet. Many sites you register any kind of profile with have a section to list your website link, you can also insert a titled link into some websites Bio or profile box by using the following code:
(Replace the italics with your details, the link will then display like this, Digital Marketing HQ)
3. Leave a comment below this post if you have anything to add to the topic or any questions about the basics of SEO, don’t forget to fill in the ‘your website’ section of the form.