SEO what? Part One
The following is an excerpt from SCORE Business TV’s episode on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The complete TV show is available at: https://manasota.score.org/resource/digital-marketing-seo-non-techies
Consumers are bombarded daily by digital marketing messages. Business owners are aware that digital marketing is essential to their growth and survival. This show explains digital marketing and the fundamentals of using SEO.
My expert guest was Nabil Freij. In 1996, Nabil started GlobalVision, a translation software localization service. Nabil’s a certified SCORE mentor and the author of Enabling Globalization. Nabil holds a BS in electrical engineering from Northeastern University, an MS from Brown University and an MBA from Bryant University.
Q: What is SEO?
A: Search engine optimization is modifying online content in order to present it in a better light, make it look more valuable in the eyes of search engines. Marketeers like to optimize their web content because it increases the probability that their content will show up on the first page of a Google search. By appearing on the first page of Google, they stand to receive 99% of organic traffic from Google to their website.
Q: How does a keyword strategy affect that process?
A: Keywords are extremely important in that process. I tell my SCORE clients, you have to make sure that the keywords become the DNA of your content. You have to build a list of the keywords that your defined target persona is using. If you have a unique selling proposition, and if you know who the target market is, you can come up with a list of these keywords. Once you have that list, then you either modify your content or enable your content with these keywords so you significantly increase your chances of being found online when people use these keywords in their searches.
Q: Please provide an example.
A: For smaller businesses, it’s very important to focus on what we call the “long-tail” of the keywords. This is basically three or more words that are used in one keyword. The popular keywords are typically one or two words. Popular keywords are much more frequently used online than long-tail keywords, so they drive a lot of traffic. However, they are very competitive. If you’re just getting started or you just built a website, it’s very hard for you to show up on the first page of Google using these popular keywords. It’s better to focus on long-tail keywords.
For example, let’s say a person wants to search about a small business online. If they enter ‘small business’ in a search engine, the first listing on the first page of Google is sba.gov. This is the Small Business Administration. It’s a multibillion dollar government organization. It’s got a very high authority domain, and it also has small business in its name, which helps quite a bit. In the United States, if you do that search, it should show up first. However, if you refine your search even more by searching for ‘small business mentoring,’ then the score.org website, which is our national organization’s website, will show up first on Google.
If the individual refines a search even further and searches for ‘small business mentoring in Sarasota,’ suddenly the manasota.score.org website will show up ranking first on Google. The more refined your search is, the longer the keywords are, the more likely that you’ll find the actual information that you’re looking for.
Your goal should be driving relevant and important visitors to your website, not just random traffic.
Q: What is on-page optimization?
A: On-page optimization is implementing commonly industry practices in order to make your content rank better on search engines. Identify the keywords on your website that you want to use. Utilize those keywords to create new pages around them. Your keywords have to exist in the title of the page. They have to be embedded in headers. They also need to appear in the body of the text. It helps to have them in the meta tags (this is code that is embedded in the HTML of the pages). There are tools that help you do that. You don’t really need to know how to write HTML or code.
For instance, meta description tags need to have the keyword in them. Also include the title tag and the image alt tag. If you follow all the standard practices, you have enabled your content so that it is better ranked on Google. That’s what’s called on-page optimization.
Q: What about off-page optimization?
A: Off-page is the opposite side of the coin. Here, you influence content that you don’t really have control over. It’s content that belongs to somebody else. This is extremely important.
Q: How are pages ranked?
A: In the early and mid-90s, when the early search engines emerged, the way they ranked pages is by looking at the meta data. The meta descriptions that are embedded in a code that the content provider created. Google entered the picture in the late 90s, and they turned the industry upside down. They said, “We’re not just going to go with the way you promote your own content. We’re going to look at how others promote your content or refer to it.” Like scientific journals, you identify the journals with the highest authority, the ones that receive the most citations. Google said, “We’re going to look at how many websites are citing your website. The higher the authority websites are that cite your website, the higher authority your website becomes.” Citations online are actually back links.
Q: What can be done to raise the authority of your website using back links?
A: You should aggressively pursue building back links. That’s how you elevate the authority of your website. As you elevate your website’s authority, it’s like a rising tide. It will raise the authority of all your webpages.
Part two next week will explain more about how the rising tide of Google lifts all your web pages.
Dennis Zink is a volunteer, certified mentor and chapter chairman of SCORE Manasota. He is the creator and host of “Been There, Done That! with Dennis Zink,” a nationally syndicated business podcast series and SCORE Business TV (centreofinfluence.org). He facilitates CEO roundtables for the Manatee and Venice chambers of commerce, created a MeetUp group, Success Strategies for Business Owners, and is a business consultant. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.