SEO for absolute beginners
What is SEO?
- Help Search Engines find you
- Help people find you on Search Engines
Why do SEO?
- Via referrals (someone or some program/application introduced the website to them)
- Via directories (YellowPages, WhitePages, LocalBusiness listing, etc...)
- Via search engines (they search for things related to your website and your website was listed in the result)
“ Sample search results on Google. Can you guess which page captures the most visitors?”
How to SEO?
- I collect as much information from you as possible (the services you offer, the certificates you claim you have etc).
- I collect information about you from other sources (people who know you, people who used your services etc). Obviously, I cannot treat these information sources the same, I will consider in the following order of importance:
- Authentic sources (Government, schools, ...)
- Influencers in the field you do (other already well-known doctors, hospitals, medical magazines, etc...)
- Random guys on the streets
- You played the role of a website.
- I played the role of a search engine.
- The question "My tooth hurts" that the customer asked me is the keyword for searching. Just like a human, search engines will be smart enough to guess the intention of the customer to display relevant results.
- The information I collected from you are contents, media etc on your website. If you have no information at all on your website then I may not know anything about you (from your source).
- Other information sources are other websites that link to your website
- If the other website is talking about related topics such as different types of tooth issues and link to you then it's a positive signal for search engines to rank you for the relevant terms in that topic.
- If the other site was talking about totally unrelated topics such as gambling then link to you as a dentist then search engines may consider it a potential spam flag or at least won't highly consider it in the ranking.
- If the other website was known to the search engines as a spammy site, then getting mentioned on that site will probably get you a negative sign.
“ Sample search results on Google for the keyword `My tooth hurts`. ”
- Tell me about you (as much as possible) and tell it in a way that is easy to understand and capture information -> this is called "on-page SEO" or "on-site SEO"
- Have other people tell me about you -> this is called "off-site SEO" or sometimes "backlink building"
“ In this example we see 2 different pages with 2 different addresses on the address bar. ”
Step 1 - Choosing keywords
- Keywords that are too competitive take longer and more resources to rank for (and may not be worth the effort)
- Keywords that do not generate sales/leads are not worth ranking for (i.e: #1 for "youngest dentist in town" may be nice but does not necessarily generate any sales)
Step 2 - Optimize your site content
- Optimize for the users: forget about the search engines, ensure your site is easy to access (fast, simple navigation, etc...) and useful for the visitors. Why? You may ask. Well, first of all, it's good for your visitors. Second, it's good for you visitors (remember the goal of search engines? They need to give the users what they look for so they will do their best to serve online useful results)
- Resourceful and relevant: if you are a good dentist but you do not tell anyone about it then how do people know about your services? You need to publish your previous works, your research articles, your recent achievements. If you want people who need help with the keyword "My tooth hurts" you need to have content on your website describing the symptoms and possible treatment course.
Note: Badly designed websites make it difficult for visitors to navigate the site and in turn will hurt your SEO ranking as well.
“ A sample of a terrible website layout. ”
“ Using images in your content makes it more interesting to read and encourages users to stay longer on your page. ”
Step 3 - Tell the world about your website
- You can pay: Obviously, the easiest way is to pay people to link back to you. While search engines do not allow paying for links in some cases, there are perfectly legitimate ways to do so. For example, to promote our Website design services I could go to Smashing Magazine to ask them to do a Sponsored Post for us. Depending on your industry, this is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get traffic both direct and in-direct.
- You can guest post: There are many websites such as medium.com that allow you to post your own content with links back to your site (certain restrictions will apply). You spend the time (and money) to write interesting pieces of articles to post on these websites in hope that people will go to your websites afterward.
- You can offer something useful: freebies, useful information may encourage people to talk about you and link back to you on their websites, blogs, social media posts,...etc. This is actually the best way (but also the most difficult) to generate backlinks to your website and is sometimes called "Merit Based Back Links".
- Provide useful resources on your website (written content is preferred but images and videos etc also help)
- Have other websites link to you (guest posts, merit links)
- Traffic: in SEO, traffic usually refers to the visitors coming to your website.
- Conversion rate: the percentage of website visitors who take the desired action.
- Backlinks: an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website.
- Merit links: incoming link from another web page genuinely earned by virtue of the usefulness of your web page.
- Complete SEO for beginners Guide from MOZ
- Learn SEO with smart internet marketing strategies: a good book to get your started with SEO
- Search quality evaluator guidelines from Google
- The ultimate content strategy for your website by Portent