SEO Doesn't Have to Be Rocket Science

Rachel Strella
Rachel Strella Owner, Strella Social Media

Posted on April 8th 2013

SEO Doesn't Have to Be Rocket Science

ImageI recently read one of the most explanatory articles on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to-date. The blog, written by a guest author via Windmill Networking, broke down several complex SEO components in a way the average person can actually understand.

There are many companies that continue trying to “scheme” Google, despite its ultra-complex, algorithmic code implemented last August.  While there is merit to having SEO as part of an online marketing plan, it doesn’t have to involve paying a search expert $500 to $1,000 month.  In fact, there are two simple rules that will ultimately help you boost your SEO rank: be consistent and be patient.

Of course, you’ll need to get some basics down first in order to lay the foundation for your online presence, but consistency and longevity pay big dividends in the long run. Everyone has different expectations and competition levels for search, but if I had to give you a simple formula for SEO, it would look like this:

-          Utilize a paid Wordpress site as your content management system.  You’ll own the website content, which gives you greater control in optimizing the content for SEO. My interview with internet marketing specialist, John Webster, offers more information on this step.

-          Set up your social media profiles properly.  When setting up accounts, make sure the public profiles are keyword-laden and that your website and social profile keywords align. Also be sure to include the little extras to help Google index your content, such as including the “http://” before your website in profiles such as your Facebook fan page.

-          Use social media regularly.  Consistent activity on social media is crucial for two reason reasons. First, social sites rank on Google – the more active you are on social sites, the more social capital you build on Google. Second, social is now a big component to search, primarily as others share your content.  Be sure to include social share buttons on your blog and encourage sharing from your community.

-          Be consistent. This is the most difficult step for many, yet the most important.  Make a plan to keep your social media active just as you would make a plan to pay your bills. Specifically, I recommend blogging at least every 14 days and daily use of your core social media channels.   

-          Remember keywords.  Write content that’s keyword-rich (but be sure not to ‘keyword-stuff’) and pay attention to headlines. One tidbit I’ve learned in the past few weeks is to incorporate the most prominent keywords in the first five words of your blog headline.

-          Write content for the audience. While keywords are important, it’s equally – if not more – important to write value-added content that will enrich the lives of your audience.  This will help in attracting new followers, maintaining the loyalty of your current community, and increasing shares via social media.

-          Share content. Submit content to syndication sites and write guest blog for others. This will help drive traffic to your site from external sites, which is a big piece of the search puzzle.

-          Be patient and keep it at. It’s not easy to continue with something that doesn’t have an immediate pay off, but the payoff is sweeter at the end.  Social media – and search – are like exercise – you have to continue to work it consistently in order to see the results.

Despite great intentions, I often see two common scenarios with businesses when it comes to SEO and social media.  The first involves those who charge full-steam ahead, but soon deviate from efforts once life gets in the way.  The second involves a business that wants immediate results and becomes inpatient after a few months – or even a few weeks.  In the SEO game, slow and steady wins the race.  Commitment for the long-haul is essential.

image: seo/shutterstock

Rachel Strella

Rachel Strella

Owner, Strella Social Media

Rachel Strella is the owner of Strella Social Media, a company specializing in social media management.

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Comments

Richard Masters
Posted on April 9th 2013 at 8:06AM

Hi Rachel

I think yor article is spot on. I expect you will get tirades of derision from people who's vested interest it is to make SEO seem complex so that can make a living from selling it to businesses who are fearful of missing out!

I have noticed a trend towards SEO's now describing themselves as marketers rther than SEO experts. Is this indicative? I wonder.

One issue i have beem musing on is the question of the ongoing relavence of keyword research as we have always done it. We look at keywords as expressing some pur form of demand- what prople are actually looking for when they search. This makes sense. However if we write content aimed at answering peoples concerns and adressing thier pain points- are we not doing the exactly same thing twice?

If we write great and reavnet content in all its forms does this largely just duplicate keyword analysis? Or have i got it horribly wrong and am missing something?

richard@rjmasters.co.uk

Rachel Strella
Posted on April 10th 2013 at 12:02AM

Richard,

Forgive me for the late response. 

You're right - I do get tirades of derision from people whose vested interest it is to make SEO seem complex. It's the same with social media. All of this stuff is simple if you have strong, realistic goals and a level of commitment.

SEO 'experts' are becoming obsolete and rightly so. You simply can't game the system anymore.

Your point about keyword search hit the nail on the head. I think the big difference - and something I’ve experienced myself - is that we tend to be one of the other. For example, I can write great content that helps my readers, but if I don't have a strong headline, it might not be found in search. On the other hand, (and I see this with a lot of SEO folks), I can write a compelling headline - something the audience is searching for - and the content is regurgitated crap.

Thanks for reading and chiming in with thought-provoking analysis!

Rachel

Kyla Becker
Posted on April 24th 2013 at 6:04PM

"Set up your social media profiles properly.  When setting up accounts, make sure the public profiles are keyword-laden and that your website and social profile keywords align. Also be sure to include the little extras to help Google index your content, such as including the “http://” before your website in profiles such as your Facebook fan page."

Recommending that social profiles be "keyword-laden" is a dangerous in my opinion, just because of your choice of words. "Laden" by definition is to be heavy or "weighed down" which is exactly what you DON'T want to do with your social profile, your web pages or any other online content you are trying to get Google to crawl and index. You make it a point to mention avoidance of "keyword stuffing" when it comes to blog content, but I feel it is just as important to note that the same should be avoided in all areas of online content - to form good habit at the least.

As far as the "little extras" go, I find recommending the addition of "http://" to URLs in profiles to be a potential cause of extraneous work. If someone were to take the statement to literally mean that the addition will help Google index the linked page, and thus attempts to go back and add this to all URLs in a profile, it would be time poorly spent in my opinion. HTTP is assumed in today's web world and it's specification is not absolutely necessary. I think the only instance in which you would need to specify the protocol is if the linked page is secured (HTTPS).

It's reasons like this that I find SEO experts to still be relevant today. Unclear direction and misunderstandings of what is "appropriate" optimization can lead users down a road of extraneous work that has little return on the effort invested, where as an expert could help you avoid many of these obstacles and provide you with a clear and concise path to avoid penalty and low quality signals while maximize on your efforts. I don't find it to have anything to do with fear mongering in regards to search engine penalties. White Hat SEO has never been about gaming the system, but understanding the needs of search engines in terms of visibility/crawl-ability and relevancy. You are right, it doesn't have to be rocket science, but things can get confusing and convoluted for some and having an expert to help navigate can be beneficial to many. Suggesting that it's becoming obsolete is just short sided as algorithmic changes roll out and search engines make it more and more difficult for quality sites and content to surface in search engine results due to issues with backlinks, content, etc. that are unintentionally poor quality/come off spammy.

I do agree with many of your web content and social media strategy suggestions though, they are important points to make and do make life a lot easier on social media managers and the ROI they need to show.

pnplondon
Posted on December 18th 2013 at 3:01PM

I run a small web design company in London and must say that it isn't that SEO 'experts' are a dying breed, but they have actually 'died' here and have reincarnated as Social Media 'experts'.  A lot of our clients have a very good and clear understanding of SEO and what is required to successfully achieve their organic position/results in the search engines for specific search terms.  Just a few years ago none of our clients even knew the term let alone what it meant!  So, what happened in just 2-3 years?  The internet is full of all the necessary information required to become familiar with SEO and its successor - Social Media Marketing (SMM).  But, there are still many businesses that don't have the knowledge, inclination or time to spend learning or executing SEO or SMM for themselves.  Enter the 'experts' and SMM management tools companies.

Neil

moorgate@plugandplaydesign.co.uk