A Crash Course in SEO
This is a guest post by Katherine Jacob. Katherine is an expert SEO Consultant for Reload Media, specialising in inbound marketing, link building and content strategy. Katherine also has a growing interest in usability and conversion optimisation tactics. In her spare time she can be found on the soccer field or outdoors enjoying Brisbane’s fantastic climate.
Many years ago, fresh out of university and on the first day of employment, my new boss told me, “You’re in charge of SEO”. I smiled confidently and responded with a self-assured “No problem”. I then quickly grabbed my iPhone, took a coffee break and Googled SEO. After 20 minutes of panicked research, I still had no idea what it was.
A few years later and I am now a self-confessed SEO nerd. I love nothing more than implementing organic search strategies to ensure long-term, qualified traffic growth to my client’s websites.
How Do Search Engines Decide Where to Rank Pages?
How search engines rank pages can be broken into three main pillars, technical infrastructure, content and links.
There are many technical requirements that need to be addressed and implemented to ensure a website is well optimised. Having a website that is technically sound allows search engines to quickly and accurately crawl and index a website. Some of these technical elements include:
- Hosting Issues: Ensure page load time is minimised and there are no server errors.
- Robots.txt file: This tells search engines what they can and cannot crawl.
- Meta Data: Implement Meta Title & Meta Description tags to ensure search engines can quickly identify what the website is about.
- Internal Linking: Ensure all internal pages are linked appropriately.
- And many more.
It is important to remember that search engines will rank a page according to how relevant it deems the page to a user’s search query. When search engines are crawling websites they are looking for key signals that identify what the website is about. This is why content is an important factor in SEO.
The following image identifies important on page content aspects to ensure a page is well optimised.
Image source: Rand Fishkin from The Moz Blog – “A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization”
Other content aspects to consider include a website’s blog. Blogging regularly is beneficial from both a visitor and technical perspective.
From a visitor perspective, blogs have a range of distinct benefits including:
- Brand building and awareness
- Positioning the company as a thought leader
- Demonstrating the company’s expertise
- Drive organic traffic through long tailed research keywords.
From a technical perspective benefits include:
- Incite more crawling – the more you publish, the more your site gets crawled
- Specifically target keywords
- Attract links – provided you’re promoting your content
- Generate social signals.
Links to a website indicate to search engines how authoritative your site is. Search engines view links as references from other websites. Links indicate to search engines that a website is a relevant and authority source that deserves to be ranking highly in search results.
For example if we think of Wikipedia and how many times its articles are linked to from websites all around the world, this demonstrates to search engines that Wikipedia is a reliable and authoritative site, hence it is quite common for Wikipedia to be the first organic result for any given search term. For example:
However, it is vital to note that the quality of a link far outweighs the importance of quantity of links. Not all links are deemed equal. In order to maximize your SEO potential, websites must have quality links from quality websites. Quality websites are judged by search engines as relevant and authoritative sources of information.