Updated: Mar 20
SEO is an important factor for any company competing for attention online today. Creating a strong Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategy is vital to your digital performance, visibility, click throughs and sales. Getting traffic to your website or blog does take a lot of time and effort. You have to be ready for the long-haul, and there are no real shortcut solutions. Here are five things for beginners to know about when it comes to SEO.
An effective SEO strategy is one of the most important things for your business performance online. Sure, you can buy display ads that can get you to the top of search engines. But what about your organic SEO strategy, and what if you're a company working with a limited SEO budget? You definitely need to invest in SEO to some degree or you'll be growing old in place waiting for that first purchase order to come. I'm a self-taught, advanced SEO specialist, and I've passed the LinkedIn Certification test for SEO. While I haven't taken the time to get other certifications, those who claim to be SEO experts often have no credentials at all. This point doesn't make my top 5 list, but it's important to know that when it comes to SEO knowledge, don't just take someone's claim at face value. Understanding what goes into an effective SEO strategy is a first step to improving your page authority, directory authority, overall page trust, ranking, and outcomes. People often talk about the power of blog writing for ranking, without telling you that linking to that blog from outside sources of high Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) matter just as much, if not more, than on-site optimization. On-site optimization refers basically to the keyword and key phrase strategy you use on site. This goes beyond the blogs or content you write, to include title tab and meta descriptions to H1 use across important titles on your site to properly tagging your photos. There is some information now that Google also rank prefers text that is bolded. Basically, these things help Google understand the hierarchy and relevance of information on your site, which is something I'll talk about in a future blog. If you use Wix, or Wordpress or Squarespace, these platforms have their own wikis on these issues of improving your titles, tags and meta descriptions on your site. In a future blog, I will spend more time talking about the importance of on-site SEO, but you can find a useful article here. Off-page SEO is what I mainly want to discuss today, and not really from a technical perspective, but some starting points for what beginners can do, not do, and where you can go for help to establish a strong backlinking, off-site SEO strategy for your site or blog. 1. Your first step is to understand your ranking today. Moz is one place you can go to find out your overall PA and DA ranking from 1 to 100; 100 being the strongest, and 1 being you're lost deep in the jungle somewhere never to be found. Being able to Google search the name of your company doesn't mean you rank anywhere on the Internet; this is a common mistake and assumption people make in how Google ranks their business or blog. If you check with Moz and you come back with a 1-10 ranking, which a lot of sites do, you have some work ahead of you. But fear not because there are services that can help. 2. Services to probably avoid: It's tempting to go to Fivver or Upwork looking for an SEO expert, and you will find literally hundreds of them, offering all kinds of services. The problem for beginners becomes, what are you actually buying, is it reliable, and will your site be penalized for shortcut or blackhat techniques some providers do and will use? You don't want to be in the penalty box with Google as this will slow the growth of your site. If you do choose someone from these platforms for your SEO strategy, do make sure they have a stellar rating and many jobs under their belt, and call them first before you buy from them. A lot of these cheap providers will use automatic lists that can be spammy, low quality, and leave a big footprint pattern. You don't want that. What you want most of all are high-quality backlinks to your site, with at least a 1% or lower spam rate, that don't leave a footprint pattern for Google to follow, which means dripping them into market and not 500 links in one shot. 3. Some of the highest DA/PA links you can get are .edu, wiki, or custom-written blog backlinks. That's because .edu and wiki pages have high trust authority; and custom written blog backlinks written for and by blogs with higher authority than you also help send good quality content back to your site from an already trusted source. These can all be bought through a few different providers online. I can't speak to the quality of those backlink providers for your SEO strategy, but two good place to start could be Links Management or a forum like WickedFire for providers who specifically offer these kinds of services. When it comes to improving your SEO by writing articles for other online entities that point back to your site, this can be done but it does take a lot of legwork; these all have to be new content: you can't just copy an article that's already been published by you in an online blog, magazine or news service. An option is to have a backlinking service do this for you, and many offer it as part of an SEO strategy package; the risk and caution here is content quality.
4. Stay away from automatic backlink generators. There are many free ones out there, and mostly you're wasting your time and likely hurting your SEO by using them. It might sound great to get thousands of free backlinks at one time for your SEO strategy, but, as always, if it sounds too good to be true, it is. 5. Private Network Blogs or PNBs for SEO. You'll see a lot of talk on the web around PNBs to this day, with many touting the power of tapping into these networks for better SEO. I tend to side with those who think they are too close to blackhat and too risky to be a valuable strategy. You can read more about the pros and cons of PNBs here. When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, it needs to be considered as a wholistic marketing strategy; SEO can't just be ignored. Search engines require it for you to rank at all. Everyone's goal is to be ranked #1 on Google. Unfortunately there is no easy shortcut to that. You will have to use both on-site and off-site SEO strategies to climb the ranking rungs.