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SEO for Dummies (in the nicest possible way)

SEO for dummies. Plain English explanations of SEO terms for those new to the digital marketing industry

SEO for dummies, in the nicest, least patronising or mean way!

Someone asked me to explain what SEO is as she wasn’t really sure she understood it. This is my reply, and then someone else suggested I post it here too, so thought I would 🙂

So, what is SEO anyway?

We say “SEO for dummies” but in fact, 90% of the population is confused by it because it’s really confusing! SEO is a bit of a challenge to explain because, while every element of it is really simple, but there are over 200 elements (signals) that dictate where websites rank in search results. We have a glossary of SEO terms that you can refer to here. I will attempt to put it in a nutshell:

SEO is about making it easier for search engines to find and understand your website.(Tweet This)

As SEO Copywriters and Content Marketers, we make it easier for Google to understand your website and to know which people to send there. That is what SEO is.  It can be a bit complex so we offer a planner to help new brands get on top of it all:

Free On Page SEO planner - simple planner for optimising websites

We do that by writing sales copy (so the words on your website) that contains HTML (the code that makes up the Internet) to explain to search engines what your site is about. It can then direct people who search for that topic (keywords) to your site.

The sales copy is also designed to help convince people to buy your products or services.

What determines how well your website ranks?

There are three major areas that impact on how well search engines understand your website:

1. How well the site is built (we use coders who don’t only “design” your site, they make sure the coded stuff – the HTML code is easy for search engines to crawl (read)

2. How well the content is laid out and how it’s labelled (via HTML code called meta tags) We understand the bits and bobs that search engines look for when they read information about your product. We make sure they’re all there in a format that is easy to read, by both humans and computers.

3. How many other, good quality websites on the Internet have referenced your website – they do this by using a link to your site on theirs.

So, if say, The ABC or The Education Department or even Mums Lounge link to you, search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo see that as a “virtual recommendation” that they think you’re awesome and it gives you a little SEO push up the search results. The higher quality and more authentic the site, the better chance you have of keeping that recommendation for a long time – so it’s got higher value.  Unfortunately, the best quality links usually come from expensive PR campaigns, expensive ads or high level collaborations – all of which are unavailable to small biz.  The other way to get these is by advanced SEO techniques – by working extremely hard to be extremely good at what you do.   These are what other SEO companies charge a bucket of money a month for. It’s not that they’re seeing you as a newbie and trying to rip you off, it’s that it takes HOURS and HOURS to do quality SEO well.  It’s as simple as that!

Social Media links also help by telling search engines that a brand or individual piece of content is popular.  These links don’t necessarily help move you up the rankings directly (although this is up for debate) but do help indirectly.

So why are digital marketing services so expensive?

As you can probably tell, SEO costs as much as a piece of string – so it’s hard to tell you what you need – it all comes down to budget and goals.  The issue is that the more links that exist on the Internet, the lower their value. So buying cheap, low quality links means that they devalue to nothing straight away.  No matter how good the quality of the links, you need to keep building on them monthly.  You can do that yourself. It’s not rocket surgery but it is time consuming and frustrating.

For small business on tight budgets, it’s better to have a few links from GREAT websites than a lot of spammy links.  This also helps keep your website’s risk of penalties down.  Search engines update their mathematical equation (algorithm) for ranking websites daily.  If you have too many poor quality links, you’re at risk of losing rankings after an algorithm change or even a manual penalty, where a staff member visits your site and flags it as no good.

What can I do to get started but keep costs down?

Focus.  If you sell T-shirts, you don’t need to be number one for every T-shirt related keyword on the internet, and you don’t need to try to outrank Bonds straight away either.  You need to find the RIGHT keywords that you can rank for and make some sales from – then you can re-invest in bigger, broader and more profitable work.

So as far as SEO for dummies goes, in fact, this article should be called SEO for everyone.  Everyone can do it.  Everyone can understand it.  It’s just that it takes time and a love for web marketing – something very few people actually have!  If you’re still struggling and need some help, simply contact us and we’ll answer your questions 🙂