SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is something that many of us shy away from. It seems riddled with complexity that only genius, 24-year-old interns with kitted up GTIs and subhuman metabolisms can decode and decipher. But it really isn’t as difficult as it seems. Any business or merchant can start on some immediate tips right away that are simple to understand.

Let’s explore some easy ways to start on SEO right now. The ability to inhale Doritos Locos Tacos with sheer abandon is not a prerequisite for this course.

To begin, SEO enables search engines to have a clear understanding of what your business and your website does. Everything you build into your website (URLs, blogs, page copy, titles, etc.) is a type of language that communicates with search engines. The better laid out and implemented each of these areas is, the more Google (and other search engines) like it. And they will reward you. Businesses that give Google wonderful SEO often end up higher on the search list. Showing up high on Google is one of the most lucrative, impactful methods of gaining business and trust.

Link, link, link

Fill your pages with links that make sense. Link outward to relevant sites and articles in blogs and social media – but don’t just pepper your text with them senselessly. Be smart and build logical, intuitive links within your content that Google will admire.

Remember that inbound links are even more important. The more sites that link to you feed Google what it needs to position you as an authority in your field. This will boost search rankings. But again, inbound links also need to be natural, not forced. How do you do this? Create such compelling organic content that people don’t have a choice but to link to you. Good design is also critical. People love beautiful things, and they’re more apt to link to arresting images.

Every page gets a relevant title tag

A title tag is assigned to every page of your website, and it should be original and relevant. Each title tag can be no longer than 70 characters and should be keyword-rich.

Bread Crumb Navigation

Organize your website so that Google can easily follow the links from page to page on your website. Leave a trail for the Google spiders (who crawl your website) by indexing pages appropriately. A great example from this Forbes article is from Priceonomics, who also reflects this in their URL for the page:

All Price Guides > Computer Price Guide > Apple Computer Price Guide >MacBook Pro 15″ 2011 Price

The matching URL? http://priceonomics.com/computers/apple/macbook-pro-15-2011/

Avoid duplicate content

If you have duplicate content, Google is going to split the weight of importance between the two. Because the search engines will be confused as to which version really matters, it will hurt your traffic and rankings. Be sure to double check your URLs. This article from Moz goes into the perfect amount of detail about duplicate content while still being very easy to understand.

Join Google+ and share content

Be sure to set up a Google+ page for your business and a Google Place page. It’s not a secret that Google+ and its shares are directly linked to Google rankings. This is a quick and simple way to start generating some traffic. The more content you drive to and from this social network, the better you will be. Take care to maintain it, posting relevant and original content regularly. And cross-link Google+ to your blog and other social media accounts, like Facebook and LinkedIn.

On a quick side note, be sure to select social media accounts that work for your business. Not everyone needs a Tumblr or Pinterest, for example. Some businesses even find that Facebook really isn’t relevant to their community. Be thoughtful when choosing your platforms. Each one is going to require considerate management.

Original content

This is the number one, most important lesson in our quick study on SEO. If you take away one thing, this should be it.

Create compelling, distinct, and meaningful organic content.

Google and other search engines hold original content in high regard. Be insistent on placing thoughtful links and relevant copy throughout your site. If ever you feel the urge to start dumping keywords at the bottom of your page or anything that feels “spammy,” back away from your desk. You’re much better off just letting it happen naturally.

However, doing a little keyword research is in order. Using tools from Google like the Keyword Planner can help you compile lists of popular phrases in your industry. Mapping keywords to certain sections within your content can help drive traffic. Just keep it organic.

Even better than original content? Evergreen content. This content is intended to withstand the test of time and is best created within a blog. Yes, you’re in a blog right now. If you haven’t launched a business blog, think about doing so. Evergreen content (explained in more detail by the Search Engine Journal) includes items like how-to articles, resource guides on industry terms and topics, and other high-quality, relatively unchanging information. Create content that sticks like this, requiring minimal updating to stay relevant, and you will make Google a very giddy little schoolgirl.

And the bottom line to all things SEO? Make Google a very giddy little schoolgirl.

Photo credit: INTVGene

 

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