What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Complete Strategy for Beginners

I have been dealing with search engines and ranking in search for nearly a decade. And while there are mountains of SEO Theories, conspiracies and specialty information that you can find on the web, search engine optimization doesn’t require a doctorates degree to understand. In fact, most search engine optimization is relatively easy once you understand how and why the search engines rank stuff that they do.

This guide was written to serve those who don’t get it or are overwhelmed by the piles of websites giving conflicting advice as to what is the best SEO practice. I have tried to condense this down into the most relevant and common SEO strategies and explain it in a way that someone who is brand new can understand the what’s and why’s behind search engine optimization.

I should also point out that this section is about how to rank in the search engines, but I leave out what could be the most important aspect for online businesses; the marketing side of ranking (or most likely the reason why you are trying to rank in the first place).

There are 3 Sections of SEO:

1. On page Optimization

When you optimize this, you are optimizing things like your headline, meta tags, descriptions, elements and actual content. You are also creating optimized web links with descriptive anchors pointing to other pages within your website.

2. Technical Optimization

When you optimize this, typically you are focusing on things like canonicalization, redirects, broken pages, etc.

3. Off-Page Optimization

For lack of a better description, off page optimization is managing strategies from places other than your website designed to specifically influence search engine rankings.


SEO “Oversimplified”

Trying to explain search engine optimization to someone who doesn’t really understand it can be difficult. Because of this, most SE experts will tell a business something vague like you will rank on the first page of google. Explaining end results are very effective for online businesses who aren’t concerned about the behind-the-scenes ways to rank; not so effective if you want to learn how to rank though.

The Broader Viewpoint of Ranking in Search

(Contextual) Relevancy + (Link) Popularity = RANK

The simple “equation” (if there is one) for improving your search engine ranking is to build contextually relevant content (on page optimization), and then promoting it to gain link popularity (off page optimization). To do both of these things, you need to understand what makes a webpage relevant and how links (both internal and external) can influence search engines rankings as well.


1. ON PAGE OPTIMIZATION

The first step to SEO is to optimize your existing pages (if you already have pages).  And while it may seem confusing now, by the end of this crash course, you will know what on page factors matter, why they matter and how to optimize on-page factors for your website.

On page optimization refers to several key things that webmasters should do to a webpage to improve the relevancy of the keywords you are trying to rank for.  This part of SEO is so easy that the concepts can be understood and applied very quickly.

Things that need to be optimized:

  • Title
  • HTML elements
  • Meta Tags
  • Image Optimization
  • Text modifiers and synonyms
  • Internal links

Relevant?  How the Search Engines Determine Relevancy through on page factors

SEO on page optimization

When it comes to Search Engine Marketing (SEM), there are 3 sides of this equation:

  • What the search engine bots see and how they decipher the text.
  • What the visitor or searcher sees and how easy it is for them to decipher the content
  • How the marketer can present the information in a way that both search engines and searcher feel satisfied with the results and direct the searcher to his purpose for the content.

You can have one without the other. But, in the grand scheme of things, you want both. SEO’s get fixated on rankings and dismiss the visitor as just a tangent to the equation. In reality, on page optimization refers to both giving the search engines what they want by optimizing text AND giving the searcher what they ultimately came there for through search.

Why Optimize Your Website Fully?

Because aside from the title tag, which all sensible webmasters optimize for, most web pages simply aren’t optimized which doesn’t make sense given the fact that optimizing for on-page factors is the one thing that a webmaster can fully control. All things considered equal, a webpage that has all the on-page factors covered is more likely to rank higher than a webpage that isn’t fully optimized.

From a strict search engine bot viewpoint, it is a relevancy issue. The more indicators you can give, the more likely search will respond how you want it to. This is important as most websites aren’t entirely optimized. From a searcher’s viewpoint, these factors should help them easily navigate and understand the page.

Let’s go over the various on-page factors and show you how to implement them.

Important “Tags”

A “Tag”, as it is expressed for optimization, is nothing more than a placeholder that can be filled with text. Think of a tag like you would think of a wedding reception dinner. Each spot around the table usually has a name and the wedding party will sit in their appropriate seats. Tags work kind of the same way.

The most important tag (and one that most webmasters actually do optimize) is the TITLE tag.

The Title Tag : What the Bots See

The title tag is typically the headline of the page.  So, how to screw in a lightbulb would be the TITLE tag in the picture above.  Typically, the title tag should have your main keyword in it. It is typically the first thing that is ranked in the search engines.  The rule for title tags is short and simple and keyword focused.

Optimize for Search, but be aware of actual visitors.

So, while a title like “Adidas Soccer Shoe” may be perfectly optimized for the search engines, it might not have as much click appeal as a title like “5 reasons why the Adidas Soccer Shoe is made for Sports.”

There are SEO’s who would tell you that the closer your keyword is to the beginning, the better.  There are others that will tell you that the less words you have in the title, the more focused your title is.  I say that while you should be optimizing for the search engines, ultimately you want to be able to create titles that are linkable, cause click throughs, and in some cases discussion.

What to include in the Title Tag?

What you should put in your title tag depends largely on what you hope to accomplish.  For instance, if you are a local business, you may find it a wise decision to make part of your title tag your phone number for smart phone users who are searching the web.  If you are branding the name of your website, you may want to include your domain name after the title of the article.

In any event, whatever you decide, you have 80 characters to figure it out.

Real Life Example of Title Tags
Example of Title Tags

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: get initial relevancy from the title
  2. The Search Visitor: is intrigued by the title (headline) of the page and compelled to click
  3. The Marketer: uses the title to set the stage for the content

Takeaways

  • The title tag is basically the headline of the page.
  • The title tag will get indexed first and placed in the rankings
  • Short and sweet is best-  While less is better from a search engine point of view, think of clicks and linkability as well.
  • Your main keyword goes here.
  • You can include other things in your title tag for branding purposes or to connect with the searcher using a different medium.

Meta Tags

Meta tags include dinosaurs like keyword meta tags and less used description tags.

Keyword Meta Tags

The keyword meta tags are relics from roughly 8 years ago, back when you could get a page ranked by keyword stuffing..  I still talk to small companies that have been advised that adding keywords into the tags work.  They don’t.  A couple of years ago, I read that they are still used for lesser known search engines.  My response?  Who cares.

Adding keywords to your meta tags is pointless and a complete waste of energy.  Don’t even bother.

Description Tags

While technically description tags have to do with off-site optimization because they are grouped into on site tags, they are included by most Search marketers as an on-site factor.  Description Tags are important, but not in relation to how it affects rankings.  Instead, a description tag can improve click-throughs once you do rank.

Here’s why…. Once the bots come, figure out where in search your web page fits and then indexes you, they will include an excerpt of your page if you don’t give them your own excerpt. This is where the description tag comes into play.

If done right, a description tag can pre-sell the searcher by using traditional marketing techniques. Use the description tag like you would an ad.  As you can see, Aaron Wall, from SEObook.com does a very good job pre-selling his offer.

Description Tags

Done wrong and your description tag can tell the searcher absolutely nothing about your site.

Below, you will see an example of what happens if you allow search engines to decide how to describe your page.

bad description tags

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: gather more “content” to understand further how relevant the page is to the main keyword
  2. The Search Visitor: sees the description in the search results with the primary keyword emboldened with a strong call to action and clicks
  3. The Marketer: uses a mix of relevant and user-centered text with a compelling call to action to move them to the page

Takeaways

  • Keyword Meta tags do not matter so don’t waste your time
  • If you don’t build your own meta description, the search engines will use excerpts from your website
  • Take the time to build a short descriptive tag for your page so it is used in the search results
  • When formulating your description, try to include your main keyword and a strong call to action.  Remember, searchers scan the results.  You want your description to "pop"

HTML Elements

Forget for a second that there is any benefit to common HTML elements from a search engine view and instead look at it from a visitors viewpoint.  HTML elements, which include the bold <b>, emphasis <i> and underline <u> as well as header tags <h1>,<h2>, & <h3> , help to break up the page and make it easier for the searcher to read through your content.

HTML Elements may be good for search, but they are really good for the visitor because they break up the text and make things scannable

All that said, while the HTML elements don’t play near as a pivotal role as they once did, header tags which allow sub-heading are the perfect place to add emphasis on secondary keywords that cover the content of your page.

Typically, your headline is wrapped in either an <h1> or <h2> tag.  The headline should have keywords in them (although not forced in).  Subpoints should be bolded or have <h3> tags to separate sections of your content into relevant chunks.  Other things like bullet points can help to reduce the content clutter and make it more readable.

So, what does this have to do with on-page optimization?

It's very little, if you are simply gunning for search engine approval.  Bolding important text for better ranking is so 5 years ago, but when you add the searcher into the equation, you get a scannable piece of text (searchers scan) that may keep them on your page longer.

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: see the different HTML elements as important to the context of the page and rank accordingly
  2. The Search Visitor: is able to quickly digest the content and find the most relevant pieces on the page because it is scannable
  3. The Marketer: uses the scannable text to highlight specific areas in which their offer can be found

Takeaways

  • While search engines do factor in some HTML elements such as the <h1> tags, they shouldn’t be the reason why you use them
  • On page optimization goes beyond ranking in search and add HTML elements to the equation will help the searcher find the most relevant information to them on your page
  • Use sub headings to break up sections of scannable text, emboldened sentences that mean something and add bullets to break up the text

Image Optimization

image optimization for SEO

The search engine spiders can’t translate images to phrases, and because of this, it relies on the webmaster to tell it what the picture is about. By optimizing your images on your web page, you can suddenly add more relevance regarding what the web page is about.

There are several ways to optimize a photograph or image:

  • Through the actual file name
    eCommerce sites are the worst at optimizing their file names, and as a result, their images have file names such as photo1032.jpeg. Worse still, many of these websites use stock images and simply use the same file name as the stock image. What results is hundreds (sometimes 1,000′s) of web pages that have the same image file with the same file name in the URL. Descriptive file names with keywords can push relevance and differentiate your website from someone else’s using the exact same file name.
  • Through the “Alternative Text”
    The alternative text will usually display when you hover your mouse over the image OR if the image isn’t available. Once again, this is a great place to put short descriptive text which highlights the image.
  • The Image Title
    The image title is going to be whatever you put in that describes the image. For example, if you have an e-commerce store and are selling Kenmore washing machines, the image title for a specific model may include the make and model number.
  • Image Linking
    In some cases, the visitor can click the photo or a link to see a larger version of it. Use keyword rich anchor text rather than the generic “click here” link. For galleries, where you are displaying multiple pictures, this is a perfect way to optimize photographs. In the case of the photo above, I have linked it to the original image source as attribution.

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: get a clearer picture of what the page is about using the anchor text, the alt text, title and filename to figure out what the image means
  2. The Search Visitor: is presented with an image that highlights and broadens the scope of the content and gives them another form of media to break up the text
  3. The Marketer: can use photos to highlight surrounding parts of the image and present offers in a place where the eyes are naturally attracted

Takeaways

  • The search engines need you to include text explaining what an image is
  • Most webmasters won’t spend the extra 2-3 minutes optimizing their photos
  • By optimizing your photos, you gain an advantage
  • Optimize your image file names, titles and alt-text.  If it is clickable, optimize the image with keyword rich anchor text

Text Modifiers and Synonyms

A few years back, you could rank for a keyword by simply repeating the keyword over and over again. Suddenly, a new crop of SEO was formed that gave insight about keyword density and what was the appropriate ratio of content versus keywords. None of that stuff matters anymore and will likely matter less in the years to come.

However, things that should matter to you are the synonyms of your market as well as text modifiers (basically keyword text add-ons such as free, best, top, etc.). Sprinkling your content with these sort of modifiers and synonyms that are synonymous with your market will give you a chance to rank for more keywords that you may not even be thinking of to rank for.

Of course, if you know your market, you are going to do this sub conscientiously. However, adding keyword derivatives in places such as subheading may help you rank for those keywords AND give the searcher a way to identify what section of your content is most relevant to them.

If you don’t know your market, an easy way to identify there are places you can go that will help you along. And the good news is that it will cost you nothing.

The Related Searches

The Google Related Searches column, which shows at the bottom of each search results, allows you to take your main keyword and then shows you some other keywords that are relevant to the market. So using the example, we can see that the main keyword, search engine optimization, has several potential modifiers (pricing, tips, Google, basics, tools, software, etc.).

google related searches

Now, the above keywords all probably deserve pages of their own (they are most likely too competitive to be simple modifiers), but you get the idea. By adding modifiers to the beginning and ends of your main keywords and adding relevant market-related synonyms to your text, you are giving more relevance on the whole to the page.

How to Find Words that Mean the Same Thing

synonymous keywords

The word "feline" is synonymous with kitten and cat.

The image above is what happens when I search feline using the tidle (“~”) search operator. Using the tidle operator before a keyword in search will give you a list of common synonyms associated with the word. Now the example above shouldn’t surprise you; stating that common synonyms for feline are cat and kitten isn’t a stretch. However, to say that acne is synonymous with blackheads, rosacea and accutane may be though.

Used in conjunction with the related searches, your content should be gleaming with niche specific phrasing, and you can apply synonyms that the search engines view as the same thing as your keyword.

Of course, if you already know your market, modifiers and synonyms may just shore up any questions as to what you should mark as relevant.

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: find your webpage more relevant based on the synonyms you select and rank you for long tails because you have added relevant modifiers to your main keyword
  2. The Search Visitor: finds your content attractive because you are speaking the language of the market
  3. The Marketer: you build credibility through a thorough knowledge of the topic and can shape search rankings according to more keywords than the root

Takeaways

  • Text Modifiers will help you not only rank for the bigger keywords but can help you rank for the long tail as well
  • While you should understand your niche well enough to “speak the language”, use the free tools such as Google’s wonder wheel and related searches to embellish your content for added relevancy
  • Some keywords are synonymous with others. Use the tidle (~) operator to discover them.

Internal Links

A couple of years ago, I wrote about something called keyword sniping. The philosophy behind this was to target a single keyword that wasn’t competitive and then add multiple pages on the same site pointing back to the front page with the keyword in anchor text to eventually rank in the search engines almost solely from the power of the website itself.
Some of the search engines fixed this glitch, but the premise behind it is a perfect illustration of the power of internal linking.

Now, I am not going to get into ratios and graphs and how often to use specific anchor text, but I will say this- If you aren’t inter-connecting your pages together with relevant anchor text, then you are doing your website a disservice.

Frankly speaking, the world of ranking websites is built upon pages referring other web pages. In essence, it isn’t necessarily how relevant your pages are (as some would have you believe) but how many links you have pointing to that page. Consequently, how well you rank depends on how important the page that is pointing to you is as well (which is determined in large part by the number of links pointing to it.)

How to Strategically Implement Internal Linking

As a web strategist and consultant, when I am examining the pages of a website for SEO, the first thing I need to know is which pages are the most important to the site according to the search engines. Usually, this entails examining existing traffic through analytics and then taking the title tags and running them through a keyword rank checker like ranktracker to see where in search they are placed.

Once I can identify what keywords are the most important, I can use internal linking to push the pages upward without external links. This isn’t a crash course guide for SEO linking strategies though. This is just an illustration to emphasize the importance of a strong internal link structure.

Things to consider when formatting internal links

Since internal links can be important, the first thought for many is why not add global internal links in the navigation, footer or sidebar?

The short answer is because more weight may be placed contextual links (within the actual content), and there are more and more indications that some search engines are discounting links found in the footer and sidebar.

The fewer links on a page and the more links pointing to it, the more link juice it can provide as support.

In terms of navigational links, the search engines employ a first link priority (see my guide to technical SEO), so if the search engines see the navigational link first, then any subsequent links going to the same place won’t be counted.

Other things to consider:

  • Depth in Relation to the Homepage
    The closer the page is to the home page (in terms of “clicks) the more likely it will rank. Therefore, you want your most competitive keywords to be within 1-2 clicks from the homepage.
  • Internal Link Ratio
    The more internal links are pointing to a page, the greater chance it has of ranking. Therefore, if you find yourself getting closer to ranking a page for a keyword, sometimes it can be as simple as linking a few existing pages to it. Another aspect of internal linking is the link provides topical relevance for the search engines. The importance of this can’t be understated. How many links per page? I would make it a habit of linking to at least 1-2 pages and no more than 4 unless the visitor could benefit from it.
  • Internal Linking and Link Juice
    Link juice refers to the amount of authority that could be passed from a page. The amount of authority for a page is decided by the number of pages pointing to it and the number of links exiting the page, as well as the quality and authority of the pages themselves linking. Therefore, the fewer links on a page and the more links pointing to it, the more link juice it can provide as support.

In a perfect world:

  1. The Search Engines: will recognize your internal links as what pages match what keywords and rank them accordingly
  2. The Search Visitor: will know what they are about to click because the anchor text of the link will tell them
  3. The Marketer: can shape a directive and move the searcher from page to page and hopefully deeper down into the true intent of the searcher

Takeaways

  • A strong internal link profile is essential to ranking for keywords and is one of the few linking strategies (outside creating external links) that a webmaster can employ
  • Use relevant keywords naturally when linking throughout your website
  • Combine links with generic things like “click here” to avoid 'keyword-stuffing' anchor texts

2. TECHNICAL OPTIMIZATION

While it may sound scary, technical SEO is how largely built on how the search engines react to your website content. It’s all behind the scenes kind of stuff; things like redirects, how the search bots read and decipher the source code, etc.

If you are brand new to building websites, I would probably read it, let it soak in and then come back to it later. If you know your way around HTML and CSS, then there are several tips that can help you to optimize your website.

This guide will discuss the following (don’t worry if you don’t know what the terms mean):

  • Canonicalization (and duplicate content)
  • First Link Priority
  • Potential Header and Navigation Problems

Canonicalization

Every web page straight out of the box has at least 2 different URL addresses; example: https://www.delighrfulwork.com & http://delightfulwork.com. While this may not seem to be a big problem, search engines can’t tell that the two are identical and therefore will split the authority of your page in two.

Why would that matter?

If your 10 people linking to your website and half link to one URL (www.example.com) and the other links to your site this way (example.com), then you are effectively splitting your potential ranking in half. The potential problem is a matter of how others link to your website.

4 Different Addresses for the Homepage / 2 for Every Other Page on Your Site

To matters worse, our homepage can have 4 different urls despite the fact that it is going to the same page:

  • www.example.com
  • www.example.com/index.html
  • example.com/
  • example.com/index.html

The solution is to have one URL for each page. The different search engines don’t make this easy though.  With Google, it is just a matter of setting a domain preference in google webmaster tools.  But with Bing (which is projected to get 20%+ of search engine traffic), you will have to create a redirect using the .htaccess file, which is located server side.

The good news is that it isn’t as scary as it sounds.  If you are using WordPress as a website platform, the .htaccess file is going to be already created.  To my left, you can see that the .htaccess file is located in my delightfulwok folder.  From here, I can edit and use one of the following codes to correct this problem. To Redirect to the WWW URL:

   ReWriteEngine on ReWriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www.yoursitesname.com ReWriteRule ^(.*)$ https://www.yoursitesname.com/$1 [R=permanent,L]

Here’s the redirect to the non-WWW url:

   ReWriteEngine on  ReWriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^yoursitesname.com$ [NC]  ReWriteRule ^(.*)$ https://yoursitesname.com/$1  [R=permanent,L]

Just do a copy/paste job on one of the codes above, replace yoursitename with your actual website’s domain name and stick that into your .htaccess folder and you are done.

What this does The code will instruct all the search engines which are crawling your website to replace links it retrieves to one link. Easy-peasy. 

Now I know that there are going to be a few of you who are going to want to understand exactly what it is that this little script is doing.

I am by no means a script guru, but I will try to explain what each line means:

  1. Rewrite Engine On : Chances are, if you already have a .htaccess file, then this is already in the file. If it is, there is no need to duplicate it.
  2. Rewrite Con(dition) : This line is a conditional line. Mainly in the first code example, it is saying if the URL isn't www.yoursite.com, then it needs to be rewritten.
  3. Rewrite Rule : This line only comes into play if the visitor is accessing the page from any other source other than the www url. If it is, the URL is rewritten to the www url.

Takeaways

  • Every web page has at least 2 URLs associated with it (the home page has 4)
  • If not corrected, you will potentially split the authority of the same page, which could affect search rankings
  • Fixing this problem is as simple as creating a rule that forces the URL to go to your preferred domain automatically
  • This can be handled by adding a little script in the .htaccess file, server side

First Link Priority

Before I get into first link priority, I think understanding the “link” should be crystal clear.

  • When you link from Page A to Page B
  • With keywords in the text of the link
  • The Search Engines see the text as a part of Page B

So, when page A links to page B, the actual link text helps page B. 

But what happens when you have 2,3,4 links pointing to page B with different anchor text? 

If, however, page A links to page B more than once on the same page, then the 1st link is counted and the other links pointing to the same page aren’t. There is a reason why this is, by the way.  

Back in the wild west days of SEO, you could technically use multiple links going to the same page to help rank for multiple keywords using just one page. First link priority fixed this, but not without causing some issues.

The issue that first link priority poses for a webmaster isn't necessarily contextual links within the content but the global links that are typically associated with the header and navigation.

​​​​1st Link Priority and the Header and Navigation Issues

In the best case scenario, you want your content to be as close to the top of the source code as can be.

The above example shows the order in which a page is read. The first image is pretty typical, especially for those using a horizontal navigational panel. The second image is optimal because the actual content is read directly after the header, which takes care of any navigational links that could affect 1st link priority.

Why does first link priority matter anyway?

Some may not find first link priority to be that big of a deal since typically many webmasters use their targeted keywords in their navigation. But it can be on down the road and here’s why: 

Let’s say that you have noticed a spike in traffic for the keyword best thingamajig. Your navigational link is thingamajig. You think that you can bump up the rankings by simply using internal links to boost the rating. Because the navigational links will always be ahead of all your pages’ content, it will always have 1st link priority, and therefore an internal linking you do will be negated. 

You want to be able to sculpt meaning and SEO value from contextual links on your pages. Got it?

Now for the header link, in most cases (but not all), the header image is typically linked to the home page site-wide. And because this link is before the content, it gets first link priority as well. To strip the header link of first link priority, you have a few choices:

  1. Make the header image unclickable
  2. Encase the clickable header image in javascript (search engines can’t read javascript for now)
  3. Use a redirect on the clickable image which will make the search engines believe that it is visiting a different page (best solution)

If you intend to obfuscate your header link using javascript, I would suggest outsourcing this to Upwork, Fiverr, or one of the other companies that outsource experts. There are too many ways to muck it up, especially if you don’t know what you are doing.

If you want to do it on your own though, you can use a '301 redirect' to get the same impact.

The idea behind the redirect is to make it usable to human visitors (where they can click the header to go to the home page) but hide the primary link from the home page. To understand why this works, you have to understand what the search engine bots do when they access your page.

A search engine visit happens in two parts:

  • the crawler
  • the scheduler
redirect header image

If you don’t get that, re-read it. If you still don’t get it, then all you really need to know is that the search engines treat the redirect page as a separate page and because of this, the redirect page becomes the source of the link and frees up 1st link priority on the page.

THE RESULT? 

The search engines don’t view the link in the header to be pointed to the home page, and you can now add links pointed to your home page in your content and have them counted. Perfect!

3. OFF-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

SEO Off-page optimization is similar to an organic promotion in a real world. If you vote for someone because of his or her quality, then the popularity of the person will rise. If a popular person (an authority website) does a vote on someone (website A), then the person's (website A) popularity will improve much higher.

'This promotional activity' in SEO is called a BACKLINK - an external page which links (votes) to your website (or a particular page). And each external page carries a different authoritative weight, depends on its page popularity.

And when it comes to actually ranking sites, the formula looks something like this:

Pages of content + quality relevant backlinks = eventual rankings

Building Backlinks isn’t just About Grabbing External Links

It isn't just about having external links, but your internal link structure can be a powerful way to boost page rankings.

One of the most talked about things that webmasters and marketers talk about is getting ranked.  After all, if you can’t get ranked, you don’t get traffic. And if you can’t get traffic, then you won’t make money passively.  Link building and the backlink theory that goes with it can be a trying affair for the beginner.

The solution for this is to get NOT only a ton of backlinks, but the quality ones.

Basically, they tell you, you need to get more relevant backlinks with the proper anchor text to beat your competition.

Now, I can’t argue with this.  But do you really know what backlinks are there for?  I mean, really?

There are two main purposes for having backlinks for SEO:

1. You need backlinks to get indexed

If you have ever gone through the forums, you will see a large number of people wanting to know how to get indexed quickly.  This is easy.  You basically leave links (or trails) that lead the bots back to your website.  

If you are smart you leave links on sites that get crawled updated regularly so the bots can follow the link.  And if you are really, really smart, you will make sure that the links that are on these sites are actually following  (or don’t have the <no follow> tag).

Once the bots actually hit your website, you need internal links that will point to various pages on your site so the search engine bots will crawl your other pages. I know that I am making this sound simple but it is not hard to get indexed.

2. You also need these backlinks to come from a trusted source

What I mean by this is that Google and the other search engines give more credence to trusted sites.  If the site is trusted, then the backlink will count, anchor text or no anchor text.

The reason why I even bother to mention this is because most webmasters and marketers alike fail to realize that once you actually get noticed and indexed, your site will eventually become a trusted source. And when you focus on internal linking structure, you can actually get ranked simply by utilizing your own site as leverage.

Don’t believe me? Try it out. Court mentioned it on his site. It is called keyword sniping and once I learned how it worked, I quickly realized the power of structuring your internal links can easily propel you to the top of the SERPs.

Why would internal links help get you top rankings?

Besides the fact, that a good internal link structure will help the user navigate your site, the real deal is something that most marketers don’t consider.

Websites don’t get ranked. Website Pages get ranked.

A website might be contextual in theme but the real deal is that each page gets ranked separately.  And because your internal link structure is pointing toward a page, it is helping google recognize and cateragize what it is about.  If you have enough pages, internal and external, with links pointing to it, then you will be giving the bots ample reason to believe that indeed, the page must be about whatever it is about.

Now let’s suppose that you have done these things and still aren’t in the game (meaning you aren’t in the first 20 pages), what then?  You can start to build links.  And if you can, you should aim at authority backlinks.

But wait a minute….

What does an Authority Backlink Look Like?

First of all, I hate the term authority and all that it implies.  To Google, Yahoo, Bing, and most of the other search engines, all authority really means is that it recognizes it.

That said, there are really only two types of authority backlinks:

  1. Absolute Authority Links-  These types of links are basically sites that are general in nature.  For instance, Wikipedia, CNN, Digg, etc.  Other types of absolute authority links are sites like DMOZ and the Yahoo directory.  These types of sites pass authority because they are trusted.
  2. Relative Authority Links-  These types of links are usually the types that most of us aim for.  Usually, these links come from another site in the same niche or topic.

While it is hotly debated, I have found that back links that come from relevant sites will give you a much higher boost than links coming from a non-related niche.

Some people disagree but if you believe the notion that Google wants to be the most relevant search engine, it only seems practical that relevant niches linking up related content should, at least in principle, be given precendence over sites that aren’t really related.

My reasoning is this-  If you are on a site that sells cigars, and there is a link for baby toys, then by all practical standards, it would seem like the link itself would not benefit the visitor.  However, if the same cigar site had a link going to a cigar humidor site, then this link would be valuable to the visitor and therefore, to Google, the link would actually mean something.

Maybe I am over thinking this but that is what I think.

That said, that does not mean that you shouldn’t drop links where ever you can.  I just have a hard time believing that a business-niche back link on a barbeque recipes site would quantify much of anything since it doesn’t really provide value to the niche.

If You spend a little money and automate some of these processes, you will wind up with a monster on your hands…

IN CONCLUSION

I have pretty much given you a snap shot of what I know and do when it comes to ranking websites... all in just 1 page.

Knowledge for this stuff is not rocket science.  It ain’t Quadratics or Trigonometry either.  

And anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is lying to you or simply doesn’t know.

Besides, there is so much misinformation out there that trying to go beyond the basics:

  • Targeted title?  CHECK!
  • Keywords in content?  CHECK!
  • Quality Relevant backlinks with proper anchor texts in them?  CHECK!
  • Internal link structure in place?  CHECK!

... you are entering a monster shit storm of potential sleaze trying to sell you on “secrets”, which incidentally are few and far between.  I call them time wasters but you get the picture.

So there you have it.  ALL-IN-ONE SEO GUIDE.  I could have titled this “why people don’t make money online” but that wouldn’t be original, now would it?  It is those information overload that are stopping you.  It likely isn’t what you don’t know. It is most likely what you aren’t doing.

Delightful Work - Digital, Internet Marketing & Small Business Coach
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