Search engine optimization (SEO) is important for all business websites, but the Web is brimming with misinformation on the subject. Read on to learn the honest truth about SEO. We’ll tell you what it is, why you need it…and *trumpets* for the first time on the Internet: useful SEO information with NO bulls*#t.

Search engines were developed way back in the early- to mid-1990’s when most of the Internet was brand new and very disconnected. Most early web indexes were maintained by hand, so as the Internet continued to grow exponentially, programming scripts were created to “crawl” websites. These primitive search engines sought out specific keywords within websites and returned useful results.

What the Heck is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of creating a website that plays nicely with search engines (and never cheats). The ultimate goal of SEO is to get your website to reach the TOP in all search engine results when your target market goes looking for specific information online. The easier and the more your potential and current customers find you online, the more business for you.

You Can’t Cheat a Search Engine Anymore

In the past, you may have been able to repeat the same word or phrase hundreds or even thousands of times and bury that text in your website. The search engine would come along and say, These are just the keywords I was looking for! And there are so many! Hooray, I found the best website for you. Here you go.

Guess what?

That’s exactly what our modern search engines do today—but today’s search engines are much, MUCH smarter. The major search engines today (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) use incredibly complex, detailed, and rigorously tested algorithms to determine whether or not your content is genuine. So that means loading your website up with keywords won’t get you that traffic anymore. In fact, you’ll likely end up penalized or blocked by the search engine for trying to cheat.

Great SEO…

Good news! Today’s search engine optimization (SEO) is simple. The root of all great SEO is genuine content. Period. Your website should accurately and honestly display what you do, answer your customers’ most important questions, and create shareable buzz around your products and/or services. Your web content should be both clear and thorough to be effective.

Remember: the number one rule is you can’t cheat. Believe me, there are many ways to attempt to cheat search engines. I’m telling you right now: don’t fall for companies that offer services like keyword stuffing or loading, hidden content, paid links, link trading, or anything that sounds unfamiliar and shady.

Great SEO is all about building a great reputation around your business through your website. Don’t risk that reputation on schemes. They’re spammers and swindlers, and they’re going to hurt you big time in the long run.

What Search Engines Look For Today

How does a search engine know your content is “real,” and not created by cheaters? The most important SEO guideline of all: simply be ethical. Give your customers what they want. When you cheat your customers, you’re only cheating your business.

Follow these basic guidelines to enhance your website’s SEO…

  • Always use correct grammar and spelling.
  • Be sure your content is engaging and visitor-focused.
  • Start a business blog and update your blog once a week.
  • Be sure your written content is high-quality, well-researched, and sprinkled with industry terminology your customers search for and understand.
  • Add social media buttons to your website and blog posts so your content is shareable.

Be an SEO Insider

I know I promised this blog post would be simple, but you should know there is more to SEO than just great content. (But great content is still the best route towards excellent SEO!) Here’s a brief overview of some other factors that can influence the search engine ranking of your website…

  • Semantic Markup. There are legitimate, ethical ways to alert search engines of your content. This involves placing certain codes (typically metatags and microdata) into the building blocks (or HTML) of your website.
  • Link Baiting. Sounds fishy, I know—but it’s not, I swear. “Link baiting” simply refers to posting links to your blog posts (or any great content on your website) on other websites, but only in a way that produces relevant and high-quality inbound links. Bait your hook and reel ‘em in!
  • Optimal Website Architecture. When your internal links have clear URLs, and your headers, titles, and descriptors are accurate and concise, and your website is well-organized, search engines will want to make friends with your website. Oh, and one more thing—if your site is slow to load, no one’s sticking around to wait it out.

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In short, build an excellent online presence and a solid reputation with superior and ethical content, and you’re well on your way to SEO success.

Still a little lost on SEO? Want more SEO information? Something stuck between your teeth? Contact Posts By GhostTM or leave a comment below!

Image courtesy Flickr user 76545332@N03.

About 

Niki Robinson is a wild word wrangler, urban explorer, and overall nerd living and working in downtown Milwaukee, WI. As president of Posts By Ghost and Robinson Writers, she serves as content strategist and point person, managing a talented and growing team of freelance writers who work across a variety of industries. Niki has written and edited thousands of content marketing pieces, including blog posts, articles, white papers, eBooks (and more) on a wide variety of topics, published all over the web and in print. She is also Co-Founder and Director of Ops for the only free writers conference in the Midwest, WriteCamp Milwaukee and the Milwaukee StorySLAM Producer for The Moth. Niki teaches Writing Web Content That Works at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee School of Continuing Education.
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5 Responses to Real Simple SEO
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