In our base country these days we are reading a lot of articles around how big companies have a better chance of being in the first page of Google, just because they are big companies. It has always been our understanding as SEO professionals in Some Web Devs, that being on the first page of Google Search Results or what is otherwise called the SERP ( Search Engine Results Page ), is not a matter of cost per say. Its a matter or time and effort put into something that is called SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Sort of like when you need to build yourself a sofa, you can either pay someone to do it, or you can do it yourself. In the first case, spending more might get you better results. In the second case, the more time and effort you put into it, will get you better results. Both these assumptions on our side are based on the fact that SEO is not rocket science and that you can also do it yourself for your business, with the right guidance of course.
What is SEO and what do you mean its not rocket science?
So SEO is the process one follows methodically and consistently, looking to increase the probability of a website going higher in the search results of popular search engines like Google. There are a lot of factors to consider but SEO consists of mainly two parts a) on-site SEO, what you do on your website and b) off-site SEO, what you do outside of your website, both looking to help the search engines do two main things a) better understand what your website is about and b) looking for how high your quality is, mainly by analyzing your inbound links or links from other website towards your website.
On-site Search Engine Optimization in a nutshell
On-site SEO is mainly about your website’s structure, content coherence, the extend in which you talk about your stuff, the density of your content around what you do, the technical quality of your website and the user experience. Apart from what you write about, how current it is and how consistent it is, what language it is on and how your website is structured, search engines will also look at weather your website is loading properly on mobile devices making it easy for mobile users to consume your content, how fast your website is and how it might affect users’ data plans on mobile and more.
The first part you can 100% handle yourself. You can write about your services, blog about them, be consistent about what you write and how often. You can optimize your meta titles and meta descriptions, name your files right, add alt text to your images, use original content and do all of that per language and per targeted country, no technical know-how needed here.
About the second and more technical part, being mobile-friendly and fast, you can follow our lead and guidelines, read about it in the web’s community, choose a good WordPress theme and stay within the guidelines when developing your website. Or you can hire a professional to teach you how to do it and then apply it on your website. Again, we here strongly feel that even this, is something you can read about on the web too without having to spend money on it, just time and effort.
Of course, this is a bedrock for on-site SEO, there are a lot of things to do after that, but you need a starting point and the items mentioned above will give you just that. Later on as you dig deeper, you will see more and more things to work on, optimize, measure, A/B test and more.
Off-site Search Engine Optimization is not that hard either
Let’s talk about authority for a moment
Say you were looking for a plumber at your area. If you had no internet to tell you this, you would probably go ask around. You meet with your best friend, George and he suggests that you get Mark, he’s worked with him before and he things Mark is awesome and knows his stuff. Then you call your colleague Jane, she says Jonathan might be a good fit from what she’s heard. Its apparent you are going to trust George’s ( your best friend’s ) opinion over Jane’s just because you trust him more, you know him for a longer time, he is your best friend. Now name that connection with both of these people “Authority”. George might have an authority of say 90 and Jane of 50 which depicts how strong your connection is with each.
Inherently, Mark which is the one George suggested, will have a higher authority than Jonathan ( proposed by Jane ), Mark will have let’s say 60 and Jonathan 30. Who would you choose if you were certain both were plumbers and were both in your area? You would consider each one’s authority, that number that would depict the strength of the argument of how good each one you think is, you would choose Mark or in other words, you would put Mark in the first place of preference and Jonathan in the second one, had there only been two plumbers you heard about.
So now let’s translate this connection described above to websites and links. George, Mark, Jane and Jonathan are websites. The suggestion of each one to the other are links. So there is a link from George to Mark and another one from Jane to Jonathan. Each link “transfers” some authority points from one to the other, therefore Mark has an increased authority score just because George has a link pointing at him, the suggestion he’s made. Same with Jonathan but with a lower authority score since he’s coming from Jane, who in your mind, has a lower authority level from George due to her being a little bit further away from your inner circle.
This is a highly simplified way, authority levels are calculated. Of course there are a lot more parameters in the real-life web scene, topic consistency, topic density, location, content and a lot more. But the gist of it, is the scenario mentioned above, for you to start with.
So how do I do this and what do I need to do?
The target here ( off-site SEO ) is to acquire as many links and at the same time of as higher quality as possible coming to your website. You need to find websites to create links pointing to your website but there are some rules to follow here which are quite important :
- find websites which are relevant to your concept and business, no point for a soccer field website to link from fashion blogs
- make sure these websites are also of high authority, we want to gather links from websites which are “better” than ours
- make sure languages match as much as possible
- make sure to link from websites within the same country you want to perform better in or link from global websites
- do not link from hacked, infected, malicious or spammy wesbsites
- make sure the links pointing to your website are active links or in technical terms rel=”follow” links
This is good to get your started. But what is the pool of websites to start looking into?
- press websites, news websites, magazines online, you might need to contact them in order to exchange links and/or content
- advertorials on the websites menti, ned above, you create content and pay for it to be posted on high profile magazines, news or press websites making sure there is a link to your own site
- forums, communities in which you join and converse not just copy and paste your link or you will be kicked out, here you will need to join the conversation and talk about stuff, then propose your website if and only if you have content on it that can add to that conversation
- social media but not all, create YouTube videos and link to your website, try to get as many views as possible, pin your images / infographics and so on Pinterest and always keep a link to your website on it
- local directories in which you add your business and of course, your website link.
- partner websites which they add info and links about you and also you add something about them
What if I have a ton of money to spend on ads?
Ads are good but when used under a plan. Organic SEO which is what is being mentioned above, will not be affected by ads expenditure directly ( might be indirectly due to increased probability of people talking about you on the web coming from higher exposure due to the ad ) so the more you pay here will not increase your performance on organic search engines.
We think ( and therefore propose ) that ads are complimentary to a good effort on SEO, ads will come to fill in the gap or provide faster results only when its needed like when you need to push an event or get people to know the new line of clothes. Ads should be the number one though around making your website be found over SEO, you should be thinking about SEO first.
This all sounds too complicated still
Its really not. In simple words you only need to to two things a) make sure your website is clean and your content is good, original, explanatory and simple and b) connect with your surrounding businesses, people and network to make them aware of your business through your website. Even if you don’t follow the more “calculated” way mentioned above, just by doing these two things, you will see an increase in your SEO performance. This, by not means, is rocket science and indeed is, something you can ( and maybe should ) do yourself, therefore you should not have to spend a large amount of money to do so, just effort and time.
How will I know?
This is the easy part, Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the go-to tools for measuring your efforts, we will cover them both in later posts and we can help you understand how to use them and how to get the most out of the measurements they will provide you with.