Let’s all rewind to ten years ago. How many times had you heard the acronym “SEO,” or the words “search engine optimization”? And, a decade ago, how important did you think search engine optimization might be? Personally, I can’t remember the exact time I first heard of SEO, but I know I assumed it’d be something that was mainly for techies. I had no idea even five years ago that SEO expertise would become one of the most sought after skills for employers, and the beast that SEO would become in the world of business and marketing.
1. Understand the Goal of SEO
Before you can master SEO, you have to have a genuine understanding of why it’s important and relevant to brands. Think about the last time you searched something on Google and actually went to the second page of the results. And if the last time happens to be recently, then here’s another prompt: how often do you actually click on that second page?
Google (and other search engines) has an incomprehensibly large amount of web pages that they can produce as results of a search. But out of those seemingly infinite amount of web pages, the only ones that are really getting any attention are the ones that show up on that first page. About nine out of 10 internet users never even click to page two of results. To improve your SEO skills, it’s imperative that you keep the goal in mind: you want your web page to be on that first page of a search engine when a user searches something that’s at all relevant to your webpage. Remember the goal, and keep your eye on the prize.
2. Learn How Search Engines Work
Once you know why you’re getting into SEO to begin with, you next need to develop more than just a surface level understanding of search engines. To succeed in SEO is to make your web page stand out when Google is “crawling” through the world wide web, reading the content of billions of webpages to find those relevant to your search. So what is it looking for?
Keywords, backlinks, and site structure are three of the most important factors that search engines evaluate when returning results. Keywords are what people type into the search bar; an understanding of keywords and keyword trends will help you optimize your webpage to show up more in the results page. Backlinks are other web pages that link to your site; having a collection of trustworthy, legitimate websites that link back to your site or your product are like a vote of confidence. It shows the search engine that your webpage is legitimate. And site structure is part of content optimization, how you structure your website to make it easy for both users and search engines to work through for information. Learning how a search engine uses these factors to come up with a results page is key to showing up on that first page of results. Get an understanding of search engines, and you can learn how to manipulate your webpage so those search engines are working for you.
3. Teach Yourself Basic Coding
Coding is a core concept of SEO, and though it may sound intimidating, you don’t need to be a coding expert to understand how to use it in the context of SEO. Coding, in the context of SEO, can be thought of as the language search engines are reading when they browse your webpage. So if you want your website to be search engine friendly (and thus rank higher in results pages), you’ll want to get a basic understanding of coding to make it as simple for the search engine as possible.
Understanding and altering the coding of your webpage won’t necessarily change how the webpage looks to humans, so it’s easy to overlook this skill, but it’s crucial. Because remember point #1: SEO is about search engine results, and to rank well in those results, you need to speak the search engine’s language – at least a little. Even a basic understanding of coding takes a little work, so we won’t go through it here, but there are plenty of free courses and videos online that are specific to SEO that can teach you how to get on the same page as search engines when it comes to browsing the code of a webpage.
Conclusion: Do Your Homework
At the end of the day, if you want to boost your SEO skills, you need to study. And the internet is your best friend. But the one thing that these three steps have in common is that they do take a little effort. So if you’re set on becoming a SEO expert, you’ll have to put aside some time each week to learn the ins and outs of search engines, the internet, and your own webpage.
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