A friend emailed me:
I’m lacking in basic SEO knowledge. I’d like to subcontract that out so I can make sure things are set up correctly. Do you use anyone or know of anyone who I could help with that?
I’m no expert, and while my friend Dave Young claims he’s no expert, he’s being humble. He, along with Paul Boomer, are the guys I ask when I have questions about Internetty things. I asked Dave to share some basic Search Engine Optimization fundamentals in as plain-spoken language as possible. He did not disappoint. He and Boomer co-founded an amazing content generation company called Shortcut Blogging -which helps you with blog writing services. The post he sent me below was created using their techniques of awesome. Please welcome my friend and personal tech support, Dave Young:
DISCLAIMER…I’ve never presented myself as an SEO expert…however, there are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t hurting yourself when it comes to helping the search engines understand who you are. After all, that’s the core of Search Engine Optimization.
1. Make sure Google can understand your URLs. The part of your page urls that come after the .com/ is important. Make sure it isn’t some undecipherable php code. For example, if your domain is “acme-coyote-tools.com” and you have a contact page, it should be “acme-coyote-tools.com/contact” not “acme-coyote-tools.com/phpxxirpr4592337h9”. On a WordPress site, it’s a simple setting.
2. Make sure your “meta descriptions” and “page titles” are accurate. These two items, if available, become the clickable link and the brief description in search engine results for your page. If they are absent, the search engine will do its best to substitute a link and snippet of text from the page, but leaving it up to them might not be the best idea. Take control of the elements that you have control over. Content management systems like WordPress make this easier.
3. Inbound links are important. Do your best to get inbound links from relevant sites. Relevant sites include local directories, review sites, your suppliers, your subcontractors and social media. Some directories ask for a fee. Just be careful. If the site seems spammy or junky, stay away from it.
4. Relevant Content is King. Your site needs to be overflowing with content that your potential customers will find helpful. The ultimate goal for SEO is to prove to the search engines that you are a good resource when people are searching for something you offer. The way to accomplish this is to consistently publish good content that proves you are alive and well, and willing to help. Make sure you are writing your headlines in a way that search engines will understand. “Pow! Take that, Roadrunner!” is an exciting headline, but it risks misunderstanding by the search engines. “A Better Roadrunner Trap is a Coyote’s BFF” gives a bit more context to help the search engines understand the context of the page. If you don’t have the time or talent to crank out content, a blog writing service like Shortcut Blogging is the next best thing.
5. Don’t play games. Good SEO is hard work. There are no shortcuts that Google isn’t actively trying to defeat. Beware of SEO firms promising great results with their secret systems for gaming Google. Just as fast as you climb the rankings with shady techniques, Google will eventually take your knees out from under you with no warning.
Be yourself, and make sure Google understands what that means.