What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?
One of the questions I am asked most often when I tell people what I do is what is SEO? I get asked this question so often that I have found myself just defining it as part of my answer, something like I optimize websites to increase traffic and revenue for businesses. I decided it was time to explain exactly what SEO is and what you need to know about SEO in 2017.
What is SEO?
The Definition of SEO
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. The short definition of SEO is the optimization of a website or landing page to make it easier for people searching the internet to find it. SEO is not a new tactic or technique. In fact, it’s been around for well over a decade. If you’ve been in marketing at all then you have likely heard of SEO (shockingly I have spoken to marketers who have no idea what SEO is). SEO is an art and a science.
SEO is an organic process. That means if you are handling your own SEO you are not paying to rank your website on any of the search engines. You are doing this without advertising and paying to improve ranking.
SEO requires a lot of knowledge on how the major search engines work and the changes they make to their algorithms. Not keeping up with changes can be detrimental to your SEO plan, and ultimately your business. This is why SEO experts like me are able to charge for this service.
You can fix your own leaky faucet and you might get it right but you might also miss something and create a bigger problem later. You might also break something else in the process and create an enormous problem. SEO works the same way. Doing SEO wrong can set you back; in some cases years.
With the above definition, I will tell you that SEO has evolved dramatically, and continues to evolve daily (literally). One of the main reasons that SEO has evolved so dramatically is the evolution of how people search. We don’t search the internet the same way we did even a year ago. Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:
- Today if we’re looking for a product we’re more likely to take to Amazon or eBay than we are Google
- With the influx of voice recognition software and hardware (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google) it’s not uncommon to pick up a phone and use the voice search or to use a standalone Bluetooth speaker with voice recognition to get an answer
- People routinely use YouTube (the second most popular search engine in the world) to research how to do something or get a product review. People would rather watch a video than reading. They also want to be educated on a product or service before making a purchase
- Often someone using Google to search will revise their search 3-5 times to find what they’re looking for. This has led to the development of machine learning (AI) to determine a searcher’s intent rather than what they type in (or speak). Google’s AI is called Rankbrain.
How Do I Dominate My Own SEO?
First, let me start by saying you need to know a few things to get started. If you are going down the DIY SEO road then you are likely using a CMS like WordPress, or a website builder like Wix. If you choose WordPress I would highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin to help you manage SEO. The website builders have some SEO components built into them but they can be limiting.
You can download my free On-Page SEO checklist to help you with the first part of SEO. Review this document and implement all the action steps listed and you will be off to a great start.
Ultimately the way to dominate SEO is by thinking of your audience first, not Google or Bing. Develop and write content for your audience. If you sell cars then explain the advantages of a certain car in terms your audience will understand. If you are a painter then develop content around deciding what type of paint you should use or what colors work best in different scenarios.
If you’re an SEO expert then develop content that helps business owners understand why SEO is so critical to a business’ success and how to determine if the SEO is done properly on their site.
Content comes in many forms. Develop content in video, photos, infographics, written, and audio. This ensures you are appealing to different types of leaning. By doing this you will likely increase engagement which has become an important part of what Google looks at in determining ranking factors in 2017.
Content that your audience wants is one of the most critical pieces of any successful SEO plan. Once the content is developed you can worry about the other more technical items and SEO tricks & hacks.
Here are some SEO hacks & tricks that have worked well for me recently:
- Repurposing & remarketing content. Take an older blog post, update it and share it across social media
- Sharing a blog post that Google has indexed on your site to other blogging platforms
- When developing content include different forms of content (video, audio, images). Video especially will increase engagement
- Share, Share, Share. There are tons of ways to share your content. Do it.
- Include Power Words in Your Title and Content
- Don’t develop content around a singular keyword phrase. Use variations
- Use Google Search Console to determine keyword analytics and build on positive results
That should be enough to get you started. Things are changing in 2017. If your SEO is not changing with it then you will suffer. Some things to look out for in 2017 in my educated opinion:
- Google will continue to put more weight into engagement analytics like bounce rate, time on page, and shares.
- Google will penalize “fake” traffic. This means if you are somehow manipulating clicks to your site you will be penalized. One of the more common methods of doing this is to encourage people to search for something and click on your site.
- Businesses will place more value on SEO, and good SEOs will become harder to find. Larger businesses will in-house SEO.
- Video will continue to drive SEO results and become more important to your SEO success.
I have a few more theories but we will hold on to those for a later blog post.
The question is What is SEO. We reviewed what SEO is and how to dominate it in 2017. The truth is SEO takes a lot of time, testing, effort, monitoring and work, and some luck. If you are not prepared for the long-term commitment it’s best to leave it to an SEO expert. In short, SEO is HARD WORK.
Feel free to join me on SEO Hackerz (formerly the SEO Tear Down). I broadcast live once a week and upload every episode to YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and my site. Lots of SEO information and tactics to be had on this podcast, and I keep them 15-20 minutes. See you there.