What are the basics of SEO

This page is designed to explain basic SEO and give you a few tips.  It is by no means an exhaustive list of options or best practices, but for those who are new to SEO it will give you a basic understanding and may help you learn the right questions to ask if you should desire to learn more.

Much of the information here is the result of study, listening to podcasts, testing and is organized in a way that helped me to understand it.   There are a lot of things that make a website successful.   Driving traffic to the site with print media, Google Adwords, Facebook ads, email newsletter promotions, pancake breakfasts, and all kinds of other ways to promote your site.   However, none of that does any good if Google doesn’t like your site.  So this article will try to stay focused on what basic SEO information you need to make sure you aren’t making any big blunders and where to look if you want to optimize your site.   I don’t plan to re-invent the wheel so you will see plenty of links here to other articles that have done a great job of explaining these issues.

What are the three main type so of SEO

We categorize SEO in three ways; on page SEO, off page SEO, and technical SEO.  On page deals with the actual layout of the page, the text content, images and alt tags, calls to action, etc.  It is mostly concerned with what the user sees and how they can interact with the page.  Off page deals with link building, social strategies, and other marketing strategies used to increase your brand strength and awareness.  Technical SEO deals with the nuts and bolts of the website.   The coding language, webserver settings, and the server settings that the webserver runs on.

What is On Page SEO?

So what is on page SEO all about.  As you can imagine it deals with things on the page.   There is more going on in each page of your website than some marketing jargon.   Each page is constructed of code and important elements.  So let’s get started on a list of some of the key on page elements.

There is a very thorough page on backlinko.com

Title Tag

You should start your title tag with your keyword near the start.   The title is one of the most important on page factors and should be 55-60 characters long.  This title is used as the main source for determining the topic of the page.

H1 Tag (and other tags)

Put the title of your page in an H1 tag and use H2 and H3 on your subheadings.  This creates a clear organization for your page and helps the search engines understand your page.

Add keywords near the beginning of the article

Make sure you use your keywords a few times in the first 100 words of your article.  Your keywords may actually be a phrase of three or four words but should help the visitor understand what your page is about.

Link to other sites AND other pages in your site

Google and other search engines will follow the links you put in your site, whether to another website or just another section of your own site, and will use that to help determine if your page’s information is relevant to the topic you are talking about.

Optimize your images

Images that load fast are appreciated by users and search engines alike.  Make sure you reduce the size of  your images and don’t forget to use some unique alt tags.

Responsive design

Responsive design refers to your page’s “responsiveness” to different sizes of screens.  Basically, it means that whether your user is on a computer, tablet, or phone they will be able to read and understand your content easily.  No pinching and zooming to make pages fit, they will automagically resize to fit appropriately.

Other on page factors

There are a lot of other on page factors and the short list above is just a sample of all that you can improve on.  Social media factors, length of content, multimedia engagement, and lots of other factors are all things that can improve your page’s chance of getting to the top of the search engine rankings.

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What is off page SEO?

Off page SEO, also called off site SEO, deals with blogging, social media strategies, email newsletters and other marketing efforts, and link building.  These are strategies that take place off your website but actually can have a pretty big impact on how your website ranks.

There is a great article on Moz for this.


Keeping a blog about your company events, industry changes, fun activities, and anything else that may keep people coming back to your blog is a great way to generate organic traffic.   Don’t just blog about your latest sale or newest product, offer interesting information or events to keep people coming back to your site to see what is new.

Link building

Link building is the process of getting other sites to add a link to your website.   You want these to be sites that are either in your industry or related to your industry.  Obviously, you probably won’t be getting your direct competitors to add a link to your site, unless they run ads on their site.   You should be looking for complimentary sites in or around your industry and reach out to them to see if you can get a link.  This may be a simple marketing link, or you may write a guest blog post, or may even just be paid advertising.

Email Newsletters

Email marketing is still the number one way to get interaction with your customer base.  If customers have signed up for your newsletter they expect to hear from you.   Don’t just send them coupons and ads.   Send them interesting content about what is happening in your industry and news about your business.

Social Media Strategies

Just like it sounds, this is facebook, Instagram, twitter, pinterest and other social media platforms that help you to engage directly with your customers.   Service feedback, surveys, fun posts are all ways to get your customers to engage.

Do I need to use all the strategies talked about here?

Of course, if you want to have the best results possible.  However, for most of us we don’t have the time or money to do everything.   Get to know your customers and then pick what strategies you can do and do well.  If you don’t think you would post to twitter more than once every couple of months, don’t do twitter.   If you can’t create a blog post at least once a month, don’t do blogging.   Try to pick things you can do well.  Once you have that down you can start to add new strategies.   Also, remember to keep track of whether or not that strategy is even bringing in customers and traffic and if it isn’t don’t waste your time.