SEO - Everything You Need to Know

SEO can be a powerful way to drive traffic to your website. There are many strategies you can do yourself. This page covers the following SEO topics:

You can learn about the history of SEO here.

What is SEO?

SEO is the practice of getting your website to show up on the first page of the non-paid section of search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Having your website on the first page of Google is important because it means that more customers will visit your website and hopefully buy your products, call you, or whatever it is that you want them to do when they get to your site.

There are two segments of SEO: On Site SEO and Off Site SEO. I will be focusing on “On Site SEO” because it’s the component that we can most easily control.

SEO is important because 70% of the world uses Google to search for on the internet. How often do you go to the second page of Google? Rarely, right? Most people are like you. Not many people go to the second page of Google. Your goal is to get to the first position of Google so more people can find your website when they search for terms that are relevant to your website. Such as: “realtor in brooklyn” or “one bedroom condos for sale in brooklyn”.

The history of search engine optimization is interesting and goes back all the way to the first search engine in 1990.

Why is SEO is important?

SEO builds trust and credibility. Your website’s meta data and ranking on Google convey a powerful brand statement that communicates trust and credibility. How credible can your business claim to be if your website is on page 4 of Google and is outranked by all of your competitors?

  • 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  • 70% of the links users click on are organic.
  • 75% of users never scroll passed the first page of Google.

You'll show up higher in the search results pages on Google, Bing, and Yahoo so people will be more likely find your website. That means you'll get more traffic.

When you start ranking higher in the search results pages, more people will visit your website. And who doesn't want more traffic?

What's the difference between SEM and SEO?

If you Google “realtor in brooklyn”, you’ll notice ads at the top as indicated by the green square that says “Ad”. Those companies paid Google for their link to appear there. That’s called SEM (Search Engine Marketing) and it’s the reason that Google is a billion dollar company. So what about all the links below that ad? Those are all free. They’re collectively called Organic Results and that's where you want your website to be. SEO is the process of getting your website to the top of the organic results for the keywords that your customers are searching for.

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SEO Best Practices

Over the years, Search Engine Optimization has fully established itself as an essential part of digital marketing. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the art and science of improving the page ranking of one’s site, which is required in order to increase visibility, traffic, and eventually, revenues.

With the ability to draw in more visitors and potentially generate more revenues, it’s inevitable that you’ll find millions of content for the topic alone. In order to save you from drowning from tons of helpful content about SEO, we have selected the top 3 SEO best practices that you should know for 2016:

Make Original and Quality Content a Priority

Google has become the tech giant that it is today because its search engine, the company’s very first product, offers relevant and quality web content the moment you hit enter. Users keep coming back because Google made their lives easier by providing them quality information anytime, anywhere.

Make it easier for Google to rank you by giving them what they want: Quality content. In order to pull that off, you’ll have to ensure that your site offers the best relevant content out there for the keywords your potential visitors will use. Don’t forget the ’O’ in SEO means optimization, the main tasks you have to do to get on search engines’ maps.

Always Keep It Short and Simple

Never forget to keep it short and simple. From tags, like meta tags and alt tags, to page titles, up until URLs, keeping them short and simple is one of the best things you can do for your website.

For starters, simple and shorter descriptions tend to be more accurate and have more impact than long-winded descriptions that end up confusing your site visitors.

Aside from having that strong impact on your site’s users, short and simple tags, descriptions, titles, and URLs make it a lot easier for search engines to crawl your site, it optimizes the whole indexing process, which helps a lot in boosting your page rank through proper categorization.

Invest in Mobile

Most of the time, search engine sites, especially Google, will make announcements related to SEO at least a few months in advance. Significant changes are usually well-documented so relevant parties like site owners and digital marketers can prepare in advance. Google, the most preferred search engine worldwide, makes routine algorithm updates designed to cater towards trends and improving user experience.

Recently, Google has unrolled a new algorithm that is heavily leaning towards sites and pages that caters to mobile devices. Meaning, sites and pages that are optimized for mobile devices like smartphones and tablets get to enjoy better indexing, which is necessary at improving search engine ranking. This move by Google has left hundreds of thousands of websites scrambling for a mobile-friendly site just to keep their page ranking intact, an event that earned the moniker ‘mobilegeddon’.

Investing in mobile is not only a good idea to optimize search engine rankings, it’s a great way to easily connect with your users as well. Studies upon studies have proved that 3 in 4 online user access search engine sites using their smartphone, making the investment in mobile-friendly sites a great idea for site owners and digital marketers alike.

As long as you’re doing these 3 SEO best practices, you’re guaranteed to move up in page rankings. Now that you know the essential SEO best practices, it’s time to put them into practice. Save yourself from the time and the hassle of doing it on your own and suffering through countless trials and errors. When it comes to implementing SEO best practices, you’ll need the expert assistance of a team composed of digital marketing veterans.

What is Domain Authority?

Domain Authority is a site scoring system created by Moz in order to accurately gauge the possible SEO performance of a particular site. With scores from 1 to 100, 100 being the highest possible score, sites are graded logarithmically according to the site’s elements like content relevance and link relevance, making Domain Authority scores from 1-40 attainable and 90-100 difficult.  

Is Domain Authority reliable?

Domain Authority is extremely reliable. Moz employed state-of-the-art machine learning techniques in order to determine how Google’s search engine algorithm behaves when producing its search results. According to Moz itself, more than 40 signals are used in their machine learning technology, ensuring scores are accurate as possible and that score fluctuations are to be expected.

Establishing the reliability of Domain Authority, it’s easy to see how important this metric would be for business owners: it shows how well your site is doing. Optimizing your site will surely improve its Domain Authority score while going for spammy content will definitely lower it, that’s why you have to know which actions will improve your score while simultaneously avoiding actions that will lower your Domain Authority score.

How do I find out my Domain Authority?

The first thing you’ll have to do before learning how to increase your Domain Authority is to find out your Domain Authority score and Moz has developed a web tool to do that.

Mozbar is a web tool that can be installed on Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox in order to help you do SEO better. Designed to make SEO a lot easier, Mozbar allows you to automatically see key SEO metrics like Domain Authority while surfing the internet.  After having Mozbar installed, you can easily find your Domain Authority score at the top section of your browser.

When searching on Google while Mozbar is installed and activated, you’ll find an information bar underneath each search engine result indicating the strength of a particular site through metrics like the Domain Authority score. Moz takes it a step further by providing the Page Authority score, a scoring system that functions like Domain Authority but is solely focused on the strength of the particular page  itself. Both metrics, Domain Authority and Page Authority, are provided with additional information like the link counts, removing the need to guess why a particular site or page is ranked as it is.

How do I Increase my Domain Authority?

The next logical question would be, ‘How do I increase my Domain Authority?’

Fortunately, there are a lot of ways to achieve a better Domain Authority score, where all of them are doable. For starters, make sure your SEO is fundamentally sound. That means your site is providing compelling and relevant quality content and strong back links at the very least. Ensure your site generates inbound links, you can achieve this by constantly generating linkable content like How-to’s and infographics. Including social sharing buttons to the leading social networking sites will boost your inbound links exponentially.

In terms of increasing Domain Authority in particular, your goal should be to weed out bad links and increasing the number of good links. Bad links typically are the ones that are irrelevant to your site’s content. Good links are outbound links that connect you to authority sites: news sites, thought leaders, government, organization, and education sites are the ones you should target if you’re looking to improve the strength of your good links.

Set on improving your Domain Authority score? Seek advice from a licensed digital marketing veteran who is happy to help small business get the attention it deserves.

Find out your Domain Authority.


SEO Basics

We all know that keywords are essential for the SEO of any website. Regardless of the changes in algorithms and other information and features on your site, keywords are still one of the fundamental factors which will determine how effective your website is in the search engine rankings.

What is the function of SEO keywords?

SEO keywords are the words on your website which allow search engines such as Google to understand better what your website is about. The search engine then uses these words as a basis to decided which website to put at the top of its rankings when someone uses one of these keywords in their search input.

It is important to do your research into what keywords are good and bad for you. There may be some, for example, which attract many people but no-one who will ever buy, whilst there may be others which attract fewer people, but good `quality` customers.

You now need to choose a keyword for each page and use it about 6 times on that page. It is important, however, not to exaggerate and over-fill your website with keywords as search engines do not like this, and will work against you. You need your content to be natural, informative and entertaining, and if you manage this, you are well on your way to the effective SEO of your website.

Where to add Keywords on your Website

When you are writing the content for your site, there are some places where you need to have a well-placed keyword.

  • SEO Tags – It is important to include your keyword in your title tags or your meta description. The first thing that Google scans is your title, so get it in there, or in the chunk of text underneath your title – the meta data. The SEO of your meta data is also very important to attract people to your site once they have seen you in the search results.

  • Try to include your keywords in the headers and sub-headers of your content, as well as in the content itself. Remember, however to keep your content natural and flowing so that it reads well.

  • If you are including a link, use the keywords for the link. For example, don`t use `click here for more information about classic cars`, use, `use can find out more about classic cars on this website` - with the keyword being `classic cars`.

  • Use ALT and TITLE attributes, but don`t base them around keywords. Make them relevant and don`t duplicate them with other content on your website.

  • If you are naming an image, you can use embedded file names to add in a keyword. For example, if you are putting an image on your site, instead of calling it `Image01`, why not call it `Red Hat`?

Creating good content, rich in keywords but strategically placed and without overkill is central to the success of your website in the search engine rankings. It is important to choose the right words and to put them in the right place, to ensure effective SEO.


Onsite SEO

Title Tags, Description Tags, H1 Tags, and content make up On Site SEO. There are many other factors, but these are the main subsections that I will help you with. The screenshot below is the “Meta Data” for your homepage. I found it by Googling this exact term: “site:tellmeyourgoal.com”.

What is a Title Tag?

The Title Tag is one of the most essential foundations of SEO. It gives online users a quick rundown on what a site page is all about. The big Purple link is called your Title Tag. It’s a major factor in Google’s algorithm that determines how highly you rank.

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Tips for Writing Title Tags:

  • Structure: Main Content Goes Here | How I Wrote That
  • Max character Limit: 70 including spaces
  • Try to use keywords where possible and relevant but don’t overdo it by squeezing in a list of keywords. The Title tag should be a very clear description of what the page is about.
  • Each page should have a 100% unique Title Tag—no two Title Tags should be the same.

A site that attempts to optimize other elements of SEO without optimizing their Title Tags in their site's pages is bound for failure. After all, the Title Tag is equivalent to Email Marketing’s subject lines: It’s the first thing that people see on top of their browser and search results—it would determine if your site page gets clicked or not.

Aside from the human element, optimized Title Tags are necessary for better page rankings. With the increasing complexity of search engine algorithms just to get the right site to the online user, it’s easy to see that relevant title tags get indexed better, improving the chances of getting up on page rankings.

Title Tag Recommendations

The best Title Tags are the ones that accurately define the scope, purpose, intent, or topic of the site page. Accuracy is key, so make sure that the title tag is aligned with the content of your site page while providing Title Tag real estate for the essential keywords.

Just like a great subject line, stuffing all the keywords on your Title Tags will lose its impact on potential site visitors and search engine algorithms may categorize the page as spammy. However, you can address this problem by making sure the most relevant keywords on your Title Tags are strategically placed in descending order, from left to right.

As much as we want to have significant branding for every aspect of our digital assets, especially small business owners looking to maximize their brand capital in the shortest time possible, refrain from putting your brand name on the leftmost part of your Title Tag. Online users will be most likely searching for the things they want using keywords instead of going straight to your business using your brand name as their search term. It’s highly recommended to use a compelling keyword to start your Title Tag instead.   

Title Tag Length

Aside from keyword accuracy and strategic keyword placement, Title Tags can be heavily optimized through proper length. In order to determine the optimal length for your title tag, we’ll have to know the number of characters allowed.

The Title Tag character limit is 70. Any more than that and the search engine will produce ellipsis in place of the additional text. While there’s nothing inherently wrong about going beyond the 70-character limit, it severely hampers the optimization of your Title Tag.

To be on the safe side, always aim for Title Tag with around 55 to 65 characters. That way you can ensure that each word you place gets read. Otherwise, you’re wasting time and effort writing words that won’t be read. Besides, online users who chanced upon your Title Tag while using search engines will probably get confused if the text they’re reading suddenly gets cut off. While we’d like to hope that cutting them off in mid sentence will induce them to click, it’s more probable than not that they’d just head over to other site pages with complete Title Tags as it denotes professionalism.     

With the sheer number of potential keywords for your Title Tag that may click with online users, it’s easy to succumb to paralysis by analysis. You’ll need the help and guidance of a digital marketing veteran whose experience will help you efficiently wade through thousands of keywords just to get the few that will give your site the most impact.

What is a Description Tag?

The gray text underneath is your Description Tag. It doesn’t contribute to your ranking on Google, but it does help persuade your visitors to click on your link over your competitors.

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TIPS FOR WRITING description TAGS:

  • No longer than 150 characters (including spaces)
  • The Description Tag should convince the user to click on your link instead of the links above or below.
  • Provide a unique value proposition in your Description Tag. It should be something that sets you apart from the competition.

The Description Tag is there for your visitors. Google does not use your Description Tag to determine your ranking. This is your chance to tell your visitors what to do. Provide a call to action in your Description Tag. You may want your visitors to shop on your site, tell them about a special promotion, to make a reservation, or order online. It is not guaranteed that Google will use your Description Tag. Google may choose some other text on your page instead.


Offsite SEO

Offsite SEO is all about Backlinking. This is a major ranking factor. Think of them as “recommendations”—or a sort of a referral from a trusted source. Google views these as good signs that your website is not only legitimate, but that other people find it helpful.

What are Backlinks?

A backlink is a link on another website that links to your website. The more of these you have on relevant sites, the higher you’ll rank on Google. For SEO, you want to have as many backlinks on relevant websites as possible. If you're a realtor, having a backlink on a blog about cigars isn't going to help you because it's not relevant. 

Backlinks are notoriously difficult to obtain because the process involves actually calling or Emailing relevant websites and asking them to add a link to their site.

I recommend you start by reaching out to your friends or industry professionals with whom you have a relationship and and ask them to post a link to your site on their site. A really successful way of doing this is going as far as writing a short blog post for them. In that post, you include a link to your site. It’s a win-win. They get free content and you get a backlink.

Three things not to do when obtaining backlinks

  • Posting your link in the comments section of random websites. For one, Google doesn’t always track links in comments. Two, it will actually get you de-ranked because Google can consider it spam. However, if you post thoughtful, helpful, and relevant comments on relevant websites, it's a great way to increase traffic to your website.
  • Posting your link on irrelevant sites. If you have your link on cigars.com, that sounds really cool because it’s a huge site with lots of visitors, but the site is not relevant to YOUR industry. Relevancy is key with backlinks. It’s better to get one backlink on a relevant site than backlinks on 100 irrelevant sites.
  • Get a bunch of back links right away. Google wants this process to be natural, so if they start to see that you’re getting 100s of backlinks in a week, they’re going to consider that suspicious and possibly de-rank you.

Common SEO Questions

Go to Google right now and type your business's product or service + your neighborhood. Does your business show up on the first page?

SEO is the practice of getting your website on the first page so you can acquire more customers. It involves strategically editing your website and your other online properties to increase your website's ranking on Google.

Most consumers don't look past the first page. So if you're website is on page 3, you might as well not exist.

Keep reading about SEO.

What is Google My Business?

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Have you ever searched for a business on Google and it immediately shows up with a map, phone number, and address? That's because that business owner is using Google My Business. And you should too. It's free.

Google accounts for as much as 60% of organic search traffic to small business websites, according to a recent report by Conductor. It's critical that your business be properly listed on Google for Business for Business.

Learn how to get your business listed on Google Maps for free.

Should your business be on Yelp?

Yes, some customers might have bad things to say about you. Every business will get a bad review at some point; it's not unusual. But do you know what's worse than one bad review? No reviews at all. It's like walking by a restaurant and not seeing anyone inside–no one wants to eat there. There is a protocol for responding to positive and negative reviews on Yelp.

Learn how to get your business listed on Yelp for free.

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Why is Social Media important to SEO?

Social Media is a way to engage your customers; it helps you establish a dialogue so you can obtain new customers and retain existing customers.

There are a lot of options: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, YoutubeTwitter, or Foursquare.

But you don't need to be on every Social Media channel. You just need to be on those that are appropriate to your business.

For example: if you own a bakery, you will want to join Instagram. People love seeing pictures of food. On the other hand, if you own a dry cleaning business, you will not want to join Instagram because you're not going to have many pictures to share. Instead you could join Youtube and create videos on how to clean common stains or share tips for cleaning clothes.

The content you produce should be relevant to your customers and it should provide them with value that they can't get anywhere else.

Learn more about Social Media.


How to Calculate Estimated Traffic from Google

Let's say you want to get 300 new sales per month through your website. Let's also assume that your website converts at a rate of 10% (for every 10 people that visit your site, you sell one item). You would need 3,000 new visitors each month.

Here's the formula:

Visitors (3,000) = Leads (300)/Conversion Rate (.10)

You could get 3,000 visitors by purchasing ads on Google. If your average cost per click (CPC) is $2.00, then you should expect to spend $6,000. That's a lot of money.

And once your advertising campaign ends, your ads disappear. No more traffic.

But with SEO, you could be getting 3,000 new visitors every month without spending anywhere near $6,000.

Take a look at this Excel sheet I put together. It tells you how much traffic you can expect if you rank on the first page of Google. The first position on the first page of Google receives on average 33% of the traffic. Knowing that and a website's conversion rate of 10%, I created a formula that calculates the amount of traffic you'd receive if you ranked on the first page of Google. You can download this organic traffic calculator Excel file for free.

Free SEO Audit Tool

See how optimized a specific web page, landing page, or blog post is for an exact keyword or phrase