New to SEO? A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Here is a little tidbit about me: I read… a lot. At least a book a week and I am particular about what I read. No fiction unless it’s a “classic,” and only as a break between research groups. I generally pick a subject and then focus exclusively on it between three and six months. Yes… sounds boring and sometimes it is. The good news is I’m often testing concepts as I learn and try to distill what I find into pearls of… well something close to wisdom.
There are many books, articles, consultants, blogs and training seminars on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I’ve read countless, attended “Bruce Clay” training (which I recommend simply because there’s no better way to learn than complete immersion) and tried a dozen software applications from the free to the ridiculously expensive. Not surprising, they all cover the same 80% of what you need to know which is just enough to get you into trouble. The remaining 20% you’ll need to get from various forums and “expert opinions” and will need to test the concepts to figure out what works for you.
All of the basics fall into three categories: Code, Content and Links. Suffice it to say you need to focus on all three and anything that says any one is more significant than the other is bunk. Also, be wary of anything that doesn’t stand the following test: “Are the changes I’m about to make in the best interest of our visitors?” You’ll see recommendations on many “gray area” techniques. It’s not “black hat” but ultimately you’re trying to game the algorithm. All I can say is everything you need to know about these techniques you learned from your mother. The hard right answer is the best answer and there are no shortcuts. SEO takes work… it takes a constant vigil. In the end, every little bit will build on itself and create your SEO foundation. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Now, if you’re just starting the journey, here is a quick and relatively inexpensive way to understand the 80%. It’s by no means a definitive list, and you’ll still need to do the work. Hopefully it weeds out a ton of redundant information and will get you focused, excited and ready to roll up your sleeves.
- Read: Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide! by Google
- Read: Get to the Top on Google: Tips and Techniques to Get Your Site to the Top of the Search Engine Rankings — and Stay There by David Viney. An outstanding book that is accessible for the beginner but comprehensive enough for the experienced.
- Download: Web CEO and sit through all of the tutorial modules. Then use the tools on your website. It is a practical application of the same concepts in David Viney’s book. It’s amazing what sticks when you’re applying it to your beloved site. (I’ll be surprised if you don’t end up buying it.)
- Learn: How to use Google’s Webmaster Tools. Create an account and spend the time to learn every nuance. It’s free and it gives your great insight on how Google sees your website.
Good news… you should have a clear enough understanding to complete the basics. Bad news… you’re just getting started. If you do everything right, you can get in striking distance of leaders. To win, you need to focus on the other 20%. Take the time to measure your progress and how you stack up against the competition. When you’re ready for the next leg of your journey, it’s time to understand the intricacies of silos / themes , PageRank management and more…