What is SEO? Complete Tutorial For Beginners – Learn SEO (Training For 2019) Fast!

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So today, we’re going to go ahead and answer the super high level question what is SEO, search engine optimization? You’re brand new to SEO or if you’ve done a little bit of it before in the past, but you might be missing a few pieces here and there, then this is the video for you. So stay till the end because we’re going to go through the exact step-by-step process that you need to understand what search engine optimization fundamentally is. I’ve been doing SEO for almost 10 years. I’m excited to take you through the entire process. My name’s Tommy Griffith with Let’s get going. All right, so let’s dig in. What is SEO, search engine optimization? Let’s answer that question today. So search engine optimization is very simply just the act of acquiring traffic from search engines to any of the digital assets that we own.

Most commonly this is your website, but we’re going to talk about a couple of other digital assets that you can drive traffic to as well. What is SEO not? Right, so what are the things that don’t define SEO? SEO is not paying for traffic. It’s not a scam. It’s not shady or against terms of service. Right, SEO is completely acceptable and normal, white hat. Lots of companies rely on it, depend on it. It’s not that fast. A lot of people jump into this the wrong way. They expect to see SEO results right away and that’s usually not the case. It’s not just for Google anymore. There’s a number of different platforms that you should be doing search engine optimization on depending on your business.

And most importantly, it’s not that hard. My favorite aspect of search engine optimization is that once you understand it, it’s really not that difficult. If I only had 30 seconds to tell you what SEO is, I would tell you it’s these three things: document relevancy. That’s all the stuff we do on our pages to make them more relevant for users and search engines. Increasing authority, so that’s all the things we do kind of off our page in order to let search engines know we’re trustworthy and useful to users. Things like links, views, sales, favorites. We’ll talk a little bit more about those. They’re kind of dependent on the platform. The third one is technical optimization. That’s just all the behind the scenes engineering things that we do to make it easier for search engines to find us. Right? So within document relevancy, the easy way to think about this is that it’s the search engine’s job to give users exactly what they’re looking for and then eventually monetize that behavior, right? It’s our job as SEOs to understand what our customers are searching for and then create awesome relevant content for them, right? So the search engines try and deliver the right answer to their user and it’s our job as SEOs to understand what that user is looking for and deliver that answer for them.

That’s the document relevancy piece. Increasing authority, very broadly this means popularity, right? So again, it depends on the platform, but if you’re a regular search engine, that usually means links or clicks or any type of engagement. If you’re a video platform like YouTube, it might be video views or length of video view. If you’re an eCommerce platform like Amazon, it might be sales, right? Favorites or likes, right? It might be a different platform like Pinterest, right, and so it really depends on the platform, but in general search engines have to understand what kind of what the most popular documents are and then show those at the top. The last piece is technical optimization. There are more than a billion websites out there. This is an incredibly comprehensive technically difficult problem for Google and other search engines. Technical optimization is just all the stuff that we do to make it easier for search engines to find us. Search is no longer just Google on your desktop anymore.

There’s a ton of different places where search exists. YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest. There’s mobile search, Google Places, The App Store. Yelp, Core, LinkedIn, eBay, [inaudible 00:03:47], anything with search engines. Anything that has a search engine, that has a number of documents, it has to sort and rank those documents, this is a problem, right? Airbnb has this problem. Yelp has this problem. LinkedIn and eBay have this problem. When someone types in used VCR or vacation rental Miami, or coffee shop San Francisco, how do all of these web applications decide what documents should go on the top? It’s actually a very similar problem that Google has.

Google’s obviously much more comprehensive, it has many more tanking symbols, it has a much more difficult kind of task at hand, but in general the problem is document relevancy. What do you show at the top for your users? Now, the best way to think about this is this, every platform with a search engine has to solve this document relevancy problem, right? So in general to do this they like to ask themselves two questions. The first is what’s best for our users and the second is what’s best for our business? If your content, if the thing you are doing on that platform is the answer to one or both of these questions, it is a relevant document, right? Keep that in mind when you’re doing this.

In general what you want to be doing is being helpful and useful to the end user and also helpful and useful to that platform’s business. If you do both of these, you’re going to do very, very well in search engine optimization. The last piece I want to talk about here before we move on are click through rates, and this is why SEO is so important. If you think back to kind of the pre-Google era, Google was search engine 11 or 13 or something like that in the late ’90s. There were many, many other search engines prior to Google, right? The reason why Google went out is because of their ability to find more relevant documents than other search engines. Back in the late ’90s, kind of pre-Google, it was very, very common to do a search, not find what you were looking for, go to page two, go to page three, go to page four, maybe change search engines. Go to page two, go to page three, go to page four and generally be very disappointed in not finding what you were looking for. AltaVista, HotBot, Lycos, MetaCrawler, going a little nostalgic for you here, right? There were a lot of search engines that kind of sucked.

Google fundamentally changed a lot of user behavior here. So what happened was because Google became so good at finding the most relevant documents, our behavior as users changed with it. This is a click through rate chart from Advanced Web Ranking. We have a link down below. You can go ahead and grab this. But what we found is that users stopped going to page two and page three and page four.

What they’re broadly doing now is sifting through the top five results and if they don’t find what they’re looking for, they’re doing what’s called query refinement, which means they go back to Google and they change their search, right? They add a word, they remove a word, they pluralize it, whatever it is. In general, about 75% of clicks go to the top five results. What this means is is if you’re not in the top five results, you are effectively invisible. Users are really only sifting through the top five results and then they’re doing another search. This is why SEO is so important, because it’s not good enough to be in the top 10. It’s not good enough to be in the top 20. You need to be in the top five and there’s a power law distribution through this, the spoils go to the victor. Whoever’s number one is going to get the vast majority of clicks, right? This is why it’s so important. In general the rule of thumb here is in order to win SEO, you want to rank number one for all of your keywords.

In general, this usually isn’t possible. It is almost impossible no matter what your business is to rank number one for everything. If you’ve done it, please email me. I’d love to take a look at what you’re doing, but this is why SEO is so important is because 75% of clicks go to the top five results. If we’re not in the top five, we are effectively invisible. Okay, so I want to take you through a quick search framework before we get going that kind of compartmentalizes a lot of these thoughts and makes it very easy to go through this entire process. So here’s the search framework. We have this as a downloadable for you.

If you’d like, go ahead and click that link down below int eh description to grab this on your own. So this framework, this SEO framework is applied to every step of your sales funnel, so do keep that in mind as we go through. So let’s look at the top, the very first persona and the funnel, right? So before you kind of dig into this, if you don’t have any familiarity with what the sales funnel is, we have a video for you down below. You can go ahead and grab that, but the basic idea here is you want to figure out who you’re targeting and where they are in the funnel. General sales funnel, you have people who are kind of least interested first experiencing your business at the top, most interested closer to the bottom and any users that have converted have passed through your funnel and they’re in the retention kind of reactivation phase of the entire funnel, right? So before you use this SEO framework to identify and optimize your site, you want to figure out who your customer avatar is, what their wants and desires are and where in the funnel are they.

So let’s do an example and let’s look at a local real estate website in order to do that. So let’s say we had a site, it’s is a website dedicated to selling real estate in New Hampshire, right? Let’s identify our persona and our funnel as well. My little sister was recently married, we’re going to go ahead and use her as an example. So we have Johnny and Liz, my brother-in-law and my sister. They’re 26-years-old, recently married. They want to buy a home. They’ve just started looking. They’re looking for a place in New Hampshire so they’re in the top of the funnel. We know who they are. They’re 26, they have a certain level of income, they’re recently married, they’re looking for a home. There they are. Look at those clowns. Look at those two dummies. Aren’t they adorable? So we’d go ahead and do our search, our keyword research and get that process going, right? So there’s a bunch of different tools you can use here.

We have a number of keywords and the monthly search volume for them and we can actually break these down in terms of where they are in the funnel, right? So best cities for newlyweds, best millennial cities in 2017-2018. Those might be top of the funnel queries. As they start to do some research they might move closer to the middle and the bottom of the funnel, kind of ready to convert, right? So best cities, newlyweds, New Hampshire, newlyweds, NH cities might be middle, and then real estate agents, Portsmouth, New Hampshire or realtors New Hampshire, November 2017 or June 2018, something like that. So it’s kind of an example of how different queries can represent different phases of the funnel. So we’ve identified our persona in our funnel. Right? It’s Johnny and Liz. They’re 26-years-old, they’re recently married, they’re at the very top of the funnel. They’re just kind of starting their search for a home. Now let’s talk about the digital asset that will help capture them, right? So the digital asset is just a fancy way to say the content that the user will consume.

The vast majority of the time this could probably just going to be a post on your site or a page on your site. But it doesn’t have to be, and that’s kind of the point here is that the digital asset that you use to capture users could be a bunch of different things. It could be a form response. It could be a product review, a social media post, a video image or a podcast. Maybe it’s a digital tool that you create or a product demo that you could create as well. In this particular example, we’re just going to do a blog post, right? So it’s going to be a blog post and it’s going to be called Newlywed Advice: The Best Cities To Build A Love Nest. So this is kind of our post that’s designed to capture a 26-year-old recently married who is looking for a home in New Hampshire. Next is the medium and the channel. So this is going to be where the content lives and how it will be distributed. There’s a bunch of different mediums. In general the most common one will be your own website, but it doesn’t have to be.

Right now we’re using YouTube as a medium for this type of content, right? So this is video content optimized for what is SEO. This is very meta talking about this, right? This optimized, what is SEO? It’s going to live on YouTube. It could be on other places as well. Google Places, Yelp, Amazon, Core, Pinterest, maybe The App Store, right? So that’s the medium and then the channel could be a bunch of different things, SEO, paid search, email marketing, content marketing. Today it’s going to be SEO, right? So as a reminder, search isn’t just Google, right? Depending on your website there are many search engines that you could be optimizing for, YouTube, Amazon, Pinterest, mobile search.

There’s a bunch of different options out there for you. For this particular example our medium is going to be our own site and our channel is going to be Google. That’s what we’ll do today. Cool. So we’ve done the persona and the funnel. We’ve done the digital asset and the digital medium and the channel that we go ahead and optimize for. Next it’s going to be optimization. Optimization very simply is just doing everything you need to do to maximize the number of users that get to that next step in the funnel, right? So because this is top of funnel, because our primary asset is a post on our site and because the medium and the channel will be our own site and Google, we’re going to do all the things we need to do from a search engine optimization perspective, right? So make sure the title’s there, make sure the meta description’s there.

Do you have the keyword in the copy a couple of times? Is it fast? Do you have your keyword in a couple of images? Are you using latent semantic indexing? All the things you do for SEO to kind of maximize the total number of users that gets to the next step in the funnel. Finally, it’s the nudge. This is the most important aspect of the framework. The nudge is understand… … it’s an important aspect of the framework. The nudge is understanding where the user is in the buyers journey, and then taking them to the next logical step down the funnel, right. In our example, our users at the top of the funnel, right. A 26 year-old looking for a home.

We’ve created this post. It’s an asset on our own site, it’s called newlywed advice, right, the best cities to build a love nest. We’re optimizing for Google. We’re suddenly ranking, we’re getting all this traffic. Our nudge is the next step in the funnel where we want them to go. When we’ve optimized our site and we’re generating traffic and we’re getting all this traffic, we have not yet committed the nudge. Getting the traffic is not the nudge. Moving the user to the middle of the funnel is the nudge. If we get a bunch of traffic and then all that traffic bounces, we actually have not yet succeeded, right. Just getting traffic is not enough, we want to take the user to the next logical step. In this particular case our next logical step is getting their email. When my sister does a search for best newlywed homes New Hampshire, or best places to live, right, best cities for millennials, whatever it is, she’s not yet converted until she enters her email address.

The minute she enters her email address, she moves to the middle of the funnel. Once she moves to the middle of the funnel, we go back through the search framework and do the whole thing over again. Right? The framework is applied to every step of the funnel. This is the framework. Now, she’s in the middle of the funnel, we would do the same thing. What’s the persona and the funnel. Okay, it’s still a 26 year-old, she’s a little bit closer to buying. What’s the asset, what’s the medium, what’s the optimization? You do this for each step of the funnel until you have converted your user. That’s the high level stuff in the search framework and kind of everything that you do and where you apply it in each step of the funnel.

Now, let’s talk about those pillars we talked a little bit about earlier. The first up is document relevancy. It’s a quick reminder. It’s the search engine’s job to show users relevant content based on what they’re searching for, and it’s our job as SEO’s to understand what those users are looking for and create awesome, relevant content for them, right. A couple things before we get started. First, and a lot of people kind of mess this up, is pages verse domains. Google ranks pages, not domains. You want to use this document relevancy concept before we dig into it on a page basis. What a lot of people do is they mess this up. They kind of just optimize their homepage. They do a bunch of keyword research, they say, “Okay, I have 50 keywords I want to optimize for.” They jam all 50 keywords in their homepage.

That’s not the way to think about it. The way to think about this is on a page basis. Yes, the domain you’re on is important. Yes, you want a high quality domain. Yes, the total number of kind of links and authority to your domain can be helpful, but in general all these concepts we’re about to talk about are at a URL by URL or a page-by-page basis. Do keep that in mind. Just optimizing your homepage generally doesn’t help your deeper pages get ranked. The other too to think about is that in general we’re going to be doing all this on a one keyword, one page basis.

My rule of thumb is you only want to pick one primary keyword that you’re optimizing a URL for. Of course, URL’s can rank for many, many, many different keywords, but when you’re first getting started the best way to think about this is you take a core keyword that you want to optimize for, and you kind of do that one keyword for one URL. It makes things much cleaner and easier when you’re just getting started. A couple things to think about when you’re getting going. Keyword research is one of the most important aspects of search engine optimization. We use third party tools to figure out what people are searching for, how users are looking for things, and we want to optimize our content in a similar fashion. Rule of thumb here, you’re going to want to do your keyword research, figure out your primary keywords, but once you know your primary keyword you only want to use that exact match, exactly that keyword, to a point.

You don’t want this to sound too spammy, right. Rule of thumb here is read it out loud. Google really understand synonyms. They understand sort of all these word relations, like word relationships, different keyword relationships. You want to be writing this for humans, not for robots. I messed this up a lot when I was first getting into search engine optimization. I just kind of overdo it. I would look up my core keyword, and I would just jam it into the copy as much as possible, and it’s not the best way to do this, right. Use exact match keywords to a point. Don’t let it sound too spammy. Google really understands synonyms. Just read it out loud, right. If it sounds terrible when you read it out loud, rework it until it’s great. Another great way to do this is have a friend read it out loud. Open it up, open up your site on your phone, you hand it to a friend and say it, “Read it out loud.” If you’re both cringing and it sounds gross, you’re doing it wrong.

Do keep that mind. Let’s look at an example, right. Let’s say we were optimizing an e-commerce shoe store. We wanted to rank number one for the term, “Discount Nike Shoes.” It’s searched for 4400 times a month. Some different synonyms right that might be kind of thematically related to Nike shoes might be sneakers, running shoes, or footwear. You can use or a number of other resources to find synonyms. Just Googling whatever your keyword is synonym is a great way to do that as well.

The rule of thumb here is that Google’s understanding a lot of these synonym relationships. Getting some synonym’s into your copy is a fantastic thing to do. Kind of one additional piece of the whole optimization equation. On top of this, kind of synonym’s plus or synonym’s advanced is this concept of latent semantic indexing. This is very, very important for kind of the post-Google hummingbird world, which is a Google update. It’s very, very important nowadays. LSI, or latent semantic indexing, it’s just a fancy way to say related keywords. What’s important here is how Google and other search engines are doing this. If you think about the entire web and all of the different relationships that are happening on the web, you want a lot of those kind of relationships that are naturally happening out in the wild to be also happening on your site.

An example of this is this. I was trying to optimize a page for the term Empire State Building, right. I wanted to rank number one for the term Empire State Building. Some synonym’s for Empire State Building might be building, tower, skyscraper, right. That’s great. Go ahead and get those in there, that’s fine, but latent semantic indexing keywords are things that are constantly showing up on documents that mention the Empire State Building, but they might not be synonym’s, right.

Of every website that’s out there that mentions the Empire State Building, how maybe Google finds a pattern, it turns out many of them are also mentioning New York City. Guinness Book of World Records, sightseeing. These are things that are kind of thematically related, even though they’re not synonym’s. This is very, very important in terms of the document relevancy equation now. Do keep this in mind.

My favorite resource for this is All you have to do is input your primary keyword and it will spit out a ton of the latent sematic indexing keywords for you. It’s a very helpful tool. Alright, so next up are title tags and your meta descriptions. Title tags are the most important aspect of search engine optimization. Not only are they a huge ranking factor, they’re massively important to your click-through rate.

In general, you are going to want to keep your title tags within the truncation limits. It’s about 65 characters on Google, there’s a little bit of variation there based on the pixel length. In general, you want to keep them so that they’re not truncated in Google search results. There’s a couple of situations if you’re working on a large enterprise where maybe it’s worth it to you to get more keywords in there even though there’s truncation, but in general, most people you’re going to be wanting to keep it within 65 characters maximum limit. Do keep click-through rate in mind, this is massively important as well. You don’t want to just stuff your title tags with keywords. They need to be attractive and interesting, and drive users to click them. Keeping your keyword closer to the front is the rule of thumb here.

In general you do want to do that, and they should be unique for every page as well. Make sure that your titles are not kind of duplicated and sort of the same thing across all your pages. This is often a problem with some content management systems, they duplicate a lot of their titles over a lot of different pages. Category titles can do this as well. Do make sure all of your title tags are unique. Alright. Meta description’s in a similar boat.

Meta description should be about 160 characters long. You usually want to use your primary keyword in here because it gets bolded, in general. Meta description’s don’t impact your rankings, but they will impact your click-through rates. Sometimes, and this is what’s really annoying about this, is that you spend a lot of time writing your meta description, you want it to be really good, you put a lot of marketing work into it, but sometimes, you know, Google reserves the right to not use it.

If Google things that there’s a snippet of text on your site that’s better, they’ll actually replace that. They won’t use your meta description, they’ll just take a snippet that they’ve kind of crawled on your site and use that. Write them, make sure they’re great, read them out loud. Make sure they’re compelling and interesting and worthy of a click in Google search results, but unfortunately sometimes Google just won’t even use it, which sucks, but you can’t really do a lot about that. Just an example, right, if we were trying to optimize this for the term SEO checklist, we have here kind of an old screenshot.

“The insanely powerful SEO checklist.” You see the primary keyword is in the title, and we have SEO checklist in the meta description as well. In the actual code, the way this would look, in the title tag, “The insanely powerful SEO checklist.” Then, the meta name equals description. We have SEO checklist in the code as well. Okay, so next up is URL’s. Getting your keyword in your URL is helpful, but changing URL’s can have severe consequences, so keep this in mind. Page migrations can be tricky, when in doubt don’t do it. If you’re starting a new page, yes, get your primary keyword in the URL, but if you have an old site, if you’re getting a lot of traffic from SEO.

If you’re getting a lot of kind of traffic from all different kinds of places, in general this riskier and riskier the larger you are. The rule of thumb here is like, yes, if you’re doing your primary keyword research and you’re starting a brand new site from scratch, yes, try and get your primary keyword in the URL. If you have an old site, you just started to figure out SEO, you just did a bunch of keyword research and now you’re like, “Oh my God, none of our keywords are in our URL’s.” The larger you are, and the more traffic you’re getting, both direct and referral traffic and SEO traffic, the riskier it is to change URL’s.

There are things you can do to mitigate this, right. You can use a three-to-one redirect from the old URL to the new URL, but in general you often see a small traffic loss for a little bit of time when you do this. Don’t worry about this too much. I know a lot of you get really stressed about this and you’re like, “Oh, my perfectly optimized keyword is not in my URL, but my site is 10 years old, and I’m getting, you know, 10, 20, 30 thousand unique visitors a month.” In general, the URL of thumb is don’t change your URL’s, right.

Going forward, sure, try and get your primary keyword in there, but this is riskier and riskier the larger you are, so do keep that in mind. Finally, the other rule of thumb here is that the closer to the root domain in general the better, right. in general is better than Again, this is probably not worth re-architecting your entire site over, but if you’re starting from scratch, in general it can be helpful. Some people say, “Hey, I actually, I had, you know, a bunch of blog post categories and they’re one sub-folder level deep.” Right, so Should I re-architect everything and kind of put it one folder closer to the domain? In general, I would say no. This is not kind of worth it. The rule of thumb, broadly, is that the closer to the root domain the better, but if I already had a site and a system and a way of doing things, I would put this very low on my priority list.

There’s too many ways to mess it up. That’s why it’s kind of a small potatoes sort of thing in my opinion, is the downside generally outweighs the upside, so do keep that in mind. Right, so we’re talking about URL’s. Here’s an example of PayPal’s. PayPal’s optimizing this page for send money online. Now, in general, it probably be closer to the root domain would be a little bit better, but there’s a lot of very difficult problems around enterprise stuff and office politics.

A lot of very difficult technical decisions were made to get this URL structured the way it was. The larger the company the harder this is. In general, this URL has the primary keyword in it, so that’s fine. If we were closer to the root domain it might be a little bit better, but what’s the headache. At a large company like PayPal this might take months, quarters, years, to do. Probably not worth it, but in general apples to apples, if ones easier than the other, sure, go ahead, try and get it closer to the root domain. Next up are headers, right. Headers are what we do to logically lay out a webpage. In general these are the H1, H2, H3 tags. In general, you want to make sure to only have one H1 tag. There’s lots of debate about whether or not you should put your primary keywords in your kind of sub-header tags.

Right, H2, H3, H4. I think this is- … have sub-subheader tags, like H2, H3, H4. I think this is, again, a very sort of small, upside sort of thing. My rule of thumb here is, get your primary keyword in the H1 tag and just move on. If you can get some synonyms or LSI keywords in your H2 or 23 or H4, that’s fine, that’s nice. Rule of thumb here, get your primary keyword in your H1 tag and you should be good to go. All right, so here’s an example. We have this WordPress site, and you’re kind of posting it here, 15 of the best email marketing campaign examples you’ve ever seen, and email marketing campaign examples was our primary keyword. You can see in the actual code, it’s wrapped in the H1 tag.

All right. The next step is body copy. Body copy is just a fancy way to say, “the rest of the text on your page.” There’s no real minimum magic number, but my rule of thumb is about 100 words a page, and using that main keyword at least two to three times. Very broadly, the more text you have on the page, the better off you are, but you don’t want to hurt user experience.

This really depends a lot on what your business is. If you’re a very text-heavy site, this is easy to do. If your site is very image-heavy, and you don’t want to have a lot of text, it’s going to be much more difficult. You do want to get synonyms and Latent Semantic keywords in there if you can, and again, the rule of thumb that we talked about a little bit earlier, read it out loud before you publish. If you follow these rules, you should be fine. All right, so you see we’re optimizing this page for Coffee Shop San Francisco.

We have the word coffee in there a couple of different times, and we are good to go. Next up are images, right? Image Alt and Filename. As a reminder, search engines aren’t humans, right, so they can’t see images the way that we can. We help search engines see images by naming them correctly, and by populating what’s called the Alt tag, all right? The Alt tag is a way to describe to search engines and other tools what an image is. This is also used for accessibility, so visually impaired and blind users will use these special browsers that read images to them. This is very prone to over-optimization, so watch out. What a lot of people do is they get really excited about SEO, and then they kind of name their images, and they’ll put, like, “Nike Shoes-Buy Nike Shoes online-Discount Nike Shoes online for sale.jpg,” right? Don’t do that, but then the other side of the equation is very un-optimized, right, so “Home Page Graphic 6.png.” That’s terrible, right? A good one might be, “Red Nike Shoes.jpg,” all right? Just be descriptive about it.

Think about your primary keyword. Think about synonyms or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords. Get it in there and move on. This is one more piece of the entire equation. This is another kind of thing where some people are like, “Oh, do I really have to rename all of my images? It’s going to take months, and we have to do this, and we have to ask for this engineering support.” In general, I put this pretty low on my priority list.

If you can do it, great, it’s helpful in general, but everything else we’ve talked about prior to this would definitely be more helpful than image renaming and image optimization. To give you an example, from Zappos, and so they have a picture of a shoe on their site, and it’s called “mens boat shoe.jpg” and the Alt tag is “Mens Boat Shoe”. That is fine. Next up, our Internal Links and Anchor Text. Links from other pages on our site are important, and the text used in those links are important as well, right? Linking to other documents on our site and the text that we use in those links is an important signal, so, “click here,” “learn more,” “this website,” are all examples of terrible anchor text, right, but “men’s boat shoes,” “brown shoes,” “black Reebok shoes,” would be great examples of good descriptive anchor text. In general, it’s helpful for users and search engines to understand what a document is if you name it properly, so do keep this in mind when you’re linking to all of your other documents.

Finally, the location of the link is very important here as well. Google’s getting a better understanding of what top navigation is, what the sidebar blog roll navigation is, what your footer navigation is. The location of the link is important, right? If Google has a really good understanding of layout, right, they should have a good understanding when an editor or an author is writing a piece, and they have a link in the first paragraph, that’s much more valuable than the 75th blog comment linking out to a page, right? Google’s getting a better idea of understanding the value of links based on where they are in the document. Rule of thumb here is, get that link up at the top, as close to the top as you can, where it’s also still useful for users. Make sure it’s in the actual content, not in the top navigation, not in the footer, not on the sidebar. Example of this? A really good example of internal linking is Wikipedia.

Wikipedia does fantastic, phenomenal internal linking, but not necessarily for SEO. It’s just kind of the way it was engineered and structured. Every word seems to … or, every other word seems to be linked. It’s just being descriptive. They have so much content. Sort of think like Wikipedia when you’re linking out to all of your documents. Okay, so next up are Link Neighborhoods. You’re optimizing your page. You’re going through the motions, right? You’re getting everything you can, right? Is your primary keyword in URL? Is it in the header? Is it in the title? Do you have it mentioned a couple times in the copy? Have you added your primary keyword or some LSI keywords into the copy and in your images? Have you internally linked other pages pointing back to this page? Are you using the right anchor text? One other thing you do want to think about are link neighborhoods, right? Creating a great resource for users is important, but you can also signal to Google and other search engines that you’re doing that by linking up to stuff that they already trust.

This is very controversial, but I love doing this. I love linking out to competitors, so I’ll look at my primary keyword. I’ll Google it. I’ll look at the top five or top 10 results, and I’ll often find reasonable ways to link to my competitors. You’re signaling to Google that you are this high-quality resource, and that you want to be embedded along with this high-quality neighborhood. This lets Google know kind of who you’re associated with, and I love doing this. It generally seems to help. Next up is Freshness and Recency.

In 2011, Google announced that fresh content would generally rank higher than stale content. What I find is a great way to get a sudden boost in traffic is going through and updating old content that’s performed well in the past, and it’ll often give you a nice boost in results. So, fix broken links. Change dates. Go ahead and clean it up a little bit. Add to it. Fix it up. Remember, when you do this, don’t change the URL, but in general, a really nice … You’re taking over a new site. Let’s say you have a new client, or you start a new job, where you kind of just want to reboot your entire business, going through your content, sorting it by search engine traffic, starting at the top, and just refreshing everything from there, you can often see a really nice boost in traffic.

Okay, so that’s a lot of the document relevancy stuff, right? All the things that we want to do to make sure our documents are optimized for Google and other search engines. Now, I want to briefly touch on the authority piece, link building and authority, all right? The funniest way to think about this, when I first got into SEO, it was because of something I heard on the news. George Bush was running for re-election, and I heard on NPR that a bunch of activist bloggers started linking to George Bush’s site with the term, “miserable failure,” and it got him ranking number one for the term miserable failure. In response, a very conservative blogger started doing the same thing to Michael Moore’s website and got him ranking number two for the term, “miserable failure.” I was fascinated by this, but I didn’t understand it, but it’s interesting, right? George Bush’s site and Micheal Moore’s site weren’t trying to rank for the term, “miserable failure,” but other people were able to do that.

How does that work? That’s a really interesting way to think about link building. This is called Google bombing. Google has updated their algorithm since, so it’s much more difficult to do this now, but it’s a very interesting way to teach this concept of link building, which is, the idea that links from other websites are like votes from other websites, and we’ll explain this a little bit. We can use an example, as a cookie recipe site. Let’s say we have a cookie recipe site, right? We have two kind of different concurrent examples going on here, right? We have, and we have a competitor site. In general, right, you want to go out into the universe and get links from other websites and point them back to you. It’s an authority signal that tells Google and other search engines that you’re popular. In general, these two pages are exactly the same. They have a bunch of links, and the links are exactly the same. The one with the most links will win, right? Quantity is the first aspect of this. The quantity of links is important, but don’t write that down, because there’s a massive caveat here, right? The next is the quality, or the authority, right? In general, if I have a site, two pages that are exactly the same, a site that has a ton of links, but the links are all from garbage, low-quality, spammy sites, right? and LOLMemes.Info, completely unrelated stuff, right? And then I have another site that’s exactly the same, but it has two links.

One’s from, and the other’s from In general, right, this one with these really high-quality links is going to move up massively. But the last piece of this that’s really, really important is relevance, all right? So, if I have a ton of links, right? Maybe they’re from low to medium-quality sites, but they’re incredibly relevant, all right?, and, and That’s extremely, extremely relevant, right? That may actually be more valuable than links from and The idea here is the quantity, the authority of the site, and the relevance are all very important pieces of this. So that’s it. Just a super high level brief overview on what search engine optimization fundamentally is. I hope that was useful.

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