03 Nov The Basics of SEO
I have written a dozen articles about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) over the past 2 years. The purpose of these articles is to shed some light on certain aspects of Online Marketing like SEO, and to be a bit of an explainer article. I have also written one book about SEO called “Go SEO Yourself” available on Amazon.com, really from the job search perspective. There are probably 1,000 places online you can read about SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). The big difference for me compared with other online marketing consultants is my background is a bit technical when it comes to SEO, which is not always true of traditional online SEO Consultants and Marketers.
Recently someone pointed out that my last article was not written in a way that was understandable for the lay person. I tend to assume everybody knows SEO, because it’s been around as a field for the past 12 years or so. But that is not the real world of people out there. Everybody is learning this stuff now, I mean everybody. So, if you are a real expert at SEO you may find this article quite boring. That’s ok, it was not written for you.
If you are trying to understand SEO, or better yet, you trying to understand why you need to know something SEO, you may find this article useful. Once again you may find it totally boring.
So, let’s start with the basics (or let’s go back in the Way Back When Machine to 1993, clicking this link will show you the first page we every put up for pre-dating.com). Yes, let’s start in 1993, because that is the first moment I downloaded Mozilla, the first browser by Netscape and started to learn about HTML files and the web in general. I won’t get too deep into this, but basically the moment HTML files (another way to describe static web pages) needed to be searched and indexed so people could find you on the web was the birth of SEO!
And if you understand the early history of this cabal of web technology, you will understand the where, how, when and why SEO exists!
So, that is why by the late 90s a few companies, lead by Yahoo (and in fact the initial sole existence of Yahoo) began to suck out all the “content” or words and images from web pages and began to index the entire “World Wide Web” like a big library. Yes, someone out there still goes to the in-person physical library and uses the Dewy Decimal System. Just like a library these early “Crawlers” like Yahoo, Altavista, Excite and Dogpile went out and indexed stuff so we could easily find stuff. Just happens we had no products to buy on the web in the 90s, but I remember finding a very useful Eurorail website at the time with a list of the times the railroad ran from Vienna to Budapest. Boy that saved me a lot of time rather than driving to the library and looking it up there! You see, just small improvements made our lives easier at the time.
The point here is, the task of figuring out the best search of the web quickly became the race to the finish line. Whoever could figure that out, would win bigtime. And those who understood the race from the perspective of the search engine and from the perspective of the website owner could make a fortune. But you have to understand, by 1999 we were all loving Yahoo. It was Yahoo this and Yahoo that. I remember everybody was into Yahoo because they had the best search. Yahoo was surreptitiously dis-intermediated by an up and coming company called Google around 2003. It just tells you that anybody, I mean anybody can be on the top of the world one day and then replaced at will because of new technology advances or strategies that give the new player an advantage. Just remember that Google, you are not permanent! As Google is about to kill Google+ (their 3rd attempt at a social network), you really can’t have it all. In fact, you can barely have 1 thing you are good at.
Thank god for Jim Boykin, who really gave the world a real understanding of SEO. His blog around 2006 made SEO the field it is today. I read it religiously!
Around 2001, I was hired by my future partner, not to be named, and we were determined to get our dating events found on the Internet. There was no SEO back then. Well, there was, but nobody knew anything other than words on your pages got you found on the Internet. So by accident, or by purpose we were doing SEO before they called it SEO. We were clearly doing the most basic and useful thing to get found. It is the tactics that are important, not brute force (that is what lead to the great Panda problem where Google killed a dozen big websites).
Here are a few basics of getting found on Google that we have always used or the technical SEO:
- Putting clear concise words in our Page Titles to describe and match what people were searching for (ours were “Speed Dating”) got you found better in Google.
This first part of getting found, the page Title, was a simple thing. In fact the simple things in life are usually free and easy, yet some people just don’t do them or don’t understand them.
- Adding a Page Description was also a very important part of a page getting found on the web. And the page description sits right in a page tag called Meta Description.
For most of you old time web experts, both technical and marketing, I have not really said much of anything you don’t already know. That is why I said this would be very boring. But just remember, 90% of people who work with the web were born after 1993, and most have not used the web in a business setting till 2003, so it is all new stuff for them, and they have to work hard to understand the present, which is based on the past of SEO, if they want to be an expert. It’s like the knowing the ghosts of Christmas SEO past!
- Making sure that your Keywords are placed in the Page Title, Page Description and throughout the page will give you a chance to get found on Google. Before you start, you need to get all your keywords figured out. You pretty much know what they are, but if you don’t there are tools like MOZ and Keywordspy. It all the other variations on what you know that you need to cover as well. Use keywords that are searched the most, not your brand name or what you think will be looked up!
There are a bunch of other minor HTML things that continue to help like using the In Page Title Tags called H1, H2, H3 wrapped around your keywords in the title. We had a a dozen of these special techniques that we used back in 2001 to 2004 that still make sense like:
- Creating Nice URLs that the search engines like. They are called Permalinks. A good example would be a URL like http://www.tempsite.com/these-are-my-keyword-search-terms/
Ok, so, back to the real issue at hand. One of my readers told me that I was not really explaining why it is important to hire a “Technology” based SEO expert as opposed to a “Marketing” based SEO expert. In fact, all the online marketing people will criticize this article and pan me for saying this once again. Let’s take this in a completely different direction. If an SEO person would take the time to really master these technologies then they will switch from a marketing SEO person to a technology SEO person. And if you are an SEO expert and don’t understand everything here, then it is time for you to go back and do some research:
- The .htaccess file and mod-rewrite. The concept of mod-rewrite in Linux is what allows search engines to read whatever a URL says it is and think it is real. In fact, any URL can be anything you want it to be. It is all virtual, which is another way of saying “faked out”. Obviously something is real under the hood of a website, but it can be and typically is today, all dynamically generated like WordPress. So if you master mod-rewrite you can master SEO. You can control these URLS!
Luckily I ended up at Verio/NTT Corp for a couple years as the web manager. This was an early hosting company. It was at this company that I really learned the concepts behind regex, which is the basis of mod-rewrite. This allows you to take a page that has a URL like tempwebsite.com/index.php?page=323 and turn it into tempwebsite.com/peanut-butter-and-jelly-sandwich/. WordPress will allow you to do this on a basic level and that is pretty much all you need to know to be an SEO expert… So go and charge people $3000 a month to do it for them!
But there is so much more to SEO, and that is because there are 50 other things you can be doing to get found even better. The one that most SEO experts focus on is Backlinks. Backlinks is a funny term because I was hearing SEO people say backlinks, and I did not get it. Oh, they were referring to pages with “URL Links” embedded in them that you can click on that go back to your website! Apparently Backlinks are what people are paying all the time for and getting more and more people to build them for them. It makes sense. Sites that have many backlinks can be much higher in the Google Search Results. I once worked on Whois.net. That site has over 20,000 backlinks. That simply means you can’t get ahead of them in the search results without paying for clicks!
Ok, there is so much more to SEO, like “geography/local”, “videos”, “IP Addresses”, “blogging, tagging, categories”, guest blogging, “social media pods”, Amazon Book Listings, Twitter and Periscope integration and 100 other ideas I have to getting found better! There is always a better way with SEO! You can learn about it in my book… Go SEO Yourself.
I am in the middle of a journey towards the automation of a bunch of SEO and Marketing Funnel services. We are taking our techniques and automating them for clients… creating some serious firepower here and there. The company I founded 8 years ago, Take It National, is getting ready to release a series of products that will make it faster, easier and logical to get some of these things right without spending $10,000 to get something in place to get found well and legally! I say legal, because there are rules that must be followed or you WILL get sent to the back of Google, what they refer to as “Going to Supplemental Listings”. We are taking on a few sophisticated clients who want to take advantage of the SEO services we provide. We provide both the technology and consulting together in one package. This is very unusual.
Please follow me to learn more about this innovative new system we are working on. And if you have not read my previous articles, Take It National has filed a Registration D with the SEC and will be going public at some time in 2019. Let me know if you want more info about this or want to get involved. We are open-minded and interested in your opinion. I am always free to be contacted for most questions. Hope you understood everything I wrote today for those who are still learning! And thank you. Please let me know if you have any questions!