Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has become somewhat of a dirty word in recent years, as search engines continue to tweak their algorithms.
In reality, SEO remains a key element of content development for many websites and website development overall, and can provide an important advantage over other sites.
Using SEO for traffic can dramatically increase the amount of traffic that a website owner receives, which makes it worth learning and using.
What is SEO?
SEO is the process of influencing how a webpage or website ranks within the un-paid results of search engines. The concept of SEO is centered on the fact that the earlier a page appears within the search engine results, the more traffic it is likely to receive.
This comes from the fact that users often only click on the first few links that they see ad are more likely to visit webpages on the first page of search results. SEO is relevant to ranking on all search engines, but often Google is the main focus due to the popularity of the search engine.
Website owners use a variety of techniques to try to ensure that their webpages rank well and the effectiveness of different approaches vary. Additionally, techniques that were once common and accepted as forms of SEO are no longer effective and can be damaging to websites, such as keyword stuffing.
As such, it is important for websites to take advantage of effective SEO techniques, but avoid those that have the potential to damage the reputation of a website.
Myths against SEO
Myth 1: Articles written with SEO feel unnatural
Many people believe that when you write an article using SEO techniques, the article feels unnatural and that readers are unlikely to be interested in it because of this.
Being concerned about this aspect does make sense, as Google has a tendency to penalize websites for unnatural content.
In reality, it is entirely possible to write an SEO article without it feeling unnatural. In fact, good SEO writers are able to write articles where it is not even evident what their keyword is, or that they are even engaged in SEO.
For writers, it is often difficult to write a SEO article naturally the first time, but it is something that people improve at over time. As a result they end up with good, interesting content that the search engines also like.
Myth 2: SEO content is hard to learn and challenging to write
SEO sounds complicated and difficult, but really, this isn’t the case at all. At the most basic level, SEO involves writing content that is focused on one or multiple keywords.
This is surprisingly easy to do, because you aren’t trying to stuff that keyword into your post as much as possible.
Instead, you are focusing on making your content relevant to that keyword and including it and possibly variations of it, a few times.
In reality, using keywords can actually make writing content easier in some cases, because it helps to provide the writer with a direction and a focus.
This can be particularly useful for people experiencing writer’s block and can even help a writer to work out what they want to write in their next piece of content.
SEO article writing might seem challenging for people who have never done it before, but it is very easy to pick up and becomes intuitive quickly.
Myth 3: There is no point in SEO due to the frequent changes in search engine algorithms
The algorithms of search engines do change a lot, and this can make SEO techniques challenging.
These changes mean that people who take advantage of a loophole within the algorithm suffer considerably when it is changed.
However, people who have solid content that is optimized for search engines are unlikely to suffer with changes in search engine algorithm, as they will still get ranked on the basis of their content.
As a general rule, search engine algorithms continue to move towards a greater focus on good content and relevant SEO than ever before. This is very easy to do and it is certainly worth the time as SEO can help with search engine rankings, traffic and by extension profit.
Effective Ways of Using SEO for Traffic
Researching keywords is one of the core components of SEO and is an essential step before content creation even begins. Keyword research lets you examine the phrases that are associated with your topic or your niche and find out two main things, how often these are searched and what the competition. Ideally, content is created around keywords that are frequently searched for, but have relatively little competition.
For any website topic there are a large number of keywords that are searched regularly, but websites only take advantage of a proportion of these. Websites that are able to take advantage of keywords that are not targeted as often are likely to be highly successful and can get ahead in search engine rankings.
Once relevant and effective keywords are found, these are used within SEO approaches to boost the ranking of a webpage or website.
One of the most important SEO techniques is ensuring that keywords are integrated naturally within the content.
Effective keyword integration should mean that it is not evident which words were the keyword.
One important rule of thumb is that all keywords, regardless of their length, should be grammatically correct.
It is almost impossible to integrate a keyword into an article if the keyword itself doesn’t even make sense.
It’s also important that your keyword is actually relevant to what you are talking about and the style of your writing. For example, in an article about SEO, spelling out Search Engine Optimization frequently can look artificial and be difficult to read.
It can also help to include words or phrases that are similar to the topic and keyword you are talking about. So, for example, a post about cats might include information about vets, kitty litter and kittens. In general, if you write content about the keyword, you will find that it is easy to integrate the desired keywords without making the article look artificial.
Write for Readers
When it comes to writing SEO content, it’s really easy to get focused on components like keyword density, topics and the words chosen, and forget about the experience that visitors to the website have.
When you use SEO for traffic, the main emphasis does tend to be on attracting users to the webpage, but an equally important component is ensuring visitors actually stay on the website.
Doing this means that content needs to be written with a focus on both SEO and the needs of the visitors.
One way of doing this is providing content that is useful for readers, fills a need, or is interesting to read. There are a number of different types of articles that can achieve this objective, such as an article that teaches website visitors how to use a particular piece of software, one that discusses the history or implications of a recent news story, or an article that reviews a product and provides recommendations to users.
The concept of news hijacking, or newsjacking is a relatively new approach to SEO that is growing in popularity.
The term newsjacking sounds manipulative and an approach that search engines are likely to frown upon, but actually this isn’t really the case.
In reality, this is nothing more than an extension of SEO and content marketing strategies, and one that does not have the potential to harm websites.
Newsjacking involves looking for keywords that are high in popularity and visibility as the result of recent news.
This means that when there is a breaking news story, such as a new law being proposed, keywords surrounding this story are researched.
New content is then written around the popular and effective keywords found, such as writing an article discussing the pros and cons of the law. This means that the new content has to be written and posted while the news is still popular. Likewise, the created content must be researched and relevant.
Targeting a popular keyword with a poorly written article is likely to create a poor image for the website and business.
It is also important to note that the news topics and keywords chosen should be directly related to the website that it is being posted in.
For example, a website on making money online would gain little from a story focusing on a natural disaster in another country, but could write on proposed updates to laws surrounding the internet or search engine algorithms.
It is also possible to be a little creative and relate the news topic to the topic of the website. For example, a post on high rates of unemployment could be used for a springboard of a discussion on the growing popularity of online business and how it helps to get around the lack of jobs available.
Newsjacking can be a very effective way of gaining traffic, particularly if social media is used to promote the content.
However, it is important to note that this approach differs from normal content creation and marketing in that the traffic received will be time-sensitive, and the timing of the article is critical.
After all, a lot of traffic could be gained on an article discussing and speculating on the outcome of a trial, but not after the trial is completed.
What Not to Do
Before engaging in any SEO, it is important to consider whether the techniques you plan to use will be beneficial or detrimental to your website.
Not all SEO is good and some of it can seriously harm your search rankings.
A good general rule is that if SEO makes your content difficult to read or appears artificial then it is probably not a good idea to use it. This is true even if you are getting good rankings for the content, because Google has a tendency to change its search algorithms regularly.
The practice of keyword stuffing was once highly effective and commonplace as an SEO technique.
The process involves including as many keywords as possible within a website, often to the point that any content was difficult to read.
In some cases, sites would simply fill their pages with keywords and have little to no actual content. In some cases, sites would hide these keywords by matching the color of the text to the background of the page.
Keyword stuffing has been recognized as an unethical trick for quite some time, and search engines can now recognize when keyword stuffing is occurring. In the short-term, keyword stuffing will probably increase traffic to a website, but in the long-term the approach can be damaging.
Once the search engines catch up to the fact that you are doing keyword stuffing, the rank of your site is likely to get penalized, if not removed from the search results altogether.
Additionally, even when keyword stuffing was commonplace and legitimate technique, it did not create a user-friendly environment.
As such, keyword stuffing might act to drive traffic to a webpage, but most people are unlikely to stay on the webpage long.
Keyword stuffed pages are very obvious and they are not at all interesting to read.
It can be tempting to choose keywords that have strong potential and include these in an article that is only just related to the topic.
There are multiple problems with this approach, the first of which is that search engine algorithms have continued to get more advanced and can detect context. This gives them the ability to determine when the content of a website is actually related to its keyword, and when it is simply an approach to get better rankings.
Second, an article that takes advantage of keywords in this way tends to be low quality, and is unlikely to gain the interest of readers. Finally, even if the site does rank well on search engines, users visiting the site will be expecting something very different than what they find, making them likely to leave the site quickly.
Algorithm Changes to Google
Google remains the most popular search engine, which means that anyone engaging in SEO should pay careful attention to changes and proposed changes within Google’s algorithms. In 2013, Google made considerable changes to its search engine algorithms, including the releases of Panda and Penguin.
These developments have concerned many SEO developers and have led to some people claiming that SEO is a rapidly dying field. It is certainly true that Google continues to refine its algorithms to prevent people from taking advantage of its rules to rank well.
The 2013 changes largely targeted websites that provided little value to visitors and attempted to ‘cheat’ their way to achieving top rankings. Many of these websites suffered dramatic hits in their rankings because of the changes.
Google has made it evident that it plans to continue their attack on manipulative SEO approaches, suggesting that algorithm developments in 2013 and onwards will contain similar changes.
For websites to be successful at SEO, it is important that they place a strong emphasis on the creation of quality and relevant content. SEO approaches without quality content are likely to continue to degrade in ranking.
This indicates that quality content and SEO approaches are two elements that must both be present in websites that rank well.
While using SEO for traffic might not be as singularly important as it once was, these changes do not negate the importance of SEO.
SEO continues to be an important element for differentiating between websites that are similar to each other in terms of the amount of content present, making it important for raking in Google.
A final note is that social media is becoming increasingly important role within content marketing and even within Google’s rankings.
Social media is still an area that many online businesses have not taken advantage of, but the pattern of Google’s algorithm changes suggests that it will have a greater reliance on social media cues in the future.
This is particularly significant in relation to Google’s own form of social media, which is Google Plus.
While Google doesn’t currently place a lot of emphasis on social media, they do have a tendency to like people using their products. Because of that, it is very possible that Google Plus will become more significant for ranking in the future.
One of the biggest issues with SEO is that it is a huge field. This can make SEO seem extremely difficult to get started in, especially as the field also keeps on changing. However, it isn’t really as difficult as it seems.
In fact, once you get used to SEO, many of the processes start to seem intuitive and are easy to follow. The secret is simply to get good training right from the beginning.
Training really does make all the difference when it comes to website success and good training will give you all the tools that you need to succeed, regardless of your education or your experience. That’s actually one of the best things about making money online – it’s a field that pretty much anyone can be successful in.
As you might imagine, the trick is to find good training.
Without a doubt, the best training that I’ve found comes from a community-based site called Wealthy Affiliate. Wealthy Affiliate differs from most other types of training because it keeps up-to-date with changes throughout the fields of SEO and internet marketing.