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What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization for Beginners

Search Engine Optimization is simply the act of publishing information with a focus on getting the search engines to return your content at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) when someone performs a search query (types in a keyword or keyword phrase into the search bar).

WHAT IS SEO?

Man is setting at computer with a magnifying glass and question marks over his headThe simple definition for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the act of optimizing a piece of content (webpage, video, image, map etc.) to rank on the search engines results page (SERP). The higher you rank, the more traffic you will probably earn from the search engines. The better your title and “snippet” which we will talk about in a bit, the better your click through rate.

The goal is to first know how people search (keyword research) and possibly get ideas for pages to create. Next, we create amazing content and use on page SEO to optimize for the search engines. We work to create quality links from other websites who share our article and link back to us providing a certain level of authority with the search engines.

As we increase our search engine visibility, trust, and authority, our rankings grow.

Today’s SEO takes thought, time, strategy, the right platform, exposure, content, social interaction, and above all else – Quality!

Related: How to Get More Traffic To Your Website Through Blogging

The concept of Search Engine Optimization is not new. However, the algorithms, techniques, and trends for SEO are ever-changing. Here’s a break-down of how SEO has evolved into 2017:

 

This page is about the basics. We will link to advance tutorials on each specific topic.

What Is Keyword Research?

You can pull your hair out spinning quality content all day every day, but if you’re missing the critical keyword elements, your content will crash. How frustrating is it to work so hard just to have your hard work slip away into the content graveyard, never read by your intended audience? Real estate lead generation with keywords is not an option; it’s mandatory. Keywords are what drive traffic to your site and gain rank in the search engines. There are millions upon millions of content pieces on the web, thousands of them quite similar in topic to those you’re creating. To ensure your article or blog post can compete, you’ve absolutely got to understand and implement keyword magic.

  1. Here’s a Keyword crash course:
  2. The Basics:
  3. The Resources:
  4. The Keyword Goldmine
  5. A List of Articles to Help You Learn More about Real Estate Lead Generation with Keywords
  6. Training Videos for Real Estate Lead Generation with Keywords
  7. Summing it Up

What is Quality Content?

Dog typing on typewriter with words "Create Killer Content for Your Blog Post"
Click the image above to learn how to create killer content for your blog post!

The next step is to create content around they keywords you have decided to target on your website. Make a list of topics and which keywords you want to be sure to include. These keywords should not just be variations of the same phrase, but might be strong enough phrases to use a paragraph topic.

Example: Keyword Phrase: How to sell a House in Las Vegas

Related Keywords: For Sale by Owner, Sell Fast, Closing Costs, Finding a Realtor@

Longform content typically ranks better on the search engines when you are creating a blog post or article or something informational or educational. These are articles that can be several thousand words long.

Google understands quality. It does this by measuring how the users on your page interact with your website. If they are gone in a second, and don’t click through to any other pages, or take any other actions, Google will deem your webpage a non quality response to that search term and is likely to drop it’s rankings. If the user stays on your page a while or clicks through to other pages, watches videos, scrolls through images or products, comments or shares, downloads something or takes other actions, Google will deem your webpage a QUALITY response to the search phrase and is likely to move you up in the search engines.

This means that your focus when creating content for 2017 has to be on the customer and user experience, not on Google. If you provide a quality experience for the visitor, Google will reward your page on the search engines.

At some point in your life, you’ve likely heard the phrase, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.” With a few simple changes, that same principle can be applied to website design, content creation, SEO guidelines, and all other facets of your overall marketing strategy. You can lead users and searchers to your online content, but you may be finding it hard to make them engage with your site or page. User engagement is just one part of how someone interacts with your online content, but it is the most important part of their interaction.

User Engagement and Bounce Rate

Bounce Rate is Too HighIf your site visitor doesn’t engage with your content, they won’t click anything. They will look for a moment and then move on, perhaps to content they find more informative, appealing, or useful to their needs. When they do this, arrive at a page on your site and then move away without clicking anything, it’s called a “bounce rate,” and it can be detrimental to your search result rankings in and of itself. Search engines see a high bounce rate as meaning that your site doesn’t contain any content relevant to the wants and needs of a searcher.

While bounce rate is just one of several hundred factors used by search engines to determine ranking position, it should be important to you – simply because it means your visitors are doing little more than window shopping when they arrive at a page on your website. User engagement, when done right, can keep visitors on your site longer and convert them into leads, customers, or regular readers. This is usually done through the use of user experience design and optimization (UXD – User Experience Design and UXO – User Experience Optimization), respectively, which are essentially the same thing).

The Rules Are – There Are No Rules

No RulesOne of the biggest hurdles that many content creators, marketing specialists, and web designers have to face is the fact that there really aren’t any definitive rules for creating an optimal user experience. You won’t find any lists, pages, or white papers strewn across the internet describing the “rules” for UXD or UXO. What you will find is plenty of information on things you “should” do, like tips and guidelines. This then leads you to the dilemma of knowing which information to take with a grain of salt and which you should diligently apply to your online content.

Because you are attempting to increase user engagement, you have to take into account the human element. No two people will interact with your content in the same way. The human element is a constantly changing “X factor” that no one can define, predict, or manipulate, but you can work around it by always following the first step in user engagement optimization – knowing your specific or desired users.

The First Step in User Engagement Optimization

Identifying a Target Audience or NicheBefore you create content designed for engaging your users, you need to know who your users are. How old are they? Are they male or female? Single or married? What is their education level? Those are just a few of the questions that should be asked when you are developing a profile for the ideal audience you wish to attract with your content. Other questions will relate to what they want or need to make their lives more enjoyable, enriching, or rewarding. Many people look for something online because they want to solve a problem, answer a question, or meet a need. Your content needs to do at least one of those things to be appealing to your users, and you can’t do that until you know who your users are or who the users are that you want to attract.

Create For People, Not Machines

User engagement is about appealing to your users or target audience. You cannot do this if you have a single-minded focus on following tactics such as the best strategies for SEO. While SEO is important to the success of your site or page on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages), it should always take a backseat to the importance of creating the best user experience possible. Google’s algorithm might give your content an excellent spot in search results, but Google won’t share your content with others by talking about it on social networks or linking to it in a blog. You can have the number one ranking position in search engine results and still have content that no one likes. That’s why it is extremely important that you create for people, not machines, because the people that visit your site will – ultimately – be the ones who decide its fate.

You might also like: Google Search Console

Top Tips for Enhancing User Engagement
Increasing Website EngagementYou can find dozens, if not hundreds, of tips and tricks to help you increase user engagement on your website, landing page, or other online content. While many of those tips are useful and can make a difference when applied correctly, here are four top tips to enhance user engagement for your content. When you apply these, it will instantly make your web page more user-friendly and appealing to your visitors.

  • Visual Appeal – Always pay attention to how your page looks. On-page visual factors like object symmetry, appropriate white space, readable fonts, and color contrast are important factors in user engagement because people simply will not stay on a page they don’t find visually appealing. A/B testing is a great way to gauge the impressions of your users, so take advantage of it when adjusting the visual elements on your web pages.
  • Advertising – Talking about selling advertising on your page, Don’t do it unless you have to. Most online users go out of their way to avoid looking at any page content they think is an advertisement, so you’ll just be wasting space that could have been put to better use. In addition to limiting the ad content on your page, don’t attempt any hard-sell tactics within your content, either. Users do not like encountering an obvious sales pitch, and it’s one of the fastest ways to lose user engagement in otherwise amazing content.
  • Speak Their Language – Most people use search engines to find something online because they are new to the topic. This means they won’t understand your technical terms or industry buzzwords. Leave those items out of your content unless they are necessary, and always make sure they are either well-defined or included in a contextually explanatory way.

There are many other things you can do to create a site or page that has a high user engagement factor. Spend some time doing research on the practices and tips that will work best for your design and marketing strategies, and then apply them to your content. When you create content that is designed to appeal to your users and meet their wants or needs in a focused way, you will be rewarded many times over with higher traffic, lower bounce rates, increased conversions, and more.

Others have read:  Creating the Optimal User Experience Online

How to Measure User Engagement

Clicky Key Performance MetricsYou can follow metric in your Google Analytics Account or use a tool like we do called CLICKY. Besides user metric, Clicky shows you how well your content is performing, measures time over time changes, measures website traffic, shows lead sources by IP address and more.

Simple measures can tell you a lot about how your website and individual pages are performing.

Bounce Rate – The lower the better. This indicates people are staying on your site and taking action.

Actions – The higher the better. Actions measure how many times people click, share, comment, play, download etc.

Time on Site – The higher the better. Average is less than 45 seconds. Get your average visit up to several minutes each and you know your site is giving the user a quality experience.

Learn More about Clicky

The Good news is that if you ready THIS far into the article, you are serious about improving your user engagement. Congratulations.

Here’s more from this blog on Content Marketing

Content Marketing

what is On Page SEO?

Title Tag: Google still gives a lot of weight to the title, so you want to include your keyword target in the title tag. Place the main keyword towards the front of the title. If you are using the Yoast SEO Plug in, you can create a regular title for your page and WordPress directory and another for the search engines and yet another title for your social media shares. This is very strategic marketing appealing to each channel specifically.

Meta Description:  Although meta descriptions are no longer used in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm, they are still important. By using keywords to optimize your meta description, you’ll ensure that they show up in user search results. The meta description can help searchers determine whether or not your result is relevant to their query. Your meta description can play a big roll in your CTR (Click through rate) which is a ranking factor. When your page shows as a result in the search engines, and it gets clicked, your CTR improves, and your rankings improve. Spend some time on your meta descriptions as these are what appear as a snippet on the SERP.

Example: 
Good Metadescription

 

 

The photo above is a good Metadescription. It includes the keywords they are targeting (Las Vegas Dog Hotel) as well as a short description fitting the search and their tagline.

Needs Improved:

needs-improved-snippetDoes not include their focused keyword unless “hotel las vegas” is their target. There is no reference to Dog or Pet other than doggie, which is not repeated in the meta description. In addition, their metadescription is too long and is cut off. They waste valuable characters in the first line saying “just like…”

Click Here to view the comprehensive SEO guide for 2017.

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