A Brief Introduction to Search Engine Optimization

by | Mar 10, 2017

In this tutorial providing a brief introduction to Search Engine Optimization we will cover these topics:

 

  • SEO Introduction
  • Basic Setup With Yoast Plug-in
  • A Few Simple SEO tools
  • Factors That Improve Your SEO Ranking
  • Factors That Damage Your SEO Ranking
  • Resources For More information

SEO Introduction

What is SEO and why is it important to your business?  SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and relates to how your website is positioned in the search results returned by search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  It has been said that when someone enters a search phrase (for instance “plumbing supplies in Poughkeepsie”) if your company is not listed on the first page it may as well be located on the surface of the moon.  Ideally you want your small business to be listed towards the top of the first page.

The topic of SEO is extremely complicated and it is constantly changing.  In this tutorial we will touch upon the very basic aspects of this topic (there will be resources listed at the bottom of this page with more details) and this page will be updated as we learn more and the standards change with time.  Any updates that you apply to your website to influence the SEO ranking will not be reflected in the search engine results for several weeks.

Basic Setup With Yoast Plug-in

Persson Technologies includes the free Yoast plug-in with every website we create.  There is more information concerning the plug-in here: https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

As you add new pages and posts to your website the Yoast plug-in will guide you regarding the SEO standards to follow.  Please note that the SEO settings relate to all the pages and posts on your website.  Therefore if you have 100 pages and posts this means you have 100 possible search phrases that might lead your customers to your website.  This is huge!

There are three important screens in the Yoast plug-in that will give you quick insight into the SEO configuration of your entire site and individual components:

Yoast Summary View
This shows the summary view provided by Yoast for all your pages and posts.  At a glance you can see all the important information and can determine what needs to be tweaked.  The Focus Keyword is the search phrase that customers will enter into their search engine to find your page.  The Meta Description is the text that will accompany the search results.  Here is an example of the search results in Google:
Google Search Result
Yoast SEO Report
The SEO report in Yoast examines how the focus keyword is used in your text, how the meta description is configured, and other factors that will determine how your content will be interpreted by the search engine crawlers.
Yoast Readabilty Report
Yoast also ranks your text based on how readable it appears.  It examines such factors as sentence length, sentence structure, and the content of paragraphs. 
Yoast XML Sitemap
XML sitemaps are required to enable web crawlers to completely index your website.  When Persson Technologies creates your website these will be included.  Please note that as you update and expand the content of your website Yoast will automatically update your XML sitemaps as needed.

A Few Simple SEO Tools

Choosing a good search phrase – There are several tools to aid in this goal.  The concern here is that if you choose a search phrase that no one on the planet is using it will not aid in your SEO ranking.  Here is one tool that can help:  https://trends.google.com/trends/

How to scan your entire website for issues – This tool will provide a quick summary of possible problems on your website: https://www.google.com/webmasters

Viewing your website as the search engine sees it – There are several items the search engine cannot view such as images (you must always include alternate text for each image) and flash content.  This tool will show you what content is actually available to the search engines: http://www.seo-browser.com/

Factors That Improve Your SEO Ranking

  • SSL – Increasingly the search engines are providing a higher ranking to websites that are secure.  If your website is not secure or contains some items that are not secure it will not receive as high of a ranking.
  • Links from other sites – If your website URL is listed as links on other sites that will improve the ranking of your site.  There are a number of methods to accomplish this.  One approach might be to post on forums relating to your business and include a link to your website in your signature line.  You might also publish articles in online journals.
  • Using a responsive theme – Websites that are not responsive automatically receive a lower rating.  Smartphones are becoming a more common way for people to surf the web.  If your site is not responsive you are likely missing a large number of customers.  For more details, look at this article: https://perssontechnologies.com/are-responsive-websites-necessary/
  • Frequent updates or new content – The search engines want to see that your site is updated on a regular basis.  If a site has not been updated in months it will be seen as stale and will receive a lower rating.

Factors That Damage Your SEO Ranking

  • Using one keyword on too many pages – Ideally each keyword phrase should be used on only one post or page.
  • Keyword stuffing – This refers to the practice of using a keyword repeatedly on a page in a way that is unnatural or hiding it by making the text the same color as the background or hiding it behind images.  This used to be a method used to improve page ranking but is now highly discouraged.
  • Using intrusive interstitials on the page – For more details see this link: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/counts-intrusive-interstitial/180023/
  • Using content in Flash objects – The web crawlers will never be able to see this content.
  • Using pages that require forms to be completed or logon information to be entered – This is another example where web crawlers cannot access the content.
  • Not providing alternate text for images on the page – The web crawlers ignore images.

Resources For More information

Here is an index to all the articles in this tutorial series:

 

  1. Introduction to WordPress Part One - WordPress Basics https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-basics/
  2. Introduction to WordPress Part Two - WordPress Themes, Plug-ins, and Updates https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-themes-plug-ins-and-updates/
  3. Introduction to WordPress Part Three - Introduction To Divi https://perssontechnologies.com/introduction-to-divi/
  4. Introduction to WordPress Part Four - How To Use The Included Divi Modules https://perssontechnologies.com/how-to-use-the-included-divi-modules/
  5. Introduction to WordPress Part Five - How To Use Divi Tweaks https://perssontechnologies.com/how-to-use-divi-tweaks/
  6. Introduction to WordPress Part Six - A Brief Introduction to Search Engine Optimization https://perssontechnologies.com/a-brief-introduction-to-search-engine-optimization/
  7. Introduction to WordPress Part Seven - WordPress Advanced Topics https://perssontechnologies.com/wordpress-advanced-topics/