If you’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a website or blog only to find it doesn’t get the traffic it deserves, you’re not alone.
Getting visitors to your site isn’t easy. You probably know you need to learn SEO but the trouble is there are so many SEO “gurus” slithering around you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a mysterious black art that takes years to learn, or can only be mastered by an elite group with insider knowledge.
But the truth is, the basics of SEO are straightforward. You can learn them and start seeing increased visits to your website within a week.
The first step is to understand that the goal of search engines is to keep users coming back by consistently delivering useful search results. They do that by investing millions every year in developing algorithms to predict as accurately as possible which content users will find most useful in search results.
Everything they do revolves around that objective.
Once you understand that, you know the golden rule of getting traffic – whether from search engines, social media or content marketing: Create content real people love – on subjects they’re searching for – and search engine traffic will follow.
Follow that rule and you’ll attract visitors who will:
- Stay on your site longer
- Look at more pages
- Come back to your site again and again
- Tweet, Like, and share your content
These actions are signals that Google and other search engines look for as quality indicators when deciding how high sites and pages should rank. The more users you have on your site taking one or more of these actions, the higher you will appear in search results.
How search engines work
There are three main steps search engines take to decide which content should be promoted to the top of search results.
- They visit your site to create an index of the content to understand what individual pages are about, as well as the overall subject of your site.
- They count links from other sites and blogs as “votes” on the quality of the content.
- They count social shares – likes, tweets, etc. – as more “votes” for your content.
Although search engine algorithms are a complex mix of hundreds of ranking factors, most aspects of search engine optimization fit in to one of these areas.
That’s why this book concentrates on those three vital areas. By the end of the book, you’ll be an expert in on-page SEO, link-building and getting the maximum amount of social shares for each piece of content you publish.
Best of all, by using free tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console (previously called Google Webmaster Tools), you’ll be able to see the success you’re having in bringing in extra visitors and ranking for more keywords.
Note: Don’t worry if you’re not familiar with either of those tools, we’ll look at setting up and using both of them in a later chapter.
“White-hat” SEO vs. “Black-hat” SEO
There are two types of SEO. This book is about White-hat SEO. It uses the honest tips and techniques I’ve used to increase the rankings of my sites and those of my clients over the last eighteen years.
Black-hat SEO, on the other hand, uses tricks and loopholes to try to game the system and trick search engines into ranking a site as high as possible, regardless of the quality of the content.
I’m sure you’ve seen ads promising a shortcut to page one of Google. Just buy Product X, adjust a few settings and wait a few days for a torrent of traffic. At worst, products like those are scams. At best, they’re software that exploits a loophole.
The problem with loopholes is that sooner or later, Google closes the loophole.
Not so long ago, an easy way to improve rankings was to write a single article and then use software called an “article spinner” to create and submit slight variations of it to hundreds of different article directories. Within the content of the articles would be links back to the authors site – generating hundred of backlinks in a short time, leading to better rankings.
Just one problem.
Overnight Google changed its algorithm. Not only did it downgrade almost all article directories to junk status, it kicked sites using the article spinning trick out of its search results.
This meant improved search results for users, but a lot of black-hat SEO “engineers” having to undo years of work in an attempt to repair their rankings.
That’s why I recommend sticking to white-hat SEO techniques. They work and they’re a safe, reliable long-term strategy.