The Misfit’s Guide to SEO
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Throughout this Misfit’s Guide to SEO, you’ll find clickable text and images. These will take you to articles that explore the subject further. Great!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Sounds complicated (boring AF) but it means getting found on the internet through organic search. You optimise your content (make it visible) to those searching your keywords.
It’s the drabbest name for a thing you’ve ever heard. The word ‘optimisation’ makes your eyes glaze over—no one is thinking, wow, what an interesting subject, tell me more! (That is until they come here: The Misfit’s Guide to SEO.) A lot of people are required to understand SEO as part of their job. Only a few weirdos (hi there) enjoy this stuff enough to make it their main job.
Confession time: SEO can be hella tedious so when I get all SEO, I like to lube up the learning nut with some laughs. This (totally off-beat) guide to SEO is fun, not forced fun, proper fun. You will learn and you will LOL. (So here’s hoping you get my sense of humour.)
Trust me, you’ll understand everything I reveal to you in this guide to SEO because I wrote it for you, business owner that doesn’t have a damn clue. So fear not, this isn’t going to hurt a bit.
Ok, what is a search engine?
A search engine is a powerful online library we type our search queries into. The keywords we type match up with relevant content. Any search bar on a web page effectively makes that website a search engine.
Yeah, that makes sense.
Google is the big daddy of search engines but you’ve probably heard of others like Bing and DuckDuckGo. Tailoring websites to the whims of these info vaults is how we gain organic traffic.
What is organic traffic?
The free visits to your website are referred to as organic traffic. To be clear, you haven’t directly paid for those clicks but optimising your site for organic search will cost money even if you do it yourself, time is not free.
You don’t need a website but all websites need SEO.
Believe it or not, a business can run perfectly well without a website. In the olden days, people managed to sell without the internet.
Depending on what you do, and who your market is, a website isn’t always a must-have. But if you do have one, it’s pretty useless without SEO. See, SEO is a big shining torch on your content, with no light, your audience can’t see you.
Full disclosure: SEO is a never-ending process. It’s the New York City of online marketing, it never sleeps. And like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, it must always be fed.
SEO isn’t just one thing.
Na-ah, it includes loads of stuff. Sorry folks but there is no ‘Enable SEO’ button on your website. Lord have mercy, this subject is vast. It can also be complex and requires different skill sets. It’s unlikely you’ll find one human to help with all your SEO needs.
And that’s why many businesses hire an agency to help with subsets like this:
When SEOing, broadly speaking, it will sit in one of two categories: off-page SEO or on-page SEO. You’ll either be working on your website or away from it. For example, content will be produced on your site but promoting your content happens outside of your site, on the socials and the like.
Think of SEO as a giant pork pie.
You have different (meaty) slices sitting together. One slice might be technical SEO and one might be content SEO. Now, to give you the very best (tasty) chance of smashing your traffic goals you need all the slices.
User Experience (UX).
If I believed in a god, it would be UX.
This is hands down the most important thing to consider when you’re SEOing. If your website is a hot mess, your potential customers will avoid it. Insights into how humans interact with websites should inform the way you build yours. Search engines want you to think about your audience first.
When you lure people to your online space, make their visit easy, FFS. Navigating your pages should be a piece of cake (or pork pie).
So, SEO is the thing we do to increase digital footfall. Great. And SEOs always bang on about organic clicks. But there are all kinds of traffic that contribute to visits to your site.
Here’s the other traffic I’m talking about:
- Direct (website link has been typed into Google)
- Referred (website link has been found on another site)
- Email (website link found in a newsletter)
- Social (website link shared on social media)
In my mind, I think of web traffic being from two sources:
- Organic (users finding you from search)
- Direct (traffic from everything other means)
Search traffic needs to be qualified.
We all want organic footfall, that’s why we’re all here, right? Yes, that is true but it’s also not true. Loads of random hits to your digital yard are not what you need.
Organic traffic is not the full story.
When you build an expert reputation (the one you’ve worked your arse off for) and you demonstrate that online, you’re doing SEO. Your audience is getting to know you and they are beginning to trust you. You start to stand out as the go-to person in your niche. This plays into something called the E-E-A-T principle of SEO: Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.
Everything you do to market yourself on the interwebs is linked to SEO. It’s building a picture of who you are. Quality information found on your site (and shared off your site) will be a major player in how much traffic you get.
Having integrity as a business is also in your best SEO interest.
Traffic that doesn’t need SEO.
You’ve seen the sponsored ads that land at the top of the search pages. Well, businesses pay to get there. So unlike organic traffic, PPC (Pay-per-click) is about forking out cash for site visits. A PPC strategy can work alongside your SEO strategy.
Content is so important to traffic growth that it has its own SEO category.
Anything you add to your website is content. Blogs, infographics, podcasts, and videos come under that banner. Back in the dark ages of the internet, you had to do very little to rank on the first page. The competition was low and cramming the living shit out of your keywords was regarded as a successful strategy. Quality content was not something you needed to concern yourself with. The emphasis was on bot pleasing (which sounds oddly sexual).
Not anymore. That stuff won’t wash.
Remember, UX reigns supreme.
The idea that SEO is only for search engines is outdated. But it’s an idea that hasn’t been cleared up by a lot of SEO professionals. Truth is, content created for humans is not a new thing. The algorithm has been growing more sophisticated, it didn’t suddenly jump from its early incarnation to its present one.
Google’s Helpful Content update.
In 2022 the most popular search engine made a further tweak to the algo in favour of “people first” content:
See, “Written by people, for people” for search engines.
You can read all about the Helpful Content Update here.
So, for the last time: pleasing the algorithm and your audience is the same. damn. thing.
SEO content writing.
This is my bag.
Content writing is kind of a big deal for SEO because words are all over your website. You can’t have an SEO strategy without a content strategy and a content strategy without a content writing strategy is bollocks.
Many business peeps spend cash making their website look pretty, there’s nothing wrong with that but then they go and create the content themselves. That’s ok if you know what you’re doing, sadly only a minority do. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a site that’s all style and no substance.
Blogging is ALIVE!
You thought blogging was dead. You hear it all the time on LinkedIn. The folks that spout that blarney also say SEO is dead. Ignore them, they are absolute pilchards.
To blog is to communicate to your audience. It’s an area of your site where you can have conversations with those considering your services. Your blog is where they get to hear how you speak and take notice of what your priorities are.
There you are, beavering away producing content for your website but are those pages like segments in a Terry’s Chocolate Orange?
Let me explain: the orange is the main topic on your site (your pillar content). The segments are the sub-categories (your cluster content) and they have a direct relation to the main topic.
That means it’s easier for Google to index and easier for people to read. Why? Coz it allows search engines and users to quickly find other relevant, useful information.
You can have as many bits of pillar content as you want or need. And before you know it your website will be a huge depository of wonderful knowledge.
(You’re reading one of my pieces of pillar content right now. I know, how ruddy brilliant!)
Wanna learn all about SEO content writing? Yeah? Then grab my eBook.
Maybe you’re thinking about creating your own website. Seems like you’ll be saving yourself some cash if you do, huh? That depends… is your time free? Because, gorgeous, you’ll need hours and hours of it. Before you tinker, get this into your noggin: SEO is the most important part of website building, it is its very foundation. Make sure you choose a website plan that offers full control over SEO tools.
These words are what we want our website or web page to be found for. Guess what, there are also different types.
Also called competitive keywords, so-termed because every Peter and his mother are trying to rank for them. But what do I mean? Well, words like ‘hairdresser’, ‘photographer’, ‘IT specialist’ would be considered broad/competitive keywords.
Long-tail keywords (LTKs).
These are detailed phrases that describe exactly what you sell or what you do. An LTK for me would be ‘funny business blogger’.
(There I go, overpromising.)
Keywords with intent.
Targeting these will attract the perfect person to your door. These words look at the search behaviours of users. A sort of, “What’s my motivation?” kinda thing. And it isn’t as tricky (or woo-woo) as you might think.
Once you understand the intent behind your targeted keywords, you can create tailored content that matches that intention. Huzzah!
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I’m a freelance business content writer at The Sarky Type®. My thang is SEO-informed blurb that sets your words on fire (ablaze with LOLs and engagement not to be confused with real fire that destroys everything in sight. Metaphors are better when they don’t require explanation. Note to self).