There are three simple words that strike fear in the heats of all novice bloggers:
Search Engine Optimization.
These three words put together make beginners feel as if, in order to be successful, they must become marketing ninjas, tech gurus, and proper strategists, all into one, when, in fact, search engine optimization is not this incredibly difficult process that takes decades of experience and unknowable amounts of talent and innate skill.
If I only had 30 seconds to tell you how SEO works, I would tell you it’s these four things:
- Keywords: understanding what people are searching for on Google and other search engines
- Relevance: making it easy for search engines (robots) to understand what your content is about
- Authority: all the things we do outside of our page in order to let search engines know we’re trustworthy and useful to users
- Optimization: all the behind-the-scenes engineering to make it easier for search engines to find your content
There’s also lots of hype out there about whether or not SEO is dead.
If there’s one important takeaway you should keep from this tutorial, it’s this:
Just think about it. As complicated as the internet has become, there are really just a few ways in which people get to websites nowadays:
- By typing the website URL directly in a browser. This is what’s called “direct traffic”—although I bet if you try to think about the websites you visit this way, you’ll probably come up with fewer than 20 (and Google will be one of those!)
- By following a link from a friend or one that you found on another website. This is what’s called “referral traffic” and it’s what happens when your friend emails you a link to an article.
- By clicking on articles people post on social media. This is what's called "social media traffic," and it's what happens when social media platforms drive traffic to a particular website or page.
- By going to Google and searching for something.
Of all of these, search is the largest referrer of external traffic, meaning that if you can get your content ranking on search engines, you’ll have a steady source of free, targeted traffic to your site.