There is way too much hype about search engine optimization. Some claim it’s not important anymore. Some claim that it’s extremely important, insisting that you MUST follow their program, use their ‘app’, join their service… to get good results. Both are full of it. I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time, much longer than most of those making the claims you see all over the Net about it. So, here’s reality for solid gains and long-term results for legitimate websites :
Yes, it is important, but, no, you don’t need to join a service, use an app or plugin, follow anyone’s program, much less buy anyone’s program, app, or service. What you need is a site that:
- doesn’t suffer code bloat (don’t use a drag-and-drop page builder, don’t use a WYSIWYG website builder, don’t use more plugins or scripts than you actually need),
- is focused on its goal with well-written, original, pertinent content that pertains to that goal, that content added regularly,
- utilizes all the various tools that enhance that content for bots and for accessibility (title= in links, alt= in your image markup, OGG tags, meta tags, page and post tags),
- is well-maintained, responsive (friendly to all devices), is on a top-level domain. (I cover a lot of this in Successful Websites.)
That’s the mechanics of SEO. Now, let’s talk about the voodoo …er, art of SEO.
If you are skilled in the art and mechanics of written communication, which means you can write well-constructed, grammatically correct essays, following the classic structure of statement of the thesis, supporting arguments (body), and conclusion/restatement of the thesis, then you should naturally and automatically write effective content that reinforces the words and phrases (which, underneath, become your keywords, keyphrases, and tags) that correspond to the topic(s) of your website’s focus. If you have been trained in classic journalism, you have the same advantage. You’ll do it automatically. If you haven’t acquired that skill, then things will be a bit tougher at first until you gain experience. Here’s a quick short course:
- Figure out your topic and write that down at the top of your planning page.
- Figure out the things you want to say about that topic and list them. Keep that list limited to three to five points, three being best, four being next best, five pushing it. These are what your English teacher called ‘supporting arguments’, but, for this exercise, let’s call them ‘topic points’.
- Beneath each topic point, list words and phrases associated with the topic and that topic point.
- Near the bottom of your planning sheet, type the word ‘summation’, and leave that alone, for now.
- Now, who is your audience? (You know this from having identified that when first planning your website.) What approach is best for this audience? Quippy? Serious? Friendly? Personal? Distant? Academic? Compassionate? Rhetorical? Pedantic? Caustic? Sugary? Silly? Would it be good to write as if you are telling a story? Would it be better to appeal to emotion or reason or intellect?
Writing the Essay
Try to write out a good introductory statement of your topic. If you can’t, skip this for now. If you find that it comes easy, then try to write the entire first paragraph (about three sentences long). The basic structure is: giving the reader a reason for reading, maybe explaining why you are writing about or qualified to write about it, and stating the thesis, which is a contention, an argument, or premise.
The body will often contain one paragraph or section per point, and it is here that you state what evidence or reasoning supports the thesis you introduced in your introductory paragraph.
After the body comes the conclusion or the summation, which is where you neatly tie things up, pulling the article or essay together by concisely restating your thesis, culminating with why the points you presented demonstrate its validity.
Now that you have the body and conclusion done, if you didn’t write the introductory paragraph, go back and do that now. If you did write it, go back and give it a look through and brush it up if needed.
Rewriting with Regard to Search Engine Optimization
Once you have your essay completed, go back through it and, wherever possible, reword it to utilize your keywords and keyphrases. Don’t overdo it, though. Don’t flood the text with repetitive and overly redundant use of your keywords and keyphrases.
That’s it. Now do it again for the next page and the page after that. Rinse and repeat for all pages requiring text on your website.