Updated: Jan 20
Search engine optimization (SEO) may sound like a technical term, but it’s actually relevant to everyone’s life – and career.
If you’re under 30, you really can’t afford to ignore it.
In this post, I’ll teach you in very simple terms what SEO is and why you should at least be familiar with it.
1. SEO = Higher Ranking on Google = More Traffic = More Money
SEO is the process of improving your site or platform to increase the quality and quantity of traffic it receives from search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
In other words, SEO helps Google understand your platform, so it can direct the appropriate users toward it. Or better yet, SEO = Marketing in the 21st century.
When Google understands exactly what purpose your site serves, and notices its popularity, your site gets ranked higher on the search engine results pages (SERPS), which in turn drives more foot traffic.
People don’t use URLs anymore, and there’s a reason most browsers changed the address bar to double as a search bar – people navigate the web using searches.
Search engines (mostly Google) run the world. And without optimizing for them, you don’t stand a chance of getting noticed by more than your friends and family online.
You need SEO in order for Google to know you. If Google doesn’t know you, you’re missing out on traffic. (It's all about who you know.)
2. SEO Matters Even If You Don't Have a Website
Now some of you are thinking, “I don’t have a website, so this doesn’t apply to me.” Actually, it still does.
Even if you or your company don't have a website, (and you should seriously consider making one) chances are you have some sort of online presence. Think LinkedIn.
There’s no denying the power of social media.
If you’re under 30, you’d be hard pressed to find someone without any sort of presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat.
Facebook Ads is a great place to start with digital marketing, and it's surprisingly cheap.
The very first Facebook campaign I ran generated 60 clicks in 24 hours and cost $10.
We ran two ads for the same brand with different keywords, and in one day figured out what type of language we needed to use to get more traffic.
BUT even if you aren't running ads to drive people into your storefront, you should be leveraging social media to build authority (even if you're re-posting other people's content).
The best way to do that is figure out what people want to hear, and then turn out as much of that relevant content as possible... otherwise known as SEO.
So maybe you’re not a brick and mortar shop, you don’t have an e-commerce business, and you’re not a content creator… doesn’t matter. You still need to know the basics of SEO.
But don’t worry, it’s actually not hard at all.
3. Anyone can do it.
I taught myself everything I know about SEO in 6 months, but it should’ve taken 3.
Now don’t get me wrong – I don’t pretend to be an expert in all facets of SEO.
And with the nature of the internet and the constantly changing Google algorithms, learning about SEO never truly stops.
But trust me, SEO is VERY ACCESSIBLE. And I’m not just talking about people with tech experience.
If you know me, you know that I was never big into tech or programming 3 years ago.
I started as a copywriter, realized how important SEO was for writing on the web, and picked up other skills along the way.
The majority of what the average person needs to know about SEO can be learned in a couple hour-long trainings – which I did through LinkedIn.
After that, you’ll be able to have conversations about backlinking, heading structure, meta data, and user-generated data (90% of what goes into SEO strategy).
Actually, most of what I know about SEO I was able to learn in about 25 hours of training.
The rest of what I know comes from staying on top of the latest news, trends, and updates.
You can do this really easily with a news aggregator like Feedly.
Also, if you’re not the type to sit through trainings, there’s plenty of videos, articles, and discussion boards out there.
Seriously, this is all information anyone with wifi has access to.
4. It's Free
With the help of bloggers, youtubers, journalists and anyone like me that loves to explain the stuff that I learn, SEO is free to everyone.
I would start with Brian Dean at Backlinko, he’s an awesome resource and makes SEO even more simple than it already is.
If you're a blogger with a knack for writing, I would check out Brian Clarke at Copyblogger.
Whatever content type you prefer, SEO is involved, and you can learn the best practices pretty quickly.
If you do have your own site, you should set up a Google Analytics account.
While Google is super secretive with their algorithms, they give away basically everything else for free.
They’ve got a full suite where you can track pretty much every interaction that occurs on your site.
If you really want to get involved and totally optimize your site and/or ads, I would check out Moz.
There's plenty of options out there, but Moz is probably the most inclusive and easiest to use.
Lastly, Don't Get Intimidated
Like a lot of things in the tech world, the abundance of information out there can seem overwhelming.
Don't let it keep you from starting. The best thing to do is jump right in.
SEO can be a rabbit hole, but the basics are easy to understand and will make a huge difference.
I'll get more in depth with SEO in my posts yet to come.
If you liked what you read, have questions, or just want to chat -- leave a comment! I respond to everyone. Seriously.
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