Search Engine Optimisation for beginners. Part 1

December 1st, 2010

SEO.

You hear the term all the time, but how do you actually rank higher in the search engines? I know when I first heard the term, it sounded like some voodoo magic that only a few people understood how to use.
The reality is, SEO isn’t rocket science. Some gurus would have you believe it takes years of dedicated study to understand it, but I don’t think that’s true. Sure, mastering the subtle nuances takes time, but the truth is that you can learn the fundamentals in just a few minutes.

So, I got to thinking, “Why don’t I lay out the basics, all in some blog posts?”

It’s a long one, to be sure, but after years of studying SEO and working behind the scenes to help companies get first page rankings, I’m convinced this is all you need to know. If you are looking to boost your traffic so that you can increase your sales, just follow these basic guidelines.

The Traffic Trap (and How SEO Really Works)

Lots of marketers make the mistake of seeing SEO only as a source of free traffic. It’s true, free traffic is the end result, but it’s not how SEO works.

The real purpose of SEO is to help people who are looking for you find you. To do that, you have to match the content on your website to what people are trying to find.

For example:

Mary sells custom knitted sweaters. On her blog, she shows how she makes the sweaters by hand, often talking about the different yarns she uses. There’s not much competition for keywords relating to yarn, and Mary is publishing lots of great content about it, so before long, she has front page rankings for several different types of yarn.

Do you see the potential problem?

The people searching for yarn most likely knit themselves, and it’s unlikely they’ll be interested in purchasing Mary’s sweaters. She’ll get lots of traffic, sure, but none of the traffic will convert, because the visitors have completely different goals.

The lesson here: if you want SEO to work for you, you need to make sure your goals match the goals of your visitors. It’s not about traffic. It’s about figuring out what you want, and then optimizing for keywords that bring in visitors who want the same things.

How do you discover what those keywords are?

Simple: research.

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