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General Discussion

Robert Niemczewski
Robert Niemczewski
4,560 Points

SEO - what I have learned, and what you think?

I am currently learning SEO and there is so much information out there that I would like to hear some real advices from people who currently do SEO and Social Marketing.

My whole concept on SEO is to make websites for users not search engines, meaning when you apply SEO make sure that the content is very good because once someone finds you he has to come back from time to time in order for you to succeed. I think that's the bottom line and it can be compared to normal marketing where if you find a good mechanic and he gives you what you are looking for ( search query ) you are more likely to come back because you already trust him or her.

SEO - technical aspects are those that the page has to be set up correctly so the crawlers and spiders will have no problems finding you site. Now, question:

What tools do you use when doing SEO? If you use WordPress, what plugins and why? Do you like using plugins better or you have your own check list?

I am currently using Google Analytic and Google Webmaster tools to find out more information, are there any tools you suggest? Since WordPress is such a good CMS system now, most of the sites I use SEO on are on that platform and currently I am most happy with the Yoast Plugin, but others like plugins like Scribe, All-in-One, etc, what you suggest? How about if you want to have better results, what plugins are the best, paid vs free, ?

When I read about keyword research it seems like a very important concept, well and it make sense you want to use keywords and you have to research those keywords before just to make sure that people will find your website, because whats the point of having excellent content and not being able to show it to anyone? What are your best-methods for keyword research, I am most familiar with Google Trends.

Then there is the Link aspect - and I am confused about that a little bit. From what I have learned Google or any other search engine will rank you better in their results because when you are linked to other pages and other pages link to you, you are more trustworthy right? Is that why Wikipedia is almost ranked number one for a lot of searches? - It would of make sense because it is linked to thousands and thousand of other sites.

That's it from me now, I am not sure if anyone will respond to this post, so I will keep the rest for myself, but I would love to read your comments and ideas and posts!!! So don't be shy and lets start talking about SEO to understand it better. ( Also it would be nice if teamtreehouse would have a detailed SEO badge - more detailed than they have now which is very good too )

:)

6 Answers

Hey Robert,

Glad you are learning about SEO! Here's a checklist I wrote for WordPress SEO. Yoast.com also has a great guide.

James Barnett
James Barnett
39,199 Points

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John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

If you're using WordPress, the Yoast plugin is the best, hands down.

You've got a lot of the ideas about SEO correct, here's a quick version of how I work.

I used to use the old version of the Keyword Tool on AdWords to get an idea of how many people are searching for a term. I use SEM Rush a little for this now, the main idea is get an idea of what niche you are trying to rank for. Do a brain dump of everything you think people will be searching for. Not general terms---the more general the term, the more difficult it is going to be to "win" that battle. Instead, go for phrases---questions that people would type into a search engine. Long tail keywords and phrases are battles that you have a better shot at winning. Better to rank in the top 3 for a result that 1,000 are searching for than to be on page 7 for a term that 20,000 people are searching for.

When you have a list of about 50 terms you think people are searching for, use a Keyword tool to test your assumptions. Keyword phrases that are in the sweet spot (to me) are in the 1,000-100,000 search per month. Make a list of the content that 1) fall in this sweet spot, and 2) You are knowledgeable, or can become knowledgeable about.

Write your article. put your keyword phrase in the title, h1, URL, description, body content, and name the first image with this phrase. If you can utilize Schema or Microdata, great! If not, that's fine too.

How Google determines where your stuff ranks: A complicated formula that does involve how many sites link to you, and the quality of those sites, if the sites linking to you are about the same subject, is the keyword density on your page too much? Not enough? Just right? How fast does your page load? If people search for a keyword, do they click on your link? The more people click on that link, the more your site will go up....IF they stay on the site for a moderate amount of time, and don't go searching for that same term again.

The types of sites that link to you matter. A link from CNN or Time Magazine is going to count for more than a link from the average website. Your page gains authority for that keyword if pages on other sites with the same subject matter link to it.

Important to remember...Pages gain rank...not Websites.

If you link out, do it naturally, and make it to a page that is going to benefit the reader. Your page takes all the rank it has, and splits it between all the links on the page. The "link juice" goes out to the pages you are linking to. This is why internal linking is good. If you don't want to share your link juice, mark your links with rel="nofollow". LInks built in comments sections are almost always nofollow, but if you get thousands of these, some people think it may be a very weak signal.

Social sharing has been an increased signal in rank. The more shares you get, the more backlinks this is. Social sharing shows that your content is relevant to users.

To sum up: Good content helps SEO because people don't bounce off the page, they share it, they link to it, and with a little help, it can eventually become an authority page.

If you have Google Authorship hooked up, Google also watches how often you publish. People who produce content all the time are seen are a little more authoritative.

Robert Niemczewski
Robert Niemczewski
4,560 Points

Thanks for the response John,

To make sure that I get it right:

Scenario 1 - keyword research

I am the owner of a construction company and I specialize in deck building. So I want to attract customers who are looking for those type of services. I research words that I think of people would type in to find that services preformed by someone. What you think about Google Trends? (SEM is a paid version tool, right) And now from that research I come up with a keyword OR a phrase to base my article on? I think a keyword, then create a well-written article that will contain that keyword, and also apply the steps to it as you mentioned ( put in title, h1 tag, img etc)

That should link people to my site, or give me a better rank?

Scenario 2 : Links

This is still little bit confusing, but I think I am getting there.

If you website has links from trust worthy sites and sites like that link back to your site you will rank better because Google then sees you as a trust worthy site - correct? So now how you connect with those sites? a} pay them to advertise you b} give them your article or something they would benefit from and ASK them to make sure they link it back to you? c}if article scenario works out can you still have your article on your site and their site or that is duplication ( there are penalty for duplication right? d) leave a comment in their comments area with your site by also stating something useful ? e) as it goes for rel="nofollow" when would you really apply that? ex. you write an article and then you don't want anybody to steal it or use it in their site ? and why would you do that?

Once again, Thank you so much for your response! Thanks Treehouse, I am happy to be here!

Robert Niemczewski
Robert Niemczewski
4,560 Points

Also, you said that Yoast is the best plugin for WordPress.. have you ever had any experience with Moz tools, or any other plugins?

And as far as SEO goes, if you do social marketing for companies or etc do you only go for WordPress sites, or just overall? ( like a simple html/css page without any cms?)

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

I just use Yoast currently, I've used All-In-One, it's OK, I think Yoast is more complete. I haven't tried the Moz plugin, so I can't speak to it.

Keyword research: Pretty much right. Google just changed their Keyword Tool, so I'm still figuring it out. SEMRush has some pay features, but you can get a decent idea from the free keyword tool. I'm sure there are others out there, you want to figure out the terms that people are actually looking for. Always test what your assumptions are.

Links: I do a lot of comment form link building - you want traffic ultimately, and these work for that.

Google the term you are targeting. Open the top 40 or so results. See which pages you can leave comments on, close the rest. Read the articles, leave a thoughtful comment, leave a link back to your target page dealing with the same subject, explaining that this is also a resource to solve the problem. The result is the top search results for your term will also yield you a few extra views per week.

Connecting with sites: This takes time. Lots of time and sustained effort.

Chances are you won't be able to write for a large site. If you have a library of good articles on the subject matter, you might be able to guest post on a blog that deals with the exact same subject matter. This involves networking with other people in the same niche, and showing you are also a thought leader in that same space. This isn't something you can accomplish in a weekend, or even a month. If you are doing SEO for someone else, someone is going to have to commit to writing content, or producing content on a regular basis.

When your site becomes known among regular people for solving the problem, then they will share it naturally. Your job is to seed the fact that your target site contains the answers they are seeking. You will need more than five articles to do this. Here are some ways I have planted seeds to get people to share:

Answer questions on that particular subject on Yahoo Answers or Quora. Answer patiently until the particular question you want to answer come up. Then, you give the answer and provide the link back to your site. If you don't have time for that, make two accounts on Yahoo Answers. One account asks your target question, the second account answers it. Don't pick your own answer as "best" if there is a better answer provided, but always provide the link back to your target page.

Get a Facebook Page, Pinterest Page, Tumblr Page, Google Plus Page, Twitter account. On the Twitter account, share quality links to similar content, and mix in your own links here and there. On the other accounts, do the same, but anytime you publish anything, you go and share that across all those accounts. All of these platforms have different audiences, and you must see which will work out best for the niche you are targeting. You have to spread these everywhere to get others to share. Don't forget Stumble Upon, and LinkedIn, Digg or Reddit if they apply.

You want to get links spread? Make a YouTube video that also answers the question. Put the target phrase in the title, and say it somewhere in the video, put it in the tags and descriptions. Videos have a much better chance of making it to the top of Google. ALSO, the first thing in the video description is a link back to the article. Take this video and embed it in the page with the article. Add a transcribed caption track to the video, because Google does not decipher speech so well. This adds even more information to your video.

Now we have your information on the original page, on a ton of social platforms, and in a video. Also, your page is the answer to people asking that question.

Naturally, this takes a lot of time, but the results pay off, if you stick with it all the way.

So back to your original question, when people go to search for a quality source for their search, they are linking back to your article On Their Own. This is when you know you have arrived.

Last parts of your question: Read up on how Link Juice works, you will understand the concept better than I can explain it succinctly.

Paid advertising is a waste of money if you don't have tons of quality content in place already. If you have that quality content, you're not going to need advertising.

People who approach me offering money to run paid articles, I trash those emails immediately. Any site that is keen to that idea is not going to be a site you want linking back to you anyway.

Sites can syndicate your articles, with your permission. Google knows you are the original publisher, but it doesn't hurt to use meta tags for the pubdate and author, just so there's no question.

In short, you have to earn your status as an authority in a certain field. If you are doing content marketing or content SEO, advise clients that there needs to be a content schedule and strategy in place.

Hope that helps.

Robert Niemczewski
Robert Niemczewski
4,560 Points

Yes John, that helps a lot!

So from what I am all getting:

SEO - technical aspects have to be used so the search engines have an easy way to find your content. a) you could do it by your self b) use a plugin if you work on WordPress c) if the search engines algorithm changes,will you be notified?

Then, if you want to increase your rank and have more people that is when those things come in:

a) linking up with other people and pages ( blogs / websites / forums / comments ) -linking up with sites that have similar content, no point of linking up a wordpress plugin to dog forums b) fresh and high quality content c) social marketing ( facebook, twitter, google, yelp ) - people need to find you d)how you base your prices for SEO, for d1) for SEO set up d2)monthly prices? d3) how long it takes you John to see results for other pages that you are working on?

Any other advices?

Thank you!

John Locke
John Locke
15,479 Points

Hi Robert:

Right, good semantics matter, study how other people do their HTML, try to use roles where appropriate. Plugins are a good guide for constructing your content, you still have to build the content. Yoast and other plugins just let you know if you're in a sweet spot, or need to add a little more.

Fresh content is good, it shows the site is active. Linking to, and getting links from other authorities in the same niche is definitely what you want. Social is a strong signal, correct.

Algorithms are always changing. Big changes, like the Hummingbird update, or the Panda and Penguin updates, are usually announced, but there are constantly other smaller changes going on that are not announced at all.

As far as how long it takes to move the needle on moving pages up, it depends on a lot of factors: competitiveness of the target keyword phrase, authority of the site, how many sites are linking in, how many people are sharing, how many people are CLICKING the search result when they see it, age of the domain name, speed of the site, crawlability of the site, keyword density of the page and on-page SEO. It's going to boil down to how far the spread is between where your page is, and where you want to move it to, and how many "points" are between your page and the pages above you.

Most of the new articles I publish settle into where they would normally rank within a couple of days. They may fluctuate a few spots after that. Then it becomes a matter of off-page SEO.

One other tip, don't use Fivver for link building or link scraping at all. Most of the scraped links are useless, and if you link build with them, it will be 99% bad neighborhood links.

Pricing in any web service is tricky, especially when you're starting. Try to find what other people are charging, judge where your talent is compared to the rest of the industry and start there. As time goes on, and you feel confident, raise your rates accordingly.

I would base a monthly charge on how much work you're going to do each month, and how much time that's going to take, based on a fair hourly rate. If you feel confident you can deliver the results people expect, then you can dop value-based pricing. For now, I would just see what is normal for the market and start with that.

Robert Niemczewski
Robert Niemczewski
4,560 Points

Makes sense John, Well I guess I am off to reading more about specific subjects that I need to understand better like keyword research and link building because it seems like those are really important because they will increase your rank and get you more views.

I am very thankful for your help John.

Thanks again!