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A Conversation About SEO Best Practices

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This member asks about how to take her SEO practices to the next level. I discuss what I consider to be 90% of the solution. We talk about creating a semantic site structure, the importance of meta tag titles and descriptions and about keyword placement. We also discuss how to implement and internal linking strategy. Finally we talk about Scribe, the tool we use to help us do the work.

Video Transcript

Rick: And I’m going to start off actually with somebody who’s new to the group, April. April I’m going to unmute your microphone. I don’t know if you’ve actually got a microphone so you can participate or not.

April: Okay.

Rick: Are you with us, April?

April: Yes, can you hear me?

Rick: Yeah, we can hear you great. So you asked what more can you do to enhance your SEO strategies. What are you doing now?

April: Well, right now, I’m kind of self-taught. You know, I’ve been learning things. This is not something I went to school for. So I’ve been… over the last 6 years, I’ve been pouring over different sites. I study my competition and I noticed that you know, how important the title bar is, how important the keywords are. There’s debate over how much the meta stuff is still effective and I missed the first half and I was really hoping to find it. I was trying to find a recording of it. So I might be repeating myself but another I do is in lieu of not having a lot of reciprocal links, I do a lot of listings on the internet and I use listings that have large audiences because I have feeling that well, they get indexed a lot. And I put my own website on the listings and they don’t kick me off so I just do it. And so then I have a link back to my website on every listing that… and if I do that on certain ones, I see my stuff showing up on listings that I didn’t even know existed and not by a whole lot but a few. And that helps to increase traffic a little bit, at least, it kind of gets it out there but you know, that’s the essence of what I do right now and I’m always working on using the keywords in the title bar instead of welcome and stuff like that you know, because those are what show up on Google. Those were the ones that they pick up on. And so… and I have one website that was built for me into WordPress and I’ve been trying to get some courage to start on this but it’s you know, I don’t know. There’s more to it than just a quick trip you know, version of it and I… so I know that WordPress though is better like when I had a blog, I have a battery website that I put entries in every day and I would end up getting… you know, I set up the RSS feed for to see when my articles came up and they were up frequently in Google. But that’s because I did a little bit everyday instead of a whole lot like once a week. So I know that updating a website is really important too. So those are the basic things I’d be doing. I’m interested in anything that people might you know… I’m open to learning so thank you for asking.

Rick: Well yeah, and you know, I’m of the opinion that 90% is good enough. And so, when I say 90%, what I mean is having a site structure with a semantic URL system. That is a URL system that reads like an English sentence so for example, I’m going to take you to an example here. You know, if you look at my URL for this page, it’svideotutorials/beginningtutorials. And if you go another level one down, it’s videotutorials/startbuildingyourwebsitehere and then beyond that, you end up with another you know, Lesson 1 Register Your Domain. And so, you can pretty much, by looking at the URL, tell what the page is about and actually, what the structure of my site is. And it’s not… and that’s something that Google looks for and is one of the things that shows up prominently in their primer on SEO.

So that’s the first thing is to have a good site structure with good semantic URLs. And the URL should be descriptive and they should also obviously have keywords in them that are descriptive of the content and that you also want you know, people… you’ll imagine people are searching for you material by. And then the next part of that… actually, let’s go back to this and edit this page. The next thing is something that’s a feature of Thesis which is the theme that I teach mostly here and which is the theme that runs my site. And that is having a custom title tag that’s the right length, that has you know, the right…that has keywords that are again, descriptive of the material on the page but also are what I imagine somebody may be looking for. And then a metadescription again, which is descriptive of the page, which is the right length, which has keywords that are significant on the page. And the nice thing about Thesis is that Thesis lets you have you know, sort of a human-friendly title for your page and then an SEO friendly title. And so, I use both, right? This is the h1 tag on my page but this is the custom title tag or this is the title of the page when you look at it in view source and if you look at a search engine result, this is what’s at the top of that search engine result.

And then I guess the next thing… and every page on our site has a title tag and a meta description and it’s actually by title tag. This is really the meta title tag and the meta description tag. And then the next thing is having a rational internal linking structure and that is links from inside your pages to other places in your site. And the latest version of WordPress… well actually, even one before that. I think WordPress 3.1 has this cool, little feature where you know, we’ll just say business website is what I want to link off to. And if I click this linking tool, it allows me to link to existing content and I can go ahead and search for content on my site that I want to link to. And what it’s done right here is it has… oh no, this is just a list… yeah, this is just a listing of posts. But if did business website, this is where it thinks you know, there are places that I could link off to. And so you find… you end up with a rational internal linking structure that links all of your pages over and over and over again. And the links are deliberately descriptive of the content of the page that you’re going to. So because I’m linking from business website, the page that I’m linking to needs to reference you know, something about creating a business website.

So you have that internal linking structure going on and then I actually use this tool called Scribe Content Optimizer which keeps me honest. And so, it analyzes the page for content and when it’s done here, I’ll show you. The last time we did this, it gave us a score of 100% and it’s based on you know, the title tag, its length, its keywords, primary keywords, the description, the body, links inside the body and that kind of stuff. And so it you know, it tells me what it thinks my keywords are and so if I didn’t want hosting to be a keyword you know, on this page, I would want to make sure I reduce the amount of time that it said this.

And so this is what the Google result looks like for this page and those things I just said are 90%. And you know, maybe I should have said at first, you need content, right? You need something that’s worthy of people to read and you know, one of the things I discovered early on this site is that nobody can you know, Google can’t tell what the video is about. So since the site is primarily focused on videos, what I have to do with my videos is add transcripts of them. And so, the transcripts are you know, what Google ends up indexing. People still come to watch the videos but I put the transcripts of the videos on so that people can find them. So you still need content that is worth somebody searching and finding and then when you’ve got that, you want a semantic URL structure. You want a meta title, meta keywords… or not meta keywords but meta description and keywords at the first part of your page and then a rational linking structure.

And there are lots of other things that you can do as well but that’s 90% of it. And then you need to go out and get you know, somebody to link back to you, right? Somebody to be interested enough in your content to link to your site and all that part of it takes time. I don’t think there’s any shortcut way to get there. If your site’s been up for a while and you are following this you know, this simple strategy, that’s what got us… we just… today, we hit our record 14,248 hits or visits this month which is a high for us. And it’s just by doing those things you know, if you already have all that stuff already nailed then you can start thinking about you know, some of the more esoteric stuff if you still have time. But I find that this takes plenty of time. You know, it’s open thing to come up with a video, it’s entirely another thing then to do all the SEO work on the page to make sure that you know, Google understands what the page is about and people find the page when they’re looking for the information that you have and that’s actually more of a trick than you might think.

And in any rate, it’s a job. It’s something that really you know, takes time out of your day. And in fact, I don’t even do it. My wife does it because I don’t have time to do it. So was that helpful?

April: Yes. I have one question about back when you were writing the line for the description, I believe you…I think it started… it was a sentence that started like… it started out with in this something.

Rick: I said, “In this lesson, you’ll learn how to register your business…”

April: Right. I guess it’s not a problem to use words like “in this” and you know, I mean, I would think I would just like to keep the… I mean, you want to be able to read it but do these words like “in” and “this”, do they block any kind of search? You know, I guess the search engine goes right for the keywords in the description instead of the whole sentence.

Rick: Yeah. Well, I think of the meta description as your sales pitch to the person who’s looking at Google and the title tag as the place where the keyword position is most important.

April: Okay.

Rick: So I mean, I didn’t make that up you know, the people that follow say that the keyword position is most important in the title tag and in actually, in the first part of your post or page. And those are the places where it’s important to have your keywords you know, very close to the front and that sort of thing. But the meta description, I don’t know. You could certainly say… I mean, really, you’ve got this whole piece, right? This “In this lesson, you will learn…” Nobody’s searching for any of those words so if you felt like you really needed to have the keywords you know, at the very front of the meta description then you wouldn’t write it this way. I think it’s important here… it’s certainly important to have the same keywords here, in here. I mean, you still need keywords in both places but I think the position is more important in this one than it is in this. So I always make this…I try to make it a sales pitch.

April: Right.

Rick: Some reason for the person to say, “Okay, I’m going to click on that link and see what’s there.”

April: Right, okay. Thank you.

Rick: You’re welcome.

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