SEO for Dummies (i.e. Me)

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Allan Pollett presented five tips for improving Search Engine Optimization at CAMP’s January learning event.

CAMP’s January learning event ‘The Top Five SEO Tips for 2015’ was led by SEO guru, expert and all around knowledgeable guy, Allan Pollett, and attendees learned numerous takeaways that can help to significantly improve their websites’ search engine performance. And I – participant and complete SEO newbie – left with a ton of tidbits. A computer science guy with a degree in Physics, Allan’s been working in the SEO field since before there was a Google (back in the Alta Vista days…anyone remember those?). He’s worked with some leading websites, and shared a story about how he actually auditioned for Season 1 of The Apprentice. His pitch? His clients’ real estate websites made more money per day than all of Donald Trump’s properties (He made it to the interview stage, but wasn’t invited back. Our theory is that The Donald was intimidated). Allan’s top five tips include:
  1. Know the basics – links & content. Search engines still care about the things they did 10 years ago, such as good content, and links to your website. The more links, the better. Google ranks all sites on a scale of 0 to 10 (sites with no links will be ranked 0, sites with lots and lots of links will be ranked closer to 10). The goal is to link to sites that have a higher rank.
Remember to keep things very simple when writing the content for your site. If you’re an event planner, the words ‘Event Planner’ and ‘Event Planning’ should be very apparent on your site. You have 8 seconds to make an impression, so make sure visitors are able to tell what you do right away. Another important tip is some websites are ranked higher than others based on their focus. Associations, for example, tend to be favoured higher (Just something to keep in mind…sites like, ahem, CAMP).
  1. Know the keywords. The best way to do this is to use Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. This is a free tool provided by Google that tracks the most used keywords on Google.
However – a couple of Allan tips to keep in mind: A. When using the Keyword Tool, change the information to ‘specific based searches’, as the automatic is ‘broad based.’ Broad based is more general, and won’t drill down the exact stuff that folks are searching for. B. Consider the objectives of your targets, and focus on the keywords that generate paying customers to your site. For example for event planning, the keywords you’ll be more interested in is ‘Cost of Planning an Event,’ as opposed to ‘How to Plan an Event.’ See the difference? The second is an educational search, and while very useful to send visitors to your site, they likely won’t be the paying clients you’re seeking.
  1. CAMP - Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals Blog, blog, blog! We’ve all heard that content is king. Good content/blog posts should be no less than 500 words (this was news to me, as I always aim for a 400 word blog post). Search engines love content, so feed them!
Another key tip is to check keywords and blog specifically about that subject, sprinkling the keyword throughout the blog.
  1. Get Social.  Twitter should be a marketer’s best friend. Twitter (which has a very high ranking score) allows for many opportunities to build links to your site, and, every time your tweet is retweeted, it counts. Further, search engines take note of the text surrounding the tweet, so utilize those 141 characters wisely.
Also, remember the power of Google +. Any + to a page (essentially Google’s way of saying ‘like’) improves your page ranking. Use this tool.
  1. Put it all together.  Wordpress is a great website for marketers to connect all the pieces (keywords, social, blogging) together to allow for easier optimization. If you’re not using a platform like WordPress, you can optimize as long as you do so throughout the entire site (our advice: use WordPress or something similar to make your SEO life easier!)
Allan also discussed H1 tags, Alt tags on images, and meta tags, all which can be explored in greater detail. But, given how much of a newbie I am, I need baby steps. So, thank you Allan for giving a thorough and knowledge presentation that hits all different SEO knowledge levels. Now I’m off to Google some keywords…wish me luck!   Raised in a small town in Newfoundland, Nadine headed west after graduating and fell in love with the bustle of Toronto. Her true passion is marketing and she’s spent the last 15 years in marketing roles, and is the co-founder and CEO of the Canadian Association of Marketing Professionals (CAMP). When she’s not connecting with other marketers through CAMP, Nadine is at the soccer field, gym, or swimming pool cheering on her two favourite munchkins, trying not to become that mom everyone fears.

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