This isn’t a blog about SEO, it’s about how to think about SEO.
Clients ask us all the time, “How do search engines like Google work, how can I get better rankings, what exactly is involved with SEO”?
For those new to the topic, let me try and explain.
SEO is about improving the way a website and a search engine communicate, with the goal of making a favourable impression on the search engine.
You can communicate with search engines, but you can’t speak to them.
You can’t tell them things like: “this is a well researched piece of content” or “this is a great piece of writing” or “this is a ground-breaking video about how to install crown moulding”.
That’s not the kind of language search engines speak.
So what do you do when trying to communicate with someone who speaks a different language?
You send them non-verbal signals that they can understand.
Ever put balloons in front of your house to tell birthday party invitees that they’re at the right place?
Ever ask someone in a foreign land to take your picture by showing them your camera and bending your button pushing finger?
Ever wave at a driver to go ahead and get in your lane?
You want to send search engines the right signals to communicate with them.
Ways to Send Signals to Search Engines
Again, this isn’t meant to be a how-to on SEO, but here’s a couple examples to help illustrate what I’m talking about:
- A search engine can’t see what an image is, so signal what the image is about by including keywords in its filename and alt tag.
- A search engine can’t understand the content of a video, so signal what the video is about by having it transcribed into text (which it can read).
- A search engine won’t know the main topic of your blog (for the most part), so signal what the blog is about by including keywords in the url, title, and throughout the content using different variations of the keyword (avoid content “stuffing”).
- A search engine will make assumptions about what your website a web page is about, so signal to them specific details about your site or page by using meta descriptions and/or meta keywords (note: meta descriptions have no SEO weight but are used on search engine result pages to display preview snippets for a given page).
- A search engine can’t judge a valuable piece of content on its own, so signal what you think is valuable content by sharing it on social media, commenting on it, or linking to it.
We always recommend that you write or create content for people, not search engines. That being said, if you can communicate better with search engines properly, your content is more likely to be read and shared with more people.
So go forth, and signal 🙂