What Every Author Needs to Know About Search Engine Optimization

Blarney Stone

One question we get a lot from our clients is “Now, you can get me to the top of Google, right?”

Well, much as we’d like to say yes, the Irish have a term for that kind of promise. It’s called “blarney.”

No company can promise that (truthfully, anyway). This is because Google determines rankings by a very complex algorithm, and several factors determine how highly you rank for a particular term.

And most of these factors depend on you.

Here’s an overview of the two aspects of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – on-page SEO and off-page – and what each of these involve:

What is on-page SEO?

This is creating remarkable content that spreads and then formatting it so that the search engines can read it. It includes:

  1. Remarkable content (this is the backbone of all your SEO efforts.)
  2. Optimized title tags
  3. Keyword-rich meta descriptions for every page and post
  4. Pretty permalinks
  5. Canonical URLs
  6. A dynamically-updating XML sitemap
  7. Alt text for all images
  8. Good internal linking

This is just a partial list of what on-page SEO includes. These are all elements that your web design company can initially implement and teach you how to maintain (Here’s a list of Author Media’s on-page SEO services).

On-page SEO tells Google what terms they should rank your site for. Click to Tweet

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is building up your website’s credibility through high-quality inbound links and social media sharing.  If there are a lot of sites trying to rank for your keywords, the number of authoritative sites linking to yours will determine how high in the SERP (search engine results page) your website ranks.

Each of those inbound links acts like a vote, and the more credibility the linking site has, the more weight its “vote” carries.

The number of social media shares your content receives (including Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) is also playing an increasing role in your search engine rankings as well.

This is typically not something your web design company can help you with.

You can hire off-page SEO companies to create a link-building strategy, but many of these use “black hat SEO” tricks and Google is constantly changing the search algorithm to try to defeat these techniques.

Off-page SEO tells Google how highly your site should rank for certain terms. Click to Tweet

How highly you rank is up to you.

A web design company can build your SEO house, but it’s up to you to throw the party. – Click to tweet
Your Google rank (or lack thereof) is primarily determined by your content, how much of it there is, and how remarkable other people consider it (which includes both inbound links and social media sharing). Most of these are entirely up to you, not your web design company.

Be remarkable

Google’s goal is to help you help others. If your content adds value to your target audience, Google will be your best friend. Many people try to game the system and trick Google into ranking them highly, but the algorithm is constantly changing to defeat those efforts. Want to rank highly? Deserve it!

Well-optimized content

As you create more and more valuable content for your site, it needs to be laid out in a way that gives Google the information it needs to rank your content appropriately.

Your web company can tell you how to do this, but you have to actually carry it out. Don’t skip on the small things like creating a meta description for each post and using keyword-rich headings and titles. They carry more weight than you might think.

Inbound links

Once you have a lot of great content that’s well-optimized, your next strategy should be to get some good inbound links.

While there are ways to get more of these links, such as writing guest posts (or inviting guest posts for your own blog), the fact is that if your content is remarkable enough, your target audience will start linking to it on their own. Those are the kinds of links Google likes best.

It takes time. Be persistent!

There are no quick fixes to your search engine rankings. Those who try to take shortcuts usually get penalized by Google at some point, either by direct penalty or by an algorithm change targeting their techniques.

Organic growth usually happens slowly. Michael Hyatt tells how his own blog didn’t really take off until his fifth year of blogging, after which his reach become absolutely phenomenal.

A lot of bloggers miss out on success because they give up too soon. Don’t be one of them.

What are you doing to improve your SEO?