I like to think I’m a hipster. I got organic local homemade frozen custard from a booth in San Francisco once. That makes me qualified, maybe.
Now that we have that established, I’d like to walk you through a guide to SEO. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a hipster to use this guide. The guide itself will be a bit hipster, but don’t let that scare you away.
I’ll let you take a quick sip of your almond milk dirty chai latté, and then we’ll get started…
Organic Search and SEO
You heard me right, organic. That’s pretty hipster. Only, we’re not talking about organic free-range eggs, we’re talking about organic (or natural) search results.
But what’s SEO? SEO, quite simply, stands for search engine optimization. It’s a set of tools your website uses to show up higher in a web search, or those organic search results.
Now with that in mind, let’s take a step back and look at a web search. We could all use a few more mason jars for our ginger lemongrass iced green tea, so let’s do a search for ‘mason jars.’
Now, Google’s search results can be separated into two parts. First, and perhaps most obvious, is the paid search results. Notice all the “Ad” boxes and the “Sponsored” label? This is how Google makes its money. People pay Google for PPC ads, which appear on top, on the sides, and all around, the search results.
No really, they’re everywhere.
Search engine optimization is all about making your website pop up in the organic search results. You can’t pay to show up here, but you can make a variety of improvements to your website that makes it more likely to rank higher in Google’s algorithms.
And that’s what SEO is all about.
Summoning the Google Spider
In order to rank and catalog websites in the organic search, Google wrote practically a book of code to create what’s known as the spider. The spider crawls around the web, creating copies of web pages in Google’s index.
Google doesn’t crawl the web every time there’s a search. Rather, it keeps one index of websites, and picks and pulls from that index with each search. Google’s spider makes this index.
The spider has seen almost everything, even the most underground websites. So hipster.
How do you get the spider to crawl your site? Well, you can always ask Google. Submit your URL, and the spider will crawl over and add it to the database.
It’s also beneficial to have Google re-crawl your site as often as possible. You’ll want Google to notice if you start adding content or making juicy SEO changes. But how would you go about this?
Again, you can ask Google. But you don’t want to do this every time you make changes to your site. Instead, you want to subtly nudge the spider to come back and re-crawl. There are a few ways to do this.
- Frequently add content. If the spider comes back and notices a change on your site, it’s inclined to come again in the future to record any more changes.
- Link building. When the spider crawls a website, it clicks on all of the page’s links and crawls those sites (making a web). This is why you want your links on other websites. When they get crawled, the spider will come back to your site too.
- Add a sitemap. A sitemap helps guide the spider to crawl all of your site’s pages. Be sure that when you add content, you also add it to the site map.
Ultimately, you want to signal to the spider your site is worth re-crawling. Why would you even want to re-crawl? Well, once you optimize your site or add content, it may be a better match in a web search. If you get it re-crawled, it could show up higher in the organic search and get you more traffic.
And more traffic is always a good thing.
Start a Grass-Roots SEO Campaign
Since we’re all hipsters here, none of us want to be too mainstream when we’re planning our SEO. Don’t worry, there are ways to boost your rankings and traffic without catering to the man (i.e. Google).
I call this grass-roots SEO. And it’s all about sharing your links and photos with other people.
I mentioned above that link building leads to the Google spider crawling your site more often. But there is another benefit to sharing links. And it works with your artsy instagram photos, too.
It’s all about reputation.
Let’s take Bird’s Eye as an example. When Bird’s Eye opened a pop-up restaurant to showcase their frozen food options, they allowed customers to “pay with Instagram.”
Why would this work? Well, if everyone instagrams their dinner (and if the content actually looks good), more people will be exposed to the frozen meals and pop-up restaurant. More people will visit the restaurant (or website), which gives Bird’s Eye more reputation.
More reputation leads to better SEO.
Think of a popular Tumblr blog. You start taking photos of your super hipster mug of coffee, apply a sepia filter (or Valencia, depending on the lighting), and share it with all your friends. Your friends may post the photo on their blog, and their friends will post it on their blog.
Your link and your photo follows this chain. This stream of activity gives you more reputation and higher rank.
No need to appease the man. It’s all grass roots!
A Few Final Juicy SEO Tips
Let’s end with a delicious kale-banana-pineapple smoothie of SEO tips. Served in a mason jar of course.
Google says they have over 200 factors that determine your website’s relevancy in a web search. This means there is a goldmine of opportunities to make your page more relevant. SEO is a whole study. To get you started, we’ll give you a little taste of our Kale SEO smoothie.
- Write quality content. Years ago, writing for the user and writing for the search engine were completely different. You used to be able to spam keywords, tricking the search engine into showing your useless content. As Google’s algorithms evolve, websites with quality user content now get ranked higher.
- Get quality links. We talked a bit about this already. Creating links to other sites, and having other sites link to you, gives your page more authority and can help it move up in the ranks.
- Keep things simple. Create simple tags, titles, headers, and URLs. Make it streamlined so both the user and the spider can see it and understand it.
- Build your reputation. Become known in the industry and by your customers. Rack up positive reviews and reliable content. A larger, more loyal following can boost your rank.
With these free tips, you can boost your website higher in the ranks, hopefully driving more traffic to your page. There is a slew of tactics that can boost your rankings, you have to figure out what works best for you. But these tips will give you a solid start!