How to explain Search Engine Optimization to newbie

Today post is about explaining simple SEO concepts to a person who is brand new to Search Engine Marketing. If you ever have to do that, i find the book analogy is quite useful.

Any website is like a book. There are billions of different books in the world.
Search Engine (like Google/Yahoo) job is to help us find the information we need in those books
quickly.
But how Search Engine manages to do that?

1. Meta data

Well, each book as a title, an author and a publishing company. Looking at the cover of any book you probably find some short explanation or testimonials from other trusted 3rd parties to highlight what a particular book is about.

This is similar to all the meta information of the home page of a site like meta title, meta description etc. If you don’t know what meta title or description is, visit any website,
right click and view the source code of the page.
Once you are there, search for meta data part. Normally they are at the top. Please refer to the example below taken from Apple source code.

2. Site Language vs URL language

You probably never see a book with the title in Chinese and the content of that book is written in Japanese. It will just confuse readers.
The same analogy for SEO. If you site ‘s title/descriptions is in English and all the content inside is in Chinese then search engine will be confused, not being able to understand/category the site into appropriate categories.
This applies to the display URL as well. If the title of the site is is English, then all the URL should all be in English, not Tagalog or bahasa or Vietnamese etc…

3. Inbound links

For good books, they normally have lots of testimonials on the cover or on the first few pages.
The more recommendations from authority parties like New York Times, Daily…. a book has, the more trusted that book appear in front of prospective readers. If a book enters the best seller section of a famous book store then obviously, its authority status in a particular topic increases substantially.

The fact is that no matter how niche or weird a topic is, there are always trusted authorities/3rd parties in that field that general public can refer to.
Hence, what other people comments about a book (through anchor text of inbound links) is very important.
For example, some one can write on their website that i provide insightful information about Singapore Online Marketing by using something like: Chandler provides informative information about how to run a regional PPC campaign in SouthEast Asia.
The part “regional PPC campaign in SouthEast Asia” is called anchor text and if the link is from other website then it’s called inbound link.

4. Global page rank

We all know that in each field, there are authors that are more popular than others. They are more famous, write better books and make more money. 🙂
We probably have our own favorite authors and every time those authors publish new books, we will either buy them or at least take a look.
However, an author may be famous in Singapore, but not in Malaysia and no one even knows his name in US for example. Also, there can be international best selling authors and those are the most sought after ones.

On the internet, the equivalent is your global page rank. One easy way to view the page rank of a site is by installing Google Toolbar. It’s not entirely accurate that way since the location of visitors is important as well. If you have high page rank, that simply means you are popular or your content seems to be valuable from Search Engine standpoints.

5. Site structure (site map) & Keyword in the URL:

After someone reads the book title, the testimonials on the cover of the book, he/she may have a quick glance through the table of content/estimate how thick the book is, whether it has lots of picture, easy to read…so on and so forth.
A typical table of Content shows how many chapters a book has, with descriptive name for each chapter, how long each chapter is, any sub categories etc…

For Search Engine, in order to understand what a site is about quickly, they will look at the site map/navigation menu. So it’s very important that you have a proper site map or navigation menu.
If the site is complicated and has a lot of content they you will need to write a separate site map to guide search engine.
If a book structure is too confusing, no matter how brilliant the book content is, prospective readers will get frustrated and leave after a while. The same for Search Engines. Their spiders do not have all the time in the world to try figuring out how to read/identify/categorize site content.

Each item in the menu needs to be as descriptive as possible. For example, if your company provides Search Engine Marketing services, you should use “Search Engine Marketing” or “Pay per Click” or “Search Engine Optimization” as one of the “chapter name” instead of using words like “Services” or “Our Services”
Not only that, the display URL needs to be as descriptive as possible too (when you have a static site). This is the concept of having important keyword in your URL.

6. Relevant Topics for each web page

The simple fact is that it would be bloody confusing if an author tries to write about how to make the best chili crab in the world and at the same time mentions about how to prepare a car.
(I love Singapore Chili Crab :P)
Unless you want to publish an encyclopedia, a book/ a chapter within the book should be about closely related topics. It’s preferable to have one chapter about one topic from the reader’s standpoint.

The same for website content. Each site should only contain relevant topics. Each web page should only talk about/try to optimize for one or two closely related topics.
Coming back to the Search Engine Marketing example, you should have one dedicated section on the site about Pay Per Click and a whole other section about Search Engine Optimization on the site. The reason is even though they are under the same Search Engine Marketing umbrella, they are still quite different.

Having good content in clearly organized structure will help Search Engine quickly read and understand what the site is about.

There can be many other important concepts for Search Engine Optimization like: Age of the domain, rate of new inbound link etc…However, i guess for newbie who tries to build a simple site, the above should be enough 🙂

Cheers,
Chandler

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