If you’ve ever listened to a search engine optimization (SEO) expert talk about their work, don’t worry if you were a bit lost – you’re far from alone. Sometimes SEO experts are hard to understand because terms and phrases like “caching” or “canonicalization” are usually outside of your normal vocabulary. And that's ok! This quick guide will give you a glimpse into our world and how you can become an SEO advocate.
What you’ll need for today’s class:
- A good memory
- The desire to learn
Start with the Basics
What is SEO? If you’d like to expand your SEO knowledge by the time it takes to finish this article, here’s the quickest way I can explain it: SEO is the process of optimizing your website to grow your authority on a given topic or subject (products, services, education, etc.) which will help you rank as high as possible on search engine result pages, or SERPs.
It’s easy to overlook SEO’s potential impact on your website. Digital marketers like to focus on the numbers and the data, but with SEO it’s more difficult to see tangible results from small optimizations. Plus, no one completely knows how Google’s algorithm works as the world's largest search engine. These two reasons make it difficult to know exactly how you should be optimizing, but you should start with a basic understanding of how SEO works and the rest will follow with more hands-on experience.
What is a SERP? Chances are you’ve heard SEO professionals use the term SERP (pronounced sir-p). If you’ve ever Googled something, the SERP is what Google gives back to you in the form of ads, organic listings, images, featured snippets, and more! SEO managers are always talking about the SERP and how it changes from day to day based on new Google algorithms and new types of results. Discuss the volatility of the SERP in your next meeting and you’ll get some head nods in agreement.
The IT Factor: Domain Authority
Domain authority is a measurement of a website’s estimated authority and trust as determined by Moz which is a third-party research group that tries to decipher Google’s algorithms to understand which sites will rank best. Since no one actually knows how Google determines its rankings, domain authority is just a guesstimate. But, you better believe SEO professionals talk about it, want it, and obsess over it.
It’s in your best interest to make recommendations that have the potential to raise domain authority – like having a solid technical foundation, obsessing over page load times, dominating in on-page content, and building a healthy content marketing program.
301 vs. 302 - Know the Difference
301 = Good
302 = Bad (well most of the time)
These aren't the numbers of your old lockers in high school – they are status codes for different types of redirects. Redirects are used when an old page is no longer available and you want that link to take the user to a new page instead.
A 301 redirect is also known as a permanent redirect which passes the page equity of the old page to the new page. A 302 redirect is only a temporary redirect and does not transfer the page equity from one to the other. This is why 302 redirects should be avoided unless the old page will be used again in the future.
Although you should almost always use a 301 redirect, it’s best to minimize the number of redirects you do use. So in your next SEO marketing meeting when discussing redirects, why not ask the question, “How can we minimize our redirects to decrease page load speeds?” You’ll sound like a pro, and your SEO team will be very appreciative.
One Last Parting Tip
Whatever you do, make sure to think about the impact of SEO on all of your website decisions. Be the first one in a meeting to start a discussion on how the change will affect SEO or how best to optimize the change keeping SEO best practices in mind. Your coworkers will start to think of you as an SEO advocate. Mission accomplished.
If you’re ready to learn more about SEO management, see how you can get started with an SEO audit.