This is the first of a monthly series on SEO. We’re going to start with understanding SEO and protecting yourself from scams, setting up an SEO plugin, Google Search Console and move into finding keywords and optimizing your posts. Unfortunately – we need to talk about the downsides: a warning that no SEO tutorial would be complete without. Take a quick gander and then we can move on to the good stuff!
Purchasing SEO Services
Most SEO services are not ethical. These types of SEO Services encompass purchasing links, likes or comments. They purchase cheap articles and reviews and ‘spin’ them into hundreds. These ‘reviews’ are placed on all sorts of directories and link farms. Thousands of links are dripped into place so they aren’t caught by search engines – but they always are eventually.
SEO services that are ethical are in demand from highly competitive and successful companies. They require long-term investment and multi-disciplinary approaches like copyrighting, networking, PR, social media management and an unbelievable amount of research. There are no shortcuts to an effective SEO campaign.
DIY SEO Tutorials for Beginners
So, for the purposes of this SEO Tutorial and the ones that follow, we’re going to assume you are not a fortune 500 company, and that you, or someone on your team, will be doing the optimization.
We will approach this not from a ‘campaign’ one-time approach, but from an ongoing best practices approach.
So we start with the basics, to make sure the following are up to standards on your site:
- Site speed
- Responsiveness & accessibility
- Organization of Content
- Correct HTML & Geeky Stuff
- Keywords & Clarity of Message
- Site Optimization
- Cornerstone content optimization
- Post optimization
If this sounds like a lot of stuff that isn’t related to SEO, you’d be right 10 years ago. But nowadays, Google is learning via a much-rumored artificial intelligence. Where once we declared that Google can’t read images, now it can: see Google Image Search.
Once, speed didn’t matter because we were all on dial-up internet (I’m aging myself, aren’t I?). There wasn’t any such thing as mobile phones – at least not the ones that are in every teenager’s pocket in America.
Today, every single one of those points above contribute to your overall search engine optimization. So today, we start at the beginning and move into the very unsexy topic of Security. But trust me, nothing will de-index you faster than delivering viruses to your readers.
Setting the Foundations
So where does a beginner start with SEO when they can’t afford a 6 month campaign from a legitimate SEO company? Let’s start with what needs to be in place before, or at least during the SEO considerations.
- Content. SEO is the science and art of optimizing content for search engines. It figures that you’ll need content for optimizing. TIP: use categories and tags properly
- Networking. When it comes to blogging, no amount of SEO can make up for personal connection with your audience. Your audience will teach you about yourself, your writing, what you can offer, and what they need. You need to know all these things before you start optimizing your site. TIP: Your audience and thus influence, is made up of people and your biggest asset is your knowledge of them. Follow up with a small list of people you really like. Follow and interact with them daily.
- If you’re not on self-hosted WordPress, get that set up ASAP. See this tutorial for help.
SEO Tutorial: Beginner’s Guide to Security
Security can be one of those topics that gets all geeky. So let’s avoid that, shall we? In it’s simplest form, there are 3 things that make up a website – thus 3 areas to keep safe. They are:
- Web hosting
- Software (WordPress)
- Your content
Security: Web Hosting
As you’ll find throughout your blogging career, web hosting plays a role in nearly everything that happens with your website. It is where your website is situated – like a leased property.
If that property is set ablaze with a virus, so is your site. Your host must be secure if you are going to be.
If your property is in a bad neighborhood where other houses are set ablaze, it is likely yours will be too. Your shared server is a neighborhood, and where other sites are infected, yours is likely to be as well.
If there is scant security in your neighborhood, your site is more vulnerable. If your shared server doesn’t provide a lot of security, then it is making your site, no matter how secure in itself, more vulnerable.
There is very little where this neighborhood analogy breaks down!
So my rule of thumb: always choose carefully a shared server (those that charge under $10/mo) until you reach 1,000 people per day visiting your site. Then switch to a server that offers:
- Managed WP Hosting
- Separate DNS & Email hosting (separation of services means less likely for all three to break down)
- They remove the “Edit” screen from Appearance tab.
TIP: You do not have to know what these are, or what they mean. Just make sure that the company you choose provides this. These are things I’ve learned, over time, that mean they take security seriously. Restored 316 recommends Siteground when just starting and WPEngine when you reach over 1,000 visitors per day.
WordPress IS secure, no matter what you’ve heard. WordPress is like a giant bank. It is a glorious haul, if the right bad guy can take it down, so a lot of bad guys try. Oh, the prestige! Or something like that.
However, it is also like the world’s biggest bank, in that there are thousands of developers looking to be the one to prevent an attack or think up the best security solution.
So can I guarantee WP is safer than any other software? Nope. But no one can say that about their software. So because WP is open source, easy to use, has an extremely high probability of being around for awhile, is flexible and is secure, it is my choice and my recommendation.
NOTE: WordPress, itself, when downloaded from WordPress.org is safe. I cannot vouch for any third party download location, or any plugins, themes, or other software that you upload into it.
TIP: Use themes and plugins from sources you trust.
Your content is the third variable in the website. Your content includes the text that you put into your posts, your media that you upload, and any other plugin, theme or extension that you install.
WordPress creates a ‘screen’ or filter of sorts for your posts, pages and widgets. If you put your ad code, posts or other content into those areas, it is automatically screened for security issues.
If however, you install plugins to make it easier to edit your site, the screening areas of WordPress can be (and often are) shut down. If the plugin author replaces the screening areas, you might be okay.
Always, always trust the source before adding anything to your site. I’ll tell you a story, that you can’t let get back to my mom, k?
My Mom has just figured out email, Facebook and a few more apps that my sister has placed on her home screen.
Regularly my mom sends me stuff she’s very excited about – weight loss recipes, spiritual articles, and virus warnings that we ALL must share. I have asked her over and over to check the source before opening attachments. But they inevitably come from a long-lost Facebook friend. Or an official looking email like email@example.com. So she trusts them.
If you did not grow up in this generation of computer users, I strongly recommend you get the best computer virus protection you can – and then ask your 16-year-old daughter if such-and-such is safe. I am not sure why, but their intuition is developed a lot stronger than ours!!
And never, ever install anything into your website that your computer, your common sense, and your teen has approved.
SEO Tutorial: Security Conclusion
I’m excited about continuing this series! Next month we’ll continue with the setup and foundations of getting your site to the top of Google.
In the meantime, install a computer anti-virus program! I use Norton 360 and a couple years ago I used McAfee, and Kaspersky. How about you – what do you use?
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