Notes from Get to Google’s First Page (Intro to SEO)
On Monday, jpol0191 and I got to sit in on an SEO class presented by Edward Sturm. He started off the lesson by asking the audience if they knew what SEO was or if anyone had considered SEO “black magic”. I was partially in the latter half, given my frustration of getting my first blog featured with relevant links on a Google search of “kimpenguin”.
The class was informative and generous in resources that would help us promote our site on a Google Search. Let’s go through the key points of the class:
What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. If you own a website, SEO is important in helping your audience find you on the web. Your website’s ranking on a Google search is reliant on your site’s makeup, authority, and relevance. Learn more.
What is authority?
When Google scans your site, it looks for trustworthiness and authority. This includes quite a few things:
- How long your site has been live
- Direct traffic to your site
- Click through rate – whether or not it fulfilled the user’s query
- Bounce rate/pogo sticking – users sticking around or leaving to continue their search
- Backlinks – links on other sites that reference to you
- Alexa Chrome extension – shows you the number of backlinks a site contains
- Mozbar extension – shows you page and domain authority
What is relevance?
Relevance is broken down into two categories: Onsite and Offsite.
Onsite is dependent on the structure of your site with relevant keywords that the Google Search Engine can crawl through.
Keywords are strings that you can search, and there are two different kinds:
- Head – broad, exploratory
- Long Tail – more specific, often yielding less traffic with the intent of making the user sign up or purchase something
Keywords should be placed in your site’s <title> or <meta> tags and it is important to bold and italicize keywords for semantic detection. Basically, keywords help Google determine what kind of site you have so that it can deliver the best results to the user.
- Keyword Shitter
- Google Keyword Planner – primarily used by AdWord buyers
You should also include NAP Citations! NAP citations fall under both onsite and offsite SEO. NAP is short for Name, Address, Phone. When you include this information in this site, make sure that you maintain the information throughout other sites like Google My Business, Yelp, Bing, etc. There’s nothing more off-putting than inconsistent information.
Poor UX = high bounce rate
Keep in mind that the user-friendliness of your site is very important. Things to be conscious of:
- Poor mobile optimization
- Slow loading speed
If you’ve struggled with SEO, there are likely a few things that you haven’t taken into account. One of those things is duplicate content.
Duplicate content can be interpreted as a Blackhat threat and therefore deemed untrustworthy by Google. This diminishes your site’s ranking in a search which is not ideal. A remedy for WordPress web developers is the plugin, YOAST SEO.
If you don’t have offsite SEO, your onsite SEO is irrelevant. Offsite SEO is when an external site references your site. It can be invaluable in increasing visibility and your site’s overall ranking in a Google search. Reach out to journalists looking for references and information and make sure your site is structured properly.
- send a journalist 5-8 sentences
- make it a quick response
- give them a link, number, and a headshot
- Copy and paste your URL. This will populate a listing of journalists looking into your industry.
- Google Search Console
- Submit your sitemap
- Make sure that your “submitted” is as close to your “indexed”
- You can manually submit new pages as they’re produced
Hopefully these SEO notes I took in Edward Sturm’s class will help improve your website’s visibility. It certainly opened my eyes to the plethora of tools that can be used to improve my site’s feature rate on the first page and the planning needed to ensure my site’s are up to par.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All: A discussion of Pokemon Go
There’s no denying it: Pokemon Go is just crushing it! In just these past few weeks, the game has increased Nintendo’s worth, attracted customers to local businesses, and gotten lazy children on their feet! It’s gotten some negative publicity too with increased accidents and server outages, but the fact that this app has become a viral craze in such a short period of time is really quite amazing.
matthewsolarski brought up some great questions as I was catching pokemon a couple days after the game’s release. What makes this game so great? How does it work? How are pokemon showing up as you walk?
Let’s see if we can answer a few of these.
Why is the game great?
The game draws on nostalgia. If you were a kid growing up in the 90s and early 2000s, chances are that you grew up watching Pokemon. It was a light-hearted anime about a young boy on a journey to become a pokemon master. He would go from town-to-town with his pokemon friends and challenge gyms to earn badges. (You can read more here)
Pokemon Go allows its users to embark on that same journey to pokemon masterhood.
2. Easy to use
The game is simple to navigate and visually easy on the eyes. The goal of the game is up to the user. The player can do a number of things like catch pokemon to build their pokedex (or handheld encyclopedia for pokemon), evolve pokemon with stardust to unlock different stages of pokemon, battle gym leaders to earn experience points and increase their team’s strength, etc…
3. Gets people moving
The game is a fun way to get children and adults on their feet. Because the game highlights the number of steps needed to capture a specific pokemon in the area, it encourages people to move.
How does it work?
Pokemon Go draws heavily on Ingress, an augmented-reality MMOG in which players must capture portals to control a mysterious energy before it controls the population. In Ingress’s early stages, players helped to determine portals of cultural importance which have now been used as pokestops in Pokemon Go. Pokestops are “rest areas”, if you will, where the user can refill on items like pokeballs, potions, and treats.
The pokemon that show up on a player’s location are based on the location’s geographic makeup in Google Earth. For example, if a player is by a water body, water-type pokemon appear more frequently. The number of pokemon seen nearby is unclear, but most likely due to the popularity of the location.
The game is supported by a NoSQL database and was built using Unity. As the game looks to add more functionality, I’ll be updating its makeup.
What are its flaws?
Pokemon Go is no-where near a perfect application. There are a number of server outbreaks and most recently, potential hacker threats. The server outages are most likely due to the game’s popularity and the server’s inability to keep up with demand.
While the game is still gaining momentum, without a social aspect, it will eventually dwindle. As it is now, players only have the ability to battle their pokemon at gyms, but not between friends. Additionally, players are unable to trade their pokemon, leaving them with the dilemma of which pokemon to transfer forever. Niantic is working on these functions, but time is of the essence!