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Start Your (Search) Engines : Vaughan’s SEO Blog

Posted on June 22, 2021

Hello!

My name is Vaughan, and I’ve just finished my first full week as a Junior SEO! And my big discovery so far is that SEO . . .

. . . is a lot.

If you run a business, or just exist on the internet, you’ve probably heard of Search Engine Optimization. But a lot of people (myself included) don’t really understand how it works. And that makes total sense – the more I learn about SEO, the more I realize it’s a lot more complicated than writing sob stories about “grandma’s” pie recipe.

Thanks, grandma Shutterstock

Thanks, Grandma Shutterstock

But I don’t want to make SEO sound too scary. For the most part, it seems pretty straight-forward. There’s just a lot more that goes into SEO than you might think, and I’ve found that the best way to avoid getting overwhelmed is to take it one step at a time.

That’s where my blog comes in!

My goal for this blog is to have an outlet for reviewing what I’ve learned each week, and a space where I can look back on my acquired knowledge and growth. That way, you guys can learn, grow, and stumble along with me, and we can demystify the creature known as SEO together!

Who Is This Guy, Anyway?

My full name is Vaughan John Pruden (He/Him), and I probably should have been a pirate. I graduated from the University of Guelph in Fall 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic. Here’s a goofy, terrible photo of me:

All goofy photos courtesy of Karen K. Tran, or @karenk.portraits on Instagram.

I studied English and Creative Writing, and applied to Merged Media through a program with the school. I was hired in May as a Content Writer, but Wayne thought I would be more “content” with an expanded role. As a nerd who loves learning new things, I jumped at the chance!

So that’s how I started learning SEO: with zero background knowledge whatsoever.

Week One: Meta? I Hardly Know Her!

So far, I’ve learned that with SEO, everything comes down to Keywords. These are the words and phrases you type into Google to look things up, like “Dentist in Oshawa,” or “SEO Blog Merged Media.” Search engines want to match these keywords up with the best, most relevant results for the user who typed them in. And if you want to improve your business, it’s important for your name to be among those results.

That’s where SEO comes in: at its core, SEO is about designing your website and content to signal to Google that it’s the most relevant authority on what the user types in. How it’s done, however, is a combination of many different tips and tricks.

So let’s start small, because that’s exactly what I did. This is a Meta Title, and the lines underneath it are a Meta Description:

google search snippets

And they’re mine! Yes, that’s my awful pun, and I’m very proud of it. As you can see, for the keyword phrase “Benefits of Avocado Soap,” Google has decided that this article deserves to be at the very top of the Search Engine Results Page, or SERP:

ramked keyword phrase

My amazing puns are far from the only reason why we’re at the top, but the Meta Title is the first place Google looks to find relevant content. That’s why my title contains the words “Benefits,” “Avocado,” and “Soap” – if your title doesn’t have these keywords, it doesn’t matter how good your content is – Google will pass right by without even stopping to look.

Your meta title and description can also contain more than just your main keyword. Google also looks at LSI Keywords – related keywords that are often searched up with them. For example, my meta description uses the phrase “avocado oil,” because people also look up the phrase “avocado oil soap benefits.” These keywords can be found at the bottom of the SERP:

LSI Keywords

Lots Of Trial And Many Errors

Everything I just told you is pretty straight-forward, even with the jargon. But what I didn’t show you was this:

Gasp! What happened to my meta description? Well, sometimes Google decides that it’s not relevant enough, or takes forever to update. Often you can look up the same keywords in a different order and get different meta descriptions each time.

This is a symptom of a larger aspect of SEO, and one that I still need to get a handle on – SEO takes a lot of trial and error. Search engines are full of secrets, and the methods they use to find relevant results are changed or updated all the time. What kind of meta description this content needs, how much optimized meta descriptions and titles actually contribute to higher results – these are mysteries that will only be solved with lots and lots of practice.

Overall, when it comes to meta descriptions and titles, I’ve learned that it’s usually best to think about people first, and robots later. “Avoca-don’t” might not be a keyword that someone has or will ever search, but it is memorable, and at the end of the day, robots aren’t the ones who click on articles or need avocado soap for their daily cleanse.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more I could have touched on, like how awesome it is to work on the back pages of a website, or some of the tools I’m learning to use to inspire new ideas and track how our content is doing. But these are topics for another week, and I’ve kept you here long enough.

Next time, I’ll talk about my experience with Alt Text, a sneaky way to add some extra information for Google to latch onto.

See you then!

– V. J. P.

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