SEO Basics Part 2 of 2: And How!

By Joe Cunningham, Internet Marketing Manager

And, we’re back!  You’ve probably read my previous SEO blog on SEO’s “What & Why” (and if not, here it is), and now you’re wondering “How” to do SEO.  Fear not – that’s what this blog is all about.  (Sometimes things are just more reader friendly in two sittings.)

So How Do You Do SEO?

SEO is two-fold: on-site (making improvements to your website) and off-site (getting other websites to link or point to you).  Continuing the real estate example from previous blog - to sell your house, not only do you need to go to Lowes, re-caulk the bathroom sink, trap the squirrels in the attic, and stop the leak in the basement; you need to get the word out: pass out flyers, hire a real estate agent, put the signs out (in your yard and at the corner of the road).  It means making the product great and promoting it.  Pretty simple, but not always easy.  Same with SEO.

On-Site SEO: Optimization

On-site SEO is all the remodeling, cleaning, and architectural fixing up.  Making sure your website is structured in a logical way, making sure the titles, tags, and content are oriented towards the keywords that are most searched and most relevant to your business.  If you sell shoes and all your website talks about is the beauty of the city you reside in, you have a problem.  However, if your website is as organized and inviting as Nordstrom’s in-store shoe collections, you have a greater chance of getting ranked for “shoes in [your town].”

Continuously new content is also huge here and that’s where blogging (“web-logging”) comes in (we don’t do this just for fun).  A blog a week talking about topics relevant to your business does a whole lot more than look good.  It provides content people want to read (usually) and share (let’s hope so) and shows Google you are up to date on what you do.  It’s one of the major factors Google looks for on a website when evaluating your rank.

Off-Site SEO: Link Building

So you have a great website or house but nobody knows about it.  Off-site SEO is marketing the website over the internet.  Its link building or establishing back links to your website (getting other websites to point to you).  A lot easier said than done but back links are the #1 point of reference for Google in evaluating SEO so listen up and don’t trifle with them.

Link building includes several areas: directories, social media, and getting relevant sites to choose to link to you.


Signing up for directories is pretty straight-forward.  There are hundreds of thousands of different online directories out there (remember, no more Yellow Pages) for various general and specific things.  SEO requires you be on the most general directories (DMOZ being the biggest) and also more business-specific directories (i.e. Cowley is on some ad agency lists which show Google we’re top of the line).

Social Media

Social media is a no-brainer for SEO these days.  Google’s latest update (the Penguin) stressed this as huge for SEO.  Think about it.  Which business seems to have more relevance in today’s world: the one with no Facebook page or the one with 25,000 followers on Facebook.  That’s the way Google thinks.  Real people say the second is cool and worth keeping up with.  Social media is also the easiest way to share your content (blogs, updates, etc.).  (For more on social media marketing, see my SMM blog post.)  Enough said.

Back Links

Good, old fashioned back links.  The most coveted, hard to get, and valuable treasures of SEO – and the most beneficial for your website.  Consider the following imaginary websites: who has no sites linking to him; and that is listed on,, and every major ski review website as “the best source for all your ski equipment needs.”  Take a wild guess as to how much SEO juice both of these websites have.  Google definitely takes note and the next time someone googles “ski equipment,” they will too (because website example #1 won’t show in the top 100 rankings).

How do you get back links?

The best way to get back links is to do all of these things:

  • Make sure your website is awesome (on-site).
  • Be everywhere in directories so people can find you (off-site).
  • Be cool and outgoing on social media (off-site again).
  • And generate awesome content people want to share (this stuff is called “link bait,” the product of content marketing: see below).

Content marketing

Content marketing means making awesome content that will answer search query questions (“Which is the best restaurant in Chicago?”) that include not only blogs but eBooks, videos, and awesome pictures and infographics (some of the most viral and informative pictures online: see our Pinterest page for examples), accompanied by social share buttons and embed codes (link to this site, use this code), making it easy for people to link to you.

I love Pinterest, for instance, for SEO (which has risen to the #3 social media on the web in a year’s time) because of how easy they make it to share pictures, articles, and video via their pin button, creating immediate back links to the place you found the content and jacking up that website’s SEO.  If that site is your site to begin with, you just got a back link.  And when someone re-pins, you just got another one.

Making Sense of It All

SEO is a huge area of marketing these days and a lot of meat to chew on first bite.  However, it’s the best investment for your money in terms of online marketing, and online is where it’s at these days in advertising.  Period.  (Do the syllogism.)

Your choices are the following:

  • Let your website get stagnant.  Your “we are just glad to be online” site may never rank for keywords related to your site. 
  • Do SEO yourself.  Get the books out and read blogs like crazy.  Read, read, read and don’t sleep.  You will figure something out and maybe rank for something after much work. 
  • Hire a professional SEO firm.  Fortunately the buck stops here.  Cowley does SEO and we do it well.  And cost-efficiently.  Go ahead, give us a call/shoot us an email.  We’d be happy to send you a complete proposal of our service packages and show you how they will benefit your business.  (Click here to view Cowley's SEO Service page.)

As you can guess I highly recommend option #3.  That is unless you don’t want your website to be inundated with new business leads.  See you on Google.

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