How Hard Is SEO?
People ask me, "how hard is SEO?" A short answer like "not all that hard" doesn't answer the question, but if I say something along the lines of "some things can a little tough the first time you do them" causes folks to worry.
So, let's unpack the question in a little bit of detail.
How Hard Is SEO If I'm Just Doing On-Page Optimization?
OK, now the on-page stuff is pretty easy to master; it's mostly a question of practicing. Things like:
- Writing optimized title tags that are within 55 characters for mobile search results
- Writing unique, useful, compelling meta description tags that are within 150 characters, contain either a call to action or geographical information, or benefits. Whew!
- Optimizing the image alt text tag for pictures
- Creating one optimized H1 tag
- Creating at least one optimized H2 tag
- Using the chosen keyword phrase or topic of interest phrase one time in the article or web page
- Creating links to other domains or to other pages within the domain the article or page is published on
For my students, the hardest part is getting good at writing title and description tags. It's a disciplined writing exercise with the limits in place for mobile search results. It really just takes practice to get good at making titles and descriptions searchers will click on.
Once they get comfortable with the on-page work, they then move on to off-page optimization activities.
How Hard Is SEO For Off-Page Optimization?
It depends on how you define "hard." Some folks are very uncomfortable with reviewing and interpreting analytics, but it's mostly a matter of practicing looking at their website data and understanding what the numbers mean.
Other technical SEO tasks that folks get intimidated by:
- Using SEO software for link analysis, rankings and keyword research
- Understanding and setting up a robots.txt file, and troubleshooting common issues
- Understanding and setting up an XML sitemap
- Using Google Search Console to see if the search engine has issues crawling and analyzing their site
- Understanding what crawl rate/budget is, and how to troubleshoot/optimize them
- Doing a deep website audit and analyzing the results to see where there are issues
Other SEO functions that some folks think are hard until they've done these a few times are reviewing their 3XX/4XX errors and fixing them. This is where they must be able to communicate well with their web maintenance personnel to fix errors that impact SEO.
Understanding URL parameters and setting them up properly to avoid duplicate content issues is challenging for business owners who learn how to do SEO on their own. I've always found it useful to show them an example with searching for products on Amazon. This also introduces them to the canonicalization concept, which can be tricky to understand when first exposed to it.
Probably one of the biggest challenges is helping new SEO personnel the benefits of structured data markup language (schema) and how to implement it. It's code, and it's scary! But once they see some examples and understand why search engine crawlers have an easier time reading it, they feel more confident working with web site maintainers to implement some schema for test purposes.
All of these tasks are part of doing SEO audits. Read more about them here.
Start out with SEO basics - it's now online as well!
Until we meet again, stay safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,
Image courtesy of sixninepixels at FreeDigitalPhotos.net