It’s no secret that Google is the king of all search engines, but did you know that they also run an online marketing challenge? And, yes, you can actually enter this challenge and stand a chance of winning some cool prizes. The grand prize is a brand new Google Pixel 4, and there are also some fantastic prizes up for grabs including a $20,000 Google AdWords cash prize and a $15,000 Amazon voucher. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
If you’re interested in entering the challenge, simply search for “Google Online Marketing Challenge” on the search engine of your choice and you’ll see the homepage of their challenge blog, googemarketingchallenge.com. You’ll also see a tab on that page that’ll take you to the homepage of the official challenge website where you can find all the information you need about the challenge.
You may be wondering what exactly is the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOOMC), and why should you care? Let’s take a quick look back at how Google’s come to be known as the “giant of the internet”. In case you don’t know, Google was actually founded by two former MIT students (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) in 1998.
Since then, Google has grown to be one of the largest and most popular search engines in the world, raking in billions of dollars in annual revenue. And, as you may have guessed, their search engine business is quite profitable – so much so that, in 2019, Google Ventures (Google’s venture capital arm) committed more than $1 billion to invest in startups and growth companies.
Now, while Google’s dominance in the world of search engine marketing is undeniable, it’s not the only game in town. In fact, as we’ll discuss in more detail below, there are a variety of tactics that marketers can use to ensure that their websites show up in search results when someone types in their product or service. So, before we get to the fun stuff, let’s set the context by discussing the basics of SEO and how to get started.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, which simply means “optimizing a website or blog for search engines”. Every website or blog has the potential to be found by someone searching for its topic, but until they’re found, they don’t exist for anyone, which is why SEO is so important.
SEO involves a variety of techniques to ensure that your website or blog appears in the list of results when someone uses a search engine to find your topic. Depending on the tactics used, SEO can be quite technical and require a lot of work. For that reason, many businesses, especially those with limited budgets, hire in-house SEO teams or outsource to freelancers – and those are costly options.
If you’re looking to get started with SEO, here’s a short guide that’ll help you understand what you need to know to get started.
The Basics Of SEO For Dummies
The first and most fundamental rule of SEO is to make sure that you have a great “SEO-friendly” website or blog in the first place. Why? It’s fairly easy to have a perfect website with no SEO at all, but proving that you can get found when someone types in a search query is much more difficult when you don’t have any content at all.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution to this problem – simply add content to your website. And, in case you’re wondering, a great story doesn’t hurt either. The more content you have on your site, the more likely it is that your site will show up when someone types in a search query. So, while some link builders may suggest creating content that’ll appeal to as many people as possible, you should always work to create content that’s specifically geared toward SEO. That way, when a user types in a search query, your content will show up and they’ll be able to click on your content to get more information.
Another fundamental rule of SEO is to make sure that the keywords you use in your content resonate with both your target audience and the search engines. So, if you sell fitness guides and your content contains the term “fitness”, your content will definitely be picked up by people who are searching for information on fitness. However, if your target audience doesn’t use the word “fitness” in their everyday language, you’re limiting the potential to be found by people who use those exact keywords.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the “SEO No-No’s”. Using illegal or unethical tactics to achieve rankings can get you banned by Google. So, make sure that you stay away from these:
- Link farms
- Hidden text
- Link pushing
- Content scraping
- …and the list goes on
- Don’t be evil.
Now that you have the basics down, let’s move on to the fun stuff – the strategies and tools that you can use to become an SEO pro.
How To Get Started
If you’re looking for ways to get started with SEO, don’t worry – there are a variety of free tools that you can use to easily get started. First and foremost, you should try using Google Keyword Planner. With this tool, you can search for any term (like “seo” or “content strategy”) and it’ll give you a list of keywords and their associated competition. From there, you can easily select the most appropriate keywords for your content.
Another great place to look for keywords is within the pages of your own website. While it’s not always the case, the majority of the keywords you’ll find on your site will be within your own content – such as blog posts, product descriptions, and so on. To help you find these keywords, you can install a free plugin from Google called Keyword Plus. This plugin will create a keyword map for you that’ll display keywords and their competition within each individual page on your site. From there, you can easily find the right keywords and adjust your content accordingly – all without having to hunt down specific words yourself.
In addition to generating keywords for you, the plugin will also create a list of low-hanging fruit for you to hit. So, if you’re looking for new content ideas, this is a great place to start – just click on the “create a list of pages” button and you’ll see a list of all the pages on your site. From there, you can easily find the pages with the highest potential for organic growth based on the keywords you entered. This list will also include a variety of metrics to help you determine the strength of a given page – like the amount of monthly search traffic, how many times that page has been linked to, and so on.
Another great tool for any digital marketer is Google Analytics. This tool provides you with crucial information about your site’s traffic – including things like demographic information, where your audience is coming from, and much more. With this information, you can easily find out what’s working and what needs to be adjusted. Especially if you have a sizable audience or are just getting started, it’s important to keep track of the metrics to ensure that you’re improving the right areas of your site.
To help you find your audience, you can use the Audience tool within Google Analytics. The Audience tool provides you with a breakdown of your site’s traffic by the different countries that they’re coming from and the languages that they speak. With this information, you can precisely target your SEO efforts to regions and languages that you know your audience speaks – increasing the chances of getting your content read by the right people.
Whether you have a global audience or you’re just targeting a specific area, the Audience tool provides you with key information about your site’s demographics so that you can properly tailor your content to that audience. Along with the Audience tool, you can also use the Traffic Sources tool to see the different ways that people are finding your site – including organic searches, referrals, and so on. This information is also quite useful if you’re looking to perform market analysis or determine the strength of your brand within a specific niche.