What is SEO anyway?

An introduction for a series of posts on how indie hackers and solo makers, can improve their search engine site rankings

Woman sitting on a red rug whilst working on a laptop

First of all, let's define what SEO is

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is the practice of optimising your website and its content in order to rank higher in search engine results.

There are loads of search engines, but for the sake of simplicity - and the fact that they have >80% marketshare, I'll just say Google from here on out. They're actually dropping a little bit but still super dominant. Quick shoutout actually to duckduckgo for their privacy friendly approach, they're my go to.

The simplified tl;dr version is that SEO is the process that just makes it easier for Google to understand, firstly; what your content is about and secondly; your authority (how important what you say is).

So, when someone searches for a specific term or phrase, your website has a higher probability of being near the top of the search results, increasing the chances of someone visiting your site.

Benefits to implementing SEO strategies

Increased organic traffic

By ranking higher in search engine results - and/or just ranking for specific keywords, you'll see an increase in traffic to your website. More people will discover your business!

Higher visibility and credibility

When you appear near the top of search results, it also adds a level of credibility to your business. People are more likely to trust and visit websites that are ranked highly in search results, as they perceive them as more trustworthy and authoritative. Not to mention, if you don't rank on page one, the likelihood of people finding you decreases exponentially. 

Target specific keywords and audiences

With SEO, you can target specific keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and your preferred target audience. This allows you to attract the right people and improve the potential conversion rate of visitors (💰).

How to get started with SEO as an indie hacker

1. Conduct keyword research

Identify the keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and that your target audience is searching for. For example, for seoship.io, I want to rank (ideally) for terms such as: 'affordable seo tools', 'how to build backlinks', etc.

There are several tools available, such as SEOSHIP's Keyword Research tool, Google's Keyword Planner, ahrefs, etc. that can help you with this.

2. Optimise your site structure

Once you've identified your target keywords, you'll want to include them in your site's content. So for example; page titles, headings, and throughout the body of your content. 

You'll also want to add internal links between your site's pages, this is so firstly Google can crawl your entire site architecture, but also provides the opportunity for you to add relevant anchor links (the text part of a link).

<a href='https://www.seoship.io'>affordable seo tool</a>

You should also make sure that your website is easy to navigate, loads quickly and is of course responsive mobile-friendly (it is 2023 after all), as this is crucial for user experience and search engines.

3. Build a strong backlink profile

Backlinks are links from other websites that point to your site. These are probably the most important aspect for SEO as they indicate to Google that your website is credible and trustworthy. You typically earn backlinks by creating high-quality content that other websites want to link to, or via collaboration with other makers and sites by reaching out to ask for a link for example; in exchange for a podcast interview or something similar.

There are a lot of white hat (legit), grey hat (kinda legit), black hat (not legit) methods for getting backlinks and is a whole topic on its own. But the basic rule is - DON'T PAY FOR BACKLINKS. You'll end up being penalised eventually and it's not scalable. SEO is a marathon, building backlinks is a marathon. Just create great content and become an expert domain in your niche. 👌

Track and measure your SEO efforts

It's important to track and measure your SEO efforts so that you can continually improve your strategy.

With regards to general site and traffic analytics, there are a variety tools available, such as Google Analytics, that can help you track and measure your site's traffic to see how your SEO efforts are paying off. However one thing to think of is the privacy movement and where people's sentiment is going towards big tech and tracking people's data. I'm using Fathom analytics for all my sites analytics and highly recommend as it's a privacy first tool!

For SEO specific analytics, you'll want a tool that can monitor and track your backlink profile, keyword rankings, etc. For this you can use tools such as; ahrefs, Semrush, or seoship.

Conclusion

SEO is a very important strategy for indie hackers to consider, as it can increase organic traffic to your business, improve your visibility and credibility, and allow you to target specific keywords and audiences.

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