It’s pretty rare that someone would suggest you only need the bare minimum about a topic, but sometimes priorities take over. But in the case of SEO, the bare minimum is better than nothing. Based on your priorities and goals, sometimes focusing on only the bare minimum is the best decision you can make.
This rings very true when talking about SEO. SEO is becoming a subject that everyone needs to know a little bit about, but there is so much information to learn. Even if you do work in an SEO department, you’re surely going to have to give a few lessons to your colleagues who don’t. This leads to that simple question: If you want to understand the SEO basics, what should you focus on understanding ?
Why Other Departments Should Understand Basic SEO
The truth is that many different departments in a company are affected by SEO. Consider some of the most common positions and how they are affected below:
- IT Department. This department might need to understand SEO to understand why one page has priority over another (whether it be fixing a glitch, doing a redesign, etc.). It’s all about which pages are getting the most clicks.
- Sales Department. The sales department can report to an SEO department questions that are being asked on the phones, which will then help the SEO team optimize, which will hopefully drive more traffic and bring in more sales. People also need to be able to find a landing page in order to get funneled to sales, so these two departments are very much connected.
- PR Department. A PR department works with making connections, and SEO departments could benefit from those connections earning a link or a review on a blog. Likewise, a PR department needs to know how the web works in terms of optimization and what a news organization might want content from your company.
- Product Department. If you have a department that focuses on the product, they need to understand why their photos and content of the product go on certain places on the website. It’s all about A/B testing with SEO being a big factor.
There are professions that can get away with knowing nothing about SEO such as nurses, musicians, coaches, etc. (although I think you can argue why it would be beneficial nonetheless). However, the majority of professions, even those not mentioned above, could use some sort of SEO knowledge as the web continues to grow.
Basic SEO Knowledge Everyone Should Have
What exactly you should know about SEO depends upon what your role is in a company. In other words, if you’re working in an IT department it might be beneficial for you to understand something that the sales department doesn’t really need to know. Even professions like teachers can understand certain aspects of SEO to improve their job, but again the “what” of SEO will differ.
Because SEO is such a huge topic and because there are so many different professions and positions, it’s tough to create a “must-know” list. Nevertheless, below are a few things that the majority of people could benefit from regarding SEO:
- What SEO stands for.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” Don’t worry if you didn’t know that this entire article—we’ve all been there!
- What a Google algorithm is.
Your site is crawled by Google bots, which is essentially just an algorithm that goes through different aspects of a website to help bring users the most relevant results. Google has hundreds of algorithms, all of which take different things into account (discussed below). Google updates their algorithms often, those updates are most often called Panda or Penguin.
- Keywords and other factors that affect the Google algorithm.
Keywords is just one of the factors Google uses to analyze a website. Keywords that people search for and the keywords used in titles and throughout your website are all things Google takes into consideration.
- Why Google+ matters.
Google is moving toward a more social approach to ranking websites as opposed to keyword-based. Google+ is going to be the main social network Google considers. Google+ is how Google finds an author, connections, location, and interactions amongst users. It then takes this information to help create a more personalized SERP for a user. For example, if you and I both typed in the same search query, we would get a slightly different set of results.
- Why linking matters for users and search engine bots.
If you have different quality websites linking to your website from all over the web, Google will stop and think “Wow, this must be a great site.” You earn a higher ranking if you earn a lot of these links. You also want to link within your website so that users can get around easier, which is important not only for users, but for the Google bots who are ranking your site based on if it has good navigation.
So how do you get there? I recommend reading some of the most authoritative blogs in the industry such as Moz and Search Engine Watch and more right here on Search Engine Journal! It also helps to connect with some SEOs on social media and read posts that might interest you. You can visit this link on Pragmatic Marketing’s website (no affiliation) that discusses teaching yourself SEO for more information and suggestions.
Is there anything about SEO that you’ve found helpful despite not working in a marketing department? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo Credit: thinkstockphotos.com, photographer Fuse
Subscribe to SEJ
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!