3 SEO Podcasts for Your Listening Pleasure

In addition to using blogs to learn more about SEO, podcasts are full of useful information. Podcasts provide news, tips and pointers on different topics and can help make a commute or other downtime more productive. Listening to an SEO podcast could make your SEO more successful, without cutting into your already busy schedule. Here are three great SEO podcast recommendations from the Searchable to get you started.


SEO 101

SEO 101 is, as the intro goes, your introductory course on search engine optimization. This podcast eases listeners into the basics of Search Engine Optimization without a lot of the more technical jargon. With over 200 podcasts, SEO 101 has covered a lot of different topics and their backlog probably contains some sort of information on the question you have.

Their recent episode on how to improve local search results gives a good feel for the podcast’s style and feel. Ross Dunn and John Carcutt, the hosts  of the show, discuss Google’s method for determining quality content by taking information from all around the web, finding the best answer, and then breaking it down for listeners.

SEO Rockstars

If you feel you have graduated from 101, you can also check out their sister podcast SEO Rockstars. SEO Rockstars covers topics in a bit more detail and bring in a variety of experts to participate in the conversation. Although this podcast is a bit newer, their backlog still covers quite the variety of topics, including covering many topics more in-depth than SEO 101.

A recommended podcast to listen to, especially for small business owners, is the Small Business SEO value. Here, hosts  Chris Boggs and Frank Watson discuss the importance of owning websites and how to avoid “#SEO lies” in order to get the most value from your SEO efforts..

Edge of the Web

Both Edge of the Web’s podcast and the website in general are an absolute treasure trove of great SEO content. The podcast, a product of Indianapolis based Site Strategics, breaks down different SEO topics with interviews of industry professionals and an open, funny personality.

Site Strategies CEO Erin Sparks, leads a rotating cast of other Site Strategies employees and other experts in a discussion of SEO tactics and other digital content. In a recent podcast, they brought Barry Schwartz onto the show to talk about his experience as an expert in the search engine field.

If you don’t have time to listen to the whole episode, Edge of the Web will post highlights of the podcast on their YouTube page. Another major tool from the website is their Score Your Site tool where the people at Site Strategics will take a look at your website and give you feedback for free!


Podcasts can be a valuable tool not only for improving your SEO, but also for all aspects of your business. With over 60,000 podcasts out there, one is bound to help answer some of your questions.

For a quick glossary of terms you may hear on these podcasts, check out our Go-To Glossary for SEO. For current trends in SEO check out our Evaluation of 3 SEO Trends of 2016.

Head Towards Better SEO With Headers

Headers are more than just an exciting soccer move, but actually play a very important role in Search Engine Optimization. Incorporating headers into your website can help improve web traffic and SERP rankings.

The Basics

Headers are a part of a webpage’s architecture that help separate titles from the main text of the page. There are six levels of headers  that start with header 1, or h1, and go all the way down to header 6, h6.  H1s are the most important, usually the title on the page, and are a very broad description of the topic at hand. As the header numbers increase, their text gets more specific, but they also become less important. For example, let us look at the headings for a hypothetical ice cream shop.


<h1>Scoops Ice Cream Shop Menu</h1>

<h2>Soft Serve</h2>











As you can see, as the header numbers increase, the topic gets more specific, from the menu, to the title of the page, to the type of ice cream, to the ice cream flavors, to the toppings before taking a step back to move onto a different type.  It is important to note that you cannot skip levels in your headings. Jumping from a h1 to an h3 will break the HTML coding. Additionally, every page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 heading. H1s are the most important heading, but having more than one creates confusion both for customers and search engines.


Headers and SEO

So how exactly do headers help optimize your webpage?


Headers help denote important title text from the rest of the information on the page.  Google’s Hummingbird algorithm uses headers, especially the h1 and h2s, to determine pertinent information on the page and help put relevant sites on their result page. Looking back at our example from earlier, the ice cream shop would rank well for “local soft serve”, a h2, but be ignored for “local sprinkles”, a h5.


Organization, both for you and the visitors of your web page, is another benefit of headers. Headers help to provide structure for the pages, as well as keep them organized. Pages look better and can make content easier for users to find.


Search engine algorithms compare headers against the body text of a page when determining what to put on a results page. Headers that match the body text get ranked higher, while mismatched headers and text will fall in the rankings.


Pitfalls of Headers

While headers are an easy thing to start with when optimizing your website, there are a few things to avoid.

Too Many or Too Few h1s

Each page should have one h1 heading, but only one h1 header. The h1 header is a vital part of the page layout and SEO, but multiple h1s usually confuse both readers and algorithms.

Spamming Text into Headers

Headers are important in identifying keywords and other important information on a page. However, tons of headers or headers with paragraphs of text are viewed as spam by some algorithms and hurt your search engine standings.

Hiding Text

One older method of getting higher rankings on search engines was to put keywords unrelated to your product in headers on your page, but coloring them the same as your background. This prevented everyone but the search engine algorithms from seeing the text and would cause irrelevant pages to pop up on SERPs. Now this practice is considered unethical and your page will be penalized.


Although they do not have the biggest impact on your SEO,  headers are an important part of your optimization process and an easy way to score some goals early on.
For more basic SEO, check out our Basics of the Basics article. For more pitfalls to look out for as you begin your journey, check out our 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO Journey.

Putting the Ethics in SEO: Optimizing in an Ethical Manner

As you begin your SEO journey, it is important to consider the ethics of SEO. Optimizing your site in an ethical manner is important because it helps maintain consistency with your business’s identity and authenticity. Unethical, often called black hat, optimization may actually have legal implications for your business and send your website plummeting down, not up, the results page.

SEO Code of Ethics

Many of the firms that do SEO, such as Bruce Clay Inc or Fuel Web Media, have an SEO Code of Ethics that they promise to follow. Using Bruce Clay’s code of ethics as an example. This code has a couple of points that deal more with the firm’s relationship with their client, but there are a few important points that apply even to small businesses too.

  • No SEO practitioner will intentionally violate any laws

Working to stay within legal boundaries is important in any business context, SEO is no exception. Be sure that anything you do to improve your search engine results are within laws of the state and err on the side of caution.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent the content of the client site
  • No SEO practitioner will misrepresent their own abilities, education, training, standards of performance, certifications, trade group affiliations, technical inventory, or experiences to others

These two points are closely tied together. Ensure that all visitors to your website are receiving the same content. Don’t false advertise. Do not overstate your abilities or claim to sell certain products/services just for the sake of improving your search rankings.

  • No SEO practitioner will falsely represent others work as their own

Be careful to properly credit any work you use on your site that it is not your own. Provide links back to the original source of information, not just where you found it, and ask permission. Not only is this a more ethical practice, but it could help make a new contact as well.

Looking at this code of ethics can help set a tone for your brand. Add some clauses of your own to maintain a consistent, ethical stream of content for your business.


Black Hat SEO Techniques and How to Find Them

Black hat techniques are just about as sketchy as they sound. They are aimed at tricking the search engine algorithm into ranking the page higher. They can range from relatively harmless, such as adding random, unconnected keywords on your website, to more nefarious methods, such as link websites to a lot of low-quality or unrelated pages. Designhammer’s list of 17 Black Hat SEO Techniques to Avoid has great examples of not only different black hat techniques and what they look like, but also better white hat counters.

Black hat SEO techniques may increase your search results in the short term, but it is entirely based on trying to outsmart a computer algorithm that is, let’s face it, much, much smarter than you. The algorithms will figure out what is going on and sort out both your links and your entire website. Using black hat methods will cause your website to be entirely left out from all search engine listings. The graphic below, from Axandra gives a great visualization of the effects of black hat, called spammy SEO methods on the chart, and white hat, called ethical SEO.

Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

As you can see, the spammy SEO method sees a sharp uptick in position for a short period of time, but has an immediate drop off a short time later, as the site is banned and left off of search engines.  Without a listing on search engines, any growth is almost impossible. Bruce Clay offers a SEO Penalty Assessment Service that helps companies repair their standings and undo the damage caused by black hat SEO. The ethical search results have a slower growth rate, but the growth is consistent and the page is never punished in the rankings. As a result, using white hat methods will allow your page to reach a much higher level.

Ultimately, following an ethically sound system of search engine optimization is the best way to improve search results in both the short and long term due to punishments imposed by search engine algorithms from unethical, black hat methods.


For more possible dangers in your SEO journey read our post of 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Beginning Your SEO.

Go-To Glossary for SEO

The SEO world is full of phrases and terms that can be difficult to understand as a beginner. The below glossary is a brief source for those looking to begin a smooth transition into improving SEO for their small businesses. The terms on our list will help you to navigate our blog more easily, as well as others.

  • 301 redirect: When a URL is no longer in use by a website or a web page is deleted, a 404 error usually pops up (“page not found”). A 301 redirect will navigate users away from the abandoned or deleted page to a new page that the web manager specifies. Having a 301 redirect could lower bounce and increase page views on content to which users are redirected.    
  • Alt text: a piece of text that may appear to some users in place of an image. Some users are online via text-only browser, so this text will help those visitors to better understand the content of your page.  
  • Anchor text: the text that holds a hyperlink to another source. Anchor text should not be vague, such as “this article” or “click here.” Anchor text needs to describe what users will find when they click on the link. Keep the linked text between one and five words.    
  • Authority: The trustworthiness, knowledge, reliability, and respect of your website. Authority is one of the key attributes of a website that Google uses to rank a site, and many metrics contribute to authority, such as external links, age of site, and popularity among searchers.   
  • Black Hat SEO: The opposite of white hat SEO, a type of SEO strategy that does not abide by best practices of guidelines established by Google and other search engine leaders. Tactics are usually unethical and can result in a website being penalized by search engines that will give the site implementing black hat SEO a poor ranking.
    Mac n' Cheese recipes on AllRecipes.com
    [Source: AllRecipes.com]
  • The Fold: The spot where a web page becomes cut off by the bottom of a screen or computer monitor. The most eye-catching, user-oriented content on a website’s homepage should be above this point to avoid a high bounce rate due to difficult navigability. On the right, you will see the fold for this All Recipes page is just below the header images. 


  • Information architecture:The organization and structure of digital content. the architecture of a website’s information strives to be findable by spiders, but also usable for users of the content which we are organizing. Bad information architecture can include unclear page titles, meta descriptions that don’t utilize keywords, and websites with poorly designed navigation.
  • Keyword:A term or phrase that is used in a web page’s title, content, meta-description, and tags that can lead to the page having a higher ranking for such a term/phrase in search. Strategically choosing keywords that are searched often or sought out by your audience is key.
  • Link building: An effort by a website manager to attract external links to one or more pages of their website. Building links is desirable because inbound links to a website can boost its page rank on Google. Link building is carried out through traditional public relations techniques and mutual linking to relevant websites. Link building helps to increase a website’s authority.    
    Meta description screen grab
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Meta description: The text that appears below the title and URL of a web page in a search engine. Meta descriptions usually include keywords and the terms that are being searched. Creating your own meta description to highlight key phrases is essential for building SEO. Below, you can see that the meta description for the page is “Mac and cheese is one of nearly everyone’s favorite comfort foods and here is the recognition it…”


  • Page rank: A system that determines a website’s ranking for certain keywords or phrases. Google’s PageRank algorithm scores site’s based on external links to site, relevance of content, and site authority. If your website has made it onto the first Google SERP for a certain keyword, then you’ve made it, but there is always room for improvement.
    [Source: Google screen grab for search “Chicago mac n’ cheese”]
  • Search Engine Results Page (SERP): The list of search engine results that appear when searching a specific keyword or phrase. The order of results of a Google SERP are determined based on Google PageRank (discussed above). Many times, the first one or two results is an advertisement result by AdWords, which does not necessarily appear based on PageRank. 




  • Web 2.0: Contemporary computer technologies that are Web-based (run by the internet and not PC software) and that allow users to interact with content more freely and with more ease. An example of this this is the shift from using Microsoft Excel to Google Sheets, which allows multiple people to edit and control a document remotely.  
  • White Hat SEO: In contrast to black hat SEO, a strategy for SEO that follows the ethical guidelines and best practices put forth by search engines. Playing by the rules through white hat SEO is more likely to improve your PageRank on Google.  

While this list is by no means an all-inclusive dictionary for your SEO adventures, it is a good start for a beginner. If you don’t understand some SEO jargon next time you are watching a tutorial or reading one of our blog posts, your first step should be to look it up. No SEO stone should go unturned!


What is SEO? The Basics of the Basics

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is important to companies to bring more people to your website. Search engines lead visitors to your website from relevant searches, and SEO helps maximize these connections.

An SEO Timeline

How did SEO even begin? It first originated in the early 1990s with the world’s first website and continued its birth for the next decade. Excite was the first search platform, followed by Yahoo and later Google. Each engine continued to simplify the big bad world of data. It was easy to manipulate search engines at this time, but Google began to see opportunities for the future.

In 2003, Google began optimizing search engines by improving the value and relevancy of results. Local SEO began in practice to provide users accurate information regarding maps, locations, and more. Ethical practices were encouraged by Google even in the early days.

After a few years, Google began to encourage real-time search results promoting content media with Universal Search. In 2008, Google Suggest made SEO even more targeted for users. In 2010, Google continued to become stricter as the clear leader in search engines. Social media began to alter search results, prompting the creation of Google+.

Currently, privacy and personalization are coming into conflict around SEO. While digital marketers want to create the most customized experience for visitors, users want to maintain their privacy and not have search engines read their minds completely. Still, content must be personalized with quality content to be competitive.

While Google is not the only search engine, it dominates the industry. 65% of searches are Googled, followed by 20% done with Microsoft and 13% with Yahoo. Google likes to keep it clean, though, so they constantly change the algorithm to keep searching as authentic as possible. This ensures ethical practices within digital marketing and keeps it fair between sites that actual deserve the highest rankings.

Basic Optimization

In addition to high-quality content, search engines also rank sites by how visitors engage with your site, loading speed and mobile ease, and the amount of unique content. Sites with higher retention rates are ranked higher than sites that lead users to return right back to their search query.

Keywords are crucial in optimizing your site. What will your targeted visitors be searching to find you? It is also important to research your selected keywords and ensure they are deriving the desired results. More than just comparing to competitors, you want to check on search volume and relevance regarding your target keywords. Keywords reside in more than just tags, too. On-page optimization includes title tags, meta descriptions, body content, alt attributes, url structure, schema, as well as markup.

Information architecture is also crucial in SEO. It is best to avoid flat information architecture; you want to provide the most linked-to pages. By having your most important search pages ranked high in your personal information architecture, search engines will rank your own information higher. Make sure you also avoid header responses, such as 404 errors. If your pages have been relocated, do not hold on to them. You want to help your visitors find desired content, not frustrate them. It is easy to overlook issues like this, redirects, and duplicate content, but you want to prevent any difficulty in accessibility. Even just a few unnecessary clicks can prod users to return to their original search, losing your audience. After all, your website is for others.

Once you begin to figure out your own SEO, how do you measure your results? Rank your keywords and record your organic traffic and leads. Analytics from the web are never perfect, so there can be flaws in your tracking. Lifetime value metrics can be tricky, so consider your organic users.

Past traditional SEO, there is also international and local cases as well as search engines within  app stores. These all provide important insights, depending on your particular industry and target audience. Be open-minded and think outside the box. Reverse engineering can help improve your users’ experiences and continue to improve your rankings.

SEO is constantly evolving, and this is an only an overview. Continue to follow our blog for the basics, the latest, and more.


Spiders on the Web: A brief guide on the inner workings of search engines

We often take the ability to use a search engine for granted. Google has made search so easy that we do not have to worry about finding information. Googling something we do not know has become second nature to us. We trust Google’s results to be relevant and accurate. In order to best optimize your website for Google, it is helpful to know how the search engine works.


This article contains a detailed account about the rise of Google, if dense material isn’t your thing continue reading this summary. Early search engines, like AltaVista, would compare search terms to their database and whichever page had the most similar terms would be considered the most relevant. This was problematic because the results weren’t necessarily the most relevant. For example, if you wanted to search Columbia Sportswear, Dick’s Sporting Goods might be the first result, rather than the corporate web page, because they list a lot of Columbia products. The amount of times a keyword was mentioned in the page outweighed other information in determining relevance. Search results weren’t as helpful because users had to filter through the results themselves. Yahoo was different. They used human judgement to aid their search engine’s results. Yahoo hired people to read through webpages to pull keywords and write summaries. In 1997, Google changed the game by offering better results, without clutter. Instead of looking at the text of a website, Google observed the patterns of hyperlinks, specifically, the number and type of incoming and outgoing hyperlinks. 

Search Now

When you type your search query into Google, the search engine sends out little programs called crawlers or spiders. These crawlers jump from page to page by following links. As the spiders travel, they send a copy of each page to the search engine. Google then creates an index of the words on that page. Algorithms are complex mathematical equations which are designed to find hints to understand what you are searching for. There are plenty of great videos on Youtube, like this one, that will help you visualize the search process. Going back to our example, when you type in “Columbia Sportswear” on Google, the first search result will be the manufacturer’s website, not a retailer’s (i.e. Dick’s Sporting Goods). This is because of Google’s algorithm, which gives more weight to a company’s homepage.

Why it all matters

According to this article, less than 6% of users clicked on a link on the second page of Google results.  As a small business owner, it is crucial for you to maximize the chances of your website being on that first page. The process of making your website search-engine-friendly is called Search Engine Optimization, or as it’s commonly referred to, SEO. As the name suggests, Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website’s content for Google’s crawlers. How often websites are crawled depends on how often the content on the website changes. Therefore, frequent updates to your website are essential to driving traffic.