Michel Bernard's Guide to Search Engine Optimization Basics

Millions of blog posts and webpages are created daily. This can make it extremely difficult to stand out from the crowd — unless you have a strategy. Enter SEO, otherwise known as search engine optimization. SEO is the ability to optimize your content (all aspects of it, from design to text), in order to organically rank high on a search engine. SEO truly is an art, and one that could make or break your business, which according to Michel Bernard, is not something enough people realize. 

Bernard is a digital marketing expert from Gatineau, Quebec. He has worked in the field of digital marketing for several decades and during this time, has become an SEO expert, helping clients solve their marketing problems through creative solutions. He provides an introduction into the world of SEO, including an explanation as to why SEO is so important, as well as a few of the best SEO practices to employ ASAP.

Why is SEO So Important?

In the world of digital marketing, the traffic that paid advertisements and social media generate is far less than that which comes from search engines. That is why SEO is so important; it is one of the most effective ways to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and hopefully, make money. Given the importance of search engine optimization, Michel Bernard often advises clients or business owners he knows to hire an SEO professional. More and more, in-house SEO-focused jobs are cropping up. However, there are also plenty of SEO specialists who act as consultants or work at digital marketing agencies. If you or your business is struggling with digital marketing and are experiencing extremely low or plateaued levels of website traffic, then stepping up your SEO game is a must.

Black Hat Versus White Hat SEO

There are two main types of SEO, black hat SEO and white hat SEO. People who employ black hat SEO techniques are in it for the short term, which is why they are using strategies that attempt to spam or fool search engines. On the flip side, people that fall into the white hat SEO camp are those who implement strategies that abide by search engine rules. The focus of white hat techniques is to create quality content and increase your ranking for the long term. Michel Bernard claims that there is no question in his mind as to which type is more successful: white hat SEO.

Examples of white hat SEO strategies include producing relevant content, including relevant links and references, labelling images well, using complete sentences with proper spelling and grammar, and choosing a unique page title. Alternatively, black hat SEO practices include creating duplicate, unoriginal content, using too many keywords, linking to irrelevant sites, and re-directing the reader to other sites. Ultimately, white hat SEO is used to improve your website’s ranking slow and steady, whereas black hat SEO is usually less effective at improving your ranking and runs the risk of your website being penalized, or even de-indexed, by the search engine.

Michel Bernard Shares Best SEO Practices

There are a handful of digital marketing-approved SEO practices out there. It is up to you to find the ones that are right for your business. However, Michel Bernard does claim there are a few that all companies should be employing. For example, keywords are critical. Do some research to determine which keywords are most relevant to you and how many people are searching for the keyword you want to include. To decide which keywords to include on your webpage, ask yourself questions like “what types of things is my audience interested in?” and “what type of language do they use to describe the things they do?” 

In addition to keywords, on-page optimization is also a must when it comes to SEO. This includes knowing where to add the keywords you want to include on your webpage. The focus here should be on the meta description, title tags, and body content. Beyond simply inserting the keyword several times throughout the body of the text, you’ll also want to ensure that you’re creating content of substance. There is no magic word count in SEO, but you’ll definitely want to write more than just a few sentences. Engagement matters to search engines, so the longer you can keep someone on your site, the better.