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SEO: Search Engine Optimization

at Ascend Training - Near North Side

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Near North Side, Downtown/Loop
515 N State St 14th Floor
Grand Ave & State St
Chicago, Illinois 60654
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Class Level: Beginner
Age Requirements: 18 and older
Average Class Size: 10

What you'll learn in this web development course:

Learn the tips and tricks to increase visibility and raise your rankings in Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Demystify how Google and other search engines segment traffic, prioritize keywords, and organically rank your website.

Understand how to audit your own website so you can make high-impact improvements that increase your rankings. You will learn how to select the best keywords and structure/optimize your content accordingly.

After learning SEO best practices, we’ll show you how to identity high priority issues on your own website so you can improve the things that matter most to Google.


  • Using Google Autocomplete to create a keyword list
  • Using Google Keyword Planner to find additional keywords
  • Learning competitor keywords through HubShout WebGrader
  • Finding non-promotional keywords for blog articles
  • Choosing keywords for small towns, large cities, national keywords
  • Choosing keywords you can actually rank for (keyword competition)

Site Structure

  • Building out your website with keywords in mind
  • Permalink (URL) structure
  • Assigning keywords to pages
  • Identifying cornerstone content (the most important content on your site)

Content Optimization

  • Creating content with information searchers expect to find
  • Using keywords in page titles, URLs, content body, images
  • Using keywords in search engine snippets (title tags + meta descriptions)
  • Identifying and improving your worst performing landing pages
  • Competition leaders: learn from the best

Content Design

  • Dividing your website into content blocks
  • Improving conversions through attractive design
  • Improving engagement through links, videos, etc
  • Embedding social media status
  • Adding an HTML table of contents to cornerstone content
  • Columns, tables, buttons, other content design ideas
  • WordPress (25% of websites used WordPress in 2015)
  • Strategy vs Tactics

Social Media Optimization

  • Optimizing content to format properly on Facebook/Twitter/Google+
  • Makes your content’s thumbnail images format on these networks
  • This is both a ranking factor and improves shareability

Speed Optimization

  • Identifying speed issues in GTmetrix
  • Hosting options (shared, cloud, VPS, dedicated)
  • Using a lightweight website template/theme
  • Cleaning up unnecessary files and plugins
  • Optimizing images to load faster
  • Caching, CloudFlare, MaxCDN
  • Common culprits of slow websites

Rich Snippets

  • Enhancing search engine snippets with rich snippets
  • Adding review stars, event information, other supported data
  • Marking up content with rich snippets
  • Testing rich snippets using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool

Google Analytics

  • Installing the Google Analytics tracking code
  • Identifying key metrics and using them to improve your website
  • Segmenting traffic from SEO, social, mobile, email
  • Identifying your worst and best performing content
  • Measuring SEO progress using Google Analytics + other tools
  • Dashboards
  • Automating reports
  • Goals/ conversions
  • Trends & insights

Google Search Console

  • Installing Google Search Console
  • Creating and submitting an XML sitemap
  • Setting www vs. non-www
  • Targeting your SEO to a specific country
  • Identifying broken pages and setting up redirects
  • Improving title tags and meta descriptions
  • Learning queries (keywords) your site is being found for
  • Identifying harmful links to your site

Local SEO

  • Google’s local search ranking factors
  • Finding geographic-specific keywords
  • Creating geographic-specific landing pages
  • The importance of online directories
  • Google My Business
  • Using Moz Local to create/fix important directories
  • Top 100 directories to list your website on
  • Getting reviews from customers

Keeping Analytics Up

  • Creating cornerstone content
  • Updating blog with useful content
  • Continuously building directories (for local SEO)
  • Continuously asking customers for reviews
  • Content marketing through social media, email, etc
  • Improving low performing content
  • Monitoring Google Analytics + Google Search Console

Auditing Your Website

By the end of this class you will have learned specific improvements that can be made to your website and SEO. You will also be provided with an SEO checklist you can use to audit your website. The instructor will also answer any questions you have throughout the course.

Link Building

  • Importance of link equity
  • Integrity: white hat vs black hat
  • Power levels of different links (body copy, navigation, footer, etc)
  • Reviews & ratings: Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie’s List, etc
  • Domain Authority
  • Paid Search

    • Why & when to use PPC
    • How to leverage PPC to optimize organic traffic
    • Quality Score: components, how to measure & tips to optimize
    • Reviewing traffic sources in context within Analytics
    • Connecting Analytics with AdWords
    • Benefits of understanding PPC (elevate the conversation)


    • Importance of strong reporting
    • Audience: who needs to see what data
    • Reporting tool review: Dash.this, Raven Tools, SEO Moz, SEM Rush
    • Live demo of SEM Rush

    Industry Resources

    • Review or various top sights as selected by the instructor

    Still have questions? Ask the community.

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    All classes need at least 3 students to run. 


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    School: Ascend Training

    Ascend Training

    Ascend has served the Chicago creative community offering the highest quality training programs since 1998. 

    Ascend has dedicated top industry professionals to training web developers, graphic desighners, publishers and video editors.

    Our philosophy is that students learn by doing, and our classes...

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