Search Engine Optimization: Beginner’s Guide
This is an overview of SEO, a hugely important tactic for driving traffic to your website.
Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your web pages and their content.
So that your content is easily discoverable by users searching for terms relevant to your website.
The concept of SEO is relatively straightforward and easy to understand.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization, or SEO as it is called, is the science of getting your pages to rank higher in search engines like Google. Ranking higher in search engines has many benefits.
A high ranking page is likely to be clicked, thus leading to an increase in traffic to your website.
An online search is one of the main ways in which people discover content online.
The search engine indexing software, known as “crawlers” find your website, scan them and index your site.Most of the search engines, including Google, feature paid ads on the result page. These ads are followed by the regular results or what marketers call the ‘organic search result’.
The traffic that comes via SEO is often termed as ‘organic search traffic’. This is different from the traffic that comes through paid search.
In technical terms, paid search is often referred to as search engine marketing (SME) or pay-per-click (PPC).
The Benefits of Search Engine Optimization
Today SEO forms an integral part of any digital marketing strategy.
SEO helps improve your online presence and stay ahead of your competitors.
SEO is a key part of online marketing. This is because search is one of the primary ways that any user navigates the web.
> Google searches every second around 40,000.
> As a result, Google processes more than 3.5 billion searches each day.
> This results in nearly 1.2 trillion searches every year.
Trillions of searches are conducted worldwide across search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, and Yandex. All the traffic that comes from search engines is known as ‘natural’ or ‘organ’ traffic. And this accounts for a large portion of the total traffic your website receives.
Search results we see on google are presented in an ordered list. The results appearing higher up on that list tends to get more traffic.
Some interesting facts.
> A typical search query that appears at number one generally receives 40-60% of the total traffic for that query.
> The one at number two and three results receive significantly less traffic.
> Only 2-3% of the remaining searchers click beyond the first page of search results.
This means that with a small improvement in search engine rankings, your website can receive more traffic and potential business.
Because of this, many website owners and businesses often try to manipulate the search results. So that their website ranks higher on the search results page than their competitors. This is where SEO comes in.
How Search Engine Optimization Works
Over time, these algorithms have evolved to be extremely complex. It is because it takes into account even thousands of different ranking factors to determine the rankings of their SERPs.
There are three primary metrics that search engines evaluate. This helps to determine the quality of a website and how it should rank: Please m
Links from other websites (high authority websites) play a key role in determining the ranking of your site in Google and other search engines. They tell the search engines that your website page can be trusted because a high authority site is linking to it.
The reason being, a link is like a vote of quality from other websites. A website owner is likely to link to other sites which are of better quality.
Websites that acquire links from other websites gain authority in the eyes of search engines. This is called PageRank in Google.
But did you know that external links are equally important? Links going out to high authority sites can boost your SEO. When search engines come to crawl your site, see a link and follow it to CNN or Wikipedia, they weigh it as a positive. The trick is – you should find organic ways to link to other high authority pages.
Apart from looking at links, search engines also analyze the content of your web page. In order to determine if it would be relevant for any given search query.
Hence SEO is all about creating content which is targeted towards a specific keyword that search engine users are looking for. You need to pay particular attention to these standards as Google’s algorithms gives more weight to trustworthy and in-depth content.
Hence your content should be informational content and of high quality content. Moreover, it should be accurate, original, comprehensive and professionally presented.
3 Page Structure
The third core component of SEO is the page structure. As you might know web pages are written in HTML. How the HTML code on your web page is structured can impact a search engine’s ability to evaluate a page.
These include factors like – including relevant keywords in the title, URL, and header tags of the page. A clear url structure and naming is very helpful for people who are trying to understand what a specific URL is about. All this improves the SEO of that page.
Thus the SEO process involves optimizing each of these three core components. All these are an integral part of the process in order to rank higher in the search results.
Search Engine Optimization Techniques
Only then can you improve your website’s search rankings.
Hence improving your site’s ranking involves leveraging various SEO techniques.
Listed below are a few SEO techniques which are useful:
1 Keyword Research
Keyword research is the starting point for SEO. You need to look at what keywords your website is already ranking for. You also need to be aware of what keywords your competitors are ranking for.
The tool also helps you about keywords potential customers are searching for. This would provide direction on what existing content can be optimized. And also what new content can be created.
2 Content Marketing
Once you identify potential keywords – content marketing comes into picture. This could include updating existing content or creating brand new pieces of content.
Because Google and other search engines value high-quality content. Hence it’s important to research what content is already published and create new compelling pieces of content.
Content that would provide a positive user experience. Content that would have a chance of ranking high in the search engine results.
3 Link Building
Because backlinks from external websites are one of the core ranking factors in Google. Your aim should always be to obtain high-quality backlinks.
These can involve promoting good content, reaching out to other websites so that they link to your website. There can be various ways of building links with other websites.
4 On-Page Optimization
In addition to off-page SEO factors such as links, improving the structure of your page can have tremendous benefits for SEO.
Some of the common on-page SEO optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of your web page. It also includes incorporating keywords, updating the title tag and using the alt attribute to describe images.
Updating your page’s meta tags and meta description is also beneficial. These tags can increase the click-through rate from the SERPs.
5 Site Architecture Optimization
External links are only one of the things that matters for SEO. Internal links play a large role in SEO as well.
Thus search engine optimizers can improve your website’s SEO by linking the key pages. Relevant anchor text should also be used in those links to help improve a page’s relevance.
An XML sitemap is one of the best ways that help search engines discover and crawl all of pages on your website.
6 Semantic Markup
Another SEO strategy that SEO experts utilize – is the optimizing of a website’s semantic markup. Semantic markup or the schema.org is used to describe the meaning behind the content on a page.
By using semantic markup you can get rich snippets displayed in the search results page. It could be stuff like extra text, review stars, and even images. Rich snippets in the SERPs generally do not have a direct impact on search rankings. But they can increase organic traffic.
Top SEO Tools
There are many tools and software that SEOs rely on. These tools help you optimize your websites.
There are free as well as paid tools that help you with the optimization process.
Many of the free tools available in the market are intuitive, slick, powerful and effective and you can use them hassle-free.
List of SEO tools:
1 Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Search Console was previously known as ‘Google Webmaster Tools’. It is a free tool provided by Google, and is a standard tool in the SEO’s toolkit.
GSC provides rankings and traffic reports for top keywords and pages. Also helps identify and fix on-site technical issues.
2 Google Ads Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner is another free tool provided by Google. The tool is designed for paid search.
However, it is a great tool to use for SEO since it provides keyword suggestions and keyword search volume. Features are helpful when doing keyword research.
3 Backlink Analysis Tools
There are a number of link analysis tools available online. The two primary ones are AHREFs and Majestic.
These are tools used to gather functional data on your domain’s backlinks. Backlink analysis tools allow you to analyze which websites are linking to their own website. The tools are also very helpful to analyze any website and see who links to your competitor.
4 SEO Platforms
There are many different SEO platforms that bring together many of the tools that SEOs need to optimize sites.
The most popular ones are Moz, BrightEdge, Linkdex and Searchmetrics. These platforms track keyword rankings, identify on-page and off-page SEO opportunities, and help with keyword research. You can carry out many other tasks related to SEO on these platforms.
5 Social Media
Most social media websites do not have a direct impact on SEO. But they are good tools for networking with other webmasters and building relationships. Which in the long run can lead to link building and guest posting opportunities.
Optimization for search engines goes beyond all the technical stuff. It requires creativity and relationship-building activities following a repetitive process.
In simple terms it is an ongoing process, so it demands a site audit every month. It will help you monitor your backlink profile, traffic and competitiveness in the SERPs.