SEO Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
If you are new to SEO and you don’t know what SEO is? How SEO works? Why is SEO important in 2020? Then you are on the right page. Here I have brought you a complete, user-friendly guide to understand SEO. So, let’s begin!
What is SEO in 2020?
Search engines emerged in the ’90s for the first time, and that’s when their journey began. In 2020 SEO is an utmost important strategy, that’s growing faster than anything else.
Definition of SEO:
Search engine optimization popularly known as SEO is a practice that helps you in improving and increasing the quality of website traffic. It also helps your website gain organic or non-paid traffic through search engine results. To put simply, it is creating the right website for the right audiences. SEO friendly websites are seen more by people, and they make higher revenue than non-SEO friendly websites.
Why is SEO Important?
There are two ways to fetch traffic to websites one paid advertising & other unpaid. On the first look, paid advertising or social media looks an easy way to generate traffic. But unpaid, organic results are considered as more credible by savvy searchers. They get more clicks than paid adverts. SEO has 20X more power to generate organic traffic than paid per click on mobiles as well as laptops.
All the search engines have one goal – ‘to bring the most relevant results to the users.’ SEO demonstrates the search engines that your content is most relevant to the topic you are targeting.
When setting up appropriately, SEO optimized content can continue to bring revenue over time, whereas you need constant funds for paid adverts.
With the help of SEO, your content can get adequately indexed in google, and this, in turn, will display it within search results and get you more organic traffic.
What goes into SEO?
The main parts of SEO are the quantity & quality of traffic & organic results.
- Traffic quality: You can get attract loads of traffic to your website, but if the traffic is irrelevant, then it is as useless as banned currency notes. For example, you are an apple store owner, but you are getting all the traffic from the apple farming industry. Irrelevant traffic is getting redirected to your website because Google is telling them so. This traffic will not bring any business to you and in turn, jeopardize your image too. SEO improves the quality of your traffic.
- Traffic Quantity: It is good to have a large amount of genuine traffic, and that’s what SEO helps you to do.
- Organic Results: when results are organic, you don’t have to pay for them. You get organic traffic & results in because of SEO optimization.
How Does Search Engine Optimization(SEO) Work?
Search engines are driven by text. They are software’s that crawl on websites to generate results for users and rank the websites. This process involves evaluating all the core components of algorithms.
To generate the results, search engines put the use of different activities. The activities involve:
Set of rules, also known as algorithms, are used by search engines to show the search results for any query that is made. To determine the ranking of their SERPs, Algorithms make use of thousands of factors ranking factors. These algorithms can either make your page rank top on google or get it penalized. Search engines like google also use page heavy penalty algorithm, if you violate the rules set by googles. When Google penalizes your page or website, your rankings can drop down dramatically. It can drop down to 50 spots each.
The core metrics that are used by algorithms to evaluate the quality of a site or the rank of the site by search engines are:
- Links: Links are essential factors in determining the ranking of any website on search engines. Search engines treat links as vote or approval of quality by other websites because it is unlikely that any website owner may link his page to poor quality sites.
- Content: Another essential factor for search engine is the content of the website. SEO creates content which targets the keywords used by the searchers.
- Structure of page: Structure of HTML code can bring a significant impact in defining the website rank by search engines. When you include appropriate keywords in the title, URL and headers of the web page you help the site to become crawlable by search engines
Meta tags are nothing but snippets. These snippets appear only in the page source instead of appearing on the page itself. Meta tags support search engines to determine what your webpage is all about. You can also call them as a content descriptor.
There are majorly 4 categories of meta tags:
- Meta keyword tags: Meta keyword tags are now outdated and irrelevant. They were used to bring pirate traffic on the website by using unrelated keywords on the pages. Google eventually understood this practice and termed it as keyword stuffing. Now, Google doesn’t use meta keywords tags to evaluate rankings.
- Title tags: Title tags are utmost essential, and they leave the real effect on search engine rankings. Title tags are visible on the top of the browser.
- Meta description tags: These tags explain the content of your page to search engines.
- Meta robot tags: robot tags tell search engines on how to treat your pages or what to do with them. Index or no index robot tags tell search engines whether your page should be visible in search results or not. Follow or unfollow tags tell how to treat your links.
Software’s of search engines are crawlers or spiders. Search engines can’t crawl an image; password protected page, frames, java scripts, flash movies or the directories. If you have a maximum of the stuff that can’t be crawled, then you should run a keyword simulator text to find out if spiders can view them. The content that cannot be spidered is not indexed, and thus, it will not be bound by search engines.
Storing or indexing
Once the crawling is done, content is stored in a vast database by the spider. The content which is stored in the database can be retrieved during a related keyword search. To make this task easy, you have to ensure that your content is SEO optimized.
For search engines, the relevance of content is essential because they are required to match search queries as closely as possible. The search engine evaluates, which websites in their data or index, can best meet the user requirements for each query. To evaluate the websites, it uses algorithms along with the other characteristics of websites such as content quality, load time, link structure, and technical specifications. This is how rankings generate in search engines. To find out the relevance of the content search engines looks into content-language, body text, page title, images & graphics & local aspect.
Recovering or Retrieving
Once search engine completes the process of optimization it retrieves the final result. Website names and URLs
What is White hat and black hat SEO?
White Hat SEO
Inlay man’s language, White hat SEO is a protagonist, whereas black is a villain.
The primary focus of white hat SEO is to provide better quality to viewers. It projects the best practices, techniques & strategies and follows all the rules of search engines. White hat SEO’s primary concern is quality content, complete website optimization & link building. It is a long-term strategy that aims to improve user experience.
Black Hat SEO
Black hat SEO techniques or strategies, on the other hand, are meant to spam the search engine. It is unethical practice to improve ranking by fooling search engines; It is a short cut that can take you at the top layer of SERP in no time. It might give you a result, but it will also put your website at risk of penalties. It can also result in being removed from search results which are also called as de-indexed. Penalties can bankrupt your business. If you take the support of black hat SEO, your site will get banned sooner or later. Therefore, you must hire your SEO expert carefully.
Learn SEO, & How to build an SEO Friendly Website?
I have already explained above what SEO is and why it is crucial. To make your website search engine friendly means that search engines should be able to crawl the pages of websites proficiently. Plus, they should be able to index the content in their database & interpret it efficiently. The better are your website’s index strategies, the better are your website rankings. One of the most important things for you is to know that out of the billions of people navigating search engines daily, there are less than 5% of people who go beyond the first page. That is why it is essential to reach the first page of search engines. On-page optimization & off-page optimization are the two main parts of SEO strategies.
On-page or onsite Seo strategies will ensure how search engines will understand your page. Owners of the website control on-page SEO and are incredibly essential. Onsite SEO helps your website to rank higher in search engines and generate relevant traffic. In this SEO, you optimize both your website content as well as your page’s HTML source code. It also helps the user to understand the content of the page quickly.
Mentioned below are on-page SEO optimization techniques or ranking factors of websites:
Keyword research is an essential part of on-page SEO strategy. It is crucial to select the right keywords and topics for your niche. Other than researching the right keywords, it is also essential to use them appropriately on your page. Keywords will attract users to your content; they also help your website rank in search engines to find the right keyword; you must do some research about the popular terms that users search most on your topic. You must learn to place your keyword strategically. You should not target a single keyword or too many keywords. The exact number of keywords that you should target depends upon your budget and time. To begin with, five keywords with 100+ search volumes are considered a safe target. You can attract good traffic and increase the scope of rankings by using five keywords.
Here are the basic rules related to keywords
- It is essential to place the keywords in the URL of your website. in the case of multiple keywords, you should separate them using dashes.
- Now, it is time for the right placement of keywords in the body of your content. You should place them at the top of the page, and at the end of the page.
- You must use the embed keywords to describe the links, meta tags, title, and your domain name, also known as anchor texts.
- Create a theme surrounding the content on your website by using keywords.
- Try to keep your keywords as close as possible. But your sentence should not lose meaning.
- You must make sure to use keywords in appropriate density. 1% or 1.5% of keyword density is considered good
- If you apply bold and italics formatting to your keyword, it makes it easier to read for search engines and the users. It also increases your chance of getting linked by another website. It is an excellent way to increase the ranking of your website.
- Keyword stuffing ton the other hand is known as a bad practice. If you fill your pages with unnecessary and irrelevant keywords, you will create a negative user experience and impact. This practice will only harm the ranking of your website.
Content is the god of your website, and it is going to make your website successful. It will distinguish your site and send the right message to your readers. Content can fetch you more customers and increase your sales. Other components of the sites, such as designs, pictures, and videos, are secondary to content. They play the role of supporting cast. It is essential to do proper market research to get your content right. Your taglines & slogans will capture the eyes of customers. Your content will encourage viewers to take action. The high-quality content should have the following characteristics:
- It should be relevant & keyword rich.
- It should be unique and attractive.
- It should be plagiarism-free.
- It must be well researched and sufficiently written to meet the user’s requirements.
- It should be user-friendly, which means it should be readable as well as easily navigable.
- It should be trustworthy and should deliver the expectations of search engines. Duplicate content can get your website panelized.
- According to google, the content should have quality & length both. The longer is your content more are the chances to reach on the first ten positions of google search engine. Ideally, your content should be above 2000 words.
Multiple types of content:
You must use different types of content on your sites. This will expose your content to new users and generate more traffic. Which includes
Your website should be visually appealing with a unique look that represents your brand. It should also be responsive to all types of devices.
Your page must have some referral links on the same topic from relevant sites as well as from your website. You should include
- inbound links
- internal links
- outbound links.
Tags are still being used by search engines to rank web pages. Tags help in identifying your content easily. Here are the tags you must use:
- Header tags
- Title tags
- Meta description tags
- Image all tags
- H2 & H3 tags
You must create a URL structure that is optimized both for search engines and users. You must also create an internal link structure, information architecture, and navigation structure. If your link structures are crawlable, they help search engines in finding the website quickly. The URL structure tells the search engines what page is all about. For the best results, you should use essential keywords in the URL.
Page load speed:
If your page load speed is slow, your users will turn to another website. it is an essential element of a user’s experience. Click through rate, bounce rate & Dwell time of users represent your website user experience and decides your position on google.
These are the elements that create onsite optimization and enjoyable user experience.
What is Off-Site or Off-Page SEO?
Off page or offsite SEO techniques are the actions that are taken outside your website. Off-page SEO has an impact on your rankings; it also enhances awareness about site popularity, authority, and trustworthiness among users. It depends upon human behavior and will get you a better response from high-quality products and content. You can improve off-page SEO by getting links from reputed and trustworthy sites. You can also mention your brand, share your content outside your website to get off-page SEO. Using Keyword rich anchor text in inbound links is also one of the ways to do on-page SEO optimization.
Link related off-page SEO
If your site has high-value bank links, it will rank better than your competitors who have lesser backlinks. These links allow more comprehensive visibility to your website in search results. They make your site more credible, and it becomes easier for your users to find your page. These links are great contributors in making your website SEO optimized and getting it better rankings. There are three types of backlinks.
Natural links: .
These links are links given by the owners. They can be directly or indirectly related to your topic.
- Manually built relationships: These links are created using link building activities, and they include things like sharing your content.
- Self-created links: these links are created when you add backlinks in any forum, blog comment, or online dictionary.
Off Page SEO without using links
Other than links you can use following ways to build off-page SEO:
Social media marketing: Social media might not be a direct factor in the ranking algorithm, but it does have a lot of benefits. Major social media platforms that are being used by most of the brands are Facebook, Instagram google+, twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. With social media platforms, you share your content across the web. By sharing your content on social media, you gain the following benefits:
- Increased views on page
- Brand exposure
- Generates new leads & traffic
- Brings in more followers
Guest blogging is also an indirect factor, but it does contribute to the SEO of your website. Guest blogging helps in building relationships with the audiences. It gives exposure, authority, and links to your content. I have already explained how relevant links are for on-page optimization. When you allow guest blogging, you can get a link from another website. Guest blogging is a win-win situation for both the sites, the one providing a backlink and the one writing content. It is excellent if you want a backlink to rank higher on search engines or if you want high-quality content to attract readers. To start guest blogging, you have to write an article according to the needs of the blogger, and the blogger will give you a backlink in return. These backlinks are usually at the bottom of the page. They are also known as authors’ box.
Influencer marketing helps in increasing awareness about the brand and promoting your products. It is better than paid promotions. It can help you build an active link profile by generating natural backlinks. How will this happen? Significant and famous bloggers either have their websites, or they are connected to influential websites. If they link their content with your website, you tend to get a high-quality backlink for your site. When an influencer shares your link with other viewers, also share it. Therefore, influencer marketing increases the popularity of your website.
Strategies that can make your page spam
Google has specific guidelines in regards to the content. Anything that comes under the radar described as negative signals for websites is called as low-quality content by google. So, what happens if your site has too many low-quality signals?
If you have low-quality content in any section, it will not just affect the effect your ranking of that content but also of other high-quality pages on your website. Your website will lose the impression, and it will face a tough time dealing with it. This will affect your traffic; you will lose credibility & money as well. For example, after posting low-quality content for years, you update your website with high-quality content. You might even remove low-quality content, but search engines don’t trust you anymore. So, they will take their own time to observe your content. This is known as time-lag, and your website will have to go through it. Another way of ruining your website is by linking it with sites that are of low quality.
Google is very serious about spamming if your page is reported as spam; it can even get banned by google. Google’s webspam team is always ready to fight spam. That is why you should know and learn about the reasons that can turn your web page into spam. So, here’s a list of strategies that will be considered as black hat and can make your page turn into spam:
well. If you will stuff your page with keywords and make your sentence structure challenging to understand, your content will get a negative impact from users as well as search engines and lead your page to spam.
Hidden text is another excellent way of ruining your ranking. This technique was used earlier to get a lot of keywords on the page. You have to write lots and lots of garbage content and make the text color black on a black background, and you are on the road to self-destruction.
Doorway pages or cloaking:
To use the most searched keywords on an irrelevant content is another way to get spammed by google. For example, they are using keywords related to insurance on the page in a page that has content about hair products. These doorway pages are considered as bad for users because they take them to similar pages in search results. It is frustrating for users because every result will take them to the same destination.
Content stuffing: If you use a large amount of text in a tiny font size at the end of the page or near the footer for search engines to pick it up but your readers don’t register called content stuffing.
Buying links: If you buy links, it is considered as spam because it dilutes the quality of search results.
Widgets: if you create embeddable widgets that point back to widget creator, it is again a spam invite.
Link or article farms: If you build many sites to accumulate links or you submit content to places that will publish and link the articles to your website is also kind of spam.
Comment spam:If you are allowing users to link back to their websites through the comment section.
Low-quality guest posts: It is similar to link farming used by spammers. They send pre-written or low-quality content for publishing. If you published such material, you would get penalized too.
Linky footers: linking high-value webpages with website footers were used to drive traffic from these pages.
Purpose of the website or page: If your page or website exists only to earn money, it is spam in the eyes of google. If you can help users with your content and make money, it is not questionable by google. To do so, you will have to add unique and remarkable content that is accessible to users as well as it should be helpful.
Google penalties, & Filters
Penalties: If the spam team finds out a problem with your website, it can take manual action against your website. It is a punishment imposed by google on the site in case of breach of practices. These are cash penalties and can be quite costly. The human reviewer takes manual action on websites if your pages are not as per the guidelines set by Google. Manual penalties are severe, and they cannot just demote your site but also remove them from google search results. You get the notification of manual actions through email. These penalties are usually imposed if you try to manipulate the search index.
Filters: Filters are the main algorithm that affects the rankings of your website. Unlike manual penalties, filters run automatically on all the pages, and they hold down the sites. Panda and Penguin are the filters that are majorly known by the web world to lower the rankings, but there are other filters as well. These filters act like an anchor, for example, If according to the Panda algorithm, your website is low quality, then Panda can act like an anchor that will hold your site and won’t let it grow. It will become difficult for you to rank well if a panda is keeping your website. Filters like panda and penguin put flags on the websites if they find any issues, and this causes the site to rank low. In the past, these filters used to run occasionally, but now they are supported by algorithms, and they run continuously on websites.
Now you know what SEO is all about and how it can affect your website. Therefore, if you want your website to rank on page on of the google search index and avoid google penalties, you must follow white hat SEO techniques.