SEO

What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Guide 2020 (New)

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What is SEO? Definitive Guide for Beginners

Wondering what is SEO? Or looking for a beginner-friendly  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guide?

Broadly,  SEO is a marketing strategy that helps your website get more traffic by ranking higher in the search engine result pages. In other words, it’s the process of making your web pages appear higher on result pages of search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, etc. 

Search Engines like google and yahoo
– Search Engines like Google and Yahoo

Why rank better on search results? Well, that’s important because ranking better means more site visitors and more revenue for you. 

You see it’s VERY important! Then, how to do SEO for your website? That’s what we’ll teach you here. 

In this article, we’ll explain what  SEO means, how search engines process users’ searches, how SEO works, and how to properly do SEO for your site. That means everything you need to know about your site’s SEO!

Let’s get started.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? – Definition

Simply put, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a measure to make your website discoverable with search engines like Google. It involves using various techniques to rank your website to the top of Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

In other words, SEO is the process of refining your website for what it’s called ‘Organic Results’. The organic result is what search engines display for free and based only on the relevance of the target keyword.

For example, if you search the keyword ‘best website builder’ on Google, you’ll get a result page like this. 

Best Website Builder Google Result
– Best Website Builder Google Result

Here, the first result is an advertisement, i.e. a paid result. Whereas the results below are organic results which are shown by Google for free. 

In conclusion, SEO means improving your webpages in the way that they can appear on the top of search engines’ free results like above. 

Now, you might think why ranking your website on top is important. 

Simply put, if your site appears at the top of Google’s (or any search engine’s) result page for any search query, then it’s most likely that most users will visit your website. When your website traffic grows, your site revenue will grow naturally. 

According to recent studies conducted by Backlinko, the top 3 organic Google search results get about 75% clicks. From that, the #1 search result takes over 31% clicks. And, the number goes on decreasing on moving down on the result list.

Furthermore, only about 1% of searchers are found to go to the next result page. Instead, they tend to adjust their keyword if they don’t find any relevant results.

From the study, the users seem likely to visit links that appear on top of the search results. And they seem to escape the results in the latter result pages. That’s why ranking on the top is important to increase the flow of organic visitors in your website.

Not to mention, search engines are the biggest and best sources of traffic to any website. According to Alexa, Google is the #1 top site that gets most of the internet traffic. The idea is simple, optimize your content for Google’s organic results, then the users will come flocking to your site as well. 

Alexa Top 500 Sites Ranks
– Alexa Top 500 Sites Ranks

In the nutshell, SEO is a very effective marketing strategy to drive more internet traffic to your site. It’s also a crucial factor for making a successful website which earns money. 

How do Search Engines Work?

As you might already know, a search engine is an online software or tool to search for information on the web. Basically, it takes a search query from a user and returns a list of the most relevant results in response.

Some popular examples of search engines are Google, Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and so on. Among them, Google is preferred by most and leads the market with over 90% users. The second most preferred search engine, Bing has below 3% users.

Most of the search engines basically have the same way of working. It starts with a search query entered on the search engine. Then, it looks for the web pages related to the keyword in its index (database). The web pages are previously stored in its database by scanning the available websites.

The search engine, then, arranges the result with the help of its own algorithms. Then, it displays them on the SERP in the arranged order.

To describe the process in detail, the basic tasks of a search engine can be divided into 3 parts. They are:

1.      Crawling: Visiting every URL and scanning all the web pages it finds.

2.      Indexing: Copying all the web pages content to store them in its index.

3.      Ranking: Sorting the result of a search in order by quality and relevancy.

1. Crawling

Search Engine Crawling
– Search Engine Crawling

Crawling is the exploring activity of search engines. Google consists of active crawling components often called ‘crawlers’, ‘bots’, or ‘spiders’. They constantly crawl billions of web pages, hyperlinks, and pages URLs.

Also, they scan and extract every single link, folder, route, words, and description that they find on web pages. If the bots encounter new hyperlinks during the scan, then they visit them too. (The hyperlink that links a web page to another webpage of the different website is known as a backlink.)

The bots crawl and scan every accessible hyperlink they find on the way.

How do Search Engines Find Your New Website?

We’ve mentioned that the bots crawl on the previously known hyperlinks and the links found on web pages. So, you might think about how it would crawl on newly made websites with possibly no backlinks.

To help it, Google offers a service called Google Search Console. It is a simple tool with which you can request Google to crawl on your web site. Basically it gives Google a sitemap that contains information about your website pages, last updated time, and other details.

Google Search Console also allows you to check indexing status and optimize the discovery of your websites.

2. Indexing

Search Engine Indexing
– Search Engine Indexing

After crawling, the scanned web pages are organized and stored in Google’s huge database after treating it with some operations. Some of the operations include:

  • Eliminating stop words like a, and, the, etc.
  • Noting most repeated words
  • Noting backlinks
  • Recording freshness and other web page details

Google’s huge database is known as an index and the process of storing web pages in it is called indexing. Importantly, your website has to be indexed by a search engine in order to be displayed during a search.

3. Ranking

Search Engine Ranking
– Search Engine Ranking

After indexing, the stored data is used to create results from previously indexed web pages for users’ searches.

When a search is carried, the search engine directs to its index. There, it looks for the most relevant web pages for the entered keyword. With the help of some algorithms (rules), it arranges the appearing orders of the result. After that, it displays the results in the SERP in the arranged order.

The process of sorting the result based on the algorithm is known as ranking.

The search engine algorithm is a complex formula that determines the results and ways to sort those results in an order. It is the combination of various ranking factors like high quality content, backlinks, accessibility, responsiveness, speed, and so on.

However, the ranking factors are kept secret and constantly updated by search engines.

Every search engine has its own algorithm and ranking factors that are different from one another. Due to the difference, search engines might not give the same result for the same keyword you enter. However, every search engine tries to give you the most useful and relevant results. 

Why Search Engines Sometimes Display Faulty or No Results?

But, sometimes you may get a faulty result or something else than what you are searching for. It may sometimes be due to the unavailability of information on the search engine indexes. Or, lack of clarity in your search keywords may also be another cause. 

In such a case, you should consider adjusting your search keywords.

How SEO Works?

How SEO Works
– How SEO Works

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. The name itself is actually self-evident of how SEO works. 

SEO works if you optimize your website the way search engines like it. In other words, it works if you can show the search engines that your content is the best result for the keywords in question.  

As stated above, every search engine tries to display the best and most relevant content to the users’ queries. This means if you improve your website content the way search engines consider the best, you’ll win the SEO game.   

Now, you might ask how do you know what search engines like? Here’s the answer – search engine algorithms and ranking factors tell you that. 

Now, the rank of a site in the result page is determined by page ranking factors. 

Every search engine has its own algorithm to determine the rankings of web pages in SERPs. The algorithm refers to a complex system that search engines use to sort and fetch content from their index to the result pages in a ranked order. It is a formula combining several ranking factors. 

For example, Google’s Algorithm is said to have more than 200 ranking factors. Although the official list of the ranking factors isn’t made public, search engines openly announce which types of sites they like. 

Some of the most important factors that influence sites’ ranking are:

  • Quality of content
  • Proper use of headings, title tags, and description
  • Site speed
  • Backlinks 
  • Keywords use and so on.

As website owners, you should always work on the ranking factors and if necessary, manipulate your website to meet those criteria. 

If your website appears on the first page of results, then you might have done SEO correctly. But, if it’s lagging behind, then you should improve your SEO measures.

For that, you may need to create quality content with appropriate use of keywords in blog posts. Also, you can work on other things like link building, site speed, internal links, etc.

Now, let’s see an example of search query ‘download games for PC’ on Google.

Google Search Result Page
– Google Search Result Page

We can see that Google comes up with 3.16 billion results related to the search. But among them all, these particular sites made it to the top. It’s because they have optimized their site for Google rankings with good SEO measures. 

How Long Does It Take for SEO to Work? 

You should remember that taking SEO measures doesn’t optimize your site suddenly. But, it takes some time to establish and compete with others to rank well. Sometimes, it may take months or even years to come to a good rank.

And, a well-ranked content sometimes moves down the list from SERPs. It happens basically due to 2 reasons:

  • Better optimized content exceeds your content
  • Change in search engine algorithms

So, you should take good SEO strategies continuously. It’s important also for your previously ranking pages.

With good SEO strategies, you can optimize our site to rank for a longer period of time, sometimes for months and even years.

The SEO strategies can basically be divided into 3 types. They are:

1.   On-Page SEO – Factors you can manipulate and control on your web page

2.   Technical SEO – Technical aspects that improve the ranking

3.   Off-Page SEO – Factors that are beyond your website

All of them are explained below.

On-Page SEO Basics

On Page SEO Basics
– On Page SEO Basics

On-page SEO is the practice of managing your web page to optimize it for search engines. It focuses on creating quality content and enhancing user experience.

On-page SEO factors include elements that are under your control as a website owner. Basically, every SEO measure that you can implement on your own website comes under On-page SEO.

Google’s ranking factors and algorithms have been evolving and changed a lot over the years. It has become much smarter now for searching and ranking the results. This checks tons of on-page elements as the page ranking factors now.

So, you should take care of many conventional as well as new additional factors on your page.

According to a Google report, your web page is relevant if it contains the keywords that are the same as search queries. Also, using the target keyword in the title or text body makes it more relevant. Besides, high quality content and usefulness go side by side with the use of keywords..

Similarly, you should consider page speed, freshness, internal links, external links, URL structure, optimized image, keyword frequency, location, etc. These on-page factors also have a small but significant effect on your pages’ ranking.

Now, here are some of the most effective on-page SEO practices you can apply to optimize your website.

1. Creating Quality Content

Firstly, your website content should be readable and provide the content that readers are searching for. In other words, your webpage should fulfill the users’ intent for that particular search.

Besides, you should write your content in your own words. Your original content firstly stands out in the crowd among your competitors. Secondly, make it free from ‘Plagiarism’.

Plagiarism, which means copying other peoples’ ideas and work, can harm your page SEO. Google’s algorithm is designed to detect duplicate content and negatively rank the plagiarized web pages.

Next, having useful and engaging content on your web page attracts visitors. Obviously, they tend to stay on your site more if you have something useful and interesting on your blog posts. For that, you can write catchy intros, clear headings, use beautiful infographics, pictures, videos, and GIFs.

2. Using Keywords Appropriately

As mentioned earlier, keywords are very important factors for relevancy. For ranking, you should include the target keyword in the titles, meta descriptions, body, and subheadings. Target keyword means a search term or query for which you want your content to rank on search results. 

Normally, people advise using the keywords frequently so that Google would think it’s important and try to rank it higher. 

But, be careful. You might not want to overdo it. Because stuffing the keywords more densely in your article degrades your page rank.

Alternatively, you can fill your article with other closely related words known as LSI keywords. The LSI keywords do a job of telling Google what your article is related to. With them, Google will better understand what your page is about and decide whether to display on the result pages.

For example, your content is about Apple.

Now, let’s say it contains words like Apple phone, iPhone, Apple Watch, etc. With this, Google will understand that the article is about the giant company but not the fruit.

That’s why including LSI keywords is important.

For finding LSI keywords, there are various keyword research methods.

Simply, you can go to Google and type in your target keyword. Then, it comes with a list of results (it’s not what we’re looking for now).

Below, it shows a ‘searches related to your keyword’ section. It is a section with a list of related keywords that people searched previously. You can use those keywords as LSI keywords in your content.

Also, you can use various keyword planner tools available on the web. To name some, Ubersuggest, LSIGraph, SEMrush, etc are good LSI keywords finder tools. 

3. User Interface Design

A good user interface is likely to enhance the users’ experience. They are likely to stay longer on appealing sites with good looks, feels, and easy navigation. Not only that, but users may also keep coming back in the future.

If your site is difficult to navigate or visually unpleasant, then visitors may leave your pages soon. This reduces the visitors’ time spent on your site. This leads visitors to escape your site quickly without interaction causing a phenomenon called a bounce.

With a higher bounce rate, Google understands that your site lacks quality. So, it negatively affects your site ranking.

4. Optimizing URL

Most of the blogging platforms let you edit the URLs of pages and blog posts. The URLs are also called as permanent links or permalinks. But, you should be careful while editing the permalinks. It’s because you should not edit it once published.

While writing custom URLs, always remember you have to make it clear and understandable to the readers. Thus, you have to keep it short and clear. Also, remember to include the main keyword in the URL or permalink.

Also, optimizing the title tags and Meta tags is good for SEO ranking.

The title tags and meta tags should necessarily include the focus keyword. It makes users clear about the webpage content and also tells Google what the content is about.

5. Using Internal and External Links

Linking pages to your content let users visit other pages. It is a way of promoting other web content.

Internal links are the links from one page to other pages within the same website. The pages with less engagement and visitors reach can be linked to other well-ranked web pages. This way, it is discovered by visitors. Also, Google gets to crawl the linked content better.

Likewise, external linking is the linking of pages from a webpage to another page of a different website. You can link other external web pages to your site if you think that’s useful and necessary for your users.

By adding external links, your visitors get to access quality content that other websites provide. Also, you’ll get a good connection with the other domains.

6. Optimizing Images

The optimization of images is also important for SEO rankings. First, you should use images of small sizes. This makes your webpage load faster and increases page speed.

Besides, you should use a matching descriptive name for the image. Also, consider giving a proper alt tag for images. (Alt tag is the text that appears in place of images when the images don’t load.  It happens if the image is deleted, lost, or corrupted, slow internet speed, etc.)

Both good names and alt tags make search engines clear what the image is about. Thus, it shows the relevance of the images and therefore, helps to rank higher.

Technical SEO Basics

Technical SEO Basics
– Improving Technical Aspects of Website for SEO

Technical SEO is enhancing your site’s technical prospects to improve its organic ranking. It aims at improving the internal structure and codes of your website.

In other words, technical SEO is fulfilling the search engines’ technical requirements for crawling and indexing your web pages.

Mainly, the use of good site structure and valid codes makes crawling easier for search engines. And thus, your site can be eligible to rank on the result pages. 

Besides, other factors like domain structure, page speed, URL structure, security, responsiveness, etc. are other important technical SEO ranking factors.

As you can see, some on-page SEO factors are included in the technical factors. And, you might think if they are similar.

Here’s the fact.

Technical SEO is actually a part of on-page SEO itself. While the on-page SEO includes all the manageable entities of your website, technical SEO manages only its technical aspects. That’s why some SEO factors fall under both on-page and technical factors.

Now, it’s true that Google always seeks for and ranks good quality content. But, finding any content is impossible if your website isn’t technically sound enough for search engines to index and crawl into it. And the worst part, your quality content remains undiscovered.

So, you should focus on improving your site’s technical aspects to rank well. 

We have discussed some of the technical SEO factors below.

1. Page Speed

Web page speed is a crucial factor that search engines, as well as visitors, like about your website. It is a good indicator of your sites’ quality.

According to research, if a web page on Google SERP takes over 3 seconds, then 53% of visitors are likely to click immediately. This applies to users with desktop, laptop, and other devices too. It’s a fact that if your website takes more time to load, then you are losing your visitors.

On the other hand, Google keeps track of the so-called ‘Pogo Sticking’. It is the process of users clicking web pages back immediately within seconds.

And, search engines hate if such events occur more often. In such a case, Google understands that your site isn’t providing a good user experience. And then, it drops down your ranking.

So, you need to reduce your web sites load speed time.

There are various things that can determine your web page speed. For example, a powerful browser can make a site load faster. Or, the strength of your internet connection may play a role. 

However, here’re a few of the things that you can do.

  • Purchase a good hosting service for optimum site speed.
  • Use lightweight codes for styles and scripts on your site.
  • Use optimized images and other media files.

There are various tools available to test your sites’ speed. You can use the PageSpeed Insights tool made available by Google.

2. Mobile Friendliness

Having a mobile-friendly website is not optional anymore. People are fond of using smartphones for surfing the internet. In fact, stats show that more people browse the internet from mobile devices than on desktops and laptops.

With the popularity of mobile phones, Google has set web pages’ responsiveness as an important ranking factor. So, your website goes a long way on ranking if it’s responsive.

Also, your visitors will be happy if they can access and navigate your site easily through mobile devices.

3. Use of Sitemap

A sitemap is the outline of your websites’ structure. It assists in finding all the web pages on your website.

You use a sitemap to provide Google the list of all the web pages on your site. Doing so, you can make sure that Google doesn’t miss crawling any page of your website. Thus, sitemaps help to index your pages so that it appears on the SERPs.

To keep track of your sitemaps, you can use webmaster tools like Google Search Console. It gives information about your sitemap along with crawling and indexing reports. It also lets you know if any crawling issues occur.

4. Website Security

Security and Privacy are crucial technical factors to optimize your site. A secure website firstly gains the trust of your users as well as protects your data from external attacks on the web.

People generally tend to quit unsecured web pages immediately. Thus, your websites will automatically be losing traffic with an insecure website.

Google realized the importance of secured websites for users. So, it made security one of their most important ranking factors.

So, every website nowadays should have an SSL certificate to rank well. It is a certificate that provides a secure data transmission between the website and your browser.

Spotting a secured website is no big deal. Nowadays, web browsers have made it easier for users.

Simply, you can simply look at the browsers.

An SSL enabled website starts with https:// in its URL. Also, you may see a padlock icon before the site URL. See the image below for an example.

SSL Enabled Secure Site Example SiteSaga
– SSL Enabled Secure Site Example SiteSaga

Whereas websites lacking SSL certificates start with http://. And, most of the web browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, etc. display ‘not secure’ messages for unsecured websites.

Not Secure Website Example
– Not Secure Website Example

5. Technical Page Errors

Technical errors on your site will impact your ranking. Errors like dead links, redirects, duplicate content, etc. will make your site dull. 

Those site errors are harmful to the SEO point of view as well. Also, it creates difficulty for Google and other search engines to properly crawl your web pages.

Also, you don’t want your visitors to click on your webpage link and land on a blank page. Obviously, it will be frustrating.

The above mentioned is an example of a broken link (dead link). This usually happens when a web page is deleted or moved.

So, you should check for the dead links on your web page. You can use various broken link checking tools available on the web.

Sometimes, your users can come across ‘page not found’ or ‘404 error’ errors. It is basically a server difficulty to display a requested page.

Again, it will be annoying for users to come across 404 errors.

There are various methods to solve these problems. Basically, you can redirect the error page to another page. Doing so, your users don’t have to come across the error page.

Off-Page SEO Basics

Off-Page SEO Basics
– Off-Page SEO Basics

In simple terms, off-page SEO refers to all the efforts you make outside your own site (or page) for improving its rank on search engine result pages (SERPS). 

As the phrase itself reveals, it’s the ‘search engine optimization done off the page’. Or the ‘search engine optimization done off the site’, as it’s also commonly called ‘off-site SEO’. 

So, off-page SEO includes every activity you’ll do off your site to enhance its search engine rankings. This means that it’s actually a process of boosting your site’s search engine rankings by using others’ websites or platforms.

A backlink is simply a link to your site from another website. 

In other words, if a website links to your site or page, then you get a backlink from them. Similarly, if you link to another website from a page on your site, then they get a backlink from you. 

Basically, backlinks are links coming to your site so they’re also called “incoming links” or “inbound links”. 

Backlinks are one of the most critical ranking factors. Google has officially declared that backlinks are very important for ranking. Now, you might ask why they’re important? 

That’s because backlinks signify that the website is trustworthy and valuable. The logic is that if other websites are pointing to your content, then it means your page has really useful content. Search engines then count those backlinks as votes for your website.

So, the web pages with most backlinks are likely to rank higher on Google. 

Next to link building, some of the other off-site SEO measures are social media promotions, marketing, creating brands, and other strategies.

We’ll explain them briefly below. 

1. Gaining Quality Backlinks

As mentioned above, backlinks are the most important SEO ranking factors.

There are various ways you can get backlinks. First, it’s the natural way – people link to your content if they find your content really useful to their audience. That’s possible only when you’ve quality content. 

This means that creating good content (on-page SEO strategy) goes side by side with link building (off-page SEO). 

Other ways to get backlinks are guest posting (writing articles on other websites with some links to your site), submitting your website to web directories, etc. 

Some web owners even pay and ask other sites to link their articles. These types of methods come under black-hat SEO which do not always do good to your site. But instead, it can harm its ranking. We’ll discuss that below.

In the nutshell, you should focus on writing quality content for gaining natural backlinks. Doing so, you can build quality backlinks. 

If you want to check your site’s backlinks, you can use the Ahrefs’s free backlink checker tool.

Do All Backlinks Have Equal Value? 

Of course, you may get backlinks from various websites.

But, do all the backlinks hold equal importance?

The answer is no!

The authority of the site plays an important role. It means that links from websites with more authority have a higher impact on your ranking.

For example, you own a website about movies and series review. Then, getting backlinks from IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes is more important than a new movie blog. It’s because IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes are the most renowned websites about movies rating, reviews, and critics.

So, you should target getting backlinks from authoritative websites in order to rank higher.

Similarly, the relevance between your site and the sites linking back to you is equally important for ranking. The backlinks from a related website count more than from an irrelevant website.

For example, you own a website about food recipes. Then backlinks from restaurant websites will be more relevant than let’s say a tech blog.

Google’s algorithm looks for relevancy between your site and the site linking you. It examines the anchor texts and other web page content for relevancy. And then, it prioritizes the backlinks obtained for more relevant websites.

Anchor text is the portion of text in which you attach web page URLs. Attaching URLs makes the anchor texts into clickable links that direct you to other web pages.

2. Creating Good Content That People Want to Share

Good content is loved by people, search engines, and other site owners. Fun and interesting content are always ahead of dull, boring content in SERPs too. So, creating the best content is an important on-page as well as an off-page SEO strategy.

A good content triggers readers’ intuition to share your content. Also, an article is likely to be featured on other web sites or articles if it’s useful. Having so, the backlinks of your website increase, and then it leads to your site having rank higher.

To make the articles more appealing you should include the following things in your content.

  • Photos and Videos
  • Diagrams
  • Infographics

Also, a good article is informative. It should provide readers relevant information on the topic your content is about. It’s even better if you can provide facts and data to support the information you’re providing.

3. Marketing Your Website and Content

Marketing your website doesn’t directly affect your ranking. But, it makes your site reach more audiences on different platforms. There are various ways you can promote your website.

Here, we’ll talk briefly about some of the popular online marketing strategies useful to SEO. 

  • Content Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Email Marketing

First, it’s content marketing. Content marketing is a strategy for creating and promoting content. It is an effective technique used by many to gain visitors and rank higher on search engines.

Some of the steps of content marketing are listed below:

  • Select Appropriate Niche – Pick the type of article that you are going to write.
  • Research Target Audience – Research your future audience on the basis of age, location, background, or other characteristics.
  • Know Your Competitors – Look into what your competitors are doing. You may want to point out their best implementations and weaknesses.
  • Create Qualitative Content – Write good, readable content based on the research. You should try making it useful, interesting, and fun.
  • Promote your Content – You can promote your content by emails, social media, or word to mouth measures.

As you market your content, more people would see your content, interact with it, and share with their friends and followers if they like. So, writing good content isn’t enough, you should do marketing to show people that you’ve created really valuable content. 

Second, social media marketing, quite related to content marketing. Social media has been a sensation among users for promoting websites and content. By promoting your content on social media, it reaches more people with the probability of more views.

Besides, social sharing buttons on blog posts and articles have become mandatory. This enables the readers to share your content on different various media like Facebook, Twitter, etc. 

Although adding share buttons seems like a pure on-page strategy, it also works as an off-page factor. Once your content appears on the social platforms, it may lead more new people back to your site. Just like a backlink!

Another popular way is email marketing; promoting your content through emails. A good number of visitors can be achieved through mail as well. It has been an effective way to gain visitors for decades. And still, it is popular these days.

Usually, webmasters send emails to their subscribers notifying about useful articles, latest products, and services. This process is also known as email marketing.

Besides, you can request your clients, or related websites to link your page to theirs. Or, you can engage in various online forums and blogs. There, you can advertise your articles by posting and commenting.

These strategies may not have a direct impact on your rankings, but they’re really important for sustainable SEO. 

More SEO Fundamentals

Besides website SEO in general, there are more types of search engine optimization aimed at different purposes and platforms. For example, Google’s video search platform YouTube also works quite similarly. And it also has certain optimization measures. 

We’ll talk about some of the other important SEO fundamentals below.

1. Local SEO

Broadly, local SEO is the process of optimizing your website for searches targeted for a certain area or physical location. Online marketers take it as a marketing strategy to provide products and services to local customers.

Local SEO is adopted by small businesses to gain traffic and growing brand recognition. In other words, it serves a way of increasing the exposure of your online presence on a local level. It implies that local SEO targets to reach people near your business location.

An example of a local search result:

Google Local Search Result
– Google Local Search Result

Local searches usually include similar searches for products and services like fast food, restaurants, café, hospitals, schools, transport services, etc. in a definite area.

Stats show that 46% of Google searches are local searches. It means that nearly half of the searches people initiate are for finding nearby goods and services.

So, optimizing your site for local search is important if you want to be discovered in the SERPs. This way, you can drive more traffic. And eventually, your business conversion rate will increase with more sales.

Local SERP

You might have noticed that Google’s local SERPs are a little different than a normal one.

Let’s see an example.

Google Local SERP Result
– Google Local SERP Result

As you can see, the local search engine result page (SERP) consists of an extra section called local finder/local pack. It includes a Google map pointing out the available options for the search. Also, it shows a list of all the relevant places that are in the desired area.

So, you might want your website to pop up in the local finder section of the local SERP. For that, Google provides a tool called Google My Business (GMB).

It is a free tool that lets you create a business profile and provides a user dashboard. Using that, you can add information like services detail, contact info, Google Map location, average ratings, reviews, website URL, etc.

Then, Google displays your profile on the local finder section whenever searches relating to your service and location takes place. 

But the ranking of your website or services depends not only on the search query. It depends on other factors too.

How to Optimize Your Website for Local Search?

Optimizing your site for local search is similar to other normal SEO measures. However, it includes other few more strategies for achieving optimum rank. They are:

  • Updating Citation: Citation is your business information like name, address, and phone number (NAP) that you put online. Make sure that you enter those same details every place like on the website, GMB profile, business directories, etc.
  • Add your website location: You should add the location of your service on the Google map. It helps the users to discover the physical location of your business. Also, Google Maps can provide a direction to reach you if you have a presence on Google Maps.
  • Good ratings and reviews: Your profile is ranked higher if you have good ratings and reviews. The ratings and reviews are given by your customers on the basis of the quality of services they get. So, aim to give the best services to your customers.
  • Local Content: You should create content targeting to attract the local audience. You can create an informative blog about your business. It helps readers to have a better idea about your services.
  • Word of Mouth: It means personally requesting your friends and colleagues to spread good words about your business.

2. Video SEO

Video SEO
– Video SEO

Simply, video SEO means optimizing your video to rank higher in search engines for a certain target keyword. Video SEO aims to achieve video views by ranking on regular search engines as well as Google’s video publishing and searching platform YouTube specifically. 

Google can rank videos from video sharing platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, etc. Among them, YouTube is the most popular platform used by most people. So, optimizing your YouTube videos on Google is most beneficial.

Nowadays, videos have become a great way of marketing. So, it is used by many online marketers to promote their business, products, and services.

As a matter of fact, video SEO is not directly useful for leading traffic to your site. However, video ranking and views come handy when it comes to brand awareness and recognition. Thus, video SEO is an important aspect of your website growth.

Nowadays, most web owners use some kind of embedded videos on their website front page, blog posts, and other pages. 

You can also upload a self-hosted video on your website. But, it slows down your site speed. So, we recommend not to use self-hosted videos unless necessary.

Anyway, the reasons for embedding videos on your website are:

  • User Engagement: A video is likely to engage visitors longer than just plain text on your website.
  • Website Experience: Videos on your website enhance the users’ experience on your site.
  • Preference: Some people prefer watching videos over reading articles. So, it’s convenient for them.

How to Rank Videos on Google?

As you might have seen, Google has a separate Videos section. The section has all the relevant videos for users’ search queries.

Rank Videos in Google
– Rank Videos in Google

The video SEO aims to rank videos from other platforms in the Videos section of Google.

Now that you know the importance of optimizing videos, you might want to rank your videos on Google. Some of the measures to rank your videos are as follows:

  • Choose a Video Platform: You should choose a video platform suitable for your video. Most preferably, YouTube is used by the majority of people. Also, it’s a fact that Google owns YouTube. So, their algorithms have some similarities in optimizing videos. Thus, YouTube could be used as the best platform for ranking videos on Google.
  • Write the Best Title: Fundamentally, You should write a relevant title that describes the video’s purpose. Also, try including the keywords as much as possible without altering its meaning.
  • Write Description: The description of the video must contain a focus keyword along with other LSI keywords. Plus, try to make it engaging, interesting, and understandable.
  • Use Tags: Tags show the relevancy of your video with the search keyword. So, including the related keywords in the tags section (especially on YouTube) is the best idea.
  • Transcribe the Video: You should prepare a transcription of your video and use it as the video caption. It makes the video more understandable for viewers as well as Google.
  • Use Elegant Thumbnail: Thumbnail is the display image viewers see in your video. So, make sure you use an appealing custom thumbnail.

3. White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO

White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO
– White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO

As you are clear now that the purpose of SEO is to rank higher and gain visitors. So, to achieve a good ranking, web owners practice different kinds of ranking strategies.

Some tactics aim for scoring good ranks with qualitative and useful content for users. While some websites only try to achieve good ranks careless of the quality they deliver. Some even seem to violate the search engine guidelines.

It’s not a secret that search engines’ goal is to rank the most relevant content higher. Taking advantage of it, many websites make their useless content look relevant to search engines.

Based on the strategies websites apply, we can divide SEO into 2 types: Black Hat SEO and White Hat SEO.

From the name you might guess that white hat SEO is the proper use of search engine guidelines to rank higher. Whereas black hat SEO is tricking search engines to give the website a better rank.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO primarily focuses on providing quality content to the visitors. 

To rank your site, white hat SEO encourages adopting ethical measures. Although the ranking process is slow, it is consistent and steadily improving. Thus, experts suggest using white hat SEO for long-lasting and sustainable results in your sites’ ranking.

Most of the commonly used SEO practices come under the white hat SEO. Some of them are as follows:

Creating quality content: Qualitative content is the pillar of the white hat SEO. It enhances other SEO factors like engagement, site time, interaction, etc. Also, people are always likely to read and share good content.

So, you should focus on providing useful and engaging content to the users.

Optimizing Technical Aspects: Technical factors like site speed, mobile-friendliness, security, etc. affect users’ experience on your site. Similarly, a good URL structure is useful to understand the content of the web page in SERPs.

So, you should optimize the technical factors of your site.

User Interface: A good user interface makes your site appealing to the visitors and easy to navigate. If your site has an appealing design, people are likely to stay more. This saves your site from bounces and pogo-sticking too.

Building Links: You should focus on building quality backlinks from other websites. It gets your website more exposure and visitors. Also, Google ranks your website higher if the backlinks are pointed from more authoritative and relevant websites.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO aims to rank higher in result pages without providing useful and relevant content to users. This technique tricks search engines to think vague web pages as useful.

Black hat SEO may be effective for ranking your site higher. But not for long, it only lasts for some time on a higher rank.

Also, it’s too risky to apply those tricks nowadays. With major algorithm updates, Google has become smarter day by day.

If Google finds out any unusual methods used to rank your site, then you’ll be penalized.  Either your site’s rank drops or will be blacklisted.

Some of the commonly used black hat SEO techniques to avoid are:

Keyword Stuffing: Websites are seen using keywords an excessive number of times in an article or web page to rank for that keyword. This is called keyword stuffing.

The keywords stuffed content or web page deceives Google to understand it as most relevant for that keyword. But in reality, it doesn’t provide much value to readers.

Link Spamming: People are seen to post and comment links and keywords on forums and blog posts multiple times. But this trick won’t work to mislead Google into thinking the web page is popular and rank it.

Cloaking: It is the process of tricking Google by displaying a different page than what people are seeing. It is done to hide the actual content of the page and make Google bots crawl a different page. 

For example, some websites have spammy content. They try to hide it from Google by cloaking it with a clean web page. In doing so, people will come across their spammy web page when they open the URL. While Google finds the same URL fine.

Cloaking Google of Google
– Cloaking Google of Google

Texts Hiding: It is the process of making texts, generally keywords invisible to the readers’ eyes. Generally, it is done by changing text color matching its background. This way, the article seems readable to the users. Also, it’s supposedly done to rank for the hidden keywords.

Article Scraping: Sometimes, people use bots to collect and assemble content from different sites. Then, they rephrase the words and make it look a little unique. This technique may have worked in the past. But, with advanced Google algorithms, it’s impossible to rank such articles.

Artificial Link Building: Any unnatural process of building backlinks comes under artificial link building. It includes buying and selling links (exchanging money with links), mutually exchanging links, exchanging links with services/products, etc.

How to Do SEO for Your Website Properly?

Now that you are familiar with all the aspects of SEO, you might be thinking of applying it to rank your website. 

Don’t worry! The basics of SEO are quite simpler than you think. I.e. you don’t necessarily have a technical background or a degree in SEO.

You just have to implement some important practices for better ranking of your website. Here is an SEO checklist for you to get started! 

1. Domain Name: Select a short domain name that matches your websites’ niche. Try to make it shorter, up to 15 characters, preferably. Also, try to get a .com extension. For more information, check our article on how to find the best domain name.

2. Site Speed: Use lightweight codes, good hosting, and optimized media to make your site load faster. See our website speed optimization guide for more tips. 

3. Mobile-Friendliness: Make your website load easily on mobile phones and tablets too.

4. Security: Ensure that you include an SSL certificate on your website to make it secured. Check out our definitive website security guide for a complete idea.

5. Website Design: Make your website appealing to visitors. Use nice colors, neat animations, and make navigation easy.

5. Content Quality: Create original and readable content. Fill your content with engaging media, figures, and useful information.

6. Use Keywords: Research and use keywords appropriately. Make use of online tools to find the most ranking keywords and their related LSI keywords.

7. Optimize URL Structure: Make the URLs short and clear of what the content is about. Also, include the main keyword in URLs.

8. Give Internal and External Links: Make sure you use adequate internal and links in your blog posts.

9. Optimize Images: Use minified images in order to save up your hosting space to make your site load faster.

10. Focus on Building Backlinks: Use strategies to gain backlinks from authoritative and relevant sites.

Conclusion

We hope this guide helped you understand what is SEO, how it works, and also how to do SEO for your website. Also, we hope that you’ll be able to improve your website SEO applying the guidelines and suggestions we’ve given.

If you need any further SEO suggestions, then please leave a comment below. We’ll try to get back to you as soon as possible. You can also post your feedback and suggestions for this guide. 

You may also want to check our guide on how to make money online (31 proven ways).

And, follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more.

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SiteSaga Editorial is a team of highly experienced writers, marketers, and web developers. We're here to help beginners get online with their self-made websites or blogs and succeed.

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