We are going to dive into the never ending world of Search Engine Optimization. In this guide we will try to over everything that is relevant and important in SEO.
What is SEO?
According to Moz – “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
I think the definition of SEO does a great deal of misleading us in regards to the importance of SEO.
Because if I’m looking at marketing from a high level, I might think that SEO is just like the other channels such as social media, email, advertising, referrals and more. However that is not the case with search engine optimization.
Why SEO is so important?
Google is the biggest and best traffic source in the world. Still. After the boom of social media, people trust Google more than they trust Facebook or Twitter. Much more
And all that is BEFORE it was published that Facebook used illegally users data.
But Facebook is not the focus here.
The point is to reflect the importance of SEO as a traffic source to any business. Fact is that organic search is the biggest and most rewarding traffic channel of them all.
The biggest challenge of SEO – Time & cost
I hear many service providers and professionals saying, we shouldn’t invest in SEO, because it take months upon months of hard work until you get actual results.
And they are all right.
You can work hard for months, and still see NO results at all. No business like to invest money, talent and hard work on a channel that brings no revenues.
The problem is, in most cases, search engine traffic is not a luxury it’s a necessity.
Competition is hard in all verticals, everybody’s trying to stand out. There’s way too much content than potential customers can actually consume.
Today, if you really want to compete online you must apply at least some SEO practices.
You have to.
As we said earlier SEO is a practice that focus on improving performance and visibility on search engines.
How do we improve performance with SEO?
First, we must understand what search engines are looking for and work accordingly.
Preliminary rule – NO BLACK HAT
Not so long ago, SEO was divided in two categories – White hat and Black hat, when the black hat practices were more associated with webmasters trying to trick the search algorithm to overvalue their search property.
For years, black hat practices helped brands manipulate search engines and obtain good results fast.
Those days are over…
Black hat seo started by understanding what search engine algorithms are looking for and how to show them just that.
I’m not saying there’s no Black hat practices any more. But with time search engines evolved, and are so much better today in identifying more and more blackhat activities.
Search engine are way too smart and are getting better all the time.
You can get results with Black hat practices for sure. But once you will get caught, and it’s only a manner of time until you will the results will be devastating in terms of search visibility. You don’t want to be there, so if you ask me don’t go there.
Black Hat is dead guys.
What does that means in terms of SEO?
It means that now to do SEO you need to do it for real.
You can’t fake it anymore. It’s all about doing it for real. Real content, authenticity and quality this is what you need.
There’s no shortcut that will take your website to the first position in a competitive market with no serious work.
So everybody that does SEO must understand that it actually required doing all that hussle, and there’s no point trying to shortcut your way with SEO.
Now that we understand that, we need to realise what we should do so search engines will rank our website as high as possible.
So what does search engines consider as a ranking factor?
Search engines mission is to provide the most relevant result first to every search query.
Many articles show it in a list, or a checklist layout. In my eyes we should look at it from above, trying to understand the search engine’s interest will help us understand the ranking factors and prioritize between them.
What search engine want to see in a website to rank him high?
1) Relevancy – the fit between the query and the content in the respective website.
Think about it, every result has to be relevant to the search query right?
So search engines review the title of each page, keywords, meta description and content of the website. Its mission is to find the best answer to every query.
In addition search engine review alt tags and H tags for that purpose.
Additionally every backlink is being considered as well to reflect on the content of the page its linking to. Its mostly being judged by the backlink authority and the anchor text.
So those metrics – Keywords, titles, meta description, click through rates and website content quality helps search engines identify if a specific website’s content is relevant for a certain query.
2) User experience – here the search engine tries to ensure a standard of experience for every result. For example most first page results are mobile optimized, with fast loading time https://neilpatel.com/blog/does-speed-impact-rankings/
By user experience the search engines are trying to avoid a situation where the first results are not answering the need presented in the query.
Since the average visitor will wait no longer than 7 seconds for the website to load, slow websites underperform. Respectively, Google now are using page speed in ranking mobile search results.
Not only that, mobile responsiveness and friendliness play a big role in today’s search rankings. With Google’s focus on mobile first, and with the latest updates, it seems like mobile first is not just a trend. It’s a mission, where search engines try to make sure websites that rank high are mobile optimized. You can check your website mobile friendlyness here – https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
3) Trustworthiness – judged by the uniqueness of the content, backlinking, domain authority and more.
Here is basically where the real ranking comes into the picture. Search engines are trying to evaluate websites and learn if we can trust the content in them. There’s several key metrics in that regard:
Domain authority – metric that try to reflect how much we can trust a certain page or domain. This metric is another signal for search engines they can trust the content of the mentioned website and rank it accordingly.
Backlinks – there’s many aspects to that. In general backlinks are proofs of your content relevancy since other websites link to your content. The value of each link is being measured by age, domain authority, root domain and trustworthiness of the linking website. But search engines are very careful. You can’t have all your links from too high domain authority websites.
There’s a lot of aspects in that, such as anchor text and how they fit in together. Anchor texts (that defines the backlinks) are an evidence (a strong one) to the content on the relevant page. If someone links to a page and add a text to describe the link, most likely it will reflect the link content.
Social signals – great sign for a website’s uniqueness and trustworthiness is social signals that reflect the amount of traction and engagement a certain website generates through its respective social profiles. It is not a direct ranking factor, however social signals does help overall SEO performance and content distribution
Cause it looks unreal. It doesn’t look authentic so search engines expect to see a mixture of links and not exclusively high domain authority backlinks.
Here you want to be careful in not having all your anchors using the same exact anchor. Why? Cause again, it looks unnatural and search engines are looking for behaviours that seems unnatural.
4) Value – Judged by time on site, bounce rate and conversion rates are great signals to learn if a certain website provide actual value to its visitors.
We judge the value of a page by the following metrics:
Bounce rate – at what rate people are leaving your site without clicking on anything when visiting your website.
Conversion rate – when people buy your products and services, it means to search engines that you provided relevant value to a searcher query. And that’s everything that matters.
Time on site – how long visitors stay on your website.
There’s more factors here,like – returning visitors vs new visitors.
When people are coming back over and over again to your website, and spend long time on your website it basically signals to search engines that the website provide value and is relevant to the visitors.
And that’s what search engines are all about.
It doesn’t end here. In every aspect Technical SEO comes in and remind us one important rule that still governs SEO practices.
You must help the search engines find out easily and clearly what your content is about and what your pages are all about.
You need to make sure data as visible and accessible to search engines.
There’s many layers to that:
It starts with robots.txt – Robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl pages on their website. https://neilpatel.com/blog/robots-txt/
“A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
c) Structures data
”way for publishers to highlight content on their web pages to help search engines know exactly what certain words relate to, such as product review scores or addresses.”
We can dive into more details here, but I highly recommend instead reviewing these items to better understand structured data for real – on what is structured data – https://moz.com/blog/structured-data-for-seo-1
There’s hundreds of parameters being considered by search engines algorithm for determining how to rank every page for a certain query. The practice of SEO is evolving all the time trying to play according to those parameters and ranking factors wisely.
Its clear to see how much effort is involved with trying to optimize your website according to SEO best practices, and how time consuming and costly it may be.
However, regardless of the challenge and initial costs the end result of getting to the top ranking positions is worth it. Big time. No other traffic source has that upside that Google and search traffic has.
So keep on optimizing your time is coming 🙂