[T]his is a beginner’s guide on Search Engine Optimization – SEO. We explain Everything You Need To Know About SEO and how to get your website rank on page one on Google Search Results. Please note that this article summarizes all the key points you need to know. The headings below are all links to a more detailed explanation. If you need further explanation simply click on the headings here to read the full chapter of what we have in summery.
SEO in internet language is short for “Search Engine Optimization.” SEO refers to the general practice of using organic, free and non-paid methods to provide high-quality content which results in an increase in both quality and number of your website traffic – visitors. This is achieved through organically getting your website rank higher in search engine results.
Why is it Important?
If you are new to the concept of SEO, Learning might sound extremely complicated. SEO might appear hard to you because you are not familiar with the terms used in explaining how to use SEO. To understand and carry out a successful campaign on your website, you will need to first understand the keywords used in Search Engine Optimization.
Some of the most used terms in SEO include:
Crawling: The process by which bots move the entire internet to discover content. Consider reading my Earlier Detailed article on – What Determines How Often Search Engines Crawl Your Website
Indexing: Adding to the database and organizing of content found during the crawling process.
De-indexed: Refers to a page or group of pages being removed from Google’s search database.
Black hat: Any SEO method or practices that violate Google’s optimisation terms.
Blue links: The way search engines display search results with all results appearing in the same format.
Featured snippets: Organic answer boxes that appear at the top of SERPs for certain queries.
SERP: Search Engine Results Page.
For a Full List Refer to: Understanding The Key Terms in SEO – All The Terms
How Does SEO Work?
To know how SEO works, you will need to understand how Search engines operate to server your content in search results.
Search Engines perform three main tasks to render your website in search results. These include Crawl, Index and Rank.
This is the process through which search Engine bots move the entire internet looking for content. The bots typically move from one website to another following URL links and reading the code/content on those links.
After reading the contents of each page crawled by the bots, Search Engines then add to their database the found content and organize it in a way that its perceived important to potential search queries. Indexing id, therefore, the process through which your content is made available for display in results to relevant queries.
Because the internet is full of many providers of similar content, Search Engines must then decide how to determine and show search results in a way that the most relevant content is displayed first. Search engines try to provide content that will best answer a searcher’s query. Results are ordered in an ascending manner from what the engine considers the most relevant to least relevant.
Importance of Keywords and Keyword Meta Tags in SEO
I am using two phrases. “Keywords” vs “Keyword Meta Tags.” So what is the difference between Keywords and Keyword Meta Tags?
Meta Keywords which is the equivalent of Keyword Meta Tags are a specific type of HTML meta tags code that help (or should I say used to help?) search engines determine the topic or theme of a specific page.
Keywords, on the other hand, mean words or phrases that define the topic of discussion. These are words on a webpage that anchor the theme of discussion.
While Meta Keywords are manually inserted into the code, Keywords these days are automatically generated according to the writeup in question by the search engines. Search engines these days depend more on their automatically generated keywords than reading the meta keywords from the HTML Code.
Is it Useful to add Keyword Meta Tags?
One of the frequently asked questions and I must admit its tricky, is “How important are Keywords Meta Tags and should I use them?”
Without a doubt, there was a time when the search engine ranking largely depended on Keywords to determine relevance. When Search Engine specialists realized that the meta tags were driving ranking, they resorted to keyword saturation in an attempt to unfairly gain better ranking.
Search Engines, Google, in particular, moved fast to change the algorithms and made meta tags almost obsolete.
At the moment, depending on the search engine in question, the keywords tag has little impact on where a site will appear in the search results.
I have tried to carry out a few experiments with keywords. I used completely made-up words and placed them in some pages just to see if the mages would gain an advantage. While the impact on the results page was minimal in Google (not indexed) the impact was solid impressive on yahoo! This might suggest that there is some value associated with the keyword meta tag on yahoo.
The SERPS in Yahoo seems to recognise keywords but Google and MSN do not index and display content based on the keyword tag per the SERPS.
SEO Keyword Research & Keyword Targeting
As previously stated, the right choice of keywords to use in your content will help your SEO efforts. Do not stuff your content with keywords as you will be penalized by search engines but a good density of your keyword is needed to make the topic or theme of your copy clear enough.
Before you start on your optimization efforts, you will need to research and agree on what your potential website visitors are searching for when looking for content like yours. This is a critical part of optimization on which a lot of your SEO efforts will depend.
How To Know What Your Potential Customers are searching for.
There are several ways you can know what your website visitors or customers are searching for when looking for your content or product.
(I) Common Sense.
Now, this is a very tricky one because as the old adage goes, “Common sense is not common.” To use this method, you will need to step in the shoes of your potential visitors and ask yourself, “What would I search if I wanted something/content like this?”
For example, if you got to this article from a search Engine, you most likely searched for things like:
- SEO Guide
- SEO For Beginners
- Whats SEO
- SEO Tips
- Improve SEO
After coming up with possible keywords that you might be searching I would then proceed and optimise each of them for this article so that when you search for any of them this article would appear on the google search result page one.
(II) Pitch from Competition
The other trick is to see what your competitors are optimizing for. To do this get one of the keywords above and search for it in Google search. In this case, let me use “SEO For Beginners” What am looking for is to prove that the websites that rank top on google are offering similar content to what I have on this page. If they are then I will be confident that visitors are searching for. I will particularly want to see if that keyword is included in their title and description. The findings are in the Picture below.
Now I have researched and verified that my competition are using the keyword but raking for a keyword that is not being looked for is useless. The next thing I need to do is verify that there actually many people searching for this keyword.
I will use a tool called search volume to see if I have the right keyword. After searching for my keyword I realised that it has a search volume of less than 400 searches per month. Now that is significantly too low for me so I went for another keyword “SEO” which has a search volume of 90,500 searches per month. Now that is a reasonable SEO target that will bring me loads of traffic if I can rank on the first page of Google search results.
I may repeat my search until I have five different variations of popular keywords that my customers are most likely searching for. Once I have my top list I will optimize all of them in this article to rank top in the Google search results.
(III) Use Google Autocomplete For Search Results
One other method of knowing what people are searching for when looking for you is to use the Google autocomplete results. This method will leverage on googles search suggestions.
To do this open google and start searching for your keyword. Pause after the first word and google will suggest for you phrases that many other people have been searching for. Example below:
I will then use each of the suggestions in search volume to see how popular that keyword is.
Now that we have our very competitive search keywords, the next step will be to create good articles that articulate the core of those keywords and assign them.
This is now the step called On-site optimisation.
What is On-site Optimization?
On-site optimisation (sometimes called on-page SEO) refers to the optimisation of content on a webpage with the aim that such should rank higher on search engine results like google search results. The ultimate goal of on-site SEO is to attract quality traffic from search engines to your web content on the page.
How to Implement On-site Optimization.
We will deploy several tricks and tactics to ensure that our content is optimized very well for search engines.
If you are using WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS) as I do, I recommend you install the SEO plugin Called Yoast SEO. In my opinion, Yoast is the best and most comprehensive SEO plugin. Combined with great content, Yoast will help you rank your web page in the top ten google search results. It Looks like the PrintScreen below:
Once you are done activating the Yoast SEO plugin in your WordPress Admin section we can get to the real task of optimizing our content for a top ranking on search engine search results.
The following methods and tricks will help us have a successful on-page SEO:
1) Create Good, Authentic and relevant content.
Every successful SEO campaign starts with good, authentic and relevant content. If you are optimizing your article for the keyword “SEO” make sure that the content is really satisfying to someone who comes searching for SEO. Many search engines reward you with a good rank when your content is of good quality and relevant to what it claims in its keywords. Do not optimize for the keyword phrase “SEO Types” when your content however good is about “SEO Companies“. Secondly, do not copy and paste someone else’s work and expect Google to rank you high when all you are being is a content thief.
2) Avoid Content Low-value Optimization Tactics.
These are optimization tricks that end up creating content that may give low to no value for the person searching. These may include pages that do not specifically and uniquely address a searcher’s unique query. These may include pages with thin content, Duplicated content, Content Cloaking, Keyword stuffing, automated content among many others.
For full details on Low-Value Optimisation, tactics read:…..
3) Beat The competition At the Keyword
Do a google search for the keyword you want to rank highly. You will see the pages that Google feels are very relevant. Study them identifying the strengths and weaknesses of that page.
Now come up with unique content that offers more value than what is currently being served and Google will pick you ahead of others. This will most likely involve several adjustments and additions before you get there. Do not just write and end there. Revise and keep fixing until you climb the rankings.
Link Building and SEO
There are broadly two types of Links that you can use to improve your SEO rank; Internal links and Backlinks. Backlinks can also be referred to as external links. The two can further be subdivided into Do-Follow or Follow and No Follow.
(1) How to use Internal Links to Boost a Page Rank.
While the emphasis is mostly on external links, you may use internal links to improve your SEO ranking. Using this method, you will need to use internal linking to promote what you consider the most relevant and unique content that defines what your website is all about. This type of content is called cornerstone content. Have pages that perform well on your website link back to your cornerstone content using anchor text. You may also have it on your menu. This will make it accessible from all over your website. This is particularly useful because it improves your Click-Through Rate and reduces your Bounce Rate.
(2) Backlinks and SEO.
External Links also called Backlinks are arguably the most powerful SEO component that will help you rank highest in search results.
Generally speaking, unless you are compromised, you would never refer to what you consider trash unless you expressly mention that it’s so.
External links are some kind of endorsement from the linking site that they trust in what you have on your web page. It’s because of this endorsement that google and other search engines tend to respect websites that have been endorsed (linked to) many times. Its a vote of confidence in your content.
(3) No Follow Links
NoFollow are links with specific instructions to search engines not to follow them during crawling and therefore not to pass on any credit to the destination website.
Nofollowed links are hyperlinks with a rel=“nofollow” tag.
These links do not influence the search engine rankings of the destination
(4) Do-Follow Links
As opposed to nofollow links do follow links or plainly dofollow come with a special instruction to search engines to follow and pass SEO credit to the destination webpage. This is a powerful SEO tool as earlier explained it shows endorsement of the destination webpage.
Link Authority and Reputation.
While the number of linkbacks is very important to your SEO effort, not every link back is that useful. The usefulness of a link depends on its Authority.
Link Authority is a measure of how powerful a particular link is on the internet. Its more like an internet influencer score for a link. Authority links are links from websites that have established a substantial degree of trust and authority.
So I did all you told me BUT
Why Is my site Not Ranking High in Search Results?
As earlier explained, Search engines try their best to show the most relevant information first. For you to understand how relevant your content is to a query you must understand the three main types and motives of any search Query.
(a) Navigation Query:
These are searches that are intended to locate a particular entity or website. Let’s say you search for “Facebook” The search engine interprets your query as Navigational intended to take you to www.facebook.com and will show that at the top even if I may have written a good article about Facebook. The search engine thinks you are trying to locate the Facebook website.
(b) Information Query:
Some searches are interpreted as intended to gather information about the keyword used. For example when I search for “SEO”. The interpretation is that the person searching is most likely trying to learn more about SEO and the search engine will display what it finds the most informative content first.
(c) Transactional Query:
Some searches are interpreted as intended to make the person searching purchase a product of service. The search engine will serve content that can best help the searcher to make the decision to buy. For example if you search for “SEO Tools” the search engine will start by serving you content that helps you to make a choice.
Its, therefore, to understand the nature of your content so that you position it appropriately so that search engines find you relevant to the search queries.