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Search Engine Optimization [Learn SEO]

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Once your website is ready, make sure it is visible to your potential visitors on search engines to achieve the highest ranking. At this point, you should aim for search engine optimization (SEO). This SEO guide is designed to help you navigate the wonderous world of search engine optimization.

Beginner's Guide to SEO Vocab

Algorithm - search engine algorithms are complex systems used to recover data from their search engine index and deliver the best possible results for a query.

Alt Text - a text description added to an image's HTML tag on a Web page to be shown when the image in the Web page cannot be displayed.

Anchor Text -  a clickable link in a hyperlink.

Backlink - incoming links to a webpage.

Black Hat - an unethical practice against search engine guidelines used to get higher site rankings. Referred to as Black Hat SEO, these practices usually end up with search engine penalties.  

Crawler - also known as a spider or a bot, crawlers are programmed to visit web sites and read the pages to create entries for search engine index.

Destination Page -  a page your users visit after using your internal site search box.

Nofollow - a link that does not boost the linked page rank.

Dofollow - a link that does boost the linked page rank.


Meta Description - a snippet of about 155 characters which summarizes a page's content (a very crucial part of SEO).


SERP - Search Engine Results Page.


XML Sitemap - a sitemap lists all the URLs for a site allowing search engines to crawl your website comfortably.

Why is SEO important?

Search engine optimization is a process of ensuring high rankings for specific keywords. Although Google is the most popular search engine, it is not the only one. There's also Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and AOL, but most traffic still comes from Google. 

The main reason we consider search engine optimization to be one of the more challenging aspects of digital marketing is that it takes time. Search engines value quality, and quality cannot be determined instantly. Not only that, but the rules of SEO are constantly changing, so search engines ensure that websites that do not apply to the top ranking spots cannot fool the system.

Ultimately, every marketing manager has their eyes set on the top position on any search engines. After all, on average, 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine (SEO Tribunal).
61% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge: Hubspot
Seo leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads have a 1.7% close rate: Wrike
Use Google to do more than 2 trillion searches each year: Seo tribunal

SUBMIT YOUR WEBSITE TO GOOGLE

First things first, you should submit your website to Google through its Search Console. According to Google, "these tools and reports help measure your site's search traffic and performance, fix issues and make your site shine in Google Search results."

Of course, Google will discover your website even if you do not submit its URL, but it will take more time. Since every search engine crawls the internet to index pages, submitting your site will speed things up. 

An important SEO guide recommendation: if you make changes to your website, you should re-submit it. By re-submitting your website, you will keep Google in-the-know and encourage the indexing of your latest version. 

You should also submit your website to Bing and Yahoo to reach a bigger audience!

How to
choose
the right keywords

Now, shifting our focus to website content, unlock the full potential of words and phrases that best reflect your business by choosing your keywords carefully.

How it works: Google collects and analyzes words and phrases on your website, as these words show what your site is about, and then ranks your pages for these keywords.


Choosing the right keywords will not only improve your organic rankings on search engines, but they will also be your starting point for search engine advertising (via PPC). 


The more you understand the power of keywords, the better you will perform search engine optimization. Let’s explore the world of keywords and SEO techniques in more detail, shall we?

Conducting keyword research for SEO

Given the importance of keywords, once you start doing your research, you should bear in mind the following aspects:

1. The number of searches per month 
2. How competitive your keyword is

These two factors are what keyword research is all about. When searching for an answer or solution, potential visitors will often rush to Google. You need to put yourself in their shoes to try to understand what keywords they are going to type into the search bar to end up on your website.

After all, your content needs to be centered around your target audience first and foremost.

Keyword structure and length

Pay attention to the extent of keyword competition in your sector and total number of searches. These two factors are connected with the structure and length of a keyword.

Every keyword has a head, a modifier and a tail. A head is the main word, whereas a modifier is a word you can easily replace to change some aspect of your keyword. Every other word you use to further describe your search represents a tail. Both the modifier and the tail correspond with the head.
Screenshot of Google Search for shoe discount online

How to find the best keywords for your content or website?

To help you on your quest for the right keywords that both your website and search engine marketing will benefit from, we’ve gathered a list of tried-and-tested tools. Let’s see what you can do with these tools and how they can help you get keyword ideas.
Screenshot of Google Search for shoe discount online

Google suggest

Google Suggest is great tool that most people overlook. You have probably noticed Google Suggest when you start typing into the search box. Google starts completing your sentence by offering a few suggestions that are most popular. In addition, the search engine also provides a ‘searches related to’ section, which is located at the bottom of every Google search page.

This section contains additional suggestions related to your search query. However, don’t rely solely on Google Suggest, as it is quite limited. Nonetheless, you will understand your topic better thanks to this tool, and it will help you begin your keyword research.
Screenshot of Google Search for website builder
Screenshot of Google Search for shoe discount online

Google trends

The number of searches per keyword changes constantly, and you should keep an eye on fluctuations. To watch rising and falling trends, use Google Trends. If search volume is rising for a specific term, you will have an open door to create quality content centered around your keyword and a better chance of ranking before it becomes too popular.

Not only will this tool provide you with some additional keyword ideas, but it will also inform you about where potential traffic could come from.
Screenshot of Google Trends Comparing Website Builder and Free Website
Screenshot of Google Search for shoe discount online

Google keyword planner planner tool

Keyword Planner should be your go-to tool for keyword inspiration. Once you’ve signed up for a free Ads account, head over to Tools and click Keyword Planner. Here you should select the ‘Search for New Keyword’ option. Simply enter a word or phrase you want to get ideas for and voila! After hitting the ‘Get Ideas’ button, you’ll be presented with two options: a) ad group ideas and b) keyword ideas.
 
Even though this tool is focused on paid advertising, this feature is a powerful way to gain more insight, as you will see the search volume, competitiveness and price of each keyword.
Screenshot of Google Search for shoe discount online

LCI keyword generator

LSIGraph is another gem worth mentioning. Latent semantic indexing helps search engines understand how terms work together, even when they do not mean the same thing. This will ultimately help broaden the scope of your search when you have several keywords semantically related to the primary keyword, your content will be more credible on  Google.

In addition, your content will not suffer from keyword stuffing since you are not repeating the same word. Google will also rank your site for those additional related searches, which, in turn, will lead to better rankings and an increase in traffic. Enter your keywords, click ‘Generate’ and you are good to go.
Screenshot of LSI Graph Showing LSI Keywords for Website Builder

Meta titles and meta descriptions

When viewers stumble upon the title of your website, it will take them a few seconds to decide whether they want click on the link or not. Their choice will largely depend on the meta title and meta description - two extremely important elements of SEO. A meta title shows the name of the web page, whereas a meta description summarizes web page content. It is truly important to customize these elements to ensure that you are presenting your website in the best light on search engines. That said, ensure your meta titles and meta descriptions include the most important information about your website without exceeding word counts to attract viewers unfamiliar with your business. In addition, make sure each page has a unique title and description.

When it comes to writing these elements, keep in mind that you have a limited amount of space and should use it wisely. Your title should be short, appealing and up to 50-60 characters, spaces included. If you use more characters than accepted, Google will shorten your title.

As for meta descriptions, it is essential to write descriptive and relevant texts to present your website in the best light. After all, this description is your advertisement. Make sure you use relevant keywords in the description, but do not overuse them. The rule of thumb is: once is enough. The length should be approximately 150 characters. Once again, meta titles and meta descriptions should be different for each page, as Google hates duplicate content.

If you want to see what your titles and descriptions will look like in the search results and test their length, you can use ToTheWeb’s tool. The following examples illustrate two  meta titles and two meta descriptions - you decide which one is more effective!
Screenshot on Asking Google to Show Titles and Descriptions

The art of link building

Building links via other websites is crucial for your SEO success, so you will need to invest time and energy to achieve this goal. However, even though link building is of paramount importance for SEO, it is not the only purpose. After all, getting valuable traffic to your website should be your main goal. 
Before you set off on your link acquisition journey, arm yourself with creativity and patience. To help you decide how to build links that best reflect your brand, we’ll go straight into the basic types of link building.

NATURAL BACKLINKS
If your website content is appealing, other sources will link to you more easily than you thought - and oftentimes, for free. However, you will need to craft enticing and original content and promote it if you want someone to pick it up and give you a backlink.

NON-EDITORAL LINK BUILDING
These links are unnatural because you create them yourself. You can leave such links in the comment sections on some blogs or forums, or even add to your user profile and/or forum signature. Even though these links can be the easiest to get, you need to be very careful not to be spammy, otherwise Google will penalize you, and your ranking will be affected.
To help you get started with your link-building strategy as a part of your search engine strategy, we’ll explore some of the tried-and-tested tactics you can start applying right away to earn links naturally.

RUNNING A BLOG
An active company blog is one of the best sources for onsite SEO. If your blog is packed with informative and unique content, you’ll have greater chances of earning natural links from other sites/blogs and being mentioned on social media. Your posts will gain attention and people will share your content with their friends. There’s no better way to build trust with your online audience/potential customers than by building and maintaining a company blog. Get your creative juices flowing and come up with original and relevant content on a weekly basis. Companies such as Buffer, HubSpot and Intercom will give you a taste of what makes an appealing blog.
Search Engine Marketing Tip 1: To intensify link building efforts, you should also consider becoming a contributing author or guest writer on websites and blogs relevant to your niche. Find the Write for Us section on your favorite blogging platform, read the submission guidelines and fire away. If you want websites that are an authority in your industry to publish work, you will need to pour all of your knowledge and creativity into writing quality articles for other platforms. These blog posts should be original, not published elsewhere and about relevant topics where you are an expert.  Do your research, see what their followers are interested in and provide informative and valuable insights for them to share.

Search Engine Marketing Tip 2: While doing your best to earn backlinks, you should make sure these links are ‘dofollow’. Search engines crawl websites look for external links that point to the site in question, so if a link is ‘dofollow’, search engines will follow it. However, if a link is ‘nofollow’, search engines will ignore it. ‘Dofollow’ links are very important for both traffic and ranking. You can easily check if a link is ‘dofollow’ or ‘nofollow’ by adding the ‘NoDoFollow’ add-on to Firefox or by using the NoFollow’ Chrome extension. ‘Nofollow’ links will appear highlighted in red.

Search Engine Marketing Tip 3: If you want your content to grab the visitor's attention and stand out, you should consider creating infographics. Information graphics, or infographics, are a combination of text, graphics, statistics and quotations that tell your story creatively. Once you understand what your audience wants to read, present your topic in a clear and concise way via your infographics. Don’t worry: even if you are not a designer, you can easily create an infographic with the help of various online tools such as DesignBold, PicMonkey and Canva
Google is responsible for 94% of total organic traffic (web presence solutions, 2017)
61% of marketers say improving SEO is their top inbound marketing priority (hubspot, 2018)

9 tools you need to optimize your website for search engines

To obtain a deeper insight into search engine marketing, and especially search engine optimization, we have come up with a list of essential tools that will allow you to gain a competitive advantage and boost your chances of being found on Google.

Google analytics


If you are a website owner, using Google Analytics is essential. This technical SEO tool will answer any burning questions you might have about your website. If you want to know information such as the exact number of visitors, their location, which pages on your website they visit the most, which content they prefer or how many of them have become customers, this free tool has got you covered. If your goal is to convert, Google Analytics is the perfect tool to gain a better understanding of your website’s strong points and where improvements can be made to reach that all-important end goal.

Google pagespeed insights


Your website’s load speed also affect search engine rankings. That’s where Google PageSpeed Insights is useful.This free tool informs you of how your website performs on both mobile and desktop. In our increasingly mobile world, we know it is essential to ensure your website is responsive on both platforms. You will know your page is performing well if you obtain a score of 85 or higher. In addition, PageSpeed will also provide valuable suggestions to improve your website’s performance.

Google search console


If you want to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot the performance of your website, but also understand how Google sees and indexes it, consider using Google Search Console. This service is completely free and helps identify issues and perform necessary actions to optimize your website’s performance in the Google search results.

Google mobile-friendly test 


Another free tool is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Nowadays, not having a mobile-friendly website can highly impact your search engine rankings. Find out if your website is mobile-friendly in less than a minute by entering its URL into the assigned field.


Screaming frog SEO spider


If you need to identify technical issues that have a negative effect on website performance, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a helpful option. This application will save you both time and effort, crawling your site and collecting all the information needed to perform an SEO audit. You can download it for free or purchase a license to get access to its more advanced features.

Semrush


Seeing the keywords your competitors rank for is useful in helping you to determine where to make improvements when it comes to your content. This feature is offered by SEMrush, a helpful  tool that not only displays your competitors top keywords, but also shows which of their pages obtain the most traffic. Unfortunately, its free version is quite limited, so you might want to consider upgrading your account.

Similarweb


SimilarWeb is a freemium tool and a treasure trove of insightful data about your competitors. Some of the stats you can access include: traffic sources, keywords, referrals, total number of visits, visit duration, bounce rate, audience interests, social channels and display advertising. In addition, you will also obtain a list of websites similar to you or your competition.

Ahrefs


Ahrefs is one of the most popular link analysis tools and for good reason. Even though people tend to use it only to check where their backlinks come from, there is so much more to it. By using this tool, you gain access to important data located on your dashboard. Just enter a website’s URL and you will see the quantity and quality of links pointing to both the URL and the website’s domain, the number of backlinks, referring pages and more. You can sign up for a free trial before opting for one of the payment plans.

Open site explorer


Use Moz Link Explorer to analyze your website’s strengths and weaknesses alongside those of your competitors. In addition, you can also track the links that point to your website. When doing your research, rely on the following two metrics this tool provides: Domain Authority and Page Authority. There is a large array of both free and pro tools to choose from.

Pro tip

​To boost local SEO, it is imperative that you set up a Google My Business account. Your business needs exposure and this free, easy-to-use tool proves exactly that. By listing all of the necessary information, such as your business hours, phone number, website and directions, you will increase your chances of being found on Google Maps and in search results.

89% of B2B researchers use the internet to gather info about purchases
39% of all global eCommerce traffic comes from search
Gif: Showing Tips

Conclusion


Once your website is set up, designing a search engine strategy should be your top priority. Invest time in on-page optimization and start building quality links leading to your website. We strongly advise to avoid taking any shortcuts, or risk getting penalized from Google which will undermine your SEO efforts. As a start, simply follow the tips and recommendations in this guide, they will surely help you avoid all of the common SEO mistakes your competitors make. And remember - you can use this SEO guide from time to time in order to stay ahead of your competitors. 


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