Search Engine Optimization [Learn SEO]
Once your website is ready, make sure it is visible to your potential visitors on search engines to get the highest rankings. At this point, you should aim for search engine optimization (SEO). In fact, 4 out of 5 marketers start their online marketing campaigns with an SEO strategy based on on-page and off-page tactics.
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. 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.
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?
SEO 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 say Search Engine Optimization is the hardest process of digital marketing is - it takes time. Search engines value quality, and quality cannot be determined instantly. Every marketing manager has his eyes set on the No.1 position in search engines. No wonder marketers put so much effort into search engine marketing, especially search engine optimization - top 5 results get 75% of total clicks.
SUBMIT YOUR WEBSITE TO GOOGLE
First things first, you should submit your website to Google via its Search Console. Of course, Google will discover your site even if you don’t submit its URL, but it will take more time. Since every search engine crawls the Internet in order to index pages, submitting your site will speed things up. Moreover, if you make changes to your website, you can just re-submit it. By re-submitting your site, you’ll keep Google in the know and get it to index your website’s latest version. You should also submit your site to Bing and Yahoo to reach a bigger audience!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT KEYWORDS
As previously mentioned, you need to make sure people find your business online by ranking high in search results. To accomplish this, you’ll need to focus on search engine marketing, or, to be precise, your site’s content. Unlock the full potential of words and phrases that best reflect your business.
Google collects and analyzes words and phrases on your website, as these words tell what your site is about, and then ranks your pages for these keywords.
Think of keywords as a bridge between you and the searchers.
Keywords will not only improve your search engine organic rankings, but they will also be your starting point for search engine advertising.
The more you understand the power of keywords, the better you will perform search engine optimization.
Let’s explore the world of keywords in more detail, shall we?
CONDUCT KEYWORD RESEARCH FOR SEO
Given the importance of keywords, once you start doing your research, you should bear in mind the following two things: the number of searches per month and how competitive your keyword is. These two factors are what keyword research is all about. When in need of a solution for their needs, your potential visitors 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 box.
Your content needs to be centered around your target audience.
KEYWORD STRUCTURE AND LENGTH
You should pay attention to the competitiveness and 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, of course, the main word, whereas a modifier is a word you can easily replace if you want 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 relate to the head.
In this example, the word ‘shoe’ is the head (the center of our search).
‘Discount’ is the modifier, and the word that adds more detail to our head is ‘online’ (the tail).
When it comes to the length of a keyword, we can talk about short-tail, medium-tail and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are simple and consist of only one word, that is, a head. These keywords are very competitive, which makes ranking for them difficult.
Medium-tail keywords have 3 to 4 words and are exactly what you need to pursue in order to rank.
As you can guess, long-tail keywords entail more than four words. People generally don’t take notice of them due to their low monthly search volume, but you can rank quite easily for them.
For example, the word ‘ring’ is a short-tail keyword, whereas ‘women’s engagement ring’ would be a medium-tail keyword. As for the long-tail keyword, we could use ‘white gold women’s engagement ring’.
You’ve probably noticed that the longer a keyword is, the lower its search volume becomes. Even though medium-tail keywords would be a safe choice in this case, you shouldn’t choose difficult keywords and try to rank for them if your site is not big enough. However, even when you find those suitable keywords, your work isn’t finished. By this, we mean that once you realize which keywords perform better, you should focus on them.
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.
Google’s ‘Autocomplete’ is a nifty tool that most people overlook. You’ve probably noticed that when you start typing into the search box, Google starts completing your phrase/sentence by offering a few suggestions. In addition, the search engine also provides a ‘Searches related to’ section, which is located at the bottom of every page. This section contains additional suggestions which are related to your search query. Don’t rely solely on Google auto-suggest, as it’s quite limited. However, you’ll understand your topic better thanks to this tool, and that’s what makes it a good way to start your keyword search.
The number of searches per keyword changes all the time, and you should keep an eye on the fluctuations. To see the rising and falling trends, use Google Trends. If the search volume is rising, you’ll have an open door to create quality content centered around your keyword and a better chance of ranking for it before it becomes too popular. Moreover, not only will this tool provide you with some additional keyword ideas, but it will also inform you about where your potential traffic could come from.
GOOGLE KEYWORD PLANNER TOOL
Keyword Planner should be your go-to tool for getting keyword ideas. Once you’ve signed up for a free Adwords account, head over to Tools and click Keyword Planner. Here you should select the “Search for new keyword” option and just enter the word or phrase you want to get ideas for. After hitting the ‘Get ideas’ button, you’ll be presented with two options: Ad group ideas and Keyword ideas. As for the former, these keywords are put into potential ad groups, whereas the latter is a list of keywords that are closely related to the keyword of your choice. Even though this tool is focused on paid advertising, its keyword ideas feature is a powerful way to gain more insight into keywords, as you’ll see the search volume, competitiveness and price of each keyword.
LSI KEYWORD GENERATOR
LSI Graph is another free gem worth mentioning. Latent semantic indexing keywords are related to your main keyword and as such broaden the scope of your search. When you have a plethora of keywords that are semantically related to the primary one, your content will be more credible to Google. In addition, your content won’t suffer from keyword stuffing, and readers will go through it with ease. Google will also rank your site for those related searches, which, in turn, will lead to better rankings and traffic. Enter your keyword, click ‘Generate’ and you’re good to go.
MASTER META TITLES AND META DESCRIPTIONS
When searchers stumble upon the title of your website, it’ll take them a few seconds to decide whether or not they want to visit. Their choice will depend on the meta title and meta description - two extremely important elements of SEO. These text elements are attributed to your site and provide information about it in the search results. Don’t worry, even if you didn’t know about these elements, you can always customize them. That said, you have to make sure your meta titles and meta descriptions are well-written and informative to lure those unfamiliar with your business. Make sure each page has a unique title and description.
When it comes to writing these elements, keep in mind that you are given a limited amount of space and should use it wisely. Your title should be short, appealing and can go up to 55-60 characters, space included. If you use more characters than you’re supposed to, Google will truncate your title, and you don’t want that. Try to understand what your potential visitors might be searching for, as this can help you write the perfect title. Having a title, or a part of it, match a person’s search query, will result in Google placing your site higher and bolding the matching words.
As for a meta description, you need to write a descriptive and relevant text that’ll present your site/business in the best light. After all, this description is your advertisement. Make sure you use your keyword in the description, but don’t overuse it, once is enough. The length should be around 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 are going to look like in the search results and test their length, you can use ToTheWeb’s tool. The following examples illustrate 2 meta titles and 2 meta descriptions - you decide which is best!
THE ART OF LINK BUILDING
Earning links on other websites is crucial for your SEO success, so you’ll need to invest time and energy to do this properly. However, even though link building is of paramount importance for your search engine rankings, you shouldn’t think of it as its only purpose. After all, you need to get valuable traffic and visitors to your website, and that 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 in ways that best reflect your personality and business, we’ll go straight into the basic types of link building.
If the content published on your website is appealing, you’ll get links more easily than you thought. When sites/blogs like the quality of the content published on your website, they will most definitely link to your site. These natural links are given to you for free. However, you’ll need to craft a great piece of content and spread the word about it if you want someone to pick it up and give you a backlink.
Non-Editorial Link Building
These links are unnatural because you make them yourself. These are the links you can leave in the comments 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 stand greater chances of earning natural links from other sites/blogs and being mentioned on social media. You’ll 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 your link-building efforts, you should also consider becoming a contributing author/guest writer on websites and blogs that are 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 your work, you’ll need to pour all your knowledge and creativity into writing quality articles for other platforms. These blog posts should be original, not published elsewhere and about relevant topics to you and your business that you’re an expert in. Do your research, see what their followers are interested in and provide informed 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, looking 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. follow 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’ addon 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 your potential visitors’ attention and stand out, you should consider creating infographics. Information graphics are a mixture of text, graphics, statistics and quotations that tell your story in a creative way. Once you understand what your audience wants to read, present your theme in a clear and reader-friendly way by making infographics. Don’t worry, even if you’re not a designer, you can easily create one with the help of various online tools such as DesignBold, Venngage 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 help you get a deeper insight into search engine marketing, and especially search engine optimization, we’ve come up with a list of essential tools you’ll need to use in order to gain a competitive advantage and boost your chances of being found on Google.
◉ GOOGLE ANALYTICS
If you are a website owner, you need to start using Google Analytics as soon as possible. This technical SEO tool will give you answers to any burning questions you might have about your site. If you want to know the exact number of visitors, their location, which pages on your site they visit the most, which content they like or how many of them have become your customers, this free tool has got you covered.
◉ GOOGLE PAGESPEED INSIGHTS
Your website’s loading speed also affects your search engine rankings. That’s where Google PageSpeed Insights tool comes in handy. This free tool informs you how your site performs on both mobile and desktop devices. You’ll know your page is performing well if you get a score of 85 or higher. In addition, PageSpeed will also provide you with some valuable suggestions you can use to improve your site’s performance.
◉ GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE
If you want to keep an eye on your website and monitor its performance, but also understand how Google sees and indexes it, head over to Google Search Console. This service is completely free and helps you identify issues and perform all the necessary actions needed to optimize your site’s performance in the Google search results.
◉ GOOGLE MOBILE-FRIENDLY TEST
Another free tool you should make use of is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Nowadays, not having a mobile-friendly website is proven detrimental to your search engine rankings. All you need to do to check if your site is mobile friendly is to enter its URL into the assigned field, and this tool will analyze it in less than a minute.
◉ SCREAMING FROG SEO SPIDER
If you need to identify technical issues that have a negative effect on your site’s performance, the Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a good choice. This desktop application will save you both time and manual work because it crawls your site and collects all the info you need to perform an SEO audit of your site. You can download it for free or purchase a license to get access to its more advanced features.
What if I tell you there’s a way you can see the keywords your competitors rank for? Yes, every single one of them. This great feature is offered by SEMrush, a useful tool that not only displays your competitors’ top keywords, but also shows which of their pages get the most traffic. Unfortunately, its free version is quite limited, so you might want to consider upgrading your account.
SimilarWeb is a freemium tool and a treasure trove of insightful data about your competitors. Some of the stats you get access to include: traffic sources, keywords, referrals, total number of visits, visit duration, bounce rate, audience interests, social channels and display advertising. In addition, you’ll also get a list of websites that are similar to you or your competition.
Ahrefs is one of the most used link analysis tools out there, and for a good reason. Even though people tend to use it only to check where their backlinks come from, there’s so much more to it, and you should harness its full potential. By using this tool, you gain access to a plethora of data, which are located on your Dashboard. Just enter a website’s URL and you’ll see the quantity and quality of links pointing to both the URL and the site’s domain, the number of backlinks and referring pages, to name a few. You can start a free trial before opting for one of the payment plans.
◉ OPEN SITE EXPLORER
Use Open Site Explorer to analyze your website’s strengths and weaknesses as well as those of your competition. In addition, you can also track the links that point to your site. These links increase your site’s authority. The better authority, the better search rankings. When doing your research, rely on the following two metrics this tool provides: Domain Authority and Page Authority. You get three entries per day, but luckily, you can start a 30-day free trial.
To boost your local SEO, it is imperative that you set up a Google My Business account. Your business needs exposure, and this easy-to-use (and free) tool provides exactly that. By listing all the necessary info such as your business hours, phone number, website and directions, you’ll massively increase your chances of being easily found on Google Maps and in search results.
➊ 89% of B2B buyers turn to google for search
➋ 81% of online shoppers do the same
Source: Google My Business
Source: Google My Business
Source: Google My Business
Once your website is set up, designing a search engine strategy should be your priority. Invest time in on-page optimization and immediately after, start building quality links leading to your website. We strongly advise that you do everything by the book and don't take any shortcuts, otherwise you risk getting a penalty from Google which will undermine your SEO efforts. Just follow tips and recommendations in this guide, they will surely help you avoid all common SEO mistakes your competitors make.