Daily, billions of people search for things they want on search engines, such as Google or Yahoo. Research shows that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
Google highlights the keywords in the statement and connects the person to the websites that include those keywords.
The real focus behind SEO is to try and break into the top search results on search engines as studies show 73% of people don’t even move past the first search result!
When you sell a product or service, you have to think about it from the consumer’s point of view.
Whatever search engine you may use, you will notice that search results will constantly change.
So to explain the basics behind what is SEO, I am first going to explain how Google decides what pages are going to show up when people search for specific things.
How to drive traffic from search engines
The algorithm that Google uses is complex and there are numerous ranking factors for a page. Simply put, the criteria is:
- The information that your page offers should be high quality, relevant information about what is being searched for.
For instance, if the search query is ‘what is marketing?’ and your page is about marketing, then the information on your page should contain relevant statistics that explain the rise and importance of marketing, as well as high-quality links to support what you say.
- Google determines the relevance of your information by ‘crawling’ through your website and evaluating through the algorithm whether it is relevant to what the search query was.
- The quality of the page is determined by several means, but the most prominent is the quality and number of other websites that are being linked to your page.
If your site about laptops is being linked to sites that no one else on the web has linked to, and my site about laptops gets links from places that are linked to frequently, then my site will be assumed to be higher quality than yours.
Some free online tools that you can use to check the quality of your links are MozTool or WSO.
There are also some additional elements that Google weighs to determine where your site will rank and these are:
- How are people engaging with your website and content? Are they finding what they need on your site or are they returning to the search page frustrated? Do they even click on your link or are they ignoring it?
- The loading speed of your site is also highly important as is its ability to be mobile-friendly. By making your page quick and easy to load, you can drastically decrease the bounce rate of your landing page.
- Unique content is always given preference over copied content or low-value content.
It shows that you have a certain level of expertise on the topic at hand.
Google’s algorithm considers numerous ranking factors in response to searches and this process is constantly being refined.
What’s important for you to realize is that even though it may be very detailed, you don’t have to be an expert in what is SEO to rank for top search results.
The trick is to figure out the best working techniques and use them to your advantage.
In this article, I will guide you through some proven practices that will help you drive targeted traffic by optimizing your websites according to some SEO basics.
Factors that affect SEO optimization
- Keywords are considered the most important part of on-page SEO optimization. It’s important to pick the right keywords and to do this you have to keep the keyword relevance, search volume, and competition in mind.
As of late, the focus has shifted towards long-tail keywords as they are more fitting to the search patterns of modern-day internet users.
These are also less-competitive, for example, single word-keywords like ‘T-shirt’ will be highly competitive whereas a long-tail keyword like ‘Blue American Apparel T-shirts’ will be less competitive and will also be effective.
- The next key element to understanding what is SEO is the Meta Description.
More often than not, the Meta Description is missing, too short, or too long!
The ideal range for a Meta description is 71-155 characters and only 34% of results fall in this range.
Your Meta Description should always describe what is on your page however, it is more important that it lists the keywords that you have chosen to compete for in search engines.
For example, if the keyword you chose is ‘blue cotton socks’, then make sure you include ‘blue cotton socks’ in your meta description.
- Another vital element that will help your website generate more traffic is Alt Text.
If you are using images in your article, then make sure to give them relevant titles as those images will then pop up when those keywords will be searched for.
For example, if you have pictures of a customized Superman water bottle on your article, then save the alt-text for the image as ‘customized superman water bottle’, and then that picture will pop up whenever that keyword is searched for.
60% of consumers are more likely to contact a business or visit a site when a relative image shows up in their search results.
- Next, we have the Title Tag, which aims to provide a clear picture of what the content on the page is going to be about.
The page’s title is going to be the first thing that a searcher see’s in SERPs and then he will decide if your page is going to fulfill his needs or not.
Google no longer requires your title tag to include an exact keyword to understand what the content of the page is about.
Search engines are now powerful enough to understand the content and the context rather than just relying on the keywords.
To maximize benefit naturally use important keywords and keep your titles 50-60 characters long.
An example of a good title could be ‘What is SEO?’
Many people fail to understand that there is a difference between the title tag and the H1 tag.
The title tag is the one that will be visible in SERPs, whereas the H1 tag is the displayed title on the page itself.
Despite the importance of the H1 tag, many new businesses do not use it.
- SSL-enabled sites are essential as Google prefers these.
As of late, there has been a rise in the importance of page security and now it is crucial for improving your trustworthiness, visibility, and security.
By enabling SSL, you are decreasing the chances of interference from a third party between your web server and your visitor’s web server.
- Internal Linking is also a very important part of On-page SEO.
By linking to different relevant pages on your site, you are keeping your visitors engaged longer and are also making it easier for search engines to crawl everything.
69% of site users use internal recommendations to provide an idea of where to head next.
- Adding backlinks is one of the most important off-page SEO factors.
The number and quality of the backlinks is what matters the most as Google rewards this by sending traffic your way.
Surprisingly, more than 55% of pages have zero backlinks pointing to them.
- Domain Authority is the number given to you by search engines, to determine the strength of your website.
This number is in-between 1-100 and can be thought of as a grade for your website.
The higher your domain authority, the more preference Google will give you in search results.
Some factors that affect your domain authority are the history of the domain name, how much time you’ve had the domain name for, number of backlinks and, the number of 404 pages.
Maximizing your domain authority is a great way to boost your ranking.
- Last but not least, social promotion is also one of the off-page SEO tactics.
The page ranking may not be tied directly to the interactions on its social media posts however, social posts that are generating clicks are going to generate more traffic to your site!
Using different social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote your sites will benefit you.
Here are some social media marketing ideas that you could use.
A study conducted in 2018 by Hootsuite tested the SEO results of articles with and without social promotion and found that pieces with top social shares received an average 22% boost during the time of the experiment.
Why is SEO better than PPC?
Both SEO and PPC are part of search engine marketing and the key difference between them is that traffic generated from SEO is free and organic whereas traffic generated from PPC is not (the name itself suggests that you have to pay-per-click.)
PPC has its benefits however SEO is the way to go, especially if you are a new business!
A survey in 2019 asked 58 marketers which channel was more effective at driving sales for them, and 70% said SEO.
Marketers regard SEO as the better long term approach to take because, through it, your site builds credibility and trustworthiness with the audience.
Having a strong reputation and good reviews will further benefit your site.
SEO helps you to build a level of trust with your customers.
Many customers are aware of the fact that companies who are ranking organically are there because of the quality of their site.
In other words, they know there is a reason you’re number 1 or even in the top 5.
Furthermore, marketers say that SEO generates higher quality leads and conversion rate through organic traffic is found to be higher than PPC.
The main benefit of SEO according to me is its cost. If you are on a tight budget, you could use the majority of SEO techniques for free!
Local businesses around the world agree that SEO is a better cost-effective method than PPC for them.
The final advantage that SEO has over PPC is that whereas many users may not click the paid ads that they see, they will visit the top ranking sites on search engines.
Marketers have found that customers tend to avoid paid ads because they feel that the business may offer them minimal technical help and are only looking to sell their product or service.
Things to avoid in SEO:
Many people think they have the answer to ‘what is SEO?’ and then end up being disappointed because they did not get their desired result.
That is because they have focused only on what they should do and not on what they shouldn’t do!
Here are a couple of basic things to avoid when using SEO methods to your benefit:
- Keyword stuffing is one of the main mistakes people make! Overusing keywords will affect the readability of your content and could lead to less traffic.
1-2% keyword density is recommended.
- Avoid annoying advertisements. They may intrude with the pleasure your reader can get from reading your content and can also slow your sites loading speed.
- Do not buy Links. They will decrease the value of your site as the most valuable links are the ones that come from authority sites in your niche.
Ahrefs found the average cost of a paid link to be $352.92, so they just aren’t worth it.
They’re also a violation of the Google quality guidelines.
- No full-screen adverts on mobiles. Presenting your customer with a full-screen advertisement to download your app on their phone will make Google decrease your ranking.
57% of users do not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site.
- Non-visible or misleading links and hidden texts are a huge no! There’s no point in adding links if your viewer isn’t able to access them. So never add links in just full stops or comma’s, instead target 2-3 words.
18% of links don’t even send users where they want to go!
- No copied content! If Google finds two pages presenting the same information, it only indexes one of those pages. That is why original content is a key feature in SEO.
Search engine algorithms change all the time, but the key to figuring out what is SEO lies in knowing that the important things such as external links, domain authority, etc. have always been vital. One last thing that you should remember is that after applying all your techniques, track your SEO results and see try and understand what you can do better.
Constantly update your website keeping in mind all these practices and you are sure to achieve results!