Disclosure: Hackr.io is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.
What is SEO? A Definitive Guide on Search Engine Optimization
The last decade saw a prominent shift to the digital world, with the Covid-19 pandemic transitioning the work of various sectors from the office to the online world. Several businesses and organizations are working to escalate their online presence meticulously.
The essential factor to draw a wide audience towards your website is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
If you own a website, you must have already encountered the term SEO. If not, don’t fret. With this article, we’ll offer an in-depth explanation to help you fully understand the basics of SEO.
In this article, we’ll cover what SEO is, SEO best practices, and the different types of SEO.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a practice to optimize web pages to rank higher in the search results of various search engines, such as Google or Bing.
When you conduct a Google search, you usually click on the results on the first page, right? Those websites have strong SEO; otherwise, they would appear in some of the later pages of your Google search instead. So, with SEO, a large number of people are likely to land on your website while browsing the web, increasing your web traffic.
SEO’s primary objective is to improve your appearance in organic search results, which means unpaid results. Now, you may wonder, what are “organic search results?”
In various search engines such as Google, you are likely to see paid ads on the web page first. Those are paid searches. Several organizations pay a certain amount of money to rank higher on the search engines, also termed SEM or Search Engine Marketing.
After the paid results, you’ll see the organic results of your search, slightly below. These results are termed “organic search results,” and the traffic obtained through SEO is known as “organic search traffic.”
Suppose you search for the ‘top 10 cryptocurrencies’ on the web. You’ll see several web pages on your screen. But, there is always a top result for your search. That top result is undoubtedly SEO-optimized.
Interestingly, one study shows that over 25% of people prefer to visit the very first Google search result, as they interpret that result to be the most relevant. On the other hand, the second and third searches witness a steep fall in the average CTR or Click-Through-Rate, falling to 15% and 11%, respectively.
There are some vital practices that you can follow to make search engines crawl, understand, and index your content.
Before we get into the best practices for implementing SEO, make sure you understand the following terms:
- Index: All the web pages are stored in the index by Google. The index depicts the location of the URL of a specific page. Google’s job is to fetch a page, read it, and then add it to the index.
- Crawl: Crawling refers to when Google discovers new URLs by tracing sitemaps or links.
- Googlebot: Google’s crawler is known as Googlebot.
- Crawler: A crawler is an automated software that fetches web pages on the internet.
SEO Best Practices
Here are some best practices to help you make the most of SEO:
1. Tell Google About Your Content
The initial step in your SEO strategy is to inform Google about your website, so that it’s easy for the search engine to locate it. To do that, you need to locate a sitemap. A sitemap is a file on your website that informs the search engines about all your web pages and related modifications done to them.
In addition, Google also locates different pages via links from other pages. Interestingly, you also have the option to block the pages that you don’t want Google to crawl.
Google search console has a robots.txt generator to create separate robots.txt files for those particular subdomains that you wish to block. Although, there is a possibility that the blocked pages by this file can still be crawled. This file does not prohibit the server from displaying the pages to a web browser as and when requested. Therefore, for additional security, we recommend that you use a more secure method.
You can opt for the noindex tag. This will prevent the page from appearing on Google. In addition, you can also use proper authorization methods wherein the page remains password protected.
2. Make Your Content Google-Friendly
We have enlisted some essential tips to make your content Google-friendly.
Make Unique Page Titles
A title element is responsible for setting the topic of a webpage. The code for the same is written in a below-stated manner:
<html> <head> <title>Top 10 Cryptocurrencies- Buy Coins and Earn Huge Profits</title> <meta name="description" content="Top 10 cryptocurrencies are here to bring a major shift in the digital investment sector" We also offer daily updates about the market status."> </head> <body>
Use simple vocabulary so that users can easily understand your content. Moreover, keep your information up-to-date to maintain the relatability of the content with the latest trends. Keep Your Content User-Friendly and Easy to Understand
Try to keep the title elements informative and short.
Always Use the Meta Description Tag
A page’s meta description tag provides search engines with a quick overview of your page. It can be two or three lines, or a short paragraph.
This tag is placed in the following manner:
<html> <head> <title>Top 10 Cryptocurrencies- Buy Coins and Earn Huge Profits</title> <meta name="description" content="Top 10 cryptocurrencies are here to bring a major shift in the digital investment sector" We also offer daily updates about the market status"> </head> <body>
Make your page description relevant and suitable to your audience’s interests. Technically, there is no fixed length of the description meta tag, but the best practice is to make it concise. Also, Google usually truncates, or cuts, snippets to 155 to 160 characters.
Moreover, using a different meta description tag will eventually help both the search engine and the user. For thousands of web pages, it is difficult to set the meta description tag manually. Therefore, there is an option to generate the tags automatically according to the content of a page.
Use Structured Data Markup for Web Pages
To best explain your content to search engines, use structured data markup for web pages. This also helps you attract more customers to your website.
There are several business-related entities that you can mark up:
- Business location
- Work timings
- Description of your products
- Company logo
- List of events
Use Breadcrumb Lists
A row of internal links situated at the top and bottom of a webpage is known as a breadcrumb. Breadcrumbs help users navigate to the homepage or the previous section of a page quickly.
Build an Easy Navigational Page
A navigational page helps to show the basic structure of a website and consists of the listing of all the pages available on your site. Here are some characteristics of an easy navigational page:
- Uses text to navigate
- Shows an easy-flowing hierarchy
- Created for the users, whereas a sitemap is used by search engines
Optimize the Content
You must create useful and attractive content to draw more customers to your website. Enhance the quality of your blog posts, emails, forums, and social media services. Focus on creating fresh content that users find relatable.
Add Expertise to Your Website
Indulge experts in writing content about a particular topic. This enhances your content’s credibility and reliability and attracts more visitors to your website. In addition, you can also add statistics related to a topic from reputable websites, which builds trust.
Add Optimized Images
Images play an important role in your content, especially HTML image elements.
You can use the below line of code:
HTML <img> or <picture> elements
This semantic HTML markup will allow crawlers to find images. Additionally, using the alt attribute description helps you include the alternative (alt) text for your images.
This attribute helps you give a brief description of your image to the viewer. It is advised to use brief alt text for your images. Moreover, an image sitemap helps the Google board locate your images and pass on the information to the users. The structure of the sitemaps and the XML sitemap file is quite similar.
Furthermore, you can use the most frequently used file types such as JPG, PNG, and GIF.
Keep Your Website Mobile-Friendly
A large portion of the population searches the internet through their mobile phones. Therefore, you must keep your website mobile-ready. Use these implementation methods to make your website easily accessible through mobile phones:
- Dynamic serving
- Responsive web design
- Separate URLs
Market Your Website Well
If you promote your content efficiently and effectively, more viewers will discover your content. You can promote it offline too — for example, add your website URL to your visiting business cards, posters, or letterheads. In addition, send emails to your clients informing them about your website.
On the other hand, marketing with social media sites is a great, effective method nowadays to reach a large number of audiences.
Analyze the Search Performance of Your Website
Monitor your website performance on search engines. Google provides a tool, the Search console, to help you learn about any performance issues. With this tool, you can easily:
- Submit and test sitemaps
- Identify problematic parts of a site as identified by Googlebot
- Check for any problems with description and title meta tags
- Understand how Googlebot works
- Generate or understand robots.txt files
- Analyze the top searches for reaching a website
Understand User Behavior
If you conduct some impressive modifications to your indexing and crawling performance, you must wait to see positive changes in your traffic. There are several tools, such as Google Analytics, to help you gain insights into the performance of your website. With its assistance, you can:
- Understand the number of users visiting your website and their respective behaviors
- Learn about the impact of modifications that you make to your website
- Learn your website’s bounce rate
- Understand the most popular web page or content present on your website
Moving further, we have curated a list of the top SEO tools available to optimize your websites.
Top SEO Tools
Numerous tools help you understand your website’s performance:
- Google Search Console: This is a free tool developed by Google. It provides you with traffic reports and rankings of the top keywords and pages of your website.
- Backlink analysis tools: Ahrefs and Majestic are the two primary tools to analyze your competitors’ websites and their traffic. It also helps to find out websites are using backlinks.
- Social media: Social media platforms have proved to be an extremely effective tool for SEO.
- SEO platforms: Various SEO platforms such as Moz, Searchmetrics, and Brightedge help to showcase keyword searches and keyword rankings.
Interestingly, search traffic does not directly contribute to the growth of a business until the visitors become customers. Here, CRO or Conversion Rate Optimization comes into the picture.
The CRO method uses tools, such as A/B testing, that measure the effects on the conversion rate of a website by the changes made in the website.
Different Types of SEO
There are four major kinds of SEO:
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Local SEO
Through on-page SEO, you can optimize the content of your website. Here are some key practices for on-page SEO:
- Optimize metadata
- Do internal linking
- Research the keywords well
These marketing efforts can help the search engine to analyze your content well.
Off-page SEO focuses on link building. Link building implies that some reliable websites can link back to your website. Here are some key tips to achieve strong off-page SEO:
- Pitch your articles to reputed websites
- Analyze the backlink profile of your competitors
- Assure that you acquire backlinks from credible sources
Technical SEO helps you understand the actions taken that help search engines crawl your website and increase user traffic.
Technical SEO should include the following factors:
- Less loading time
- Clean hierarchical website structure
Local SEO focuses on a particular area instead of the overall site. The primary objective is to promote the products or services to local customers, and it is free of cost.
There are several tasks that you can perform in local SEO:
- Optimize local profiles
- Build local links
- Submit spam on Google Maps
SEO is a vast topic, and there is a lot to learn and explore. It is an extremely vital aspect for a website to attract visitors and gain customers.
In this article, we highlighted the meaning and key characteristics of SEO. We hope that it assists you in understanding SEO so you can use it to grow your website traffic and business! To learn more, check out our top SEO Tutorials and Courses.