You’ll get the most out of this SEO guide if your want to learn search engine optimization (SEO) is exceeded only by your willingness to execute and test concepts.
This Search Engine Optimization Course is designed to describe all major aspects of SEO, from finding the words and phrases that can generate qualified traffic to your website, to making your site search engine friendly, to building links and marketing the unique value of your website.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s the process of increasing both the quality and quantity of website traffic, as well as visibility to your brand, through non-paid or organic results. Tasks associated with SEO include creating high-quality content, optimizing content around specific keywords, and building links.
In other words:
SEO is all about improving your site’s rankings in the organic results.
Every time you use search engines, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to the search query. And then, rank the results in front of the right people.
To deliver the right information to users, search engines determine two factors:
Relevancy between the search term and the content on a page. Search engines analyze it by various factors like topic or keywords.
Authority, measured by a website’s popularity on the Internet. Google assumes that the more popular a page or resource is, the more valuable is its content to readers.
And to analyze all this information they use the softwares called search algorithms.
Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, and they are the focus of an SEO strategy.
As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal links can affect your rankings and search visibility. And that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.
The main benefit of ranking for these specific keywords are that you can get “free” traffic to your site, week after week.
How do Search Engines Work?
Now that we’ve answered the question “what is SEO?”, it’s time to understand how search engines like Google actually work.
When you’re using a search engine to search something, you’re probably not thinking about search engine technology. But later you might be surprised, how did it do that? How did it sort through the entire internet so quickly, and choose the results you saw on the page?
Each search engine uses their own algorithms, but the way they work is quite similar. They all perform three tasks: First, they examine content they learn about and have permission to see (that’s called crawling). Second, they categorise each piece of content (that’s called indexing). And third, they decide which content is most useful to searchers (that’s called ranking).
Let’s take a closer look at how these work.
Search engines “crawl” the Internet to discover content, like web pages, images and videos. Each search engine uses computer programs called “crawlers” or “spiders” to make their way through the pages.
The crawlers go from page to page by following links to other pages. These crawlers never stop; their sole purpose is to visit and revisit pages looking for new links and new content to include in the index. Index is the second part of the process. The index is a list of all the web pages and content found by the crawlers. The search engine uses this index as the source of information displayed on the search engine results pages.
Make sense? That covers crawling and indexing, which just leaves us with ranking the indexed pages. When you type in a search, the engine compares the keywords and phrases you use to its index, looking for matching results. Let’s say, for example, the search engine finds 240 million matching results. Now it’s time for the last part of the search engine’s: ranking.
The way search engines rank pages is top secret—it’s their own algorithm.’ There are hundreds of things search engines determine rank, including things like the words on the page, the number of other websites linking to it, and the freshness of the content.
But no matter what formula or algorithms they use to determine rank, the goal remains the same: to try to connect the searcher with what they are looking for.
How SEO works
The search engines’ primary goal is to help people find what people are looking for. If you can help the search engine decide that your website is the best match for what people are searching for, you’re in good shape. Making improvements to your website to help it appear in the organic results is called search engine optimization, or SEO. Good SEO involves helping a search engine find and understand your website.
So what do search engines like? Good, relevant content. Think about exactly what your potential customers might be searching for. Once you know what people are searching for—you can optimise your content to better match what they are looking for.
So always try to use descriptive, unique titles for each page on your website. Write for your customers, but not forget to include important words and phrases that can help search engines understand what your pages are all about. And give the name image files with descriptive words and include alternative text.
Together, all of these tips can help search engines understand your website or web pages and put them in front of the right people that matter – your potential customers.
Organic vs. Paid Results
when someone searches for something using a search engine, the results page they see contains a list of organic, and paid results.
Organic results typically appear in the centre of the page, and are the results the search engine decides are the best match for the search query, or words, that were searched in.
Results pages will also display ads, or paid results, though they’ll be separated and labeled as ads. Although organic results and ads appear on the same page, there’s one big difference: there’s no cost to appear in the organic results.
In other words, you don’t have to pay Google or other search engines in order to rank higher in the organic search results.
Search engines rank the organic search results based on hundreds of different ranking factors. But in general, organic results are deemed by Google to be the most relative, trustworthy, and relevant websites or web pages on the subject.
Why SEO is important
While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, more than 90% of online traffic is driven by search engines like: Google.
Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to potential searchers, and receive more clicks or traffic than paid advertisements.
SEO is also one of the only online marketing channels that, when once set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time. If you provide relevant content that deserves to rank for the right keywords, your traffic can snowball over time, whereas advertising needs continuous funding or budget to send traffic to your website.
Search engines are getting smarter, but they still need our help.
Optimizing your site will help search engines to understand your website so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.
White hat vs black hat SEO
Black hat SEO focuses on optimizing your content only for the search engine, not for humans at all. Since there are lots of ways to break the rules to get your sites to rank high, these are a quick way for black hat SEOs to make a few bucks fast.
Ultimately, this approach results in spammy, crappy pages that often get banned or panelized very fast. It will often lead to severe punishment for the marketer, ruining their chance of building something great in the future.
You might make a few thousands this way, but you’ll continuously have to be on the lookout for search engine updates and come up with new ways to break the rules.
White hat SEO, on the other hand, is the way to build a sustainable online reputation. If you do SEO this way, you’ll focus more on your human audience.
You’ll try to give them the best content possible and make it easily accessible to find them by following the search engine’s rules.
As you know, life’s not always about black or white.
The same holds true for SEO. There’s actually something in the middle of the ‘white vs. black hat that I need to address.
Gray hat SEO, like its name implies, is a little white and a little black.
That means it’s not quite as pure or innocent as the white hats. But it isn’t quite as egregiously manipulative as black hat SEO can be.
Optimize Your Website, Step By Step
To optimize a site, you need to improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content optimization, and links building. So, let’s go through them in turn.
For your website to rank, three things would happen:
First, a search engine needs to discover your pages on the internet. Then, it must scan those pages to understand their topics and identify their keywords.
And last, it needs to add them to its index — a list of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can display your website for relevant queries.
This technical setup focuses on the backend of your website, and how your pages are coded. Image compression, structured data, and CSS file optimization are all parts of technical SEO that can increase your page’s loading speed — an important ranking factor in the eyes of search engines.
Notice some things about it:
- The page is just text. Although we carefully designed it, the only elements a search engine can see are text and links.
- As a result, it cannot see an image on the page. It is only recognized by its name. If that image contained an important keyword we’d want to rank for, it would be invisible to the search engine.
That’s why technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in.
It ensures that your website and pages allow search engines to scan and index them without any problems. Learn more about technical setup.
This type of optimization focuses on all of the content that exists “on the page” when looking at a website.Improving the actual structure of the page can have countless benefits for SEO, and is a big factor that is entirely in the control of the webmaster. Common on-page optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of the page, updating the title tag of the page to use relevant search phrases, and using the alt attribute to describe images. Updating a page’s meta tags can also be very beneficial– these optimizations don’t have a direct impact on search engines rankings, but can increase traffic from the SERPs. Learn more about on-page SEO.
The goal of building links is to get other websites to mention (and link to) your website. This is also known as “Off-Page SEO”.This type of SEO focuses on all of the activity that performs “off the page” when looking to optimize a website. The number of websites that link to you, and the relative “authority” of those websites, affect how highly you rank for the keywords you care about. By networking with other websites, writing guest posts on these websites (and linking back to your website), and generating external attention, you can earn the backlinks you need to move your website up on SERPs. Read more about link building.
For everyone else, this SEO guide or course will help build your foundational SEO knowledge and confidence as you move forward.
Stay tuned; let’s dive into our next chapter – Technical SEO.