Search Engine Optimization

An Ultimate Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

They ask: What’s the best place to hide a dead body? The answer is: Google’s second page.

Sounds funny, but true enough, as it’s backed by the data. More than 95% of the traffic is enjoyed by webpages appearing on Google’s first page.

So, the Search Engine Optimization, has an important role to play for a website.

That’s why in this article, we are going to dive deep into the details of SEO. But you must keep your expectations right, as Search Engine Optimization is a vast subject and everything can’t be covered in a single piece of writing like this.

You can’t become an SEO expert overnight by just reaching the end of this article. But here’s another fact: SEO is more about execution than just comprehending any SEO-related blog or writing.

But you’ll definitely get a good idea on this subject from this article that’ll help you to kick-start your SEO journey

So, let’s begin having that said.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing your website to make it rank higher on Google when a user puts his Query or “keyword” in the search engine bar.

To understand the ranking process of websites better, let’s discuss in a brief way how a search engine works.

How Google ranks websites?

Google has now become a synonym of a search engine.

As per Statcounter Global June 2021 report, Google holds a market share of 92.49 percent in terms of the number of users. Google is followed by Bing – Microsoft’s search engine from – with a share of just 2.31 percent.

Now, let’s talk about how a search engine, Google, in particular, works. Google works in three simple steps: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking.

What is Crawling?

From Moz

Google has created automated software programs or bots known as Spiders or Crawlers; the name derived from this is Crawling.

So, crawlers try to discover the new and updated web pages uploaded on the internet in the crawling process.

Crawlers find the webpages with the help of web addresses, also known as (URLs), which are unique to every webpage on the internet.

What is Indexing?

From Moz

The next step in the ranking process is Indexing.

After visiting a web page in our first step, the Crawlers try to understand what the page is about.

The webpage is then stored in the giant library of webpages created by Google, called the index, and the process is called Indexing.

In the real world, Google stores information in their vast storage devices called data centers, which they have established worldwide.

Ranking – Showing results on SERPs.

From Moz

The final step is ranking, or showing the best results on the first page when a user like us types in the Google Search bar.

Google tries to understand the intent behind the query made and then, based upon the user’s location and more than 200+ ranking factors, displays the results on its SERPs.

What are Keywords?

We learned from the definition of Search Engine Optimization that it starts with the Keywords or a query from a user end. So, now let’s understand what keywords are?

Acknowledge that keywords and queries have the roughly same meaning and are sometimes used interchangeably. But they carry a slight difference between themselves. So, let’s understand this one by one, starting from the Keywords.

Keywords

Keywords are the term that a marketer uses.

When a webpage is created, it’s created targeting the Keywords. For example, this blog is designed to target the Keywords – SEO or what is Search Engine Optimization? This blog aims at providing information to someone looking to learn about SEO.

Query

A Query is a phrase that a user types in the search bar.

For example, a user looking to know about SEO, may type in the search bar – learn the basics of SEO or how to learn SEO quickly, or how to do SEO. With these queries, a user wants to see the page explaining SEO, which is this only, as this page is created targeting the keyword SEO.

So, we can also say that Query is broader than keywords and often have an intention embedded.

What are the different types of Keywords?

Keywords also have types based on their length. And the types of Keywords are – [1] Short-tail keywords and [2] Long-tail keywords

What are Short-tail Keywords?

As the name suggests, short-tail keywords are those whose length is short. They contain 1 to 3 words max—for example, SEO.

As you can see, these terms cannot tell us about the intention behind typing these.

A user may have searched for SEO to learn about SEO, or he may be looking for an SEO service.

The short-tail keywords have a very high monthly search volume of Google. It seems tempting in the first place, but acknowledge that these keywords have very high competition and have lower conversions.

What are Long-tail Keywords?

The Long-tail keywords are, as they sound, longer.

The best part of long-tail keywords is that they provide the intention behind a keyword placed in Google. For example – the best SEO services in the UK.

This Query or long-tail keyword can tell us that the user is looking for an SEO service for his website. And that service is not from anywhere but from a company in the UK.

Although these queries have less search volume than the short-tail keywords, the best thing is the conversion rates are high, meaning the customer is looking for a service.

What are the types of SEO?

Now, let’s understand what the different types of SEO are.

On-Page-SEO

We just read above that Google’s 200+ ranking factors are divided into Relevancy, Authority, and User Signals.

On-Page-SEO refers to all the activities you have to perform to increase the relevance signal of your website for search engines. That means your web page should be optimized so that it’s easier for the search engines to find out and understand the content.

So, how to do On-Page-SEO?

To know whether a web page is relevant to the Query or keyword typed by the user, Google looks if those keywords and words closely related to the keywords are present inside the content or not.

There are some aspects or elements inside a web page that you have to optimize to create a relevancy signal in the eyes of Google. And those key elements are – Title Tags, Meta Description, Header Tags, URL or web page address, images, and the full content itself.

Let’s analyze each of these elements and also know how to optimize this one by one –

Title Tags

The title tag is an HTML element used to describe the topic of a web page to search engines and humans.

When you type any query in the search bar, the blue, and large font description is the web page’s title tag.

Title Tags are a ranking factor for a webpage. So, you have to place the keyword on which you want to rank in the title tag.

Meta Description

The Meta Description is an HTML element that allows you to provide a summary of your written content.

On the SERPs, just below the title tags, you can see the description written. That description is the Meta Description of that web page.

Make sure you use your keyword once inside it.

But note that meta description is not a ranking factor as confirmed by Google. So, even if you omit it, the Search Engines will not display an empty description on SERPs, but they will pull out the first paragraph of your content and display it.

Header Tags

The Header Tags are HTML elements that provide the content hierarchy inside your web page for your visitors and help the search crawlers for the same, too.

So, make sure to use your keyword at least once inside the header.

URL, also known as web address

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. It’s the unique address of a web page uploaded on the internet. Search engine crawlers try to find a web page or any update performed on a web page using URLs only.

Use your target keyword here also once.

Going into detail, URLs are but small ranking factors. And some of the best URL creating practices involve using only lower-case letters, using only (-) symbol to separate words in the URL, and trying to avoid stop words like – the, or, of, a – to make the URL short.

Images

Images beautify a web page. They make it attractive and can make the whole content more engaging.

So, try to include some images inside your content, with one image having your keyword in the Alt-text.

Images in themselves don’t help in content ranking, but Google also displays images in its results when a user searches a query. So, if your photo is SEO-optimized, you may get some relevant traffic to your website.

Content

The crux of the matter lies in the content. Every SEO effort to rank your website will go in vain if your content doesn’t provide any value to your readers. So, grasp this fact while creating your SEO-strategy.

Having that said, great content is that which is helpful and is intended to solve a problem.

If you want to rank on a keyword, create content that is way better than the blogs ranking on Google’s first page for your target keyword. In marketer’s slang, that way better content is known as 10X content, implying that it’s ten times better than the others already ranking. And ensure that you’ve used your keywords naturally and not stuffed inside the content.

Off-Page-SEO

If On-Page-SEO is about increasing the relevance factor, then Off-Page-SEO is about improving the authority of a web page (or website).

Since Off-Page-SEO involves activities to perform outside the website, it’s called Off-Page.

So, how to do Off-Page-SEO?

The central ingredient of an Off-Page-SEO is Link Building.

Link Building involves sharing your content with other web admins on the internet and asking them to mention your piece of work on their websites. So, if they agree to cite your webpage’s URL in any of their web pages, then you’ll earn a link that Google views as a vote of confidence for your website. The link is also called a Backlink as it’s pointed back to your website from another.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is about making your website crawlable and index-friendly for search engine crawlers and improving its speed for a better user experience. Essentially, it’s required here that your website meets the technical expectations of modern search engines

So, how to perform Technical SEO?

The elements to consider while performing the technical SEO of a website are –the website’s architecture, a crawl budget of the search engine spider bots, the website’s loading speed, internal linking, and a site map.

Let’s understand each of these elements one by one.

Website Architecture

A website’s architecture tells us how web pages inside a website are arranged and related to each other. A search crawler will be able to fetch and index a website’s pages better if the architecture of a website is well defined.

Imagine this case taking an example of two boxes having red, green, and blue balls. In one box, the balls are thoroughly mixed, while in another box, the balls of one color are arranged in a row and placed together. If someone tells you to pick up a red ball from either of the two boxes, which box will you prefer to take out a red ball? Of course, the second box. It’ll be easier for you to find a ball of any color from the second box as balls are perfectly arranged there.

So, the same concept goes with a website. You have to ensure that your web pages are arranged and perfectly linked to each other. A good structure will help not only web crawlers but also users visiting your website.

Having that said, there are two types of website structure which you can choose, or you may also combine them, which are – Siloed Hierarchy and Topic Cluster Model.

In a Silo Structure, you create sections and then subsections or categories inside your website’s theme. And then, you create content as per those subcategories.

A website with a silo structure looks like below:

From Business2Community

In a Topic Cluster Model, you create a pillar post that contains a brief about a lot of subtopics inside it. And then, you make different pages covering those subtopics in great detail. All the subtopic pages are internally linked to and from the parent topic page. This model was first brought into the limelight by BlogSpot Research in 2017.

A website with a topic cluster model looks like below:

From Hubspot

Crawl Budget

The next thing to take care of in Technical SEO is Crawl Budget.

So, what is a crawl budget? When the Google crawler arrives at a website, it’s not programmed to crawl each and every page present inside a website. If crawling every page of a website were the case, then it wouldn’t be possible for Google to reach every website on the internet within a limited time.

So, what happens instead is Google allocates a fixed time for the crawlers to dive inside a website before moving on to the next website. Now, not the complete website is analyzed, but this allows the crawlers to crawl all the websites present on the internet.

If we talk about the crawl budget of your website, then it’s essentially determined by your website’s popularity, which means a more popular website will have a big crawl budget, your server’s capability, content freshness, and the number of pages on your website.

If your website’s size is humble as of now, then you don’t have to worry much about this. As the issue of crawl budget arises mainly to larger websites with a lot of traffic. So, given the case of large websites, you need to tweak your Robots.txt file. You can view your robots.txt file at your_website/robots.txt. If your website is using a WordPress CMS, then you can easily edit your robots.txt file with the help of an SEO-plugin like RankMath.

Loading Speed of a website

The next factor in better rankings is the Loading Speed of your website. Google has clearly stated that web page speed is the ranking factor for both mobile phones and desktops. You can check the speed performance of your web pages with online tools like- GTMetrix and PageSpeedInsights (by Google).

Take a note here that when you’re placing a URL in these tools, the scores generated are just for that web page alone, and not the complete website. So, you have to analyze individual pages, and you’ll get a performance score of individual pages of your website

But here’s another fact which you must recognize: You don’t have to be obsessed with the scores and numbers that the above tools provide. What Google wants here is your website should load fast enough to NOT annoy your website visitors.

But still getting a score of 90+ or A Grade is not much difficult, especially if you’re on WordPress CMS. The best thing is GTMetrix and PageSpeedInsight also provide you with recommendations along the scores to improve those scores.

Internal Linking

Internal Linkings are like cousins to Backlinks. We know that backlinks help in rankings.

So, internal links also help in rankings. How? They just pass link juice or PageRank from one page to another.

From OrbitMedia

A webpage getting a lot of links from other websites gains authority or link juice. It’s because of this link juice that the page is able to perform well on Google. Note that there are 200+ ranking factors that Google looks while rankings a webpage, but backlinks are one of the three most important ranking factors. When you mention a hyperlink of your internal pages inside those authoritative pages, the hyperlinks pass the link juice to those internal pages. The result: All your web pages will rank better on Google.

Internal linking is very important if you want to rank your product or highly commercial pages. This is because you also know that your product pages, though important for your business, but it’s difficult to built links for them unless you’re a very big brand. So, you can build or earn links for your informative pages and then pass the link juice from them to your internal pages via links

Site Maps

A site map is like the table of content for your website. It’s like the blueprint of your website with the help of which Google crawlers are easily able to crawl and index your website.

Though it’s not necessary to have a Site Map if you have a small website (less than 500 pages) and all your web pages are properly linked, but adding it won’t hurt your website either. If you’re on WordPress, you can use plugins like RankMath, Yoast-SEO, or Google XML Sitemaps to generate a sitemap for your website. Make sure you also add the sitemap to various search engines.

Local SEO

Local SEO is a type of SEO that aims to improve a visibility of a business website for searches with business_service + near me or business_service + city_name. The results of local SEO searches appear in SERPs’ in a window that is called a Map Pack, which looks something like below:

Closest or nearby are also the terms that trigger the local results on Google. The local results can also trigger if Google finds any intention of seeking out a service from your typed query.

Near me searches on Google are on rising and they are mainly done from mobile phones. As per the report from Google itself, the “near me” intention searches have increased 34X since 2011. And as these search results are also integrated with Google maps, this will also help someone looking to reach physically at the business site.

Local SEO is especially helpful for brick and mortar businesses that rely on customers walking in to take their service. So, if you own a store, to make your website visible for service-seeking searches, you must focus on Local SEO. How? We’re going to see next.

So, how to perform Local SEO?

To start with Local SEO, you have to create your business profile in Google My Business (GMB). And to rank higher in the Map Pack for your business-related queries, factors like your backlink profile, gaining consistent positive reviews and citations – meaning online mention of your local business on popular business directories also play a role.

Why is Search Engine Optimization important for any business?

A right and on-time SEO-strategy implemented on a website will bring FREE relevant traffic to it. Also, this traffic will be consistent, at least for a while. Once a webpage starts ranking on Google, the search engine maintains the SERP rankings if that webpage provides a good user experience.

Not only you’ll get FREE traffic and sales from it, but this will also help you to build your business brand and your personal brand . So this, in the long run, will provide more revenue for your business.

Also, it’s not a surprise that people ignore Banner Ads on the internet. But here’s another thing that may surprise you: Many people even ignore Google Ads!. They will directly scroll down the SERP (search engine result page) and will click on an organic result.

From Webfx

People generally ignore Ads, and the only reason they have is – those are Ads. It’s embedded in the minds of people that these Ads don’t provide any value and the only reason those Ads exist is to snatch their money out of their pocket. That’s why, the average CTR for a Banner Ad is just 0.25%, which is not a surprise.

Google Search Ads has a better CTR [ = number of times your ad is clicked / number of times it has appeared in the SERPs] though: 3.17% across all industries, as they are not random and appear only when a user demands. But many people still recognize those listings as an Ads and tend to ignore them. So, if your website ranks organically on Google, you’ll be able to convert those Ad haters also into your loyal customers.

What are some tools used in the SEO Process?

The most critical element in a successful SEO-strategy is great content. So, your created content should inform, engage, and help your target audience.

But to create helpful content, you need to perform keyword research to look at what your customers are looking for. For that, you have to use Keyword Research Tools available.

It would help if you also had tools to track the performance of your ongoing SEO-strategy. We also knew that link-building is an essential element in SEO practice. So, you’ll need software tools for backlink analysis also.

Fortunately, you don’t need separate tools for each of the above-mentioned activities that you have to perform. There are plenty of SEO Tools available in the market that allow you to do above essential tasks and come with a lot more features in one single package. Some of the best tools available on the internet are Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, and Ubersuggest.

But if you have a tight budget and don’t want to spend from your side, there are many Free tools also. But they will come as separate tools for the different activities.

E.g. Ahrefs provides many free tools like: Free Keyword Generator, Free Backlink Analyzer, Free Domain Authority Checker, etc. Fortunately, you can use all features of Ubersuggest completely free for 3 searches per day.

Some Free-to-use SEO-tools from Google are Google Search Console (GSC) and Google Analytics (GA). The Google Search Console essentially provides information on how your users interact on the Google Search engine, i.e., ‘outside’ your website. And Google Analytics tells you about how your users are behaving when ‘inside’ your website.

What are some most essential ranking factors?

There are more than 200 factors that Google takes into account while ranking a website on its SERP. However, you don’t have to worry and work on all of these. The fact is, it’s impossible to optimize any website for all of these factors.

So, it would help if you mainly focused on a few of them, like the content quality, keyword optimization in HTML elements, backlinks, the load speed of your website, and the security of your website.

Content Quality

Again, the most crucial element in the ranking of content is the content itself. So, it should be good enough.

Keyword Optimization

Ensure that you’ve placed keywords at places like the web page’s Title, Meta Description, and Headers. Avoid keyword stuffing at any cost, as neither Google likes it nor your users, as already discussed in detail above.

Backlinks

Some SEO’s hate backlinks, and some die for it. And the fact is, backlinks are essential. So it would definitely help you if you put effort into building backlinks for your site. But do recognize that link building is not a stand-alone activity. Instead, it’s the by-product of your product’s or service quality.

Looking for an SEO Service?

SEO takes time and is a tedious job. So, if you don’t have time out of your busy schedule, you may outsource this task to a best-in-class Digital Marketing Agency like us.

We at iPower, are pioneers in providing Search Engine Optimization – SEO services to small and medium-sized businesses.

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We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners who may combine it with other information that you’ve provided to them or that they’ve collected from your use of their services. You consent to our cookies if you continue to use our website.