SEO Basics: Overview
Learning SEO basics is a key step you need to take during your online journey.
Whether you want to give more visibility to your personal blog, or your business website, SEO has been the most stable source of online traffic for the last 15 years.
If you are not familiar with the abbreviation SEO, it stands for Search Engine Optimization.
The Google dictionary defines it as “the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.”
We are going to cover all the SEO basic knowledge you need to start ranking a website today but feel free to jump to any particular section that may interest you:
- How Search Engines Work
- White Hat vs Black Hat SEO
- On Page SEO vs Off Page SEO
- Step 1: Keyword Research & Selection
- Step 2: Make Your Website SEO Friendly (On-Page SEO)
- Step 3: Improve Your Online Reputation (Off-Page SEO)
How Search Engines Work
Before Google came to be, searching for something online was a real pain. Not only it was really slow but most of the results were not related to what you were looking for.
To find something relevant to what you want, you had to browse through a ton of irrelevant results and websites.
The reason why they became so successful is that they put their customers first by providing the ultimate user experience.
When you type something in Google you can be sure to find what you are looking for in a few seconds.
To keep it simple, Google is a powerful robot. To be more precise it is a group of a lot of automated bots that build indexes and provide users with a ranked list of websites they’ve determined are the most relevant.
How do they do that?
First, you need to understand what the internet is:
There’s a reason why we call it the world-wide-web. It is a huge network of websites, more precisely a huge network of web pages all interlinked between them.
These automated bots visit all these web pages and give them a score based on more than 200 factors to rank them to determine if your content and your website’s user experience is good.
While that’s true Google want to put good content on top of search results and that it is the cornerstone of SEO there is one thing you need to remember;
GOOGLE IS A ROBOT!
A robot uses purely mathematically calculated factors to establish a ranked index.
A robot does not have emotion.
Therefore, good content alone won’t make your website rank.
However, since it’s a robot using purely mathematical factors, the opposite can be true.
White Hat SEO vs Black Hat SEO
As I mentioned above, black hat SEO is the process of optimizing a website without taking care of the user experience at all.
This strategy emphasizes optimizing your website for search engines only which often results in bad and spammy websites.
Following this path often ends up on your website getting penalized or even worse, banned.
You will always need to stay on top of Google’s algorithmic updates to avoid penalties and keep your source of traffic. On the other side of the spectrum, we have white hat SEO. This strategy focuses on readability, content relevance, well-designed structure, and well-written content. Used properly, it can get your site ranked higher by use of ethical techniques, good content and appropriate keywords.
As you may already know it, the truth is not always all white or all black. It is often somewhere in between.
This is why I used the word spectrum while defining those concepts.
A lot of people consider black hat SEO and white hat SEO as two extremes of this spectrum.
Gray hat SEO is everything in between. It is not as pure and innocent as white hat SEO but it is not trying to trick anyone or game the system like black hat SEO.
Let’s go more deeply over something we talked a little bit earlier.
The more than 200 factors that Google use to determine where your website should rank.
While no one really knows for sure what all of those factors are since Google keep them private, some of them are pure speculation and we’re not going to cover them inside this beginner’s guide.
We’re only going to stick to the proven and most important factors you need to consider to start ranking your website today.
On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO
There are two big categories of factors you need to consider when wanting to rank a website; on-page factors and off-page factors.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your website for all the factors Google determine by looking directly at your website.
Off-page SEO is the process of optimizing your website for all the factors Google determine by looking at outside sources such as websites or blogs linking to you, social networks, etc. …
We will dive more deeply into both respectively in the second and third step of this guide.
Let’s start by the first step which is keyword research & selection.
STEP 1: Keyword Research & Selection
When it comes to search marketing, keyword research is surely the most important step of the process.
This will set the foundation of everything that will follow.
You need to think like your customers and figure out what would you type on google if you were looking for your products or services.
If you optimize for the wrong keywords, it’s going to be really hard for you to get a return on your investment.
This is exactly what happened to Empire Ink, one of our clients before we came in and re-worked their SEO strategy.
STEP 2: Make your website SEO friendly (On-Page SEO)
1. Optimize your website for your keywords
The keyword you want to rank for needs to be present in your website’s header, your meta description, your page’s copy, your URL, and in your pictures alt attributes.
If you’re using WordPress, one tool that will help you with this process is Yoast SEO.
2. Optimize your website’s pages load speed
A slow loading speed will not only have your visitors leave which will increase your bounce rate and negatively impact your rankings, but it is also one of the key factors Google has indicated that the algorithm uses when building its index.
You can check your page speed with the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google.
It will give you a PageSpeed score as well as tips to improve it.
3. Optimize your website’s architecture
A good website architecture makes it easy for users to navigate your website as well as Google to visit all your pages and index your website.
STEP 3: Improve Your Online Reputation (Off-Page SEO)
1. Gain Google’s thrust
Gaining Google’s thrust is not an easy task.
Google look at your website’s bounce rate to see if their user find what they are looking for on your website. If they quickly leave your website, Google is less likely to give you their trust and give you a high ranking for a term because it would mean that you don’t provide their users with the information they need.
Google also look at your website’s domain age. The older your domain is, the more trust they will give you.
2. Develop a link building strategy
The most important off-page SEO factor the algorithm looks at when ranking websites are backlinks
Backlinks are links from other websites pointing back to your website.
Developing a strategy to get relevant high-quality links to your website is crucial to get high rankings for your keywords.
3. Get your content shared on social media
As social media keep getting bigger and bigger, the importance of social signals get more important as well.
The more your content is shared on social media, the more trust Google will give you.
Teaching someone SEO in one blog post is probably not possible but I hope this little SEO basics step-by-step guide was able to give you all the information you needed.
As said above there are more than 200 factors that Google take into account.
We know some of them for sure but a lot of them are speculation.
However, the steps developed in this post should be enough for you to get your firsts #1 rankings.
If you need help with SEO feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at (305) 423-0531 for a consultation.