Ultimate Beginner's Guide To SEO

Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Imagine that your website is a house and that each time someone clicks on it, we are knocking on the door. The more times we knock, the more likely we are to find an open door.

This is how search engine optimization (SEO) works: bringing users to your site by making your content discoverable via keywords and other factors. But SEO isn’t about “buying” traffic; it’s about investing time and resources in giving yourself the best chance of having people find you.

When it comes to SEO, there’s one thing that matters above all else:

People.

We are pretty sure you can already see why a focus on people would be important. It’s because if you don’t focus on what makes people come back, you’ll never make it in the long run because of how quickly “organic search” loses its appeal to every website owner as their competitors get more traffic.

In this guide, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about:

– Understanding the basics of SEO

– The difference between On-page SEO and Off-page SEO

– White Hat vs. Black Hat

– The Pillars of SEO (Technical, Content, On-site SEO, Off-site SEO)

– Google EAT Guidelines

– SEO Google Algorithm Updates for 2021

What Is SEO
Have you been wondering why some websites rank well for certain terms but others don’t? Why do some websites receive high amounts of traffic when your website gets hardly any? What about those websites that rank well for a particular term but are filled with junk content? What’s their secret?!?

This is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in a nutshell – it’s the process by which your website is “educated” about your contents and taught to understand what terms to rank for. It’s also the process by which traffic is tracked and sent to your website via search engines.

You can think of SEO as an art and search engines as your audience. You want to present your content in a way that appeals to your audience (the search engines) and that they like (the users) to visit your website more.

But why should you care about SEO?

Aside from improving your company’s reputation, SEO can boost your website’s credibility and authority, improve your site’s usability, and naturally boost your website’s visitor count.

As a matter of fact, Oberlo reported last June 2021 that 92.6% of search queries are made using search engines, showing that SEO is currently one of the crucial things in driving traffic to your website.

Ignoring this fact could cause you and your company to miss out on many opportunities, leads, sales, and ultimately money because your content isn’t SEEN by the people looking for it.

With SEO, you’re basically presenting yourself to the world. You’re telling search engines that your website is essential to you and that you want all the people in the world to see it.

The better you present yourself, the more likely search engines will recommend your website to others.
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    The Difference Between On-page SEO and Off-page SEO

    Time to dive deeper into the core of SEO! The SEO industry is currently dominated by two very distinct methods of ranking websites: 

    On-Page SEO

    On-page SEO  refers to the ongoing work every day on your website. It includes producing great content, creating killer titles and meta descriptions, optimizing for user experience & usability, ensuring your site is mobile-friendly, and engaging with readers.

    Basically, on-page SEO encompasses all the work you do to make your website better. We all know that this is what it should take to rank well in search engines, but there are lots of aspects to on-page SEO. They are as follows:

    Content

    Serves as the ‘lifeline’ of SEO and is the most significant and most principal factor in ranking in Google. No matter how much effort you exert in setting up rules, keyword strategy, linking factors, etc. if your content is weak or not worth Google’s interest, there would be no remedy.

    Content matters most in search engine marketing. Now comes a crucial point: it is not necessary to have abundant content for search engines to recognize your website. According to The SEO Book, content is merely a tool that Google uses to fill up the database with information about websites.

    If Google allows for more pages on the database, the more pages you have in terms of keywords and makes it easier for people to search for what you have written.

    *Tip in content creation: Think like humans, not like search engine bots. *

    Think like humans, not like search engine bots

    Keywords (or Keyphrases)

    Your keyword is the most pivotal factor in ranking on Search Engines like Google and Bing. This is what you want your blog post to be available for. Craft your SEO strategy based on this factor.

    One of the main reasons why keyword research is necessary is because Google uses it to determine whether you are targeting the right audience and if your content is relevant to their search.

    It is also essential when optimizing your site, optimizing search engines, and improving conversations with visitors.

    Title Tag

    The title tag is what people see in the search engine results when they are looking for something. It’s also what makes up your Page Title when referencing your website. Without a title tag, your page would have no context and no chance of ranking in Google.

    Meta Description

    Meanwhile, this provides a brief description of what your webpage is about and is useful for both search engines and humans. The number of characters in this description stays fixed by Google, while the number of characters you can use in this description varies.

    Meta Keyword Tag

    This tag specifies the keywords that you want people to use when searching on your site, and it helps rank your page higher on search engines like Bing and Yahoo.

    It is best to put your most important key phrase at the beginning of this description and then fill it out with other key phrases related to your content.

    Header Tags

    There are six of them: <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, <H4>, <H5> and <H6>. You should use these tags on each page of your website, depending on the importance of the text.  

    Alt Text

    This is a text that is shown alongside your image when it is displayed. It should be an accurate and descriptive alternative to the “displayed image.”

    SSL/HTTPS

    This is a secure protocol for transmitting information via the Internet. It is a green bar that you see to your left on this blog. The three layers of the “green lock” mean:

    *Security (the padlock)

    *Encryption (the lock)

    *Verification (the green bar)

    You should include this if you are using eCommerce or collecting sensitive information from visitors.

    Internal Linking

    There are two types of linking: internal linking and external linking. Internal Linking is when you choose to direct search engine crawlers to your site from other sites. External Linking is when you decide not to direct search engine crawlers but write out a link that will point to your own website.

    Internal links are great for bringing visitors to your website because they are already looking for content that you have written. However, it is important to not overwhelm your reader with internal links because it can distract them from the information you are trying to convey.

    External Linking

    These are links that bring readers directly to one of your websites. When you use these to link to another site, search engines do not see your homepage as much as they do when you link internally.

    Off-Page SEO

    Now that you know the basics of on-page SEO, it is time to talk about off-page SEO. Pertains to how and where your website appears in search engines and the internet, it is more of what you can do to get more traffic.

    Here is a rundown on the three major off-page SEO factors:

    Link Exchange

    Getting reciprocal links from other websites, blogs, and news outlets. The more popular the link is, the more weight it holds with search engines. 

    Social Media

    It is a great way to reach a lot of people at once. Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, you should focus on one outlet and do it well. Be sure to up your game when using social media for your business, too, so you don’t look unprofessional.

    Guest Blogging

    There is a good reason why most search engines list out guest blogging as a top SEO factor. Use this to your advantage and create a bunch of content on different websites to publish under your name. It will be listed as a byline on their website, and you can show it off on yours too.

     

    Other off-page SEO efforts include:

    * Backlinks

    * Social Bookmarking

    * Article Marketing

    * Blog Marketing

    * Forum Posting

    The goal is to build a network of inbound links so that people who search for a topic in a search engine will find you.

    White Hat vs. Black Hat: The Difference

    Since we are done with the basic concepts of SEO, we need to know now the different approaches to win search engine’s approval. These different approaches are called White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO.

    Understanding The Difference

    White Hat SEO pertains to those who follow the rules and abide by the code of conduct to improve their search engine rankings. These people do no harm and commit no foul to rank their websites. They follow all the rules and play fair with search engines.

    On the other hand, Black hat SEO involves using tricks and techniques that go against search engines’ terms of service. Hoaxes, spamming, and other unethical practices are often associated with these SEO tactics.

    What Do You Need To Know About White Hat And Black Hat SEO?

    White Hat SEO

    What is White Hat SEO

    Known as the “nice” SEO, white hat SEO is a catch-all term used to describe any methods that comply with the guidelines set by search engines. This type of SEO results in high rankings, which can help you achieve your business goals.

    Highlights of White Hat SEO

    1.) Links to your website are obtained from reputable sources. These links represent websites that are trusted by search engines, so they should be considered.

    2.) Relevant information is included in the HTML code of your website. Search engines will prioritize your page when you make use of keywords and descriptions that best describe what it is all about.

    3.) Content is made available in various readable formats.

    4.) Users are the main priority. Anytime a visitor clicks a link, they should land on a relevant page that answers their query.

    5.) Valuable information is placed across various sites. Search engines will rank your site if they find out that you have been contributing to the online community and are an expert in your field of interest.

    6.) You study and analyze how other websites are placed in search results. You can even make use of search engine tools to help you with this step.

    7.) Quality links to your website are obtained from other credible websites.

    8.) Your links to other sites are done because of reciprocal links. These links indicate that you have been helpful to another site and have established a good relationship with them. Search engines will reward you for this also.

    9.) PBNs, article directories, and blog networks are used to help with your search engine optimization efforts.

    Black Hat SEO

    What is Black Hat SEO

    Considered as unethical among SEO practitioners, it is used by spammers who are at their last resort. They are desperate to get their website ranked in search results because they think that they can make money out of this. These methods involve getting links to their site from other websites. But these hyperlinks were obtained through black hat SEO practices.

    By doing so, they hope that their site will rank in the top ten search engines in just days or weeks! The consequence is they will be banned from search engine results.

    Practices that belong to this tactic:

    1. Using automated tools to build links

    2. Using spammy content with a link to your site

    3. Using paid links from directories and other websites that you registered. A search engine’s penalty can come in a month or two when they will find out the spam you have been doing. This means that you will be banned from search results for quite some time. Of course, this is not what you want, but there is no other way around this one!

    4. Keyword stuffing

    5. Creating thousands of links that are automatically generated by tools

    6. Creating content that does not provide any value to your customers

    Always bear in mind that Black Hat SEO is both expensive and risky. If you still want to go along with it, you need to study your competition and take note of what they are doing. By doing so, you will learn what techniques to use and what techniques to avoid.

    Pillars of SEO

    SEO is just like a spiderweb. As a spider spins a web to trap prey, good SEO techniques should be woven together to create a solid and durable set of pillars or foundations. If one pillar is missing or broken, the whole web will eventually come crashing down.

    In this section, we will go over the four pillars of SEO and how to strengthen each one for ranking success.

    First Pillar - Technical SEO

    Without strong technical SEO, your site will not rank. Before anything else, cleaning up your site’s coding and making sure HTML standards are met is a crucial step to take to help your website rise in the SERPs. Technical SEO also refers to making sure your site is mobile-friendly and working properly across different browsers.

    Furthermore, technical SEO ensures that your site is built with suitable types of content and loaded with the correct meta tags. The technical aspects of your website are what will help you rank for the keywords you want.

    Just like a spider web, many strands can be used to capture prey. Your goal is to place these strands onto the web in an organized way so that everyone who visits your site can find precisely what they are looking for.

    First, the technical SEO components that every website should have been:

    Keywords:

    They tell search engines what your site is about. Each page should have one primary keyword.

    Meta Tags:

    Meta tags tell the search engines what your site is about and what it’s all about. You can put a description of your company and a description of each image on your site.

    If you google the term “metadata,” you will find hundreds of articles that explain how to do this correctly.

    Title tags:

    They are also important but be sure to use your keyword. For example, if you want to rank for the term “web design company,” place it in every page’s title tag. The title tag appears at the top of your browser next to your website’s name.

    Furthermore, keywords should be included in the content text because Google gives preference to keyword-rich content (6 words or more).

    HTML code should be appropriately used and displayed correctly. Searched like “find and replace all” in google. Using the proper code and displaying it correctly is essential because it ensures that your code is up to date with what Google expects.

    Second Pillar - Content

    This goes with the saying content is king. While you are developing content for your website to target different terms, you will want to ensure excellent content. Scratch that great content, but it must be value-adding content.

    What is value-adding content?

    It is content that helps people. Thus, when you are creating an article on your website, think about the benefits that it brings to the reader.

    For example, if you are writing an article about improving your SEO, then align this directly with the benefit of how it makes them money. Make sure what you are creating is valuable for your readers so they will want to read it and benefit from it.

    Third Pillar - On-site SEO

    On-site SEO describes the ways that you can optimize your website to rank better in search engines. This involves adding tags to your site, content development, and content management.

    Hailed as the holy grail of online marketing, on-site SEO is the process by which you ensure that users continue to stay on your site if possible and want to return. In this way, you can eventually create a positive flow of traffic that will ultimately convert you into customers.

    In simple language, on-site SEO uses those four pillars to rank for a keyword or phrase.

    Fourth Pillar - Off-site SEO

    Off-site SEO refers to the ways that you can help your website rank by using external sources. Content from other websites, social media mentions, and off-page linking are just a few examples. For example, if a website that ranks for a keyword in Google has a link from a site that ranks in the top 20 in Google, then it will help their ranking because Google will see this as an external backlink from one page to another.

    In this way, the link helps offset the effect of “link juice” from other sites linking to yours.

    All four pillars make up SEO. Each one is equally important, so you must understand the importance of each one.

    Google E-A-T Guidelines in SEO

    The truth is, SEO used to be a lot simpler. It was so simple, in fact, that it barely even qualified as a field of study. That has all changed now, with search engines like Google and Bing becoming increasingly sophisticated.

    One of the areas where search engines themselves are getting smarter is in their unique spiders called “natural language processing” crawlers. These crawlers are scanning websites for the keywords that they use to build their own index. Because of this, webmasters must use keywords correctly and consistently throughout their site. This will give search engines the information they need to properly index your site and deliver useful keyword-targeted results to online visitors.

    In addition to using keywords correctly, it is vital to choose the best keywords for your site. This will not only improve the chances of your site being crawled and included in Google’s index, but it will also help you in your efforts to attract more traffic from search engines.

    What is E-A-T?

    Before we get into the nitty-gritty of these Google E-A-T guidelines, it might be helpful for us to take a quick look at the Google search engine ranking factors acronym, E-A-T. Stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

    Expertise

    Google is evaluating your site for how much it knows about the topic of the page that is being crawled and how much it has to say about that topic. If your site lacks proof of expertise, then it will be unlikely to rank well in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

    Giant companies such as Ford can rank well in the SERPs because they are perceived as experts in automobiles. If you want to be perceived as an expert in your niche, then the best way to do this is to publish articles about it on your site. Also, consider creating high-quality infographics and videos about it.

    Authoritativeness

    The more authoritative a site is perceived to be, the more likely that site is going to rank well in Google’s search engine results pages. It would appear that Google values these kinds of things more than just page rank or domain authority alone.

    This can be done in several ways. For example, if you have a blog on a site, then the blog owner will want to use their name in the “Author” section of the Google Authorship tool. Similarly, blog owners should use their names on the “About” page of their site.

    The more often you can clearly communicate that your website is being written by an expert in his or her field of study, the more authoritative you will appear to search engines like Google.

    Trustworthiness

    The more trustworthy your site is perceived to be by search engines, the easier it will be to rank in their search engine results pages. It would appear that Google looks at these kinds of things in a similar way to how they look at expertise.

    The clearest way in which you can demonstrate your trustworthiness is through links from other sites in addition to links from other authoritative sites.

    How does E-A-T fit into the algorithm of Google search engines?

    Internet users usually tend to ask Google, “what is the best way to rank on Google?” The answer they get, however, is more complicated than they might expect. The good news is that Google search engines have improved their algorithms in recent years and now offer a simple answer: those sites which have been well optimized for their keywords are given a higher ranking in search engine results pages.

    There is a more complex answer to this question, however: social signals and “inlinks.”

    Social signals – Google takes the number of social media shares of your content into account in their search engine algorithm. Social signals focus on “inlinks” (links that you receive from other sources such as social media such as Facebook or Twitter). By analyzing how many shares your content receives on social media, Google can determine how authoritative the source is and, therefore, whether it will place your site higher.

    In fact, Google has been studying the impact that social media shares have on local search rankings for some time now. In 2013, John Mueller from Google announced that links from quality sites such as Digg and Reddit do indeed count towards your site’s ranking.

    Google has even created a tool to assist website owners with this effort, called Search Console. The tool allows you to see all the “inlinks” your site receives.

    SEO Google Algorithm Updates

    Did you know that search engines have their own particular algorithm that governs how your website is ranked in Google? It’s true! Google is always adjusting its algorithm to ensure that the most relevant and fresh content rises to the top. You can even “spike” your site in Google with some timely updates.

    Google updates mainly refers to the practice of updating the search algorithms to try to improve. Oftentimes, these alterations, data refreshes and updates affect the position of a website in the Google (and other search engines) and can be used for SEO and link building purposes.

    They can affect your rank positively OR negatively. It depends. Here are the latest Google Algorithm Updates this year:

    2021 Updates

    Passage Ranking (February 10, 2021)

    It was officially introduced on February 10, 2021, after 7 years of Google Penguin Algorithm updates. It was launched to battle websites with low-quality content, sitewide links and duplicate content which have been plaguing the search engine over the past few years.

    Google mentioned that this update was created to provide the best user experience and content that is relevant and reliable. It was created to improve the quality of content over time and provide users with the most useful information online.

    With Passage Ranking, Google is taking a different approach than they have in the past by “updating” their algorithm, rather than launching a brand-new version. This will mean fewer times during the year when major updates occur, resulting in more time for businesses and marketers to prepare for changes and create strategies to keep ahead of competitors

    Product Reviews Update (April 8, 2021)

    The update is focused on product reviews. Google stated that users should be able to trust the reviews they read online and the information they find.

    Businesses wishing to promote products will need to provide enough information about their product, including what people can expect when purchasing that item. Reviews also need to be relevant and specific. For example, you should not be writing a review about a cat harness and then also talking about the avocado slicer that came with it.

    Broad Core Algorithm Update (June 2, 2021)

    This update was set to improve the search engine in terms of relevancy and accuracy. Businesses that Google believes are providing users with good, accurate content will be ranked higher in search results.

    The update also improved contextual matching. Google is now able to analyze much more content to improve its match accuracy when it comes to finding relevant webpages.

    Known Victims Protection (June 10, 2021)

    This update was focused on what Google calls “targeted attacks”. Websites are being spammed with content that makes the webpage look more relevant. The purpose of these website owners is to get users to click on more of their content, thus gaining them more traffic and profits.

    Page Experience Update (June 15, 2021)

    This update was created to better understand what keyword searches are relevant to users. Google will now be able to analyze keywords based on how people search, rather than the popularity of certain keywords. This makes it easier for business owners to find exactly what their potential customers are needing all while keeping the user experience relevant and helpful.

    Google said this update will help website owners create standards by which others can follow.

    Start Making Headway To Achieve Your Business Goals

    Hurray!

    We were able to lay the foundations you needed to keep going.

    What’s great about search engine optimization is that, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the things you can achieve. Hence, you’d better work on your skills to master these basic concepts. Use them to outrank your competitors and fulfill your customer’s needs.

    This is where your SEO journey begins. Take the steps now!

    FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

    How long does it take for SEO to work?

    A website needs to use SEO best practices for at least 6 months before it is considered well optimized.

    The longer that a website remains active, the higher its ranking will be in search engine results pages. It is also important to note that Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines are always changing their algorithms so gaining traction before being penalized by penalties can result in better results over the long-term.

    Can I rank a website without SEO?

    Yes, but it will take longer, and you will have to be more patient. It is important to set realistic expectations when you begin with SEO. It is also important to note that just because a website does not have SEO best practices in place does not mean that search engines will not pick them up.

    How much does SEO cost?

    There is no set price for SEO. Pricing is highly dependent on several factors. The more competitive your niche, the more pressure there is on the website owner to provide value to users before they want to do business with you. This means that it could be a lot easier for you to offer SEO services.

    How do I know if my website is SEO friendly?

    Having a website that is search engine friendly requires a bit of testing. Google provides a free tool that you can use to test your websites. The tool is called Webmaster Tools. This allows you to enter your website, and see which elements are being picked up by search engines as well as allowing you to view traffic data such as number of visitors and clicks.

    What is a good SEO score?

    SEO scores are calculated by evaluating a website’s relevancy to the topic it is trying to rank for. This is indicated by three numbers:

    The higher the score, the better your website will rank. If you are looking for a high ranking, then aim for a score of 100. It is important to note that this is not completely comprehensive, and rankings could still change.

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