Each day there are more than 5 billion searches on Google worldwide. This is such a huge number that by the time you read these two sentences, there have already been a total of 1 million searches. For this reason, for a business to appear on the first pages on Google search results can be crucial to whether it succeeds or goes bankrupt. But what does SEO, search engine optimization mean and how does it work?
Let’s start with the SEO basics!
You probably already know by now that SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. But what do you need to optimize? The design? The texts or the links? Yes, yes and yes - all three and more!
SEO is the art of achieving a good position in the search results amongst the links that appear organically. In other words it is the process of creating online content on your website that the search engine will like, meaning that when a person is searching for the keywords you use on your website, your link will appear on the top of the search results.
Let's see why search engine optimization and being at the top of the list on Google is highly important to every company:
Let’s say you have a cooking blog and you wrote a wonderful article about making vegan lasagna. Naturally, your aim is to appear on the top of the list when it comes to searching for vegan lasagna recipes. Most likely SEO will come to your help and Google will rank your website as one of the top results! But what does this process look like and why does it matter so much?
Most online browsing starts with searching, and of course, 80% of search engines use Google’s engine for this. When we consider the fact that the top 5 results receive 67% of the clicks, it also becomes clear why it is extremely important to understand the Google algorithm. Well, now it is clear why the joke ”there is no better place to hide a corpse than on the second page of Google” has spread. If your article, product, or website doesn’t appear on the first page of Google, it’s like it doesn’t even exist!
So how do you get started with search engine optimization?
1. Technical SEO - or establishing the bases
Technical search engine optimization is the improvement of non-content elements. But what are these exactly? These parts of your website are nonvisible for visitors, however, these are an important part of their browsing experience. Basically, technical SEO is about how a website works and how a search engine indexes its pages. Think of it as the foundation of a building. Without its bases, no matter how well-made and beautiful the palace is on the surface, the structure will never be reliable enough. Technical SEO may seem daunting and complicated at first, but it’s worth understanding its principles. There are parts you can do by yourself, but there are many in which you should ask a web developer for help.
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The first step in technical search engine optimization is regular maintenance and constant attention to your website. With the Search Console, Google's official tool, you can check your website's SEO abilities and search results for free. You can detect major errors and Google "penalties" on your page as well. The app also sends you emails about bugs, but you should always be proactive, as monthly checks can often be very helpful!
The other extremely important step is mobile optimization, but you must have thought of that by now. Nowadays, people mostly search on a mobile device, so it is important for a user to be able to continue browsing your site easily after clicking on the link. Responsive website design is also crucial, as Google prioritizes pages that look good on smaller screens as well.
How fast is your website loading? Is that so important?
Yes, it is! There is no one who wants to spend long seconds loading an article or a webshop. The Google PageSpeed app helps you to find what slows down your website, and by ruling that out, you can land as a top result! Tip: Many times, switching hosting providers can help to solve the problem.
2. On-page SEO – or home decor
The other two categories of search engine optimization are on-page and off-page SEO, and of course, you need to be an expert in both to have a properly optimized website. On-page SEO is Google’s ranking algorithm examines the content elements of web pages, such as titles, descriptions, and page structures.
Let’s start with the previous analogy: We’ve already built the house on a strong foundation (of course, the technical SEO). It has beautiful a small garden with a path from the fence to the front door, and you can find all the equipment and interior elements on the inside. In this case the small garden with the path is the off-page SEO, while the interior design of the rooms is the on-page SEO.
What happens if the lawn is mowed, the garden is wonderfully tidy, but the furnishings are dirty and there is an ugly mess inside the house? You may have many visitors thanks to the marvelous garden, but they are worth nothing if they turn around and exit the door within seconds of seeing the warzone inside your home. The problem is not only that you quickly lose your visitor, but they will be treated as a bounce by Google, and the higher the bounce rate of a website is, the lower it will appear in Google’s search results, as the search giant will judge it to be useless based on past data, so you won’t get any new visitors. Better tidy up then, right?
The most important elements of on-page SEO are the use of proper content and the right keywords.
Proper content is unnecessary to explain: it is clear that search engine users will be satisfied if they find the perfect content they are looking for, only with a few searches. Naturally, Google tries to show them the most relevant content possible. For this reason, it is extremely important that the content of the page has meaningful information, is useful and interesting, satisfies the needs of the search engine, and provides answers to your questions.
Well, using the right keywords is a little more complicated and requires a little research. Google’s algorithm is an artificial intelligence, so it can be difficult for it to guess what your website’s content is about if we don’t give it simple keywords.
It’s important to use relevant keywords because you most likely won’t attract the right audience with the wrong phrases. For example, if you ask compensation for your services, don’t use words like “free” to get worthless visitors and increase your bounce rate.
Invest in exploring your competition. With the free Google Keyword Planner application, you can discover not only the highest-volume keywords, but also the most competitive ones as well. No, do not use these, rather avoid them, as it is extremely difficult and expensive to compete with large and successful sites in search engine optimization.
3. Off-page SEO - or the organized garden and path
Off-page SEO are variables that Google takes into account, but are independent of your own activities. It collects information from other sources, such as social networks, blogs, and the personal data and demographics of the users.
It’s time to step out of the house and take a good look at the garden and the sidewalk. It is just as important as the interior of your house, as if the garden is not inviting, no one will enter your home either, no matter how tidy it is this time!
The first method of off-page search engine optimization is to build trust. Google uses the TrustRank system to determine whether or not your website is trusted. It takes into account links from other websites (such as trusted, big news sites), these are called backlinks. It is especially useful if the backlink comes from the websites of official government or educational institutions.
The other useful method not only comes in handy for SEO.
It is time to build your brand! If you have a relatively well-known brand with enough searches on your name, Google will rank your website ahead of searches related to your industry. According to one study, 70% of search users click on results for a well-known brand, rather than unknown ones. So, there is no question which will be preferred by the search engine algorithm.
And last but not least, the final element of off-page search engine optimization is demographics. If someone searches for a restaurant, different results will appear for someone living in a capital and for those living in villages. Google also includes age, gender, and other characteristics such as your browsing history in the ranking of your results.
Let’s see a short summary of the most important thing we’ve learned today!
We hope that now it’s clear: search engine optimization isn’t optional these days. A necessity without which online businesses are more likely to fail in the short term, even though it doesn’t take a lot of work to master the basics properly, so if you have a website, you definitely have to get started today! If you need help, choose Briefly’s professional SEO wizard freelancers to help you take your website to the next level.