Search Engine Optimization
New to SEO? Looking for higher rankings and traffic through Search Engine Optimization? The Beginner's Guide to SEO has been read over 10 million times.
The Beginner's Guide to SEO
What Is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and How Does It Work?
The art and science of getting pages to rank higher in search engines like Google is known as search engine optimization (SEO). Because search is one of the most common ways for individuals to get information online, ranking higher in search engines can result in more visitors to a website.
Paid ads often appear at the top of the results page in Google and other search engines, followed by regular results, or what search marketers refer to as "organic search results." To distinguish organic search traffic from sponsored search traffic, SEO traffic is commonly referred to as "organic search traffic." Paid search is also known as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click advertising (PPC).
The Advantages of SEO
Because search is one of the primary ways that users traverse the web, search engine optimization is an important aspect of online marketing. In 2014, approximately 2.5 trillion queries were made using search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, and Yandex around the world. Search engine traffic (also known as "natural" or "organic" traffic) makes for a considerable amount of most websites' total traffic.
Search results are provided in an ordered list, and the higher a site can rank on that list, the more visitors it will receive. For example, the top result for a normal search query will receive 40-60% of the overall traffic for that query, whereas the second and third results will receive much less traffic. Only a few percent of searchers go past the first page of results. As a result, even little improvements in search engine rankings can result in increased visitors and, perhaps, business for a website.
As a result, many organizations and website owners may attempt to manipulate search results so that their site ranks better than their competitors on the search results page (SERP). This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.
What is SEO and How Does It Work?
To choose which pages to show for any given query, search engines like Google utilize an algorithm or set of rules. These algorithms have become increasingly complicated, taking into account hundreds, if not thousands, of different ranking parameters when calculating the SERP rankings. However, search engines look at three key indicators to assess a site's quality and where it should be ranked:
Links - In Google and other search engines, links from other websites play an important role in determining a site's rating. The reason for this is that a link from another website might be interpreted as a vote of quality, as website owners are unlikely to link to low-quality sites. Sites that receive links from a large number of other sites gain authority (referred to by Google as "PageRank") in the eyes of search engines, especially if the sites linked to them are also authoritative.
Page Structure - Page Structure is the third and final core component of SEO. Because web pages are written in HTML, the structure of the HTML code might affect how a search engine evaluates a page. Site owners can boost their SEO by including important keywords in the title, URL, and headers of their pages, as well as ensuring that their site is crawlable.
Content - In addition to links, search engines examine the content of a web page to evaluate whether it is relevant to a given search query. The creation of content that is targeted toward the keywords that search engine users are looking for is a big aspect of SEO.
In order to rank higher in search results, the search engine optimization method entails tweaking each of these basic components of search engine algorithms.
Techniques for Search Engine Optimization
Understanding how search engines function is only the first step in enhancing a website's search rankings. In order to improve a site's ranking, numerous SEO tactics must be used to optimize the site for search:
Content Marketing - Once suitable keywords have been found, it's time to start thinking about content marketing. This can include both updating old content and producing entirely new items. Because high-quality content is valued by Google and other search engines, it's critical to research what's currently out there and create an engaging piece of content that gives a great user experience and has a possibility of ranking highly in search engine results. Good content is also more likely to be shared on social media and to garner links.
On-Page Optimization - In addition to off-page considerations like links, upgrading the page's structure can have significant SEO effects, and it's a factor that the webmaster has complete control over. On-page optimization tactics include incorporating keywords into the page's URL, altering the title tag to contain relevant search phrases, and describing images with the alt attribute. Updating a page's meta tags (such as the meta description tag) can also help—these tags don't have a direct impact on search rankings, but they can enhance the SERP click-through rate.
Keyword Research - Looking at what keywords a site already ranks for, what keywords rivals rank for, and what other phrases potential buyers are searching for is generally the beginning point for SEO. Identifying the terms that people use to search on Google and other search engines can help you figure out what existing content to optimize and what new material to generate.
Link Building - Obtaining high-quality backlinks is one of the main levers that SEOs have because links from other websites (called "backlinks" in SEO lingo) are one of the core ranking factors in Google and other major search engines. This can include promoting good content, contacting other websites and developing connections with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and obtaining press to draw links from other websites.
Site Architecture Optimization - Internal links (links within one's own website) are just as important for SEO as external connections. As a result, a search engine optimizer can boost a website's SEO by ensuring that vital pages are connected to and that relevant anchor text is used in those links to improve a page's relevancy for specific searches. Creating an XML sitemap for larger pages might also aid search engines in discovering and crawling all of the site's pages.
Semantic Markup - Optimizing a website's semantic markup is another SEO method used by SEO specialists. Semantic markup (like Schema.org) is used to express the meaning behind the material on a website, such as identifying who wrote a piece of content or the topic and type of content on a page. Rich snippets, such as more text, review stars, and even photos, can be presented on the search results page by using semantic markup. Rich snippets in the SERPs have little effect on search rankings, but they can raise search CTR, resulting in more organic visitors.
The Best SEO Tools
As a somewhat technical subject, SEOs rely on a variety of tools and software to aid in the optimization of websites. The following are some of the most regularly used free and paid tools:
Google Search Console - Google Search Console (previously known as "Google Webmaster Tools") is a free Google tool that is a must-have for any SEO. GSC can help detect and resolve on-site technical issues by providing rankings and traffic information for top keywords and pages.
Google Ads Keyword Planner - As part of their Google Ads product, Google offers another free tool called Keyword Planner. Despite the fact that it is created for sponsored search, it can be a useful tool for SEO because it provides keyword ideas and searches volume, which can be useful when conducting keyword research.
SEO Platforms - There are a variety of SEO platforms available, each of which combines many of the tools that SEOs use to improve websites. Moz, BrightEdge, Searchmetrics, and Linkdex are among the most popular. These tools keep track of keyword ranks, assist with keyword research, uncover on-page and off-page SEO opportunities, and do a variety of other SEO duties.
Backlink Analysis Tools - There are several link analysis tools available, with AHREFs and Majestic being the most popular. Backlink analysis tools allow users to see which websites link to their own or competitors' websites, and they can also be used to find new links during connect building.
Social Media - While most social media sites have no direct impact on SEO, they can be useful for networking with other webmasters and developing relationships that can lead to link building and guest posting opportunities.
From Clicks to Conversions: Search Traffic Optimization
When done correctly, search engine optimization may drastically improve the quantity of traffic that a website receives, but that traffic won't help a business develop unless it converts into paying customers. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) can help with this.
Conversion rate optimization is making changes to websites and measuring their influence on conversion rates using techniques such as A/B testing. Successful search marketers understand that simply driving traffic to a website is insufficient; what the traffic does once there is as crucial.