The Basics of Search Engine Optimization
“This Is the Era of Less Is More with SEO.” – Adam Audette
The world of search engine optimization is complex and dynamic, but you can easily learn the basics, and even a little amount of SEO knowledge can make a big difference.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, is the method wherein through organic (unpaid) search engine results, you increase the quantity & quality of traffic, as well as exposure to your brand. In other words, in SEO you optimize web pages and their content so that they can be easily discoverable by users searching for words relevant to your website.
It also includes the process of making web pages easier for “crawlers”, a search engine indexing software, to find, scan, and index your website. SEO is more about knowing your audience’s intent, the words they’re using, the type of content they wish to consume, and delivering it in a way search engine crawlers can find and understand.
Search engines, like Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. continuously crawl or scan websites to slowly learn what all topics every user covers. They reward the user with useful sites that are easy to navigate and provide relevant information by allowing them to emerge higher on the search engine results page (SERP).
Why Should You Care About SEO?
A Large number of searches run on the internet every day, which means an immense amount of specific and high intent traffic. Many people search for specific products and services, and other things that directly relate to your business. Beyond that, your prospects are also searching for things that are somewhere loosely related to your business. These searches are known to have commercial intent.
Hence, SEO is the most powerful tool for all kinds of business and makes you ahead in the competition.
Before getting into the depth of the SEO process, let’s first understand about basics of Search engines.
Search Engine Basics
Search engines are like answer machines, which explore large pieces of content and check out many factors to determine which content is most relevant to answer the query.
Search engines work through three primary functions:
- Crawling: Search the Internet for content, scanning over the code or content for each URL they find.
- Indexing: Store and catalog the content discovered during the crawling process. Once a page is in the indexing phase, it is working to be displayed as a result of the asked query.
- Ranking: Ordering the pieces of content as per the relevance of searcher’s query, viz. ranking as most relevant to least relevant.
What is Search Engine Crawling?
It is the process in which search engines send out a team of robots, known as crawlers or spiders, to search for recent and updated content. Content is discovered by links, regardless of the format, it could be a webpage, an image, a video, a PDF, etc.
Google crawlers begin by scanning and fetching a few web pages, and then follow the links on those webpages to find new URLs. By hopping along this path of links, the crawler can search new content and catalog it to their index, to later be retrieved when a searcher is seeking information for his query.
What is a Search Engine Index?
Indexing is a process of storing and organizing/cataloging information or the discovered content, by crawlers, in the form of a huge database, that is relevant enough to serve up to searchers.
What is Search Engine Ranking?
When someone performs a search, search engines search their catalog for highly relevant information and then rank that content for solving the searcher’s query. This process of ordering search results is known as search engine ranking.
If you want your content to be found by searchers, you have to first make sure it’s accessible to crawlers and is index-able. Otherwise, it’s as good as invisible.
What is SERP?
SERP or Search Engine Result Page is the page that the search engine returns after users submit their queries. Usually, organic search results come up when we submit the query, along with paid search and pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Prerequisites for SEO
- For SEO, you need to have a website and access to its control panel.
- The website must contain relevant content including images, readable font quality information, and clear background.
- The website should be user-friendly, which means easy to access and navigate.
- Tools that we can use for SEO are – Google webmaster, keyword planner, etc.
Importance of SEO
- SEO helps in enhancing your website’s framework, that’s why it doesn’t matter how great your content is, you need to manipulate it as per SEO to gain top ranking.
- Gaining rank in any search engine increases your website’s reputation and a user can easily trust your content
- SEO has the power to create an exquisite user experience in terms of web page navigation.
- Credibility comes into consideration while doing optimization for search engines.
- Doing good optimization reduces susceptibility on getting attacked by any bug or hacker.
- There is no need to pay for ads in SEO.
- SEO helps PR.
- You can move ahead of the competition
Further, SEO is specifically important for small businesses because it makes reaching new markets and expanding beyond your original location much easier.
Here are the top 5 key benefits of SEO for small business:
- User-friendly websites
- Attract more customers
- Better conversion rates
- Build Brand Awareness
- Bypass Competition
What is the SEO Process?
SEO process can be summarized in step by step in detail as shown in the below image –
Now, let’s understand the hierarchy of the SEO process-
- On-Site SEO
- Link Building
- Keep Improving
- Analyze Ranking and Traffic
Mozlow’s Hierarchy theory explains that you can’t achieve top-ranked SERP, without following the hierarchy (as shown in the pyramid).
You must follow these seven steps for achieving successful SEO:
- Crawl accessibility so that engines can reach and index your content
- Compelling content that answers the searcher’s query
- Keyword optimized to attract searchers & engines
- Great user experience including ease of use, fast load speed, and compelling UI on any device.
- Share useful and valid content that earns links, citations, and amplification
- Title, URL, & description to draw high CTR in the search engine rankings
- Snippet/schema mark-up to stand out in SERPs
What are the different types of SEO TACTICS?
Let’s understand how you can use a range of SEO tactics to get your site ranking high.
If you want to boost your site traffic, then you must follow the below 6 types of SEO tactics. A multi-faceted strategy works best if you want to boost your search rankings. Out of these 6, the first 3 are the most important and usually, a mix of these 3 serves as the best SEO strategy.
- On-Page SEO – On-page SEO includes all of the things that your readers will observe when they visit your website. It includes content, images, HTML source code optimization, etc.
- Off-Page SEO – Off-Page SEO involves all brand promotion practices which includes building positive relationships with bloggers, journalists, social media personalities, and the people behind websites.
- Technical SEO – Technical SEO is related to on-page factors along with technical things that go on background, which includes optimizing images, uploading detailed sitemaps, caching information to speed load times, using a secure HTTPS connection, and other technical factors.
- Local SEO – For local business we use local SEO, which is like embedding a Google Maps marker in your homepage, adding a region or city to your page titles, descriptions, and keywords, and displaying awards and trust symbols, which can also make a big difference not only in being found by local leads but also in getting turning those leads into customers.
- App Store Optimization – App store optimization involves all practices related to the application, like app title and icon, which are the first two things that anyone will see in the application, hence they have to be descriptive and attractive.
- Youtube SEO – Though it is a niche type of optimization, still it can make a big difference in the amount of traffic you’re getting, as YouTube is one of the world’s most popular search engines.
Hence, Search Engine Optimization is the most important digital marketing tool for any type of website. The SEO-optimized website enjoys the added advantage of high visibility in Search engines and improves the user experience. Combine this information with some practice and you are well on your way to becoming a savvy SEO.