SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a term which is applied to a series of actions to improve the visibility of your website in the Google/Bing/Yahoo search results. Your primary goal is to optimize your site in such a way that will allow your pages to appear in the TOP 10 results of the organic search.
Unlike the paid advertising services such as Google AdWords, SEO allows you to receive free organic traffic from a search engine. As a rule, if you managed to optimize your website for Google, it will be visible in other search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, AOL, etc.
Currently, SEO it is a catchall term which includes a variety of different techniques such as:
- Technical optimization
- On-page optimization
- Content optimization
- Backlink profile optimization
- Conversion optimization
- User-experience evaluation and improvements
- Mobile optimization
Why is SEO necessary?
In fact, there are only two ways to boost your website’s traffic:
- Paid search
But don’t mislead yourself since both approaches require investments. In the first case, you pay directly to Google, Yahoo, or another search engine. In the latter case, you need to hire an SEO expert or company which could assist you in the search engine optimization. Of course, there is a third option on the list is to be the SEO expert by yourself. My website thoroughly covers such a case.
Who is an SEO expert?
In the case of the search engine optimization, you must trust a specialist who is working on your project to promote it in Google or another search engine. As a result, the expert or a company must possess the sufficient experience in SEO. Generally speaking, it’s a difficult task to define the skills of an expert if you have no idea how SEO works.
For instance, despite a vast experience in SEO, I can’t call myself the SEO expert since I developed all my projects for myself. I possess the immense knowledge base in SEO. I managed to create a website which garnered about 200K unique visitors a day. But I’m not an SEO expert since I didn’t work on someone’s projects. I’d instead prefer to call myself an SEO consultant because I know how to start all the SEO processes from scratch. But if I assist many companies to improve their ranking after several Google penalties, I will call myself an SEO expert.
So, who is the indeed SEO expert in fact?
A company/specialist which knows how to assist you with the issues described below:
- Optimize your website for Search Engines and guaranty the uptrend in your ranking
- Fix all the possible mistakes to reduce the adverse impact of Google and other search engines
- Has an ability to recover your project after sanctions applied by Google
- Allows you to avoid the further mistakes
- Possesses an impressive number of successful cases
Frankly, there are a lot of qualities each SEO expert/company must possess. However, in my opinion, the essential feature of any SEO expert is the possession of enough skills and experience to cope with the aftermath of the Google algorithm updates and avoid further sanctions.
In other words, it’s not a big deal to climb onto the 1st place in the Google SERP. The primary goal is to remain in the TOP 10 for a long time. SEO expert thereby is the specialist who capable of keeping your visibility in search engines within the entire life of your project.
Is SEO complicated for a beginner?
The short answer is yes. To some extent, SEO is similar to a sport. You can’t compete with a champion in boxing before you managed to cope with the inferior rivals. Each of you wants to be in the 1st place by the desired keyword. However, the primary issue of SEO, you will have to face with is competition. The second issue is time. The more time a project exists on the Internet, the more advantages it possesses versus the rest of the websites.
As a result, as a beginner, you have vague odds to compete with those of websites which had been created before you launched your project. In my opinion, the first thing you need to do is to educate yourself. Even if you enlist for the assistance of an SEO expert, you need to know the basics. Otherwise, you won’t be able to explain your goals correctly. Fortunately, I disclose a lot of secrets for beginners on my website. I’d suggest you visit this page to start your way in the white-hat SEO.
White-hat SEO & Black-hat SEO
What is the difference between the black-hat SEO techniques and white-hat ones?
One of the basic rules you need to know about SEO is that there is no easy way to succeed in the Google SERP. You need a lot of time, money, and, of course, experience to achieve your goals.
However, there are a lot of offers in the market of the so-called “black-hat SEO.” The guys who practice such an approach are frequently promising you the fastest and easiest solution. I don’t recommend you to believe anyone who claims that there is the ultimate and universal SEO solution for as little as $199/mo. You will never gain success in SEO with such an approach. I wrote a blog post about the affordable SEO. Read this article to know why it’s better to avoid these suspicious offers.
Instead, I’d recommend you to educate yourself a little bit to learn what are the white-hat SEO practices. In fact, my entire blog is about this matter. Honestly, if you have enough resources, in that case, SEO would become an exciting adventure. If you own startup business, or you work as a manager of a big company/brand, and your task thereby to boost the organic traffic, you have a lot of aces in your hands. Besides, if you have a budget for the SEO needs, don’t waste your time in search of the suspicious solutions.
In the case of the white-hat SEO, the more valuable factor relates to the human resources. If you have the developers, designers, copywriters, and other employees in your office, I don’t think that you will be facing any SEO issues. Your current goal is to learn how the white-hat SEO works.
As for the black-hat SEO, this term is mostly applied to various suspicious link-building strategies. As a result of the sophisticated manipulation with backlinks, you might be experiencing the temporary effect related to the increase of your organic traffic. But you must be ready for the possible sanctions from the side of Google if you use the black-hat methods.
How SEO Works?
Previously, I described some points you need to follow during the optimization of your website. Let’s take a look at these options closer.
Before starting working on SEO, you must be sure that everything is okay with your technical setup.
- Your website must look healthy for both Search Engines and visitors
- Your server response must be immediate
- You need to implement the modern technologies, to fit the contemporary browsers
- The pages of your site must be mobile-friendly and open fast on any device
- You must secure the access to your website
In other words, your goal is to allow GoogleBot crawl your website. Meanwhile, the visitors who attend your project must have no obstacles on the way to your content.
There are a lot of details in your technical setup. I don’t want to cover all of them within this article. I only want to pay your attention to the most vital of them.
- Check your robots.txt file to be sure that you grant access to GoogleBot to crawl your website
- Create and tune up your sitemap.xml file since it’s the place where Google gets a structure of your project
- Tune up your web server (I’d suggest using NGINX instead of APACHE)
- Turn on caching (including PHP FastCGI)
- Tune up your framework such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.
If your on-page SEO optimization done correctly, you don’t need to take care of backlinks.
All you need to understand is that GoogleBot can’t see your pages like you, your friends, colleagues, and other humans. GoogleBot is an algorithm which only follows the guidelines. If you were lucky to follow the rules, Google would appreciate your efforts. But to do that, you need to explain the robot how to index your pages.
On-page optimization is the way how you show to the GoogleBot what is your page about and how to read the data on your page. To understand what the on-page SEO optimization is, I’d like to show you an example.
Imagine that you write a study or dissertation. There are some technical and stylistic requirements for your work.
You need to create:
- A table of content
- Show a list of your references
- Quote other authors
- Create a proper decor for your work, etc.
In the case of the on-page SEO, there are similar guidelines to a webmaster. To learn the most essential of them, I’d recommend you to read my article on the subject.
But, in general, your web page must have:
- A unique title (as for other articles on your website as well as versus other pages on the internet)
- A meta description (as a rule, Google uses a piece of your text for a rich snippet, but you can specify another paragraph of text)
- A series of H1, H2, H3, and other subheads
- Some outbound links
- A list of references, if you write about science, medicine, politics, etc.
- A microdata markup to allow GoogleBot learn the structure of your page
- The ALT tags to assist Google in indexing of your images
However, aside from the necessary on-page optimization, you need to take care about the readability of your content.
Your content must be readable, viral, and reliable. By the way, your content is not only the text but also, images, diagrams, infographics, video, etc.
Even if your project is an online store, you can’t only publish the pages of your products. Your potential client is going to learn more about your brand, define why your goods are unique, learn what trends are currently in vogue.
To satisfy your visitor’s interest, I’d suggest you create a blog. In other words, you need to mix your primary content with the entertainment content. I don’t mean that you need to amuse your visitors, but you need to bear in mind that they like to read various reviews, comparisons, marketing studies, not only buying your product.
As a result, the blog is the thing you must have as a marketing instrument. Google appreciates if you have some supplemental content in addition to your product pages. Do you understand what am I talking about?
My goal is to showcase you that you regularly need to “feed” GoogleBot with new content. You need to update frequently to succeed in Google. Therefore, you need to hire a content manager who would assist you with such an essential task.
Let’s take a look at another example. For instance, you sell used iPhones online. Your goal is to attract some visitors who will type in the Google search string “buy used iPhones online.” You know that your target audience always types this keyword into the search string.
But how about to create an article with a viral title “What’s better: to buy a used iPhone or new Samsung Galaxy?” Are these people who typed this query in the Google search string those among your target audience? I see no serious competition for this search query. This keyword might give you 5-10 visitors a day. Not a significant number of buyers, frankly. But what if you have 1,000 of similar articles? These blog posts might provide you 5-10,000 additional visitors to your online store. Is it clear now? That’s an example how the SEO works.
Backlink profile optimization
Most SEO experts take care of your backlink profile. But if your content is viral and exclusive, you might obtain quality backlinks for free. I’d first suggest you get acquainted with my article about natural backlinks.
Nonetheless, within the frameworks of this article, I need to explain to you how backlinks affect your SEO visibility.
Let me show you another example.
Let’s imagine that you’re a realtor. Your goal is to sell apartments, homes, and even mansions. The more recommendations you have, the more real estate you might sell.
The backlinks work the same way. Their effect is similar to those of the recommendation. As a result, your goal is to acquire as many backlinks as you can. But bear in mind, the quality of the links do matter.
In our example, you might ask a stranger to recommend you to your potential client. However, I doubt that such advice might be useful for a real estate buyer. On the contrary, such a recommendation might scare off your potential client. The buyer would rather believe a friend or expert. That’s why he is going to visit some popular real estate website or ask his friend to recommend him a real estate agent.
In the case of backlinks, the same rule might be applied. If some reputable websites link to your project, it’s a signal for a visitor as well as GoogleBot that your site is reliable. That’s why you must take care of your backlink profile. The same applies to bad backlinks. If someone is about to affect your positions in Google, the ill-wisher might paste numerous backlinks from the websites with a bad reputation. As a result of such action, GoogleBot might consider your site unreliable and thereby decreases your ranking.
Nonetheless, your best link-building strategy is to forget about them at all and focus attention on your content instead. Read one more article on the subject.
This type of SEO optimization is applicable for successful projects whose owners want to improve the conversion rate. I bet your goal is to convert visitors into buyers. In that case, your SEO expert must undertake the in-depth study of your data to define the possible flaws of your website’s usability.
Conversion optimization is the advanced SEO technique that allows convincing your visitors to purchase your products. It’s time to work with your rich snippet, usability, microdata markup, speed, navigation, etc.
It is another advanced SEO technique which is targeted to improve the user-experience on your website. The better your project optimized for a potential buyer, the more clients you receive. As a rule, your goal is to decrease a bounce rate of your website, increase the duration of a single visit, and the time which a unique visitor spent on your pages.
This issue is complex; it mostly depends on your layout and quality of content. The primary goal of your SEO team is to re-evaluate your website and make a verdict what to improve to increase user experience.
During the recent years, everything has changed in the world of SEO. This year, Google rolled out the mobile-first index, which means that today Google is more serious about your mobile optimization. Most visitors have left their desktop computers at home. Instead, they use mobile phones to get access to the Internet. As a result of such mobile evolution (or revolution), Google was forced to adapt to the new realities. Later, Google forced webmasters to follow the new guidelines for mobile devices. So if your website is not mobile friendly, you won’t be successful in the Google SERP today and in the future.
I’d suggest you use an adaptive layout for your project and avoid the mobile version. Ideally, your website must be attractive for viewing on any platform, whether it is an iPhone, iPad/tablet, desktop, TV, etc. As a result, the first and foremost you need to do is to check your site using these tools:
If you are in the red zone after these tests, you need to improve your layout to fit mobile devices. However, this step is not enough. If you have some piece of news content on your website, I’d recommend you to implement the AMP technology for your news pages. Such implementation might provide you a row of advantages over your rivals. I believe that in the future the entire Internet would be mobile. Already now, people use PC and MAC mostly for development. Therefore, Google aims to foresee the future. The mobile-first indexing is the first step in the future. That’s why your SEO optimization for mobile devices must be perfect.
Summing up, what’s SEO? If you take care of your business or brand, you can’t avoid the search engine optimization since the Internet is the essential part of your life in the 21st century. Each company has a website, while each man has a profile on a social network such as Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. As a result, Google (or another Search Engine) is a mentor, assessor, judge, advisor, assistant, etc. Any Search Engine has a row of guidelines we have to follow. In fact, following the instructions presented by Google is, in fact, what SEO is. The problem is that our world is dynamic. Google, Yahoo, Bing, all of them are trying to adapt to the new reality. Therefore, SEO is not only an essential practice; it’s a vital approach to your future business on the Internet.
In this article, I’ve tried to shed light on the matter of SEO. However, this topic is vast. My goal is to convince you to study this topic since these pieces of knowledge are useful for your business. If you are interested in the more advanced practices of SEO, I’d suggest you read all the data on my blog since I’m trying to reveal a lot of secrets and details of the search engine optimization.
The images presented in this blog post are made by Freepik