SEO has continually changed since Google first came online in 1998. I remembered applying to a small outsourcing company as a content writer. It was located on the second floor of a two-story building, with an internet café on the first floor.
During those times, getting a good Google ranking usually just involves jamming keywords into 10 articles a day and putting out tons of backlinks. Get the keywords, create a 1000-1,500 content article, check for plagiarism using Copyscape, and you’re good. By the way, my backlinking buddy was a 13-year-old kid who got hired on the spot while playing computer games.
Looking back you could say that Google’s ranking algorithm is not that strict in the early days. SEO meaning, Search Engine Optimization generally just includes someone who can spin articles and one who is dedicated to building backlinks. Within a month, a two-man team can put a website on the top 3 pages of SERP. All you need is perseverance and lots and lots of coffee.
The Great Purge
Google finally had enough and did an update on its search engine algorithms. I specifically remembered our old boss telling our team to cut back on backlinking, especially on non-related websites and forums. We were instead diverted to putting more effort into creating relevant content. Our two-man team transformed into a six-man writing team with our manager hiring more writers to meet the demands.
SEO evolution has come a long way, and for the better! Long gone are the days of stuffing keywords into content that has been re-spin to oblivion. And most importantly, doing backlinks on totally unrelated comment boxes and forums. It’s still a good laugh every time I remembered my buddy struggling to find the right words to relate our composite bow product to a wedding dress comment box.
What is SEO
When you search for something like “Best Video Card for Gaming” for example, the first website or product page that you click on is usually the website with the most traffic.
This means that people who want to buy video cards for gaming will see that particular product page first. Likewise, that website will more likely sell more video cards than its competitors.
Search Engine Optimization or SEO then is the method of optimizing your websites so visitors will visit your product pages first. This is done through the use of relevant keywords and optimizing with the different SEO components.
This means that the better your web page is optimized, the better its visibility on major search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
You could say that SEO is the expert manipulation of SEO tools so that more organic traffic will be diverted to your website. This will in turn increase your place in the Google search rankings.
SEO is the direct opposite of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) which offers paid traffic.
In today’s online market where competition is harsh, getting your website to the first page of the search engine result page is the best way to profit.
The Three Core Components of SEO
If you want more organic traffic from search engines, you are going to need SEO strategy tools. These optimization tools are divided into three components depending on their areas of operation.
1) Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the goal of getting organic rankings by ensuring that the technical demands of a website are met. These technical elements include crawling, indexing, rendering, and website architecture. The team handling technical SEO usually deals with Googlebots.
crawling – Googlebots are search engine crawlers that “crawl” through millions of websites to determine the most relevant pages.
indexing – this is where google organize or “index” information so that searching for them is super-fast
rendering – is the process where the Google bot retrieves your pages, runs your code, and studies your content to understand the layout of your website
website architecture – so visitors can easily navigate through your site to the relevant content that they are looking for
2) Off-Page SEO
The most common method of Off-Page SEO is creating high-quality links that you include in your content articles. Fixing broken links is important especially if you are revising old pages that contain links. Error 404 is the most dreaded result of a broken link. Using tools like Broken Link Checker can find duplicate and broken links on your website.
Think of these strategies as any optimization happening outside your own website. This includes social media marketing and guest blogging.
3) On-Page SEO
SEO optimization that occurs inside your website is called On-Page SEO. This is when you create relevant content to boost your website in search engine ranking. But this is not limited to creating blog posts.
It may also include creating unique title tags and meta descriptions, fixing codes, and speeding up your website.
On-Page optimization ensures that Google understands your page’s content and keywords. This is important so that Google can match it to relevant searches.
White Hat Vs Black Hat
Doing Search Engine Optimization can be difficult. This is why some people are willing to do improper methods just to get ahead. The proper method of doing SEO is called White Hat tactics. The bad way of doing SEO on the other hand is called Black Hat tactics.
White Hat Tactics
White Hat tactics are the methods of using approved search engine optimization tactics in order to increase the website’s Google Ranking.
Black Hat Tactics
Black Hat Tactics on the other hand uses underhanded methods and techniques that are considered taboo in the SEO community.
This includes metatag stuffing, keyword stuffing, cloaking, hidden texts or links, auto-generated content, duplicate content, and many more.
2-Step Method To Achieve High Google Rank
The most important factor in boosting your Google Rankings is the amount of organic traffic that your website is getting.
Organic or natural traffic is when people deliberately click your website link on Google, Yahoo, or Bing.
Basically, any traffic that is not coming from paid sources is called organic search traffic or free traffic.
You might have already known but google ranking results from this kind of traffic don’t happen overnight. You need months if not years to get the desired results.
1) A Great Page Experience
An efficient website is a good website. Don’t make your visitors work hard to find the content that they’re looking for. Make sure you have a good website layout so that readers can easily navigate your web pages.
I think everyone would agree that the greatest ranking factor of a website is speed. Slow loading time and unresponsive pages are the main cause of high bounce rates. Online customers are an impatient bunch. Optimizing pages for speed is the best way to hook and keep their attention.
Use external links when you reference something so your users don’t have to manually look it up. You can also use internal links to link your page efficiently to your other pages.
There are different factors that affect a visitor’s experience at your website. This means that writing high-quality content is not the only ingredient to an excellent page experience.
You need to adjust these variables in order to provide the best user experience and satisfy user intent.
Edit and optimize your web images. This is important since image files that are not optimized can slow down your website.
Afraid of losing the image quality? Don’t fret, use software like Optimizilla to optimize images without losing quality. Well-known editing software like Adobe Photoshop also has built-in compression features.
Finding the right file format is also important. PNG, JPEG, and GIF are the file formats usually used in web images.
PNG files are usually uncompressed. This makes the image quality very high. This format is useful if you want to use simple and transparent images. The downside is the large file sizes.
JPEG is used when using images that have a lot of colors and huge file sizes. The images are compressed to reduce the file size and the image quality is slightly reduced.
GIF only uses 256 colors with lossless compression making it useful for animated images. Yes, it is the same as the GIF you send on an online chat.
Every time you do a search query your browser cache will save the page resources of the website.
This way, your browser doesn’t have to load all the heavy resources like images every time you visit a website.
This is why you can still view a web page (if you don’t reload it) even if the Wi-Fi connection is cut off.
Some of you must be thinking if cookies and cache are the same. Cookies only load the user’s choices. The browser cache on the other hand saves the online page resources.
Getting more technical, scripts are really important. This is in the realm of IT experts but here is the layman’s understanding of it.
First, let’s found out the basic programming languages used in website scripting.
CSS or Cascading Style Sheet handles the presentation or appearance of the web pages.
To make it easier, let’s compare your website to an inverted tree. The document or web page that your reader wants is the root of this “tree”. Every time a user wants access to a piece of content or document.
The document must first be delivered from what part of the tree it is located. If you have a large tree, it will take some time for the document to load since it will have lots of stops along the way. This diagram is effectively called an HTML DOM or a DOM Tree.
Code Bloating is another way of slowing down your website. This usually happens with programmers over-coding using CSS or JS. Over-coding basically means adding unnecessary codes to your programming. To remedy this, do a Dead Code Elimination. This is the elimination of codes without affecting the program outcome.
Keep Ads In Line
Did you ever visit a website and right in the middle of reading an article, there’s an ad popping up? That’s annoying, isn’t it? You might have already noticed it but most websites nowadays use intrusive ads. These pop-ups are placed at random intervals throughout the content of the webpage.
They are small advertisements that interrupt the flow of the text. These advertisements are sometimes big enough that they cover the texts and even the search bar! Writing high-quality content is useless if the users can’t read them easily.
Intrusive Interstitials are page elements that make reading and interacting with your website difficult. It is best to avoid using these kinds of obtrusive dialog ads on your webpage. If it cannot be avoided, try using low-key ad dialogs.
The best way to do it is to use banners instead of full-page ads. A good example of this is the browser-supported banners like Smart App Banners for Safari.
Although, some websites have mandatory interstitials. This is because some website has explicit content that may not be suited to younger audiences.
Most people in the world are virtually inseparable from their mobile devices. From buying lunch to watching YouTube videos before sleeping, mobile devices have become part of our daily lives.
This means that your web pages must be optimized not only for windows. They must also look good when viewed from a mobile device.
Mobile-first Indexing was introduced to the Google community on July 1, 2019. This is enabled for all new websites created after that date.
For older websites, Google continues to review and evaluate the web pages if they follow the proper guidelines provided. If Google finds the website worthy, they are then notified in Google’s Search Console of the date that their website is switched to mobile-first indexing.
It is noteworthy that there is no separate mobile index. Google continues to use only one index whether you are using mobile or pc to view a website.
With that being said, it is important that your mobile page meta tags are the same as your desktop site. Using different meta tags from your desktop site might prevent Googlebot from crawling and indexing your website.
And it goes without saying that your mobile content should be the same as your website.
These are just some of the guidelines that help your website to be mobile-friendly. If you want a more in-depth guide to mobile implementation, visit Google Search Central documentation.
For tools to check your website performance try using Pingdom Tools and Browserstack.
2) Keep Them Reading To The End
Making content is easy. But keeping your readers interested enough that they read until the end of your article is hard. This is especially true when using search terms or keyword phrases that already have a lot of traffic. This makes content marketing the most engaging if not the hardest part of marketing strategy.
Create a Content Brief
Contents Briefs are layouts or guidelines that content writers follow. They are usually created by the clients or the content writer manager. These guidelines include the title tag, meta tags, blog title, goals, target audience, headline, tone of voice, how many headers and sub-headers, wordcount, list of keywords, and deadline of the article. Content briefs can be likened to blueprints that engineers used before building a house. Software like Frase offers a built-in Content Brief editor.
Make Unique Title and Meta Tag
When users search for a specific product, they usually just typed in a single word or phrase. This phrase or word is what you call a keyword phrase. Google then activates SERP or Search Engine Result Page to respond with a list of websites. These websites are all Meta Titles and Meta Tags that show a brief teaser of what the website is all about.
A good title should be about 50-70 characters. Must include the keyword/s that are related to your website. You can get tips and clues on how to write a good meta title by looking at the top websites on a particular keyword search.
Meta tags are an introduction to what your website is all about. Make them as engaging as possible. Tease the reader with a little info about what they are going to experience if they visit your site. The meta description can be any length but Google usually cuts it off to around 160 characters. So we generally suggest making 120-170 character meta descriptions.
Speak to an Audience and NOT like a Robot
The best way to deliver awesome content is when you imagine you are speaking to an audience. Imagine you’re explaining your topic to a friend. How would you start the conversation? What words will you be using?
This method is especially helpful if English is not your native tongue. Try taking notes in your own native tongue and translate them later into English. Your readers will definitely love this interactive way of content creation since it feels like they are talking to a real person and not with a robot.
Write for the Average Reader
Unless you are targeting a specific group of experts, you should write your content as if you are talking to the average man or woman that you met in the streets. An average reader doesn’t need big words. Keep your words as understandable as possible. If your product is burgers. Say delicious and cheap. You don’t need to explain them as succulent burgers with an ultramodern design. Keeping it simple and direct is the best.
Research Competitor Weaknesses
Researching your competitors can be a real help especially if you don’t know how to start your article. Check their content and web page in general and take notes on their strengths and weaknesses.
Software like Frase uses competitive evaluation in deciding the data used in their content brief overview. For example, the keywords used in this article are “What is SEO“, “SEO” and “SEO Meaning”. Using WordCounter you can see that the top website has about 1,200 words. In the Frase software, the optimal word count requirement is 2,400. That is double the amount of words used by the top website of this search query.
This is not limited to the word count. This also includes links, headers, and images. If your competitors have fewer or are using stock images, then you can include unique images on your web page. Fewer headers? Then make more!
Optimizing content for SEO can be a hard job. But if you manage to pull it off, it can be a rewarding experience and your clients will thank you for it.
This has been a long article so let’s summarize what we learned.
We learned that SEO is the manipulation of search algorithms to create organic traffic to your website. The do’s and don’ts of SEO marketing strategy and of course the steps on how to get a high google rank.
The main point to remember here is to avoid using Black Hat tactics. You might get some initial success but sooner or later Google will eventually track you down. Heavy penalties are the least of your problems. You might get used to doing these black hat techniques compromising your future career.
More Ease-of-life Software and Tools
I already mentioned a lot of online software so a few more won’t hurt.
Core Web Vitals. This software is an all-in-one package whose main job is to rate the page experience signal of your website. This includes the loading of the website, how quickly the site responds to a user, mobile friendliness, safe browsing, and many more.
Frase. This is incredibly good software that offers the best way to do a content brief. It has features like AI Writing and auto-corrects but the best feature it offers is its optimizing features and SERP integration. It also provides long-tail keywords that will further strengthen your content. And best of all, it will research the top websites based on the keywords that you provide and efficiently break them down into heads and sub-headers.
Google Analytics. A freemium software created by Google! This is an all-in-one package that offers website performance analysis. This includes content, marketing, products, and more. Since it’s created by Google itself, you can access firsthand Google’s special insights and machine learning capabilities.
Yoast SEO. This is a WordPress plugin that offers automated optimization of your site’s content and keywords. This plugin is one of the most popular WordPress plugins for 11 years now! It is automated but just like with AI Writing, it still needs a human’s touch and finishing.
The online marketing world is huge, and the competitiveness level is really high. To keep up with competitors you need to do search engine optimization regularly. This means maintaining a smooth website performance. And writing high content quality to keep your visitors happy.
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