SEO for beginners – SEO is a practice of strategies, technologies and tactics for increasing traffic to your website from search engine results. It helps search engines to know about your website, the resource it provides and get you the right customers. Simply put, SEO helps make it easy for consumers to find products and services online. The goal of SEO is to improve your website’s rankings. So potential clients searching online can find you and do business with you. This is accomplished by creating useful content on and off your website that users will link back to. Search engines like Google evaluate websites based on a large number of factors to determine the best results to display to their customers.
SEO breaks down into two major parts. The first part is helping search engines index and analyse your website so they can easily identify what your website is about and how it relates to different search terms. Google analyses or crawls over 13,000,000,000,000 sites a month. So if your website code is confusing or incomplete they are likely to pass you up. The second part of SEO is providing your website visitors with a good experience. In other words ensuring that your website visitors quickly find what they are looking for. Search engines are constantly updating their algorithms to measure and emulate real human behaviours. This helps them determine a website’s user-friendliness and popularity. A searcher will possibly like your content and link back to your site if they get a good experience. These actions are indicators to the search engine that consumers like what they found. Overall SEO is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort, continual monitoring and refining. It is the process of helping the search engines organise the World Wide Web, providing searchers with the information, services and products they are looking for. It is also the process of satisfying the individual needs of the searcher by quickly delivering content that not only matches their search query but also delivers the best experience.
Is Domain Age An Important Google Ranking Factor?
A new site may not have much content and back-links on it compared to older sites. So it cannot rank well in the search index. But after a few months, site rankings can be based on the availability of good quality contents on the website which the visitors they are looking for, as well as the number of backlinks to the site. So at that stage, domain age is no longer an important issue.
- Ranking Factors
Following are few important ones among the many factors that determine the rank of your site in the search results:
- Site’s crawlability: Make sure your website is made crawlable for Google’s spiders to crawl through.
- URL Structure: Using the hyphen instead of the underscore in your URL helps it rank.
- Keywords: Using right keywords helps to rank well.
- Content: Good quality content has to be incorporated for both crawlers and users.
- Images: Uses images with alt text in your contents.
- Internal Linking: Internal linking can help users and search engines to navigate easily and crawl through the site.
- CTR (Click-Through Rate): Percentage of people that clicks on your links or website can help you get a SERP boost for that particular keyword.
- Loading time: High loading time of a site can hurt its ranking.
- User-friendliness: The more user-friendly a website is, the more is the number of visitors to the site.
- Rel=canonical: This HTML tag, when used properly can help Google redirect the duplicate contents on a website to the preferred page.
2. Keyword Research
Identify your customer persona
This is the step that most people skip but it’s very important. Most people would open up a keyword research planner and type a bunch of related keywords into the tool. But this is exactly what your competitor would be doing. So you are only going to run into the exact same set of keywords as your competitors.
Your customer spends 99.9% of their time online not searching for what you sell. If you only target your customer when they search for the exact thing you sell, you are missing out on hundreds of other opportunities to get in front of them. So go to related forums and online communities. That way you can see what your target customer searches for when they were not searching for your products. Then you will discover that they are thousands of keywords that your target customer types into Google that is related to your products. You can target these keywords and get your business in front of thousands of target customers, every single day.
Find topics your customers care about
Go to where your target customers hangs out online. Keep an eye on the topics they tend to discuss. Keep digging to get few topics your target customer is interested in, from online communities.
Do not focus primarily on the keywords while writing the contents. Google’s main intent is to provide its users with best results. So try to provide a blog that will prove useful for the readers.
Few methods to find top keywords are:
- Google Suggest
Head over to Google and type your topic into the search field, but do not press enter. Instead, take a look at the keywords Google suggests for you. These are usually awesome long tail keywords. Also, try putting space before your keyword to get a completely different set of keyword ideas.
Quora is a massive community of people who ask and enter questions on every topic under the sun. All you need to do is search for your topics in quora and see which keywords turn up.
Reddit is similar like quora. Simply head over to reddit and search for your topic. Keep an eye on words and phrases that tend to come up again and again. These make awesome keyword ideas.
- Type your topic into Google. Then scroll to the bottom of the results. Google will then show you other searches that are related to the keyword you just put in.
Type in your topic and take a look at the other entries that the article links to. Also, take a look at the table of contents.
- Analyse each keyword’s commercial intend
Commercial intend simply means how likely someone searching for your keyword is to buy from you. To find your keyword’s commercial intend type one of your potential keyword into the Google keyword planner. Take a look at the suggested bid column. This shows you how much advertisers are spending on AdWords for a single click in this keyword. Higher the suggested bid, more valuable the keyword is. Another simple way is to see how many adwords appear when you search for your keyword in Google.
- Keyword’s search volume
Today unless you are running active adword campaigns, Google keyword planner show you an extremely unhelpful search volume range. There are two premium tools that help you find the exact search volume numbers; SEMrush.com and KWfinder.com. Just enter your keyword into these tools and you can find the exact amount of searches for the keyword every month.
- Look for your keywords growth in Google trends. If there are 2 or more keywords go with the one that is growing.
- How Many Words & Keywords Do I Use On A Page?
Every page has a distinct approach to the number of keywords.
It is apt to use 1 keyword per page for blog pages. Landing pages focus on a keyword family that contains several related words.
Homepage is more complicated and you have to be very careful about the title tag and Meta description tag of the homepage. The title tag should be less than 60-character limit and meta description should be less than 160-character limit.
- What is The Perfect Keyword Density?
If you continue to repeat words over and over again, then maybe you are in danger of getting keyword stuffing. Mentioning a word for the first 1 or 2 times may help in ranking. But repeating it over 6 or 7 times need not help you rank high. Always work your keywords in your content in a natural way. If you spot anything unnatural, a person reading may get annoyed by it and it can harm your ranking. Using same phrases on a page as many times as possible looks fake. So make sure to use your keywords naturally.
- Can I Just Write Naturally and Rank High in Google?
Yes, you can just write naturally to rank in Google search results. But to rank higher, you should have an idea about the keywords you are focusing, depending upon the sector you are involved with. You should know about the other competing pages and target keywords for definite.
- Do You Need Lots of Text To Rank Pages In Google?
You need not have a lot of text to rank high in Google.
Google’s major objective is user satisfaction. So user’s search intent is what Google considers while ranking a page. A recent study shows that there are 3 main user intent searches:
Here the user mainly intend is to do something like register, sign up, buy a product, etc.
Users would want to know or learn on certain queries. Most Google searches fall under this category. You need high-quality contents to rank high for this kind of searches.
Here the user knows exactly the website they are looking for.
So to rank high, you have to present your content in the best possible manner for the users.
- Page Title Element
A title tag is an HTML element that describes accurately and concisely the contents of a web page. Title tags are displayed on search engine result pages as a clickable headline. It can be also found on the top of the web browser so that users easily understand about the page, especially while using multiple tabs. You can also find the title tags on social networks when you share the page.
Your title tag is the first impression of your website to a new visitor. So it has to be written and optimised very careful for both user and search engine. Few points to be noted while optimising the title tags are:
- It must be 60 characters long, even though the exact limit is based on a 600-pixel container. Characters that exceed this limit won’t be shown on the search page.
- Do not use keywords repeatedly.
- Find a unique content for your title tag.
- The important keywords are to be kept first.
There are cases where Google may not use the title tag you have provided. This mainly happens when your title tag is keyword stuffed. You should have to rewrite the contents in such cases.
- Meta Keywords Tag
Meta keywords tags are a series of keywords or phrases that informs the search engines about a particular website. It notifies the search engine the certain keywords related so as to display the contents for appropriate searches. Meta keywords not visible anywhere on the website or search engine result page. It can only be found in the source code of a page and is visible to the search engines.
11. Meta Description Tag
Meta description tags are snippets that describe the contents of a page. It helps the search engine and user to understand what a page is about. It commonly appears under the title tag in the search engine result page.
Meta description tags are very important in SEO. It helps to increase the click-through-rate of a page by drawing searchers to a site. Google bold the keywords in the Meta description that are queried for in the search bar. The important points to be focused while creating a meta description tag for your page are the following:
- Write contents that are compelling to entice visitors to your page.
- The length of a meta description is usually 160 character limit. When exceeded this limit, Google cuts off the rest of it.
- Avoid duplicate meta description tags. Meta description should be unique for each page.
- Do not use quotation marks as Google cut off the meta description at places where quotation marks appear.
12. Robots Meta Tag
Robots meta tag or robot directive is a code that tells and directs Google how to crawl and index the content on a particular web page. There are 2 basic types of robot meta tag:
- Meta robot tag
It is present as an HTML code that is within the web page’s head section.
It is included as a part of HTTP header to direct google on how to index a page as a whole or certain elements in the page.
The commonly directives used in robot meta tags are the following
- nonindex: To tell the crawler not to index a page.
- index: Already present as default to direct the crawler to index the page.
- follow: Direct the crawler to follow the links on a page.
- nofollow: Tell crawler not to follow the links on a page.
- noimage: Tel the crawler not to index any images on the page.
- none: It means both nonindex and nofollow.
- noarchive: Tells crawlers not to show any cached links on SERP to the particular page.
- nocache: It is same as noarchive, but used only for explorer and firefox.
- nosnippet: Tells the crawler not to show any snippet for the page on SERP.
- noodyp/noydir: Meaning no open directory project/no yahoo directory. Tells the Search engines not to use the information provided on these directories, especially if outdated.
- unavailable_after: Tells the search engine that it shouldn’t index the page after a definite date.
- Robots.txt File
Robot.txt is a text file used by websites to communicate with web crawlers and web robots. It tells the web crawlers not to crawl or index a particular UIRL. It is saved at the root of your website’s domain.
Robot.txt tester is the tool used to edit or make the robot.txt files. “Disallow” is the command used in the robot.txt file to specify web crawlers not to crawl a URL.
- H1-H6: Page Headings
Header tags are very significant for on-page SEO as they tell the search engine and users what a page is all about. The header tags starts with h1 and extend till h6. The first 3 header tags are the most important ones to be optimised for SEO. It’s really helpful to utilise the first 3 header tags with a short tail and long tail keywords for good SEO. But make sure it shouldn’t be keyword stuffed inappropriately.
Header tags have their own place on the website and should be used sequentially starting with h1. H1 should have keywords related to the title of a page. H2 tag is a subheading to h1 tag, h3tag is a subheading to h2 tag and so on. It’s better to use keywords that are closely related to the h1 tags in the h2 and h3 tags as well.
- Alt Tags
Alt tags or attribute tags are the important factors for optimising the images on your website. It describes the search engines about the image, as search engines like yahoo, bing and google cant crawl and index images and graphics on the websites.
In some cases due to slow internet connection, the text in the alt tag may be displayed in the place of the image. It can be also used by screen readers for the blind to tell them about the image.
Link Title Attributes, Acronym & ABBR Tags
Link attribute tags define a hyperlink. Acronym and ABBR tags are used to define acronyms or abbreviations. It seems these invisible tags are mostly ignored by Google and it doesn’t pass any benefit
How to build Real Google Friendly Website
90% of people visit Google for finding information or data related to their query. Google now primarily focusses on giving its users the best results. So in order to build a Google friendly website, you must provide its users with what they are looking for.
- Provide high-quality contents on your pages that accurately describes your title.
- Create relevant backlinks from authorised sites for Google to crawl and index the page. Also, provide internal linking on your website. It is very important not to use unnatural links through doorway pages, link schemes, etc. to your site as it can spam your site after some time, even though it can sometimes provide you with a fast result.
- Make sure that every URL on your site is accessible easily and there shouldn’t be any broken links on your website.
- If there are pages present on your site that the visitors can’t see or if you try to cloak pages, there are chances that your website can be spammed by Google as cloaking is considered as a black hat SEO technique.
- Be careful not to choose SEO companies that utilises misleading SEO techniques. Such companies usually promise you fast results in a particular time limit.
- Do not use images to display the important information on your site as crawlers cannot fetch images. Also, ensure to use attribution tags to all the important images on your site to get it recognised by crawlers.
If there are two or more copies of the same page use canonical tags or redirects that directs to the preferred version of the page.
Which Is Better For Google? PHP, HTML or ASP?
Your site can be built in PHP, HTML or ASP. It doesn’t matter to Google when it comes to ranking your site. You just have to make sure that your website is user-friendly and crawlable.
- Does Only The First Link Count In Google?
If there are 2 or more links pointing to the same page in a content, then there are chances Google may count only the first link you provide. Provide such links only when you find it necessary for the reader.
- Double or Indented Listings in Google
If there are two pages on your website with good internal structure, backlinks and are relevant enough, there are chances that both might rank in the first page of search result.
- Redirect Non-WWW to WWW
The www and non-www versions of a website can be treated as two different URLs even though they are getting you to the same page. You must redirect non-www to www or vice versa depending upon your preferred version using canonical tags or 301 redirects. If otherwise, it can affect your website’s ranking on the SERP.
- 301 Redirects Are POWERFUL & WHITE HAT
If there are multiple pages with similar or almost similar contents over same or different domains they can be redirected to a single page using 301 redirects. But make sure not to misuse this method by redirecting totally unrelated pages or redirecting low quality links to one URL, as this is heavily spammed and penalised.
- Do I Need A Google XML Sitemap For My Website?
You need not have a XML sitemap for your website if your site has an architecture that can be crawled and indexed easily. Most CMS now generate XML sitemaps automatically. XML sitemap is a file on your server that lists all the URLs on your website with additional information like when and how often changes are made and how important it is when compared to other URLs to make it easier for google to crawl and index.
These are used mainly for large websites that publish contents regularly as google can pick out and index these recent updates.
- A Non-Technical Google SEO Strategy
As mentioned earlier Google wants to provide its visitors with the best results for each query. If you have good contents on your site, you can get lot of quality links from other trusted sites. Slowly you have to build an authority site that will prove to be very helpful for the users and Google will place its trust on your website.
- What Not To Do In Website Search Engine Optimisation?
Following are list what not to do while optimising your website for the search engines:
- Using titles that are unrelated to the content and default titles like “untitled”
- Lengthy titles that are confusing the visitors.
- Unnecessary keyword stuffing.
- Totally unrelated meta description
- Generic descriptions like “This web page contains”, “page is about”, etc.
- Keyword stuffing
- Contents copy pasted to as such and presented as meta description
- Single meta description for all pages of a website
URLs and pages
- Lengthy URL
- Excessive stuffing of keywords into URL
- Directory names with no relation to the content
- Usage of capital letters in URL
- Presence of both www and non-www versions of URLs of the same page
- Different URLs accessing same contents on a website
- Allowing 404 pages to be indexed
- Finding messages like “page not found”, “404 error”, etc. while accessing the page
- Outdated HTML sitemap page
- Complicated navigational structure linking every page to every other
- Presence of duplicate contents
- Hiding text on your website
- Buying backlinks
- Buying keyword rich domains, writing contents on it and then linking it your website.
- Constantly changing the site page’s name without using redirects
- Presence of contents and texts full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes
- Large text on a page without paragraphs, subheadings or layout separation
- How Long Does It Take To See Results?
Search engine optimisation is not a quick process. It might take months to benefit from SEO and optimise your website for the search engine is a continuous process, as Google keeps changing its algorithm.
- What Makes A Page Spam?
A page may be spammed due to following reasons:
- Cloaking of pages
- Presence of hidden text on pages
- Unnecessary keyword stuffing
- Presence of duplicate contents
- Using doorway pages
- Feeds, fake blogs, fake search pages with PPC ads
- Parked domains