What is SEO and why do we see it everywhere?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, and you can find quite a few descriptions of this process. There are many definitions similar to the one provided here, but mostly all of them state the same. Search Engine Optimization is the process of optimizing a website and its content so it appears in the outstanding positions in the result of search engines (Google, Youtube, Facebook, etc.). To make this definition more understandable for SEO virgins, SEO ensures that if you search something on Google, a specific website comes up first on the page. In this article, you will learn about SEO basics and SEO services that are offered by top search engine optimization companies.
Even though Search Engine Optimization and SEO specialists have become very popular lately, they have been around for more than 20 years. SEO has drastically changed during those years, and even though some aspects of it stayed the same, it has become more relevant to the users’ requirements.
Since it is such a fast-growing/changing field, there is not a specific system for evaluating an individual’s knowledge. Since some people just do not have enough experience and are not fast learners (which is a crucial skill for SEO specialists), they end up disappointing employers. Mostly these “professionals” become the reason why some people think that SEO is a scam. But since the content on any website is created for users to read, Search Engine Optimization is crucial for each website. When we search for the information we need, the websites, which have provided this information appear in the search result because of SEO.
According to SEO.com: “it is the job of an SEO specialist to make your website show up at the top of the search engine results.” SEO specialists maximize traffic by increasing ranking within search engines. SEO specialists work with creative and marketing teams, and SEO is part of SEM (search engine marketing), therefore, they need to know both search engine optimization and search engine marketing basics. To become an SEO specialist, you can simply acquire knowledge from online materials, or a degree in marketing would help, but if you do not have one, do not consider this as a setback. All available materials will help you apply on-page search engine optimization tactics such as internal linking, title and meta tags, keyword tags.
1. Content marketing and SEO fundamentals
Content marketing and SEO fundamentals course is the best choice for someone who has just started understanding the SEO basics. It is an excellent start for anyone who would like to pursue a career path as a specialist or just an enthusiast. The course is taught by SEO expert Eric Enge, therefore, it is a great opportunity to receive unique SEO tips, and it is free!
2. Complete SEO training + SEO for WordPress websites
In order to enroll in this course, you should know the SEO basics and have a WordPress website. In this course, you will be introduced to 50 Search Engine Optimization factors on how to rank high on Google search. If you would like to save money and avoid hiring an SEO company, completing the “Complete SEO training + SEO for WordPress websites” course will help you achieve your aim by yourself, but you have to pay $199,99 to get there.
3. Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals
Search Engine Optimization fundamentals is a free course provided by Coursera. It covers quite a wide range of topics, therefore, it definitely deserves a shout-out. You will cover the following topics: the concept of search engine algorithm and their influence on organic search results, how to complete on-page Search Engine Optimization analysis, what is necessary for creating an effective SEO strategy, how to conduct keyword research, and select keywords. Based on numerous positive reviews, taking this course is definitely worthwhile.
4. SEO training course: Learn how to achieve sustainable organic traffic growth
As you can see from the name of the course it has quite a narrow focus, but it is extremely beneficial for anyone who would like to get a grasp of SEO basics and content marketing at the same time. You will acquire the necessary knowledge for link building, using blogging to rank high on Google, and generally developing your Search Engine Optimization strategy. And it is totally free!
5. Fundamentals of digital marketing
If you would like to get a bigger picture and understand the basics of digital marketing, this course is for you. It is provided by Google Digital Garage and consists of 26 modules, which sounds a lot, but since it is divided into small video tutorials with quizzes, it is relatively easy to complete. This course is free, and you will not regret completing it!
SEO strategy is what we need to achieve our goal – get more organic traffic. It consists of all the steps that we need to take in order to improve search engine rankings. Search engine optimization management is a complicated and unique process, here are several basic elements that you need to know to create your outstanding SEO strategy and.
Know everything about your company
Even though it seems obvious, acquiring knowledge about your company is vital. Know it’s weaknesses and strengths, how can you package and deliver them to your users/customers. You should have a clear vision, ask yourself questions such as: ‘What does this company stand for?’ ‘Why is it unique?’ Also, you should have a clear image of a product/service that you are going to offer. Defining what your company stands for and what does it offer will help you determine your audience, keywords, and the type of outreach.
After asking yourself questions about the company and its products/services, you can move to the audience. Doing research and surveying your hypothetical audience is quite beneficial. You will understand what they are like, what do they prefer, what type of content you should use on the website. If doing surveys or proper research is impossible because of your shoestring budget, try acquiring some knowledge from other companies’ practices that have the same/similar target audience, this way you will decrease the SEO cost too. Learning about other’s experiences is advantageous even if you have a lot of money since you will understand to avoid some paths and pursue others.
Project plan – a mind map
Researching information about your company and audience enables you to start planning. Using a mind map is not only recommended for SEO strategies, but for any complicated jobs/projects that contain several elements. By creating a mind map you will clearly see what you already have and what you are going to do with it. Since it is a draft of your final strategy, you can keep as many elements as you wish, combine them with each other, emphasize which are the most significant ones, and concentrate on your priorities.
After you create your final strategy, you should concentrate on setting goals. You can have short-term goals such as daily or weekly goals or long–term goals such as monthly, quarterly, yearly goals. Each goal should be precise and related to a specific element, you can set financial goals or goals for increasing ranking/organic traffic. Setting goals is an essential part of professional search engine optimization services since it shows how far they have come and what they have achieved. You need to complete this step to show the progress to yourself and to others, but also to alter and adjust your strategy as time goes.
Keywords have a prominent place in the list of SEO tools. They have not been the main component for achieving high ranking for some time now, so there is no need to include them in the title tag anymore, but doing keyword research and implementing a keyword strategy is still vitally important. Keywords provide us with information about the user’s needs, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to satisfy them. Before you start your keyword research, you should understand what your aim is and what you want to accomplish with more traffic, because high traffic itself cannot be your ultimate goal. Most of the time, the aim is earning more money, so getting more sales. You could have several aims, therefore, you need to create many keyword categories and work on them separately.
The most common types of keywords which you are going to use:
- Head keywords – the type of keywords with the highest search demand, keywords with low search demand are called ‘long-tail keywords’.
- The second type is local and global keywords. Local keywords are used to refer to a specific area, whereas global keywords can be connected to general ideas/matters.
- The third type – Primary keywords, also known as the most prominent keywords and secondary keywords also called “supporting keywords”. Secondary keywords can help you reach your target by increasing the chance of reaching your primary keyword.
SEO Keyword Generators Online
Ahrefs Keyword explorer
Ahrefs keyword explorer is described as “the most complete keyword research tool on the internet” on their website and that is not an exaggeration. Unlike other keyword generators, this one can estimate keyword volumes for 10 search engines. It also enables you to have access to data for 171 countries. There are various filters for your keywords to rearrange them in your lists and find those of the utmost importance. Also, you will find a useful tool called “lists” on their website too, which makes sure that none of your keyword ideas are lost. You can make numerous lists and return to your ideas when you need them.
Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
The best feature about Keyword Tool is that the service which is suggested by it is free (you can also get Keyword Tool Pro and Keyword Tool API, but you have to pay for them). Keyword Tool claims that it offers better tools for SEO and content marketing, because, unlike Google Keyword Planner, it is not created just for advertisers, and it does not hide numerous keywords. Also, since it uses 83 google language interfaces, generated keywords are relevant to the countries/languages that they are aimed at.
Semrush Keyword Magic Tool
Semrush Keyword Magic Tool does not have the word “magic” in it by accident. If the word “magic” cannot sell it to you and you do not want to be “the most powerful magician in your marketplace”, then maybe the fact that it has a database with more than 18.9 billion keywords does the trick. There is a great feature called “Questions filter” to find the questions asked by search users. Also, Semrush Keyword Magic Tool enables you to manage your keyword lists with various metrics. If you are still not sure whether to invest in it or not, they have a 7-day free trial, and you can try it with all its glory for free.
Semrush Keyword Magic Tool
One of the signs of a profitable SEO strategy is creating outstanding content because content still remains as a prominent SEO tool. Even if you are not a content creator, always read them, and decide if they are worth posting. Are they written just for the sake of creating new content, or do they bring something beneficial (information or encouragement to open up a discussion) to your audience? Obviously, it should include essential keywords, but including them should not be forced and unnatural.
How long should it be?
It is a quite tough question and cannot be answered with one number. Obviously, it depends on the subject, but writing 200 – 300 words is not enough (this does not refer to short announcements). You should provide enough information so that everything is understandable to your audience.
What about outbound links?
Outbound links are especially essential if you are providing informative content, citing your sources if they are (they should be) authoritative websites that have a positive influence on your readers is necessary. This way users understand that you have done proper research and respect you more. If it is not an informative post/article and you have a different format, including links to relevant websites still does not hurt. Again it brings relevance and context to your piece of writing, but you should always avoid including outbound links to websites with a bad reputation since you do not want to be associated with them.
Image and video
Using images and videos in your post/article will break it up into several pieces and make it easier to engage with it. It is proven that engaging with a couple of paragraphs without visual content is harder for readers than reading and seeing visual references. However, if it is not absolutely necessary, do not flood your content with many videos, including one or two is enough. Try and provide only high quality visual content and it will increase dwell time too.
Try and share your content on social media platforms and enable others to share it too. It does not affect the ranking directly, but definitely increases your brand’s popularity. Including the above-mentioned visual content increases the chance that your content is shared on different platforms and, therefore, is seen by more people.
We cannot talk about SEO content without mentioning keywords. Each piece of writing starts with a list of keywords that should be included in it. Since your goal is to rank well, mapping out keywords is the most significant step. Forcing keywords is never recommended, however including your primary keyword in the first paragraph is ideal. It is not that hard since your primary keyword is very likely the thing that you are writing about. On the other hand, it is highly recommended to use semantically-related keywords since it emphasizes the fact that the writing is not forced and fits in naturally.
Before Search Engine Optimization link building became a thing, text on a web page was used in order to rank a web page. Web publishers started using keywords to boost the ranking, but not all web pages that ranked were relevant for users. Search engines are created for satisfying a user’s information needs, therefore, search engineers found a different way of developing the user’s experience. It appeared that a web page was important and trustworthy if it had accumulated many links. Nowadays, in order to rank a web page, search engines consider not only the number of links included on a web page but the relevance and importance of them too. Moreover, there is a method called “link ranking” to rank the links themselves. Mostly the links which are paid for (e.g. “Powered links) do not count as relevant or significant for the content. Links are used to ranking a web page, but they are not the only SEO ranking tool. Even if a web page contains a lot of links and is considered important but cannot give information that users need, it will not rank at the top of the search query.
Link building myths:
1. Myth #1 – Backlinks determine google ranking
If a web page is in the top search query and it has a huge number of backlinks, it is automatically considered that the web page has such a prominent position because of backlinks. But people forget about many other elements of ranking, such as content relevance and query intent. Best search engine optimization services never direct their strategy towards only one direction, let it be backlinks or any other factors.
2. Myth #2 – Guest posting is a negative practice for link building
When a guest post is done just for the sake of including links it will not have a positive influence. However, high-quality guest posts and even no-followed links have direct and indirect positive effects – they increase both brand visibility and flow of traffic.
Good and bad links
1. Niche directories are the least popular. Because of purely done and, therefore, not successful Niche directories, they have a bad reputation. The thing is that if you choose a website, which is reliable, popular, and will be visited by your target audience, Niche directories will do their job – bring traffic to your website. When we talk about niche directories, we have to refer to “Black hat SEO techniques”, which basically means that it is forbidden by search engines to manipulate ranking, therefore, including a link/links in exchange for money/products is considered an unethical practice.
2. Editorial links are the most popular type of links and it cannot be a surprise, since Editorial links are included in genuine content. When a blogger/journalist fancies a product/service/company, they include a link and express their authentic attitude towards it. Sometimes they dedicate a whole article/post to one product/service/company, but it is equally beneficial if they just mention your website and include a link to it, users still consider that the author trusts you. Editorial links can be considered as “White hat SEO technique” since they represent the author’s authentic attitude towards other creators, their thoughts/products/services.
3. When it comes to the reputation of guest blogging, it stands somewhere in between Editorial links and Niche directories. When you write guest posts, you should focus on providing valuable and engaging content. When it is obvious that the content is created just for including links, you get no result, moreover, it damages your reputation. So, if you would like to attract more users, go the extra mile and provide high-quality content. When it comes to guest blogging, it is mostly considered a “Grey hat SEO technique”, since if it is done properly, with high-quality content it belongs to “White hat SEO techniques” but if it is done poorly, e.g. duplicate content, it belongs to “Black hat SEO techniques”.
What is SEO neighborhood and why is it important?
In order to understand what is SEO neighborhood (also called link neighborhood), it is suggested to imagine a real neighborhood with houses and streets connecting them to each other. If all houses are in good condition and the neighborhood feels safe, more people want to live there, there are more buyers, so demand is quite high. Conversely, if the majority of houses are demolished, even if there is a beautiful house in the neighborhood, people do not want to buy it, it does not feel safe. You can associate houses with websites, streets with links, and buyers with search engines. Therefore, you should always check your backlinks and find out if those websites have a good reputation. Always avoid having connections with websites, which have outbound links to gambling, adult, or offensive websites. No matter how hard you try to improve your content and satisfy user’s needs, if you have connections with those types of websites, you will be associated with them. You not only should control what you link to, but also which websites mention you too. If you find a website that links to you has gambling content, you should ask them to remove the link. If they refuse to do so, you can use the disavow tool in webmaster tools. When you think about your website like your house, you understand that you should equally worry about the state of your website and the state of your neighborhood (the websites which you link to or link to you).
An online presence is undoubtedly important for global and local businesses, SEO localization contributes to local businesses. In order to define SEO localization, we can take the definition of organic SEO and state that SEO localization (or local SEO) is the same thing but with a local focus. Local SEO is especially important for businesses, which have a location. Basically, when you search “the best pizza in town”, the fact that you can choose from a couple of restaurants depending on the reviews and distance is because of SEO localization. In order to understand people’s local search behavior better Google did a research and found out that “ ..four in five consumers want search ads to be customized to their city, zip code or immediate surroundings. By engaging consumers with location-based ads, advertisers can provide them with the information they need to take action.” Emergency services and food chains are two types of businesses which get the most benefits from SEO localization. On the other hand, businesses that operate only online, such as online sellers, do not get much from local SEO because they simply do not have a location.
Content as a part of SEO localization
First and foremost, do not provide thin content. This tip is crucially significant for any type of content, but especially for content when it comes to local SEO. Content should represent the culture, knowledge, humor, history, and depth. If you focus on creating such quality content instead of counting keywords or checking if the content has the maximum word count for the query, search engines will promote your business. It doesn’t really matter what type of business you own, you can always have a section for blog posts/articles on your website and you can use that section for communicating with your audience. Obviously, you can write about relevant topics to your business, but also think out of the box, discuss local matters, create an atmosphere where people want to engage in a conversation, talk to them, by using comment sections you can build a community.
Local Link Building
Since you already understand the significance of link building, we can discuss local backlinks and the difference between local and usual backlinks. When it comes to link building, having popular websites link back to your website is quite important, but local backlinks work a little bit differently. Backlinks emphasize locality, to put it more clearly, the website that links to you should be able to speak to your local people, your local customers. Even if this website does not have a huge audience itself, the main thing is that it is your target audience.
Myth – Local link building is not beneficial and sometimes not even possible
Local link building, especially for a small business, can sometimes be harder than link building for a well – known business, but this is the call for SEO specialists to leave their comfort zone and think creatively. Even if you are trying to accumulate backlinks for a little start up that sells socks, you will find local bloggers who promote your socks!
Google my business (GMB)
Google places and Google local are ancestors of Google my business. Google my business enables business owners to manage their online presence, and it is free. Google my business gives your business a public identity and presence with a listing. You can communicate with your customers, manage their reviews, add photos and stay connected even during a pandemic. All these actions will help your listing on google.
Local reviews and their importance
According to a research conducted by Local SEO guide, reviews are the most significant local SEO ranking factor. Clearly, online reviews play a serious role in a customer’s decision-making process. If a business has some reviews on Google My Business page, it can rank well. What is said in those reviews is equally prominent. It is undoubtedly better to have few positive reviews than many negative ones. Therefore, if you would like to have a good ranking and succeed concentrate on acquiring reviews on your Google My Business page.·
Geo modified keywords
Since you already know the prominence of keywords, you probably understand that keywords play a huge role in the success of SEO strategy. Geo modified keywords are queries with local intent. In order to include all the keywords that you wish, write all the keywords which you want to rank for and then add a location to them. Search volume for geo modified keywords will be lower, because you have narrowed your audience but the search volume will represent your actual target audience, people who will become your customers.
Social media platforms
It is not a surprise that using social media platforms has a positive effect on your online presence. Moreover, those platforms are places where customers review businesses. You should let your customers know that you are always up for discussion, on any platform they wish. Communication is the key. Even if your customers comment something negative, communicate with them openly, discuss the issue, and show your audience that your online presence is authentic and truthful, let them know that you create a diverse environment.
SEO Meta tags and SEO Meta description
The Meta tag is a summary of a page’s content and contains less than 155 characters. Whenever you search for something, the search engine shows a Meta description of the website that has the answer to your query. The title tag is the text that appears at the top of our search results, it should be chosen carefully since title tags influence the ranking. It is recommended to use your primary keyword in your title tag and the main keyword/keywords in the Meta description. Creating a Meta description is a relatively easy job to do but it significantly increases CRT (Click-Through Rate) so definitely spend your time on creating them. Your job is to make sure that the Meta description is relevant to the page because it is worse than not getting an average CRT. When users guess that they have been misled by the website, they lose trust, and eventually, the website is considered as a misleading page, without respect among users.
On-Page and Off-page SEO Checker Online Platforms
On-page and Off-page SEO checker platforms evaluate your usual search engine optimization or mobile search engine optimization and give SEO tips for developing your strategies.
Google search console
According to Google: “Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your site’s presence in Google Search results.” Google Search Console is considered as one of the best SEO tools because it gives all the information you need to better your presence on google. Google Search Console helps you understand what kind of content gets many backlinks, boosts rankings for underperforming keywords. So, by using “Search results” report, you can compare organic traffic in different periods of time and rearrange and alter them as needed.
Bing Webmaster Tools SEO Analyzer
In order to use an SEO analyzer, you need to open a free Bing Webmaster Tools account and ad and verify your website. An SEO analyzer can scan a page and inform you what needs to be altered or developed in a new direction; it analyses any page and tells you if it is in compliance with some of the best SEO practices.
Neil Patel SEO analyzer
SEO analyzer provides a report containing information about on-page SEO score, organic monthly traffic, backlinks, keywords, (SEO) health check, critical errors, warnings, and recommendations. The report also teaches you how to improve your results by providing videos with step-by-step instructions.
Understanding SEO basics and its significance are essential for business owners, but it is equally important for anyone who is interested in digital marketing. SEO techniques and practices are constantly altered and modified and it probably will not lose its prominence any time soon. Hopefully, this article will encourage you to dive into the unlimited SEO materials and courses in order to deepen your knowledge, but if not at least you understand the concept of SEO well.