Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the easiest forms of digital marketing to execute. However, a lot of information that is available is either too technical or hard to comprehend.
As a result, SEO is often portrayed as the hardest form of digital marketing hence why most people often shy away from it. But this should not be the case.
While most guides fail to give you a simplified approach to SEO, this post will teach you how search engines determine which content ranks higher and what to leave out.
I will also take you through the simple steps that will help you optimize your website from scratch to the most advanced SEO practices. But before that, let us look at an easy-to-understand definition of search engine optimization.
Simply put, SEO is a set of practices aimed at improving your website’s content to gain more visibility on search engines. It is also a non-paid form of digital marketing and that’s the best thing about it.
To get us started, here are some of the key terms that you will come across so often when it comes to search engine optimization:
Keywords are words or phrases that tell search engines what your content is all about. The two common keywords are:
- Short-tail (keywords that contain only one word)
- Long-tail (keywords with three or more words)
This is optimization carried out on individual web pages on a website. This includes adding title tags and meta descriptions so that your content can be visible on search engines.
Off-page SEO is the opposite of on-page SEO. It refers to optimization activities done outside a website to bring traffic back to the site.
These activities include backlinking, guest blogging, or sharing content on social media.
We will take a detailed look at on-page and off-page optimization later.
For a website to rank better on search engines, it needs other sites to point to it. In return, this tells search engines that the content on that particular web page is important.
You can also decide to build internal links by linking to pages within your website.
The process of creating links within a website or getting other sites to link back to a website is called link building.
To determine how to rank web content, search engines visit websites, and scan their content to index it. This practice is known as crawling.
When search engines crawl your website, it’s content is added to the database, a process known as indexing.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
If you type something on a search engine, your answer is displayed on search results pages hence the term search engine results pages.
These are the major terms that you should have at your fingertips to understand SEO better.
Next on, let us look at some of the SEO practices that search engines hate.
To manipulate their overall ranking on search engines, some websites tend to overuse certain keywords on a given web page.
Search engines hate keyword stuffing and this can lead to a permanent ban.
Over the years, search engines have updated their algorithm to penalize websites that duplicate content on web pages or by lifting what is already available on the internet. Besides, such content tends to be poor quality and bad for the reader.
This is another practice used to influence search engine ranking. Website owners pay so that other sites can link back, a practice that is frowned upon by search engines.
Generally, these practices are referred to as black hat SEO. You should try to avoid them as much as possible when optimizing your website.
With the key terms and black hat SEO practices in mind, let’s talk about what makes search engines love your content and rank you higher.
How to rank higher on search engines with white hat SEO
You already know that search engines hate underhand techniques that aim at manipulating web crawlers to rank higher.
When it comes to white hat SEO (optimization practices that follow search engine rules) there are two ways to go about it:
- On-site optimization
No matter how much you work on improving your website, your effort would not yield much if you fail to optimize your content.
So how do you go about it?
- Build internal links
These link to other pages within the website and help search engines understand your content better.
Search engines use link signals to rank your website content in the order of the web page that gets linked to most to the least.
- Page titles
Page titles help search engines understand what a web page content is all about. They are the clickable text that appears on a search engine results page.
Ensure that your titles capture what your content is all about while sticking to the given character limit (Google has a limit of 65 characters for this)
- Write a detailed meta description
Meta descriptions are the text snippet that appears below page titles on a search engine’s results page.
A well-written meta description includes relevant keywords so that it can easily be identified by search engines.
- Off-page optimization
To bring more traffic to your website from external sites, you will need to do the following for off-page SEO:
One of the hardest bit about search engine optimization is probably getting sites, authority sites, to point back to your website.
You may want to reach out to bloggers. who write for these sites, submit your guest articles or create quality content, and hope other sites link back to it.
Either way, backlinking is one of the top-ranking factors if you get to hack it.
- Guest blogging
Submitting quality guest articles to authority sites is one of the best, and proven, ways of generating backlinks.
Because the search engine prioritizes authority sites when assessing backlinks, you will need to focus on guest blogging on such sites.
- Social media sharing
Social shares are not factored in during search engine ranking but they do bring traffic back to your website which influences the click-through rate.
Besides, this is a great way of promoting your content. Right?
After optimizing your website perfectly for search, you will need to keep track of the analytics to monitor whether this bringing more traffic- or helping you rank higher.
This is where SEO tools such as Google Analytics come in handy to help you monitor the results.
To sum it all, make sure you stick to white hat SEO to avoid any penalty. Also, remember to keep track of the results so that you know what is working well and which areas need some improvement.
Did this guide make you think of a new way to up your SEO game? Let me know in the comments and I will be glad to engage with you.