Do you want to learn SEO but don’t know where to start? Read our complete SEO guide for beginners and learn everything you need to know to proceed with search engine optimization on your own!
You don’t need to know ALL the factors and the exact algorithms Google uses to rank your website. But you need to cover the key components of SEO to be successful.
An easy way to understand the 3 most important factors is to imagine a bowl of soup – the SEO soup.
There are three key aspects of SEO:
- Technical stuff – The bowl represents all the technical aspects you need to cover (often referred to as technical or on-page SEO). Without a proper bowl, there would be nothing to hold the soup.
- Great content – The soup represents the content of your website – the most important part. Low-quality content = no rankings, it is that simple.
- Quality backlinks – The seasoning represents the backlinks that increase the authority of your website. You can have great content and a perfectly optimized website but ultimately, you need to gain authority by getting quality backlinks – the last ingredient to make your SEO soup perfect.
Before we dive into specific techniques and aspects of SEO, let’s cover the basic definitions, vocabulary and frequently asked questions. Are you ready? Let’s start!
- White Hat SEO Techniques
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- Nam tempus, est ac fringilla bibendum, mi dolor faucibus purus.
- Black Hat SEO Techniques
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What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing your website with the goal of improving your rankings in the search results and getting more organic (non-paid) traffic.
The history of SEO dates back to the 90s when search engines emerged for the first time. Nowadays, it is an essential marketing strategy and an ever-growing industry.
Search engine optimization focuses only on organic search results and does not include PPC optimization. Both SEO and PPC are part of Search Engine Marketing.
The search engines are used by internet users when they are searching for something.
And you want to provide the answer to that something. It doesn’t matter whether you sell a product or service, write a blog, or anything else, search engine optimization is a must for every website owner.
To put it simply:
SEO is all the actions you do to make Google consider your website a quality source and rank it higher for your desired search queries.
Useful vocabulary: On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO
As soon as you start digging into SEO, you’ll come across some common terms that try to categorize its various aspects or approaches, namely:
- On-page SEO & off-page SEO
- Black hat SEO & white hat SEO
Although they are not that important from the practical point of view, it is good to know their meaning.
The terms on-page and off-page SEO categorize the SEO activities based on whether you perform them on the website
On-page SEO is everything you can do on the website – from the optimization of content through technical aspects.
- Keyword research
- Content optimization
- Title tag optimization
- Page performance optimization
- Internal linking
The goal is to provide both perfect content and UX while showing search engines what the page is about.
Note: The terms on-page SEO and technical SEO are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes used to distinguish the content-related optimization (e.g. title tags) and technically-oriented optimization (e.g. page speed).
Off-page SEO is mostly about getting quality backlinks to show search engines that your website has authority and value. Link building may involve techniques like:
- Guest blogging
- Email outreach
- Broken link building
Off-page SEO is also closely connected to other areas of online marketing, such as social media marketing and branding, which have an indirect impact on building the trust and authority of your website.
Remember that a successful SEO strategy consists of both on-page and off-page SEO activities.
White hat SEO vs. black hat SEO
Black hats and white hats have their origin in Western movies. They represented bad guys and white guys.
In SEO, the terms are used to describe two groups of SEOs – those who adhere to the rules set out by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and those who don’t.
- Black hat SEO is a set of unethical (and usually spammy) practices to improve the rankings of a website.
These techniques can get you to the top of the search results in a short time, however, search engines will most probably penalize and ban the website sooner or later.
- White hat SEO, on the other hand, refers to all the regular SEO techniques that stick to the guidelines and rules. It is a long-term strategy in which good rankings are a side-product of good optimization, quality content, and a user-oriented approach.
While SEO experts agree that “white hat” is the way to go, there are different opinions on the acceptability of various link building techniques (including link buying).
White hat, on the other hand, uses organic techniques and demands quality in a site in order to ensure it performs well for search. This means that numerous factors have to be taken into consideration and optimized, such as:
- Written content
- Images and video
- Meta information
- Site architecture
- Site performance
A note on keywords
Keywords still hold value but must be used correctly. Many SEO professionals don’t bother putting keywords in the Meta information as Google doesn’t look at them anymore. See the video below for Google’s Matt Cutt’s reasoning on why keywords in meta information are more or less ignored by the search engine now:
Keyword ‘stuffing’ used to be a very common practice and was a black hat method intended to ensure that the word associated with a company was picked up. We’ve all seen those articles which are barely legible as every other word is a keyword. Many good SEO content writers now refuse to write content where a client may ask them for a keyword density of 7%, as it lessens the quality of the piece considerably.
However, keywords do still have their place for use with site content, including blogs, images and video and PPC/Adwords. These days, it’s better practice to use similar words throughout a piece of writing as well as the main keyword. Key phrases are also good practice and should be used. It’s also important that these are used in Titles and sub-headers as well as throughout the text.
For example: Keyword = SEO software
This should be used a couple of times in the text, in the headline and a similar phrase in a sub header. Throughout the piece, related words and phrases can be used for context, such as:
- SEO analysis software
- SEO tools
- Search engine optimization
- Search tools
And so on. A great tool for this is Google’s Keyword Planner,.
As you can see from the image, I’ve searched using the key term mentioned above and narrowed down the audience to the countries I would like to target and the industry niche that the site is in. This gives ideas for Ad Groups (for PPC) and suggested keywords that perform the best.
As this is a term that’s searched for often, it’s necessary to get a bit more creative than just using Google suggestions and experiment, so that you can get a competitive word, with which you stand a chance at competing and gaining good placements. This applies to paid for and organic search and it’s not necessary a speedy process.
Content – ascended from King
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘content is king’? This is no longer true, content is everything (well, pretty much). It’s no longer enough to stick a poorly written blog up once a month – or worse, use text spinners to rejig old content.
Content must be:
- Original and not infringe on the intellectual property rights of others
- Highly relevant and useful to your industry and audience
- Very well written with good grammar and spelling
- For image and video should include a title, ALT tag and description and if appropriate, give credit to original artist (if using creative commons licensed images for example)
- Point to the source of research and quotes where applicable
Giving value to your audience
The best possible way you can perform best in the search is by giving value to your audience and preferably, your industry too.
- Having a site that is well built, performs well and is capable of being used across platform (desktop, tablet, mobile)
- Producing content that is actionable and contains fresh ideas
- Having a good mix of multimedia content, not just written
- Utilizing social media so that your brand is recognizable across all platforms and content can be distributed. This is becoming more important now more than ever, social signals (Facebook likes, G +1s, Retweets etc.) indicates that your content is useful, as people are reading/watching and ideally, sharing and commenting.
It’s also worth mentioning that your link profile remains important but that this is something that takes time and should be carried out sensibly and organically. Buying links will get you a Google penalty, as will any indication that you might have.
Guest blogging remains a valid white hat technique, but it’s vital that this is approached naturally. This means that you begin guest posting on sites that are of a similar Domain Authority to your own. If you suddenly appear to have a lot of very high quality links to your site, then this appears to Google as if they have been purchased.