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What is SEO? Search Engine Optimisation Complete Guide 2020

What is SEO and why is it important? 

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the practice of optimising your website for the reason to make it discoverable by search engines. Is it essential as it provides organic traffic to your website as opposed to pay-per-click campaigns where you have to pay every time someone clicks on your ad. To understand more of the differences, click the link SEO vs PPC. It’s vital as it’s free traffic, traffic with a well-designed website can convert visitors into customers. 

How SEO works

To understand how SEO works, you first need to get into the mindset of a search engine. 

What are the different search engines?

There are various search engine companies; some of the popular oversees companies would be Yandex Search owned by the Russian company Yandex and Baidu a Chinese based tech company. Ones we are most familiar with are:

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo

They all have different algorithms and ranking factors, most importantly speed, security, design and keywords, to name a few.

What are keywords?

When you describe your business, whether it is a lift pitch or in-depth explanation of what you do, what are the most common words you use to explain what you do? They are your keywords. 

Another way of putting it, when you picture when people search for your website via Google, what do you imagine them typing into the search box other than your company name? These are the keywords you need to include on your website. 

If it helps human beings understand what your page is about, it will benefit search engines.

What is keyword research?

So now we know what keywords are, but how do you know how you describe your profession is the same as someone else would describe it? For example, if you’re skilled at mixing cocktails and want to advertise your service, you naturally conclude your keyword is ‘mixologist’. You will be correct in thinking this it is your profession and thus should be your keyword. However, not everyone speaks the lingo. Keyword research uncovers ‘mobile bar’ captures the essence of your business, and it gets more traffic. Shown in the picture. 

keyword research SEO showing how the same profession can get more traffic with a different keyword
How to increase your website traffic from 10 hits to 2,400.

There are various tools which allow you to carry out keyword research. This can be achived directly on your own website or via bey carrying out a keyword gap analysis. The benefits of these tools are:

  1. Search Volume – find the average number of monthly searches
  2. Trend – the level of interest .
  3. Cost per Click (CPC) – the average price if someone clicked on it
  4. Competitive Density – how many people are targeting this keyword.
  5. Keyword Difficulty – how much effort it would take to outrank someone.
  6. SERP features – Has your keyword got a rich snippet, picture or video.
  7. Click Potential – what would happen if you were in top 20
  8. Clicks per search – volume is great but how many people click
  9. Return Rate – how often the person returns and searches
  10. Top Competitors – easily find out who your competitors are
  11. The parent topic – it belongs to

What are Long Tail keywords?

Take selling t-shirts online; the word t-shirt seems a natural keyword to optimise your website. Correct, but due to billion-pound conglomerates who have millions to spend on advertising your keyword of ‘t-shirt’ is likely not cut it. After you carry out keyword research, you will be able to see what people are searching. The infographic explains more

long-tail keyword infographic showing how a t-shirt company can improve their SEO
The Power of Long Tail Keywords (SEO) infographic

What are search engines looking for and expecting?

1. Be relevant

When you type something into Google, that’s a query. In the search engine result, Google wants to present the user with a list of websites which are most relevant to that question. Search intent Google intends to provide its users with high-quality answers immediately in the search results. You just need to simply make sure your content answers what the person wants to know concisely and accurately. 

2. Provide quality content

Search engines want to provide their users with the best experience as possible. They don’t want to send the user to a website via the result pages which lacks quality information. Make sure before you create content, you both research and are passionate about your piece of content. 

3. Focus on the user experience

it’s all about the user. If someone goes on your website, reads the data, and interacts with other pages and posts with ease they will return. Google will use this as a signal that your website is useful.

4. Speedy site

speed, internet, high

no one likes to go on a slow website. It’s very likely if you have been on a slow loading website you clicked off immediately. 

5. Make sure it works on all devices

do you always use the same equipment when you Google something? It is common for people to use their laptop at home to look stuff up, on their commute to work they’ll use their mobile device, at work they’ll use their desktop to view your web page, and tablet or again phone in the evening while watching TV. Your website needs to be able to be readable and accessible on all these devices. By doing so, site visitors will return more often, and your site will move up the Google ranks.

6. Link to your pages

it provides the user with a better experience. In this article, you will notice we paged linked to other pages and posts we think are useful to understand SEO. Also by doing this when one page goes higher in the search engines, you increase the chances of boosting other page rankings due to those internal links. Make sure your anchor text is clickable, readable and relevant. 

7. External linking and backlinks

it is good to link to other sites in your posts. It can provide more information to your site visitors without duplicating another website. Vice versa, you want to spend time on link building and is the source of news. My advice on backlinks would be:

  • Backlink audit – look at damaging backlinks and disavow harmful ones
  • Find new and lost domains
  • Find new opportunities by broken link strategy
  • Backlink gap analysis
  • Link building /9pick the best websites to reach out to and keep an eye on the result)

8. Authority

after a while of writing quality content and building trust in your online community, your page and domain authority will increase. 

9. Meta descriptions and SEO titles

although they help boost your rankings it is not direct. You shouldn’t stuff keywords into your meta descriptions or meta tag, but you should write a compelling story which screams out ‘click my link, read me’. The more people who click your link, increasing the click-through rate (CTR) and stay on your page, reducing bounce rate, your ranking will boots. 

10. Schema markup

a way of adding code to your website to allow Google to know which section does what and why it’s there. Increasing your chance of getting featured on Google as rich-featured snippets. 

11. Properly tagged images

when you add a picture, you can add a description and alt text. The reason is that your photo might not load correctly due to a slow internet connection, and at least there is some text to replace the missing image.  

12. Domain names

If your keyword is in your domain name, this is known as an exact match and can help you with your rankings, it suggested this method works well in Bing search. Simply writing what you do and what your business is, you are including your keyword. We don’t have an exact domain keyword, and we have no plans of doing so. We feel it’s brandless and as marketers, feel you should work in creating an identity.

13. Permalinks and headlines

take this post, focusedallday.co.uk/what-is-seo this permalink tells search engines and users what the page is. If you were to share this post on social media (by using the buttons to the left-hand side of this page or at the bottom), people are more likely to click it as they know what it is opposed to if it read some long random string of letters and numbers. The same goes with the headline of this page. It matches the URL and the content of the blog. 

14. Comments

it is crucial to build an online community and respond to comments. This way, the page grows, you engage more with your network and people are more likely to visit again. 

15. Technical SEO

properly written code with little to no errors helps as why would a search engine send their users to a broken website? Crawlability of your website will improve, XML sitemaps and site structure help a lot. 

The best way to check your website health is to conduct a site audit. There are many ways around this. You can use a tool to crawl your website or you can manually check and fill out a spreadsheet. Your goal is still the same you need to create a list of actionable solutions.

As part of your technical SEO it is advised you carry out a log file analyser. This way you can get a clear picture of how Google crawls your website. There are tools which allow you to find broken links and errors, improve crawl budget, find orphan pages, identify large and slow pages, status codes, audit redirects and help tackle structural and navigational isssues.

A technical audit report might consists of:

  • Crawlability
  • Site Performance
  • Internal Linking
  • HTTPS
  • International SEO

As a technical SEO you should have the ability to compare crawls and check reports.

16. On-page optimisation

make sure you have a title tag, meta descriptions, content headlines and understand keyword cannibalisation. Craete a strategy plan and analyse your landing pages to make sure you have optimised correctly for your target keyword. Enrich your pages with semantic SEO and include related words in your content.

17. Off-Page SEO

you must drive traffic to your website and awareness of your brand outside your immediate network. Make sure you are listed in relevant directories, guest blog, and you are using social media platforms. 

18. Local SEO

Make sure your Google My Business details are correct. You can use tools which handle the listing management for you. You complete your online business information NAP (name, address, phone) once and it sends it and populates many online directories including Google, Yelp, Facebook and Alexa.

Make sure you stay updated with current ratings and respond to reviews/

19. User Experience – UX SEO

Use your Google analytics account to get a better idea on how the user experiences your website.

How to track and measure SEO results

search engine, search results, google

So now you know what SEO is, but it is just important you know how to track your efforts. There are various tools to track your SEO results one being Google Console. Paid tools allow you to track your performance. 

There are various tools, free and pad ones, which allow for position tracking. They will show your rankings distribution, landing pages, devices and locations

Things to avoid when ranking websites

  1. Keyword stuffing – be natural when you write about your content. Focus on the user, not search engines. 
  2. Link buying – don’t buy link or ask for any in exchange.
  3. Poor user experience – don’t bombard your users with annoying adverts.
  4. Plagiarism – don’t duplicate material from your website or other websites.

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