GOOGLE’S SEO OPTIMIZATION STARTER GUIDE FOR BEGINNERS
Search engine optimization or SEO is the need of the hour for every marketer willing to expand their business reach. And in this article, we will look at the 21 primary things that every person in an organization MUST know about SEO optimization, even if not trained for it.
If you promote, manage, own, or monetize visual content, then this guide is for you. It doesn’t matter if you are the owner of a growing business, a domain, or an SEO specialist– we have compiled all the steps regarding how to use SEO to grow your website faster. We are not going to discuss any secrets to rank your site on Google’s first page magically. But our strategies mentioned below will definitely make it easier for you to understand how the search engine crawls, understands, and ranks your content.
Before we get into any further details, let’s first understand how marketing channel optimization works.
What Is SEO?
SEO, in short, is a process used to optimize online content according to the algorithms of the preferred search engine. SEO optimized content ranks feasibly on any given platform, resulting in increased visibility on the SERPs (search engine result pages).
Based on the methodology, the SEO of a website has two broad categories:
- On-Page SEO: It involves optimizing and editing content on a published web page, blog, or any other content, and one must have a bit of technical knowledge.
- Off-Page SEO: The is the indirect promotional approach of link-building and social media marketing. It involves hyperlinking and promoting the published on-page content to improve its overall credibility in the search engine’s eyes.
Based on the approach and tactics, SEO optimization follows three processes:
- White Hat SEO: It refers to the ethical way to optimize a website by following the search engine guidelines by taking a long-term approach.
- Black Hat SEO: It is basically the exact opposite of white hat SEO. Black hat SEO relies on manipulative tactics to get quick results, and it violates search engine guidelines.
- Grey Hat SEO: These SEO techniques are less risky than the Black hat but still unethical compared to White hat SEO. It falls something between both of them and is the most commonly followed SEO process.
In this guide, we will discuss everything essential in all forms of SEO. We will cover everything that you must remember while drafting and publishing content online.
Why Do You Need SEO?
Research suggests that about 70 million blogs get published on WordPress alone each month- accounting for almost 2.75 million posts per day! There are other blogging outlets as well. So, the competition- as you can already decipher- is pretty tough.
All these factors make SEO a prerequisite to making your posts stand out among all this clutter.
What Does The Search Engine LOVE?
Help Google Find Your Content
Every search engine tries to bring relatable and relevant content for its online audience. SEO optimization assists in catering the content according to the norms of the said search engine.
Remember, SEO-optimized content looks more appealing to the potential audience compared to the unoptimized ones. After all, every search engine loves what its audience loves. It’s worth saying that Google pays close attention to its user experience. As a result, you get more clicks, visits, and revisits. It ultimately results in an increased ROI.
Nevertheless, here’s a list of 21 things that Google tries to find on your published content for its audience:
1. Content Quality & Originality
If you enjoy creating content in the form of informative and helpful blogs, infographics, videos, or even an article, you are already in the safe lot. Google favors long-form content over the short-form ones that understand a user’s query and has answers to their possible questions.
Google wants you to write for the actual humans and not the crawl bots. SEO optimization is of no use if you don’t create high-quality, original content. It doesn’t matter which keywords you target- you will HAVE TO focus on the user experience.
A search engine’s job is to search for the most relevant, straightforward, and understandable answers to your searches- from detailed explanations to simple queries. So don’t beat around the bush to increase word count.
Now how does Google know if your content is relatable? Well, we will probably never get a plausible explanation for this question. But its smart algorithms and SEO strategies have pretty much always picked the most relevant answers for us all. And there’s no reason to assume that your content would go unnoticed!!
3. Proper Use of Keywords
A keyword is a word or set of words that users type in the search section. Your page’s ranking on SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) depends a lot on the keyword that you choose.
Use at least two secondary keywords along with a primary one. Try to choose a primary keyword with low to medium competition and high search volume. High difficulty keywords are only useful when they are not generic ones like “coffee” but targeted phrases like “how to prepare coffee”. Do not spam them in the content, but try to use them whenever deemed necessary.
4. Title Tags and Meta Description
Title tags are the one-liner titles that appear in the Google search results. Title tags tell the search engine and the users what they can find when they click on your content. They affect your SEO a lot, so you must optimize them properly. Include keywords and keep it short- about 55 characters.
Meta descriptions, on the other hand, don’t affect the SEO of your page. It increases the chances of a user clicking on your result by 10x times. It appears as a short paragraph under your page’s search result. Use your primary and secondary keywords in the meta description and keep it short- about 140-160 characters.
5. Tagged Media
The media you use on your content- images, videos, gifs, etc. have a humongous chance of ranking your content in the Google image results. Using high-quality images is definitely a prerequisite, but you must never forget to add alt-tribute.
Remember, Google cannot see your images but can definitely read your alt-text. When you describe your image accurately in the alt text with relevant keywords, they become visible to Google and rank faster.
6. Inbound and Outbound Links
Google likes credible content. Adding links to your texts and media sends a message to Google that you have a reliable source of the information that you attributed on the page. Make sure you link both- the in-house URLs and outbound URLs of separate, credible pages.
Always check the anchor text of the URL. Check for similar keywords on your content and insert links at regular intervals.
7. Domain Names
Stay away from hyphens on your domain name (best-shop.apparel.com) and avoid any top domain name (.info, .name, .biz, etc.). Such domains appear spammy in Google’s eyes and negatively affect the overall SEO of your website.
Buying a domain name is crucial to ranking your pages. Avoid using keywords in your domain, as Google may pull them down in the long run. Try to use a unique URL, or a lot of your page visitors may get confused and redirected to some other page! And that’s a bummer.
8. Heading and Permalink
Draft catchy headings for your blogs and articles that are descriptive yet short enough to fit into your SERPs. Refrain away from clickbait and don’t promise anything! Use keywords in the very beginning, try to include a power word, a number, and never exceed 60 characters.
Your page URL or permalink doesn’t have to be as similar as your title. As a matter of fact, it must only be 75 characters long. If you are using four keywords, use the primary one in the permalink.
9. Social Signals & Blog Comments
NEVER turn your comments off. When you have a group of people regularly commenting, linking, and sharing your content, Google gets the signal that the visitors care about your posted content. Such humane interactions on a posted content are social signals. And they play a pivotal role in optimization.
The readers may add their own points to it or ruthlessly criticize the composition- but they are, ultimately, reading it. But remember to filter the spam comments and nofollow links on the comments. Google is pretty strict with its spam check!
10. Consistency & Evergreen Content
It is no brainer that Google doesn’t endorse dead pages. You get more visibility if you stay regular and consistent with the posts. Try to come up with a new blog/article every week and maintain the pace. Drafting content for recent topics might get you an overwhelming response for a few days, but evergreen topics stay at the top forever!
11. High-quality Backlinks
A website with a high domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) has a higher chance of ranking its content. It has a trusted user base, better SEO impression, and credible backlinks. The more such links you have, the higher your site authority gets.
Creating backlinks is not a very cumbersome process, but make sure you don’t spam them. Drip-feed the links in the form of articles, infographics, Quora answers, and other such informative content to create high-quality links.
12. Crawlability & Indexability
A site’s crawlability indicates the search engine’s ability to crawl, access, and read the page’s content. Web crawlers follow the links between the pages. A broken link or a dead-end causes issues in accessing specific content for the crawler and hampers the crawlability.
Indexability is another prerequisite to SEO optimization. It refers to Google’s ability to index a page after analyzing it. Server errors, loop indirect, and other technical factors affect indexability to a significant extent.
13. Responsive and user-friendly Website
Is your website compatible with all devices, has a high loading speed, and has very clear redirects for the visitors? If yes, then please hold on to it. Google states that a responsive design is a primary method for mobile SEO optimization of a page. Apart from that, a responsive site gets more frequent revisits and a better user experience, leading to better ROI.
14. High CTR and Traffic
Your content exposure goes in vain if you can’t retain the visitors you attract to your page. A higher click-through ratio (CTR) is an indication that your content provides answers and solutions to the people reading it. Google considers such sites to be more credible in the long run.
Try to work on better CTA buttons and banners. Your content should be convincing and alluring enough for the readers to scroll till the last. You will, ultimately, get more shares, traffic, revisits, and higher CTR.
15. Relevant Social Shares
Social media is one of the best non-technical sources of getting page visits and increasing website visibility. But you also need to understand social media marketing and SEO to enhance your profile reach first.
Having a social media presence is not very tricky- you only need to maintain your engagement. Stay active on your profile and post consistently. Interact with your audience via stories, ask them questions, and be friendly with them. Don’t broadcast your content like a faceless robot- let your audience feel connected to your brand. You’ll get maximum page visits this way.
What To Avoid?
The difficulty and technical knowledge that tags along White Hat SEO is tremendous- making Black Hat SEO an easy-to-go option for marketers. And though the results are quick, it may attract the full weight of Google’s penalty on your website.
So, it doesn’t matter if it looks like an absolutely BRILLIANT way to win in no time- try to follow White Hat techniques as much as possible for a permanent boost on your pages. Here’s a list of things you must never do:
16. Copied Content
It doesn’t matter if you create the best graphics and use the best vocabulary in your texts- your content won’t rank if it’s not original. Google uses LSI (latent semantic indexing) to identify the similar meaning of a set of words. Using a spin bot or tweaking the content, might sound smart but it won’t help. Try to create something of your own.
17. Spam Links & Excessive Interlinking
Add URLs to your texts only when it seems legit. Linking articles and blogs with irrelevant anchor text appears spammy. Also, excessively interlinking the same articles sends a wrong message to Google that you are trying to promote your content.
18. Keyword Stuffing
It doesn’t matter if your SEO score goes down due to less usage of keywords- but your content can still rank because of all the other factors involved in SEO optimization. Never overuse and stuff keywords. It is a part of black hat SEO and may cause permanent damage to your page rank.
19. Neglecting LSI
People often use only long and short tail keywords on their content. You cannot completely forget about the synonymous words and phrases of the keyword. Such words make your content appear genuine, for instance, using puppy as a substitute for the keyword dogs.
20. Hidden or Irrelevant Texts & Links
You cannot manipulate Google for ranking your content. The search engine is soon going to identify it and punish you for it. NEVER use white text on a white background, set font size to zero, or hide any link on a full stop or comma.
21. Ad Stuffing & Excessive Promotion
It is natural to insert banners and ads for your products. But excessive stuffing leads to people clicking away without reading the entire article. It narrows down the ROI and makes your content appear spammy, thus bringing down your optimization.
Getting Excited Yet?
SEO optimization might come off a bit too complicated, but it gets easier with practice. Nonetheless, search engine optimization is a fascinating field. You only need to dig deeper with time.
Google, like every other search engine, keeps altering its algorithms. Fluctuation in SEO strategies is inevitable, but you can always crack it once you understand how and why they make those changes. Try to be in the search engine’s shoes to understand SEO. You will be able to reach the best set of audiences in no time!