What Is SEO? Introduction To SEO

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Introduction To SEO: What Is Search Engine Optimization?

Introduction To SEO

As experienced digital marketers, we’ve been working with SEO for more than 5 years.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method used to increase a website’s visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs). 

An analogy for SEO would be dressing up for a party to stand out and catch people’s eye.

That’s essentially what we are doing with SEO, we want to get Google’s attention by making our website look as good as possible.

In return, they reward us with high rankings which bring visitors to our website.

Now, let me tell you a story. A while back, my friend Lucy launched a cooking blog.

She was a wizard in the kitchen, whipping up dishes that would make Gordon Ramsay cry tears of joy.

But, there was a major problem. Lucy was putting a lot of hours into building content for her site, but didn’t get any website visitors.

Why? Because she didn’t really understand how SEO works. She’d spent so much time creating fantastic content, but without SEO, her blog was virtually invisible online.

But let’s not dwell on the negative. Today, you’re starting a journey to ensure that doesn’t happen to you. 

We are here to guide you, step-by-step, through this often-intimidating world of SEO, breaking it down to the bare bones.

We’ll explore keywords, meta tags, backlinks, and all that jazz.

SEO is not just about Google algorithms and fancy tech jargon. At its core, it’s about understanding your audience. 

What are they searching for? How can you solve their problems? How can you make their lives a little better?

I know it can feel daunting. But soon you’ll have SEO down pat, I promise!

It’s gonna be a fun ride, so strap in, buckle up, and let’s roll.

Overall, I’m super stoked to have you on this journey with us.

You’ve taken the first step towards mastering SEO, and that, my friend, is a big deal. 👏

What Is SEO?

Alrighty, let’s dive right into this! SEO, you’ve probably heard of it. But what the heck is it, really?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is kind of like the secret sauce of the online world. It’s the art (and science, to be honest) of getting your website to rank higher on search engine result pages. 

The higher your site ranks, the more visibility it gets, which can lead to more traffic and, ideally, more conversions 🤑.

So, how does it work? Well, that’s a pretty loaded question, but here’s the gist of it:

Search engines like Google and Bing use complex algorithms (which are a bit like super-secret equations) to 1. crawl, 2. index, and 3. rank websites.

  • These algorithms determine who gets to rank using hundreds of criteria, known as “ranking signals” or “ranking factors”. We’re talking about things like your website speed, mobile-friendliness, quality of content, and backlinks.
  • SEO is all about optimizing your website and content to make sure it meets most of Google’s ranking signals.

 

Tip 💡 The more ranking signals your website gives the search engine. The more likely you’ll reach the #1 spot on Google!

 

Most of us remember feeling totally overwhelmed when first learning about SEO.

It felt like I was trying to crack some sort of secret code. But let me tell you, once you get the hang of it, it’s incredibly rewarding.

There’s nothing quite like seeing a website you’ve optimized start climbing the rankings. It’s like watching a plant you’ve nurtured start to bloom 🌼.

Now, some “gurus” might tell you that SEO is all about gaming the system, finding loopholes, and tricking the algorithms. But let’s be clear: that’s not how it is at all.

Good SEO is about creating valuable, user-friendly content that serves a purpose.

Why? Because at the end of the day, search engines are all about delivering the best possible results to users.

So, if your site offers high-quality content that meets user needs, you’re on the right track.

Let’s not forget that SEO is not just a one-time thing. It’s a continuous process of optimizing, testing, and refining.

Changes in algorithms and user behavior mean that you need to be on your toes and adapt to stay on top of your game.

Why Is SEO Important?

 

Ever heard the phrase “out of sight, out of mind?”

Well, that’s what happens to your website without SEO. It gets lost in the deep, vast ocean of the internet. I mean, who wants that, right?

  • SEO gets your website noticed by search engines. No joke, Google is like the picky bouncer at a club. He’s not letting just anyone in. He’s got criteria. Quality content, keyword usage, site speed… The list goes on.
  • Another thing – SEO is cost-effective. That’s right. No need to break the bank on costly ads. SEO focuses on organic search results, which are basically free. It’s like the gift that keeps on giving!
  • Let’s not forget about trust and credibility. A high-ranking site on Google is like a seal of approval. It’s like Google’s telling its users, “Hey, I trust this site, so should you.” And folks, that’s priceless. The image above is a screenshot of what the Google Knowledge Panel looks like. Brands that Google have deemed extremely credible have their own dedicated spot on the SERPs.

 

One thing we’ve learned – you can’t put a price on visibility. If your website can’t be found, how can you expect to grow your audience or sell your product or service? 

7 Reasons Why People Visit Websites Today?

To Learn

Example: Udemy Learning Platform

One big reason people hop online is to learn something. Whether it’s mastering a new recipe or understanding how photosynthesis works, the web’s a trove of information!

I mean, haven’t you ever found yourself stuck in a YouTube tutorial loop? (guilty as charged) This thirst for knowledge, that’s something SEO can quench.

  • Educational course-based websites are surging in popularity
  • A lot of people prefer online learning as it fits their schedules

To Buy

Example: Amazon Shopping

Ah, the world of e-commerce. Buying online has become second nature for most of us. Can’t find it in a store? Google it! That’s where SEO becomes crucial in guiding potential buyers to the right places.

  • 75% of people don’t scroll past the first page on search engines.
  • Online shopping growth is at an all-time high. SEO plays a big role in this.

To Be Entertained

Example: Youtube

We all love a bit of fun, don’t we? Movies, music, memes, all these pull us into the depths of the web. The right SEO strategies can make your content the star of the show!

  • The entertainment industry heavily uses SEO to reach their audiences
  • Memes and viral content rely on natural organic traffic to spread quickly

To Get Quick Information

Example: Search result for “take out near los angeles”

Whether it’s checking the weather or finding out who played Thor (Hi, Chris Hemsworth!), we love our quick information. So, if your site provides quick, accurate info, you’re golden.

  • Quick answer boxes on search results have a high click-through rate
  • Mobile searches for ‘near me’ have grown by over 200%

To Get Inspired

Example: Pinterest

We almost always turn to the internet for inspiration. Good examples would be home decor ideas, a new workout routine, or even meal prepping! The right SEO strategy can push your inspiring content to those searching for it.

  • Pinterest, a platform for inspiration, uses SEO heavily
  • Content tagged with words like “ideas,” “inspiration,” and “DIY” rank higher

To Stay Informed

Example: Google News

The internet’s become a primary source of news for many. From global events to local happenings, people rely on it to stay in the loop. And with good SEO, your content can be part of their information feed.

  • Google News utilizes a unique SEO algorithm
  • Many online newspapers optimize their articles for search engines

To Communicate

Example: Facebook

Last, but not least, people use the web to communicate. Social media, forums, blogs – they’re all avenues for conversation. Here, SEO can help connect people with the right platforms or communities. Trusted social platforms like Reddit and Quora get indexed fairly quickly.

  • Social media sites use SEO to enhance user discovery
  • Forums and community boards often show up in search results, thanks to SEO

Is PPC Similar To SEO?

Example: Google Adwords Dashboard

So, pay-per-click (PPC) and search engine optimization (SEO) might seem completely different at first glance. But really, they’re more like two sides of the same coin. Both SEO and PPC are part of what we call search engine marketing (SEM). Here are some nitty-gritty details:

  • PPC is when you pay advertisers to get visits to your website. You pay each time a user clicks on your ad. It’s a quicker way to drive traffic, but the moment you stop paying, the traffic halts. Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Quora, and others have their own PPC advertising platforms.
  • SEO, on the other hand, is similar to growing a garden. You put effort in, wait for it to bear fruits, and enjoy. It’s all about earning visits organically. It takes time, sure, but once you’ve got it rolling, the effects last longer.

Similar? Yes, in some ways. They’re both after the same goal – driving traffic to your website. But the approach is different. SEO is a slow and steady race, while PPC is more of a quick sprint. Still, they can work pretty well together, complementing each other in a successful digital marketing strategy.

Is Google The Only Search Engine?

Absolutely not! Google may be the big fish in the sea of search engines, but there are plenty of others swimming around. Here are a few other major players that you’ll bump into on your SEO journey.

 

Now, you might not think of Youtube as a search engine, but it’s the second largest out there. Yes, really. Millions use it daily to look up video content. So, SEO tactics on Youtube? (Also Youtube videos can bring traffic to your site faster than Google search) Absolutely essential!

 

Amazon is like the big-box store of the internet, right? It’s the go-to place for shopping online. So if you’re selling something, understanding Amazon’s SEO is a real game-changer.

 

Ah, good ol’ Facebook. It’s a powerful search engine for businesses and online personalities. It’s not only about likes and shares. To be fair, SEO on Facebook can get tricky. But, if you’re trying to build a long-term sustainable brand, be sure not to neglect it!

 

Don’t write off Bing just yet. This Microsoft product has its own unique algorithm and can drive significant traffic if you play your cards right. It can be an SEO goldmine, seriously.

 

Baidu? You’ve probably not heard of it unless you’ve had your eyes on the Chinese market. It’s the Google of China. So if you’re thinking about a global strategy, Baidu is your ticket into the Chinese digital landscape.

 

Finally, there’s Yandex. Russia’s gem. Like Baidu, if you’re going global, don’t miss out on understanding Yandex’s SEO. It’s a tad challenging but hey, who doesn’t love a good challenge, right?

How Do Search Engines Work?

This the million-dollar question? It’s actually a pretty fascinating process – it’s like the engines are these intricate detectives, constantly sleuthing around the web.

Here’s the scoop, basically, search engines – like Google, Bing, etc. – have these things called search engine spiders.

Search engine spiders, also known as “web crawlers” are software that search engines created to scour the internet for new pages and add them to their index.

Their job is to “crawl” the internet, visiting websites and pages, capturing the info they find, and shipping it back home.

  • They look at the coding of your pages
  • They see the content you’ve got up there
  • They inspect your links – both internal and external
  • This info, it’s like gold dust for these guys. Without it, they wouldn’t know what’s what.

Step 1: Crawling

When I say “crawl”, don’t go picturing a baby. “Crawling” is just software bots exploring the web, following links from one webpage to another.

  • The bots review web pages and collect data
  • They look at the meta tags and keywords
  • They also check out the site’s hierarchy

Step 2: Indexing

After the bots are done crawling, what’s next? Indexing, my friends. It’s kind of like the bots are making a giant library of all the web’s content. Every webpage, every image, every little thing they crawled, they file it away for future reference.

  • This is where they store the information gathered during crawling
  • A URL’s info might change over time, so the bots often revisit to re-index
  • This means your site’s info is always as up-to-date as possible
  • It’s like they’re your own personal librarians. Pretty neat, huh?

Tip 💡 If you want check if a website is indexed or not enter this into Google:

site:www.yourwebsitegoeshere.com

We’ll test it with Youtube.

 

As you can see, Youtbe has 17.2 billion pages indexed on Google.

 

 

Step 3: Serving Results

Ah, the payoff. You type in a search query, and voila! Up pops your results. But it ain’t random. Nope, it’s all based on those nifty indexes. The engines look at your search terms, check ’em against their indexes, and try to find the best match.

  • They consider the relevance of each page
  • They look at the quality of content
  • They take note of how trustworthy a site seems

For example, here’s what comes up for “best dog collars”, after all the ads.

The first result is a review-based article. These pieces of content can be extremely profitable when you add affiliate links to products you’re promoting.

 

People search on Google for a certain product, they click on your article, read the review, and go on to buy the product from your affiliate link.

 

Step 4: Ranking

Now, ranking. This one’s the big kahuna. It’s all about where your site shows up in those search results. The higher the rank, the better the visibility. And how do you get a good rank? That’s where SEO comes in.

  • Use relevant keywords
  • Provide high-quality content
  • Have a user-friendly site

What Is Search Intent?

Search intent, is a fancy term for “what the heck is the person really looking for when they type their query into Google?”

You see, every time someone tosses a phrase or a question into that search bar, they’ve got a certain expectation of what they’ll find, right? It’s kinda like tossing a fishing line into a lake – you’re hoping for a certain catch. Here are the facts:

  1. It helps understand a user’s purpose behind a search query.
  2. Based on four key types: informational, navigational, commercial, and transactional.
  3. It’s the backbone of any SEO strategy – ignore it at your own peril!

Relevance

Now, relevance – it’s a biggie. A real heavyweight in the SEO world. You could have the most beautifully designed website, but if your content doesn’t hit the mark with what people are searching for… well, you might as well be shouting into the void, my friend.

  • Relevance refers to how closely your content matches a searcher’s intent.
  • It impacts how Google ranks your website.
  • Keywords, Meta descriptions, all the nitty-gritty, they need to be spot-on.

 

💡 To make it simple. All you need to do is determine the search intent of a keyword, and then create content to match that search intent.

For example if someone searches “how to identify birds” on Google. The search intent is informational. So creating a guide based article would be suitable for this keyword.

Your job is then to look at who’s ranking for that keyword, and create better quality content than your competitors.

Very simple!

 

Navigational Intent Keywords: Least Profitable

Navigational searches, right, these are when users already know where they want to go. They’re just using Google as their GPS? Kind of like asking for directions to the nearest pizza place.

  • This is when someone’s searching for a specific website.
  • They already know where they wanna go, just need to find the way.
  • They’re not your target audience. They won’t stay long enough to read your content.

For example, people who search for “skateboarding youtube video” online are on their way to the Youtube website.

Best content types for navigational keywords

  • Pricing pages
  • Category pages
  • About pages
  • Author pages

Informational Intent Keywords: Semi-Profitable

Now, informational search intent – this is where the fun begins. These curious souls are on a quest for knowledge, wanting to know the ‘what’, ‘how’, or ‘why’. They’re the ones you want, my friend.

  • People looking for information, answers, or advice.
  • This is your chance to play the wise sage and offer them the info they need.

For example, people who search for “what kind of wood are skateboards made from” are looking to get quick information or get a deep dive on skateboard types.

Informational intent keywords usually start with

  • “What is”
  • “How to”
  • “Who is”
  • “Where did”
  • “Why is”

Best content types for informational keywords

  • Opinion pieces
  • “How-to” guides
  • Presentations
  • In-depth guides (Complete Guide, Ultimate Guides)
  • Informative listicles (Ex: “The 10 Best….”)

Commercial Intent Keywords: Highly Profitable

Alright, commercial intent, here’s where things get serious.

These people aren’t just browsing – they’re looking for something to buy, or at least considering it. They’re the window shoppers of the digital world.

  • They’re researching products or services, and comparing options.
  • These folks might not buy today, but they’re potential future customers.
  • If your website’s got the goods, they’ll be back.

For example, people who search for “skateboard shop near…” are looking for a business that can sell them skateboards.

If there are large brands in your niche, commercial intent keywords may include them.

Take an imaginary brand called Skateboards USA, a commercial intent keyword may look like

  • “skateboards usa cheapest skateboards”
  • “skateboards usa sale”

Commercial intent keywords include terms like

  • “Best”
  • “Alternatives”
  • “Top”
  • “Review
  • “Vs”

Best content types for commercial keywords

  • Explainer videos
  • Comparison posts
  • Product reviews
  • Product roundups
  • eBooks
  • White papers
  • Product tutorials

Transactional Intent Keywords: Most Profitable 

And finally, we’ve got the big fish – transactional intent. These folks are ready to hit that ‘buy’ button. They know what they want, and they’re ready to commit.

  • Searchers looking to make a purchase, pronto.
  • Your goal here? Make that buying process as smooth as a knife through butter.
  • They’ve got their credit card in hand – don’t give them a reason to put it away!

For example, people who search for “buy skateboards” online are ready to buy and, usually on their way to make a purchase.

Transactional keywords are some of the most profitable, and also the most competitive keywords. 

Best content types for transactional keywords

  • Product pages
  • Landing pages
  • Discount offer page

What Is On-Page SEO?

So, what’s On-Page SEO? It’s all the stuff you do directly on your website to rank higher. You know, the stuff you’ve got total control over. Here’s a bit of a run-down:

  • Keyword optimization: Using those magical little phrases people are searching for, in your content, your titles, your alt texts… you get the idea. The trick is to use ’em strategically. Not too much, not too little.
  • Meta descriptions and title tags: The nifty little snippets that show up in the search results. Getting these right is crucial – it can really make or break whether folks click on your page.
  • Content quality: This one’s a biggie. Your content’s gotta be top-notch. I mean, who wants to read a load of drivel? Make it interesting, valuable, and original. Trust me, Google’s got a soft spot for good content.
  • Site architecture and navigation: This one’s about the structure of your website. If it’s easy to get around, Google – and your users – will thank you.

What Is Off-Page SEO?

Now, moving on to Off-Page SEO. Think of this as the reputation management of your website. It’s all about how others perceive your site. Some key points here include:

  • Backlinks: These are links from other websites to your website. Imagine them as votes of confidence. The more quality backlinks you’ve got, the more Google thinks you’re a pretty cool cat.
  • Social media influence: Yup, social media’s got a role to play too! Shares, likes, retweets – they all add to your website’s visibility and reputation.
  • Guest blogging: Another fabulous way of getting quality backlinks. Plus, you get to share your expertise with a wider audience.

What Are Ranking Factors? 

In the simplest terms, these are criteria set by search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, you name it.

These factors determine how a website will rank on its search engine results pages (SERPs).

Imagine these as, say, your high school grading system. Just like your teachers had a set of criteria to evaluate you (homework, attendance, tests), search engines have a similar kind of checklist.

Here are a few key ones that you absolutely gotta know:

  • Keywords: This is the big one! Your content should contain terms that people might search for.
  • Links: Quality backlinks from reputable sites boost your credibility in the eyes of our robot overlords.
  • Content Quality: Original, engaging content is king! Keep it fresh and relevant, folks.
  • User Experience: Fast loading times, mobile-friendliness, easy navigation – the smoother, the better.

You might ask, “Are all these factors equally important?” Well, not really.

Google uses over 200 ranking factors! Yeah, you heard right. But not all carry the same weight. Things like content quality, backlinks, and keywords are pretty high up there.

But remember, SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s about improving bit by bit, one factor at a time.

Content Factors Google Looks At

Alright, let’s dive into this, shall we? So, Google, that mysterious beast, it looks at a ton of things when it comes to your content. It ain’t just about keywords anymore, folks.

  • First off, relevance. Does your content match what the searcher is looking for?
  • Second, quality. Is your content worth reading? Does it add value?
  • Third, freshness. Is it up-to-date, or is it old news?
  • Fourth, location. Are you catering to the right audience in the right place?
  • Fifth, comprehensiveness. Do you cover all the angles or just skim the surface?
  • Sixth, uniqueness. Are you offering something new, or are you just regurgitating the same old thing?
  • Seventh, E-A-T signals. That’s Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
  • Eighth, search intent. Are you serving the right content for the searcher’s purpose?
  • Ninth, content structure. Is your content easy to navigate, or is it a hot mess?
  • Tenth, headlines. Are they catchy and SEO-friendly?
  • Eleventh, is readability. Can your audience actually understand what you’re saying?
  • Lastly, posting frequency. How often are you updating your content?

Topical Relevance

Similar to search intent, your content needs to be bang on target, matching exactly what the searcher is after.

Say you’re writing about dog food, don’t go off on a tangent about dog grooming. They aren’t the same thing!

Remember, Google understands related topics and synonyms, so you can’t fool it with fancy wordplay.

Types of Content

  • Written content like blogs, articles, guides, and lists.
  • Graphic content like infographics and images.
  • Videos, podcasts, and webinars.
  • Social media posts
  • User-generated content, like reviews and comments.

Content Freshness

Up next, is content freshness. Google loves fresh content like a kid loves candy. Fresh doesn’t mean you gotta create new content every day.

You can update your old content, add new information, and tweak things here and there.

Location

On to location. No, not your physical location. I’m talking about where your content is located on your website. Is it easily accessible? Are your top pages within a few clicks from the homepage?

Comprehensiveness

Alright, comprehensiveness. It’s about covering your topic fully, leaving no stone unturned. Like, if you’re writing about SEO, you can’t just talk about keywords and leave it at that. You gotta cover on-page, off-page, technical SEO, the whole shebang!

Uniqueness

You gotta offer something new, something different. Be the purple cow in a field of black and white. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. That’s what makes your content memorable!

E-A-T Signals

E-A-T signals, yeah, I know it sounds like a meal plan, but it’s crucial. Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness. These are what Google is lookin’ for. Show off your knowledge, establish your credibility, and earn your audience’s trust.

Search Intent

Search intent, this one’s all about serving the right content for the searcher’s purpose. Are they looking for information, or do they wanna make a purchase? Your content has gotta match their intent.

Content Structure

Content structure, is not the most exciting topic, I know. But trust me, it’s important. Your content needs to be well-organized, easy to navigate, with clear headings, bullet points, and short paragraphs. Make it easy on the eyes, folks!

SEO Headlines

SEO headlines, ah, these can be a bit tricky. They gotta be catchy, engaging, and contain your main keyword. Most people only read headlines. So if your headline is bland, expect a low CTR (click-through-rate).

Readability

Readability, this one’s pretty straightforward. Your content has gotta be easy to read and understand. No jargon, no complex sentences. Keep it simple, keep it clear.

Posting Frequency

And last but not least, posting frequency. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer here, folks. It depends on your audience, your resources, and your strategy.

But remember, consistency is key. It’s better to post quality content regularly than to post mediocre content every day.

Making Sure Your Website Is User Friendly

Making your site user-friendly is a must in SEO!

Long story short, if users find your site a pain, they’ll leave, and your SEO will take a hit.

So, here’s the scoop:

  1. Make things as simple as possible. Information should be easily accessible and not buried under tons of pages.
  2. Your website layout matters, big time. It should be clean and organized, not a chaotic mess.
  3. Keep content engaging and relevant. Dull, out-of-date content? That’s a big no-no.
  4. And hey, don’t forget about that loading speed (more on that later).

 

Easy Menu Navigation

  1. Make your menu crystal clear. It should be like a roadmap guiding visitors through your site.
  2. Avoid fancy terms in the menu. Straightforward is the way to go!
  3. Keep it simple! Dropdown menus can be a double-edged sword. They offer more options, but they can also be overwhelming.

 

Site Speed

  1. Page load speed impacts SEO, so keep it as fast as possible. We’re talking 1-2 seconds.
  2. Images and videos can slow things down, so optimize ’em!
  3. Keep an eye on your plugins too. Sometimes they can be more trouble than they’re worth.

 

Responsive On Mobile

  1. The site should resize to fit different screen sizes. That’s responsiveness in a nutshell.

Tip 💡 You can easily check mobile responsiveness by right-clicking anywhere on the screen, after that click “Inspect” or “Inspect Element”.

At the top left you should see an option to choose a device. If your website layout is not neat and organized when cahnging devices, then you need to work on mobile responsiveness.

 

  1. Make sure links and buttons are easy to tap on a smaller screen. Fat finger syndrome is real!
  2. Mobile users are in a hurry, so keep mobile pages uncluttered and to the point.

SSL Certificates

Lastly, we can’t skip SSL certificates. This is all about trust, people. If a site isn’t secure, browsers will warn visitors and they’ll bounce.

 

  1. SSL makes your site secure, and that’s good for SEO.
  2. Not having SSL can make your site look sketchy… and that’s bad for business.

We’ve covered a lot of ground. SEO can seem like a beast, but I promise, it isn’t as scary as it sounds!