If you own a website or plan to create one, you would definitely want to attract lots of user engagement. Spending money on advertisements is one way, but what if I tell you that you can also gain a lot of organic traffic directly from the search engine for free? Interesting isn't it? Let's learn more about it... 🚀
In this article, we will learn everything about SEO and talk about steps to improve your website's SEO.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a process to make a website or web content rank higher on search engines' search results like Google or Bing.
The reputation of a search engine depends on delivering the highest quality content to its users. Whenever you search for a keyword, say "Apple" you get the website of Apple Inc. on the top instead of pictures of apple fruit. This is because most people are interested in the brand apple instead of apple pies while online. So Google predicts the best result for the query and shows you about the Apple company.
Similarly, say e.g. you created an e-commerce store of goggles. So whenever any user searches the keyword "buy goggles", you need to convince the search engine that you are the most credible option for their users to rank higher in their search results. For this, you need to create higher quality content than your competitors.
Ranking higher on search results is a matter of utmost importance for businesses. It can significantly affect your public reach and customer base and affect your income.
(after all.. google's 2nd page is deeper than the dark web 😆)
What kind of content ranks higher?
There are 2 kinds of content that rank higher on search engines: paid and SEO-friendly. Paid content or websites pay the search engine to rank higher on the search results. SEO-friendly websites get this advantage for free. 🎉
Black hat vs White hat SEO
Building an audience for your website is a matter of patience. It takes time and effort until you start getting good numbers in user engagement. New websites may take several months or years to rank higher or appear on google's first page.
However, there are techniques using which you can quickly gain a lot of organic traffic. These techniques are referred to as black hat SEO. This strategy includes using techniques like keyword stuffing, and link scraping to rank higher quickly. This strategy may work for a short time but these websites get penalized after getting caught by search engines. Such websites can even get blacklisted by search engines meaning that they'll never rank in future.
On the other hand, websites using white hat SEO practices retain their rank and audience in the longer run.
Factors affecting your SEO -
In 1996 Bill Gates quoted "Content is King". This phrase has been true ever since.
Creating great quality content is the first dimension of improving your SEO. Whenever a user searches for something on the internet, they want to find a resource that is concise, targeted to them & solves their problem.
E.g. when you google "Windows 11", it won't give you any random article on windows 11. Instead, it will find links that provide the best results for this query.
Therefore, good quality content accounts for a lot of credibilities and thus helps you rank higher.
2. Keyword Selection
Google search algorithm relies on keywords. These are the words that a user searches for when googling for something. Keywords describe what your content is about.
Keywords are one of the most important factors that affect SEO. In fact, SEO is pretty much impossible without keywords. That is why finding the keywords that people search is an important step. This is known as Keyword Research.
Keyword research is a crucial step to rank higher on the search results. It not only helps you to find the most frequently searched words/phrases but also helps you understand what the users expect when they search for those keywords. This subsequently helps you to create more relevant content that gives you better reach.
Some important points for choosing the right keywords for your site are -
Understanding LSI Keywords.
LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords are the terms that are related to the main keyword you are targeting. These are the words that tell google that when you are searching for the word hot, do you mean a volcano or just coffee?
These keywords help Google to find content which is more targeted to the user.
Many times people may search for the same thing but use different search phrases. E.g. A person in Delhi searches for the phrase "Best bakery near me" while the other search for "What's the best bakery in New Delhi". Though they mean the same thing the search results can have some differences.
LSI keywords help search engines understand both queries better and provide the same results to them. Therefore LSI keywords act as a support vector for your content's SEO.
Search intent refers to the result that users expect when they search for a keyword.
For selecting more effective keywords we must not only focus on what the user inputs while searching but try to understand what they are searching for.
For example, consider that you own a real estate website where people can list their property to either buy, sell or rent. To make people use your website you need to make it rank higher on the search results.
Consider that your site has a good ranking and also has a lot of property data for all three services. These three services also reflect very different user intents which you need to take care of.
Search engines use LSI keywords to understand the search intent and show users the best results.
3. HTML Tags
Getting the code right is an important aspect of improving your SEO. Without the correct meta tags and headings, search engines will have difficulty understanding what your site is about and for what keyword it should rank. Besides meta tags, your HTML should also be semantically correct.
HTML semantics refers to syntax that makes the HTML more comprehensible by better defining the different sections and layout of web pages. It makes web pages more informative and adaptable, allowing browsers and search engines to better interpret content. For example, instead of using div id="header", you can use a header tag.
Let us look at some important factors for careful inspection when defining the HTML for your website
Title tag content appears when the website appears in search results. It is also shown on top of the browser when you open the website.
The title tag describes what the entire page is about. You should include your main keywords in the title tag.
The text below the prominent blue heading on google search results is called the meta description. It is a brief description of the contents of the whole page. You should include important keywords here. It should be under 160 characters to display it properly on both desktop and mobile.
Image Alt text
The img tag has an alt property that contains an alternative text for the image. It is displayed when the image can't load to display. Alt text is used to textually define the image. You should not leave your alt text empty or write any random text in it. Alt text should define your image in under 100 characters. You can also place your important keywords here.
4. Page speed
Page speed is a crucial SEO factor. It accounts for the user experience: which search engines take very seriously. Google's search algorithm also considers your page load speed for mobile devices.
Therefore your website should be fast for both desktop and mobile devices.
5. Mobile Friendliness
More people in the world use their mobile phones instead of their laptops/PCs to access the internet. Because of this fact, Google uses a mobile-first approach to rank the websites. It means the websites that have better responsiveness will be ranked higher.
You may also want to check out the AMP framework. It was created by Google to help developers create mobile-optimized content. Amp pages load almost instantly from mobile devices. Using AMP will boost your SEO and rank you even higher.
Website Security is a crucial factor for SEO. If your website appears not secure for the people or spammy in any kind, Google will rank you lower.
The first good you can do to your website is to use an SSL certificate and use the HTTPS network. HTTPS use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt the communication between the client and server and provide security against Man-In-The-Middle attacks. While it doesn't help much in boosting your SEO but it is the first step towards making your website secure.
Links are the building blocks of a website. All the pages of the site are interconnected through links. This fact makes links an important SEO factor. All the links should use the anchor tag with descriptive text.
There are 3 types of links on a website:
- Inbound Links
- Outbound Links
- Internal Links
Inbound links are links that come from different websites or different domain names. They are also known as backlinks because they refer back to you.
High-quality backlinks make your site appear more authoritative so search engines. The backlinks are said to be high quality if they come from an authoritative and trustworthy website.
It means it is better to have fewer backlinks from well-known websites rather than to have many backlinks from low-quality websites.
These are the links that link to other sites from your site.
Outbound links indicate that you are doing research and expanding your content.
You should only create outbound links to authoritative sites in your niche.
You use these links to link to other pages within your website.
Internal links help your readers to find other pages within your website. You can use internal links to link to content that is related to your new content. In this way, your pages support each other.
This web of internal links between your content also helps the search engine to understand the reason for existence. These links help search engines to better crawl, index and rank your content.
8) Social media
Social media is an off-page SEO factor. It may don't have a direct impact on your SEO, but you can use it to boost your ranking.
Google's has said that social shares are not a direct ranking factor. Social media links are not considered the same as links from other authoritative websites.
Still, the most popular social media have a lot of social shares. The biggest advantage of social media is that it allows you to market your content directly to the public in the most efficient way.
It creates a backlink type system from where more users can discover your website.
You need to create a strong social media presence for your business. You also need to ease the process of sharing your content online for the public. Lastly, you need to share the content that is promoted by the social media algorithm for better public reach.
9) Business Information
The presence of your business information online is an important SEO ranking factor. Search engines rank the websites which they believe are more credible and authoritative.
This is primarily a local SEO ranking factor. It helps you to rank higher in the place of your business.
While citing your business online you should look after the areas like:
- NAP (name, address, phone number) should be used consistently across the website.
- Business listings on Google My Business and Facebook.
- Using local search terms properly.
10) Domain age.
The last factor is something that you can't control but you should know about.
Domain age tells how old your website is. Research has shown that older website tends to rank higher. More than 60% of the websites with the top 10 Google search rankings are three years or older.
So if you have launched a new website, you need to keep working on improving your SEO. This will give you ranking advantages in the long run but nothing will happen overnight.