What is SEO? A Step-by-Step Guide for 2020

  • SEO

What is SEO? Why it is important? How you can improve SEO on your site? This article will help you to understand everything about SEO and why it’s important for your business.

Did you know, there are over 600 million blogs in the world today and over 4.4 million blog posts publish every day.

Google alone processes over 40,000 searches every second on average, that is over 3.5 billion searches per day.

It is a common practice of a person to check only the first of Google search. Rarely someone clicks through pages and pages of search results. So where a site ranks in a search results page is an essential factor to drive more and more traffic to your site.

It’s hard to reach on top of the search list when someone searches for your product on Google. But you can do this if you know the strategy of SEO – Search Engine Optimization.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a process of optimizing your website or a web page to rank on top of search results of Google or any other search engine through organic or unpaid search results.

In other terms, SEO is a process that helps you to optimize your website so that it appears higher in search results. Higher the website appears in search results, the higher the number of visitors the page will receive.

Why Use Search Engines

Let’s simplify it further. SEO consists of two parts. First is SE – Search Engine (like Google, Bing, etc.) and second is O – Optimization.

Why do you go to Google or any other search engine? Because you are looking for an answer to your question. In the same way, there are billions of people. They go to the search engines with there questions. They type some keyword and search engine returns the results in term of the web pages. We and all the other people click on top results.

Now comes the Optimization part. If you optimize your web page for a certain keyword. Then your website will show up on top of the search results. And the person looking at search results will reach out to you.

Let’s see the below example. When someone searches on Google for a keyword. It displays searches in two parts. The upper part is the paid results and the lower part is the organic results.

Google Search Results Types

When some business pays to Google to show their article or product on top, it is called as paid results. If you want to display your website in this section, you have to contact Google Adword. They will give you a payment plan to get your article displayed on top.

The other part is the organic search results. To make your website appear in this section, you need to do SEO. The better you do SEO, it will look good to search engines, in return, they promote your website to the top of their search results. And that too without spending any dime on the advertisement.

Our goal is to reach on top of the organic search results.

Why SEO is important

Google has an audience of billions of people. Google alone processes billions of searches every day. Let’s ask yourself a question, why does someone do a search on Google. Because he/she must be searching for a solution to a problem.

Being a website owner, you must have something on your website that you want to show to people around the world. That can be anything like products, articles, or any other service. So you must want people to come to visit your site and buy your product(s).

Here, Google plays the role of intermediate. It helps those people with their solutions and at the same time, it sends visitors to your site.

But to get traffic on your site, you must optimize your website. So whenever someone makes a search on Google, your website shows on top of all results.

To summarize. One of the best ways to reach potential customers is through search engines. And SEO helps your potential customers to reach you.

Let’s look at this below example.

Google Search for Cardboard Design

When I searched for cardboard design, Dezeen shows up at the top. They have not paid anything to any search engine however they are at the top of the organic results. It’s because they have optimized their site for cardboard design keyword. So, when someone makes a search for cardboard design, they will show up on top. This will increase there traffic for free and increase their sales.

In the same way, if you optimize your web page for a certain keyword, it will show up on top. This will drive web traffic to your site and help you to increase sales.

Ask yourself this question, how many times you click on the second or third page while making a search on Google. This might give you the exact answer to the importance of SEO.

SEO is so much important for small businesses. Since they have only a limited budget for marketing. It’s really hard for them to compete with industry leaders. But with the help of SEO, they can compete with them. With better optimization of content, they can make their visibility to their potential customers.

SERP ranking

SERP - Search Engine Result Page

While reading this article or some other SEO article you may come up with the term SERP. Let’s understand the meaning of SERP.

SERP stands for Search Engine Result Page. This is the ranking of your page on search engines. The only way to make this possible is to take the necessary steps to improve SEO.

Getting your web site on the first page of the organic search results is good. It’s even better to be in the top three. But there is only one winner who gets the click.

But to understand how to show on top of the search engine results, first you need to understand how the search engine works.

How Search Engine works

How Search Engines Works

Let’s take a look at this example to learn how a search engine works in an easy way.

Imagine that you are a librarian. Not a regular one instead you are a librarian for every book in the world. People depend on you for books. They came to you every day to find the exact book they need. To give information, you need to know what’s inside in every book and how books relate to each other. You need to store a lot of information and give the best book when someone asks you. It’s not an easy job.

In the same way, Search Engines like Google and Bing are the librarians of the internet. Their system collects information about every page on the web. So they can help people find exactly what they are looking for. To give out the exact search results, they have a secret system called an Algorithm. To give the result, this algorithm runs in the background and reviews all the pages on the internet and provides you the results.

Search Engine works with three main rules:

  1. Crawling
  2. Indexing
  3. Search Results (Algorithm)

Web Crawler

1. Crawling

Crawling is a process done by search engines to scan all the web pages on the internet. Search Engines have thousands of server which we call bots, spiders or crawlers.

They scan every word on the web page on the internet. They scan title, keywords, content, hyperlink, and images on the web page. Search engines re-crawl pages to check for new updates on the web page.

They also detect all hypertext links on a website that point to other websites. After that, they put those pages for scheduling scans. And this process goes on and on.

2. Indexing:

Once the crawlers scan the web pages. Then they store this information on the database. This is called indexing.

When you update the information on a web page, the crawler scans it again and update the new information on the database. This update frequency depends on the Domain Authority. Higher the Domain Authority, faster your web page is scanned.

You can register on Google Search Console to submit pages for indexing. Also, you can search the term site:example.com” on Google to check all the indexed pages of your site. Replace example.com with your domain name.

3. Search Results

When the user submits a search query, the search engine looks into the indexed database and pulls out matching results. In this process, the Search Engine checks the keyword on billions of web pages. Search Engines do this with the help of an Algorithm.

There are hundreds of conditions applied in the Algorithm to narrow down the result page.

Search Engines keep the algorithm’s recipe in secret. Yet, many ranking factors are well-known. We’ll be discussing them later on, in this article.

There are two kinds of search optimization: SEM and SEO. Both look similar but they are a lot different from each other. Let’s understand them so that you can choose the best tools for your site.

Paid Searches (SEM)

Search Engine Marketing - SEM

The first type of result that Google shows on SERP is paid results. Paid results are also called as Search Engine Marketing or SEM.

Paid search results are advertisements. To appear in this section of SERP, a website or business has to pay to advertisement agencies. These are shown on top of the SERP or right side of the page. The exact placement depends on the keyword and bidding amount.

When users search for relevant keywords on search engines, the Pay Per Click (PPC) ad will appear at the top of the page in their search query. Paid search advertising can give you an advantage over your competitors while driving more qualified leads back to your site. However, every time a visitor clicks on your ad, you have to pay the ad agencies a small fee.

Benefits of SEM:

  • Fast Results: Organic results take months to show up on top however paid ads are shown as soon as you pay for it. This makes paid advertising a great tactic to help you to improve your business sales quicker.
  • Targetted or Relevant AudienceThese ads are shown to the specific audience. Many small businesses are targetting customers near to their location. When consumers search for stores nearby, they will see your paid ads. It helps you to increase your sales.
  • Improves brand awarenessNot every user is going to click on your ad but it creates brand awareness. The more often they search for related industry keywords, the more often they will be exposed to your brand name.
  • Click-through ratesClick rate is high for keywords related to purchasing intent compared to organic results. When a customer is searching for a nearby shop, and your ads appear on top. They are most likely to click on it, because search engines give many options to reach to you like Call, Directions, etc. This helps to attract more sales.
  • Algorithm updates don’t affect: Search engine algorithm does not affect your rankings in paid ads. If you’re using the SEO method, you have to adjust your content according to the updated algorithm. But in the case of paid ads, you don’t have to worry about that.
  • Descent ROI: Almost 40% of people click on the first three results on SERP. So there is a high chance that your paid ads will get clicks compared to results shown at the end of the page. So chances of getting your return on investments are high.

Flaws of SEM:

  • Cost: There are lots of businesses with your niche. Some of them are much larger than yours. They are most likely to spend more on advertisements than you. So search engines have high Cost per click for certain keywords. A high competitive keyword costs more. So, if you want to come on top for those keywords, you have to pay a high amount.
  • Temporary: It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s high-visibility for your business. But these ads are only displayed until you pay. They disappear as soon as you stop paying. So instead of depending 100% on paid results. You have to make a balance between paid ads, organic search, and social search. In this way, if you are low on cash then also you still get sales.
  • Trust Issue: The majority of people don’t trust paid ads. 70% of people on the internet prefer to click on organic search instead of paid ads.
  • Adblocker: There are hundreds of millions of people who are using adblocker. It stops all those targeted paid ads from showing on your search results. This is a major issue for the advertisement industry.

Organic Searches (SEO)

SEO - Search Engine Optimization

The second type of result that Google shows on SERP is organic results. Organic results are also called Search Engine Optimization or SEO.

Organic search results are free of cost. To get on this section, you need to optimize your web page for a particular keyword. So whenever, someone searches for that keyword, your web page displays on top.

Earning and holding the top spot in the SERP is hard, but once you reach there it opens the gate for your business to thousands of potential customers.

Benefits of SEO:

  • Cost-effective: Attracting paid traffic is expensive. CPC or cost per click varies from keyword to keyword. If you want to get high results for competitive keywords, then you have to pay lots of cash. On the other hand, organic traffic is high-impact and low-cost. To get your web page on top of SERP, you don’t have to pay anything. You just need to optimize your web page according to search engine standards and that is it.
  • Evergreen: Sure it takes time to rank high on search results, but the results are long-lasting. Once you establish search engine visibility, it will serve your business for years after it’s implemented. Also when users become invested in your content, they keep coming back to your site.
  • Trust: Once your site starts to appear on top search results, it boosts your brand awareness. Continuously people see your page on search results, builds trust in them. This will also help you to improve the Domain Authority as well.
  • Backlink: Once your content is reaching to more and more people, it will get more shares on social media. People start referring to your web page on their website. Getting more backlinks gives positive feedback to search engines and it is also a part of SEO technique.
  • Click-through ratesClick rate is high for organic search results as compared to paid results. It considered being more trust-worthy.

Flaws of SEO:

  • Time taking process: You’re generating traffic and you’re paying little to no money for it. Isn’t it feels a bit odd, that you are getting something without paying anything? In this case, you are paying your time to get organic search traffic. The organic search takes time to get indexed and start generating traffic. Depending on the keyword, for a new site, it may take months or years to get high rankings.
  • Lots of effort: Getting higher ranks requires a lot of work. You have to constantly keep posting quality content and working on SEO techniques to achieve high ranks. SEO is regularly changing. You can’t just “set and forget” your traffic system. Since competition is high, so to stay on top, you have to keep it updated.

How SEO Works

Being a business owner your goal is to provide the best service to your customer so that they keep coming back. In the same way, search engines have the same goal. They want to show the best and most relevant results to their users. If their customers like their service they will visit them again and again.

By doing SEO, you show search engines that your web page is the best result for the keyword which is searched by the user.

If the user found your article helpful, this makes a good impact on your website. Then, search engines send other users to your web page.

The web content can be of different types, text, video, or images. SEO for video is a completely different strategy. Here we will be covering only for text and images. SEO for Video is a completely different method which we will discuss separately.

Before we dive into details to optimize your site. Let’s take a look at what kind of SEO path you should follow and why.

Types of SEO

Black Hat SEO vs White Hat SEO

When you make Google search for techniques of SEO, it will show you 100+ methods. But are all the techniques ethical?

If you are using unethical SEO techniques, they may bring you short-term results, but if Google catches you and it definitely will, then your website will be penalized. And it is very hard to again stand your website from that level and even if you manage to do so, it will take lot of time.

Understanding the different strategies is important. Following best practices is essential to maintain the integrity of your website, online rankings, and visibility.

Learning the difference between white hat SEO (ethical), black hat SEO (unethical), can help you in your long-term SEO goals. So let’s check these different types of techniques, so that you can make your own choice.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO

Black hat SEO is a set of unethical approaches, they try to fool search engines to rank high on SERP. There are lots of ways to bend and break the rules to get your sites to rank high.

Here are some Black Hat SEO strategies that you should avoid.

  • Avoid stuffing keywords in your content. Stuffing more targetted keywords can fool search algorithm for a while, but when customers find that your content is spammy, they will bounce back from your site. This hints search engines that your site is not useful and it drops your website ranking.
  • Spammy links are harmful. Buying backlinks from other websites or sell outbound links fool search engines that you are getting inbound links. However these links are from the spammy website. These sites are not well reputable and can harm your site reputation. Sometimes can put you at risk of having your site banned on Google.
  • Sneaky redirects or slow websites are very less likely to search engines and visitors as well. If you are redirecting your pages from one to another multiples times, this gives the impression that your site is spammy.
  • Publishing duplicate content is easily identifiable by search engines. The algorithm that search engines use is so powerful, Google will easily catch you with duplicate content. This is why it is so important to get unique content!

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO is a set of ethical approaches to follow the guidelines of search engines. In this approach, you have to follow all the guidelines of the search algorithm, to rank high on SERP.

Here are some examples of White Hat SEO strategies that you should follow to rank high on Google.

  • Focus on the customer and create quality content. There is a say that “content is king”. If you provide high-quality content, your customers will love to read and they keep coming back to your site. Search engines check this behavior of the user, and if it finds that people are preferring your site, then it will push your website on top.
  • Writing relevant information in Title and Meta Description is important. Those are the things that visitors see before clicking on your website. Making information accurate helps your visitor and gives a good impression of your site.
  • Using appropriate keywords based on your content. Also, using regular keyword density in your article.
  • Good content automatically attracts backlinks from high authority websites. People naturally refer to your website if you have unique and helpful content.
  • Web page loading speed matters a lot in search ranking. More than 50% of your visits are coming from mobile phones. Slow-loading web pages frustrate your visitors and they do not like to open your site again. Optimized your images and codes. Google also lowers your rank if you have a slow loading website.

White Hat SEO is less likely to drop traffic when Google updates its algorithm. If you are ethically following SEO, you are not going to lose visitors when the Google algorithm is updated.

You can check more about search engines guidelines on Webmaster Guidelines.

There is also a method that we call Grey Hat SEO. But I highly recommend you to choose White Hat SEO techniques.

Grey Hat SEO techniques are the path that contains the combination of Black Hat and White Hat techniques. These techniques are on the border of falling into Black Hat SEO. For the present time, they feel legit but in the long run, they will fall into Black Hat.

Below I’ll show you what factors you should consider while optimizing your website for search engines to rank on top.

How to optimize your site for Google

SEO for Google

You must be thinking by reading the headline that why to optimize just for Google. There are other search engines as well, why not optimize for them.

It’s true that there are other famous search engines as well like Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and many more. But according to research, it has been found that Google owns more than 90% of search market shares. Google doesn’t lead the search engine market share, it dominates.

While search engines like Bing, Yahoo!, and Baidu take the number two, three, and four spots, their market share can’t compete with Google. It’s crushing its competitors to the ground.

Search Engine Market Share in 2020

It’s Google that sends the most traffic to your site, but you also receive traffic from Bing or Yahoo. All the search engines mostly use the same parameters to display search results. So if your site is optimized for Google, then you will also rank high on other search engines as well.

One important thing to keep in mind. Search engines rank web pages instead of the whole website.

You must have noticed that, when you search a term on Google, it shows results in the form of pages from different websites. It never shows the name of the website. This is because every page on the website is optimized for certain keywords. So, whenever someone searches for that keyword on search engines, it will show a related page in search results.

Now let’s get started with the optimization of your website.

At the basic level, SEO can be broken down into On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO. On-page SEO consists of factors that a website owner can directly implement on their site. Off-page search engine optimization refers to the digital signals outside of one’s own website that marketers can influence indirectly.

They’re different, but you need to improve both to rank well in search results. Let’s take a look at both one by one in detail.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing different parts of your web page that affect your search engine rankings. It’s the stuff that you have control over and can change on your own website.

It includes quite a long checklist of tasks to do. In the beginning, it was only about improving Title tag, Meta Description, and Keyword Density. Since then, the search engine’s algorithm has developed a lot. It considers so many factors while analyzing a page. One of its biggest improvement is, it calculates user engagement as well.

To optimize your website for Google, you have to check all the items mentioned below:

1. Keyword Research

Keyword Research

Before even writing your article, it is really important to determine what it is you’re writing about. What is that keyword that you want to optimize your page for? Without knowing your focus keyword, your article won’t rank and the website traffic will be low. You simply have to know what keywords to target to generate enough quality traffic.

You must be thinking about how to find keywords? To find the keyword, the first thing you need to do is to think about a base keyword. For example, my website is about WordPress and I want to write an article about plugin so my base keyword is “WordPress Plugin”.

Once you have the base keyword, then you can use the below-mentioned tools to get the right keyword for your web page.

Google Suggestions

The first way to find out your keyword is from Google Suggestions. It offers many keyword suggestions from Autocomplete and Related Searches features. These suggestions are the keywords that people are using while making searches on Google.

Go to Google and type your base keyword in the search bar. It will start showing you some suggestions, these are your keywords that you want to use to optimize your article for. To see more suggestion check with “WordPress Plugin a…, b…” and so on.

Keyword Research by Google

When you search for your base keyword on Google, at the bottom of the result page, it shows Related Searches to that term. Here also, you can find suggestions for the keyword.

Related Keyword Suggestion by Google

Keyword Research Tools

Another way to search keywords is by using web tools. There are many free keyword tools that can give you hundreds of keyword. One of them is Ubersuggest, it shares data for Domain Overview, Top Pages, Keyword Suggestion, and many more. You can get insight into the strategies that are working for others in your market so you can adopt them, improve them, and gain an edge.

SEO tool - Ubersuggest

In this tool, on the search bar enter the keyword you want to write a post about. In this example, it is “WordPress plugin”. When you type your keyword and click on search it will show you information like this.

Here the first thing is Overview. In this tab, it will tell you the Monthly Search Volume for this keyword. The next thing is SEO Difficulty. This is the competition for this keyword in organic search (SEO). The next value is Paid Difficulty. This is the competition for this keyword in paid searches (SEM). And the last if Cost Per Click (CPC), which is the amount that needs to be paid to ad agencies for the paid advertisement for this keyword.

Keyword suggestion - Ubersuggest

When you scroll below to this, it will show the Related Keyword along with additional details.

2. Content is king

Writing SEO Content

Some people still believe that SEO is for search engines and content is for humans. So to reach on top, they care about good SEO but they forgot to write good content. But in reality, they both depend on each other. The first thing that you need to do is to write an awesome post, and the second part is doing SEO.

So you must be thinking about what kind of content should I create. It’s not that hard.

Before start writing your blog article, follow these steps:

  • Think of a topic that you want to write.
  • Do a lot of research about that topic.
  • Gather all the facts and information about it.
  • Go through all the information and structure your article.
  • Start writing your article.
  • When writing, keep in mind that you are writing for humans, so make it engaging.
  • Do not stop for making a correction on grammar or spellings. Complete it first.
  • Once you are done writing, then make any corrections or grammar changes you want.

You must be wondering why I said not to stop for making the correction, it’s because if you stop for making a correction on grammar or spellings, it will break your rhythm of thought.

Once you completed your article, read it, if you find it helpful and interesting to read, then it will also feel the same to your audience. If you feel, anything is missing, add or change it, then repeat. Follow these steps, you definitely come up with a good quality article.

If your audience feels that your article is helpful and interesting to read to them, then it will give positive feedback to search engines and it promotes your website on top. So making an engaging article will help you a lot.

Writing SEO Article

Things to consider while writing an article or blog post:

  • Research a lot on the topic that you want to write. Doing proper in-depth research on the topic will help to stand out from others. You have seen this in your school too. The kid with the highest knowledge on the topic is the rank one student in the class. In the same way, if you do proper research on the topic, you will come up with new ideas and can write your own unique content that will stand out on top.
  • Writing unique content is important. If you copy from some other website, then the Google algorithm, since it’s so advanced will catch you and penalize your website. You don’t want to do that to your site for some information that you can create on your own. Also, since that article is already on the internet and already on search engines database, so why they will promote your article. It has to be unique to be on top rank.
  • It’s not length, it’s the value that matters. Consider this with an example. You go to Google to find an answer. You open website A, on this website, you found that they are talking extra stuff but not giving you a word to word answer. And at the same time you open website B, on this website, it’s giving you the answer on its first line. And after that, they are sharing the same information in many different ways like images, videos, and answering some other related questions as well. Which one do you prefer: A or B? It’s obvious you will go to B. Also, you will spread some good words about website B among your peers. In the same way, if your article provides value to your readers, they keep coming back to your site.
  • Add engaging factors in your article. Consider you are reading a book with no images, no graphs, or any visually appealing content in it. On the other hand, there is another book, which explains the same information but with images, data graphs, and other visually appealing factors in it. Which one do you prefer? The second one isn’t it. In the same way, if you are writing your article, add some visual effects to it. Like some images, or if there are some facts and data then add some graphs. You can create this kind of content on Canva for free and it’s easy to use as well.
  • Organize your article structure from A to Z manner. For example, you don’t want to give a solution before even telling the problem. Make your topic clear in the first paragraph. Then discuss the problems. The next part is telling the solution to that problem. After that add more value in your article by adding some facts and figures or faqs. In the end, summarize all the information.

Things to avoid while writing an article or blog post:

  • Keyword stuffing looks bad when people read and also it’s bad from search engines point. Stuffing your content with too many or sneaky keywords gives a bad experience as a reader’s perspective. It gives a bad impression of your website. And keyword spamming sometimes will take you on top rank but sooner or later search engines algorithm will catch your spammy words and put you at the bottom.
  • Putting irrelevant links in your content is a bad habit. If you are inserting links just for the sake of SEO, then don’t do it. If the link is really helpful for your reader, then only add it else skip it.

You must be thinking why I’m stressing too much on the content part, This is because, without good content, no one will visit your site. Good content is the only key to attract visitors.

3. Title Tag

When you make a search on Google, it shows results snippet. Which looks like this.

Featured Snippet

The first thing that Google shows in the snippet is your Title tag. It is about 60 letters long. Always create a catchy or descriptive title. You must have heard that the first impression is the last impression. Since this is the first impression that the user sees of your site, so it has to be awesome. Also, your focus keyword should be included in the title of your article. It tells search engines that your post is about that keyword.

Titles are the only thing that gets shared with your web page URL on all the other sites like social media or any other blog. If your title is not good enough to click, then what’s the point of writing great content. Creating a catchy title make sure it’s clicked, read, commented on, and shared.

So, how to write a great title. This example will help you with it. While writing a post about WordPress security, which one do you think will gets the maximum clicks?

First: WordPress Security

Second: 10 Tips to Improve WordPress Security

Third: 10 Tips to Improve WordPress Security for Beginners

Fourth: 10 Simple Steps to Improve WordPress Security for Beginners

All four titles are saying that the article is about WordPress security. But the 4th title is tells everything that the article contains in it and shows some promise to readers that it will benefit them as well. So it will get the maximum clicks compared to others.

4. Meta Description

Meta Description

The second thing that Google shows in the snippet is your Meta Description. It is about 160 characters long which is one or two-sentence long and summarizes a page’s content.

Google says there is no direct ranking benefit from the meta description. But there is an indirect benefit. It will give you the opportunity to attract the visitor to your site if you describe why he/she should click your web page.

There are some points that you should consider while writing a meta description.

  • Since it’s about 160 characters long, so be more careful while picking the words.
  • Add some words that make them click more, like Find out more! or Try for free.
  • Insert your focus keyword to make it more attractive.
  • It should be related to the article’s content.

5. URL

The third thing that Google shows in the snippet is the URL of the page. A well-structured URL provides both humans and search engines an easy-to-understand indication of what the page is about. Even if the title tag of this page were hidden, a well-written URL provides visitors a clear idea about what they’ll see if they click the link.

URLs play a minor role in ranking factor for search engines. Using a URL that includes keywords can improve your site’s search visibility.

While choosing a URL, keep in mind for these things:

  • Keep it short and concise.
  • If possible, use only your keywords in the URL.
  • To separate words, use hyphens “-“, do not use anything else like underscore or spaces.

6. Image Optimization & Alt tag

Image SEO

Remember that we talked about making your article appealing. One of the ways is to add images. Images bring an article to life. It helps your user to better understanding the concept. It also helps to optimize SEO.

Humans can see images but search engines can’t. So to tell search engines what the image is about, there is an HTML tag called as Alt Attribute. This is the text version of an image for search engines.

Sometimes, the image format that you upload on your website does not support the browser. So they show a broken image icon in that place. If you have used an Alt Tag, then it will show that along with the broken image icon. Like mentioned in the below image. In this way, your visitor will know that the image is about that particular keyword.

Broken Image - Alt Attribute

Choosing the right image.

  • Always use original images, create or click by yourself.
  • If you don’t know to use software like Photoshop, then there are plenty of free and paid photo stock libraries to choose from like Pexels or Pixabay.
  • Crop and Resize the image according to the width of your website. If you use a larger image size, then it will take a longer time to load.
  • Use tools like TinyJPG to reduce the file size with lossless quality.
  • Insert your keyword as Alt tag but do not stuff it unnecessarily. Use only when the image is related to it.

7. Links are Important

No matter how great your website is, it will never contain all the relevant information someone might be looking for about a specific topic. Ultimately, search engines want users to find the information they are looking for, and when you include links to helpful content, you are doing them a great service. Ultimately, if people know that you publish and link to quality content, they want to keep coming back for more. And they will consider your site to be a more valuable source of information on the web.

Important of Links in SEO

There are three types of links:

  1. Internal Links: These are the links that you use to refer to other pages of your website (within the same domain name). It is a perfect way to promote your other articles. This may encourage visitors to become a customer or follower. It also helps Google bots to understand your website structure.
  2. Outbound Links: These are the links that you use to refer pages from other websites (another domain name). When you link out to the same niche domains, it not only helps the search engine to understand your content but also helps to increase the trust and quality of your site.
  3. Inbound Links: It is also known as backlinks. These are links that other websites use to point out pages to your website. Earning backlinks can have a positive effect on search visibility. This is a part of the Off-Page SEO technique which we will be discussing later on in this article.

Things to do:

  • Link to those pages that have high page authority. Linking to authoritative sites helps you to appear trustworthy.
  • Try to make outbound links open in new tab. If they open is the same tab, then you lose your visitor and it also affects the website’s bounce rate.
  • Use descriptive anchor text when using a link and the page that you are linking must support the anchor text. For example, if you are linking to anchor text “SEO plugin” then it should open the SEO plugin page instead of the security plugin page.
  • Keep an eye on links on your website for broken links and spammy links.

Things to avoid:

  • Avoid linking to spammy websites, it will reflect negatively on your own website.
  • Do not use too many outbound links. Try to use 2-3 outbound links.
  • Do not link to your own network of domains. Google’s algorithm will catch these kinds of links and penalize your site.

Linking to outside websites will not hurt your page rank. An external link is more valuable if it links to popular and relevant pages that are highly ranked and related to the content on your web page. Valuable external links will also help to improve the authority of your website.

8. Page Speed

Page speed can be categorized in two forms. First: Page load time and second: Time to first byte. Page load time is the amount of time it takes to fully load a webpage. And Time to first byte is the amount of time it takes to receive the first byte from the webserver. Google specifically measures the time to first byte when considering the page speed.

Page loading speed is an important factor when it comes to user experience. For slow loading pages, visitors hit the back button within a second. By improving your page load speed you are not only working on improving your conversion rate, but you’re also building trust and brand loyalty.

Google wants it’s user satisfy. Along with user experience, slow loading pages also hurt your Google search ranking. Pages with a longer load time have a higher bounce rate. Also, crawlers are not able to crawl all the pages on your website and affect your site indexing.

Google Page Speed Score

Follow the below guidelines to improve your page speed.

Minify your code

Use minification for below codes on your web pages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

Optimized codes increase your page loading speed. Also, remove any unnecessary codes like Comments in codes, additional PHP scripts, and use the minimum amount of JavaScript and AJAX code.

Enable compression

Compressed files

Once you have minified your code, use gzip to compress it. It will further reduce its size and help to improve its load speed.

Compress Images

We already discussed it in the image optimization section. In short, use lossless compressions like TinyJPG or any other compression to reduce your image size. Images have a major role in page load time.

Also, use the Lazy loading images technique. This is a part of Time to first byte. By doing this, the images will load when the user scrolls down to it instead of loading all of them at the same time. Lazy load images reduce the initial page load time which boosts performance.

Reduce redirects

Reduce the number of redirects to the page. While redirecting, your visitor has to wait for the HTTP request to complete. For example: instead of this type of redirects “domain.com >>> www.domain.com >>> www.domain.com/blog” use “domain.com >>> domain.com/blog”

Activate Browser Caching

Most of the web pages are not updated on a regular basis. Activating Browser Cache will tell the browser to store the data for a specific period of time.

When a visitor comes to your site, the browser will load the web page and store part of your web page on the user’s browser. So when they open that page again, stored data will be shown to them instead of again downloading the whole page data again.

This does not benefit the first time visitor but helps when people who visit the page again. It is better to set browser cache time to a week up to a year depending on the content type.

Use Content Delivery Network (CDN)

CDN - Content Delivery Network

CDN is a group of a server which is distributed globally, for example, Cloudflare (free) and AWS Cloudfront (Paid). When you sign-up with any of them, they will cache your website to their servers. So, when a visitor opens your site, the server near to their location will load your website site for them.

Another benefit of using a CDN is that they store all the image files, which is the heaviest part of a web page, and load if from their servers which are so powerful. This will reduce the page load time and at the same time reduces your server load and bandwidth.

Page Speed Testing Tools

Once you have implemented the above function on your site, take a page speed test. There are many free tools available to check this.

Don’t just use one. Use all of them, they all provide you different kinds of information.

To use these tools, first, take a speed test twice then make changes to your site accordingly, then again take speed test twice.

Taking speed tests twice is necessary because, it will cache the data for the first time and the next time when you run the test, it will show the result according to cache data. In this way, you have the complete insight of your page speed.

Upgrade Hosting

If you have done all the things I mentioned above, but still there is no improvement. Then there might be an issue with your hosting. In shared hosting, a single server is used to serve hundreds of websites at the same time. Due to this, it will not able to give the best performance.

If your website is new, so there is no point in investing in cloud servers or dedicated servers. There are some good shared hosting providers like BlueHost, SiteGround, etc. Check their review, compare them, and then select according to your budget.

9. SSL & HTTPS

SSL - HTTPS

First thing first: What is SSL? SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is used by websites to establish a secure connection between hosting servers and visitors. It creates a layer of safety that protects the information which is shared by the visitor with a website, like contact forms, comments, etc. This also helps to prevent hackers from stealing information.

On the other hand, HTTPS stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol and the S means “Secure”. Here the s-security comes from SSL.

Now the next question is: How its effects search engine rankings?  There are many internet browsers like Chrome and Safari, which shows a warning message on websites that do not have SSL certificates. By looking at this message, visitors will close it immediately. If too many visitors do this, Google will demote your search ranking number. Also, if your site appears insecure, no one will point to your web pages for backlinks, which is also a search engine ranking factor.

Below is an example of same kind of website. If you see this page while opening a website, you definitely close this page immediately. In the same way, if your website is showing this kind of warning to the visitor, they will also close it immediately.

Dangerous Site Warning

So how can you fix this issue? Resolving this issue is simple. These days most of the hosting servers come with free SSL. If your hosting provider does not include free SSL then you can register with Cloudflare. They provide free SSL options along with CDN services. If your site is having payment gateway then you have to get an extended version of SSL. This will cost you between $100-$500.

If you are already running a site without SSL, and your pages are already indexed with Google and you have installed SSL certificate, then you will get an error on those pages. To solve this issue, update your site address in Google Search Console from http:// to https://.

Another method to resolve this is 301 redirect, which has to be done manually for all the pages on your site. If you’re running on WordPress, you can use the Really Simple SSL plugin and it will do everything for you, like setting up 301’s, change the domain to HTTPS, and update the database to HTTPS. If you are still having an issue, then this article at brafton.com might help you to solve these issues.

10. Mobile Friendliness

In 2020, more than 50% of Google search is happening on mobile devices. If your website is not optimized for mobile devices, you can potentially lose 50% of your visitors or sales.

Desktop vs Mobile Market Share Comparision Graph

Optimizing your site for mobile devices will make your site looks good and functions properly on mobile devices. This gives a positive site experience to users since it looks great on any device, regardless of the screen size.

One way to do this is by using a “Responsive design” on your site. A responsive design automatically resizes and adjusts website content based on the visitor’s screen size. Whether it’s a smartphone or tablet, your audience will get the best experience on their device.

Google has a tool where you can check if your site is mobile-friendly or not, you can check here.

Mobile Compatibility Check

Off-Page SEO

Another part of optimizing your site for Google is Off-Page SEO. Unlike On-Page SEO, these are the factors that affect your search engine ranking but these are not in your control. You can try to improve it but you don’t have complete control over it, like getting links from some other blogs pointing to your website. This is up to them if they want to link your web pages in their articles or not.

To improve your Off-Page SEO, first, you need to work on your On-Page SEO. Once you have high-quality content that is optimized in all ways, people will start finding you on search results. A website that is of high quality in terms of content and user experience is more likely to get references from other websites.

Why Off-Page SEO is important?

Off-Page SEO

Optimizing your Off-Page SEO creates trust, authority, and popularity for visitors and search engines. Getting more backlinks indicates Google about the importance of your content. It is like getting good votes from others, which helps in Google rankings. Also, Google has recently introduced the concept of Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T), which plays an important role in rankings.

Expertise: Be an expert in your niche. This comes when you have strong content on your site.

Authority: When you writing good articles that are helpful for people, they start referring to you as the source of information. This shows the authority of your presence.

Trustworthiness: With Expertise and Authority comes trust, if people find your information useful, they start trusting you. This is a major factor if you are selling services. Address all of your customer’s issue, because too many bad reviews is a sign of low quality.

Creating good content alone will not help you to rank on top. To stay ahead of your competitors you have to establish authority. That can be gained by earning links from authoritative sites, building a brand, and giving a good user experience. All these factors help you to spread words for your site, which then leads your site on top ranking.

Off-Page SEO mainly consists of three parts:

  • Link Building
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Brand Awareness

1. Link Building

Liink Building

Here the link building that we are talking about is Backlinks. Those links that are point to your website from other websites. All website owners should consider this. Building links is good for driving referral traffic and increase their site’s authority. Link building is the process of trying to increase links to your site.

Link building is important because it is a major factor in Google ranking. Links on a page signal Google that your site is a quality resource. Therefore, sites with more backlinks tend to earn higher rankings. But getting links is not good if they are from a bad resource. You’d better aim for fewer high-quality links, then for thousands of links that bring no value.

Since all links are equally worthy, you should be very careful when you start the link building. Make sure that the links you build are natural and Google doesn’t conclude that you’re trying to manipulate its search algorithm. Let’s check out some methods to earn backlinks.

How to earn backlinks

Earning Backlinks

Content Creation & Promotion: The first and most important link building way is to create unique, informative, and interactive content so that people naturally link to your website. If bloggers found your article useful, they will naturally link to your post. And if non-blogger find your article useful, they will share it among their peers, and they will share it with their knowns and so on and you will get traffic to your site without putting any effort.

Reach out to other blogs: Reach out to people in your niche and introduce your blog to them. For example, if you have an article about “Best Baking Ovens” then search on Google for “Cookies recipe”. Open the top five results and go to their contact page, share your article link, and asking them to include it in their article. Since they are learning about the recipe so they must want equipment to cook it. It’s going to help their audience and you too, so this is not spamming but outreach to people.

Broken Link Checker: While reaching out to other blogs, you can also include this strategy. Broken link checker is the process in which you check for broken links on their website. To check for broken links you can use browser extension “Check My Links”. It highlights all the broken links on a page. See if there is an article on your site that can fit on that keyword and ask the website owner about this issue. No one wants broken links on their site, this trick works most of the time.

Guest Blogging: This is the oldest way of getting backlinks and still in effect. Search on Google for “your topic + write for us” for example “WordPress plugin write for us”. This will show all the blogs that are accepting guest blogging articles. Reach out to them for guest article writing and ask them to include your site link on relevant keywords on that post. In case the website is not accepting guest articles and you have a great topic for them, then open their contact form, explain all the details that you can provide in your article which will help their visitors. I’m sure they will allow you to write an article on their blog, because who doesn’t want free article.

Links from Peers: Share links with your friends or people who you work with and ask them to include your pages link in their site. Make sure to include links that are related to the keyword, do not become a spam site.

2. Social Media Marketing

Google doesn’t consider the number of social shares while considering a web page for ranking but social share plays an indirect role in it. The links that you share on social media will help you to increase your brand awareness. When the right kind of content is shared with the right group of audience, it makes a huge impact.

You can see the below graph is showing Monthly active users on social media. It’s in Billions. So, if your article is shared on these websites, they there is a good chance that you will get lots of visitors.

Social Media Audience Share in 2020

There was a time when Google only considers technical SEO. But time has changed, Google is now looking from the user’s point of view, it’s all about user satisfaction. And social media is all about humans.

From Social media, you can directly interact with your audience. You can know about their point of view, their thoughts, what they are looking for, and make you content as per them.

Since they are the endpoint customers, and you are building your product which is going to help them, then Google will definitely see that your product is helping more and more people and will increase your rankings.

Benefits of social marketing

Domain Authority & Gaining Backlinks: Once you start sharing your post on social media, then it gets noticed by the relevant audience. If they found your article useful, then they definitely want to include it on their site as well.

As a result, you will get more backlinks. As you keep publishing on social media, you will get more and more backlinks and this will helps you to improve your domain authority.

Getting Indexed Faster: Another benefit of social media is that the search engine’s crawl social media posts. And if your content is on social media, it will get indexed faster. Since social media websites have higher domain authority, search engine treats them differently.

If your post is viral on social media, then your post gets indexed quicker and it creates a huge impact on search rankings.

SEO For Social Media

How to optimize your site using social media

Finding the right audience: Before using social media, you should know what all comes in it and what kind of content works on which platform. Social media is not only about Facebook, Twitter & Instagram but you should consider these as well: Pinterest, Quora, Reddit, Youtube, Discord, LinkedIn when promoting your website.

All these platforms work on different kinds of content. For example, if your blog is about Travel, then Instagram and Facebook are the best platforms to work upon instead of Discord. Or If you have a blog on How To guides, then Quora should be your top priority.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t find your audience on other platforms but this is about the relevant audience. If you share with the relevant audience, then you will get much faster success.

Update your Social Profile: Since you have chosen your focus platform, now its time to update your social profile. Start with your focus platform, then along with it, start developing an audience on other platforms as well.

Keep all the profiles updated. The outdated profile gives a negative impression to your audience.

Also, include social sharing options on your articles. And not just Facebook, or Twitter but other as well. Including social sharing on your website make sure your content reaches to more people.

Start Using Social Media: Start engaging with the audience. Show your presence by sharing content on a regular basis.

Don’t wait for them to start, you should start by asking questions, posting useful information, and reply to queries.

Respond to any comments as soon as possible, this creates a positive impression of your brand. Regular interaction with the audience creates a good community, which leads to bonding and trust.

Once they develop trust, they start referring your name among their peers, this chain will become bigger and bigger. More and more people come to your contact and this will be going to help drive more traffic to your site.

3. Brand Awareness

Brand Awareness

Let’s see the effect of branding with an example. I want to buy an earphone, so I Google for the best earphone. It gave me plenty of results and the top two results are from some local area brands. The third number is Sony. Even if local area brands are on the below position but Sony is my trustworthy brand, so I’ll be clicking on Sony instead of others that are showing on positions 1 and 2.

Does this kind of situation happened to you? When you skipped top results because there is a trustworthy brand below that. I’m pretty sure, it did.

So what happened in this case, does the top two results have bad SEO? Well, they are on top means they did well in SEO. Third ranking got click because there’s a human factor included in it. And the same thing is what Google is implementing in its search algorithm.

Google algorithm is getting smart day by day. It is also considering the human factor in its ranking algorithm. So, when people start clicking the third or fourth results more, then it will improve its ranking and put it on top.

You must have seen this in recent search engine results. These days Google is showing results as a featured snippet. In this case, the user is getting information on the search page, without even clicking on any result. And these featured snippets are from bigger brands.

This thing tells us that brand awareness is so important. Even if your content is amazing, but nobody knows you, then you might not get the organic traffic that you should be getting. Branding is the experience you offer your customers, it’s how you make them think and feel about what you do.

Creating Brand Awareness

How to create Brand Awareness

User Experience: Taking care of your audience, customers, visitors are so much important. Provide good quality of product, content to them. Help them if they are having any issue with your product.

Promote your name: Mention your brand name in your author bios whenever you are posting on other websites.

Start using public forums: In forums, people are having a discussion about a topic relevant to your brand. Search on Google for topics related to your brand and take part in those discussions. Provide helpful information to people.

If your Google rank is not that high, but people are aware of your name then no matter your ranking, you will get the click. If they know your brand, they will skip Google and directly visit your site.

Conclusion

The ultimate objective of SEO is to get more exposure and traffic for your business or site. After learning about what is SEO and how it works, now you can work to make changes to your site in order to improve your SEO and rankings on SERP.

Remember that SEO takes time to show results. It may take months to see the results. So be patient and don’t panic if you do not see results in a few weeks. But once your site starts gaining exposure, you will get traffic for years.

*Some of the images in this article are downloaded from freepik by authors @pch.vector, @upklyak, @stories, @macrovector, @freepik. Check out their website here.

If you having any trouble with SEO, please leave a comment below. I’ll definitely help you with it.

I hope this guide helped you to learn about SEO. If you like this article, please follow on Twitter and Facebook.

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