SEO BASICS: 22 ESSENTIALS YOU NEED FOR OPTIMIZING YOUR SITE

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This guide will be an introduction lớn & overview of search engine optimization (SEO), a hugely important tactic for driving traffic to lớn your site.

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In this guide you’ll learn:

What is SEO & Why is it Important?SEO Keyword Retìm kiếm và Keyword Targeting Best PracticesOn-Page Optimization Best Practices

Let"s get started!

1. What is SEO & Why is it Important?

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing web pages và their content lớn be easily discoverable by users searching for terms relevant to your website. The term SEO also describes the process of making website pages easier for search engine indexing software, known as "crawlers," khổng lồ find, scan, & index your site.

While the concept of SEO is relatively straightforward, many newcomers khổng lồ SEO still have questions about the specifics, such as:

How vị you “optimize” for your site or your company’s site for tìm kiếm engines?How do you know how much time lớn spkết thúc on SEO?How can you differentiate “good” SEO advice from “bad” or harmful SEO advice?

Perhaps the most important aspect of search engine optimization is how you can actually leverage SEO khổng lồ help drive more relevant traffic, leads, và sales for your business.

Why Should You Care About SEO?

Billions of searches are conducted online every single day. This means an immense amount of specific, high-intent traffic.

Many people search for specific products and services with the intent to pay for these things. These searches are known lớn have commercial intent, meaning they are clearly indicating with their search that they want to buy something you offer.

 


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A search query lượt thích "I want khổng lồ buy car" displays clear commercial intent

People are searching for any manner of things directly related khổng lồ your business. Beyond that, your prospects are also searching for all kinds of things that are only loosely related khổng lồ your business. These represent even more opportunities khổng lồ connect with those folks và help answer their questions, solve sầu their problems, and become a trusted resource for them.

Are you more likely to get your widgets from a trusted resource who offered great information each of the last four times you turned khổng lồ Google for help with a problem, or someone you’ve sầu never heard of?

What Actually Works for Driving SEO Traffic from Search Engines?

It’s important lớn note that Google is responsible for the majority of the search engine traffic in the world. This may vary from one industry to lớn another, but it’s likely that Google is the dominant player in the search results that your business or website would want lớn show up in, but the best practices outlined in this guide will help you khổng lồ position your site và its nội dung lớn rank in other search engines, as well.

 


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Google dominates among muốn search engines, but don"t sleep on sites lượt thích Yahoo và Bing

So how does Google determine which pages lớn return in response to lớn what people tìm kiếm for? How vày you get all of this valuable traffic khổng lồ your site?

Google’s algorithm is extremely complex, but at a high level:

Google is looking for pages that contain high-chất lượng, relevant information relevant khổng lồ the searcher’s query.Google"s algorithm determines relevance by “crawling” (or reading) your website’s content & evaluating (algorithmically) whether that content is relevant to what the searcher is looking for, based on the từ khóa it contains & other factors (known as "ranking signals").Google determines “quality” by a number of means, but a site"s liên kết protệp tin - the number và unique of other websites that liên kết khổng lồ a page & site as a whole - is among mỏi the most important.

Increasingly, additional ranking signals are being evaluated by Google’s algorithm khổng lồ determine where a site will rank, such as:

How much chất lượng nội dung a site has (versus “thin” or duplicated, low-value content)

There are hundreds of ranking factors that Google’s algorithm considers in response to searches, & Google is constantly updating and refining its process lớn ensure that it delivers the best possible user experience.

2. SEO Keyword Retìm kiếm và Keyword Targeting Best Practices

The first step in tìm kiếm engine optimization is lớn determine what you’re actually optimizing for. This means identifying terms people are searching for, also known as “từ khoá,” that you want your website to rank for in search engines lượt thích Google.

For example, you may want your widget company to lớn show up when people look for “widgets,” and maybe when they type in things lượt thích “buy widgets.” The figure below shows search volume, or the estimated number of searches for a specific term, over a period of time:

 


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Tracking SEO keyword across various time periods

There are several key factors to take into lớn trương mục when determining the từ khoá you want khổng lồ target on your site:

Search Volume – The first factor to consider is how many people are actually searching for a given từ khoá. The more people there are searching for a keywords, the bigger the potential audience you st& khổng lồ reach. Conversely, if no one is searching for a từ khoá, there is no audience available lớn find your nội dung through search.Relevance – A term may be frequently searched for, but that does not necessarily mean that it is relevant khổng lồ your prospects. Keyword relevance, or the connection between content on a site and the user"s search query, is a crucial ranking signal.Competition – Keywords with higher tìm kiếm volume can drive sầu significant amounts of traffic, but competition for premium positioning in the search engine results pages can be intense. 

First you need to lớn understand who your prospective customers are và what they’re likely to lớn search for. From there you need lớn understand:

What types of things are they interested in?What problems do they have?What type of language vì they use lớn describe the things that they do, the tools that they use, etc.?Who else are they buying things from?

Once you’ve sầu answered these questions, you’ll have sầu an initial “seed list” of possible từ khóa & domains to lớn help you find additional keywords ideas và khổng lồ put some search volume và competition metrics around.

Take the list of core ways that your prospects & customers describe what you bởi, & start to đầu vào those inlớn từ khóa tools like Google’s own keyword tool or tools like ruby-forum.org’s keyword tool:

 


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ruby-forum.org"s Free Keyword Tool for SEO

Additionally, if you have sầu an existing site, you’re likely getting some traffic from tìm kiếm engines already. If that’s the case, you can use some of your own từ khóa data khổng lồ help you underst& which terms are driving traffic (& which you might be able lớn rank a bit better for).

Unfortunately, Google has stopped delivering a lot of the information about what people are searching for to lớn analytics providers. Google does make some of this data available in their không lấy phí Webmaster Tools interface (if you haven’t set up an account, this is a very valuable SEO tool both for unearthing search query data và for diagnosing various technical SEO issues).

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Once you’ve sầu taken the time lớn understvà your prospects, have looked at the keyword driving traffic khổng lồ your competitors & related sites, và have looked at the terms driving traffic to your own site, you need lớn work to understand which terms you can conceivably rank for and where the best opportunities actually lie.

Determining the relative competition of a từ khoá can be a fairly complex task. At a very high level, you need lớn understand:

How trusted và authoritative (in other words: how many links does the whole site get, và how high chất lượng, trusted, và relevant are those linking sites?) other entire sites that will be competing lớn rank for the same term areHow well aligned they are with the keywords itself (bởi vì they offer a great answer lớn that searcher’s question)How popular & authoritative each individual page in that tìm kiếm result is (in other words: how many link does the page itself have sầu, & how high chất lượng, trusted, & relevant are those linking sites?)

You can dive sầu deeper inkhổng lồ the process of determining how competitive keyword are by using ruby-forum.org founder Larry Kim’s competitive index formula.

3. On-Page Optimization for SEO

Once you have sầu your keyword danh sách, the next step is actually implementing your targeted keywords into your site’s nội dung. Each page on your site should be targeting a core term, as well as a “basket” of related terms. In his overview of the perfectly optimized page, R& Fishkin offers a nice visual of what a well (or perfectly) optimized page looks like:

 


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The "Perfectly Optimized Page" (via Moz)

Title Tags

While Google is working to better understand the actual meaning of a page và de-emphasizing (và even punishing) aggressive sầu và manipulative sầu use of từ khoá, including the term (and related terms) that you want to lớn rank for in your pages is still valuable. And the single most impactful place you can put your từ khóa is your page’s title tag.

The title tag is not your page’s primary headline. The headline you see on the page is typically an H1 (or possibly an H2) HTML element. The title tag is what you can see at the very top of your browser, and is populated by your page’s source code in a meta tag:

 


Your title tag matches your organic result headline: Make it clickable

The length of a title tag that Google will show will vary (it’s based on pixels, not character counts) but in general 55-60 characters is a good rule of thumb here. If possible you want to work in your core từ khóa, and if you can do it in a natural and compelling way, add some related modifiers around that term as well. Keep in mind though: the title tag will frequently be what a searcher sees in search results for your page. It’s the “headline” in organic tìm kiếm results, so you also want to take how clickable your title tag is inkhổng lồ trương mục.

Meta Descriptions

While the title tag is effectively your search listing’s headline, the meta description (another meta HTML element that can be updated in your site’s code, but isn’t seen on your actual page) is effectively your site’s additional ad copy. Google takes some liberties with what they display in search results, so your meta mô tả tìm kiếm may not always show, but if you have a compelling description of your page that would make folks searching likely lớn clichồng, you can greatly increase traffic. (Remember: showing up in search results is just the first step! You still need khổng lồ get searchers to come to your site, và then actually take the action you want.)

Here’s an example of a real world meta description showing in search results:

 


Meta descriptions = SEO "ad copy"

Body Content

The actual content of your page itself is, of course, very important. Different types of pages will have different “jobs” – your cornerstone nội dung asphối that you want lots of folks to lớn liên kết to lớn needs khổng lồ be very different than your tư vấn content that you want khổng lồ make sure your users find and get an answer from quickly. That said, Google has been increasingly favoring certain types of content, and as you build out any of the pages on your site, there are a few things to lớn keep in mind:

Thiông chồng & Unique Content – There is no magic number in terms of word count, and if you have a few pages of content on your site with a handful lớn a couple hundred words you won’t be falling out of Google’s good graces, but in general recent Panda updates in particular favor longer, quality content. If you have a large number (think thousands) of extremely short (50-200 words of content) pages or lots of duplicated nội dung where nothing changes but the page’s title tag and say a line of text, that could get you in trouble. Look at the entirety of your site: are a large percentage of your pages thin, duplicated and low value? If so, try to identify a way to lớn “thicken” those pages, or kiểm tra your analytics to lớn see how much traffic they’re getting, và simply exclude them (using a noindex meta tag) from tìm kiếm results khổng lồ keep from having it appear to lớn Google that you’re trying khổng lồ flood their index with lots of low value pages in an attempt to lớn have them rank.

Alt Attributes

How you mark up your images can impact not only the way that search engines perceive sầu your page, but also how much search traffic from image tìm kiếm your site generates. An alt attribute is an HTML element that allows you to lớn provide alternative sầu information for an image if a user can’t view it. Your images may break over time (files get deleted, users have difficulty connecting khổng lồ your site, etc.) so having a useful mô tả tìm kiếm of the image can be helpful from an overall usability perspective. This also gives you another opportunity – outside of your content – lớn help tìm kiếm engines understand what your page is about.

You don’t want khổng lồ “keywords stuff” và cram your core keyword và every possible variation of it into lớn your alternative text attribute. In fact, if it doesn’t fit naturally into the mô tả tìm kiếm, don’t include your target từ khoá here at all. Just be sure not lớn skip the alternative text attribute, và try khổng lồ give a thorough, accurate description of the image (imagine you’re describing it khổng lồ someone who can’t see it – that’s what it’s there for!).

By writing naturally about your topic, you’re avoiding “over-optimization” filters (in other words: it doesn’t make it look like you’re trying khổng lồ trichồng Google into lớn ranking your page for your target keyword) & you give yourself a better chance khổng lồ rank for valuable modified “long tail” variations of your core topic.

URL Structure

Your site’s URL structure can be important both from a tracking perspective sầu (you can more easily segment data in reports using a segmented, logical URL structure), & a shareability standpoint (shorter, descriptive URLs are easier khổng lồ copy và paste và tend lớn get mistakenly cut off less frequently). Again: don’t work to cram in as many keywords as possible; create a short, descriptive URL.

Moreover: if you don’t have to lớn, don’t change your URLs. Even if your URLs aren’t “pretty,” if you don’t feel as though they’re negatively impacting users và your business in general, don’t change them khổng lồ be more keywords focused for “better SEO.” If you vì chưng have sầu to lớn change your URL structure, make sure khổng lồ use the proper (301 permanent) type of redirect. This is a common mistake businesses make when they redesign their websites.

Schema & Markup

Finally, once you have sầu all of the standard on-page elements taken care of, you can consider going a step further và better helping Google (và other search engines, which also recognize schema) khổng lồ understvà your page.

Schema markup does not make your page show up higher in search results (it’s not a ranking factor, currently). It does give sầu your listing some additional “real estate” in the search results, the way ad extensions vày for your AdWords ads.

In some tìm kiếm results, if no one else is using schema, you can get a nice advantage in click-through rate by virtue of the fact that your site is showing things like ratings while others don’t. In other search results, where everyone is using schema, having Review may be “table stakes” và you might be hurting your CTR by omitting them:

 


Afford your organic results more real estate by adding markup và schema

There are a variety of different types of markup you can include on your site – most probably won’t apply khổng lồ your business, but it’s likely that at least one size of markup will apply lớn at least some of your site’s pages. 

You can learn more about schema và markup in ruby-forum.org’s guide to schema for SEO.

Further SEO Reading và Resources

This guide is intended to lớn serve as an introduction to lớn SEO. For a more in-depth overview of nội dung creation for SEO, the technical considerations of which you should be aware, & other related topics, read Tom Demers" comprehensive sầu introductory guide lớn SEO basics.