What is SEO and why you need it?
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of increasing the “organic” or “natural” traffic to your website through different digital marketing practices.
The reasons why you need SEO are multiple, starting with the fact that people are increasingly relying on search engines to find information, purchase products, book vacations, learn, communicate, etc. This means that a bunch of old school advertisement methodologies are becoming obsolete, as they are simply ignored by the modern customer. As people are predominantly online, brands and companies need to make sure they will appeal to this audience in the best manner possible.
Another behavioral factor is also contributing to the surging need for SEO and this is the trend of people no longer trusting ads. As Seth Godin, a famous marketing guru, puts it, “marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell”. And about the value you deliver, we will add. Popping up in the prime time commercials was a guarantee for an increase in sales once, but is a last resort now. People will go to your website only if you offer them something superior and will trust you only if you prove to be better than the competition. PPC could create awareness, but won’t establish you as a thought leader. But an optimized site and a good content strategy could get you there.
How does SEO work?
An average person searches Google at least 3-4 times per day and we all know that this is a grand underestimation for an average millenial. However, rarely do people think about why does the search engine result page looks like this and how does Google decide on what to show first.
The truth is that search engines rely on sophisticated algorithms, which allow them to “crawl” each and every site on the web and obtain information about it. All the collected details are stored and analyzed by the engine, which sums them up into an index. Of course, content is key, but other factors have a major contribution, as well, and those are the domain and page authority, the backlink profile, the social metrics, the structure of the site, etc. Optimizing all these would give you much higher chances to rank well and make it worth your while.
Learn SEO: Step-By-Step Guide
Learning SEO just like “doing” SEO is a continuous process. Neither taking an SEO course once, nor optimizing your site for the search engine once will be sufficient. With digital marketing transforming each and every day and search engines modifying their algorithms, you need to keep on reading and learning, so as to adapt your SEO strategies and techniques and continue achieving good results.
Step 1: Understand the logic behind SEO
The now famous “three pillars of SEO” are a good representation of the basic logic behind the entire process as well as of Google’s algorithm. The three words that define SEO are authority, relevance, and trust.
Authority could be neither bought nor sold, nor achieved overnight. However, it is what users are looking for when searching for a fix to their issue or an answer to their question. They want tips, advice, information, and stories from the best out there. And to evaluate who’s the best, search engines focus on the quality of the content and the links it has attracted to the site. Google is now capable of analyzing the on-page content, format, and organization and to add this to the page rank developed by summarizing the link structure.
The second pillar behind the SEO logic is relevance and it is pretty straight forward. If you aim at ranking for “how to make the best chocolate ice cream”, you better offer a resource about exactly the same recipe. If your content is not relevant to your target audience searches, even if you are authoritative and trustworthy you won’t have good positions on the search engine result pages (SERPs).
The third pillar sounds simple, but encompasses a wide range of factors to evaluate the trustfulness of the site. Starting with the length of your content (Google will rarely index pages with text content below 200 words) and its type (pages with images, videos, and infographics will have an advantage over purely textual pages), search engines will check whether you have external links to authoritative sources, what the speed of your site is, how much time people spend on each page, etc. While improving the authority and relevance may sound easy, increasing the trust factor is a continuous process and requires patience and attention to the detail.
Step 2: Learn about the different types of SEO
Once you’ve understood the basic SEO logic, you need to learn more about the different types and SEO activities. If you aim at improving your overall ranking and to gain more traffic and exposure, you’ll have to act upon all three pillar, which in practice is achieved through technical and on-page optimization and link building campaign.
The technical SEO focuses on solving the backend issues, which may hinder the user experience. It is also known as website and server optimization and solves the problems of privacy, speed, sitemaps and structure, mobile friendliness, etc. The technically fit website will achieve a higher trust factor.
The on-page efforts summarize a wide range of page elements and how optimized in respect to basic SEO rules and Google’s algorithm they are. Those are URLs, titles, meta descriptions, headings, alt tags, file names, and many more.
Assuming that you’ve created a website with great content, structure, and technical background, it will still attract no traffic and users, unless the world and the web learn about its existence. And they will learn about it through an improved authority. To achieve this you need to design and deploy well-thought link building campaigns and promote your website to other website owners.
Step 3: Case Studies: Theory meets Practice
Theory is all good, but you will only learn to optimize your site for the search engines, if you dive deep into the practical part. The web is flooded with SEO case studies and success stories which also include good illustrations and explanations. Analyze them and find out how businesses actually made it to the top of the SERPs and increased their sales and conversion through SEO efforts. At the end, work on your first SEO strategy and try to adapt everything learned to the needs of your business and the desires of your audience.
The Best SEO Resources that would help you advance
This 4-hour course for absolute beginners delves deeper into the SEO fundamentals and teaches you the basics of keyword research, content planning and optimization, link building, measurement of the final results as well as mobile and local SEO. With more than a decade experience in the digital marketing and transformation field, David Booth explains everything with simple terms and welcomes you to the SEO world.
Learning directly from the people who draft Google’s algorithms is always a good idea. Browse their youtube channel and find variety of useful resources or go to their blog and find all the updates about crawling, indexing, and ranking.
Moz and Ahrefs SEO Blogs
Those two are the leading providers of SEO software as well as the renowned thought leaders in the field. And not only are their toolsets extremely useful and beneficial to your SEO efforts, but their resources answer all the question that could pop up into your mind, while you are making your way into the SEO environment.
SEO is a field for the brave and for those, unafraid to never stop learning. It is neither static, nor boring, but a rigorous field that requires an agile approach and a strong motivation. Start learning it now and observe the miracles it could bring to you.