A Beginner’s Guide to SEO
What is the first thing you do when you need an idea? Or do you need help with some information? Faced with a problem, challenge, or even a choice, these days the answer to it all is – Google.
SEO has become so important that it is one of the top digital marketing jobs in India for 2023.
It is a cold harsh truth that every business needs a presence on the internet to survive. And since there are a million options, it is important that a business practices good SEO to be visible to its potential customers.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one of the most essential elements of Digital Marketing. It is the process of making your website visible to potential customers by making it appear high on search engine result pages.
Good SEO helps rank your website on the search results of a keyword and successful SEO aims at making your website rank as high as possible (at least on the first page).
Years ago, it was easier to rate #1 on Google, but now, it takes a lot more effort. Currently, there are way more aspects involved in making use of SEO the right way. It has come to become a sort of mandatory marketing tactic if you want your website to be found through search engines like Google.
To begin with, let’s look at what a search engine is and how it works. In simple terms, search engines are nothing but an evolved form of ‘classifieds’. When a user searches for something on a search engine, thousands of websites appear which are termed as relevant search results.
Other than these organic and natural results that appear due to good SEO practices, some other results appear as ads that are paid for by the business and are termed Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
As of today, there are more than 330,000,000+ websites that are registered on the internet. About 90% of internet users these days rely on search engines to find out what they want instead of directly going to a particular website. There are various search engines available for use, but 83% of internet users rely on Google. It is important to note that 94% of the people click only on the websites viewed on the first page of the search results.
Also, these people are crucial to businesses since they are actively looking for products or services that they offer. Hence, they are the ones that are most likely to visit our website and convert into our customers/subscribers.
That is why SEO is so important and sought after to help your website rank better. If your website does not appear on the first page of a search result, it’s alright to say that, to consumers, the website doesn’t exist.
So how do we make sure our website appears on the first page? It is essential for us to know how a search engine determines your position and what we can do to improve it. Here’s a little trivia!
Previously, the correlation between keywords used for search and the keywords that are available on the website is what decided the page ranking. But in 1996, it was found that more keywords on a website did not have to mean more relevancies to the search terms.
What was more important was to see if these websites were cited more often than the other websites. That is if they were backlinked or referred to by other websites. That is how Google was born.
Most available search engines today follow this model. They still look at the keywords available on your website but rank their relevance based on the number and quality of backlinks to it from other websites. So basically, keywords help Google ‘see’ your website, and backlinks, on the other hand, lets Google ‘trust’ it.
The search listings that we get to see constantly change based on what people do on the web and are hence called ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ results.
Other than these two search engine aspects of finding and ranking pages, there are two corresponding components to SEO; namely On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is where you ensure that your website is full of keywords that are relevant to what your site offers. In the case of Off-page SEO, you work to generate backlinks to your website that originate from other sources. Every time another website mentions and points its readers to your content, you gain a backlink to your site. These backlinks can be created using articles, social media, blog posts, etc. It is important to note that the more influential or legitimate the website is that links back to you, the more effective the backlink from that site will have on your search result ranking.
Since almost everyone these days relies heavily on search engines to find anything online, SEO is the most effective way to send traffic to your website. Good SEO takes time. So, the sooner you start, the sooner you move up on the search results ladder.
Introduction to On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO is basically signals sent by webmasters to search engines. These signals ensure not just the quality of search results but also make sure they are relevant to the search terms used.
Hence, these signals along with various algorithms help search engines in ranking websites. On-page SEO is correlated more with relevancy than quality. This is because, as website owners, we can make sure the webpage is relevant by using the right content and keywords but its quality can be assured stronger only through backlinks and other Off-page optimization methods.
Some On-page SEO factors include
- Page load speed – How long your website takes to open once clicked. The higher the load speed, the better the SEO ranking.
- Title tag – The title of the website that appears on the browser bar must be relevant.
- Meta description – The description that appears below the URL on the search results page of a search engine should have relevant keywords.
- H1 & H2 heading tags – Title of the post that should be keyword enriched.
- URL Keywords – The URL should be rich in quality keywords to help improve CTR.
- Content – Content on the website should be rich in suitable and quality keywords that potential customers use while searching on search engines.
- Latent Semantic Index – Include keywords relevant to the main keyword in the content.
- Image ALT tag – Description and file name of images placed on the website.
- Internal Links – Relevant and important links available within your website.
- Content-Length – Long-form content performs better than short-form content.
Introduction to Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO is any sort of optimization that is done outside of your website. Such optimization is generally done by your users unlike in case of On-page SEO wherein relevancy signals are sent by webmasters. Off-page SEO is correlated more with quality than relevancy. Very often, Off-page SEO happens by itself when your website has quality content that is read and shared and its users are taken care of.
Some basic Off-page SEO factors include
- Backlinks – Hyperlinks from another website to yours.
- Social shares – Your website content is shared on social media and other blogs.
- Brand searches – When brand keywords are used to reach your website instead of organic search keywords that drive traffic to your website.
- User behavior – Time spent by users on your website, Bounce rate, Pages viewed, Sessions, etc.
- Quality backlinks – when your website is referred by other websites, it helps increase the popularity of your website.
“If SEO were an Olympic sport, it would be race walking. Everyone is after that first place slot – but it’s a long, slow, and strategic path to getting there.”
SEO can sound tricky and hard, but even the most basic SEO practices can take you a long way. It can help in avoiding all the clutter and showcase your website among potential customers resulting in high visitors and in turn, conversions and sales.