SEO, Here comes the topic that you’re most afraid of, probably.
Everyone knows its importance, but still, they look for ways to either find shortcuts or avoid it.
And as you know, a shortcut is not always the right way, Bloggers end of getting penalized by Google or not getting any organic search traffic at all.
SEO is not that hard if you focus on learning the principles around it, instead of running away.
As a blogger, you don’t even have to worry about technicals (which are nearly useless for you) like schema markup, Canonical URLs, robots.txt or disavow files, etc.
Also read: 17 SEO myths that you should stop believing
You just need to focus on the working principle behind search engines and what you can do to make them work for you.
In this beginners’ guide, I’m going to show you what SEO actually means and how you can create great search engine optimized content without any fear.
Let’s roll it…
What is SEO & Why it’s important?
SEO or search engine optimization is a process of optimizing your website or content in order to rank them higher in search engines.
It’s not really a big thing or aa trick that can help you crash your website with millions of visitors overnight.
No, it doesn’t work like that.
Instead of being a single big process, SEO is more of a series of small things that you do consistently.
Some of these things need to be done only once which are part of the on-page SEO while some need to be done consistently and are part of the off-page SEO.
Together, they can throw your content at the high positions in SERPs or search engine result pages.
Importance of SEO
Before learning about the principles of SEO, first, you should know WHY you need to learn them.
If you learn how to make search engine optimization work for you, then trust me, nothing can stop you from making a successful blog.
There are basically three main reasons why you should learn about SEO –
- It gets you traffic – Ranking high in search engines means traffic and more traffic means more subscribers + money.
- Traffic diversification – You can’t rely on only one source of traffic. A small social media algorithm change can cause you a lot of trouble. You need to diversify your traffic source. As they say, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”.
- Brings targeted traffic – Search engines bring you really targeted traffic. Since it is based on keywords and queries there are high chances of visitors converting into paying customers.
You see, focusing on SEO can help you and your blog a lot.
How do search engines work?
Showing the best, and most relevant search results possible to its users isn’t just a casual thing for Google – it’s the lifeblood of their entire business.
They don’t do it for the betterment of humankind. It’s all just business.
There are basically three steps involved in showing the best possible results for a query by search engines.
Step 1 – Indexing the Web
When you search the Internet on Google, you aren’t searching the whole internet at all. You’re searching Google’s index of the web, which it builds by crawling as much of the Internet as it can with a part of its algorithm called ‘Crawlers’, or ‘Spiders’, or ‘The Googlebot’.
So you aren’t actually searching the internet in real-time. Once Google has its complete index of the web (which approximately is over 100 Million gigabytes in size), it goes through a filtration process to delete the most obviously depraved or spammy web pages.
Step 2 – Matching Content to Your Query
Once you type in a keyword and hit the Enter, some pretty black magic things start to happen. Using a simple word, synonym, and context matches, Google first discards any web pages that clearly aren’t relevant to your search topic.
The remaining pages then get ordered by coded algorithms with over 200 ranking factors.
Of course, nobody knows for sure what’s in Google’s algorithms, but there are two quite clear criteria – relevance (usefulness) and popularity (trust).
The former is satisfied using ‘On-Page’ SEO, and the latter with ‘Off-Page’ SEO.
Step 3 – The User Behaviour Feedback Loop
This last step of search is relatively new to Google’s algorithms, but it’s the most advanced.
Once a user types in a keyword, their behavior and patterns of interaction with the search results are closely monitored to give feedback.
So, if a website is appearing in the fourth position and every time people click on it, they don’t spend long there, Google knows this particular site is proving unhelpful to users and should subsequently be pushed down the rankings.
Likewise, if a site is new in the tenth position and users clearly engage with it (in terms of time spent on it, and the number of internal links they click), Google will jump it to the top where it can be just as useful to even more users.
It looks pretty simple. But trust me, Google does a really hard job in providing the best possible search results.
The 4 Principles of SEO
We know why SEO is so important and how search engines work. Now, We’re ready to get our hands dirty with some real search engine optimization.
I’ll start by telling you a secret about Search Engine Optimisation. Ready? Okay here goes…
It’s really easy!
There are only 4 things we need to do to make Google put our web page at the very top of the search results for any given keyword – and it’s all common sense stuff.
Allow me to introduce, the 4 principles of SEO.
We need to make sure every page has a specific target topic and is rich in associated target keywords. What’s more important is that it needs to be useful to the end-user – the human.
You can make your content more relevant by –
- Writing a keyword-rich title
- Using synonyms and related words to your target keyword in the right density to your content
- Creating your slug/URL carefully using the keyword
- Writing proper imagine filenames and alt tags
- Using outbound links to high authority websites
- Interlinking between related posts
From a facilitative point of view, we need to make it easy for Google to scan and inspect our web pages.
Remember, the very first thing the search engine does is indexing the web.
If it is not able to find or index your post then there are no chances that it’s going to be shown in the SERPs.
You can make it easy for Google bots to index your posts and pages by submitting a sitemap to Google search console and doing a lot of interlinking.
Make sure there’s no dead end on any page of your website. Every post or page must link to some other page on your website.
This is commonly known as crawlability.
We must show Google the hallmarks that the searchers are spending lots of time on our web pages and digesting the content.
You can do so by –
- Creating high-quality long-form content
- Lots of interlinking
- Improving your site speed
- Asking for shares and comments
Finally, we need to show Google that our content is credible, and is being vouched for by other trustworthy websites within the industry that our keyword is related to.
You can build credibility and authority by getting backlinks from high authority websites.
There are tons of ways to get backlinks. Some of the common ways are –
- Create high-quality content that everyone wants to link to
- Guest posting
- Giving testimonials
This is how you build authority.
It’s incredible that SEO is a multi-Billion industry and yet it all boils down to just four things that Google wants to see a website do.
The first three principles – relevance, crawlability, and engagement combined form ’On-Page’ Search Engine Optimization.
The beauty of on-page optimization is that, if you do it right, it’s usually a one-time activity. Once it’s done, it’s done.
The fourth and final piece of the SEO puzzle – website Authority – is also known as ‘Off-Page’ Optimization.
In the beginning, SEO might seem like a very complicated and confusing topic.
But once you get used to it and know how everything works + how you can do it right, it becomes really easy.
All you have to do it be consistent and keep learning. That’s the key.
There’s no shortcut at all.
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