SEO an introduction for beginners
What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. This is the process of winning the love from search engines so they favour your content above your competitors and show it to people who are performing the search.
To win the love from a search engine takes a bit more effort than in previous years. This is because the rules that Google used to rank websites were simpler and were so easy to follow that it took very little skill to capture the number one spot.
This resulting in the google search results being full of poor quality spammy sites. Now google is always updating its rules to weed out poor quality useless content so it can deliver high-quality relevant content to the people searching on its search engine.
How does google rank you?
When someone starts a search on google by entering a keyword google looks for the site with the best content to show in the results. You may have heard that Google uses over 200 ranking factors to determine who is best. not all factors are created equal. Well, this is not exactly true. This article does a great job of explaining why you can take many of the ranking factors with a pinch of salt. https://moz.com/blog/the-myth-of-googles-200-ranking-factors. Mainly, because Google doesn’t publish this information so what you read are mainly thoughts, guesses and interpretations of an SEO’s experience. Some of it is misleading, some of it just plain untrue. So how does Google rank you?
To simplify it, you can think of it as coming down to 3 areas.
Trust, content quality and performance.
Trust is one area that consists of many factors such as age, how many quality sites are linking to you, Slow, steady, painful. You have to trust in the process. Like going to the gym. You won’t see page 1 results for a long time but you will eventually if you are consistent. The older your site and the more people linking to you, you will grow in authority and Google will trust you more.
– The old backlink strategy
Someone linking to your site is seen as a trust signal to Google. If someone links to your article then it must be good, right? Wrong! Once it was known that backlinks got you the thumbs up, backlink farms started appearing. These were low-quality sites that would link to you, just to give you a link for ranking. You could buy hundreds of links for just a few pounds. Then Google decided to measure the quality of links and even penalise sites if they had too many low-quality links. The link farms were driven out.
– The new backlink strategy
Now, you need backlinks from authoritative, relevant websites. But not just a few, you need to have a backlink profile that shows you are getting links regularly. This can only happen if you are putting out good content regularly. Which is what Google wants to promote of course.
– The old keyword focused strategy
Not so long ago, Google ranked content according to keywords. Tactics like having a keyword in an H1 tag, in the URL and dotted around your content in a specific density making your content keyword rich was essential. This type of content was more focused on search engines than the user. It could be hard to read and sometimes make little sense to the reader because the emphasis was on getting the content ranked rather than providing value.
– The new relevant content strategy
Now, Google is looking for relevant, comprehensive, valuable content. Relevant content is content that goes into more depth about a subject and contains not only a focus keyword but also contains related keywords. There is no emphasis on keyword density, the emphasis is on delivering quality, valuable content that is engaging.
Google wants to be sure the web page being served is quick to load, spam and error free.
– Mobile optimisation
Making sure your page is optimised for mobile is essential. Mobile traffic is taking over desktop traffic so if you are not moving with the times your search engine position will suffer.
– Page load speed
You also need to make sure your page loads fast. Google doesn’t want to show broken, slow websites in the search results. Google wants to keep the quality of served content high so you should really make sure the quality of your site is high.
To rank high on search engines you don’t need to be perfect in all areas, this is one reason it is easy to get overwhelmed with SEO. There is so much you can do. It’s not all essential though. You only need to do as much work as is necessary to beat your competition and to stay at the top.
My top tips:
- Keep an eye on your performance, weekly monitoring is essential.
- Keep an eye on the competition and stay one step ahead.
- Write high quality, engaging content.
- Promote your content to high authority websites.