What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing your website with the goal of improving your rankings in the search results and getting more organic (non-paid) traffic.
Search engine optimization focuses only on organic search results and does not include PPC optimization. Both SEO and PPC are part of Search Engine Marketing.
The search engines are used by internet users when they are searching for something.
And you want to provide the answer to that something. It doesn’t matter whether you sell a product or service, write a blog, or anything else, search engine optimization is a must for every website owner.
To put it simply:
SEO is all the actions you do to make Google consider your website a quality source and rank it higher for your desired search queries.
There are three key aspects of SEO:
- Technical stuff – (On page SEO)
- Great content – (Website Content) – Low-quality content = no rankings
- Quality backlinks – (The authority of your site)
White hat SEO vs. black hat SEO
Black hats and white hats have their origin in Western movies. They represented bad guys and good guys.
In SEO, the terms are used to describe two groups of SEOs – those who adhere to the rules set out by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and those who don’t.
A search engine is an online tool that helps people find information on the internet. A typical example? Google.
The process in which search engines work consists of these main steps:
- Picking the results
- Show search results to the user.
Is the process in which search engines scan all the internet web pages continuously.
They use small pieces of programs (called crawlers or bots) to follow all the hyperlinks and discover new pages (as well as updates to the pages they discovered before).
“We start somewhere with some URLs, and then basically follow links from thereon. So we are basically crawling our way through the internet (one) page by page, more or less.”
Picking the results
Once the internet user submits a search query, the search engine digs into the index and pulls out the best results. The list of the results is known as a SERP (Search Engines Results Page).
In the following paragraphs, we’ll take a closer look at Google’s Search Algorithm.
Google’s Search Algorithm is used as an umbrella term to refer to all the individual algorithms, machine learning systems and technologies Google uses to rank websites.
To provide the best results, they consider various factors, namely:
- Meaning of the query: the search engine needs to understand what exactly is the user searching for
- The relevance of pages: the page must be relevant to the search query
- Quality of content: the search engine tries to pick the best results in terms of quality of content
- Usability of pages: the pages should also be usable (in terms of accessibility, readability, safety, etc.)
- Context and settings: last but not least, the user’s location, settings, and history of searches are considered
Note: As with any other complex system, the Google algorithm needs to be updated and tweaked regularly.
Of course, search engines keep the exact calculations of their algorithms as a secret. Nonetheless, many ranking factors are well-known.
Ranking factors are a very discussed topic in the world of SEO. Many of them have been officially confirmed by Google but many remain in the realm of speculations and theories. From the practical point of view, it’s important to focus on factors that have a proven impact but also try to keep a “good score” across all the areas.
Not everything is a ranking factor used by search engines (if something correlates with the higher rankings, it is not necessarily something Google uses in their algorithm). On the other hand, some confirmed ranking factors only have a very small impact on the rankings.
Google 10 success factors (Higher rankings):
- Well-targeted content: you need to identify what people search for and create quality content tailored to their needs
- Crawlable website: this is a no brainer – if you want to rank, your website must be easy to find by search engines
- Quality and quantity of links: the more quality pages link to your website, the more authority you’ll have in the eyes of Google
- Content oriented at user intent: SEO is not only about what words you use, but also about the type of content and its comprehensiveness – make your visitor happy and Google will be happy too
- Unique content: be very careful about using duplicate content on your websites
- EAT (Expertise, Authority, Trust): the E-A-T signals are evaluated by Google’s Quality Raters – never forget to build and prove your expertise and trustworthiness and write only about topics you are qualified for
- Fresh content: some topics require more freshness than the others, but nonetheless, you should regularly update your content to keep it up to date
- Click-through rate: optimize your title tags and meta descriptions to improve the CTR of your pages
- Website speed: make sure your visitors don’t have to wait too long to load the page, otherwise, there’s a high chance they’ll leave before actually visiting it
- Works on any device: your website must work perfectly on any device and screen size (remember that the majority of internet users come through mobile devices!)
Keyword research is one of the basic SEO task and we will understand how to find your niche and how to find profitable keywords you can rank for.
Keyword research should be the very first step on your SEO journey. It is especially important in two common scenarios:
- Getting to know your niche: when starting a new website, keyword research can provide a great overview of what sub-topics are interesting for people in your niche or industry
- Finding new content ideas: keyword research can help you find the most profitable keyword opportunities and plan your content strategy
Where to find keywords?
There are various ways to find keywords.
Your first task is to come up with the seed keywords – phrases you’ll use as the stepping stone to finding more keyword ideas. If you run a coffee blog, simple phrases such as “coffee beans”, “coffee machines” or “espresso” will work great.
The classic ways to look for keywords:
Google offers many keyword suggestions directly in the SERP. Features such as Google Autocomplete, People Also Ask or Related Searches can be a great source of keyword ideas.
With the autocomplete feature, you just need to write your seed keyword into the Google search and the suggestions will appear automatically.
You can combine your seed keyword with different letters from the alphabet to find more autocomplete ideas (e.g. email marketing a, email marketing b,…)
Here’s another example of keyword ideas that can be found in the Google results page:
There are many free keyword tools that can give you hundreds of keyword ideas based on a single seed keyword. The problem is: they are very limited when it comes to other features.
So if you make money with your website in any way, a quality paid keyword tool is a great investment that will pay off sooner or later.
Besides the keyword suggestions, professional tools offer other useful SEO metrics and insights to evaluate the keywords and pick the best ones.
There are two ways to start keyword research with a keyword tool:
- Seed keyword
- Competitor’s Domain/URL
Here’s what a list of keyword suggestions looks like in KWFinder:
You can also look for the keywords your competitors rank for by simply typing their domain or URL:
Besides keyword suggestions, it calculates the difficulty of ranking for the keywords and helps you to analyze the SERP.
This brings us to the next important part:
Your goal is to find relevant keywords with high search volumes and low keyword difficulty – an ideal combination of the three most important factors of keyword research.
We call this principle The Keyword Tripod Rule and the three factors represent the three legs.
As soon as you take one of the legs, the tripod will collapse.
In the past, content creators did keyword research only to find the keywords with high search volumes.
They stuffed them into content to trick the search engine algorithms and ensure high rankings in organic search. Since then, keyword research has become a lot more complex.
Long-tail keywords vs. search volumes
Many keyword research guides recommend focusing on the so-called long-tail keywords – keywords that are more specific and usually consist of more words.
The reason is simple:
Long-tail keywords tend to have lower difficulty and higher conversion rates. It’s because the query is more specific, so there’s a higher chance the user is further down the buyer’s journey.
Not to mention that there are hundreds of them – the estimate is that about 70% of all the traffic comes from long-tail keywords.
Of course, the downside is a lower search volume. So you need to consider all the aspects and find the balance between the effort and the potential benefits.
Besides, ranking only for high-volume keywords is not always possible.
The truth is that as a new website, you simply won’t be able to rank for big keywords. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it once you establish yourself on the market and get some authority.
It’s all about evaluating your actual chances. The metric called keyword difficulty can help you with that.