Are you here to learn more about SEO? That’s great! But before we dive into how it works and how it’s done, it’s important you learn what it means and its definition. Search engine optimization is not restricted to google alone, there are other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, AOL, and lots more. However, a 2022 report has it that Google dominates the search engine market with 91.9% of market shares as of January 2022. So it is not unwise for us to focus and channel our efforts towards google hence the topic what is google SEO?
Table of Contents
What is Google SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. Search engine optimization is the process of taking various actions or steps with the goal of generating traffic by helping a webpage or website content rank higher or be more visible in Google’s search engine results.
It is important to know that some web content appears at the top of google’s search result without SEO, this is made possible by paid advertising which is quite different from organic ranking which SEO stands for.
For better understanding, let’s take this example; you just started blogging about gardening tips and tricks, and you want to get these awesome tips of yours out there so people can read and implement them. You have two options, one is to pay for advertisement whereby Google or any other search engine charges you a certain amount per click to display your website for anyone who searches something related to “gardening tips and tricks” while the other option is to do search engine optimization which involves several steps or processes for your webpage to rank above the 100’s of millions of search results Google returns. A quick search of the keyword phrase “gardening tips and tricks” returns about 467,000,000 with only 10 results being displayed on the first page. Your goal for google SEO is to get your web page displayed as part of the 10 results on the first page.
Why Google SEO?
With the above example, it’s a no-brainer that ranking as one of the top 10 out of hundreds of millions of search results is not an easy task. If so, why do people and businesses still do SEO instead of just running paid ads and get results faster? Research has it that about 53% of traffics comes from organic search, this and some other reasons makes Search engine optimization is preferable for business growth;
- Search engine optimization is cost-effective in the long term.
- It requires less maintenance.
- SEO helps build brand trust and credibility.
- It helps generate consistent and sustainable traffic
How SEO works
Now that you have a better understanding of SEO and why it’s important for your business, it’s high time we dived into how SEO works. Our goal is to help you have a better understanding of how Google SEO works, how to do SEO analysis, and the SEO tools needed to get the job done so you can start getting more traffic to your web pages.
For a better understanding of how SEO works, there are two core aspects of search engine optimization which are on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
This refers to SEO techniques or activities that actually take place on the web page you are trying to rank. On-page SEO is more about building relevant and SEO optimized content, incorporating essential and relevant keywords into your content, metatags, and titles as well as SEO descriptions, alt texts and many more.
This is optimization activities that are not happening on your websites. This is the process of promoting your website and it includes activities such as backlinks, guest posting, social shares, and many more.
When it comes to search engine optimization strategies, it’s just like any other business online growth. There are white hats, grey hats, and black hats SEO strategies. For a quick understanding of these terms, lets take a quick look at them
White Hat SEO Strategy
This refers to the use and good SEO practices and methods that are allowed and deemed fit by search engines. It is usually user-centric and includes developing high-quality and relevant SEO content, having a good web structure, carrying out keyword research and analysis, and every other method that complies with the google search engine guidelines. This method may be slow to yield results, but it’s the best for any serious business owner who is in for the long-term game and not some quick bucks.
Black Hat SEO Strategy
This refers to the opposite of white hat strategies. It involves activities that are deemed wrong and do not comply with the guideline of the google search engines which may include keyword stuffing, having clickbait in descriptions, invisible texts, duplicate content link farming, and many more. These activities are often punishable by google which may lead to google banning the web pages and not ranking them. Its often employed by marketers who aren’t ready for the long-term game. They are only in for the quick bucks and will move onto the next thing or website after getting banned by Google.
Grey Hat SEO Strategy
This strategy falls in between the white hat and black hat strategies hence the name gray hat. It involves practices that are both black and white hat, hence it’s not safe and ideal for long-term business growth.
The above image from Inbound Marketing explains the differences in black hat and gray hat SEO strategies.
For the purpose of this article, we will focus on white hat SEO strategies, so let’s begin with the basics.
You have understood what google SEO is, the benefits of SEO, and different SEO strategies, now it is time to learn how to get it done.
Quality and Relevant SEO content
“Content is King!” I’m sure you must have heard or read that somewhere before now, it was a prediction made by Bill Gates almost 3 decades ago and it’s still relevant to date. Why is content king? Imagine yourself as a business owner, and you find yourself in a situation where you need to learn about ways to improve your business revenue through email marketing. According to research, 40% of product search begins on Google, so there is a very high tendency you will go on google to read about email marketing. You searched this on google and found relevant contents including guides to help you set up your email marketing campaign. I’m sure you will feel fulfilled and want to use Google every time you need to learn something new.
That is exactly what Google wants; a great user experience. And this cannot be achieved without top-notch and relevant content. Imagine being served search results with “how to make great mac and cheese” when you search for email marketing, I’m sure you will be annoyed and might exit the page as result.
So there it is, relevant content is the reason why we are all on the internet. So for you to get optimized and ranked by Google, you must provide not just contents, but quality content that are relevant to your niche and the keywords you are trying to rank for. If you find it difficult to create high-quality content for your website, you can consider hiring an in-house content writer, using high-quality content-generating software, or hiring freelance websites such as fiverr or upwork.
Also, you must understand your reader’s intent in order to provide the best content. Is he looking to buy a product, is he looking for reviews, is he looking for a free trial of a particular product, etc, these, and many more will determine how you structure your content for your readers.
SEO Keyword Research
What is SEO keyword? Keywords are also known as key phrases are terms or phrases that people typed into search engines in order to get what they are looking for. They are included in online content in order to improve the visibility of such content. For example, let’s assume you wanted to buy a pair of rain boots, you might want to search “rubber rain boots” on google, that right there is a keyword even though it has more than one word in it.
It’s important you use the right keywords in your web content cause using the wrong keyword can be bad and harmful for your business growth. Therefore, it is important to carry out keyword research and analysis for two main reasons; first is to create relevant niche content, and the other is to rank on google.
How to choose the right SEO keywords for your SEO Content
There are a few factors to be considered when choosing keywords for content creation and search engine ranking. It goes beyond just scanning through keyword tools and picking keywords you think your readers would like. You have to understand the user’s search intent, monthly search volume, keyword difficulty as well as value. A combination of these factors should guide you on which keyword to optimize your content for and rank for.
This refers to the search engine user’s intention when searching on Google. For example, someone searches “best spy cameras” on Google”. This user mostly would be looking to read reviews of various spy cameras and not necessarily looking to buy at that period. That explains users’ search intent, and it is essential for you to understand this so as to structure your content for optimum conversion.
Monthly Search Volume
This is the number of times a specific keyword is searched in a month. All keyword research tools show search volume, which may be displayed according to various countries or global search volume. The higher the search volume of a keyword, the higher the traffic it pulls. But this does not necessarily mean it would be best to rank for keywords with high search volumes at all times, you have to consider its relevance, as well as the keyword difficulty.
The value of a keyword cannot expressly be determined, but you can get a rough idea of a keyword value by checking the keyword CPC in your research tool. The CPC means cost per click which means the rates paid advertisers are offering to pay per click for such keyword. The logic behind this is that for advertisers to be offering a reasonable amount per click, then there must be some values to be derived from the traffic generated by such keywords. However, the fact that a particular keyword has value to advertisers does not guarantee it has value for you or your business.
Congratulations! You’ve found the perfect keywords that match your search intent with a decent search volume and value. What next, start ranking for the keyword? NO! Yes, you read that well, you have to consider the keyword difficulty. This will determine how easy or fast for you to successfully rank for such a keyword.
For a quick example: searching for the keyword “SEO Tips” in my keyword research tools returns the following data; 1600 search volume (quite decent) $7 cost per click meaning this is a high-value keyword, and lastly keyword difficulty 77. According to the tool’s rating, it’s “super hard” to rank for this keyword, and it will take hundreds of quality backlinks to get that done. Therefore, as a beginner or a business with a low marketing budget, it is not advisable to rank for such keywords due to the high level of difficulty. However, if you can put in the hard work it requires as well as the marketing efforts and patience, then you can give it a try because ranking for it is only hard and not impossible.
But as a small business, your best bet is to get related terms with less difficulty and rank for those. You can later go for the difficult keywords when you must have ranked for some related keywords which will make it a bit easier for you to rank for the difficult ones.
Now that you’re done with your keyword research and content creation, let’s proceed to the next step for SEO ranking which is;
Your website’s HTML is very essential for your SEO ranking. Lack of appropriate headers, meta tags, and descriptions will make it very difficult for Google to understand what your content is all about and rank it. Lets take a look at some of these.
This is your main content title, and it is displayed at the top of the browser in search results. It is very essential to have the main keyword you are ranking for in your title and better if it’s close to the beginning of the title. Its also very important you make your SEO content title enticing by using some tips which include the use of power words, numbers, and so on. This makes users want to click and read more of your content when displayed among the search results.
This is a little description always displayed below the article title in the search engine results. It is usually 160 characters long and it is essential you optimize it so as to entice readers and make them want to click for more. This should give a short and interesting snippet into what the readers will get if they click on your article from the search results. You can make use of some SEO plugins such as Rank math to get this done.
This is a little piece of content used to describe the images you have in your articles. Most people fail to utilize this important aspect. You can describe what the image is all about or insert some of the keywords you are ranking for into the alt texts of your content images.
This is a part of the website URL which informs the google search engine of what your content is all about. It is always some characters after your main URL and it is an essential area for you to key in your main keyword. See the image below.
These are another great way of optimizing your articles. You must ensure you SEO keywords are included in your subheadings and closer to the beginning. This as well informs Google of what your content is about and helps a lot with ranking. Subheadings can be H2, H3, and H4.
Website architecture is simply the art of organizing your website for easy navigation. Website layout and architecture are very underrated factors a lot of website owners do not pay attention to. This is not about beautiful design or colorful themes, but how neat your design is, speed/loading time, as well as a mobile-friendly web layout. This enhances users’ experience and it’s a very important ranking factor for Google so its essential you put all these into consideration right from the onset when you are designing your website.
This will determine the theme you use (You would want to go for a mobile-friendly theme), avoid unnecessary plugins so as not to slow down the loading speed of your webpages and many other things to be considered.
What are the Elements of Site Architecture?
The theme you installed on your website is very essential to your success. Some things come with lots of lovely designs, but performs really poorly when it comes to responsiveness. Some theme contains code that slows down webpages. So it is highly of essence to choose a simple and responsive theme when starting out.
Online users have a very short attention span, it is therefore important for your webpages to load really fast. To avoid heavy pages or your articles loading slowly, you can compress the images on your post using some free tools without really compromising the quality. Its important you check your website loading time often and work on those pages that load slowly. You can check your website loading time for free on some tools such as GT metrix where you only have to enter your URL and the site will return with an analysis of your website speed and loading time.
As the name implies, this is a map showing or linking every single webpage on your website. This is needed for Google to easily crawl your website and understand what your website is all about. It’s an important page to have and this can easily be done. The new updated WordPress version already has this included in its coding so you only need to create a page for this.
Research has it that mobile devices or users account for 63% of all searches on google. So it’s a no-brainer for you to design your website with mobile users in mind. Your website should be mobile-friendly as this is an important factor for google ranking.
Link building is a crucial factor for google ranking. Though a major problem is that a lot of website owners do this not only in the wrong way but in such a way that it hurts their own website. It is therefore salient not just to build links, but to build the right links in the right way.
Building a good link profile is all about quality and not quantity, but in the end, the quantity still matters for you don’t expect to have 3 high-quality backlinks that appear on the first page of search results of a keyword with high competition.
How to Build Quality Backlinks?
There are many ways to do this, but the best remains to offer value to other website visitors. You can search online for websites that are related to yours in some ways, come up with a topic you think the website visitors might be interested in, and reach out to the website owner through their socials or contact page. If you have something really good to offer, you will be allowed to guest post your valuable content on their webpage and link back to your website. This way, if people visit their website, read through your content, and find it valuable, some will click through to your website which makes you get part of the juicy visitors to your website. Although this method is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort to reach out to website owners, it still remains the best way to build a solid link profile. Some website owners go to websites like fiverr to get 1000’s backlinks for a few bucks. These are mostly spammy backlinks that are totally unrelated to your website. This is not going to do you any good. So it’s very important to play the long-term game.
Tips to improve link profile
Use anchor text: anchor text is when you have words in your content with links underneath such that when its clicked, it takes you to the link underneath it. This is a great way to build backlinks as the content actually flows without having to disrupt it with your naked URL.
Internal Linking: this is when you link from one webpage to another within the same website. Note that the webpage you are linking to has to be related to the context of the sentence you are linking from so users find it relevant and valuable. Links are not built just for linking sake, it has to make sense and be relatable between the two pages.
Play the long-term game: building a healthy link profile takes lots of effort and time. If you are in the game for the long-term, it’s ideal you take this as a long-term commitment and you have to do it the slow and steady way, not ordering for 10,000 links for a few hundred bucks from freelance platforms.
Social signal is when a website visitor finds your content valuable and decides to share it on their social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and the likes. Although, social signal has been a controversial topic as to if it has any impact as a ranking factor. This shouldn’t be up for debate because directly or indirectly social signals contribute to the growth of your business sucking in more visitors to your website from these various platforms. When you create a valuable piece of content, and it goes viral social media users will click through from several platforms to get a full read about the content, this in-turn fetch you more visitors who might later be regular visitors of your webpages if they keep getting value.
Top 3 Tips to Improve Your Social Signals
Create Valuable Content: businesses are built upon just one principle; exchange of value. The same applies to every other thing such as SEO. If people get value from your content, they would be moved to share it naturally. You really don’t have to make too much push. People tend to share posts for one simple reason which is the belief that their friends and colleagues on social platforms will benefit from such which can either come as entertainment to add smiles to their faces, advice to help them become better at what they do, and many other forms. So this is a no-brainer, create great SEO content and the social shares will follow naturally.
Be consistent: consistency is a constant rule in any game. If you post one or two pieces of content every quarter, the algorithms will not even rate your content as important and there will be little to no visitors to share your so-called valuable content. It’s, therefore, crucial to creating great content consistently to trigger these algorithms that you offer great value.
Simplicity: your website design or interface has to make sharing easy with just a few clicks. This will encourage users to share your valuable content easily if there are no hurdles they have to pass through. There are some WordPress plugins to help with social sharing.
Expertise Authority and Trustworthiness (EAT)
In order to keep improving users’ experience, google employs human raters whose sole job is to evaluate content and ensure their users are getting the best experience. This is one of the reasons why it’s better to play long-term cause if you play tricks and beat the bots, you will most likely fail at beating the human evaluators.
Google explains in one of its guidelines that a quality page must possess this EAT which are:
Though some of this might be beyond your control at the beginning, it is essential you always have this in mind when making decisions related to your website as this will help in keeping you in check for the best practices.
Google SEO ranking is a critical part of any online business growth. Though there are other ways to generate traffic such as Paid Ads, but they are not a complete alternative to search engine optimization. Even large organizations with deep pockets for advertising budgets play the SEO game for they understood its essence for the long-term growth, and sustainability of their business. Therefore, it’s essential to take decisive and consistent action towards improving your business with google SEO.