Selecting keywords and building a semantic core, optimizing the content structure and links, and many other handy SEO tips
To get lots of traffic, you need to "prove" to search engines that your website is good and valuable for users. You can do this by using SEO—and in this chapter we'll share how exactly you should go about it.
SEO (search engine optimization) is the process of improving—or, in other words, optimizing—the website for search engines like Google so it rises the ranks to the top of search engine results.
The more people can see your website in search results, the more traffic it gets. If your website is persuasive enough and meets the needs of attracted audiences, the incoming traffic then gets converted into leads, and, ideally, into customers. Therefore, effective SEO is one of the most effective low-cost—or even free, if you do it yourself—marketing channels there are.
However, to do SEO, you need to understand how search engines work.
The search work includes two types of actions:
The first action is scanning and indexing web pages. Search engine robots—or web crawler bots—crawl the web, going from website to website using their single unique identifiers, or URLs. While crawling, they scan the website—extract and decrypt the HTML of each page and then store it in a relational database, or a repository. This process is called indexing.
The second action is delivering search results. When a user enters keywords and phrases into a search engine—or makes a search query—the robots look through all the information stored, selects what corresponds to the query best, and displays it for the user in the descending order of relevance.
Relevance is the degree to which the search results correspond to the user's query.
However, despite search engines constantly introducing new algorithm updates to improve search results, web crawlers can't always evaluate the relevance of information accurately. So the main SEO goal is to help search engines better understand that your website is trustworthy enough, and has the most relevant and valuable content to this particular query.
Just several years ago, the approach to optimizing content was quite different, mainly revolving around buying backlinks and stuffing all the texts on the site with keywords. By doing so, you could easily get your website to the top of search results.
This method though almost always resulted in low-quality content and disappointed users. Eventually, reacting to users getting more tech savvy and more critical about what content they want to consume, the digital marketing industry started to change, at first becoming more user-friendly and now even user-centered. So, as the users—along with the industry—changed, so did SEO.
These changes were quite fundamental. For one, backlinks today have a much less significant impact on ranking than it used to be several years ago. When it comes to link building strategy, the quality over quantity law applies. In other words, it’s better to have a few high quality backlinks—from reputable and trusted sources—than a bunch of low-quality ones.
Apart from backlinks, behavioral signals—all user actions on your website—also have become a more influential ranking factor. That includes how users select a link in the search results, how long visitors spend on your site, do they save it to browser's bookmarks, do they end up coming back to it in the future, etc.
Furthermore, web crawlers have also become smarter, learning to determine the importance of each web page, quite effectively identifying things like key stuffing. So shoving as many keywords onto a page as possible can not only harm your site's rankings but ultimately result in your content being removed from search listings entirely.
The search landscape has changed significantly in the last ten years, the most significant changes that I’ve experienced are:
1. The growth of topical authority. In the past it was relatively easy to write a handful of articles on a related topic, throw a few links at them and expect it to rank. These days you really need to demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about, you need to demonstrate expertise in your field, typically this is done by writing plenty of content around a topic and interlinking it.
2. Bad links don’t work anymore. Ten years ago links were everything, any and every guest post you could get your hands on could move the needle. If you try building those types of links these days you’ll notice that either nothing happens or your rankings drop! If you’re going to build links they need to be good, relevant links from genuine websites not guest post farms. Quality links absolutely beats quantity of links now.
3. Useful content ranks better. Ten years ago everyone seemed to be writing 2,000 word blog posts for every keyword, even if the topic could be covered in 50 words! These days clear, concise information that gives the user the exact answer or service they’re looking for will rank far better than 2,000 of vaguely related waffle.
All in all, search engines algorithms are evolving day by day, getting more and more difficult to cheat. We recommend that you don't do that—if your website uses multiple tactics that violate search engines' quality guidelines and gets caught, the search engines will demote or—in the worst case scenario—even remove the site from its ranking. And that means your website will experience a sudden organic traffic drop or nobody will be able to find it whatsoever.
It's quite difficult to escape search engines' "punishments" whether your website faces algorithmic filtering or gets hit with a Google penalty. In order to remove the Google penalty or recover from an algorithmic devaluation, you'll have to fix all the errors like removing all harmful backlinks, and convince search engines that you don't use spammy strategies. It can take from 48 hours up to a year for the penalty to be lifted and even more time in order to properly recover, so better keep up with the changes to the search engine guidelines, and ensure that your website is in compliance with the current ones.
Here’s a basic checklist that I’d use in order to do basic SEO:
1. How does the page compare to the top ranking pages? Does it cover similar topics, have the same tools/features on the page? Try to make your page more useful to a user than the top-ranking page.
2. Does your page have a relevant schema setup on it?
3. Have you written relevant blogs relating to the keyword you’re trying to rank for? Try to write at least 10 and link them into the page in question, you can use the people also ask section in Google to find semantically relevant questions to blog about.
An essential SEO checklist for website owners to improve their site's ranking includes:
1. Conducting keyword research to identify high-relevant, high-traffic, and low-competition phrases. 2. Understanding search intent by typing keywords in search engines and seeing how results look like. 3. Including targeted keywords in essential on-page elements such as titles, meta descriptions, and H1 and H2s headings. 4. Creating high-quality and unique content that provides value to users and engages them. 5. Ensuring a fast, mobile-friendly site with responsive design and optimal page load times. 6. Implementing a clear, easy-to-navigate site structure with descriptive URLs. 7. Adding proper internal linking to other website pages as well as external links to reputable sources. 8. Building a strong backlink profile through data-led or creative content that is easily shareable and newsworthy. 9. Regularly monitoring and analysing site performance and user behavior to make data-driven adjustments.
All these basic SEO tasks will ensure that your website becomes more visible to search engines and provides an engaging and user-friendly experience for visitors.
Tips on website building by Google
Create websites to please users and not search engine algorithms. Don't try to cheat users and trick search engines by displaying different versions of the same content to your website visitors and to web crawlers.
Use internal links and clean up your site structure so it has a clear hierarchy. Your website visitors use links to navigate through your site and so as search engines. Make sure that each page has at least one link on it, otherwise they won't see it.
Go for high-quality and helpful content for your website. Provide your users with a good content experience and they will stay longer on your site because they genuinely want to.
Help search engines to crawl your website better. To improve your site's crawlability, ensure that every single page has its own title specified in the <title> element. Also add Alt texts to your images.
Come up with a clear and SEO-friendly URL.
As you can see, the main idea behind these tips is creating so-called "people-first" websites that are made for people and not "search engine-first" ones. So don't waste your time trying to figure out what affects the ranking factors and how to manipulate search engine algorithms. Better focus on building a high-quality website that contains helpful information that is interesting to read, and you'll be able to get your website to the top of Google search results naturally.
Great SEO nowadays is considered one that helps deliver qualified traffic by making quality content that is relevant to the users and can actually help them.
You can do all of these things by yourself. Below you will find out how to do it.
How To Do Effective SEO
Before doing SEO, you need to identify your target audience, get a pretty good idea of their needs and figure out how they usually search for things they are interested in. If you know those things, you'll be able to not just drive traffic to your website, but also make searchers stay.
Search engines track site visitor activities using different tools like User Behavior Metrics to monitor how they browse your website. If a visitor lands on your website but doesn't interact with anything on the page and then leaves, it results in a high bounce rate. High bounce rate doesn't lead to negative ranking but it sure does indicate that the website's content is not engaging enough or design is not user-friendly.
If a visitor stays on your website for a while, browsing other pages, and doesn't click back to the search results afterwards, that means that they most likely have found what they looked for. Thus, your website has valuable content that helps users, which in the end will improve your ranking.
When people are searching for something on the Internet, their search queries can be split in three common categories:
Transactional. These queries entered with the intention of doing something—for example, "Buy iPhone 14" or "Download for free."
Informational. These queries seek information about a specific topic—for example, "Where is the best coffee in Seattle" or "How to request a book from the Library of Congress."
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