SEO 101: Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in 10 Minutes

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Many people believe SEO is dead. 
It’s all about social media and paid ads, they say. 
But what are marketers saying about SEO? Well, according to HubSpot,
“61% of marketers say improving SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.” 
Search engine optimization is far from dead. In fact, it’s more important than ever, and the data is proving it. According to Sparktoro, SEO had 20 times more traffic opportunities than pay-per-click advertising on both desktop and mobile in 2019. 
If you’ve always wondered what SEO is, how it works, and how you can begin using it to your advantage, then you’re in the right place. In this SEO 101 guide, we’ll breakdown the essentials for you and show you how you can use SEO to get more traffic on your site in 2020. 
If you’re wanting to take your SEO to the next level to boost your website’s traffic to the next level, it will require a lot of studying and a ton of practice. But, if you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll be able to put your site on the map this year. 
Without further ado, let’s dive into SEO 101: Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in 10 minutes.

What is SEO?

Many online marketers throw around the term “SEO” all the time, but what does it really mean?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It’s the process of increasing a web page’s rankings organically (unpaid) in a search engine’s search results. The higher a web page ranks, the more people will see it when they make a search query. 
In other words, it’s the practice of making sure your website gets as many eyeballs as possible.

How Search Engines Work

There are 3 main things search engines like Google or Bing do:
  1. Crawling Sites
  2. Indexing Sites
  3. Picking Results

How Search Engines Crawl Sites

The first thing a search engine will do is called crawling or “spidering”. They use thousands of tiny bots to scan a website, including the different sections, content, keywords, mages, headings, and hyperlinks. It will essentially scan any data on a website. 
These crawlers will also find all hypertext links on a website that links to other websites. Then they will go check out those websites and scan them. Bots are always crawling websites to ensure the data is up to date. 

How Search Engines Index Your Website

Once a search engine has crawled a website, it begins to index the site. You can think of indexing as a massive library of every website in the internet universe. The crawlers find the data and then the data is stored properly within its proper category. Indexing can take anywhere from 1-10 days on average.
Every time your website is changed, the crawlers will scan it again and the indexing process begins again. Keep in mind that any updates you make on your site won’t be visible to the search engines until it is finished indexing.

How Search Engines Pick the Results

After search engines have sent crawlers to scan a website’s data, and the website has been indexed, the search engine will make sure it appears in the search engine results when a user makes a search query. 
When a search engine users types in a search query, the search engine will sort through the index (like sorting through a library) to pull up the best possible result for their specific search query. The search engine will undergo a process of checking any particular search against over a billion websites online based on various factors or algorithms.
Every search engine company like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and Microsoft) unfortunately keep their specific algorithms a secret. However, there are many search engine ranking factors that are well known. 
Let’s go over what will determine a web pages ranking for a search query. 

Search Engine Ranking Factors

There are a variety of factors (Google SEO mechanism) that will affect how a webpage on your website will rank in a search engine. You don’t need to master all of these factors immediately to start implementing SEO on your website, but it’s good to have a basic understanding.
One of the most critical factors is your backlink profile. It’s based on how many quality backlinks lead to your website. Simply put, this looks at how many high-ranking websites have a link on their site that leads to yours. It’s an easy way for Google to figure out how much authority your site has. 
Think of it like a popularity contest. If you’re associated with someone very popular, people will immediately perceive you as being more popular without even knowing who you are. 

How SEO works?

Here are a few other important ranking factors (Google SEO rules) in no specific order:

  • Using relevant keywords and phrases
  • Link relevance
  • Spelling and grammar
  • HTTPS
  • Social sharing
  • Topical authority
  • Domain age
  • AMP
  • Page layout
By understanding the main factors that drive your ranking, you’ll be able to implement better decision-making whenever you make adjustments with your site to ensure everything you do is SEO-friendly.

How to Do SEO Effectively

Okay, so you’ve got a basic understanding of what SEO is, how search engines work, and the basic factors that determine your ranking in the search results. Now, let’s get to the meat of SEO 101: How to do SEO effectively.
Years ago, when SEO first began in the 90s with the birth of search engines, you could just spam a simple keyword on your website to rank high in Google. Nowadays, keyword stuffing doesn’t work. As search engines become more sophisticated, they hold websites to higher standards. 
Effective SEO isn’t about gaming the search engines like it was in the late 90s. In 2020, search engines are putting more emphasis on the human factor. Simply put, when crawlers see that a lot of people are engaging with your site, they’ll rank you higher. 
When practicing SEO, don’t just think about search engines. Think, ‘Will this be easy to read? Will this help someone? Would I click on this?’

SEO 101: On Page SEO Tips

If you want to get more traffic to your website by mastering the basics of on page SEO, make sure to follow these SEO tips:

Understand What Your Target Audience is Searching For And Understanding Search Intent

Before you start pumping out content with your niche’s keywords, you need to plan your content. Are you writing about something that your audience is actually searching for? Is your point of view the same as everyone else’s, or can you offer a different angle? Is there any way you can add value to the topic? 
These are just a few of the basic questions you need to ask before you begin creating content to put on your website. The same goes whether you’re creating a product page or a new blog post. 

Understanding Search Intent is vitally important NOW!

Use 1 or 2 Long-Tail Keywords in Your Content

Once you understand what your target audience is searching for in your keyword research, you might be tempted to fill your content with as many keywords as you can. However, even though this practice called “keyword stuffing” used to work in the 90s, it will hurt your ranking in 2020. 
You have to keep in mind that search engines like Google care about content that is both high-quality and relevant. They are now focused on user experience more than ever, so you shouldn’t cram in extra keywords if it doesn’t sound natural. 
Pick 1 or 2 long-tail keywords in each blog post you create. If you just focus on a single keyword, it will help you rank even higher for that specific keyword. 

You can get the idea of long-tail keywords from Google Auto-suggest

Place Your Keyword(s) Throughout Your Blog Post

Now that you have your 1 or 2 keywords, you’ll need to make sure they’re put in the right place throughout your blog post. There are 4 places you’ll need to put the keywords:

  • Title Tag
  • Headers & Body
  • Meta Description
  • URL

Title Tag

Your blog post title will be the first thing a Google user will see when they make a search query. It’s the large font, top title on a search result and it will determine whether a user clicks on your web page. This title is called the “title tag”. 
Make sure to place your keyword in the first 60 characters, not words of the title tag. If you put it in too late, it may get cut off at the 60 character mark. 

Headers & Body

Make sure to put your keyword a few times in the headers and subheaders of your blog post. Just make sure it sounds natural. 
Before you begin writing your blog post, you should already be thinking about how the keyword will fit within the title, headers, and body. Don’t force it. By planning this ahead of time, it will help your SEO and prevent you from backtracking later. 

Meta Description

You need to put your keyword in the “meta description” which is the little snippet in a search result that gives a user a bit more information on your web page. Putting your keyword there will help the search engine and the reader understand a bit more of what your content is going to be about. 
Make sure the meta description is readable, engaging, and if you want to make it even better, implement copywriting tactics into your meta description to make your blog post sound interesting and inviting. 

URL

The final thing a search engine will analyze in your blog post is the blog’s URL. This will better help the search engine understand what your blog post is about. Make sure your keyword is placed near the front of your URL.

Use Inbound & Internal Links

When you’re crafting your content, remember to add internal links and look for opportunities to receive inbound links.
Inbound links (or backlinks) are links that other websites have that link directly to a web page on your website. You want to get a high number of high-ranking, authority sites to link to your site. This is a great way to boost your SEO score as it shows Google that you’re also an authority site. 
Internal links are specific links on your blog that link to other webpages on your website. So if someone’s reading your blog post and you link to another blog, they can quickly jump there to read the next one. This helps further increase your topic’s relevancy for the search engines. Plus, it helps your site visitor easily navigate the content they want boosting your SEO score again. 

Google SEO Tools

If you want to become great at SEO, you’ll need to make sure you’re well equipped with the right tools. There are so many SEO tools available nowadays that it can be hard to know what the right one is for you. 
Here are the top Google SEO tools available:

#1 SEO Keyword Research Tool

SEMrush

This is one of the most popular SEO keyword research tools available online. You can enter a word or phrase into the SEO checker and it will tell you how many people are searching for it every month. It will also show you the keyword difficulty, potential, and competitive websites who are ranking high for the keyword. 
It will also recommend related keywords to help you build a complete keyword strategy. This means you’ll be able to figure out the right long-tail keywords to use in your content. 

Honorable Mentions:

#1 SEO Tool for Link Building

Moz Link Explorer

One of the main strategies in effective SEO is building your authority by building high-quality backlinks to your site from other authority sites. The more high-quality backlinks your site has, the better it will rank. 

Moz Link Explorer has a Link Explorer tool that looks at issues with your links, how your backlinks affect your ranking, and how effective your competitor’s link structure is. 

#1 SEO Tool for Measuring Site Traffic

Google Search Console

The best tool to accurately measure how much traffic is coming to your site is with Google’s very own “Google Search Console”. It will show you everything about your site appears in google, including how much traffic you’re getting, how frequently your site appears in the search engine, and which keywords it’s ranking for, and your click through rate.

#1 SEO Tool for Auditing Your Site

Ahrefs

When you’re not sure how to improve your site’s SEO, you should use an SEO auditing tool. It uses a program to crawl your own site just like Google would. The crawlers will find bugs, errors, look at search data, and analyze your backlinks. Plus, they’ll look at other factors like content quality, HTML tags, and even page load speed. 
While most of the tools mentioned above will also have an auditing tool, many of them have conflicting information. Ahrefs offers the most accurate auditor available to give you a clear picture of how your SEO is really doing. They will crawl every page on your site and create a report to let you analyze the data. 

How to Interpret SEO Reports

If you decide you want to hire an SEO consultant for your site, you’ll need to understand the work they’re doing. An SEO consultant will send you an SEO report on a monthly basis to show you the work they’ve done, and how your site’s SEO is doing.
SEO reports will vary depending on who you hire. However, there are a few common data points that almost every report will have:

 1. Summary

The summary should show the key goals and wins for the month. It could include tasks completed, items that need attention, summaries of changes in traffic, and any upcoming tasks. 

2. SEO Overview

This is where you’ll see a snapshot of your entire site’s SEO. You’ll see any issues like:
  • Low word counts and duplicate content which you want to avoid
  • Broken images and missing alt tags
  • HTML issues: title tags, meta descriptions, headers
  • Broken links: any internal or external links that have broken

3. URLs Crawled

This will show you how many total URLs were crawled. A high number will show a lot of activity was done to recrawl. A low number will show less activity. You need to make sure to take into account the number of pages that have been added or removed when considering total crawl counts.

4. SEO Health

Content: Word counts and any duplicate content
HTML tags: Title duplicates, lengths, any missing meta descriptions
Performance: How fast your website is loading
Links: Number of incoming and outgoing links, link types

5. Backlink Profile

This section will show you the effectiveness of backlink building during the month:
  1. The number of backlinks gained
  2. The quality of links gained
  3. The most frequent anchor texts
  4. Number of links that were lost
  5. How much traffic is coming from new links

6. Organic Keywords

Your organic keywords shows you how your organic traffic is coming through your keywords. You will see where you rank for each of your keywords. The higher the rank, the better. This will help you understand which keywords to continue focusing on, and which ones need work. Plus, you’ll see how your rankings have risen or fallen over the month.

The difference between digital agency and creative agency

Truth to be told, the boundary between a digital agency and a creative agency is becoming much vague nowadays.

Digital agencies cannot solely rely on technical advantage but ignoring the creative part.  And creative agencies can no longer simply providing creative without actual implementation experience.

To help the client approaching different touchpoints, most digital agencies put more effort into social media or understand a bit on the digital side now.

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