Simple SEO Basics
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization .It is important that every website or webpage aims to optimize itself for SEO .This will help it rank high by search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and other search engines for organic searches or unpaid results. Website authors and bloggers look forward to reaching maximum audience of good quality . Following good SEO practices can help them achieve it.
Basic SEO practices are simple to implement .Most beginner bloggers are concentrating on content , trying to reach followers and create an audience. They are sometimes unaware of the power of SEO . Even if they know of it , it is put off in the back burner to look into, or work on later .I have been guilty of that as well.However as your website grows, it is important to take care of the search engine targets and goals as well. This post is a summary of compiled information from multiple sources which maybe useful to those who are looking for it.
How does SEO work?
In simple words , search engines hunt the internet, for content for each URL found. They send robots or web crawlers ( bots or spiders ) that crawl ,scan ,new or updated information and index it. The index is kind of like a huge database of all content discovered .Complex algorithms are then used to match the collected data with the end user’s query to produce the search engine results page (SERP).It is up to us, the website owners and bloggers to make it easier for the search engines to find the information or content on our sites.
How to practice simple SEO basics ?
1. Find Efficient Keywords.
- Try and use effective and efficient keywords which relates to your topic .Focus on what the end user or customer might be looking for .There are many keyword tools out there like google keyword planner, Ubersuggest or Kwfinder that can help you find what most folks are searching for in your topic area. They can be then used into your content and tags as required.
- The keywords could be long-tail or short-tail .The long-tail keywords are very specific words and can be about four to five words .The short-tail keywords are just one or two words .For instance, instead of simply typing “pizza dough”, if you type “how to make pizza” it would help attain specific results.The long-tail keywords may have less competition than a short-tailed keyword and may give your content a higher ranking.
- There are also what are called LSI keywords , for latent semantic indexing .They are keywords that are related to the topic .This helps search engines better understand the relevance to a topic.
- The keywords can be added to page title, meta description, header, sub header , paragraphs and image Alt tags. The Page title and meta description are what show up in the search results .This information needs to really stand out with details , which will make the user click on it.If using images ,enter the descriptive information in the Alt tags section. This helps the search engine knows about it .It also helps display the description, if the image takes too long to download.
2. Include Keywords in URL.
- Short descriptive URLs are very helpful for search engines and help with SEO. It will also help if the URL can have the keyword in it .
- Try to keep it to five words or less , separate words with hyphens, have urls with lowercase and avoid apostrophes and hashtags.
- URLs which are vague, unreadable with numbers or the like should be avoided.
3.Create quality content posts which are lengthy.
- The content, both quantity and quality , is an important factor for SEO ranking. The lengthier the content , there is more chance of keywords being used .The dwell time or the amount of time the user spends on your site is important.The longer the content , greater is the amount of the dwell time. Internal links related to content helps with dwell time .This shows the search engine that your content is interesting and valuable to end users . If the dwell time is short , and bounce rate is high, with customers returning back to the search engine results page quickly, there is a chance of obtaining a lower ranking.
- Up to 2000 words is considered long for content and 500 to 800 words is short form content.It is always best to write fresh and useful content .However if you are unable to get topics, it would be useful to update older posts with relevant and up to date information and republish with a new title.
- As the name implies ,site architecture is about how your website is structured , how the links and tabs from your homepage to individual posts can be traversed.
- A flat site architecture or structure is better for SEO .This is because search engine crawlers can reach any page on your site in very few clicks ,about four or less.
- It may not be a big hassle in the beginning when your site is small with a few pages, but can get really cumbersome as the site grows with many posts and pages.
- A good site structure also helps user experience .It can reduce bounce rate and improve dwell time and ultimately lead to improved rankings by search engines.
5. Find Backlinks
- What is a backlink? When one website mentions another in its content, it is said to have backlinks. The usage of backlinks helps in higher SEO ranking. However, it is important that the links come from reliable and quality websites related to your topic and content. The search engine assumes that the content is useful when it has backlinks.
- There are many free backlink tools online which can be used to find quality backlinks.
- The term link juice is used to refer to the value of a hyperlink to a certain website or page. When a website posts a link to your site, it passes link juice. Higher the quality of the website, the better the ranking.
- The No-follow link however does not give any link juice and is not counted for search engine ranking.
- All other links are do-follow by default.
- The Anchor text should have a meaningful name related to the content. If a site mentions your website many times, the search engine will only count a limited set.
- Here is some great information and an in-depth article on how you can go about achieving do-follow backlinks easily
6. Internal links & Link to others or external links
- Internal links are also an important factor for SEO ranking .These are links that go from one page to another within yourwebsite .This helps in the user spending more time on your website and increases the dwell time and in turn the SEO.
- Having external links is a critical part of SEO and one of the core ranking factors. In fact ,internal and external linking are considered healthy .
- The search engine uses this criteria to establish it as a genuine website.It helps search engines to know about your content .
- Having reputable, high quality outbound links can increase your SEO rank.
- Once you create external links , let the website owners know about the backlinks .This may result in favors to your site as well.This in turn builds good relationships.
7. Image sizes optimization
Use Alt text used in HTML code that describes what the image shows.It not only helps search engines to know what the image is related to ,but also the visually impaired .It also has the advantage that if the image is not loaded ,the description will still be present.
8. Site Speed
Most users will never re-visit a site that takes longer time to load.There are tools like Google’s page speed insights or GTMerix that will give recommendations on how to speed your website. Avoid using high resolution images and unnecessary java scripts . Use fast hosting provider to increase your speed.Some other ways to improve website speed using plugins can be found in this post.
9.Update Sitemap.xml and robots.txt
These files can be auto generated using SEO plugins like Yoast SEO Plugin. what is sitemap.xml used for ? Search engines can easily find and rank your webpages if you use a sitemap.It has the information of changes made to your site and any pages that a search engine may have missed .It ensures that all pages can be found by the search engine and the page updates are done faster .What is robots.txt used for ? This file restricts search engine web crawlers from accessing pages by adding a "disallow" to certain folders so that they don't appear in the search results page. If interested check for more details on configuring the sitemap and robots.txt .
10. Make your website mobile friendly
It is essential that your website or web page is responsive and adaptive to mobile devices.A huge percentage of traffic to your site comes from mobile. If your website is not mobile friendly ,you might lose valuable readers .You may want to test your website with Google mobile friendly test to see if you are doing okay and make changes as per their suggestion.
Finally , it is appealing to write content for search engine versus readers, to get a higher SEO ranking. However do keep in mind the downsides, which may result in keyword stuffed pages and title tags .This may put off and drive your audience away.They may not be able to relate to what they are reading .It is essential to give importance to the content you write and want to share with your audience when creating posts.While aiming for higher SEO ranking, find the right balance of following SEO practices without compromising on the quality of content . Hope this post is useful . I would love to hear of any other basic SEO practices that I may have missed in the comments below.