SEO Tutotials for Beginners covers – how search engines work? What really matters in SEO? Black Hat v/s White Hat SEO. On-Page SEO and off-Page SEO
Search Engine Optimization, commonly known as SEO, optimizes a web page for getting free and organic traffic from search engines by getting better search rankings. The SEO tutorial explains the guidelines to improve the site’s visibility in search engines, especially Google, and garner a higher ranking in organic search results.
How “Search Engine” Works?
In 2019, according to Statista, there are more than 1.71 Billion websites and still counting. One-third of them are on WordPress.
The report mentions 1.71 Billion websites and not web pages. Each site can have hundreds of thousands of pages.
The question is – How to stand out? So many websites and web pages are trying to rank higher in the search engines.
When a user searches for a search term in Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo, they rank these web pages and show results.
These results are ranked based on the relevancy of the search term.
Consider search engines as a magic box. A user searches and a list of results highly related to what the user is searching are displayed.
Google follows a three-step process to generate results from web pages.
Google discovers new data and adds it to its database. To do this, Google has crawler bots.
These bots are deployed by Google to crawl and collect information (data) available online. The bot crawls and brings all the information back to Google. This process is called crawling.
Once the information is collected. It’s time to make sense out of it. Google tries to understand and bifurcate information.
For example, what is the webpage about? It analyzes webpage content, including images, videos, catalogs, links, tags, and HTML code. Google stores all the information in a precise format to build an index – known as indexing.
All this information is stored in the Google index. It’s a vast database stored in thousands of computers.
Now that Google has saved all data, it is ready to answer a user’s query. When a user types something in the search bar, Google tries to find the most relevant information from its database.
But wait. . .
How would Google know which information is best to display?
To do this, it has a set of parameters. The information rendered in the search MUST:
- Be of the highest quality.
- Provide the best user experience
- Be the most accurate one.
- Strictly match a user’s search intentions.
- Match the search terms triggered by a user
Further, this information is fed through an algorithm. The algorithm matches the information to a search on google.
Moreover, factors like user location, language, device, etc. are also accounted for. Search results for plumbing services in India will be different from that in the USA, China, or Japan.
This process is called ranking.
What Really Matters in SEO?
There’s no magic pill to rank a webpage overnight in search engines. Period. It is the authority of the domain, and relevancy of the content and links (internal and external) helps rank the site well in Google.
The following matters in SEO.
- A responsive site/blog design working well on mobile devices.
- Allow Google to crawl webpages.
- Targetting local users in one owns neighborhood.
- Maintain the relevancy of the key phrase across the content.
- Avoid stuffing keywords.
- Write a compelling meta description for clickable SERP snippets.
- Publish plagiarism-free evergreen quality content.
- Add value to the content with links, images, and charts.
- Use an image with Alt tags.
- Perform a content audit once a year. Remove thin content or add more value to it.
- Keep page and overall site speed in check.
- Devise a simple site navigation system.
- Do internal linking with relevant anchor text.
- Pay attention to site analytics. Listen to visitors.
- Remove annoying popups and ads on site pages.
- Focus on a robust mobile browsing experience.
- Maintain quality without being too salesy.
- User-friendly URLs.
- Share web content on major social media sites.
- Get backlinks from trusted and high authority domains.
- Use SSL and HTTPS.
- Keep website security issues in check.
SEO Tutorial: Black Hat v/s White Hat SEO
In an industry as big as SEO, everyone has their methods to optimize a site. Some of the methods are in line with the search engine guidelines, whereas others aren’t.
White hat SEO is to optimize a website as per the search engine guidelines. The white hat SEO may include some or all the below points:
- Publishing fresh & unique content
- Improving site load time
- Adding meta description and adding keyword-rich meta tags
- Developing SEO-friendly URLs
- Using responsive site design
- Making navigation smooth
On the contrary, black hat SEO includes anything that isn’t within the search engines’ guidelines, which may consist of link purchasing or link cloaking, instead of writing fresh and new content, using some article spinners to refurbish content. In short, any deceitful or harmful tactics will be termed as black hat SEO.
Black hat SEO may result in short-time gains, but it is a matter of time when everything collapses like a pack of cards with an update from Google.
Moreover, Google even bans such domains that try to trick their algorithm. Blog networks were a great example of such malpractices. Blog networks developed an algorithm to post the same article spun over hundreds of thousands of blogs to gain backlinks. All such blogs have been banned, and the sites which took links that way had a horrible time doing disavowing those links.
The worst part is there’s no guarantee whether search engines will reinstate a banned website.
Some of the famous black hat SEO techniques include
- Content automation
- Hidden text or links
- Keyword stuffing
- Sneaky redirects
- Link cloaking
- Purchase or exchange links
- Link manipulation and link farming
- Rich snippet markup spam
- Copying or duplicating someone else’s content
- Creating replicas of pages, subdomains, or domains with duplicate content
- Contaminating users with viruses, trojans, and other malware
- Using spam or derogatory terms in the site
It is strongly advised not to indulge in any of the Black Hat SEO tactics. To build a long-lasting online business, one should stay away from black hat SEO.
Why SEO Important?
In a competitive digital world, SEO is crucial. People are searching for solutions to their problems than ever before. Additionally, search engines render millions of queries every day.
Under these circumstances, it becomes a must for an online business, blog, or store to achieve their SEO objectives. Let’s drill down why anyone needs to do SEO marketing?
One should be doing SEO because:
- 91% of users do not scroll past the first page of the search results. It means a majority of users prefer to click the top 10 results on the search pages. Hence, to gain a respectable CTR, a web page needs to appear on the search engine’s first page.
- SEO is not about search engines. There’s a real human out there trying to find an answer to a question. In short, SEO must be done to escalate user experience and not to please the search engines.
- A web page presence on the first page for a particular search term increases the page authority. Moreover, it also increases the domain authority. All this is because the user trusts in search engines.
- It is apt for promoting a website socially. Users who find a website helpful will share it on other social media channels.
- Serious SEO efforts will keep an online store ahead of the competition. For example, two online stores are selling product A. Now, the store which is aptly optimized for the search engine will get more traffic and sales. Hence, SEO could boost your online sales too.
Understanding the Basic of SEO
SEO isn’t a one-time process; instead, it’s an ongoing work. Still, there are some one-off tasks, whereas others are ongoing. Let’s break down SEO into:
- On-Page SEO (Part of which is generating regular content, whereas heading elements are one time and part of the design.)
- Off-Page SEO (More or less ongoing)
The on-page SEO directly deals with optimizing the content and the elements of a webpage.
It means defining the right site structure, adding keywords, optimizing page titles, headings (H1, H2 … H5), internal links, image alt texts, etc.
Off-page SEO deals with promoting a website elsewhere. Majorly it includes link building.
Backlinks signify authority. The quality of backlinks majorly determines the position in the SERPs. If the incoming links are from a high authority domain with the keywords as anchor text, the page will rank higher.
On the contrary, bad quality links can or paid backlinks can negatively impact the ranking. Even links from article directories, link farms, or link exchange may prove harmful, or at least they may not provide any benefits.
I firmly believe unique and fresh content with better internal links is the key to rank higher organically.
Without good content, one can’t achieve desirable success. With thin content or sub-standard products, one can’t drive significant traffic with SEO.
Common SEO Mistakes
Let me share some of the common SEO mistakes that a new webmaster or blogger may commit when starting on SEO
- Assuming Content will take care of SEO – SEO is one of the most important aspects of online marketing, and you should always have a good budget for SEO that can drive constant traffic to your website.
- Copying content from other sites – If you want to take your business and website to the next level, it must be of good quality. Copying content from here and there or spinning off the content from articles spinner will not take anyone very far enough for SEO.
- Not having an SEO budget – Any business you do need to have a good solid marketing plan with a considerable budget to execute the plan. SEO is no different.
- Not knowing your target audience – You should always know who can be your potential customer. Targeting everyone actually means you are targeting no one.
- Ignoring what customers want – You should never ignore feedbacks from existing clients or customers. What you assume they will be a lot different than what they may ask from you.
- Trying to following the competition – You should always have an eye on your competitor, but then you should lead the competition instead of following what they are doing.
- Underestimating word of mouth – Satisfied customers can spread your word. So never under-estimate the word of mouth publicity over SEO.
On-Page SEO Tutorial – How to Do On-Page SEO?
I am sure you must have come across words like title, headings, meta tags, keyword density, URLs, etc. before. They are essential in SEO, and I have compiled a checklist to help you understand them in this SEO tutorials for beginners.
Keep URLs short, and they become user-friendly as well as SEO-friendly.
As an example:
- An Ugly URL – https://biztips.co/?p=123
- Long URL – https://biztips.co/5/9/15/freelancing/pageIDA21.html
- User and SEO-friendly URL – https://biztips.co/website
In short, keep URLs better for users, and they will automatically be better for search engines.
Keywords in Title
A title tag is the most crucial factor in on-page SEO. Hence, start a title tag with a target keyphrase that your potential reader will be interested in typing in Google.
Although it is not mandatory to always put a target keyphrase initially, the more weight it will have in the search results.
Use Title Modifiers
Adding modifiers to a title will make the target keywords less competitive.
For example, “SEO tutorial” as a keyword may be very competitive, but “SEO Tutorial 2019” may reduce the competition. Now “Best SEO Tutorial 2019″ reduces the competition considerably.
A title modifier can be an adjective, a power phrase, or a transition word.
Modifiers transform keyphrase into a long-tail version.
H1 Title Tag
The H1 tag ideally should be the same as the page title tag. Like WordPress, CMS does this automatically for posts but using Yoast SEO, and one can change the page title and Post title as H1.
Besides, make sure there’s only one H1 tag per page.
H2 Tags as Subheadings
The page title is either the same or similar to H1. Under H1, every subheading should be in an H2 tag.
In each of my articles, you will find every subheading is an H2.
The secret is to use synonyms of the keyword in the H2 level subheadings. For example, this article is about SEO Tutorial, and you find H2’s are second-level heading. As an when I can, I have added the keyword in the second level heading as well.
H3 to H5 Tags as Sub Subheadings
If one needs to add more level of headings under subheadings, they should mark them with H3.
- On-Page SEO Tutorial – How to Do On-Page SEO? is H2
- H2 Tags as Subheadings is H3
- H3 to H5 Tags as Sub Subheadings is H4
- H2 Tags as Subheadings is H3
My personal preference is I never get into the H4 and keep things to H3 only because it can be too confusing.
Use Media Elements
Only text without multimedia will bore the user. Henceforth, use images, diagrams, charts, videos, and infographics in content.
All these will tempt users to stick to a page for a long time when user retention increases; the bounce rate decreases. Above all, the average time spent on a webpage goes up.
Keyphrase in Introduction
People skim and skip content online. Having targeted keywords in the opening paragraph means the reader can understand the topic with a glimpse.
So, Google also emphasizes on the same.
The introduction paragraph is crucial both for a reader and search engines.
Use Responsive Design
The growth in usage of mobile is staggering. If your site doesn’t load fast on mobile, it means Google can rank the page higher.
Not only your site must be responsive, but it should also load very fast on mobile.
Insert Outbound Links
An outbound link is a link to another page that shares similar information. It helps search engines figure out a page topic. Moreover, linking an authority domain to a page shows the page has quality info.
Link out to relevant content pages. It develops credibility among readers as well as in the eye of Google.
Share Internal Links
Internal links pass huge link equity to a specific page.
It increases the authority of the page being linked and increases the chances of ranking it higher. Even internal link exchanges are good provided one is linking to relevant content only.
I always share as many internal links as possible to my other relevant articles. Primarily because I think it will help my readers but also want to make sure my articles rank well in Google.
Site speed is another critical factor in search ranking after the bounce rate.
An ideal site load time should be under 3 seconds. However, the load time of 1 or 2 seconds is excellent.
So, there are three ways to boost up the loading time. Either use CDN (see how added an internal link, upload correct size and compressed images, use server-side caching plugins along with browser caching. Although investing in a premium hosting plan will make the site load faster.
Image ALT Text
Images being a big part of the content, why not make them SEO-friendly! To do this, include the keywords in the image alternate (alt) text.
Again, make sure you only add relevant alt text and not stuff it with keywords.
For example, the article’s image has an alt text as “SEO Tutorial,” which is the keyword I may want to be ranking this article for. I should not include every possible combination with the keyphrase and add in the image alt text.
Social Sharing Buttons
Social signals play no upfront role in site rankings. If officially not in Google, then it does for sure in Bing.
Search engines pay attention to the number of eyeballs social sites accumulate on a page. The more eyeballs a page gets, the more organic engagement it will create.
Hence, integrating social buttons on a website shall be in the SEO to-do list.
Content pulls traffic. Be it an image, video, graphics, or text. It’s human nature to desire “the best.” Remember, if the page content is incredible and useful for visitors, they won’t resist long enough to engage with it.
Such content will naturally garner free traffic. As per my blogging experience, value proposed content drive loads of traffic. Overtime writing in a different niche, I have found that unique and fresh content always works.
A key point here is the length of the content. 500-word vanilla articles don’t work anymore. Long articles tend to rank well in search engines. Many studies have shown the ideal length of an article must be close to 2000 words.
Use LSI Keywords
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a concept used by search engines. It determines “how much the content is related to the search query?”
The search engine can rank content even when the actual key phrase may not be present in the content.
For example, Apple, Mac, iPhone, iTunes can all be considered as LSI keywords.
So when a user searches for the term “How to download music on MAC,” the search engine may rank articles using the word iTunes instead of MAC like “How to download music on iTunes.”
Off-Page SEO Tutorial – How to Do Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside the website to achieve a higher ranking in SERPs. These actions could be optimizing a website for social media popularity, links, interacting on Quora / Reddit.
With this in mind, I have listed some off-page SEO techniques below.
The crux of doing them is to drive traffic to a site and create user engagement. The more users engage with a website, the more love Google will shower.
It’s the core of off-page SEO. To put it merely, backlinks signal search engines about the authority of content. It is the reason why sites with high-quality backlinks rank better than others.
- Natural Links – These links occur anonymously without the consent or involvement of the site owner. For example, I add links to post that point towards niche blogs and websites relevant to the topics.
- Manual Links – Such links are acquired by requesting a popular blog to share your article with their audience.
- Self-generated Links – Directory submission, forum, or blog comment are the self-generated links. However, they aren’t beneficial now and even discarded by search engines.
Remember when you are asking for a link:
- The popularity of the linking site
- The relevancy of topics through which both sites are related
- Anchor text used in the link
- Domain and page authority
Guest posting means writing and publishing an article on someone else’s website or blog. It helps the guest blogger to connect with new readers. Moreover, the host blog gets fresh content for readers.
The major reasons for guest posting are:
- The host blogger has new content for readers.
- It’s excellent to get some links for search engines.
- Guest blogger gets a mention.
Win-win for all. The problem is, many people misuse it. I never allow any guest posts for the sole reason for getting backlinks, but if anyone wants to share a story, I am ok with it.
Social Media Sharing
There’s a tactical correlation between content getting social share and the corresponding page or site’s rank position. However, the engagement rate (like comment & share) of the content is crucial. It’s the social engagement that firmly adheres to higher organic rankings.
Google denies it, but experiments show there is a correlation.
The more people on social media share your content, the more backlinks that particular content will generate. In that case, social media sharing is an excellent technique to get a lot of free exposure. But the content must be worth sharing.
Like guest posting and social sharing, blog commenting helps a blogger grow his/her network. The critical point here is the comment itself should make sense. It should add value to the discussion and the article’s perse.
Perfect examples of Q&A forums are Quora and Yahoo Answers. People come and post thousands of questions to get an answer. Question and answer sites are the best places to share your answers and leave links to your articles for further reading.
Forum posting is no different than blog commenting and Q&A sites. On QnA sites, people are looking for answers, whereas in forums, it is more of a discussion mode.
Getting into the discussion and sharing a view and then leaving a genuine link as and when it makes sense is never a problem. It’s the best way to earn a backlink provided you address the issue. The problem is, people try to spam forums with links.
Finally, Check out my SEO Tips Every Webmaster Should Know.