Want to learn about search engines and how to leverage them for traffic?, this SEO tutorial for beginners will set you on the right track.
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
It is a term marketers use to describe techniques and processes used when trying to make a website rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Just like that beautiful duplex down the road to your house, the more beautiful it appears to be, the admiration it will receive from people.
And the more chances it'll get to show up as one of the top ten most beautiful buildings in your hood.
So is your website, the more optimized it is, the more chances it'll have to rank top 10 for specific keywords.
I misunderstood this term SEO for SEM (search engine marketing) just before I started blogging 2 years ago.
Just to be clear, search engine optimization and search engine marketing are two different things entirely.
One includes payment and paid services, the other does not.
SEO is divided into two parts which includes On-page and Off-page optimization.
Your website is an engine, the more you service it, the more visible it will be and the more traffic you'll get.
Search engine optimization is a part of internet marketing.
On-page search engine optimization techniques
It's called On-page SEO because all activities are done inside the website.
Your website becomes a lab rat with which you do your experiments.
And implement your findings to see what works.
Luckily for you, I'm gonna share 11 most important On-page optimization factors you must know.
These basic factors will act as building blocks as you become ffamiliar with more advanced SEO ethics.
Content formatting and arrangement
The recuring mistake bloggers and search engine optimizers make is forgetting to format and structure content but they hit the publish button.
Headline tags should be put to consideration when structuring your content.
Using headline tags in your websites and posts makes it easy fro users to read your content and for search engines to crawl it.
Never make the mistake of writing a very long paragraph without breaking it up in pieces of three or four.
Just imagine this post without white spaces and h3 tags which I use for subheadings, It'll look really ugly and long, right?.
Use white spaces after 2 to 9 or, at most, 10 lines of plain text.
As with me, I try to use them after one or two full stops or after four lines of nonstop sentence.
Use bold tags or italics to outline basic points and draw reader attention.
In Using headline and other content formatting tags, be consistent with numbers and words.
For example if you've used Capital letters for your first subheading, the other subheadings should be capital letters.
Pro tip: Use h1 tags instead for titles.
They tend to send more relevancy signals to the search eengines more than the ordinary title tags themselves.
The search engines tend to rank a page with more content over pages with few amount of content…
because they believe that the page with a lot of content will satisfy and contribute positively to searcher or user experience (UX).
Many search engine optimizers argue over content length, taking it for a priority to get more traffic and search engine rankings, it's not.
Don't always monitor your word count when composing a post, just focus on creating quality and useful content for your readers.
Search engine optimization works in a very mysterious way, in a way that if you focus on ways to help out your visitors/readers.
And forget about the search engines, your blog will grow fast, virally.
But, even at that, a little On-page SEO skill is needed for your blog to, at least, be seen.
Short posts can still rank well on the search engines too, if it's quality and original.
And if it's a booming trend on the web.
Content with above 1500 word is fit for first position on the SERPs and have more chances to ranking better than shorter posts.
If you're a passionate blogger, this will help sstrengthen your ability to put more on the table.
And give readers satisfying information to live with.
The length of your content should depend on the topic, if it's a broad topic, just go wild and try to cover all sections.
If it's not, don't try framing it up for the sake of breaking through the 2000 word threshold.
Definitely, that will suck big-time.
Here's what four proactive search engine optimization blogs unveiled about content length and rankings:
- Back in 2012, Neil Patel of Quick Sprout gathered all 327 posts he's ever published, and grouped them in two categories. The first contained posts under 1500 words and the other had posts above 1500 words.
he then analyzed their social shares quantity, comparing the Facebook likes and Tweets each post got. He discovered that posts that below 1,500 words, on average received 59.3 Facebook likes and 174.6 tweets. And posts above 1,500 words, on average received 293.5 tweets and 72.7 Facebook likes (which is a Hugh difference). This somehow explains why longer form content ranks high, taking to the fact that social signals affects rankings. So, more content equals more social shares and more social shares equals higher rankings. This makes sense.
- Garrett Moon of CoSchedule noticed that results with highest word count tend to rank higher on the search engine results pages:
And he also stated that content length seemed to be most influential in the third, fourth and fifth position
- SERPIQ, competitive search analysis tool analyzed the top ten organic search results to see if there was a correlation between content lenght and search rankings for specific keyword terms. Here's the visual breakdown of their findings:
The result? They noticed that results on the first page for most of their keywords had a minimum of at least 2000 words of text.
- In October 2012, Doherty, a Moz contributor also analyzed random 500 posts on Moz to check if the length of each content correlates with the amount of links each post got …Guess what he found: Doherty found that the length of each post actually correlated with the number of backlinks they received. Here's the visual breakdown of each posts with word count ranging from highest to lowest: and here's the correlating number of links each post had based on their word count:
The description of a post or a website is an explanatory summary of what the post or website talks about in detail.
When composing the description of a post or an entire website, it should just be good enough to compel users to click.
And it should be able to hype user curiosity which will make them more interested in whatever you have to offer.
Don't forget to include keywords in your description, like I've said before and description length under 160 characters.
Just about 3 months ago, I learnt that using twitter to compose description of a post or website in general helps.
It keeps you in the range of 140 characters and you'll have the time to write something much more compelling a few paragraph.
Domain URL structure
Domain URLs play specific roles in giving a webpage a slight chance to rank higher up in the Search Engine Results Pages.
We've been making assumptions…
So… Let's assume you operate a blog about fashion, choosing domain names like tugglr, Huggy, or your personal name (Jimjinks.com) for your fashion blog won't help much.
Most people don't seem to get it right here.
Before I started doing SEO, I would spend two weeks brainstorming on a couple of domain names for my wapka site.
These names made no sense from the search engine perspective, but they were names you'd probably want to hear when you jumpoff your bed at 6:00 a.m.
Moz's 2013 search engine ranking factors domain that starts with their niche or target keyword has a slight advantage over sites that don't have the keyword in the beginning, middle or end of their domain name.
This factor is not guaranteed, it doesn't mean you will always rank high when you do this. But it adds up to hype rankings.
In the case of fashion, I'd rather use fashionguy, mydresscode or fashionland other than my personal name (which I strongly do not agree with).
Linking out to others in your niche will encourage others to link back to you, which will enhance your long term relationship with fellow bloggers.
Linking out won't pass all your link juice to the destination page. If that's what you're affraid will happen.
You'll notice that I link out a lot, especially to well known sites in my niche.
I do so because those pages are really important to you.
And you exactly won't get the full message of my posts without reading the pages I link to.
When you link to authority sites, you increase the trust rank and credibility of your website. Google will see your site as trustworthy.
And as a reliable source of information.
Don't just link out because you want people to link to you, link to important pages that is useful to your audience.
I recommend you use a "rel=no follow" tag on links to unrelated niche sites to prevent any form of google penalty and lost rankings.
For example this blog is an SEO blog, I'd use a no follow tag to websites about dog foods and headphones.
Keep external links to other pages under 15, Google frowns at websites that engage in extreme external linking.
Generally you should keep the total links on a webpage below 100.
The more lengthy the content you have, the chance you'll have to link out to other important pages.
I do this to hype user experience and volunteer for relevance when it comes to image search.
When using an image in your posts or website, make sure to optimize before usage. You remember Doherty, right?.
The Moz contributor who analyzed 500 random Moz posts to see if the number of backlinks each post got correlated with their word count (length).
He also did a research to confirm if posts with images gets more backlinks than posts without images.
Guess what he again found:
As you can see from the image, posts with images are more likely to get linked to than one without images.
Apart from higher inlinks quantity, images tend to increase the quality of a post and send more relevancy signal to the search engines.
Posts with images (screenshots, charts and graphs) tend to get more social shares compared to a post with no images because people love images.
And according to webDAM, the human mind processes visual content 60,000 times faster than plain text.
Internal linking is something that most marketers don't really find interesting.
And often ignore as they think it is useless from an SEO standpoint.
How is internal linking important?…
Good Question. Before I got myself into blogging and internet marketing, I always saw internal links as a way to link two webpages on the same site.
I never wanted to know their importance.
To me, they really didn't count.
And I was dead wrong about them!.
When you link to an old post or a new one, you're increasing the likelihood that the post will rank better.
If you've heard of the term "Page Rank", know that anytime you link to a post from another post with high page rank…
you transfer bits of what is known as link juice, which will literally boost the page rank of the less authoritative post or page.
It's like an ocean with water channels to different farmlands.
The more water passes through to those farmlands, the more fertile and productive they'll become.
Internal links also help to increase user time on site and reduce bounce rate by revealing important pages to user, which is a good sign to the search engines that you produce satisfying content.
Internal linking also makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website and discover important pages on your site.
When you interlink between your posts, it's like you've connected the electricity flow in a house.
And you've enabled a proper flow of electricity throughout the entire house.
Just have in mind that links from other sites to a page in your site carries more weight than links from other pages of your site to a particular page within your site.
In other words, high-quality external links are more valuable when compared to internal links.
Keyword density refers to the frequency of keyword occurrence or usage in a content.
For example, one of my keywords tend to be SEO, and you can count the number of times I've used it just yet.
While keyword density can be a ranking factor, it can also be a penalty determinant when overdone.
Maintain appropriate use of keywords in content by simply being natural.
Use your target keyword phrases first at the beginning of your post then you can leave the rest to itself by being natural.
Hyperlink anchor text
A link won't exist without a text, which is its carrier.
And to be specific, anchor texts are texts highlighted as links which points to various URLs.
Hope you get?.
Anchor text is used by the search engines to detect web spam nowadays but, according to Brian Dean of Backlinko, still passes relevancy signals in small doses.
What did I just say? Anchor text tells the search engines what a page talks about.
For example, this is a link to Google's official blog.
The anchor text here is "Google's official blog" because it's the link carrier and it tells the search engines that the page I just linked to is Google's official blog.
Though, this is a good way to rank specific pages for certain keywords, but as I've mentioned before, when overdone can get your webpage penalized.
I'll explain better…
Google penalize websites that engage in exact match anchor text overuse.
For example if I'm linking to a webpage like "http://www.example.com/blogging-tips.html", I shouldn't always use "blogging tips" or "example.com" as my anchor text.
It could literally get me penalized when i do it always.
That's one of the major reasons I hardly use exact match anchor text when linking out.
Page load speed
Page load speed is an important factor when it comes down to On-page optimization.
How many times have you clicked that red back button to another result when you noticed that the page you've just opened is taking forever to load?.
When it comes to rankings, Google seriously considers how fast a page loads before presenting them as results to user search queries.
If you do have a website that takes forever, like 30 seconds to load, Google might decide to deep your website down the SERPs, because it contributes to a poor user experience.
Google knows that users feel like punching it in the neck nine or ten times when it delivers a sluggish domain URL for a result.
Title of webpages
The title of a post should be short and self-descriptive.
Avoid using titles that make no sense to the readers.
For example: this post you're reading is all about SEO tutorial and the title describes it in simple plain words.
What makes Internet marketing interesting is SEO, once you know it, you will be able to see through over a thousand mistakes you've been blindly making with naming your titles.
There's a lot of articles on the net telling you to write great content and traffic will come, yeah, but a great content with a weak title will go nowhere far.
It's advisable to undergo proper keyword research for your titles, so as to avoid blindly targeting a keyword that wikipedia can't rank for (a keyword that's super competitive).
Great titles will encourage and compel readers to click through to your website from the search engine results pages.
I've lots of great posts fall below the ground, just because they had really annoying titles.
The point is, find what people will search for, do a keyword research on the words you've found using keyword planner, then you can create great content to backup your new shining keywords.
Let's say you're looking for ways to cure pimples, damn!, you'd be surprised how many great content exists with really annoying titles like "Dramatical ways to eradicate pimples", "Surefire ways to eliminate pimples".
Now, who on earth is gonna type in "Dramatical ways to eradicate pimples", huh?…
People don't use these words to search for your content.
They need something specific, something to "cure their pimples".
Use simpler and natural versions, words and terms that people say everyday and will naturally search for.
Use terms that comes to your mind without you, giving a thorough thought.
A title like "Pimples Cure" or "11 ways to cure pimples with ease" will do just great.
Off-page search engine optimization
Off-page SEO involves the manual building of links (link building) to a webpage in order to accelerate traffic level and rankings.
It also involves the act of promoting your website with the use of social media platforms (social media marketing).
Many marketers often forget about the social media and connectivity part.
And lay all emphasis and focus on link building.
Off-page SEO is way more than just building links to a website and hopelessly waiting to get more rankings.
It's way more than just sharing your content on social media platforms too.
Off-page optimization is gravitating towards the ability to maintain a stable relationship with other players in your field which will payoff real big in the long-run by earning you more links and introduction to better and bigger opportunities in your online career.
Alright, let's discuss link building…
Links coming from other websites to yours are called either backlinks, inlinks, inward links, inbound links or incoming links.
Link building is often seen as the most stressful part of search engine optimization by many marketers because you have to manually put those links there all by yourself and wait to either get a penalty or increased rankings.
For this reason, I hardly try to build links…
Here's what you need to know about links in general:
- The more quality links you have pointing to your website, the higher your websites' rankings.
- Do-follow links from unrelated niche sites can hurt your websites' rankings.
- 5 Links from a high authority and trusted site like The Huffington Post is way better and significant than 500 links from a low quality site.
- Google does not consider the quantity of links alone, it puts the quality first, then the quantity.
- Buying links will hurt your rankings except when done the wrong way.
- When building links, the anchor text used matters a lot. Avoid using exact match (or rich) anchor text all the time when building your websites' link profile.
This time, you didn't have to go to each website on the planet to put a link or two there all by yourself.
People prefer the best and first, not the second, not the third.
They'll naturally link to your website when they see something that is of real importance and that'll be of help to their audience.
For example, the quick sprout blog receives well over 500,000 visitors per month.
A reasonable percent of those visitors will come visiting with hopes to learn from new posts.
And others will come because it has a very useful tool which helps lots of marketers run their businesses effectively.
Such a tool won't just get used by those visitors, it gets linked to from many other sites on the web because of it's value.
Yours could be a video so valuable to your market, it could be a guide, a web based app or an interview with a renouned expert in your niche… located within your site.
Social media marketing
Although social media marketing is a branch on its, but it's still a solid factor of Off-page optimization…
considering the fact that Google still uses social signal (I.e the number of tweets, Facebook likes and Google +1's) to determine the position of a webpage on the search engine results pages.
Using social networks to gain more traffic is quite simple when said but it's a difficult task ranging from gathering Twitter followers to having the skills to compose a compelling tweet copy.
Creating an awesome content isn't good enough, you have to go out there and get the word out by sharing and encouraging your readers to share it with the click of a button by providing social shares button on sidebars, at the top or below your post.
3 sure ways to build and earn quality links
There are several tactics to building your link profile by earning links and manually building them, but these three tactics do give a standout:
- Link bait – To link bait simply means to create a content so outstanding that it compels others to link to it as a reference point. It could be creating an awesome Infographic, a useful video, a meme or a list post. Whatever it is, it's compelling enough to attract inbound links.
- Guest blogging – I love guest blogging because it opens you up to opportunities. Guest blogging is the act of submitting content to another blog for publication. This time, you're not just writing for your blog alone, you're not submitting one piece of content to various article directories. Many blogs stopped accepting guest post after Matt Cutts, head of Google's web spam team made it clear to all that 'guest blogging is done'. Still at that, a larger chunk of bloggers didn't really give a damn about it, they still guest blog like hell today.
- Ego baiting – Normally, when you hear the word "Ego", what comes to your mind is human pride or idiosyncracy, right?. Ego baiting simply mean compelling others to share your content because you've mentioned their names, and in some cases, praised their product or they themselves. They'll easily share your content to tell their audience "hey! here's what this guy said about me". They'll also link to it as a proof to show their audience that they can be reliable, trusted and are seen as authorities in their field. If you want to create a longterm relationship with other authorities in your field, then you should Ego bait more often. Do this where necessary and not just for the sake of it.
Do-follow and no-follow link index attributes
You can simply no-follow a link by adding the "rel = nofollow" attribute in to an HTML link.
The do-follow links tells the search engines to qualify a link as either low quality or high quality.
It tells the search engines to put all it's 200+ ranking factors into consideration before weighing a link.
It tells the search engines to index a link.
That's why it's called a "do+follow".
Unlike the do-follow link, a no-follow attribute simply tells the search engines to ignore or pass link juice to a link.
A no-follow link is considered useless by most marketers because of it's inability to transfer certain percentage of link juice to a page.
While both form of links can drive traffic to your blog, the ability to increase your blog's page rank only makes one of them.
- SEO is currently and constantly evolving, no one is ever perfect at optimizing webpages to rank high. And rankings can not be predicted.
- SEO comprises Off-page optimization and On-page optimization.
- The only way to know what's best for your business is by testing.
- How a website should rank on the search engine results pages is not determined by backlinks quantity and quality alone.
- Long form content will always give you a slight advantage over your competition.
The only way for you to get really good at SEO is by applying the basic rules which I've talked about.
Don't give up learning just yet, don't let that blurry voice up in your head tell you "you're not fit for this" and don't think twice about it.
Unless you're ready to pay for every website of yours to rank on first page of the search engines (through paid marketing), SEO is your guy.
You don't need to be a master in it, all you just need to know what to do next.
In search engine optimization, if technique A isn't working, technique B should work and if B isn't working, C should work.
There's always a way out.
So, what else do you know about search engine optimization?