In today’s fast-paced online landscape, understanding the importance of SEO is vital for businesses, bloggers, and website owners alike. But what exactly is SEO? How does it work? And why is it crucial for your online success? Join Hialex to explore the ins and outs of SEO, demystifying complex concepts and empowering you to navigate the ever-evolving digital space with confidence. So, fasten your seat belts and get ready to embark on an enlightening journey into the fascinating realm of SEO.
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SEO, short for Search Engine Optimization, is a fundamental aspect of digital marketing. It encompasses various techniques and strategies that improve a website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). SEO aims to enhance organic or non-paid traffic to a website by optimizing its Content, structure, and overall user experience.
By incorporating relevant keywords, improving page loading speed, and ensuring mobile-friendliness, SEO professionals enable search engines to understand and rank web pages more effectively.
Implementing SEO practices not only helps businesses reach their target audience but also enhances user experience and credibility. In today’s digital landscape, where competition is fierce, a solid SEO strategy is indispensable for establishing and maintaining an online presence. Thus, understanding the various facets of SEO is essential for any individual or organization looking to increase organic traffic and achieve online success.
According to Wikipedia, A search engine is a software system responsible for finding web pages to match different search terms. A search engine explores the World Wide Web for information to show to the users based on the queries they search for. The search result is presented to the user on the search engine results page or SERPs. The most popular search engine is Google.com.
Take a look at the comparison between the most popular search engines based on their market share.
Search engines explore the web with their bots or spiders; they basically download a webpage and follow the links on that page to find new ones, and this process goes on. Most pages that are being crawled by these bots go into a new category called indexed pages. Search engines then rank these indexed pages in a particular order to serve the users the best way possible. Google and other search engines use different algorithms to check these pages’ optimization status and if they are eligible enough to rank high.
Search engines show the results in various forms, and we can categorize those results into three groups:
Websites that are more optimized than others can rank organically. Think of this as a reward that search engines give them for good overall SEO scores. This website can gain organic traffic, which is the most effective type of traffic.
These are the websites shown as sponsored ones in the SERPs. Website owners can bid on keywords and pay the search engines to rank for keywords they would like, even if they don’t invest in SEO.
Features are also another type of unpaid results, but they are different than the traditional organic results
most common formats of SERPs feature are:
It would be better if we understood different types of website traffic. First, there is organic traffic, which is the number of users that enter a website page through searching for a query and in the SERPs. You can see how many daily visitors your website has in tools like Search Console.
Direct Traffic: This kind of traffic would be the result of good branding. Direct traffic is when a user directly enters a website page without going into the SERPs section. For example, when they type the website’s domain name in the top bar of the browser and enter it directly.
Paid Traffic: Attracting visitors in search engines through paid campaigns is considered paid traffic. You certainly have seen some sponsored results in the SERPs when you type a particular keyword.
PPC and SEM are the most common terms associated with paid traffic.
We can divide the SERP results into two categories: Organic results and paid results. SEO is the process of ranking better among organic results, and it is considered to be one the most effective marketing methods to gain customers. SEM, on the other hand, is short for Search engine marketing, which encompasses SEO and paid traffic. SEM is the process of optimizing a website for both organic and paid results!
The term PPC is short for pay-per-click, and it is the most common form of online advertisement and SEM! In this method, there is a specific fee for each user click, and the Cost depends on the type of keywords.
To better understand the importance of search engine optimization, let’s take a look at some stats on people’s online behavior:
It is predicted that the global market cap of SEO will reach 122.11 billion dollars by 2028! This is an indicator of how much brands in all industries are willing to spend just to be on top of everybody else and get more organic traffic! This makes sense because most people search before they take action, especially if they want to buy something.
However, it is good to know that even the way people search online has changed over the years. For example, users may enter a query on search engines like Google or Bing, or they might use other platforms like YouTube and Amazon. The reports suggest that 61 percent of American online shoppers start their search tight on the Amazon website, and the remaining 49 percent start their journey on Google. Other valuable notes from the same study:
Another Important SEO aspect is its sustainability. For instance, when a website ranks on a particular keyword, it is going to have organic traffic as long as the rank is kept up compared to PPC traffic, which is going to be as long as there’s a campaign.
Search engine optimization is capable of driving convertible traffic to a website, and that is a crucial objective for all businesses. Being trustworthy is another vital aspect of a successful business, and SEO can be an asset to gain more trust. It is believed that people are more likely to trust a website that ranks higher on the SERPs.
As far as branding is concerned, visibility is essential, and SEO is one of the most effective ways to increase visibility and to increase Brand Awareness.
Imagine you own a car detailing business. Based on Google keyword Planner, 1 million people are searching this exact query in just one month! Now, let’s assume that the first result gets around 20% of all clicks. That is 2000000 visitors to the website in just a month on just one keyword! To better quantify this:
The average Cost per click for this keyword is about 2.5 Dollars, meaning that the total traffic of 100000 is worth 250000$ in a month. And that is just for a single query in a particular niche. There are other industries with much higher search volume and a much more expensive PPC. For instance, the keyword “lawyer” is worth 42.1$ as I am writing this article.
SEO is a process capable of performing miracles for a business because an SEO-friendly website could rank for hundreds of keywords over time.
Take a look at the stat below
I can go on and give you more statistics like this, But generally speaking, if a business has yet to start its ecommerce version, it will be left behind the competition. According to these reports, most companies have yet to go online, and the sooner a business goes online, the more likely it is going to be ahead of most competitors.
Get rank in SERPs is a complex process, and there are mainly three main types of SEO. There is usually a department of each kind at large enterprises with multiple websites and significant traffic.
On-page SEO is all the actions you make on your website to make it more SEO-friendly. OnsiteOnsite SEO is the process of making web page content optimized for both search engines and users. There is a lot to onsite-onsite SEO, which I will cover in another post, but know that with Good on-page optimization, your website can rank even for the most straightforward keywords.
Some common on-page optimization practices include:
Technical SEO is another essential pillar of search engine optimization, and it’s the process of making a website technical part to match the standards of search engines. It includes Crawling, indexing and rendering, and website structure.
The following list is what you should take into consideration in technical SEO
Off-page SEO refers to all the actions you make to improve your website’s ranking outside the dominance of your website. The most essential off-page optimizations are Backlink acquisition, increasing branding searches ( Branding), and Social media activities.
To put it simply, a good off-page SEO signals a search engine that a website is trustworthy and authoritative. Also, search engine optimization practices can be categorized into three parts based on how they are going to affect a website.
Link building can fall into both off and on-page optimization. Onsite link building is when you link page A of your website to Page B, which is also on your site. However, when we talk about link building, we are referring to Backlink acquisition most of the time.
An SEO specialist is someone who tests, analyzes, and changes a website in a way that search engines find it more user and SEO-friendly. An SEO expert or specialist will optimize a website page to create a good UX and increase overall traffic ultimately.
Basically, SEO helps the search engine to realize if a web page is eligible enough to rank for keywords. Search engines use different algorithms to determine if a website is good enough to organize, and search engine optimization is kind of like a process to do anything to introduce your website as a trustworthy and reliable source to these algorithms. In general, a good optimization process is the one with great on/off page optimization along with a standard technical side.
There are 200 hundred factors affecting a website ranking situation, and in the following list, I have categorized all of them into 10 groups based on the SEO periodic table made by Search Engine Land:
Content is the king! It was never overthrown. In fact, Google has repeatedly said that Content plays a huge part in SEO. If a website is offering high-quality Content, it is more likely to rank because it is serving its users better. Google’s ultimate goal is to create the most optimal user experience.
A great piece of Content is the one that:
A website structure falls under the technical SEO umbrella. A well-built website helps search engines access and crawl web pages more efficiently. If a search engine is unable to crawl a web page quickly, then there is no chance of ranking for it even if it has the most significant and most accurate piece of Content.
Mobile-first indexing and speed factor:
It is crucial to aim for a good UX on mobile devices since most users are now using their phones to search on Google and other search engines. So, a website architecture must be built in a way that makes it mobile-friendly.
Hand in hand with mobile friendly is the site speed, which is one of the most essential running factors. No one is willing to wait even for as little as 10 seconds to see what you have to offer on your website. In fact, most users will close the web page if it’s not fully loaded after 3 seconds!
Other architecture-related factors are:
HTML tags send signals to the search engine and help it understand the Content of a page and render it better. The Title tag, Headings, images’ ALTs, Schema markups, and meta tags are the most critical factors in this section.
search engines like Google tend to give higher rankings to websites with the following features:
From the very beginning, Google has made it clear that links are crucial ranking factors, although back then, it was much easier to get ranked with almost any type of link. the algorithm has evolved. Now, some features should be taken into consideration :
When it comes to the Users factor, the most crucial part is the Experience they have when they visit a webpage. Google and other search engines like Bing will only allow for websites with good UX to rank high. Also, having a poor UX can sometimes even lead to being penalized by the search engine. Some Good UX signals are:
Another crucial user factor that should not be overlooked is the Intent; you have to consider why a user is searching a specific query and what they need when they visit a web page, for instance, if they want to learn more about a product and its alternatives or if they want to buy it. User intent is essential to understand, especially since there can be gray areas where the Intent may not be apparent for some keywords.
Also, it is worth knowing where most of a website’s users come from, so it is best to aim for the country most of the website’s visitors come from. We can even go further and aim for the specific location, such as the state or the city we would like our website to have visitors from.
Those who have been in the industry for longer know that these search engines were not this smart, and their algorithms were much less sophisticated. you could sometimes trick them into ranking your websites faster and higher through some actions that fall into the category of SEO called Black hat SEO. I can not stress this enough: You should never try these techniques because sooner or later ( my guess is much sooner!), you will get caught, and you can not even see your website rank in your dreams!
Some common toxin actions are:
Local factors have recently been added to this table, and as the name suggests, they are location-related signals. GMB or Google My Business profile is one of the most essential pieces of the puzzle. This will help you rank better and to be found on the local map. Other critical local signals are correct Citations, NAP, and Reviews.
SEO for Ecommerce is on another level, and the evolving scene of the industry has not made it easier for ecommerce websites to rank. The Following signals are the most common when it comes to ecommerce SEO practices.
Choosing a domain name is usually the first step to launching an online business, and it is crucial to choose a name that is easy for the users to remember. If you prefer your domain name correctly, people are more likely to trust your website and to click on the results that appear on the SERPs.
However, choosing a name is not the only thing that matters; for instance, some websites have their main keyword in their domain, which may lead to ranking better if other quality factors of SEO are met, but remember that putting your keyword in the domain name might not be the most brilliant idea especially when it comes to branding and large enterprises. There is a lot to cover when it comes to domain names, and I will explain all about them in separate posts in the future.
The complexity of search engine optimization calls for utilizing different tools to get the most out of your efforts. There are hundreds of Tools, each with its capabilities, and it is essential to know what are the most effective ones to have in your toolbox. I have categorized these tools into different groups based on their similarities and what they have to offer.
As the leading search engine with the most market share, Google has provided us with multiple Tools that we can use in SEO.
GSC is probably the most used SEO Tool introduced by Google, which was formerly known as Webmasters Tools. This tool provides us with valuable data such as :
Choosing the right keyword is, without a doubt, one of the most essential steps in search engine optimization, and GKP is a free tool that can provide us with a helpful list of keywords we can use to rank more efficiently. Keyword planner also tells us how much search volume a query has in a certain period, and it can give an estimation of the Google ads price, which you can use for your campaigns.
GA is another must-use tool for SEO and Advertisement managers. GA is a web analytics platform that tracks and reports website traffic alongside mobile app traffic and events. This tool will tell us exactly how users come to our website and how they behave in different parts of the website or the application. Some useful metrics that we can use to analyze our web pages are:
Bounce rate: BR or Bounce Rate is a metric showing us how many users exit a web page without any type of engagement( mainly clicking on other links on that page). For instance, when users enter a page and quickly realize that the Content on the page is not what they were looking for, they are most likely to get back to where they came from ( usually the SERPs). This metric can tell us if the Content of a web page is serving the correct user or not.
Time-on-site: this metric is pretty self-explanatory; it counts as the time the average user stays on a page. The more time on site, the better. However, remember that neither of these two metrics is considered to be a direct ranking factor.
Other Tools made by Google worth mentioning are Google Trends, Tag Manager, and GMB.
Other than the keyword planner by Google, there are other practical tools we can use to do better keyword research, such as:
It is an online platform providing us with multiple tools, and one of them is SEMrush keyword research. We can get the following details on specific queries by SEMrush:
Ahrefs keyword explorer
Ahrefs uses the data provided by more than ten search engines to give us a complete, in-depth keyword analysis. It also estimates the search volume and the ranking difficulty for each query.
MOZ keyword explorer
It is not possible to talk about the best SEO tools and not mention the ones made by MOZ. Much like Ahrefs and SEMrush, MOZ also provides us with a practical keyword research tool that can give us easy-to-rank suggestions and long-term queries.
A CMS is a platform that makes it much easier to manage the Content on a website. WordPress is currently the most famous CMS in the market, and it has a wide variety of tools we can use to rank better.
This wordpress plugin has the highest installation rate among other SEO-related tools in the WordPress plugin market. Yoast has both free and paid versions, and you can use either of them to get a better on-page SEO score. Yoast scans a web page and gives an on-page SEO score, and you can improve it by the suggestions it makes.
Much like Yoast, Rank Math is another SEO-friendly plugin you can install to take on-page SEO audits for each page. You can easily manage meta tags and keyword distribution in your Content to have a better chance of ranking. Please note that you will only need one SEO plugin like Yoast of Rank math in your CMS.
Apart from Google Analytics, there are other tools you can use to analyze different things on your website.
The SEP spider, made by Screaming Frog, is a powerful crawler that can check all the pages on a website and provide an in-depth report. It is one of the best options when you want to check a website’s on-page optimization situation in a short period. This tool will provide you with the following data:
HubSpot website grader
HubSpot is probably the biggest name in the Digital Marketing industry, and it has many tools that we can use in different areas of digital marketing. One of them is its website grader, which processes a URL and gives a report with actionable insights to improve the SEO on that particular page.
MOZ, Ahrefs, and SEMrush
Aside from keyword research tools offered by these SEO giants, there are lots of other tools we can utilize to improve our website’s SEO. These platforms are all capable of crawling your website and giving you a fully comprehensive report of the off-page, on-page, and technical SEO metrics, which you can use to improve the overall quality of your optimization.
The first step of optimizing a website is keyword research. Try to find the easy queries to rank for first. Remember, the longer the keyword, the easier the ranking. Do not forget to cover the keyword gaps!
After you have found the best keywords in your niche, it is time to craft a strategy on how you should do your SEO, where you would like to invest more, and how you would like to be seen in the results. In this step, it is essential to decide on the type of Content you are going to offer and create a complete content calendar to follow in the future.
Creating the right Content can be challenging, and if you find the right solution to this challenge, then you will find it much easier to rank. Google and other search engines are always trying to find the best Content to show the users, and that is why you need to create high-quality Content to have the slightest chance of ranking on the first page of the results and the top 3 links!
High-quality content features
certain features make a piece of Content high in quality, such as:
Creating Content is getting more complex day by day, and it requires knowledge and creativity to be able to make something that is SEO-friendly and capable of ranking.
After you have created your target pages and their Content, it is time to start on-page optimization. Distribute your keywords correctly and try to avoid stuffing them. It is best to link each page of your website to at least another one with a relevant piece of Content that users might find helpful.
In order to be recognized as a trustworthy website, it is crucial to receive backlinks from other high-ranking websites. Do not try to get any type of backlink from all sorts of websites. Instead, it is best to have a well-planned strategy and comprehensively analyze the websites you are willing to get backlinks from. MOZ Tools can help you identify websites with a high Domain Authority and low Spam Score.
Always try to check your web pages to see if they meet the standards of technical SEO. It would help if you considered the following:
The best ways to learn SEO are:
Of course, you can, though you should know that there is a lot to search engine optimization, and it might be a little overwhelming at some point. It is best to try SEO yourself if your website is more personal and your goals are not business-related. If you would like to earn from your website, then it is best to hire an SEO specialist or agency.
You can continue without using SEO tools, and you might even be able to rank for some queries, but you would still need SEO tools because they will provide valuable information and insights that can be used to rank better.