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Search Engine Optimization – A Holistic Introduction

Holistic SEO Concept

Search Engine Optimization – A Holistic Introduction

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The topic of SEO  is for many companies still a constantly evolving closed book. Also the year 2021 brings more challenges. 

The technical SEO such as As code structures,  the better loading times and thus overall to lead a more comfortable user experience, connect t  more and more with substantive issues and the usability optimization. This provides many website operators with the challenge,  these the developer forcibly even more closely with the WEB Designer work together, which in turn with the editorial copywriting cooperate need. And also everything strategic for that whole online marketing concept is decided, can, and will have a lasting influence on organic visibility. 

As a web agency, many interested parties keep asking us: 

“What is or what does SEO mean?” 

We’ll reveal the secret so that you can find your way better in the sometimes mystical world of search engine optimization.  

With our tips and tricks, you will quickly find out: SEO has little to do with hocus-pocus or a moody search engine. A sophisticated strategy, a lot of hard work, and patience are the cornerstones of any professional search engine optimization.

SEO OPTIMIZATION – THE RELEVANT BASICS 

It all starts with three letters: SEO. This  is the abbreviation for  Search Engine  Optimization and includes all methods that are intended to help increase the visibility of a website in search engine results (SERPs for short).  

SEO is roughly divided into two sub-areas: on-  page and off-page optimization. 

From its standard definition, includes  e rsteres any action to improve technical and content of a web page, while  L aims etzteres on expanding the position of a page in the SERPs by reputation.  

The relevance of SEO 

You may be wondering why search engine optimization is so important. Quite simply: Search engines are still the first point of contact for users when it comes to obtaining information on a wide range of topics and products. 

A survey by the Online Research Working Group in June 2017 showed that the use of search engines is the most common way of using the Internet. Accordingly, a proud 92.9 percent of those surveyed stated that they use search engines frequently or at least occasionally.

The presence of your own business in the search engines therefore has enormous market potential.

Top 3 – or invisible on the web

Professional search engine optimization is essential so that as many interested parties as possible can find your offer in the vastness of the Internet. How come? Eye-tracking studies on user behavior in the search results make it clear that interest in the articles displayed continues to decrease from top to bottom.

The following figure clearly shows that the first three search engine results in particular are the focus of attention. The user only devotes himself to the other contributions later – if at all. These are a few seconds that decide about a click and thus conversion.

google eye tracking serp screenshot

With a sophisticated  strategy for website  optimization, you ensure that your content moves more into the field of vision of your potential customers. The higher the individual pages are placed in the organic search results, the more users can access your content. This in turn increases the click rate and the traffic.

But which principles are it exactly that are responsible for one side ranking better than the other? To answer this question, it is helpful to understand how a search engine works.

“Google SEO” – the market leadership of a search engine

With a look at the market position of the search engine Google, it becomes clear why search engine optimization is particularly useful for Google.

The global market shares of search engines (as of September 2018)

  1. Google (92.31%)
  2. Bing (2.27%)
  3. Yahoo! (2.51%)
statcounter search engine

Source: http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share

Google the giant. What began in 1998 as a university research project in a garage has meanwhile secured first place on the search engine market in the long term.

With every request, Google uses a huge pool of stored data, its so-called index. This now comprises more than a trillion entries, which are diligently compiled by so-called crawlers. And there are more and more!

With that amount of information there is of course thousands upon thousands of information about a query. In order to filter out the most suitable data and provide the user with the best possible result, Google evaluates and lists the individual entries based on their awareness, reliability, topicality and their added value.

More than  200 different ranking factors play a role!

In this video, Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s web spam team, explains how the Google search engine works.

Matt Google Engineer

To prevent manipulation of the ranking, the exact variables of the Google search algorithm are not known, but the Google ranking can be improved with a few tricks – without violating the official  Google Webmaster Guidelines.

In order to expand the online visibility of your own website, you have to convince Google that your website provides exactly the content that users are looking for for certain search terms.

How it works? With The Following SEO Measures – Just Read On!

Guide: Implementation of SEO

Search engine optimization hands-on:
tips and tricks for practice

Measure 1:

Check availability

Of course, you want users to actually find your website. So make sure that the content of your website is actually available. Because even a small, incorrectly placed line in the meta tags ensures that Google’s robot does not index the corresponding page, which ultimately causes the content to disappear in the deep web.

We are talking about the noindex tag, which is specified in the source code as follows:

<meta name = "robots" content = "noindex" />

But if you don’t want to manually check every single source code of your versatile website, you have the simple option of using a site query to find out whether all your web pages can be found in the Google search engine results. To do this, simply enter the command “site: domain.tld” in the search box, where “TLD” stands for your so-called top-level domain (for example .de or .com).

Furthermore, you now have the option of viewing a detailed report on index coverage in the  Google Search Console (formerly: Google Webmaster Tools). All URLs are listed here that have errors or that have problems being included in Google’s index.

As if that weren’t enough, the Search Console includes a URL checking tool that outputs a wealth of data on every single URL. This includes the time of the last crawl, the permissibility of indexing, and the crawling permission – information that can be worth gold for a webmaster!

Measure 2:

Make sure you are safe

A secure connection creates trust – especially in times when data protection is the subject of intense discussion. No wonder that the switch from HTTP to HTTPs is no longer an optional extra , but an obligation for good search engine optimization.

Websites that do not have a corresponding SSL certificate can be recognized by a missing green padlock in the browser line. On the other hand, when the visitor clicks on the info icon in the browser line, he receives the alarming message “The connection to this website is not secure”.

Since the Google Chrome browser version 68, the vulnerability of the affected websites has been made even more transparent for visitors. The warning “Not sure” is then placed in front of the actual URL in the browser line.

It is understandable that potential customers could shy away from such reports and switch to the competition. The increased bounce rate that a missing SSL encryption can generate will, in the worst case, also have a negative effect on the rankings of the site.

So show your visitors that you care about their safety while surfing.

Measure 3:

Find the appropriate search terms

Google indexes websites mainly based on their readable content. By integrating topic-relevant search terms, or “keywords”, Google recognizes that the corresponding page is relevant for this very content.

The search and evaluation of search engine relevant keywords are subject to certain criteria that contribute significantly to the ranking success of web pages:

  • Search volume
  • Competitiveness
  • Conversion rates
  • Notation (plural or singular)
  • Synonyms (semantically similar terms)
  • Topicality

The keyword research and analysis requires a high degree of technical know-how in dealing with various analysis programs. For this reason, SEO specialists are mostly used for this task.

Meanwhile, if you want to hunt keywords yourself, even if it is out of curiosity, you should take a look at Google Trends. This free tool gives you an initial overview of topics and searches terms that are currently often searched for on Google.

Alternatively, there are many third-party keyword tools available, but they are usually paid for. You can at least get a clear impression of their performance with the KWFinder from Mangools, which provides a useful selection of information on search terms – to a certain extent even free of charge.

Caution: Avoid keyword “stuffing”

Once the right keywords have been found, it is important to be moderate. Unfortunately, the misconception of bygone SEO days is still circulating that web texts have to contain as many keywords as possible in order for the page to rank well.

You can’t just leave it like that nowadays. So-called keyword stuffing annoys not only human readers, but also Google. Would you like a taste? Gladly – here is an example from the Google quality guidelines for the use of these so-called superfluous keywords, in which the term “individual humidors” was meant a little too well:

Under certain circumstances, a page with such content could be rated negatively. Google is less and less happy when a page appears over-optimized (one could also say: unnatural) – with keyword stuffing only being one aspect of such over-optimization.

Depending on the severity of violations of  Google’s webmaster guidelines, individual rankings may be lowered, web site-wide penalties, or even permanent sites removed from the search index.

So don’t overdo it with keyword density. Here you can see where your search terms should nonetheless be placed:

  • in the page title
  • in headings
  • in the page content
  • in file or directory names
  • in link texts
  • in the meta information
  • in ALT attributes of images

Measure 4:

Convince with useful, unique content

For Google today more than ever, the following applies: The positive experience of the user (page experience) is clearly in the foreground. Google’s main goal is to provide its users with high-quality search results, but this also means that after clicking on the result on the landing page, the user will find the information or the offer that they expected during their search.

In short: “Excellent content deserves the best places in the SERPs.”

Among other things, the Panda update, which was rolled out for the first time in February 2011,   ensures that pages with inferior content achieve poorer ranking results than those that offer the user real added value. The Panda update has now become an integral part of Google’s core algorithm – so rely on high-quality content!

But what is “high quality content”?

Try to put yourself in the shoes of your users. Does your visitor get the information they want in response to their search query? The more precisely and / or originally you respond to the needs of users with your content, the more likely Google will reward your efforts with a good ranking.

Profitable C ontent is characterized by the following features:

  • unique content
  • answers user questions holistically
  • Target group-oriented writing style
  • not only contains keywords, but also explains them if necessary
  • Users are addressed directly
  • meaningfully structured by headings and paragraphs
  • loosened up by thematically appropriate graphics and images
  • grammatically and orthographically correct
  • There are further helpful suggestions from Google itself

You should also refrain from presenting your company in the best possible light for better or for worse. Better focus on what your customers are looking for. Show them what supporting role you can take.

Last but not least: so that your texts not only shine on the desktop, but also look good on mobile devices, you should use responsive design for your website. With this application, the presentation of your website automatically adapts to the respective end device.

If you take these tips to heart, you increase the chances that your visitors will stay on your website for as long as possible. This not only improves the relevance for Google, but also the likelihood that visitors will ultimately become customers.

Mobile First – Can Your Website Be Mobile?

It should no longer be a secret that mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, make up the majority of website visitors. Google has been announcing the topic of “Mobile First” for several years now and is planning to give websites that have only designed their content for desktop to rate them worse or even to remove them from the index.

Most recently , Google announced in summer 2020 that the final change would take place in March 2021 and that there may even be problems with separate URLs for desktop and mobile versions (such as so-called M-Dot websites).

Google has already published initial information on checking and how to proceed. It is recommended e.g. For example, to use the same robots meta tags for the desktop and mobile version and to prevent lazy loading (content / objects only to be loaded from the data source when requested) in the mobile area. Google also provides some best practices here .

Measure 5:

Page Speed ​​Optimization (PSO) – because long loading times are real conversion killers

Nowadays it is no longer a secret that the fast accessibility of websites is crucial for the users.

Nobody likes to wait for something – and with a wink we can say: The number of patient surfers on the World Wide Web has decreased over the past ten years at least as rapidly as the number of smartphone users has increased rapidly.

One likes to speak of an upper limit of 3 seconds for loading times. And even if this “3-second rule” is only half the story , Google, fueled by the ongoing mobile boom, is becoming increasingly ungracious towards slow websites.

So you’d better not be one of the snails of the internet!

With the free tool  Google PageSpeed ​​Insights  you can check the speed of individual web pages or the average performance of your entire site (using the “origin:” operator). In addition to specifying the loading speed, this tool also provides you with specific optimization suggestions with which you  can improve the loading speed of your page – for both the desktop and the mobile version.

There are three core web vitals for page speed optimization, which in all likelihood have a high impact on the rankings:

  • LCP – Largest Contentful Paint – describes the loading speed of the largest single object on a page
  • FID – First Input Delay – describes the reaction time of the page to the first user input
  • CLS – Cumulative Layout Shift – describes the measure of how strongly the content of the page jumps while further content is loaded.

Unfortunately, it is not possible to make a general statement in advance about which measures will have the greatest impact. As always, you have to test what works and what doesn’t. However, the CLS in particular can have a major impact on the user experience. It is very stressful for the reader to follow an exciting article if one is repeatedly interrupted or unexpected advertisements are shown. Google is getting better and better at collecting user data and including it in the evaluation.

Image optimization also plays a very important role in terms of loading times. Website operators should have technical solutions (such as alternative image formats [webp etc.], optimized file sizes, progressive storage etc.) that cover this topic.

Measure 6:

Use search engine and user friendly URLs

You are probably familiar with these URLs, which because of all their cryptic characters do not even give a clue of what they have in store for visitors. Here’s an example:

https: //www.domain.tld/2369-pageID_Dq2FFz77281/thread2.html

So-called speaking URLs make it easier for users and search engines to quickly understand what content is waiting for them. For this it is necessary that the keywords that reflect the subject field of the corresponding domain are part of the URL.

In this way, not only the user, but also the search engine can read out the corresponding URL better. Also make sure that your URLs are structured so that they are easy to read and not too nested.

Measure 7:

Optimize metadata

The metadata of a URL consist of a title and a description, among other things. The metadata are used to transmit information or commands about a website to the browser or Google bot.

The  title  gives the search engine and the user information about the main topic of the target page, while the  description  briefly outlines the content. With this data, search engine crawlers can assign websites to thematically appropriate.

Titles and descriptions are usually displayed to the user as a text excerpt (snippet) in the SERPs. They are therefore the figurehead of your website in the search engine results. For this reason, the content should be as concise and appealing as possible – so irresistible, as it were, that the user can’t help but click on it.

Practical tips for your basic metadata:

  • Every URL should have a description and a title.
  • The titles and descriptions of the pages should not be repeated.
  • Title and Description should not exceed a certain number of characters or pixel width.
  • Both the title and the description should contain the keyword with which you want to rank this page.

By the way: With the help of a SERP snippet generator, you can see how the search hits on your website are displayed in the search engine results. Try it out with a free SERP snippet tool!

Further examples of meta information:

  • Viewport command <meta name = “viewport“> for the purpose of adapting to the display dimensions
  • Robots command <meta name = “robots“> to control the indexing and to set links to nofollow
  • Authorship specification <meta name = “author“>, which informs the bot about the author of the content
  • various geographic information containing data on the region and coordinates.

All in all, there are many different ways of specifying or expanding the content with meta tags. However, it is also important here: Do not incorporate as much as possible, but decide on a case-by-case basis which information is actually useful.

By the way: Have you ever wondered how some page managers manage to get rating stars in search results? Such extensions are also based on metadata, more precisely on extended structured data or “rich snippets”.

Measure 8:

Link building

If we have so far described measures from the SEO area of ​​on-page optimization, we now come to off-page optimization.

The main discipline of this SEO sub-area is so-called link building, which aims to improve the ranking by building backlinks (back links).

If the links come from thematically relevant and trustworthy domains, they help the Google crawler find websites better, visit them more often and classify them as more valuable.

Visitors can also be attracted to their own online content by cleverly placed, further links.

As with on-site content, the following has long been the rule for backlinks: Quality comes before quantity!

Nowadays, the Google algorithm also recognizes inferior links, so that unfair link building (such as links bought from abroad) can lead to a penalty.

Note: The sub-area SEO-Offsite is already quite complex and varied in itself.

Measure 9:

Don’t succumb to the dark side of SEO!

As already mentioned, over-optimized pages are rated negatively by Google. There were times when Google let itself be tricked with different factors, so that a webpage could be relatively easily “pushed” into the top rankings with the help of schematic tactics.

But thanks to the algorithm updates “Panda” and “Pinguin”, the Google ranking can no longer be manipulated sustainably through dodgy methods such as keyword stuffing. Rather, the deliberate violation of Google’s search engine guidelines can lead to being excluded from the Google index.

And believe us: Google recognizes and evaluates all data that could be associated with web spam – this applies to page content as well as to backlinks!

You should therefore avoid agencies that work with so-called Black Hat SEO methods to manipulate the ranking. You only risk that Google will penalize your website and, in the worst case, your users will no longer be able to find it at all.

Data driven SEO – data driven SEO

Search engine optimization has been very data-driven for years and this trend will clearly continue to emerge in 2021. In times of GDPR guidelines, in which the measurable amounts of data have been reduced by 60% and more, there is a great challenge for search engine optimizers and web analysts. Which data are actually still available and how can they continue to be used sensibly? Many data sources (Google Search Console, Google Analytics but also data sources from third-party providers and tools from the SEO environment) have to be connected to one another and interpreted in a meaningful way in order to design an optimal SEO strategy and incorporate it into an online marketing concept.

Measure 10:

Exercise patience; the SEO impact latency

You have taken all of our tips to heart and are now wondering how long it will take for these SEO measures to improve your Google results? Perhaps you are impatiently clicking the update icon in the search engine results over and over again?

Let it be. When exactly an SEO brings the first results cannot be determined across the board.

The time it takes for the first  ranking improvements to  occur is influenced by many different factors, for example how heavily the keywords you use are advertised. Even if you as a website operator have only just gained a foothold on the World Wide Web, Google must first get to know your content and classify it as “trustworthy”.

Specifically, how long does it take for the optimization to take effect?

In the following video from the Google Webmaster Channel on YouTube, Maile Ohye gives a guideline for how long it takes on average for SEO measures to lead to changes:  between four and 12 months.

thumbnail video how long does seo take

(you can find the said point in the video at 1:40 a.m.)

Also consider: Many SEO factors revolve around the question of what experience the users have with your website. This user behavior must first be collected and analyzed by the search engines.

This is the only way for Google to weigh up whether your content delivers the results that users actually want in relation to their query. Of course, this process takes some time – especially with off-page measures such as link building, you have to show perseverance.

Local SEO / Local SEO – a question of reach

You now have a first overview of some SEO measures with which you can improve the rankings in the Google search results in general.

There is also a special SEO solution for business models that want to focus on a specific region: local search engine optimization.

This fulfills the task of showing the user the most detailed information possible about service providers in their immediate vicinity. Local SEO is therefore basically interesting for companies of all sizes, since the optimization primarily aims to reach potential new customers regionally.

Are you also interested in improving your Google ranking in local search? The first step in getting your website to appear on Google Maps is to sign up for Google My Business for free .

BLOG POST ON THE SUBJECT

Local SEO – Basics and Tips for Local Search. Read about local SEO.

Guide: Implementation of SEO

The most important things again in brief

The search engine Google has undergone a major change in recent years. Thanks to intelligent algorithms, the age of Google trickery is finally over.

Keyword analyzes and backlinks are still relevant from a technical point of view, but the focus is now on  usability and user experience , i.e. the added value that really excellent content offers.

Holistic SEO  therefore always means the well-thought-out interplay of interdisciplinary processes. SEO is also a dynamic specialty of online marketing.

What is current today may contradict the Google algorithm tomorrow. You have to stay on the ball all the time so as not to lose the overview. SEO is a full-time job.

We would be happy to support you in your plan to offer your visitors unprecedented, creative content that is currently in demand.

You can find even more interesting facts from the world of online marketing in our blog. If you would like to find out more about professional search engine services, SEO, and YouTube Optimization, we would be delighted to meet you personally!

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