SEO: Introduction to search engine optimization at a glance
First steps for beginners
If you want to improve the appearance of your website in Google Search and are ready to invest some time to learn more about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Console, here is a starting guide. You don’t have to be an expert on HTML or programming, but you should take some time to think about the organization and content of your website. You should also be ready to change these if necessary. With just a little effort, you can significantly improve the ranking of your search results.
- Register with the Search Console. Registration is free and there are no upgrades or paid services. You will also be notified if Google detects unusual activity on your website, such as crawling problems or signs of hacking activity.
- Enter the ownership of your website and confirm this. You’ll need to prove that you own your website, as Search Console contains information about your website that only website owners should be aware of. You can also make changes that affect the way your website appears in Google search results.
- Read our introduction to using the Search Console. If you do not receive notification from us about problems found, it is usually sufficient for normal users to subject the website to a quick check once a month.
- Familiarize yourself with the basics of Google search. After that, the information contained in this article will be much more understandable for you. It also makes it much easier to fix errors.
- Read our starting guide to search engine optimization (SEO). If you follow the best practices in this guide, Google can find, understand, and properly display your website in search results. Don’t let the wealth of information put you off – just read through the guide in peace.
- Think about whether it would make sense for you to hire a search engine optimizer. Many small website owners take care of search engine optimization themselves. If you read our documentation carefully, you can become an SEO expert yourself! However, some small website owners (and almost all large ones) seek help from a professional SEO expert to improve their presence in Google search results. If you’re thinking about hiring a professional SEO expert, this guide is relevant to you.
- If, after learning the basics, you would like to delve deeper into the topics of SEO or Search Console, you can find more information on SEO here .
How Google Search Works (For Beginners)
Google receives information from many different sources, such as:
- Web pages.
- Content submitted by users, e.g. in Google My Business and Maps.
- Book scans.
- public databases on the Internet.
- and much more.
In this article, we limit ourselves to websites. The following three steps turn web pages into search results:
The first step is to determine which pages exist on the web. There is no central directory of all websites. Therefore, Google has to keep looking for new pages and adding them to its list of known pages. Some pages are known because they were previously accessed by Google. Others are discovered when Google follows a link from a known page that points to a new one. Still, other pages are found when a website owner submits a list of pages – called a sitemap – for Google to crawl. If you are using a managed web host, such as Wix or Blogger, this service may inform Google that updated or new pages you have created need to be crawled.
As soon as Google detects a page URL, the page is accessed or crawled to determine the content of the page. Google renders the page and analyzes both text-based and non-text-based content, as well as the overall visual layout, to decide where it can appear in search results. The better Google understands your website, the better we can match it to the people looking for your content.
Here’s how you can improve crawling for your website :
- Make sure that Google can access your website’s pages and that they look correct. Google accesses the web as an anonymous user, i.e. as a user without passwords or login data. Google needs to be able to see all the images and other elements of the page in order to properly understand them. If you want to check this quickly, you can enter the page URL into the mobile optimization test tool .
- If you’ve created or updated a single page, you can submit a single URL to Google . If you want to notify Google of many new or updated pages at once, use a sitemap .
- If you’re making a single page crawl request on Google, it should be your home page. For Google, your homepage is the most important page of your website. In order for your website to be fully crawled, make sure that the navigation system on your home page (and all other pages) contains links to all important areas and pages of the website. This allows users and Google to find their way around your website better. For smaller websites (fewer than 1,000 pages), it is sufficient to just make Google aware of your homepage – provided that Google can access all other pages via a path with links that starts on your homepage.
- It helps if there is a link to your page on another page that Google already knows. Note, however , that links in ads, links that you pay for on other websites, links in comments or other links that do not comply with Google’s guidelines for webmasters will be ignored.
Google doesn’t accept payments to crawl or rank a website more often. If you heard otherwise, you have been misinformed.
After a page is found, Google tries to understand what the page is about. This process is called indexing. Google analyzes the content of the page, catalogs the images and video files embedded on the page, and tries other ways to understand the page. This information is stored in the Google index, a huge database made up of countless computers.
Here’s how you can improve the indexing of your pages :
- Create short, meaningful titles for the pages.
- Use page headings that convey the topic of the page.
- Use text instead of images to convey content. Google can understand pictures and videos to some extent, but not as well as text. At least add alternative text and other attributes to your videos and images.
Inclusion in search results and ranking
When a user enters a search query, Google tries to find the most relevant answer in its index based on numerous factors. Google tries to find the best quality results and includes other aspects that will provide the most useful and the most pertinent answer. Circumstances are taken into accounts, such as the location of the user, the language, and the device used, i.e. whether the search is on a computer or smartphone. For example, a user in Paris looking for a “bicycle repair shop” receives different answers than a user in Hong Kong. Google doesn’t accept payments to rank a website higher. The ranking is done automatically.
This is how you can improve the inclusion in the search results and the ranking :
- Your site needs to load quickly and be optimized for mobile devices.
- Put useful content on your website and update it regularly.
- Follow Google’s guidelines for webmasters to help you design a user-friendly site.
- For more tips and best practices, check out our Start Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
- You can find more information here , including the guidelines we provide to our evaluators to help us deliver good results .
An even longer answer
Would you like to know more about how Google Search works? Then read the advanced guide on how Google Search works.
Introduction to indexing
The indexing of your content by Google is determined by system algorithms in which the requirements of the users and quality checks are taken into account. You can influence Google’s indexing process depending on how you manage the recognition of your content. Basically, this recognition is based on the fact that the page URL is known to Google. Without the URLs of your pages, our systems have no way of crawling, indexing, and ultimately displaying your information in Google search. In this document, we will introduce you to the basic concept that is used for inclusion in the Google index. You will also be supported in deciding how you want to manage the recognition of your content by Google – i.e. the first step in the indexing process.
Ways to manage your resources for discovery by Google
You have the choice between several approaches to resource management, depending on whether and how Google recognizes your resources and data. The different approaches range from completely passive to very proactive management. This section describes the general options you can use to provide resource metadata – sitemaps and resource links – so that you can best position the content you want to appear in Google Search. While these approaches help Google find the URLs on your website, they are no guarantee that your content will be indexed and shown to users in search results.
If you create a website without providing a sitemap, our systems will try to find and index the content of your website, unless you specifically block your content from crawlers. Typically, Google systems crawl the relationships between your pages and the pages of other websites linked to your content. For more information, see the implementation guide.
|Pros: No additional work beyond creating your content is required. This approach is suitable if you have a simple website and you don’t need real-time content detection in search results.||Disadvantages: Since only natural links can be used to identify the content, our systems may not be able to find all of the content on your website. This is especially true for new content and content with only a few references. This can cause problems with new content that you would like to appear in Google Search, such as: For example, content that you have specially marked up for inclusion in the rich search results.|
Active management of your URLs
If you provide our systems with a direct list of the URLs to your content – a so-called sitemap – we are no longer limited to finding your pages solely based on their relationship to other referring pages on the web. This enables our systems to identify your content more quickly. Typically, you host the sitemap on your domain in a location that Googlebot can access.
Also, if you have multiple URLs – e.g. For example, if you have an AMP page, an HTML page, and a mobile app view, whose content is essentially the same, it is helpful to indicate this relationship between the resources in question. If you indicate the relationship between your resources, our system can correctly provide the right content, for example, a link to your app or to your AMP pages. To do this, you set up the canonical pages for your website and a linking relationship between these pages and alternative web or app content. Once we understand the relationships between your various resources, we can determine what type of content should be shown to the user in search results. For users who search on their smartphone and have already installed your app, can this be a link to your app?
|Pros: The performance of your rich search results in Google Search is optimized. The inclusion of new content, as well as content with few references in the system, is accelerated. This approach removes a potential obstacle that could otherwise stand in the way of Google’s quick delivery of your content in various forms.||Disadvantages: You also have to provide resource metadata, i. H. your sitemap and the relationships you specify between your websites, your app, and your AMP pages.|
Submit new and updated URLs to Google
So that your sitemap is recognized by our systems, you can simply host it on your website. You also have the option of sending us notifications via new URLs or existing URLs with changed content.
If you send us your sitemap, we will recognize new URLs faster. If content changes under existing URLs, you can provide us with an XML sitemap with time stamps for the changes to inform us about changed content that can be re-indexed.
When our systems receive the URL list, we determine when to crawl the content. For the content we have crawled, we determine whether the resource is available on your server. This process is known as “verification”. Then we prepare this content for our indexing process.
|Pros: If you send URLs to Google, changes to the content can be transferred from your domain to Google search more quickly.||Cons: There aren’t many. Once you’ve finished creating a sitemap, you can easily send it to Google. Many content management systems also provide programmatic updates to the sitemap.|
For more information about sitemaps and the reasons, you might need a sitemap for your website, see Search Console Help.