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SEO: A Comprehensive Guide

SEO Guide

SEO: A Comprehensive Guide

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The most beautiful website is useless if nobody sees it. But how can you draw users’ attention effectively and sustainably? The answer is very simple: SEO – Search Engine Optimization! If your website is at the top of the results on search engines like Google, you will continuously generate new visitors. We’ll show you how to do it.

Article Summary

  1. What is SEO?
  2. Why is SEO so important?
  3. Improve ranking.
  4. SEO Strategies.
  5. Use of SEO agencies.

What is ” Search Engine Optimization (SEO) “?

Search Engine Optimization – SEO for short – describes all measures that improve the visibility of a website in search engines in an organic way. It is increasingly about offering website visitors an outstanding user experience – for example through valuable content and fast loading times.

What is SEO Marketing?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization” and is an important part of online marketing. The aim of this optimization is to better position websites for certain keywords in search engines such as Google. The higher the search result ranking of a page, the higher its visibility and consequently the higher the number of visitors.

SEO takes a lot of time and work, but it produces lasting results. The situation is different with so-called Search Engine Advertising (SEA), the search engine advertising: Here, good placement in the search results is paid for. This will help you get results faster, but once you stop showing ads, they’ll fizzle out just as quickly.

The counterpart to SEO, by the way, is paid advertising like with Google Ads. SEO and SEA are summarized under the umbrella term Search Engine Marketing (SEM), i.e. search engine marketing.

How many types of SEO are there?

SEO is a sub-area that itself consists of many different areas. These are:

  • Keyword research: Analysis of which search terms are relevant for an industry and how a good ranking can be achieved for these keywords.
  • Technical SEO : Optimization of the technical basis of websites (loading speed, crawling and indexing ) and a prerequisite for further measures in on-page optimization.
  • On-page optimization : optimization of structure, content and metadata.
  • Off-page optimization: Establishing internal and external links (link building).
  • Mobile SEO: Optimizing a website for mobile devices.
  • Local SEO : Positioning a website in the local search results.
  • SEO KPIs: Evaluation of the corresponding key figures.

The basics of search engine optimization go even further, however. For example, a distinction is made between strategic and tactical search engine optimization. The tactical level focuses on optimizing content and technology.

The strategic part aims to turn a website into a digital entity for Google, i.e. an image of the company’s brand. This means that the domain gains the highest possible authority in one or more subject areas that represent the company.

To put it simply: Only focus on what you offer and present on your website – this is the only way Google understands that you are the expert in this field and that you are disseminating relevant content. Keyword analyzes and linking strategies are an important part of strategic SEO.

Why is SEO so important?

The Google ranking does not come about by chance but follows clear rules. SEO helps you to implement these rules correctly and thus increase the visibility of your website.

The importance of SEO stems from the way search engines work. These search the Internet continuously with the help of so-called web crawlers. These are programs that automatically search for information on the web and collect data in the process. You are responsible for ensuring that web pages are included in the index of Google and Co. . Search engines also use the collected data to rate and categorize websites. Important questions that will be answered in this context are:

  • Which topic is dealt with there?
  • How valuable is the site for visitors?
  • How do users interact with the site?

In the early days of SEO certain search engines were based on individual ranking factors, where a Web page in the search results page (SERP, Search Engine Result Page) showed up. Webmasters were careful to use the highest possible keyword density in their texts. Even early on, Google considered the number of links that lead to a page to be very important.

Marketers, therefore, began to buy links or post them in publicly accessible areas of the Internet. However, these measures did not contribute to the quality of the web content, which is why Google pulled the ripcord soon afterward.

Randomly placed links or poorly readable text wastes full of keywords were no longer rewarded; instead, high-quality content was promoted in the ranking. Over the years, Google presented new updates that refined the mechanisms of the search engine and expanded the algorithm.

Today, Google can process synonyms and increasingly also connections and semantic entities, i.e. record the relationships between individual words and sentences. The search results no longer only display links to websites, but also additional data.

Thanks to the Google Knowledge Graph, users no longer have to work their way through websites to find the information they want. Instead, you get an initial overview of many topics directly in the search results. This also offers completely new opportunities for marketers.

And the vision of the Semantic Web, in which all information is linked to one another, search engines can recognize meanings and help us organize our everyday lives, is becoming more and more realistic.

What do you do in SEO?

But that also means that search engine optimization has become very complex. It is no longer enough to enrich a text with as many keywords as possible. Over 200 ranking factors now determine how prominently a website is displayed in the SERPs.

These include:

  • Content
  • Backlinks
  • Loading time
  • Optimization for mobile devices
  • Awareness of the site
  • Brand names in relevant media
  • Location (if relevant for the result)

You can see where the whole thing is leading: If you don’t do SEO, you simply go under. In 2021 there were over 1.8 billion websites worldwide. Of course, you have to differentiate strongly here, but one thing is clear: If you want to get into the top 10 of Google search results, you can only do so with consistent search engine optimization.

Online Marketing Basics: How Does SEO Work?

Search engines are a kind of “gatekeeper” for all available content. According to a study by BrightEdge, organic search accounts for 53 percent of all web traffic – making it the strongest online marketing channel and crucial for the distribution of your content. SEO ensures that your content is found regardless of paid advertising or promotion on social media, newsletters, and other channels.

Another advantage: You can reach customers in all phases of the customer journey through systematic search engine optimization. For example, you can use instructions, guidelines, or infographics on your website to address people who have only just become aware of a topic and would like to find out more.

You can offer e-books, reviews, or product demonstrations to those who are considering purchasing a product. In the decision-making phase, references, free samples, and discount campaigns come into play.

You can find potential customers everywhere. But it is crucial that they find you too! In the following, you will find out which steps you have to take from an SEO point of view.

How do you do SEO? 4 steps to a better ranking

How do you do SEO? Search engine optimization consists of numerous individual processes that only lead to the goal when combined in a meaningful way. In this section, we introduce you to the four most important SEO steps that you can use to improve your ranking in search engine results.

1) The inventory: SEO audit and keyword research

Before you start with search engine optimization, you should do a thorough study of your target audience. Google prefers high-quality content that corresponds to the search intentions of the users. In order to be able to deliver exactly this content, you need to know the search intentions of your customers. Ask yourself about this:

  • What problems are my target group facing?
  • What do my customers hope to find on Google?

This is followed by keyword researchBrainstorm which terms and questions users could enter into search engines on your topic. If you type these directly into various search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, or Ecosia, you will be shown further suggestions thanks to the autocomplete function. The SEO tool Answer The Public can also provide you with inspiration.

There are various SEO tools for evaluating the keyword ideas that have been collected. Some of them bring a lot of other important SEO functions with them, but they are comparatively expensive. A free keyword tool like Ubersuggest is enough to get you started.

Enter the keywords you have collected and make a note of the search volume and SEO difficulty level. The latter indicates how competitive a term is in search engines. The perfect keyword has the following characteristics: It has a high search volume but a low competitive value.

SEO tips for keyword research

When selecting search terms, pay attention to the so-called “Paid Difficulty”. If a particularly large number of advertisements are shown for a term, this indicates that it is targeting a clientele willing to pay.

Use not only individual head keywords but also long-tail keywords of at least four words and more. Customers who use such descriptive phrases are more likely to convert.

Next, check which of your pages is already being crawled by Google and which content has not yet been captured. A log file analysis is particularly suitable for this.

Another component of a thorough SEO audit is the analysis of SEO-relevant key figures such as loading time and checking the website with regard to its structure, mobile optimization, and meaningful links or non-functioning links. Only through such an SEO check will you know which adjustments you need to turn in the future.

2) On-page SEO: Optimize your own website

On-page SEO is understood to mean all optimizations that you can carry out directly on your website. It is best to dedicate yourself to technical SEO first – because if the basis is not right, all further improvements cannot fully develop their effect.

Check whether your website is already SSL encrypted. You can recognize this by the small lock on the far left in the address line of your browser and the beginning of the URL “HTTPS”. Pages whose URLs begin with “HTTP” transmit data unencrypted and are therefore considered to be insecure. If your website is one of them, it’s best to upgrade quickly, because the missing “s” in the URL throws you back in the Google ranking.

Then focus on optimizing for mobile devices. All content should be easy to consume on every device. Make sure, for example, that the font on smartphone displays is not too small, that images are not cut off unfavorably, and that all forms, buttons, and links are easy to click on. Responsive design is an important keyword here.

The loading time of your website is also essential for search engine optimization. Nobody likes slow pages – not even your customers. In Google PageSpeed ​​Insights you can have the loading time of your website analyzed and receive suggestions for improvement based on this. It often helps to reduce the file size of photos and graphics.

Content marketing is essential in today’s SEO. Provide high-quality content on a regular basis that matches your customers’ search intentions. Offer added value, answer all frequently asked questions about your topics, and give useful tips.

You should place relevant keywords in a well-dosed and targeted manner. Put your main keyword in the headline and at least one subheading, as well as several times in the body text, in the URL, and in the metadata such as the page title. Each page should be optimized for a different keyword so that you don’t compete with yourself in search results.

Your content should be unique. If you copy your competition, this will be counted as duplicated content and will be penalized accordingly by the algorithm. And duplicate content is also harmful to your own website. You should therefore regularly check that you do not have any duplicate content and remove it if necessary.

The structure of your website is also important :

  • Can all important content be reached with just a few clicks?
  • Is the content linked internally in a meaningful way?

SEO tips for onpage optimization

The clearer and more logical your website are, the better crawlers can search through it and record it in the Google index. If necessary, you can also help and use the robot’s meta tags to tell the crawlers which pages they are allowed to view and index and which are not (“noindex”).

Google also assesses your content for timeliness. So make sure you have regular updates and new content to signal to the search engines that your website is up to date and offers relevant added value.

Before you publish new content, you should optimize it for the Google snippets, because these often decide whether users click the link to your website in the search results. To do this, you should briefly outline the topic in the heading. You can place a teaser and, if necessary, a call to action in this description. If the headline and description are too long, they will be cut off in the snippet – so keep them as short as possible.

3) Off-page SEO: Link building and Co.

You cannot directly influence all SEO factors. Some are outside of your website and are therefore grouped under the term off-page SEO. These include in particular link building, reputation management, and various social media factors.

One of the focal points with which off-page SEO works are so-called backlinks. Backlinks are links that point to your page from other websites. They are understood by search engines as a recommendation and thus show that your content is of high quality. On the other hand, links from inferior or unrelated pages can also damage your ranking. When building backlinks, it is therefore important to proceed carefully and strategically.

For example, a best practice is to write a guest article for a related blog. At the end of the article, there is an author box from which you can link to your website.

The so-called ” content syndication ” can also bring you high-quality backlinks. In doing so, you promote existing content from your website through third-party providers with high authority. As a rule, such texts are provided with the sentence “This article originally appeared on the website …” and a link to you as the author.

SEO tips for off-page optimization

Mark links that you pay for or that are set in publicly accessible areas such as forums with the attribute “nofollow”. As a result, search engines understand that this link is not equivalent to a recommendation and rate it differently. Nofollow links have no direct influence on your ranking, but they are part of a natural link profile.

You land the big hit when the name of your company or your brand is mentioned in a positive context in well-known media or on well-known websites and provided with a link. Reputation management and good press work are therefore part of a comprehensive SEO strategy.

Another point to keep an eye out for when it comes to off-page SEO: social media. It is controversial whether shares and likes on Facebook, Twitter, and Co. have a positive effect on the ranking of your website – in any case, these signals are an indicator of the quality of the content, can increase the traffic to your site and at that help other companies to become aware of your content and, in the best case, set a backlink.

4) Measure the performance

In order to make an SEO strategy sustainable and to be able to adapt it to new developments, it is important to regularly evaluate the results of previous measures. The top dog among the analysis tools is still Google Analytics, with which you can determine all relevant statistics and figures about your website traffic. In order to approach such measurements in a structured way, we recommend that you orientate yourself on the “6 R’s of search engine optimization”:

1) Relevance

Which search terms are relevant for your company? You can measure this with the help of keyword tools. Important KPIs are search volume, competitive value, and paid difficulty.

2) Reach

How visible is your website in search results compared to your competition? KPIs at this point is the number and volume of search terms with which your domain appears in the search engines, as well as the positions that you occupy for these keywords.

3) Rankings

What positions are you in with your relevant keywords? This is not so easy to answer because Google includes the search history of the users as well as the linguistic, geographical, and temporal context when ranking.

Analyze how often you are in the top 1, 3, 10, or 100, the ratio of brand-related and non-brand-related search queries, and the average ranking you have for the top terms.

4) Response (Interactions)

How many people click on your page in organic search results? There’s no point in people seeing your page in search results but not responding to it. The relevant key figure here is the click rate (CTR).

5) reaction

What actions do the visitors take on your website? Pay particular attention to the values ​​for the indicators churn rate, length of stay, pages per visit, and conversion rate.

6) Results

And now the price question: Does search engine optimization pave the way for economic success for you? You can check this on the basis of conversion rates and micro-conversions such as newsletter registrations, submitted reviews, or created wish lists.

In our practical guide, we will show you how to get a complete SEO report step by step.

SEO tips for performance analysis

Since June 2021, Google has introduced the so-called Core Web Vitals. These are Google metrics that evaluate the user-friendliness of desktop and mobile websites. The Google Search Console provides you with up-to-date reports and insights that you should definitely take into account in your performance analysis.

What is the most important SEO strategy?

Everything we have conveyed to you so far is part of a structured, successful SEO strategy. But the most important thing is this: Never rest on your current strategy, no matter how effective it may be. Why?

Search engines are constantly developing and with search engine optimization. An example: Where it used to be important to incorporate a keyword of the same name into a text as often as possible and to accumulate backlinks, today it is primarily about user-friendliness. Visitors to your website should feel comfortable and find exactly the information they were looking for.

Since Google’s BERT update in October 2019, the focus of the algorithms has shifted significantly. The motto now applies: Write for people, not search engines. Google recognizes synonyms and increasingly also linguistic connections. The extent to which this trend will continue and which developments in SEO have to be taken into account is currently hotly debated by SEO experts.

The fact is: Marketing teams have to actively monitor developments in order to be able to react flexibly to them. Using the following five examples, you can see the importance of search engine optimization in various areas of the Internet and where it is used everywhere.

1) voice search

More and more people are no longer typing in a search query, but are using the voice search. This makes search queries more complex and diverse.

Instead of individual keywords, people enter entire sentences or questions – just as it corresponds to natural language usage. Voice assistants then turn these into text, search external data sources, and read out the best one or two results. Anyone who is not in the top 2 in the search results is not mentioned. So the sooner you adjust to voice search, the better!

2) Image search

In the conventional SERPS, it is becoming more and more difficult to achieve good placements because of the increasing competition. In contrast, it is comparatively easy in the image search.

You can take advantage of this by systematically optimizing the images on your website. It is essential that your images have the smallest possible file size and that the filename, title attribute, and alt tag are appropriately equipped with keywords. Optimized images play an important role, especially in e-commerce.

3) Amazon-SEO

On Amazon, too, you can influence the position in which your products rank in the search results. However, the Amazon algorithm pays attention to different elements and values ​​than classic search engines. The product title is particularly important: you should include keywords, brand, unique selling points, and other important product features in a maximum of 200 characters.

In contrast to Google and Co., it still works on Amazon to store a number of invisible keywords. You can do this quickly and easily under “Product Settings” in Seller Central. If you then post appealing product photos, nothing stands in the way of a top ranking.

4) YouTube-SEO

The video platform YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. Accordingly, it can be worthwhile for your company to operate video marketing and optimize it for YouTube.

The playback time of the individual videos, but also of the entire channel, is essential for the ranking. You should therefore create visually appealing, high-quality clips that let your audience know in the first 15 seconds why they should keep watching.

Keywords also play a role: it is best to include your main keyword in the file name, title, and video description. If you set subtitles, YouTube can read the keywords from these as well. You should also use tags to facilitate the thematic classification of your contribution.

5) App store optimization

If you offer an app in the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store, you are competing with millions of other apps there. Fortunately, you can use App Store Optimization (ASO) to make sure your program is found.

Ranking factors in app stores include quality, timeliness, and user signals such as downloads and ratings. So if you deliver a high-quality app that really inspires users, your search will automatically be easier. In addition, you can include relevant keywords in the title, description, and URL.

What does an SEO agency do?

An SEO agency is a service provider that helps customer websites to achieve higher organic placements in the search engine rankings. Put simply, such an agency will take over all of the tasks that we have presented in this SEO guide. Why we come to this: Many SEO newbies are unsure of whether they should consult an SEO agency or not – let alone what to look for in it.

When does an SEO agency make sense?

The most common reasons why companies hire an SEO agency are either because of a lack of time or expertise, or both. As mentioned earlier, search engine optimization is a very long and tedious process that is never completed. To operate really successful SEO, a simple understanding of the basics is not enough. So ask yourself:

  • Do I have the time to familiarize myself intensively with the individual areas of SEO?
  • Do I have the resources to carry out all SEO measures myself?

If not, consider an SEO agency. This can either support you in part or take over the search engine optimization entirely for you, as soon as an appropriate SEO strategy has been established.

How do you recognize a good SEO agency?

SEO agencies are a dime a dozen. If you don’t have a recommendation, it can be very difficult to assess the quality of an SEO agency in advance. But this point is also the most important – after all, you are placing a large part of your future business development in the hands of others. When making your selection, pay attention to the following points :

  • Holistic SEO Strategy: Experienced SEOs know that they have to take all factors into account. Never get involved in standard packages!
  • Updated tactics: SEO is changing and with it the work of an SEO agency. Those who still advocate keyword density may not be the best choice.
  • Content quality: If you would like to entrust the content management to an SEO agency, then make sure that they value quality guidelines of integrity, high-quality content and varied formats that appeal to your target group. This may also mean that blog articles or news alone are not enough.
  • No promises: Stay away from knockers that promise you “guaranteed top places” or other utopias. The fact is: Nobody can foresee how SEO measures will affect what time, because countless factors are at work here. Contact agencies who can explain realistic goals and clear procedures to you.

Conclusion: SEO is so important in online marketing

Search engine optimization is an important driving force for your economic success in marketing. If you want to gain a foothold in the internet world and become visible, you have to understand how search engines work and which rules are used to determine a search result ranking. In order to get top placements in the SERPS, you need a well-thought-out SEO strategy that fits your offer and the wishes of your target group.

Keep in mind, however, that SEO is a tedious and resource-intensive task that spans a wide variety of areas. For this reason, this is usually done by internal SEO managers or external online marketing agencies who take care of certain sub-areas such as link building or content.

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