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Search Engine Optimization Tutorial: Mastering SEO Essentials

Search Engine Optimization Tutorial: Mastering SEO Essentials

SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization," a subset of the broader field of search engine marketing. It's a multifaceted digital marketing discipline aimed at boosting a website's visibility in the unpaid, organic results of search engines like Google. The practice involves a range of techniques, including keyword research, on-page content optimization, technical SEO adjustments, and off-page strategies like backlink acquisition. Unlike search engine marketing, which often involves paid advertising, SEO focuses solely on organic ranking factors to increase website traffic and visibility. Effective SEO is integral to a comprehensive search engine marketing strategy, serving as a cornerstone for driving organic user engagement and business growth.

It is the practice of increasing the number of visitors to a website via free (organic) search results on search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or Bing.

Let’s say, for example, you are looking for the perfect Valentine's Day present, and I’d like to give your girlfriend a beautiful pearl necklace.

You type “pearl necklace set” or “pearl necklace price” in Google.

You notice that there are results that appear organically and others that come from paid advertising.

SEO helps any brand stay on top of the search results without paying for clicks.

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What is involved in SEO

The items that are involved in SEO are:

  • Quality of traffic: Visitors are genuinely interested in your product or service. Since you are interested in a pearl necklace, you are a high-quality type of traffic for jewelry stores near your location.
  • Quantity of traffic: If the quality of the visits is ideal, more traffic is always better. For the example mentioned above, the more people like you that visit the page, the better. Because you are most likely going to convert.
  •  Organic results: all the traffic you do not have to pay for. If you decide to click on one of the options that is not an ad, your click becomes part of an organic result. The jewelry store you clicked on didn’t have to pay for your click; they caught your attention because they stood out from the competition.

You may be wondering now, how does SEO work?

Every search engine has a crawler – a series of internet bots that systematically browses the World Wide Web triggered every time you hit the search button.

Crawlers return the information to the search engines and build an index.

Then, an algorithm - a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer - matches all the data with your query.

Factors affecting SEO

Several factors are considered important when speaking of a search engine’s algorithm. A group of experts ranked their importance regarding the SE (Search Engine) part of SEO:

  • Domain-level, link authority features: (e.g., quality of links to the domain, trust/quality of links to the domain, domain-level page rank, etc.) – 20.94%
  • Page-level link features: (e.g. Page rank, trust, quantity of link links, anchor text distribution, quality of sources, etc.) – 19.15%
  • Page-level keyword and content features: (e.g., topic modeling scores on content, content quality/relevance, etc.) – 14.94%
  • Page-level, keyword, agnostic features (e.g., content length, readability, uniqueness, load speed, etc.) – 9.8%
  • Domain-level brand features: (e.g., offline usage of brand-domain name, mentions of brand/domain in news/media/press, entity association, etc.) – 8.59%
  • User, usage & traffic/query data: (e.g., traffic/usage signals from browsers/toolbars/clickstream, quantity/diversity/CTR of queries, etc.) – 8.06%
  • Social metrics: (e.g., quantity/quality of tweeted links, Facebook shares, Google +1s, etc.) – 7.24%
  • Domain-level keyword usage (e.g., exact-match keyword domains, partial-keyword matches, etc.) – 6.98%
  • Domain-level keyword-agnostic features (e.g., domain name length, TLD extension, domain HTTP response time, etc.) – 5.21%
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The optimization aspect of SEO

The O in SEO stands for optimization.

This can take many forms; it may involve enhancing Title tags and Meta descriptions to be informative and point out strategic internal links.

Now, you may wonder: How do I make my site appear in Google?

It’s not an easy process, but you can achieve it with great SEO!

Great content will encourage people to link to your pages and show Google that your pages are interesting and authoritative.

It is your job to create authority pages.

This involves writing content about topics that people will find useful. The more useful your content is, the more it will be shared in blogs and social media.

Let’s go back to the example above. Let’s say you pick one of the organic results and purchase your mother’s gift at a luxurious jewelry store.

You and your mom are happy about the product, so if you ever need anything similar as a gift, you can always pick the same jewelry store.

You will want to know their new releases and special holiday promotions.

You will probably now follow them on Facebook and Instagram, subscribe to their mailing list, and read a blog or two now and then.

You may also stumble upon a question in a forum and direct a couple of users to this jewelry store’s website (creating a backlink).

The more you share and engage with their content, the more you are helping their ranking because you show the search engine that this website is relevant to jewelry stores.

You chose to purchase from this website because it was easy to find. Their words and phrases were relevant to what the website was offering, and you found exactly what you were looking for.

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On-site SEO

This refers to activities on a website to improve organic visibility.

To make your site more accessible, much of it has to do with the relevance of your content and experience for users.

You may want to consider the following:

  • Site optimization: Website structure and internal navigation.
  • URL Structure: The URL structure of your site is very powerful, believe it or not. If it is easy to read, the search engines and users will find it easy to understand what content the page has. You may want to include relevant keywords in your URLs as well.
  • Meta Descriptions: The meta description is the HTML property that summarizes your website (usually 160 characters). Search engines use this meta description to display what the page is about and influence high click-through rates. It is a good practice to include the long tail keyword you are using in the URL and match that with your meta description.
  • H1 Tags: Websites may have several headings and titles as part of the content. The H1 tag is typically used for the main title of the page.
  • H2 Tags: The H2 tag is a subheading. The best practice is that it includes similar keywords to the H1 tag.
  • Internal Linking: These links allow you to connect your site's content from one page to the other. It also gives Google an idea of your website's different groups (“hierarchy”). Usually, the pages with the most internal links have the most value.
  • Keyword research: Analysis of the most frequently used phrases that potential buyers search for regarding your product/service.
  • Website auditing: Ensure your website is free from errors and things that can hinder the user experience while navigating it.
  • User experience: Making sure that the content is useful and shows expertise.

To create the best content, you must fully understand the person buying.

Here are a few questions you may want to consider:

  • What are the types of (your product/service) that people look for? (e.g., What are the types of women's shoes that people look for? High heels or sneakers?)
  • Who is searching for these terms?
  • When are people searching for (your product)? (specific holiday, specific days of the week, specific hours)
  • Are there seasonal trends throughout the year?
  • How are people searching for (your product)?
  • What words do they use?
  • What questions do they ask?
  • Are more searches performed on mobile devices?
  • Why are people seeking (your product)?
  • Where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?
  • How can you help provide the best content about (your product) to cultivate a community and fulfill what all those people are searching for?

Link Building

Also known as offsite SEO, link building is a perfect way of acquiring votes of trust for your site’s content.

It’s quite simple: no one will mention your website if the content is not true, relevant, and original.

Links from websites and pages with more trust will transfer much value to another website.

Keep in mind that the quality of links is very important.

For this, you may need to do some outreach yourself.

Some of the steps to do this will be:

  1. Prospect and qualify relevant link opportunities (test different outreach strategies to improve response rate)
  2. Build relationships within each opportunity
  3. Request link placement on defined websites (previously qualified by you and your team).
  4. Create content yourself or hire someone else to do it for you

As you see, this is a process that every company needs to define on their own.

Communication with other entities, journalists, bloggers, and influencers will be beneficial.

How will you know if a link is valuable?

Consider the quality of the referral traffic. Keep a wary eye for the relationship and relevancy of the site referring to yours.

This brings up a good question: Should you buy backlinks?

As you see the steps needed for you to acquire backlinks by doing outreach, you would not be buying backlinks; you would be buying an entire process.

Don’t worry; I’m sure you’re not the only one who has thought about this.

I think it may seem like a way to save time and get results easier.

But I want you to consider something:

It can be dangerous!

Buying backlinks is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Google is pretty smart; if you get caught, they will act against your site.

This will affect your organic traffic.

For more information regarding SEO, I found these articles really helpful:

 What about ROI?

It is no secret that SEO is a long-term game. With this being said, be sure to create a solid content strategy.

The truth is, however, that there is no standard x + y = z when it comes to SEO.

However, there are two ways in which you can keep track of your SEO efforts:

1.      You notice an increase in organic traffic.

Google Analytics (as well as many other reporting tools) may provide information on the amount of traffic you acquire through organic search.

2.      New Inbound Links to your website

This can be reviewed with tools such as MOZ, SEMRush, AHREFS, and Google Search Console.

Having a strategy in place will allow you to measure your successes is important.

This applies to SEO efforts as well.

Remember, SEO is a long-term goal. This means you need to concentrate on getting higher-quality traffic and ultimately making them convert well.

Can your website be found without SEO?

It can, but not on the first pages of search results. Search engines are smart, but you can still help them with the correct SEO strategies.

The internet is a highly competitive space. The companies who perform SEO will have a decided advantage in visibility, visits, and customers.

You can perform SEO for yourself. The internet has guidelines and steps to achieve the best results organically.

Essentially, the success of your efforts will be limited by the amount of time you can dedicate to learning and how complex your website is.

I hope this post helped you see the great benefits of investing time and effort in creating SEO for your company. If you need help with SEO, talk to one of our growth specialists at gardenpatch today!

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