SEO for Dummies: Get a Good Understanding of SEO in a Few Minutes

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When it comes to the success (or failure) of web pages, there’s nothing more important than SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

However, it’s also true that SEO is one of the most daunting things to learn and master for beginners.

The reason for this is simple – the majority of high-quality content on SEO that’s online has been created by experts who simply didn’t mean for their content to be accessed by amateurs.

As a result, there’s a lot of stuff that just flies past beginners’ heads way before they can even begin to understand what SEO is.

However, this post is different, because this one has been written specifically for those who have only scratched the surface of SEO.

So, if you don’t know much about SEO but are eager to, read on – this is the ultimate SEO for dummies 2021 guide.

Search engines – there’d be no SEO without them

We could have quite easily started with the all-too-familiar ‘what is SEO?’, but to truly understand what SEO is, we can’t skip search engines.

After all, without them, there’d be no SEO. So, in this section, we’ll take you through what search engines are and how they work.

Search engines are essentially tools that allow users to make queries, following which they find web content that matches the respective queries. Once search engines find what they’re looking for, they present the results to users in a ranked manner.

Every search engine is made up of two main building blocks – the search index and the search algorithm.

How Search Engine works

While a search index is a digital web page information library, a search algorithm is a computer program that ranks matching results based on the information in the search index.

These building blocks differ from one search engine to another. For instance, Google’s algorithm is different to that of Microsoft’s Bing.

However, all search engines share the same goal – to be the best in the business by providing users with the most relevant results based on their queries.

Understanding search index development

Now that you know a little bit about what search engines are, what they consist of and what their goals are, let’s go a bit deeper into understanding the development of search indexes.

We’ll focus on Google’s search index as Google is the world’s most popular search engine right now.

Google builds its index through the four following steps:

URL discovery: 

Google discovers URLs through numerous processes, among which three are known for being the most common – from sitemaps, from backlinks, and from URL submissions.

Sitemaps consist of the most critical pages on a particular website. For instance, if you have a website, you could submit its sitemap to a reputed search engine. This would increase the chances of your website being discovered by the search engine faster.

Sitemaps in Google

Backlinks also play an important part in URL discovery. If one of the existing pages on Google’s search index adds a link that directs users to a page on your website, it’s a backlink for your website. This is how backlinks work.

Crawling: 

Crawling involves visiting and downloading discovered URLs through computer bots known as spiders. For example, Google’s spider is known as Googlebot.

An important thing to remember is that different search engines crawl pages differently. For instance, Google crawls on the basis of factors such as the URL’s PageRank (more on PageRank later) and the frequency of the URL being changed.

Crawling has a telling impact on how fast your website is found by Google. If your website is a large one, search engines will take some time to crawl it fully.

Processing: 

The third step involves Google working for understanding and extracting vital information from the pages it crawled. Very little is known about how exactly Google performs this step, as the information has been strictly confined to Google’s ranks.

How Search Engine Works (2)

To process pages fully, Google needs to render them. During this process, Google runs the code of the page for understanding the way it appears for users.

However, occasionally, Google might do some of the processing before and/or after the rendering.

Indexing: 

The final step or indexing involves the information processed from all the crawled pages being added to the search index.

This search index is from where Google generates its results. A lot of internet users have the misconception that Google searches the entirety of the internet.

However, in reality, Google offers matching results after searching through its search index, which contains trillions of web pages.

Simply put, if a particular web page isn’t added to Google’s search index, there’s no way for it to appear on Google’s search results.

How Google ranks pages

Now, it’s time for us to shift our attention towards how Google ranks pages. It’s well-known that Google ranks pages based on more than a whopping 200 ranking factors. Most of these ranking factors remain unknown.

However, a few are public knowledge, such as relevance, backlinks, freshness, page speed, topical authority, and mobile-friendliness.
Google EAT
In recent years, Google has started personalizing search results to a great extent. Doing this has allowed Goggle to cater to individual tastes and preferences on the basis of certain factors such as:

  • Language
  • Location
  • Search history

More on this : Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List 

Where Does SEO Come Into The Picture?

In the last 2 decades, the surge in popularity of search engines, particularly Google, has been nothing short of stunning.

Ever-increasing access to high-speed internet connectivity has also led to the masses around the world flocking to search engines to find almost anything and everything they need.

In such a scenario, search engines have become ripe grounds for businesses to market their products and/or services.

While businesses can pay search engines to host advertisements (for example, pay-per-click advertising), it’s the organic results that most businesses are after. But why? And how do businesses get to those organic results?

Let’s answer the why first. Presently, organic search results are web traffic’s biggest drivers. Even if you combined all other traffic sources, you still wouldn’t get close to the web traffic that organic search results generate.

SEO vs SEM Traffic

Source : Brightedge 

  • Google is manipulating 92% of global web traffic.
  • Google handles over 7 billion researches per day (that is 2.5 trillion searches per year.)
  • SEO runs about 100% more traffic compared to paid traffic.
  • 64% of online marketers reinvest in SEO.

This is where Search Engine Optimization or SEO comes into play. It can be defined as a process that is undertaken to ensure that a website and all its pages are optimized to rank on search engines. SEO processes vary based on the search engines that a website is being optimized for.

For instance, if you’re optimizing a website for Bing, you wouldn’t optimize it the same way for Google.

Laying Solid SEO Foundations

Even though we’re into SEO and gradually understanding what needs to be done for good SEO, it’s important to lay the right foundations for it. In this section, we’ll take you through all the steps you need to take to set your website up for SEO.

Manual website submission on Google: 

There are two ways for your website to be found by Google. You can either wait for the search engine to find your website or you can manually submit the website to Google. We recommend doing the latter.

To do this, you need to know your sitemap. Finding a sitemap is quite easy. All you need to is enter one of these URLs in the browser – website.com/sitemap.xml or website.com/sitemap_index.xml.

Once you find out your sitemap, it’s time to submit it to Google after creating a free account on Google Search Console.

What is a Sitemap : 

A sitemap is a blueprint of your website that help search engines find, crawl and index all of your website's content. Sitemaps also tell search engines which pages on your site are most important. ... It's usually in the form of an XML Sitemap that links to different pages on your website. backlinko

What is a sitemap in SEO

Choose a good domain: 

A good domain shouldn’t have hyphens, should ideally include your business’ name and be memorable. You should also try to get a top-level domain or TLD. For example, .org or .com. Typically, TLDs are the most trusted and recognizable.

You should be wary of TLDs such as .biz and .info, which are known for their associations with low-quality websites.

However, even if you do have to settle for one of these TLDs, you can still create a ranking, legitimate website.

Related:

Make the most of a website platform:

Nowadays, there are self-hosted and hosted website platforms that allow websites to be set up rapidly. This is a great departure from the days when websites used to be created via coding from scratch in CSS and HTML.

Hosted platforms such as Shopify and Wix provide a variety of services such as hosting websites, providing easy-to-edit templates, and effortless content management. 

You can also choose self-hosted platforms like WordPress and Joomla, which involve a bit more work than hosted platforms.

SEO experts recommend using WordPress or another self-hosted platform as these platforms are extensible and customizable. However, at the end of the day, it’s your call as to how you want to go about it.

RelatedHow To Start A Successful Blog using WordPress : Step By Step Guide

Choose a quality web host: 

In terms of choosing a web host, you have two options – shared hosting and dedicated hosting. A web host that offers shared hosting services typically hosts multiple websites on the same hard drive. This should work fine when you’re just starting out.

However, eventually, you should try moving to a dedicated host, especially if your website starts to see more traffic. When there’s a lot of traffic, shared hosting services may not be efficient enough in displaying your website to users.

You should also consider factors such as server location, security, and customer support before you choose a web host.

RelatedThe 16 Best Hosting For WordPress Sites (Updated And Tested)

Make sure that the user experience is positive: 

SEO user experience practices

In Google’s very own SEO starter guide, they’ve stated that the search engine intends to rank pages based on the type of user experience they offer. Simply put, pages whose user experience is negative will be ranked worse than those that offer positive experiences.

SEO user experience

So, it’s imperative that you put certain practices into place to ensure that your website’s pages offer positive user experience. 

For starters, use SSL/TLS for encrypting your website. The design of the website’s pages should also be reflective of your brand and visually-appealing.

You should also ensure that the website is mobile-friendly that has readable font sizes across all its pages. Its load time is another thing you have to focus on, as no one likes pages that take an eternity to load. You should steer clear of intrusive ads and pop-ups as well.

Your website’s structure should be logical: 

It’s not just the end-users who have to navigate your website – search engines need to do it as well (remember crawling?).

So, it’s vital that your website’s structure has a logical hierarchy. This will allow it to be found much faster than search engines, and it will also make the user experience better.

Your website should also have internal links, i.e. links that direct users from one page to another on the same website. 

Internal links allow search engines to find new pages and they also provide search engines the information they need to understand what your website is all about.

The biggest benefit of internal links is that they will allow PageRank to determine your web pages’ ‘values’. PageRank is Google’s ranking algorithm’s foundation.

Your web pages’ URL structures should be logical: 

The different web pages on your website deal with different topics, right? That’s why their respective URLs should be descriptive about the topics.

URL structuring is something that some platforms offer. For instance, if you’re creating your website on WordPress, you’ll be able to structure your web pages’ URLs.

You should also steer clear of using dates within the URL, as they can become a problem if you ever want to update the pages.

Sometimes, you should just let the existing URL of a page be. For instance, when optimizing an existing page or website. In this scenario, changing the URLs may have more negative consequences than positive.


Last but not the least, install an SEO plugin: 

SEO plugins allow you to implement the best SEO practices across all your web pages. Right now, there’s a variety of SEO plugins you can choose from such as Rank Math and Yoast.

These plugins will add several input fields to your pages and posts, allowing you to make modifications to ensure better SEO.

Optimize your site for the right

Optimize your site for the right practices using Yoast Analysis

However, if your website is on Wix or any other hosted platform, there’s no need for installing any plugin, as you can make out-of-the-box SEO adjustments on hosted platforms.

So, now that you’ve finally laid solid SEO foundations, it’s finally time for us to get into the real SEO activities and processes.

The Four Facets Of SEO

SEO consists of the following four facets:
  • On-page SEO
  • Keyword research
  • Technical SEO
  • Link building

On-page SEO is all about creating and optimizing content that your target audience is on the lookout for.

On-page SEO (or on-site SEO) is the practice of optimizing web pages for specific keywords in order to improve search visibility and traffic. It involves aligning page-specific elements like title tags, headings, content, and internal links with keywords. Terakeet

There are several things that you need to focus on to get your on-page SEO right. For starters, your content should be aligned with the search intent of your target audience.

Next, you should focus on writing a title tag that’s compelling, which will attract your target audience towards your website on Google and other search engines.

On-page SEO also involves image optimization. Some of the tips for optimizing all the images on your website include naming them well, using compression to improve load times, and using descriptive alt text.

On-Page SEO Practices

You should also conduct thorough keyword research to determine the right keywords to include in your website’s content.

Keyword research is a practice search engine optimization (SEO) professionals use to find and research search terms that users enter into search engines when looking for products, services or general information. Keywords are related to queries, which are asked by users in search engines. wikipedia

When choosing keywords, you have to check two things – their traffic potential and their ranking difficulty. Simply put, even if a keyword has a high traffic potential, you shouldn’t incorporate it in your content if its ranking difficulty is high as well.

There are various keyword research tools out there that you can use for determining the keywords that should be present on your website.

Related:

Technical SEO involves helping Google and other search engines to find web pages, understand them, and index them. This is a complicated process, which is why we won’t delve deeper into it in this post.

Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines with the goal of improved organic rankings. Important elements of Technical SEO include crawling, indexing, rendering, and website architecture. backlinko

Related: The Beginner’s Guide to Technical SEO

Link building is arguably the most important facet of SEO in today’s times.

In the field of search engine optimization (SEO), link building describes actions aimed at increasing the number and quality of inbound links to a webpage with the goal of increasing the search engine rankings of that page or website. wikipedia
Link Building 2

It involves getting credible websites to include links to your web pages. However, this is easier said than done, as whether the links will be included on another website depends on the quality of your content.

However, there are certain tactics that websites use for link building. For example, if you’re guest blogging (creating content for another site), you can have your links posted in the author bio section of the guest blog.

There’s also a ‘skyscraper’ technique that many websites use to get more backlinks. To put it into practice, you need to find content that’s similar to what you’re intending to create. However, the content that you find should have numerous backlinks.

Next, you should create a piece of content that’s better in terms of quality than the content you found.

Once your content is ready, you have to reach out to the people in-charge of running the websites that linked to the original content. You should request them to link to your content instead of the original content.

Related and Must Read: 22 SEO Link Building Methods for 2022

Seo Glossary Infographic

seo glossary infographic 2021

Conclusion

So, that’s about it for this post. No SEO for dummies book would give you the kind of detailed information that we did here. So, make the most of them for the sake of your website’s success.

SEO For Dummies
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