Get To Grips With SEO – A Beginner’s Guide

It has only been a little over two decades since Google first launched, but many people would struggle to recall what it was like to live in a world without it. Younger generations, who were born into this world with ready access to information online, a pre-digital life is unimaginable. Today, there are 63,000 search queries made every second, totaling in approximately 2 trillion global searches a year! Search engines have become an integral part of our lives — with some industries completely depending on the web, especially in terms of marketing and sales.

Search engine optimization, more commonly known as SEO, is one of the practices that businesses use in order to ensure their relevance and build their credibility online. It’s been used as a marketing tool in order for businesses to gain trust and traction on the web. While some may think nothing about how Google’s top searches get to the first page of the site, businesses and brands put in a lot of time, effort and expense in order to show up as one of the first results when you look for answers.

If you’re wondering how SEO came to be and exactly what it might take to have good practices, here’s what you need to know:

The history of SEO

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Today, the practice of SEO largely revolves around search engine superpower Google. Its metrics and methods have defined a lot of today’s common standards, as it is one of the most used sites by people around the world. However, something that may be unknown to many is that search engine optimization is actually a little older than Google itself: the practice began in 1997, a full year before Google even came to be. While the world wide web was relatively new to people at the time, marketers and brand managers were upset that their webpages weren’t showing up on the first page of search engines — as early as then, they already saw the need to develop a system that would boost credible pages.

The dawn of search engines towards the end of the 20th Century saw intense competition between pages like Yahoo, Lycos, and AltaVista. Search engine criteria for ranking pages were also very different. Pages were mostly ranked by on-page content, domain names, and site structure. But when Google came onto the scene, they changed the criteria and ultimately revolutionized in a matter of a few years the way search engines were able to retrieve data and provide search results to users. From there, it all continued to develop: Google Ads, paid advertisements, link collection, geographically relevant results, analytics, and more defined considerations as to what content should be ranked first and can be seen as valuable by people using the search engines.

Search engine basics

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Essentially, SEO helps you get to the top of search results. Of course it’s better the higher that you rank — the first search result on Google gets 25.7% of the traffic, with the number only getting lower as the pages list down. When optimizing your website and content for search engines, there’s a lot more that comes into play now compared to when SEO was first being used. 

There are a few important things for webmasters and marketers to ensure aside from just the aesthetics of their websites or the names of their domains. Here are some of the fundamental preparations that can help increase your page’s chances to rank higher:

  • Crawl accessibility. A crawler is what search engines use to find your site, read it, and save the information in their index. Crawlability is how possible you’re making it for engines like Google to crawl your site. Some texts in your script will determine whether or not Google is allowed on that site, and in the case of content, whether your text and images are deemed important enough.

  • Relevant, compelling content. Does your content answer the searchers’ queries? Google is more likely to rank your page higher if it’s more relevant to the searches surrounding the topic. This means that you have to have a decent idea of what people want or need in order for you to be able to create content that’s considered valuable enough to show up on the first page of search engines.

  • Optimization of keywords. Aside from being relevant to people’s needs, well-written content also improves the likelihood of being bumped up the search lists. Selecting the best keywords for your articles can help drive higher quality and quantity traffic to your page. It’s handy to evaluate your current SEO on your website and determine what keywords might work best for your niche or industry.

  • User experience. Another factor that influences your search engine ranking is how well your site is built. How long does it take for your site to load? Is the website easy to navigate? Are all of the pages up to date and well-written? Creating and maintaining a user-friendly site helps Google decide whether or not you should be ranked higher.

  • Share-worthiness. With billions of people on the internet, it’s likely that whatever content you’ve thought of, probably already exists elsewhere. It’s all a matter of being able to share information that others aren’t, or simply just presenting it in a more engaging way compared to other sites. Are other people likely to cite you as a source? Will a lot of people share the link to your article? Often, those at the top of search engine results are those that have fit the aforementioned criteria and also happen to have been shared a lot.

  • Title, descriptions, and URLs. While the goal is to meet search engine standards, one of the most important parts of writing content is to still be able to appeal to humans. Don’t write repetitive or formatted titles — the more unique, the better. Remaining readable (and not too lengthy) is a vital part of it, as well. The same goes for descriptions. URLs should look credible and not spammy.

  • Schema markup. Lastly, schema markup is code that helps search engines understand your content and determine what categories, niches, or keywords it could possibly fall under.

Measuring SEO success

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Now that you know what it takes to create sites and content that can be potentially high ranking on Google, it’s also important to be able to know if your SEO efforts are working. Getting to the front page of Google won’t happen overnight! There are other ways to measure if your page’s credibility is growing and if you’re well on your way to the top search results. Whether you’re just starting to get a feel of what your page’s SEO ranking might be or want to check where you currently are, here are some ways you can analyze your success:

  • Identify your SEO competitors. Oftentimes, we consider our competitors might just be people or businesses who are in our same industry or in our local area. On Google, your competitors could potentially be anyone around the world. In the arena of SEO, your competitors are the people who rank before you (and even those who rank after you) in search results. Having an idea of who they are and what their practices might be can potentially help you up your ranking, too.

  • Evaluate your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Check out what their site is like, their domain, their content, how they use social media to drive traffic to their site, and similar factors. You can also use SEO tools to determine the ranking of your competitors. Look for their weakest areas or parts that they can improve and continue to develop your site and its content.

  • Check on your own content. There are multiple ways that you can measure your SEO success. You can check how many page visits you’re getting, how long people are spending on your site, how many people sign up for the site or complete transactions, how far people scroll down, and basically everything that your visitors do on your page.

Search engine optimization takes a lot of effort, but when done correctly, can lead to extremely beneficial payoffs for businesses and creators. True enough, SEO can sometimes be intimidating and can often feel overwhelming for new marketers. There’s a ton of information to take in! However, once you get a grasp of digital marketing, it will become relatively easier to take in knowledge about this practice — after all, everything on social media, SEO, and online marketing operations do tie together.

Want to learn more about how digital marketing can give your business the boost it needs? Learn more about how businesses can survive and thrive as we continue to rush headlong into this increasingly digital age!

Author:

@Hazel Gil

Date:

11-13-2021

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