Structure of the blog:
- Functioning of a search engine
- Determining the relevancy of a page
- Understanding your audience
- Issues encountered while matching content to queries
- Marketing your content
- HTML format content
- Link structures
- Common reasons why a search engine may fail to reach your website
- Title Tags
- Meta Description
- URL structure
11) Useful SEO tools
12) Google Penalty
Ultimate Google SEO Guide for Beginners
Are you eager to improve your website’s rank and yet baffled by the techniques of SEO? Are you looking for an effective SEO guide to garner traffic through Google search?
Well, the task of crafting and implementing a strong SEO strategy can indeed be challenging. However, with the help of a methodical Google SEO guide, you can successfully build a structured SEO plan. To simplify it for you, we present here a comprehensive SEO starter guide that offers insight into the techniques of SEO. Our search engine optimization starter guide is designed to offer clarity about the fundamental aspects of SEO. Understanding and adhering to Google SEO guidelines can certainly help to develop a high-yielding SEO strategy.
Read on to discover valuable SEO for beginner’s tricks that can help you reap rich results on search platforms.
Understanding search engine optimization:
Search engine optimization or SEO encompasses all techniques employed to secure a higher rank for a page. The goal of SEO is to increase visibility and drive more traffic to a page by means of ranking high on the Google search engine. The methods used for a successful SEO plan are varied and include aspects like:
In other words, SEO is an amalgamation of all these processes and aims at optimizing a website. A vital element of a successful SEO strategy is to ensure that your website is structured in a manner that makes it easy for users. After all, for actual conversions to take place, your website has to offer relevant and informative content that is of help to users. Isn’t it?
SEO is made up of a number of vital ingredients and each of these is essential to attain the best results. The optimization technique when applied collectively can make a huge difference to your website’s performance!
On-page search ranking includes components that can be directly controlled by the publisher. They impact your search ranking and can be changed by you over time. The on-page SEO components include:
- Title tags
- URL structure
- Alt-text and more
Off-page elements of an SEO include those that cannot be directly controlled by the publisher. These include elements like the domain authority that indicates the authoritativeness of a website.
Before we go further, remember that SEO only impacts organic search result and not paid search.
The importance of SEO for your business:
First and foremost, let us understand why SEO has emerged to occupy an indispensable role in the domain of search marketing. Research and data clearly indicate that search forms a major part of both offline and online economic activity. Being able to rank higher on search pages can immensely boost the business potential of a company. This makes search engines a critical channel through which a business can reach out to its potential customers. There are other means also to gain visibility like social media platforms. However, search engines are the dominant tools that can draw bulk traffic to a page.
This implies that developing a website that can be recognized by a search engine is of utmost importance. The planning and structuring of a website should be done with a focus on search engine requirements. It is only when a page is ranked high on search engines will you be able to reap the benefits of enhanced visibility.
In this regard, the search query also plays a crucial role. The search query is the phrase that users type to reach a website. This phrase is of immense value and it has the potential to drive potential customers to your page. If a search phrase is successfully able to draw people to your page, your business will gain visibility, revenue and exposure.
The above facts clearly indicate that SEO can have a significant impact on your business. SEO is considered as the primary marketing channel and with the right SEO strategy, you can take your business to new heights of excellence. Listed below are some of the ways in which SEO can positively help your business.
SEO enables your brand to gain visibility:
The simple fact of being able to appear high on the Google search engine can be beneficial for a business. When users notice that your website continuously ranks for specific keywords, they are curious to know more about your business. Moreover, the process of repeated appearances on a search engine can garner visibility of your brand.
SEO adds credibility to your brand:
Users have the tendency to judge a business based on the ranking offered by Google. This is not a conscious decision but people often trust Google for providing relevant business sources. This means that if your website is able to secure a higher rank, the probability of people trusting your business is higher.
SEO drives traffic to your page:
By implementing the right SEO strategy, you can draw potential clients to your page. Online Marketing offers a broad platform and enables your business to cater to a wider audience.
SEO can help achieve positive ROI:
SEO is considered as the most rewarding marketing tool. SEO is an investment that can reap rich results within a short span of time.
SEO helps you to understand your customers:
An added benefit of SEO is the valuable insight about customer behaviour that it offers. With Google Analytics, you can get useful information about your customers. This includes facets like, what they search for, the region they belong to, the language they use, the day and time when they are most active and much more. An assessment of this data can enable you to implement more effective techniques and make informed business decisions.
Developing an effective SEO strategy:
While developing your strategy make sure to:
- Build a strong website structure and offer seamless navigation to enable search engines to index your page quickly
- Emphasize on offering positive user experience to draw repeat visits to your website
SEO is all about equipping your website with features that enable a search engine to easily locate your page.
The Google search engine is indeed smart and the primary goal of any search engine is to make relevant information available to the users. If your page is placed high on the Google search engine, your business gains visibility and higher conversions.
Again, your website may have all the relevant content and information. But if Google fails to locate it, you get minimal visibility.
This is where SEO can come to your rescue!
With the right structuring of your website and an SEO plan, your business can immensely benefit. Over the years, the SEO techniques have witnessed various changes. The evolution process of SEO has seen transition to different phases and the methodologies that worked in 2004 might not work in 2017. Change appears to be the only constant in the world of SEO. Online marketing is increasingly becoming competitive and therefore, companies who are implementing the right SEO strategies definitely have an advantage over those that are not.
The functioning of a search engine:
In this section, we will look at the manner in which a search engine operates. This will help you develop a better understanding of the entire process and frame effective SEO strategies.
Search engines yield results by carrying out the following functions:
- Web Crawling
The process of crawling involves acquiring data about a page. It includes a thorough scanning of the website and collection of all the details like the content, keywords, titles, images and more. Crawlers also search for additional information like the layout of the page and links.
In simple terms, crawling may be described as the process in which the search engine scans through the page to look for the most relevant link. In this regard, the links play a key role. They enable the crawlers and spiders to access the billions of interconnected documents existing on the web. The information of the pages is then stored in databases and used when required.
Indexing involves the collection of all the data and storing them in a database. There are massive storage centers for the billions of pages that are yielded in search queries in a matter of seconds.
The final step includes the search results that display the most relevant document that the engine is able to retrieve. The primary goal of a search engine is to provide the most relevant result. Pages are ranked not only by their relevance but also popularity.
Determining the relevancy of a page:
Relevancy is much more than just the presence of the right keywords and content. Over the years, the techniques employed by search engines have evolved and better methods to determine the relevancy of a page have been found. At present, various factors are employed and influence the ranking of a page.
In this context, the popularity of a page plays a critical role. It is assumed by search engines that pages that are popular have relevant information and are more useful to users. Since the target of a search engine is to offer user satisfaction, popularity is a key determinant. However, the elements of popularity and relevance are not merely determined manually. Rather, search engines make use of algorithms that consist of a number of variables.
Understanding your audience:
An essential component of building a successful marketing strategy with SEO is to gain an understanding about your audience. A key to success in SEO is to build a website not for a search engine but for users.
As mentioned earlier the primary goal of search engines is to yield a result that is useful to a user. This means that understanding your audience and developing a structure and content that serves their need is the first step towards success.
People perform search for the following three reasons:
- Informative search is to gather information (‘Know’ queries)
- Go to a particular website like Facebook (‘Go’ queries)
- Do a task like booking a ticket or watch a video (‘Do’ queries)
As a publisher, it is important for you to ensure that your users are able to get what they are looking for.
Issues encountered while matching content to queries:
Most search engines work on the same principles and there are certain limitations associated with the working of search engines. Listed below are a few technical issues that can impact ranking.
- People use common terms in search queries the absence of such phrases from the content of a website can pose as a hindrance
- For exact matches, emphasis need to be given to ensure correct spellings
- Location targeting is another vital facet and in the absence of right targeting you may lose traffic
- A content that is not relevant to the title specified might give out confusing signals
Marketing your content:
Apart from ensuring that your website structure has all aspects of technical details taken care of, you also need to market the content. Search engines heavily rely on the popularity and relevancy of a page to determine the rank. This means that besides maintaining good content and updating information, you also need to draw visitors by ensuring that your content is shared across various platforms and is talked about.
Creating a search engine friendly web page:
There are certain technical aspects that require emphasis to ensure that a website is structured to cater to the needs of both search engines and users. There has to be the perfect balance in this regard as your primary goal is not to secure a higher rank but also to extend a fulfilling experience to your users.
Listed below are some of the facets that you need to focus on:
HTML format content:
For a smooth performance in search engines, it is necessary to ensure that the content is in HTML text format. In spite of the advancement made in the sphere of crawling technology, non-text content is often overlooked by search engines. Therefore, the simplest method that can be employed to rank better is the use of HTML text format.
A convenient way of knowing which sections of your page are visible is by using tools like Google’s cache. This technique helps to understand what your page appears to a search engine.
Keywords are required for the search engines to reach your page. Similarly, there is also the need to have crawlable links that will help search engines access your pages. A crawlable link can be defined as one that allows the crawlers to browse through a website. The absence of a seamless navigation channel can be a major hindrance and can prevent search engines to locate your content. Your website may have relevant content in a certain page. However if the crawler is able to access only the home page and is not able to locate the content on the other pages, you lose on your ranking. Links can therefore be described as pathways that direct search engine to the most relevant page.
Common reasons why a search engine may fail to reach your website:
Some websites require users to fill up a form before the website can be accessed. The probability of search engines to locate such protected pages is lower.
Presence of Meta Robots tag and the robot.txt:
Both of the above may prevent the access of a crawler to pages. In most cases, these are used to prevent entry by rogue bots. However, even a search engines access may be restricted by this method.
Use of frames and iframes:
It is best to avoid the use of frames and iframes as they may restrict entry.
Links in plug-ins, Java and Flash:
Crawlers are not able to reach across a site’s link structure and this implies that quite a number of pages end up being hidden from users.
Pages with a high number of links:
There are only a certain number of links in a page that are crawled by a search engine. This restriction in terms of numbers means that pages with a high number of links may end up having pages that are not crawled or indexed at all.
Keywords are the fundamental building blocks of a successful SEO strategy. The process of retrieval of information in search engine relies highly on keywords.
During the process of indexing and crawling, search engines locate pages based on the existence of keywords and search queries and store them in the database. This means that if you want your page to rank higher, you need to ensure that it contains the relevant keywords related to the content.
Some of the factors that search engines consider in a keyword while determining the relevance of a page are:
- Order of the words
With the above information, search engines are able to figure out whether a page will serve the purpose of a user. The manner in which the keywords are used in a certain page also makes a difference. For a page to rank higher, it is indeed essential to ensure that keywords are appropriately used. Moreover, the use of specific keywords further makes the process of securing a better rank easier by narrowing down the level of competition.
Types of keywords:
Keywords can be broadly catergorized as follows:
- Generic keywords
- Branded or specific keywords
Generic keywords have a wider scope and refer to a broad category of a product. An example of a generic keyword is ‘mobile phones’.
Branded or specific keywords include those that clearly define the product or its brand. Example: ‘Samsung smartphones’
The choice of branded and generic keywords must be done based on the requirement of your SEO strategy. Generic keywords are usually used to enable people to know about your business. However, since they have a high-search volume, they are highly competitive.
It is a form of keyword abuse and involves the practice of including too many keywords in a page with the sole objective of ranking better in search engines. However, in reality, keyword stuffing may do more damage to a page than good.
Advancement in the field of search marketing has enabled search engines to develop better methods of recognizing the relevance of a page. Irrespective of the fact of having a high keyword density, a page might not rank. Factors like popularity and relevance are also taken into consideration to determine the rank of a page by search engines.
The most effective strategy that can enable your page to perform better is by adding relevant content and placing keywords naturally and strategically.
Effective keyword usage tips for optimizing a page:
Placing keywords strategically in content plays a key role. Listed below are some techniques that can be employed to improve ranking in search results:
- The keyword should be used in the title tag at least once
- Placing the keyword towards the beginning of the title tag can help
- The keyword and its variations can be included in the copy two or three times
- For long-form content, the keywords can in more instances
- Include keywords in the alt attribute of an image
- Using keywords in the meta-description tag can attract users to a page
Importance of title tag, meta-description and URL structure for SEO:
Title tags and meta-description enable search engines to gather information about the content in a page. Pages are accordingly indexed and ranked on search results. An understanding of each of the above three components can enable a user to better design content for optimization.
The title tag component is essential for extending good user experience as well as for SEO. This element is a precise description of the content within a page. While creating a title tag, the following best practices should be adhered, to ensure better results.
Creating effective title tags:
1) Length of the title tag:
Search engines have a character limit for title tags and reflect only 65-75 characters. It is wise to abide by this limit and use title tags that are accurate and concise.
2) Keyword placement in title tags:
Placing keywords towards the beginning of a title tag can enable your page to garner more attention. The probability of a user to click your page will be higher in this instance.
3) Branded keywords:
The use of branded keywords in the title tag can prove to be extremely beneficial for brands that are popular. This technique can work otherwise too by helping a brand gain visibility.
4) Impact of a title tag:
While framing title tags, it is also necessary to keep it mind that they can be the means to create a positive first impression. A compelling title that will make users curious and draw their attention can significantly boost your chances of performing better.
It includes a snippet of the content that exists on the page. It is a short description and is primarily used to attract the attention of users. It offers brief information about what exactly the content is all about. The meta-description is often used by users to gauge the relevancy of a page. The crafting of a compelling description can draw higher traffic towards a page by drawing the attention of users.
The URL refers to the address of a page and holds an immense value from the perspective of SEO.
Rules to build a strong URL structure:
1) Accurate URL:
A URL structure that clearly conveys to the user information about a page has a higher probability of performing better. In other words, the URL structure should be developed in a manner to provide a basic description about what the website offers.
2) Short URL:
Even though the URL must convey a gist about the content, it is necessary to keep it short. Short and clear URL’s are easier to read and copy and adds to user satisfaction. Moreover, since they are clearly visible on a page, the probability of receiving clicks in more.
3) Balanced use of keywords:
If your website intends to target a particular keyword, it is better to include it in the URL structure. However, while employing this technique, make sure not to add too many keywords.
4) Readable URL:
The best strategy is to make use of readable and clear URL. It is best to avoid the use of symbols, number and other parameters in a URL.
5) Separating words:
The use of hyphens can be made to separate words and add more clarity to the URL structure.
SEO and the issue of content duplicity:
A pressing problem that is often faced by websites is the presence of duplicate content. Since the primary goal of a search engine is to offer the best user experience, pages with duplicate content are often ranked low. Search engines rarely reflect pages that have duplicate content. The page that appears most relevant to the search engine is displayed. This means that pages with duplicate content may end up ranking very low.
Canonicalization occurs in instances of the presence of multiple duplicate versions of a page in various URLs. This is a common issue that is faced while using modern CMS and can occur while intending to create different versions of a page. You might want to have a print version and a normal version of a page. This can pose a major challenge for a search engine in determining the content that needs to be displayed.
Canonicalization involves structuring content in a manner that all content has only one URL structure. The integration of multiple pages with the potential to rank higher can enable a website to secure a higher rank.
Features of a successful website:
Various factors play a role in determining search rank. However, in general, websites that perform well have the following features:
- Offer seamless navigation and use
- Are easy to understand
- Present relevant and informative content
- Can be easily accessed from modern browsers
How user experience influences search rank:
Search engines take into account quite a number of variables to determine the rank of a website. These include:
- Website structure and much more
However, besides these on-page factors, there are many other elements that can significantly impact website rank. The engagement metric is one such component and reflects the popularity and preference of users for a website. This suggests that it is essential to offer smooth user experience. Websites that are able to set a lasting impression on users and can compel them to come back can succeed in procuring for themselves a high rank.
The role of good content in SEO:
As stated earlier, content plays a crucial role in SEO. Every search that is carried out is with the intention of procuring some information. Content plays the fundamental building block of a website that can attract traffic by serving the need of users. Developing relevant and informative content can be a powerful means to draw users to a website.
The importance of links in SEO:
Links have come to occupy an integral role in SEO since search engines use links to gauge elements like the popularity, authority and relevance of a page. Search engines use the link factor to determine rank in the following ways:
Ways in which link influence search rank:
1) The popularity of a website:
A trusted and popular site will have quite a number of links directing towards it. This means that acquiring links can immensely help a website to develop trust with search engines and rank better.
2) Trust factor:
There are innumerable pages existing on the web and a common method employed by search engines to filter results is by analyzing the link structure. Having links from domains that are highly trustable and popular can enable a page to rank higher.
3) The freshness of a page:
Acquiring links from trusted sites should be a continuous process as the content of a website may not hold the same degree of relevance over time. To ensure that a website offers fresh content and information, it is necessary to acquire fresh links.
4) Sharing across social platforms:
Even though there is no certainty about the extent to which social sharing impacts rank, the importance of social media platforms cannot be denied. Indeed, search engines take into consideration the level of popularity enjoyed by websites on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google +.
Useful SEO Tools:
Search engines encourage the development and creation of websites with accessible content. To enable this purpose, search engines offer a number of tools with immense scope to share information with search engines.
In this section, we have a gist of some of the tools supported by search engines.
Sitemaps make the task of search engines easier by helping them identify content on a website. They make it easier for the search engines to scan your pages and display results.
There are three types of sitemaps:
This format of sitemaps is one that is extremely popular and most commonly used. However, this tool involves the use of large files.
This form of sitemaps can be easily maintained and coded to update whenever a new piece of content is added. However, they are comparatively difficult to manage.
They are simple to use but do not offer the option of including meta data.
2. Robots. Txt
These are stored in a website directory and guide crawlers through the website. They offer instructions to search engines like the section of the website in which to disallow bots. They do so by means of the following commands:
- Disallow: They prevent robots from gaining access to certain pages
- Sitemap: Reflects the location of the sitemap
- Crawl-delay: the rate at which a robot can access a server
3. Meta- Robots:
These enable you to control the manner in which search engines index and serve your page. They give instructions to search engines about the way in which links on your page are to be treated.
4. Rel= “No follow”
These elements enable you to link to a page yet convey to the search engine not to follow the linked page. In some cases, search engines still follow the links but using this feature can be useful in situations when you are linking to a source that is not trustable.
5. Rel= “canonical”
In certain cases, a website may have duplicate content in different URLs. In such cases, the pages are treated by search engines as separate and the presence of duplicate content may lead the search engine to undervalue the pages. The use of canonical tags in such instances can guide the search engine to the right version of the page and ensure that search ranking is not hampered.
For any online business, getting high search engine traffic is of utmost importance. However, being able to secure the coveted rank is indeed a challenging task. In the process of acquiring a better rank, websites may often end up violating the SEO guidelines laid down by Google. A website may be penalized by Google for not abiding by its SEO rules.
An SEO penalty can occur if a website engages in deceptive means to improve rank.
If you ever notice a sudden drop in your website traffic, you need to figure out if you have been penalized. The first step is to rule out any other probable cause that might have caused your traffic to drop. Errors or new changes on your page may be the cause of traffic drop if the search engine is not able to perceive your page the way it should. However, if you are sure that there are no errors from your end, you need to check the cause for which you have been penalized.
There are two main types of penalties:
The first indicates a penalty by Google’s spam team. You may also have received a notification from Google Webmaster Tools regarding the same.
You can identify an algorithmic penalty by analyzing the time when your website traffic witnessed a decline to algorithmic updates that occurred. Checking Goggle Algorithmic Change History will also provide a better insight.
Ways to recover your ranking:
In case of either a manual or algorithmic penalty, it is essential to analyze and identify backlinks that may have caused your rank to drop.
To simplify the process for you, we have a list of actions that you can take:
- The first step involves locating your backlinks
- You can make us of Google Webmaster Tools to download all the backlinks
- You can make use of any SEO tool to gather insight and get SEO metric for your links
- Locate the bad backlinks
- Make sure to manually check the bad links
- Links that are not related to your website, have poor content or include links from auto-approved blogs are examples of bad links for your website
- After figuring the links, that are doing harm to your page, request for a removal of the links
- Links that you are not able to delete can be removed by disavowing them
Recovering from a Google penalty is possible with the above techniques. The key here is to understand the root factor that caused your traffic to diminish. After you are successfully able to identify the cause, you can retrieve your lost rank!
Implementing a successful SEO strategy requires patience. SEO is indeed complex, but has the potential to steeply scale up your business.