General

SEO 101

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What exactly is it and why is it so important?

Welcome! We’re excited that you’re here!

If you are familiar with SEO and why it’s crucial it’s possible to skip Chapter 2. (though we’d recommend reviewing the top SEO techniques of Google and Bing towards the end of the chapter; they’re great refreshers).

For all other readers this chapter can help you develop your SEO foundation and build your confidence as you advance.

Is SEO a thing?
SEO is a term that means “search engine optimization.” It’s the method of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website in addition to exposing to your brand’s name, using non-paid (also referred to “organic”) search engine results.

Despite the name, SEO is as much about people as it is about search engines. It’s about understanding the things people are looking for on the internet, the information they’re seeking and the terms they’re using, as well as the kind of content they want to consume. Knowing the information to those questions enable you to reach out to people searching for solutions that you provide.

Knowing the intent of your audience is one aspect of the SEO of the coin, then delivering it in a manner that search engine crawlers can understand and find can be the next. In this guide, you’ll be able to be taught how to do both.

What does that word mean?
If you’re having difficulty understanding one of the terms included in this chapter, make sure to check out our SEO glossary to help you understand!

Take a look at this SEO glossary

Basics of search engines
Search engines are answering machines. They collect billions of information and weigh thousands of variables to decide what content is most likely to provide the answer to your query.

Search engines accomplish this by cataloguing and discovering every piece of content available online Internet (web pages images, PDFs, PDFs, videos and more.) by a process known as “crawling and indexing,” and then arranging it according to how closely it is matched to the query, which that we call “ranking.” We’ll cover crawling, indexing and ranking more thoroughly in the next chapter.

What results from a search include “organic”?
As we mentioned in the past, organic search results are those that are earned by using efficient SEO, and that is, not paid for (i.e. is not advertising). They were easily identifiable as advertisements were clearly identified as such, while the remaining results would typically take shape consisting of “10 blue links” listed below them. However, as the nature of search has evolved How do we identify organic results now?

Today, search results pages, commonly called “SERPs” — are packed with more ads and more dynamic organic result styles (called “SERP features”) that we’ve never seen before. A few examples of SERP features include prominent excerpts (or answers boxes) and”People Also Ask boxes, image carousels, and more. The latest SERP features continue to pop up, driven by the type of information people are looking for.

For instance, if seek out “Denver weather,” you’ll get a forecast of the weather for Denver. For instance, you’ll see a forecast for Denver directly on the SERP instead of the link to a website which might offer this forecast. Also, if you seek “pizza Denver,” you’ll find an “local pack” result made consisting of Denver pizza restaurants. Convenient, right?

It’s crucial to remember that search engines earn revenue through advertising. They aim to better answer queries of searchers (within SERPs) and to keep users returning and keep them on the SERPs for a longer period of time.

Certain SERP features on Google are natural and could be affected by SEO. They include featured short snippets (a sponsored organic search result which shows the answer in the box) or related inquiries (a.k.a. “People Also Ask” boxes).

It’s important to note that there are a variety of other search options that even though they’re not paid ads, won’t usually be affected by SEO. They often contain data collected from private data sources including Wikipedia, WebMD, and IMDb.

What is the reason? SEO is crucial?
Although paid advertising or social media and other online platforms may generate traffic to websites however, the majority of internet traffic is driven by engines.

Organic results are more extensive in digital space and appear more trustworthy to sophisticated searchers, and are able to get more attention than paid ads. For instance, of all US searches there are only ~2.8 percent of users are interested in ads that are paid for.

In an easy to understand way: SEO has ~20X more potential for traffic than PPC, both on desktop and mobile.

SEO is also among the only marketing channels online that, if set up properly, will be a source of income for a long time. If you have a quality piece of content that is worthy to rank well for the correct words, traffic could grow over time, whereas advertising requires ongoing financing to drive visitors to your website.

Search engines are becoming smarter however they require our assistance.

Optimizing your site can help give more relevant details to engines, so that your site’s content is properly indexed and displayed in results of searches.

Optimize your site with MOZ PRO

Moz Pro has Page Optimization tools that will help get your website up a notch. Experience what’s possible by taking the first step today to start your free trial:

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Do I need to hire an SEO professional or consultant?
Based on your internet bandwidth, your ability to learn, as well as the degree of difficulty the complexity of your website(s) If you are willing to learn, you can carry out some basic SEO by yourself. However, you may find that you’d prefer assistance from an experienced professional. Whatever you decide to do, it’s fine!

If you’re looking for help from an expert you should be aware that numerous consultants and agencies “provide SEO services,” however they may differ widely in regards to quality. Knowing how to select the right SEO firm will help you save time and money, since incorrect SEO techniques could cause more harm to your website than they aid.

We also keep an suggested list of partners from our agency who all make use of moz.seo tools to perform their duties on behalf of you!

Black vs white SEO hat
“White hat SEO” refers to SEO methods that follow best practices and strategies that follow the rules of search engines, with its main goal is to offer the most value to those who use it.

“Black hat SEO” refers to methods and strategies that are designed to fool search engines. While black-hat SEO may work however, it places websites at danger of being penalized and/or removed from indexing (removed from results of searches) and comes with ethical consequences.

Penalized sites have led to the bankruptcy of companies. It’s another reason to be cautious when selecting an SEO agency or expert.

SEO and search engines have similar goals to the SEO business
Search engines are eager to assist you in achieving your goals. Indeed, Google even has a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide similar to our SEO beginner’s guide! They’re also extremely in support of the efforts of SEO professionals. SEO community. Digital marketing conferences like Unbounce, MNsearch, SearchLove and Moz’s very own MozCon MozConare regularly attended by professionals and executives from the major search engines.

Google helps SEOs and webmasters via their webmaster Central Help Forum and by hosting online office hours during which hangouts are held. (Bing, unfortunately has shut down the Webmaster Forum in 2014.)

While the webmaster guidelines may differ between search engines engine, the fundamental guidelines are the same: Do not try to fool search engines. Instead, you should provide your users with a pleasant online experience. For that, adhere to the guidelines for search engines and satisfy the user’s expectations.

Google Webmaster Guidelines
Fundamental principles:
Create pages specifically for the user, not engines.
Don’t deceive your users.
Do not use tricks that are designed to boost Google’s rankings. One best practice is to determine whether you’re comfortable describing the actions you’ve taken on a site owner or a Google employee. Another test you can use is to ask “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
Consider the things that make your site unique and valuable. Think about what makes your website interesting, useful, or informative.
Things to be aware of:
Content generated automatically
Participation in link schemes
Pages that contain only a few or no original contents (i.e. copied from elsewhere)
Cloaking is the practice of showing crawlers from search engines different content from those who visit.
Hidden text and hyperlinks
Doorsway Pages — these pages that are designed to rank highly for certain search terms to direct visitors to your site.
It’s important to be aware of the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Take the time familiar with them.

Check out the complete Google Webmaster Guidelines here

Bing Webmaster Guidelines
Fundamental principles:
Make sure you have clear, detailed and engaging content on your website.
Be sure to keep page titles clean and pertinent.
Links are considered to be an indicator of popularity. Bing recognizes the links that have developed organically.
Social influence and shares are positive indicators and could impact the way you rank organically in the long term.
Speed of page loading is crucial as is a pleasant and enjoyable user experience.
Utilize alt attribute to explain images to ensure that Bing will be able to understand the information.
Things to be aware of:
The pages with thin content, which display mostly affiliate links or ads or redirect users to other websites won’t rank well.
Inappropriate link strategies that attempt to increase the quantity and quality of hyperlinks, for example by buying links, taking part with link scheme, could cause being removed from indexing.
Make sure that clear and concise URLs that include keywords. structures are in the correct place. Dynamic parameters could smudge your URLs and create duplicate content problems.
Your URLs should be simple, concise, and keyword-rich if you can and stay clear of non-letter characters.
Burying links in Javascript/Flash/Silverlight; keep content out of these as well.
Duplicate content
Keyword stuffing
Cloaking is the practice of showing crawlers on search engines different content from visitors.
Guidelines to represent your local company on Google
If the company that you use to perform SEO-related work is locally based or out of an office or a vehicle that travels to the locations of customers for service, it’s eligible to be the Google My Business listing. Local businesses like those, Google has guidelines that define what you can and shouldn’t do when it comes to making and managing the listings.

The fundamental principles of
Make sure that you’re eligible for being included within Google My Business. Google My Business index; you’ll need to have an actual address even if it’s not your home address. You must be able to serve customers face-to-face whether at your place of business (like an outlet store) as well as at the location of theirs (like plumbers)
Truthfully and accurately portray the entirety of your local business information that includes its name, address telephone number, web address and categories of business and hours of operation and more features.
Things to be avoided
The creation of Google My Business listings for companies who aren’t qualified
Incorrect representation of any of your primary information about your business, for example “stuffing” your business name using service or geographic keywords, or making websites for fake addresses
Utilization for PO Boxes or Virtual Offices in place of real street addresses
The review section is abused on Google My Business. Google My Business listing, through fake positive reviews about your company or fake negative reviews of your competition
Inexpensive, rookie mistakes resulting from the failure to comprehend the specifics on Google’s policies
If you’re focusing on rankings on Bing, the Bing index, make sure familiar with their rules, and also. It’s respectful (and sensible!)

Read the complete Bing Webmaster Guidelines here

Local International, national, or SEO?
Local businesses often seek to be found on local search terms like “[service] + [near me]” or “[service] + [city]” to draw in potential customers looking for products or services within the particular area they offer these services. However, not all companies are local-based. Some websites don’t represent a local-based company and instead focus on audiences at a national or international level. Keep an eye out for more information on the subject of national, local, or international SEO. the 4th chapter of this book!

Fulfilling user intent
Instead of breaking these rules to try and trick search engines into putting you in a higher position be sure to understand and achieving the user’s intent. When a user is searching for something, they’re seeking the goal of achieving that. It could be a solution ticket to a concert or a photo of a cat the content they want to see will be the “user intent.”

If someone conducts the search term “bands,” is their intention to find wedding bands, bands or band saws or anything else?

Your task as an SEO will be to deliver users with the information they want in the format they want it.

Common user intent types:

Informative: Searching for information. Examples: “What is the best type of laptop for photography?”
Navigation: searching for specific web site. For example: “Apple”
Transactional searching for something to purchase. Examples: “good deals on MacBook Pros”
You can gain a sense of what users are looking for by simply searching the wanted keyword(s) and then looking at the results of your search. For instance, if you have an image carousel and it’s likely that those looking for the keyword are searching for images.

Consider also what content your top competitors are offering and what you’re not currently offering. What can you do to add 10X the value to your site?

The creation of relevant, high-quality web content will allow you to achieve higher rankings on search results. And, more important, it will build credibility and confidence with your audience.

Before doing anything else it is essential to know the goals of your website before you create a plan for strategic SEO.

Make sure you know the goals of your site or client
Every website is unique It is important to be aware of a specific site’s objectives for business. This will aid you in determining which aspects of SEO you need to focus on, which areas to track the conversions and define standards, but it can aid in creating talk points to negotiate SEO projects with your bosses, clients etc.

What are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) be to gauge the ROI of SEO investments? What is your barometer for measuring the effectiveness of your SEO efforts? It’s important to get it recorded even if it’s as easy

Here are some common KPIs to help you get starting:

Sales
Downloads
Email signups
Contact forms and form submissions
Phone calls
If your company has local components it is important to establish metrics for the Google My Business listings, and. This could include:

Clicks-to-Call
Clicks to a website
Clicks-for-driving-directions
You might have noticed things such as “ranking” and “traffic” were not on the list of KPIs which is a deliberate decision.

“But wait a minute!” You respond. “I came here to learn about SEO because I heard it could help me rank and get traffic, and you’re telling me those aren’t important goals?”

Not at all! It’s true. SEO can aid your site to get higher rankings in search results and , consequently, bring more visitors to your site, but it’s simply that rankings and traffic are just a means to the end. It’s not much of a benefit to rank when there isn’t any one who is clicking through to your website or visiting your site, and there’s no point to increase the amount of traffic you receive if it doesn’t help you achieve a bigger purpose for your business.

For instance, if manage a lead generation website Would you rather:

Three people and 1,000 visitors who fill out a form to contact you? What about…
300 monthly visitors, and 40 people complete a contact form?
If you’re planning to use SEO to increase visitors to your website for the purpose of converting visitors We hope you’ll choose the latter option! Before you start using SEO ensure that you’ve outlined your business goalsand then utilize SEO to aid you in reaching these goals, not the reverse.

SEO can do more than just vanity metrics. When it is done right it can help real companies realize their real-world goals for success.

 

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