In the last few years, SEO has undergone a considerable transformation. The rise of voice search, the introduction of Rankbrain and mobile-first indexing have had a massive impact on how we do optimization work today. And that’s just to name a few. This guide to SEO will help you gain a thorough understanding of the steps you need to take to help your website rank higher on search engines in 2023. Let’s dive in!
Guide to SEO: difference between on-page, off-page, and technical SEO
Search engine optimization is a set of activities designed to improve the positioning of web pages in organic search results. These activities fall under three main sub-categories: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
On-page SEO encompasses optimizing individual web pages to maximize visibility in search engines. Let’s take a look at critical on-page SEO elements:
Your URL should describe your page’s content concisely. Keep your URLs under 60 characters, and use hyphens to separate words. To rank well, it’s important to use your target keyword in the URL.
Meta title appears as the title of your SERP listing. It should be between 50-60 characters in length. Ensure that all pages have unique meta titles so that search engines can easily identify them as distinct pages when crawling your website.
A meta description is a text under the meta title on SERPs. It describes your content and helps visitors decide whether or not they want to click through and read more about what you’re offering. Keep your meta description under 160 characters (on mobile devices, the max limit is 120 characters) and include CTA.
Headers define the structure of your content. When you create headers, you’re essentially breaking up your page into different sections that make sense to readers and search engines. Use H2 for main sections, H3 for supporting points, and H4 for minor points.
Keywords are words and phrases that people use when looking for content online. Include target keywords in the URL, meta title, meta description, H1, and first paragraph. Avoid keyword stuffing – keywords should be used sparingly in your content and only where they are relevant.
The content you write should give readers the information they’re looking for. Use short paragraphs and bullet lists to break up large chunks of text and make them easier to digest.
Compressing images improves load times and reduces bandwidth usage for your site (and thus increases its ranking). Images should have descriptive alt text, so search engines can understand what the image is about. For example:
Off-page SEO is a collection of techniques that aim to increase the visibility of a website by boosting its authority in the eyes of search engines. This includes:
Link building is the practice of getting other sites to link to your website via hyperlinks. Links from high-quality, reputable sources within your niche can increase your website’s authority which will improve your ranking. Keep in mind that buying backlinks can hurt your site’s performance.
Guest blogging can be used to increase brand awareness, help you build a reputation as an expert in your field, and drive traffic. You can search for specific blogs that are seeking guest contributors by using keywords like “guest post” or “contributor.”
Social media marketing
Social media marketing can be a part of your overall strategy. It will not directly impact rankings, but it’s a great way to increase your visibility online, build connections with potential customers, and boost organic shares.
Managing customer reviews
Reviews can help to attract new customers and increase conversion rates. Google review count and review score affect how a business ranks in local searches. If you have lots of positive reviews, it signals to Google that people are happy with their experience at your business.
Influencer marketing can help in SEO by giving your website more exposure. There are many types of influencers, including bloggers, celebrities, and ordinary people who have a large following on social media.
Responding to HARO queries
You can use HARO sourcing service to easily build high authority links from the press and media to your website. The service connects journalists with experts, who can be sources for their stories. HARO is used by 75,000+ journalists from big media like New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and many more.
Technical SEO refers to improving the technical aspects of a website to increase its ranking in search engines. It happens in the back end of your website. Behind-the-scenes elements include:
A logically structured website makes it easier for search engines to crawl your pages and understand how they’re connected to one another. Think of your website in terms of categories and sub-categories. This will also help users find what they’re looking for.
Schema markup helps search engines better understand information on your website. To generate schema markup, you can use this Schema Markup Generator. If your site is on WordPress, you can use a plugin to add schema markup to your pages.
Your sitemap is a list of all of the pages on your website and where they are located. To ensure that Google can see your website, you will need to create a sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console. Plugins like Yoast or XML Sitemaps can automatically generate your sitemap.
Crawlability refers to the ability of search engine robots to crawl your website. A site that is not crawlable can’t be indexed by search engines and won’t appear in search results. To identify crawl errors, use tools such as Google Search Console or Semrush’s Site Audit.
The speed of a website is one of the most important ranking factors. Google has a tool called Pagespeed Insights to help you identify areas where your site could benefit from improvement.
When optimizing your site for mobile, make sure that it loads quickly on any device and information is easy to read so that visitors won’t get frustrated.
How do search engines work
Search engines work by crawling the web, indexing content, and organizing this information into results pages.
Step 1: Crawling
Search engines use “bots” (or spiders) to look for new or updated pages. Bots analyze these pages and determine if they should be added to the search engine’s index.
Step 2: Indexing
When search engines discover a new page, they add the URL to their databases. Indexing is essentially categorizing all the information found during the crawling stage. If your pages don’t get indexed, your website is essentially invisible to Google.
Step 3: Ranking
And finally, search engines determine which pages are most relevant to users’ search queries and organize them in the SERPs. When you search for something in a search engine’s database, it looks through its index to determine which results are most relevant to your search terms and display those results first.
Steps to an effective SEO strategy
To improve your website’s visibility in organic search results, you need a well-planned SEO strategy. Here are some essential steps to take:
Step 1: Keyword research
Conducting keyword research will help you understand the language your target customers use and provide insights into current trends.
Step 2: Competitor analysis
Take time to understand who your competitors are. Looking at your competitors’ keywords, content, and backlinks can help you to refine your strategy.
Step 3: Website optimization
Now, you’ll need to make sure that each page is optimized for search engines so you can get found when potential customers are looking for what you offer.
Step 4: Link building
By building links on authoritative sites, you can rank higher. When an important web page references your content, it signals to search engines that your website is a valuable, authoritative resource.
Step 5: Progress analysis
It’s crucial to monitor your progress. This will provide you with insight into how well your efforts are working and what adjustments are needed.
Tracking SEO success
Here are metrics that can give you an overall view of how your SEO efforts are paying off:
- Organic traffic is the number of visitors to your site from Google’s organic results.
- The conversion rate records the percentage of users who have completed the desired action, such as submitting contact information or purchasing a product.
- Average session duration indicates the average time visitors spend on your website.
- Keyword ranking refers to your web page’s position within search results for a particular keyword search query.
- Click-through rate is the ratio of users that click on a search engine result.
- The bounce rate represents the percentage of visitors who enter the website and then leave rather than continuing to view other pages.
Tools for website optimizations & analysis
SEO tools generate accurate reports at a click, saving hours of effort. There are plenty tools available to help you optimize and analyze your website, including:
- Google Search Console lets you monitor your website’s presence in Google SERP. Verify your website, and you can submit your sitemap for indexing.
- Google Analytics has an extensive list of features that helps you figure out what is going on with your website, including who your users are and how they interact with your content.
- Semrush is an all-in-one tool suite for improving online visibility, gaining profound insights into your competition, identifying top keywords, backlink analysis, and much more.
- Ahrefs contains tools for keyword research, competitor analysis, link building, rank tracking, and website audit.
- Moz is a popular all-in-one SEO software suite that contains tools designed to improve search engine visibility.
- SEOQuake is a free browser plugin that displays key SEO metrics for a specific page.
- Surfer SEO analyzes the top pages on Google for the keyword you specified and shows your content score, a list of suggested keywords to add to your article, a recommended word count, and how many images, headings, and paragraphs to include.
How to keep up to date with SEO trends
Google’s algorithm is constantly changing, so it’s a good idea to keep up with reputable sources. Here are a few recommendations:
Semrush provides in-depth and insightful information about the latest SEO trends and best practices.
Resources: Blog, YouTube, LinkedIn
If you’re looking for information about what’s new in SEO and want to stay ahead of your competition, then Hubspot is the place for you.
Resources: Blog, YouTube, LinkedIn
Ahrefs is a great resource for keeping up to date on the latest developments in the industry. You can find detailed tutorials and case studies.
Resources: Blog, YouTube, LinkedIn
Brian Dean, the founder of Backlinko, breaks down complex topics into actionable tips that help you improve rankings and boost traffic.
Resources: Blog, YouTube, LinkedIn
Best free SEO courses available online
If you’re looking to take your SEO skills to the next level, there are a number of free online courses that can help.
Semrush Academy is a great resource for learning about all things SEO. The academy includes courses on keyword research, backlink analysis, site audits, and more.
HubSpot SEO courses
HubSpot SEO courses are designed to take you from beginner to advanced, with plenty of exercises along the way to help you get a handle on the concepts.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization by Coursera
The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization is a series of five courses that teach you how to optimize websites for search engines.
There are more than 200 factors that influence your rankings in Google’s search results. What’s more, those factors constantly change because Google is continuously updating its algorithms. If you want to rank highly, you have to be willing to put the work in. SEO takes time and effort, but the reward is worth it.
If you have questions about any aspect of SEO, we can connect on LinkedIn or via firstname.lastname@example.org