SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice to get your website rank higher and increase the traffic of your site by organic search engine results. If you want to grow your business through your website, SEO is done to promote it in the best way that you can on the internet. It is not paying to advertise your website, it is actually a process that you build a strategy to make your website visible and interactive when people search for a keyword related to your business.
There is a distinct line between appearing at the top three of any search query on Google and doing the same on the second page. SEO is very effective and you wouldn't believe how much it impacts your website's organic traffic and authority as a brand overall. However, we have some statistics that lie the truth bare. We see that only 0.78% of the users click on a search result from the second page of a query, while the top result manages to get 31.7% of the clicks. Wow.
Well, this number may seem low on first look, but we should also remember that 31.7% of a search query with 200.000 searches per month would make 63.000 potential ready-to-buy customers.
And if we care about the fact that the top three SERPs make up 75.1% of all user clicks, we can see why companies pay thousands of bucks to SEO companies. It's nothing when it comes to comparing your expenses and revenue regarding SEO.
What Is SEO?
SEO is one of the few things that can carry a small business into the world of the corporates, and it doesn't even require you to devote your whole life to it.
SEO is the abbreviation of what we know as Search Engine Optimization, and it resembles all the efforts of the people whom we call SEO specialists to make your websites rank as high as possible compared to your competitors in the field. And there's a good reason. Offering a good user experience for visitors is also one of the main purposes of SEO.
All operations and knowledge regarding SEO focus on optimizing your website from in and out to make it acceptable to search engines to rank itself high as an authoritative website for users to get some definitive answers with the least effort.
There are more than 200 various criteria of Google and other search engines when it comes to rank a website for users to benefit. SEO is also about meeting all these criteria to give a complete experience to secure potential customers and gain the loyalty of those who already worked with you before.
But it does not end with getting your potential customers to visit your website. Actually, that's a solid first step. However, you need to secure a sale at first and optimize your chances of getting a lifelong customer out of that single action.
New and distinct terms like the return of investment (ROI), conversion rate optimization (CRO), and inbound marketing are practically SEO. So it becomes a lot more essential to have an active and sleek presence with your website on the queries to keep up with the everlastingly evolving digital marketing world.
These ultimate results show us that you can't have a cursory SEO strategy and expect to reach your customers and get leads on the internet.
In that case, you have to learn the fundamentals of SEO at first and then get into the details to clearly understand who an SEO expert is, what does he or she do, and what techniques they use to make your websites adhere in the eyes of the unforgiving search engines. Let's start with the fundamentals today.
Essential SEO Ranking Factors
The basic principle of SEO when getting search engines to rank your websites is pretty straightforward, and you don't need to do much to make your pages appear on Google.
All you need to have is a proper website that functions properly, and that is quite essential for any digital marketing to effort prosper anyway.
However, let's not play ourselves here and think that ranking in the top three results will be easy.
On the contrary, it is one of the toughest challenges to undertake, and you will need to meet specific criteria to get the approval of the search engines before you even get indexed for queries.
Well, what is indexing anyway?
Professional SEO Tools We Use
It's all about getting your pages on your site to be indexed on search engines. And as we mentioned above, you don't need to do much more than having a proper website with some industry-standard criteria to make your website eligible for this process.
Don't get us wrong. This is not something you can secure at your own sweet will. Actually, there are many guidelines that you should follow when preparing your website to launch on the web, and we will explain the process and the essentials.
It all starts with bots, also known as spiders of the search engines, to have a walk in the world wide web to scan and identify the websites that lay around or discover the brand-new equivalents that don't have any recognizance quite yet. It is Not just in the eyes of the users but from the perspective of the search engines that we rely as well.
These spiders literally crawl a website and compare the content they have found with the criteria that evolve through unmatched their artificial intelligence.
Back in the dark ages of Google, it was possible to trick these spiders with some long-forgotten black hat SEO tactics to perceive your site as valuable and trustworthy.
However, the point of artificial intelligence is to meet up with the challenges it stumbles upon, and Google bots have come quite a long journey to this point through years to omit their impression as being a soft one to touch.
- When search engines encounter your website on the web, they read the page code and all the links that appear on the page. It is for determining its usefulness and quality according to their unrevealed criteria of 200.
- Search engine spiders than index your pages to their body if they find it relevant. They catalog them to compare it with other websites that rank in the subject to find a suitable spot for this specific content in any search queries that may be undertaken by users.
Considering that a search query may have a pool of more than 471,000,000 results to list in front of users (which is the exact number for the query of "What Is SEO?"), getting indexed is not a big deal.
However, the real problem and their answers lie in the work you're going to give to optimize your content's appearance and its quality even BEFORE and AFTER you publish it.
Will your page appear on the last page of the search query, or will you battle with the anchors of the web on the first page?
There are a lot of criteria you will have to meet, and here, we are going to list the most crucial.
How Do Google Search Rankings Work?
People will demand information about something that they are curious about, and we do that all the time. Google single-handedly take cafe of more than 2 trillion searches per year.
Let that number sink in for a moment because it is the figure you'll get if you multiply the current population of the US (which is 327 million) by a whopping three thousand.
As you see, there are a lot of searches, and every page that says they have the ultimate information for how to rank on #1 can't rank itself at the top.
Therefore, Google has an official guideline regarding what they consider when indexing pages and cataloging them for future queries.
Let's see and grasp some of the most crucial factors to get the fundamentals fixed before we proceed any further because our base has to be okay.
Google and other search engines ask these questions when they freshly discover a web page:
- What is the purpose of this page, and does this purpose comply with the outline?
- Does this page have any sort of authority, expertise, or trustworthiness over the subject they claim?
- How long is the content, and is it written with a quality style, or is it produced for phishing purposes?
- What is known about this website, and the person or the organization that runs it?
- Is this website and the person or the organization behind it reputable, or are they known for their frowned upon practices?
As you see, these criteria are quite broad when it comes to getting to know the source of a website and ranking for users to benefit. However, these are the basics, and there are more than 200 criteria for your website to catch up.
Before we proceed to them, let's distinguish the line between the on-page SEO and off-page SEO practices to have a better understanding of the creative and the technical aspects of search engine optimization.
Nevertheless, if we don't take care of technical SEO early on, all of our efforts may go vain.
Therefore, it is crucial for any webmaster to take care of some of the essentials at first before they proceed to start building links and produce content.
What Is Technical SEO?
If you don't have the base secured before you go out to conquer, you may face many difficulties in the late stage. You may not understand the importance of having a proper website that works on every circumstance just quite yet.
But rest assured that Google knows, and they prefer websites that meet certain criteria before they even consider other factors that fall under off-page SEO and on-page SEO.
It's not all about the search engine spiders, tough. User experience is key, not just for having happy customers but for the technical aspect of your website too.
You can't expect people to sit and wait for your website to load if it doesn't open under three seconds or less.
We have a lot of things going on in our lives, and you will fail as a webmaster if you don't make sure that every user happily leaves your website.
Here, we are going to list the most important factors you should consider when building and preparing your website and what you can optimize to the fullest to prevent any future headache that may haunt you later.
Prepare Your Robots.txt File
You have finally launched your website and ready to rock the world!
However, there is one main thing you should learn about Google's and other search engines' crawling habits and methods. You have to lead them through the way because they won't do it on their own.
Well, actually, they can do it on their own, but wouldn't it be nice to have a tool to fine-tune their parameters, and block certain spiders from crawling your pages if you wish so?
Yes, that would be great. And with a file called 'robots.txt,' it's possible for you to do all of that.
With this file, you can indicate web crawlers which pages are going to be indexed on your website, or which ones will not. And not only that you can exclude certain pages from getting crawled (like your admin panel or other individual folders), you can disallow specific bots to pass your site.
However, you should know the fact that some search engine spiders can ignore this wall. Malicious crawlers can have access to your website as they are on their own to obey or not.
In that case, you may think regarding other plans that will protect your sensitive data, such as multi-factor authentication.
- Don't forget that the link structure of your robots.txt file should be formatted for a specific path to get the best experience, such as "www.example.com/sitemap.xml. "
- Also, you should locate the file in your top root folder. If you do not meddle with the technical part of the website, this may come as a bit tricky.
- If you have a blog on your site or other subfolders, you have to create a specific file for them in their respective directives. Hence, if you have a subdomain such as "blog.example.com," it should have its own path.
- It would be ideal for you to locate your sitemap XML paths at the bottom of the file with the format of "Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap.xml."
In order to prepare your file, you have to open a notepad on your device with the exact case sensitive name and extension of "robots.txt" and use the formula to list the user agents you would like to allow or disallow:
User-agent: [User-Agent name, here's a list]
Disallow: [The URL that's not supposed to be crawled]
In that, having the formula we embedded alone will only disallow Bingbot to crawl our pages, and will allow all others:
Utilize SSL (HTTPS)
Secure Sockets Layer, also known as SSL, is a secure cryptographic protocol that encrypts the communication between the users and the webserver.
Therefore, it is a known fact that websites with SSL certificates always top other websites in the subject of security and privacy.
It is quite easy to distinguish a website with SSL and a counterpart with no encryption.
Websites with SSL have their URLs start with 'https://' instead of regular 'http://' that we are familiar for years. You can use a web infrastructure provider like Cloudflare to take of this.
In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS is essential, and they want to see it everywhere. Also, they said that they now consider having a secure encryption system as a direct ranking signal.
Also, in 2018, all HTTP sites on the web have been marked as "not secure" by Google on their famous web browser, Google Chrome.
Prioritize Mobile Performance
Your site has to be responsive to appear as sleek as possible on all other devices, not just PC.
As a matter of fact, 52.2% of all web queries came from mobile devices as of 2018, and you can expect that number to increase significantly in 2020.
Computers' dominance of the online world is long forgotten since 2016 when mobile usage had a spike.
After those improvements, in 2016, Google announced that having a responsive website that is compatible with all devices in the market is a significant ranking factor.
That statement changed the course of the internet as more and more webmasters started making their website mobile-friendly.
And the last nail in the coffin came from Google in 2018 with another announcement.
Google started to prioritize the crawl websites that enabled the feature we know as "mobile indexing." However, this is about how Google gathers content, not how it ranks them.
Nevertheless, it is also known and announced that websites that enabled mobile indexing through Search Console experienced a huge increase in their crawl rate through Smartphone Googlebot. You can expect this policy of "mobile-first" to go further every passing day.
Speed Up Your Website
It is a no-brainer, but many webmasters fail to implement this to their sites. Google clearly stated out that having a fast site is a direct ranking factor, and officially released a tool to test your page speed.
There are several criteria you need to take care of if you wish to speed up your website, and believe us, you would want that as it's not only a primary ranking factor but also a crucial pillar in user experience and satisfaction.
- Use a proper hosting service. If you're trying to make a pie from turd, you already know what you should expect at the end. Start good and make sure that your hosting service responds rapidly to queries.
- As well as your hosting is crucial, your choice in a reliable and fast DNS provider is essential too. Here are some free ones for you to get started.
- You should always strive to keep the use of plugins and scripts on your site to a minimum. Too many HTTP requests can slow down your site significantly.
- Your usage of CSS is quite important if you wish to make your website look good, but don't compromise on speed to appear cool. You should use a single CSS stylesheet instead of multiple or inline CSS stylesheets. CSSNano is a Google-approved modular minifier that can take care of the job.
- When uploading images and videos to your website, make sure that the files are properly compressed, and the sizes are as small as possible without causing any pixelation. If you use WordPress, you can easily take advantage of plugins, or you can use a third-party such as TinyJPG to the job for you.
- Minimizing your image sizes is good, but you should also compress your web pages to lessen their sizes. A third-party called GZIP is capable of doing this.
Beware Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content isn't going to tank your rankings, but it can be a pain in the back if you don't take of it early on and let the piles of same pages build up upon time.
When you post content through your website, more than one version of it gets published, and it will have many links directing to that article or product.
Well, you can easily guess that Google and other search engines don't like the idea of duplicate content because it is both confusing for spiders and users.
And if there is something on your website that doesn't make the job of the spiders easier and the experience smoother for users, you should immediately get rid of it.
- Preventing your content management system (CMS) from publishing multiple versions of your page can easily fix this issue. But this is not always the case because sometimes you may want to have duplicate versions each intended for some purpose.
- If you want your pages to have duplicates, you have to notify the search engine bots about this situation by implementing a canonical link attribute to your pages. In that way, you can point out to the original and preferred version of the content.
Create Your XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is just what its name indicates, a roadmap for search engines and possibly users to navigate your site easily. In that case, you can easily make your website get crawled a lot faster and in an accurate manner by showing the path to the bots.
It contains detailed information regarding your page and can ease the burden of the search engine spiders by a lot.
Google recommends that all websites have a proper XML sitemap and submit it frequently to their system.
By examining an XML sitemap, you can easily determine the factors down below, such as:
- When a page was created and modified on this site.
- What's the priority and importance of that page on the website.
- How frequently the page gets updated by the webmaster.
You can create an XML sitemap for your site using a sitemap generator, or if you have active plugins on your CMS such as WordPress SEO by Yoast and All in One SEO Pack, these can create a sitemap for you. You don't have to do much.
Some certain tags are compulsory to be in your sitemap, and there are some that are optional. You can learn more about these tags from here.
- In order to optimize your sitemap, we recommend that you locate it in your website's root folder. It is optimal to have all of the URLs emerge from the same host at all times.
- If you remember the duplicate content issue we vented above, let's point out that only the canonical versions of your pages should be included in your sitemap to prevent confusion.
- Also, you should make sure that your sitemap is located in your robots.txt folder exactly like this "Sitemap: http://example.com/sitemap.xml" form.
- If you have a really large website, you should create multiple sitemaps as a single one can't be larger than 10 MB or 50,000 entries at most. In that case, you will need to create a sitemap for your sitemaps too! Well, this escalated from zero to a hundred real quick.
Enable AMP for Mobile Friendliness
AMP is the next step for your mobile optimization. This Google-backed project uses a special code known as AMP HTML to deliver the content from websites to users as rapidly as possible.
Considering that Google puts so much emphasis on having a mobile-friendly and fast website, implementing this special piece of code to your pages is almost essential for any webmaster that wishes to rank high on mobile queries.
And in the near future, it is guaranteed for us to see the rise of AMP even further.
AMP versions of web pages tend to load extremely swiftly on mobile devices due to the code's nature of stripping the content from all of its images, videos, scripts, and any unnecessary codes that will slow down your website.
In this case, we can say that the AMP version of your webpages resembles a ghost site as Google does not query your servers for any updates to fetch any new information from your end.
As you may guess, AMP has a significant impact on SEO as users generally prefer pages that implement AMP over the ones that do not.
However, as there are great pros for having this piece of code, there are also significant cons. Let's have a moment to talk about those.
We increased the volume of internet customers by 65% with a 6-month study of Kelebek website. We doubled the volume of brand search in a very short time.
With an 8-month work on Dagi’s online sales site, we achieved 45% growth in the internet sales. We brought Dagi to the first page on Google in many of the products Dagi offered.
With a 3-month study of the Journavel travel blog site, we increased the visitor traffic by 30%. We made Jornavel the most searched travel blog on Google.
Pros of AMP
- Possibly better rankings on Google due to a significant boost in speed as it is a direct ranking factor.
- Neil Patel's study shows that having a one-second delay in loading speed can result in a 7% loss of conversion rates. Therefore, as your page speeds up, you can expect to close more sales.
- Less strain on your servers, but this is only applicable if you have a lot of mobile traffic.
- You'll have a chance to get featured on Google's carousel news that sits on the #0 of queries.
Cons of AMP
- No ad revenue as Google strips your page down to its bones. This is huge. Therefore, having AMP implemented on pages that rely on ad revenue is directly out of the question.
- No analytics dedicated to the page as your server won't be queried. It will be a lot harder for you to keep track of your page's statistics.
- Possibility of content variation on computers and mobile devices.
- Your content will be shown from Google's own cache, so it may have a negative effect on brand awareness as your domain will not be shown to the user.
Info regarding pioneer companies' statistics before and after they start using AMP for certain product pages.
Enable Structured Data Markup
Structured data is an enterprise commonly known as "Schema.org," and it is a collective effort of pioneer companies such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.
We're witnessing something significant here as this collaboration shows the joint work of different leading search engines striving to make the internet a better place for users to experience.
This project's mission is to collect and catalog all the data on the web and provide it to users who query it in a structured and tidy approach.
As an SEO aspect, implementing structured data can help search engines to index your pages with more relevance and more effectively as a whole.
As of 2020, only 56,6% of available sites on the web utilize structured data. So you have a good chance to boost your site's rankings, conversions, and click-through-rate by large margins only by implementing the highly beneficial Schema or other structured data markups to your site.
Google and other collaborative search engines encourage their users to use structured data, and they do this by providing certain benefits to websites on search results.
Let's see some of those features that you'll get access to by embedding Schema markups to your site code.
Rich search results
You see those every day. When you search for a recipe, a card suddenly appears on top of any search result, easing the burden. These can appear as articles, books, carousels, corporate contacts, courses, critic reviews, etc. They are all different on the visual side and great for capturing the attention of your audience.
These are quite similar to rich search results, but the main difference is they appear on mobile searches instead of desktops.
Enriched Search Results
These are almost the same as rich search results, but have a distinct feature that distinguishes them. You can directly interact with these types of results. For example, you can directly apply for a job posting through these enriched markups.
You've probably seen those graphs thousands of times on the right side of the search page. They include information regarding a corporate or brand such as their phone number, address, email, and more. And if you own or represent a business, it is essential for user interaction.
Rich results for AMP
Remember AMP from the upper section? Yes, you can use rich results with AMP if you implement the required Schema markup to ur AMP powered pages.
These change the extension of your domain to categorize and give a better experience to users. If you have a news site and a basketball article, your content will appear in the results with an URL appearing as domain> News > Basketball. A recent study shows us that users tend to prefer breadcrumbs over naked URLs.st
What Is Off-Page SEO?
Here comes the technical aspect of SEO, and it requires a great deal of attention to get it right.
Here, you will meet terms like link building, backlinks, domain-level features such as PageRank, TrustRank, and social metrics that'll compose the backbone of any of your likely SEO efforts.
We have to be careful when it comes to building ground for your website to prosper because studies have shown us that off-page SEO factors will be accountable for more than 50% of your future SEO practices and operations.
Backlinks and Link Building
As you may notice in this article, I linked some statistics and studies that resemble the percentages and other various information that was mentioned in the content.
Here, you found out about the most crucial factor that distinguishes a website from its competitors. And the theory behind it is pretty straightforward to grasp.
When Google was founded in 1998, there were only a couple of other search engines operating at the time. However, these enterprises lacked one thing that would build the internet today as we know it, and it was a direct ranking factor that will differentiate the pages in its index and present it with a tidy approach to the user.
Google had one distinct idea when it comes to ranking different pages in the search queries, and it was kind of revolutionary.
An algorithm named PageRank would determine a page's relevancy to the user query by the quantity and the quality of the links a page has been able to obtain.
In this way, the era of the backlinks has begun.
Therefore, after this innovation, the main ranking factor that will secure a spot for you on the first page of SERPs rapidly changed.
If other authoritative sites in your field would be willing to provide you with some backlinks, that meant that your content must be relevant to the subject.
In that case, your page must be reliable enough for Google to present it to the users and not receive any backlash from angry users that will find the content absolutely unrelated to their queries.
As you may guess, this resulted in Google's quick rise to power and domination of the search engine market to this day.
All Link Types (Nofollow & Dofollow + More)
When you get into the world of SEO, it is almost inevitable for you to meet the HTML terms dofollow and nofollow. And you have to get a good grasp of them.
These two represent the backlinks you will receive or provide, and all links have either one of the attributes.
- Dofollow links: These links are regular, and they pass link equity. Therefore, if you get some statistics from a source for your content, it would be best for you to link them with the dofollow attribute because our main goal is to endorse them. Hence, when you strive to build links from other sites, it would be your best interest to get your links with this attribute.
- Nofollow links: This counterpart has a major difference when it comes to passing authority. Google or other search engines, don't follow these links and pass almost no link equity. Nevertheless, some people believe through their experiments that nofollow links still has some influence over the rankings. Therefore, if you still want to link to somewhere but you don't want to endorse the page, it will be a good idea for you to use this attribute. As you may guess, these links are significantly less valuable than their dofollow peers, but still, it can bring in organic traffic as humans have no possible way to tell if a link is dofollow or not if they don't have the proper SEO tools. A link is still a link in this case.
- Sponsored links: Google recently announced this, and it seems like this link type will resolve a massive problem in the SEO community. As we mentioned earlier, it's not a great idea to get paid links as dofollow links. It's strictly forbidden by Google, and they would want you to get it as a nofollow link. However, with the recent addition, it is now possible to get paid links with this attribute. We still don't know too much about it, but the experts believe that these links will pass significantly less PageRank than dofollow links.
- UGC Links: This was announced at the same time with sponsored links, and it is an alternative for nofollow links. UGC is the abbreviation of user-generated content, and Google wants you to get your forum, signature, comment directory backlinks with this attribute as they are user-generated links. It will be logical to expect those links to pass less equity.
Are Backlinks Still Important?
This question is asked by many people who are interested in SEO as a field, and the answer to it is pretty clear.
Yes, backlinks still have the most substantial portion of the pie when it comes to direct ranking factors. Its importance may be declining and leaving its spot to Google's EAT policy.
However, still, Google has no other possible way to determine a page's expertise, trustworthiness, and authority other than perceiving its backlinks as direct endorsements.
Nevertheless, there are three types of backlinks you will usually get or give during your Webmastering journey:
These are links you will receive without making any direct approaches. Therefore, if you post a guide regarding how to get backlinks, you may get referenced and mentioned on an SEO pioneer's own guide. The link you will receive without even knowing about it will be a natural link, and to Google's perception, these are the most genuine endorsements you can receive. As an expected result, your PageRank will be affected significantly. There are a lot of tips to increase your chances of getting natural backlinks, and we'll talk about them later in this article.
Manually Built Links
After that, we will meet the term of manually built links, and those will be your primary weapon to rank high on Google search results. Let's assume that you are providing website building services. In that case, when you ask for a customer to link back to your service after they launch their site, and they do it, that will be a manually built link. You should be extremely careful when it comes to building your link profile to be relevant to your subject because there is a chance for Google to perceive those as paid links if the foundation of the linking website is not related to yours. Let's not forget the fact that link scheming to trick Google's algorithm is forbidden, and it will result in you getting a manual penalty or even deindexed in some extreme cases.
Self-created links are pretty self-explanatory. These are the links that will be created for over-optimized anchor texts to be placed in online directories, forums, blogs, signatures, and more. However, as we emphasized above, you should be extremely careful when building links on your own because there is a chance of your links doing more harm than any good. Even when manually creating them, your links should appear natural. Otherwise, your links may get perceived as a product of black hat SEO, and that may slow down or completely halt your progress on obtaining the authority you need.
All of the links you're going to receive will pass some sort of "juice" or equity to your website. And as we want our website to rank higher in search results and build authority over competitors, we should be extremely picky when it comes to which links we receive will pass their equity to our domain.
Because not only can you get positive effects from getting a handful of links, but you can experience hell on earth if the links you receive are coming from low quality, spammy, and harmful sites overall.
Analyzing Your Backlink Profile
While building links is essential for any SEO efforts, keeping track of the links you receive, and having absolute control over them is also quite crucial.
Actually, there are plenty of reasons for an SEO expert to make an audit and keep a list of the acquired backlinks and examinations of them through various SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush.
Let's see the advantages of keeping an eye on your backlinks throughout the SEO process:
- You are going to receive links from low-quality sites, even if it is direct action, or they appear naturally over time. If you don't know about those links, they may deteriorate your efforts and reduce your site's authoritativeness, reliability, and expertise in the perception of Google spiders. In the following section, you're going to learn more regarding what you can do to overcome the backlash of any low-quality backlinks.
- You can also check your competitors' backlinks with these SEO tools to take note of the websites you should strive to get backlinks and to learn how tough it will be to outrank your rivals. As you may recall, if you see that your competitors have a lot of backlinks from authority sites with over 80 DR, your chances of landing on the top spot get a lot harder to manifest.
Determining the Equity of a Link
There are a couple of signals that can indicate the amount of juice a backlink will pass to you.
Actually, there's no strict way of saying that a backlink will add that much equity to your website, but you can still get a good idea about a link's quality and its potential effects on your website through the factors we're going to list.
- It's not that wise to expect to get a lot of link equity from an internal link.
Therefore, if the link you receive is external, you're going to receive the most equity. Moz's study found out that 99.2% of all top 50 results have at least one external backlink linking to their domain. We mentioned above why Google puts so much importance in the external backlinks.
- If your backlink is from a website with high domain and page authority (peep the numbers), your received link juice will be more top too.
Therefore, it's always a good idea to get one proper backlink from a trusted and reliable website with high DA and PA (like InstaFollowers) instead of getting tons of backlinks from unrelated and faulty websites. A good rule of thumb is striving for at least 30+ DR when getting your backlinks. You can check a domain's DA and a page's PA with various SEO tools.
- As much as it's crucial to get your links from a trustworthy domain, the page level is quite vital too.
This link building thing may get quite complicated from time to time but bear with us. You should always check if the page you're striving to get links from has it's own links pointed at it. In short, we can say that having a lot of quality backlinks will also is a good indicator of a page's link equity. Don't forget that with various tools, you can check other websites' link profiles too.
- The place of the link you're going to receive is also quite crucial.
As you may know, it's possible to get backlinks from various spots like the footer, header, signatures, the context of the content, and more. We wonder if you can guess which one of those will be more valuable in the eyes of Google. If you answered with context links, that's correct. When your link naturally appears in the body of an article, you will get the most link juice. Also, having your link placed close to the top of the content increases your link's quality a bit more.
- When someone links you through their content, they usually do this through an anchor text as well as they can do it through a naked URL.
In that case, having your anchor texts NATURALLY optimized for your keywords is a good signal that you will receive a lot of link equity from the linking counterpart. However, please notice the word naturally here, because having too many backlinks with over-optimized anchor texts can actually ruin your backlink profile. To prevent this, it's always a good idea to have full control and examination over your links and get in touch with other webmasters in a case where you detect a pattern of over-optimized links.
- Sometimes we get in touch with people, other SEO experts, and build cooperation.
There is nothing wrong with that, but getting tons of links from a single root domain can be problematic if you don't keep things under control. Search engines pass more link equity through root domains. That means getting single links from a lot of domains always will top getting a lot of links from a single domain. Also, by distributing your backlinks to different domains, you decrease your chances of losing all of your backlinks in a case where the domain shuts down. On top of that, you decrease your chance of getting a manual penalty from Google because if the domain that provides a hundred links to gets penalized, there's a good chance for you to notice penalizes too.
- Additionally, we mentioned this, but it is essential to get a hold of it before we proceed any further.
If you wish to receive any notable link equity, it's crucial for you to make sure that the backlink you received has a dofollow attribute. If you don't, that means the linking side points out to search engines that they don't want their website to be associated with yours. Therefore, most big publishers fixed their external links to be nofollow. Nevertheless, getting a nofollow link is better, having no links at all as they can bring in organic traffic through user interactions.
- As the last point, you should always check if the backlinks you receive are working without any issues.
If you somehow decide to delete or remove the content that has the backlinks, any person (or the bots) that follows that link will encounter a 404 error page. It is known by the SEO community that having broken pages is a direct ranking factor on Google and will result in you losing PageRank. Therefore, if you have backlinks pointing to an unexisting page, your best choice of action actually has a redirect from that page to the next most relevant page on your website. Don't forget that user experience is crucial and redirect your visitors to entirely somewhere else. It is known that 301 redirects pass almost all of the original link juice. Hence, you won't have much problem if you wish to remove or change your pages.
Identifying Harmful Backlinks
As you make your backlink analysis, identifying the harmful ones becomes quite crucial, especially for websites that have been up and running for a time.
Therefore, it is a good starting point to make your analysis every week because it won't be that easy to identify the 18 types of harmful backlinks that may directly hurt your site and cause you to be deindexed.
There are a couple of criteria you should consider when identifying a link as harmful, and it will be a good idea to consider the following criteria we listed down below:
- One of the most prominent things that indicate that a link is low quality lies in the root. If the root domain that references the link has weak domain-based metrics such as Majestic Citation & Trust Flow, Moz Domain Authority and Page Authority, you can quickly get ahead of your schedule and save a lot of time because Google's general perception of those websites will be quite similar to the metrics we're measuring.
- You can easily spot a link with infelicity by checking its country-based domain extension, also known as CCTLD. It will be quite irrelevant for a shoe store in the US to get a backlink from a Russian website that provides web hosting services. Nevertheless, you shouldn't be too quick to jump to conclusions because the link you gain can be quite relevant in some cases — context matters.
- As we mentioned above, getting irrelevant links is one of the most successful guaranteed ways of getting penalized by Google. Therefore, you should always be careful when checking your links and their source. As we stated in the last step, you won't get much link juice with a shoe store website from a web hosting service website. However, if you somehow managed to get a backlink from a leather manufacturer, that would be good.
- You should always check the number of outgoing links that belong to a website if something seems shady. With common sense and known information, we can easily say that giving out a ton of links to people reduces your links' credibility and equity. Therefore, it would be ideal for you to get backlinks from websites that didn't put many outbound links.
- There's not a guaranteed way for you to know if a site has been penalized or banned by Google, but visiting its home page to check its PageRank score can give you some insight. If a website is sanctioned, its PR will appear as "0 or N/A" at all times on the main page. As you may guess, you wouldn't want to get links from those websites. They can drag you down with them. If a site has no social media presence, it is a good indicator that they don't take their thing seriously, and you shouldn't get their links. Google puts importance on your social media metrics as an indicator of reliability, and websites with no active profiles on social media networks lost the battle from the start.
- We also recommended that you check the anchor text profile of the target site. Spammy sites always over-optimize their anchors, and you can't possibly miss it. It's suicide for any business to get links from a website with thousands of spammy and over-optimized links. Always stay away from those sources to protect your website from getting a manual penalty.
- If a website has little to no indexed pages on Google, that is a good indicator that they received a penalty or ban from Google not too long ago. You can check this by typing "site:domain.xxx" and changing it with correct information on any Google query. In this way, you will be presented with all of the indexed pages of that root domain.
Also, if you're still not a hundred percent sure about a link's fate, you can quickly identify the root of the link by asking yourself the following questions:
- Was this link produced only for SEO purposes, or is it something that happened in its natural course?
- Can I get organic traffic and raise brand awareness by having this link directing to my site? Or no one's going to see it other than the spiders?
- Would I get in trouble if someone files a complaint against this link, or is there nothing wrong with it?
Using Google's Disavow Tool
Disavowing is an essential SEO practice for any website that's out there trying to hang on to any keyword on search queries.
Don't be fooled to think that you will quickly climb to the top to hold it for years and enjoy the benefits.
On the contrary, SEO is one of the few places you shouldn't expect any kind of sportsmanship and egalitarianism when it comes to competing for the top.
People are going to get shady to undermine your success, and you have to be ready to stand your ground in a case where your desperate competitors try to do negative SEO.
The most common practice of negative SEO is to build backlinks with automated programs against a competitor with inappropriate and harmful anchor texts from low-quality and spammy websites.
That's the part where you need to take action and deny any links belonging to these schemes to protect your rankings and authority.
If you've compiled the backlinks you want to deny from your website, you can use a Disavow Tool to start the process of getting rid of harmful backlinks.
Other Off-Page SEO Practices
Building and earning links for your website is the most significant practice that can increase your rankings on Google and other search engines, but off-site SEO is not limited to some redirections you'll get from other sites.
Actually, anything you do outside of your website to increase your likelihood of acquiring new customers through your website counts in this category, and there are some crucial matters you need to take care of.
Let's see some of them, and how you can optimize those aspects for your website to increase your rankings.
- Social media marketing
- Guest blogging
- Building brand awareness
- Influencer marketing
- Social bookmarking
- Forum submissions
- Blog directory submissions
- Web 2.0 submissions
- Distribution of video content and infographics
What Is On-Page SEO?
Besides from its counterpart, On-Page SEO is all about user experience, making your website appear as good as possible, and guiding the search spiders to the right direction to efficiently do their thing.
It deals with matters such as keyword optimization, relevancy, the content's itself, title tags, meta descriptions, headings and subheadings, URL structure (slug), image alternative texts, proper internal linking, etc.
You can think of On-Page SEO as the essentials. As any website launched and maintained without an appropriate internal treatment won't be able to build a stable and prosperous outline.
On top of that, any link building you do will be in vain as the crawling spiders won't enjoy the view they will stumble upon.
First of all, we should get a better understanding of the importance of the content and what it takes to create a unique one. Then we will start going over more detailed and technical topics.
What Makes Good Content?
Here, again we meet the term EAT which is the abbreviation of "Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness."
Google expects you to be an expert in the field you write about.
They also expect you to represent an organization or person that resembles authority and has the trust of search engines and the searches.
This is something all approve in order to make the internet a better place for all of us to use and benefit fully. EAT protects your search queries to be stuffed with irrelevant, thin, and wretched pieces of so-called content.
Your content should reflect your subject at all times. Relevancy is one of the most prominent factors when it comes to securing the top spot on Google rankings.
Therefore, you should make sure that your copy resembles your topic, and the search engines get to know it by proper directing.
Optimize Your Content Through Keywords
Google and other search engines are far smarter than they were back then. Nowadays, they don't solely rely on the keywords stuffed in the article to decide if it is relevant and rich in context.
Back then, having a phrase embedded in your every sentence could secure a spot for you. But these days of misery are long gone.
They have a greater and more complex algorithm to perform these tasks today, but they still put importance in the usage of keywords, gently sprinkled on top of the text.
There is not a strict figure that you should apply to all of your content, but leaving the text to have its natural form will be enough to have a strong foundation.
Notice how many times the term "SEO" was mentioned in this article. Not that much. Noting the search engines a few times will be enough for them to catch the point.
How to Do Keyword Research
In order to have the proper information regarding what keywords to include in your content, you should do keywords research and perform a clean analysis.
In that case, it is evident that you will need a proper SEO tool to do the job for you. Well-known giants like Ahrefs and SEMrush are the most prominent paid options. You can see the search volume of each keyword that your competitors use, and that is very beneficial.
All you have to do is typing in the potential keywords that reflect the subject of your copy to the designated area. After the query is done, you can view how many times a month your keywords get searched, search habits, CPC, related suggestions, questions, comparisons, click rates, desktop and mobile volume, age range, and a complete list of SERPs.
There are two types of keywords that you should get accustomed to. We should get ahold of them as they will be included in our title tags, headings, and crucial meta descriptions. Let's see them.
When you do your research, you will encounter keywords that have thousands of searches per month. These will be broad terms like "SEO," "Backlinks, "WordPress." As a new website with a low to moderate domain rating, it won't be quite possible for you to rank on the first page for those terms.
However, still, you should aim to include those broad terms to your text in order to signal the search engine spiders regarding your page's relevancy to the topic.
And who knows? Maybe your article is good enough to battle with the best out there, and you may secure a spot for yourself in the first page, or get a featured snippet.
Quite easy to distinguish from their counterparts, long-tail keywords should form the backbone of your content. Usually, more than three phrases all combined make up these keywords that get far--less searched. They have a volume of 20 to 500, but the volume is not their most prominent benefit.
Long-tail keywords are much easier to rank on as the competition is not that strong. If you consider that you can rank for up to thousands of keywords, you can easily stack them up and get an amazing traffic profile while specifically reaching your target audience at the same time.
Present an Absolute Solution
If you wish your content to rank high, it should be able to get a lot of clicks and have an outline interesting enough to capture the attention of the reader, so they don't leave the page immediately, but still get want they want out of it.
In that case, you have to find a problem that you can answer or make your readers' or visitors' life easier.
As a matter of fact, the bounce rate is an important ranking factor on Google, and you wouldn't want your visitors to leave the page as soon as it loads.
Therefore, content directly answering a question or branch of questions can get a lot of clicks from different sources, and take advantage of visitors' curiosity to make them stay longer on the site.
Make Your Content Lengthy
Recent studies show that a content's length in characters has a direct correlation with its success in search results. The top content usually has around 1.500 to 2.500 words.
In that way, they can cover a subject that is far more in detail and will rank on more keywords as expected. As we mentioned that giving an ultimate solution is optimal, having a larger canvas can help you to reach a broader audience.
Here, it is possible to see that larger content performs better on Google SERPs.
Link to Reputable Sources
When writing quality content, it will be inevitable for you to use statistics to some extent. And when using external information to back up your context, it will be ideal for you to link back to the source you get the info from.
Therefore, we suggest that you do your fact checks before you decide to use some stats from an article. The link's domain rating is also extremely crucial for SEO practices.
We know that Google relies on your guidance to detect your relevance, and linking back to authoritative websites in your field will indicate the spiders regarding that you have your facts right.
Do Proper Internal Linking
You know about the internal links, as we mentioned earlier in this article. Besides its technical advantages, the most important aspect of its effects can be seen in user experience.
As an optimal choice, we want our visitors to stay on our website as long as possible. This will indicate the search engines that the user is having a good time and enjoying the content. Hence, our rankings will be affected directly.
If you're preparing an article about Instagram Stories and mention the Instagram Story Highlights at one point, linking to relevant content on your site (if you have it) will be much more beneficial for you to than not doing anything. People may get curious about the topic, and start their reading process from scratch.
Write Capturing Titles
When someone searches for a term on Google, they will encounter two blocks of texts with the sole purpose of getting more clicks.
These are titles and meta descriptions. And titles play a large role in your article's click-through rate. They represent the headline of a book.
- Get the length right: Search engines mostly show the first 50-60 characters of a title on SERPs. Therefore, what you put is extremely vital. Google has a restriction regarding these tags as they contain them at 600 pixels.
- Address your audience: Your title should be written to the audience base you want to attract. In that case, you have to think like a customer and keep your titles distinct from your competitors.
- Use keywords sparingly: The title tag should always contain the target keyword of content. And it would be best if it appeared at the start of the title for maximum efficiency. However, don't stuff it with phrases, and trust in moderation to prevent being perceived as spam by bots.
- Include brand name: It doesn't matter if you represent a brand that is well-known or some recent innovative. Either way, adding your brand name to the titles will help you to raise brand awareness and get more clicks in the long run.
- Answer questions: Studies show that titles directed at common user questions create 14.1% more clicks. In that case, we see the reason why Google puts so much importance on authoritativeness and expertise.
Get Attention With Meta Descriptions
Besides from title tags, you'll see meta descriptions located at the bottom of a SERP, containing a couple of bolded phrases and strong cal-to-actions.
Google doesn't consider meta descriptions as a direct ranking factor, but having a proper one going can increase your CTR by quite a lot.
- The length: Search engines show approximately the first 130-160 characters of a prepared meta description. If you go aboard, your description may get cut out by Google. Just as the same, keeping it too short may not be enough to attract new visitors.
- Relevancy and introduction: Your meta descriptions should respect the subject of your article and act as an introduction to the article to give broad information regarding why users should take a look.
- Avoid duplication: If you do not have an automated tool or plugin to create descriptions for you or you do not do it manually, you may experience issues with duplicates, which is not ideal. Yoast SEO is a great plugin for WordPress to take care of that.
Headings and Subheadings
Headings and subheadings can be used to distribute your content to relevant parts and make it easier for search engine spiders to navigate, visitors to comprehend fully. These tags act in a hierarchy, and it is known that having a proper table of contents can, directly and indirectly, affect your rankings.
A study shows that only 16% of the visitors read a page from start to end while a whopping 79% of users hop to parts. This occurs because they are directly looking for something or an answer. In that case, guiding them is essential.
You can use headers with H1-H6 tags, and they have discrete uses in context.
- It is a common practice to include the H1 tag only at the top of the article. If you read the part about titles, you should know that, in general, H1 tags are designed to act as titles on a blog post.
- H2-H6 tags should be used in a hierarchical order to give an outline to the content and guide the readers in the right direction.
- You can use keywords in your headers to give an idea to the search engine spiders. So, they can more efficiently comprehend what the page represents and how it is going to rank it. However, be careful against stuffing.
- Header tags can help your content to secure a featured snippet if it reflects a well-asked question and helps users in a direct manner. Also, using bullet points and numerical lists can optimize your chances.
Optimize Your URL (Slug)
Your URL structure represents the backbone of your website and is directly crawled by search engine spiders. It can help users to browse certain categories with ease and help the spiders to understand your site structure.
Therefore, having a clear and plain slug is our goal here. Having the structure of "example.com/blog/seo" instead of "example.com/blog/general/what-is-seo-and-why-it-is-important" is far more efficient in the technical aspect, and more appealing to the keen eye of the users.
- Keep your URL short: Researches show that URLs around 15 characters work the best for SEO purposes. People have a tendency to prefer short links as they are more readable. You'd want your URL to appear in full on search results instead of getting cut.
- Include your keyword: Here we are, again. Including your keyword in slug is one of the essentials, and you should always strive for it. Keywords will stand out in search results as they appear in bold and can result in more clicks overall aside from more relevant rankings.
- Consider cutting out function words: As we mentioned above, including all of your titles in the URL might not be the best choice. You may want to leave out function words such as "a, an, the, with, by," and so on.
As you see, it is quite crucial to have a balanced ratio of positive user experience and optimization for search engine rankings. Dealing with only the technical part of your website and building links won't be enough to rank high on search queries as it is expected from you to have a properly functioning website.
You wouldn't want the spiders to encounter duplicate content, thin articles, disorganized page structure, or not any proper indicators to point out the page's relevancy to the reflected topic.
Therefore, you should strive to prepare your site as well as possible before you even go live and request an index. And don't forget, if the users will enjoy your content, the search engines will be satisfied too. Hence, there's a direct correlation there. Don't gamble all you got on overwhelming details.