Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results (known as "natural" or "organic" results), and excludes the purchase of paid placement.
SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.
Optimizing a website may involve editing its content, adding content, modifying HTML, and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the indexing activities of search engines. Promoting a site to increase the number of backlinks, or inbound links, is another SEO tactic. By May 2015, mobile search had surpassed desktop search.
To understand the true meaning of SEO, let's break that definition down and look at the parts:
Quality of traffic: You can attract all the visitors in the world, but if they're coming to your site because Google tells them you're a resource for Apple computers when really you're a farmer selling apples, that is not quality traffic. Instead you want to attract visitors who are genuinely interested in products that you offer.
Quantity of traffic: Once you have the right people clicking through from those search engine results pages (SERPs), more traffic is better. Organic results. Ads make up a significant portion of many SERPs. Organic traffic is any traffic that you don't have to pay for.
The following methods are common ways to improve a website’s SEO. These methods are called white hat SEO because they aim to improve search rank by improving the user’s experience on the website.
Increasing keyword depth
Improving the organization of content on the page
Search engines such as Google use an algorithm or set of rules to determine what pages to show for any given query. These algorithms have evolved to be extremely complex, and take into account hundreds or even thousands of different ranking factors to determining the rankings of their SERPs. However, there are three core metrics that search engines evaluate to determine the quality of a site and how it should rank:
Links - Links from other websites play a key role in determining the ranking of a site in Google and other search engines. The reason being, a link can be seen as a vote of quality from other websites, since website owners are unlikely to link to other sites which are of poor quality. Sites that acquire links from many other sites gain authority (called "PageRank" in Google) in the eyes of search engines especially if the sites that are linking to them are themselves authoritative.
Content - In addition to looking at links, search engines also analyze the content of a web page to determine if it would be relevant for any given search query. A large part of SEO is in creating content which is targeted towards the keywords that search engines users are searching for.
Page Structure - The third core component of SEO is page structure. Because web pages are written in HTML, how the HTML code is structured can impact a search engine’s ability to evaluate a page. Including relevant keywords in the title, URL, and headers of the page and making sure that a site is crawlable are actions that site owners can take to improve the SEO of their site.
The search engine optimization process involves optimizing each of these core components of search engine algorithms in order to rank higher in the search results.
Understanding how search engines work is only the first step of the process in improving a site's search rankings. Actually improving a site's rank involves leveraging various SEO techniques to optimize the site for search:
Keyword research is often the starting point for SEO and involves looking at what keywords a site is already ranking for, what keywords competitors rank for, and what other keywords potential customers are searching for. Identifying the terms that searchers use in Google search and other search engines provides direction on what existing content can be optimized and what new content can be created.
Once potential keywords are identified, content marketing comes into play. This can be updating existing content or creating brand new pieces of content. Because Google and other search engines place a premium on high-quality content, it's important to research what content is already out there and create a compelling piece of content that provides a positive user experience and has a chance of ranking highly in the search engine results. Good content also has a greater chance of being shared on social media and attracting links.
Because links from external websites (called "backlinks" in SEO parlance) are one of the core ranking factors in Google and other major search engines, obtaining high-quality backlinks is one of the main levers that SEOs have. This can involve promoting good content, reaching out to other websites and building relationships with webmasters, submitting websites to relevant web directories, and getting press to attract links from other websites.
In addition to off-page factors such as links, the improving the actual structure of the page can have tremendous benefits for SEO, and is a factor that is entirely in the control of the webmaster. Common on-page optimization techniques include optimizing the URL of the page to incorporate keywords, updating the title tag of the page to use relevant search terms, and using the alt attribute to describe images. Updating a page's meta tags (such as the meta description tag) can also be beneficial-- these tags don't have a direct impact on search rankings, but can increase click-though rate from the SERPs.
External links are not the only thing that matters for SEO, internal links (the links within one's own website) play a large role in SEO as well. Thus a search engine optimizer can improve a site's SEO by making sure key pages are being linked to and that relevant anchor text is being used in those links to help improve a page's relevance for specific terms. Creating and XML sitemap can also be a good way for larger pages to help search engines discover and crawl all of the site's pages.
Another SEO strategy that SEO experts utilize is optimizing a website's semantic markup. Semantic markup (such as Schema.org) is used to describe the meaning behind the content on a page, such as helping to identify who the author of a piece of content is or the topic and type of content on a page. Using semantic markup can help with getting rich snippets displayed in the search results page, such as extra text, review stars, and even images. Rich snippets in the SERPs doesn't have an impact on search rankings, but can improve CTR from search, resulting in an increase in organic traffic.
As a fairly technical discipline, there are many tools and software that SEOs rely on to help with optimizing websites. Below are some commonly used free and paid tools:
Google Search Console (formerly known as "Google Webmaster Tools") is a free tool provided by Google, and is a standard tool in the SEO's toolkit. GSC provides rankings and traffic reports for top keywords and pages, and can help identify and fix on-site technical issues.
Keyword Planner is another free tool provided by Google, as part of their Google Ads product. Even though it is designed for paid search, it can be a great tool to use for SEO since it provides keyword suggestions and keyword search volume, which can be helpful when doing keyword research.
There are a number of link analysis tools out there, the two primary ones being AHREFs and Majestic. Backlink analysis tools allow users to analyze which websites are linking to their own website, or the websites of competitors, and can be used to find new links during link building.
There are many different SEO platforms that bring together many of the tools that SEOs need to optimize sites. Some of the most popular include Moz, BrightEdge, Searchmetrics, and Linkdex. These platforms track keyword rankings, help with keyword research, identify on-page and off-page SEO opportunities, and many other tasks related to SEO.
Most social media sites don't have a direct impact on SEO, but they can be a good tool for networking with other webmasters and building relationships that can lead to link building and guest posting opportunities.
I tried to cover as much as I could for a newbie to get started, but if you still have a question in your mind, feel free to give us a comment
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