What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Beginner’s Guide

18.03.24
Search Engine Optimization Beginner’s Guide

SEO is the most cost-effective, efficient, and organic way of getting traffic to your website. However, we are here to answer questions like:  What is SEO? How does it work? Should SEO work be conducted these days? What are the ways to make sure that SEO benefits you and brings you visitors/money?

Digipeak Agency’s SEO experts have put together a comprehensive guide that provides answers to all of your questions and is based on real experiences and sources.

In the present day, when a lot of us require something, it could be an answer to a question, an idea, a product, a strategy, or a service; we tend to check search engines. The recent data states that Google receives 3.5 billion searches daily. Search engines are extremely significant in our lifestyles, and even a part of a marketing strategy for so many businesses. Also, 49% of marketers see organic search as an activity that earns the most money.

Therefore, what is the best way to capitalize on the power of search engines to develop your business? Through this complete SEO guide, you will get all you need to get higher ranks on Google, acquire more traffic to your site, and build a better brand reputation.

What Does SEO Mean? 

SEO as an acronym means Search Engine Optimization. It is an acronym created by the first letters of the three words that are “Search Engine Optimization”. If we expand the initials of the SEO acronym:

  • Search: It involves what people do when they are required to locate an answer to a question or determine a product or service that suits their needs.
  • Engine: It indicates the search engine used by a person (for instance, Google or Bing).
  • Optimization: It is the process of search query optimization for the end user through the search engine.

What is SEO Definition?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) implies a set of methods, content, and tactical techniques, meant to adjust a website to the ranking algorithm of a search engine. Upon these processes, the page becomes easy to find, index, and display on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when appropriate queries are made, providing relevant results to the user’s search intent.

An Overview of SEO

SEO is about updating your website’s structure and content, so your pages can be found on search engines by people who are looking for the products you sell.

  • SEO is doing activities that help you to rank higher on Google and get more traffic to your site.
  •  Of course, Google is only one search engine. Other significant search engines are also Bing and Yandex, but the largest dataset is given by Google, and the most optimized system is therefore referred to as Google. SEO is mainly for Google on a big scale.
  • However, there are directory search engines as well; for example, Instagram is a search engine. Nevertheless, “Google” which has a 92% share of the market (98% in Turkey) leads the industry with a lot of software in the ecosystem (YouTube, etc.).

What are the Advantages of SEO?

People are looking for your brand to find out a whole host of information, some general and some specifically related to your brand. SEO provides opportunities to connect with these searching people, answer their questions, solve their problems, and to be a source of their trust.

  • More website traffic: Your website is optimized for search engines, it gets more traffic which is associated with higher brand visibility.
  • More customers: To optimize your website, you need to focus on keywords (words your ideal clients/visitors are looking for), resulting in more relevant and targeted traffic.
  • Better reputation and authority: A high ranking of Google makes you more credible for your business. However, not all, if Google has trust in you, the people will have trust in you too.
  • Higher return on investment (ROI): If you invest time and effort into marketing campaigns that will help in converting visitors to your website and its pages after the visitors arrive, Google will favor the pages that people interact with (whether they make purchases, search, fill out forms, etc.) giving you more exposure to more people.

Types of SEO

Google and other search engines look into many features when ranking the content. Leading and secondary factors are handled by algorithms as Google patents and remain hidden from end users, this is why SEO is multifaceted. The fundamental three types of SEO are on-page, off-page, and technical SEO:

  • On-Page SEO: It is about the quality and structure of the content on a page. Content quality, keywords, and HTML tags together are crucial in on-page SEO.
  • Off-Page SEO: It is a wide range of optimization efforts for other sites and pages of your site to make them trust your site and your brand name. Examples are backlinks, reputation management, and PR, among other off-page MVPs.
  • Technical SEO: It is the primary sub-type of SEO designed to make your site overall perform better in the search engines. These are the elements like site security (SSL and HSTS), UX, site performance (Core Web Vitals), JavaScript optimization, CMS, site architecture, etc.

The three types of SEO mentioned above are used for websites, but they also apply to the other three subtypes of SEO below:

  • Local SEO: It makes you rank as high as you can go on Google Maps and local results of SERP. Reviews, listings (business directories), and Google  Business profile optimization are important here.
  • Visual SEO: It is an on-page combination with a technical strategy to have the images on the pages of your website ranked in Google image search.
  • Video SEO: It is a mix of on-page, technical, and off-page tactics to make sure your videos rank in YouTube or Google video results.

Although all three subtypes depend on all three fundamental types of SEO, the level of reliance on each fundamental type varies. Visual SEO is based mostly on technical and on-page optimizations, while local SEO focuses more on off-page and on-page optimizations.

How Does SEO Work?

Therefore, what is Google’s method of deciding what to show on the search engine results page (SERP) for a particular query (search)? What other optimizations come into play past this determination and how do these optimizations translate into turning visitors into traffic? Now let’s see how SEO operates: 

  • Google’s search bots are always on the go and so they crawl the web and gather billions of web pages which they categorize and store in its index. When you look for something and Google returns results, it gets them from its index, not from the websites themselves.
  • The complex formula (referred to as algorithm) that Google uses to rank the results is based on some criteria (ranking factors – these will be spotlighted later) including the content’s quality, relevance to the search query, and the website (domain name) itself.
  • The way people interact with the results also shows if each page meets the needs of Google (or not), and that is integrated into the algorithm.

That is, SEO functions like a sophisticated feedback loop system that delivers consistent, accurate and relevant search results for any query you, Google and the searchers come up with. You need to create the content that will satisfy the expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) criteria that searchers want as identified by Google.

Google Ranking Factors in SEO

What are these requirements, though? What in reality defines quality, targeted, EAT-friendly and SEO-optimized content? The Google ranking factors are hundreds, even thousands, and the company is continuously developing and updating its algorithm to give the best possible user experience. Yet, there are 12 prioritized factors: 

  1. Consistent and regular publication of high-quality content (26%)
  2. Keywords in meta titles (17%)
  3. Backlinks (15%)
  4. Establishing authority in the niche (13%)
  5. User engagement (11%)
  6. Internal links (5%)
  7. Mobile-first design (5%)
  8. Page speed (2%)
  9. Site security/SSL certificate (2%)
  10. Schema markup and structured data (1%)
  11. Keywords in URL (1%)
  12. Keywords in H1 (1%)

However, do not get the factors wrong below this list. With more than 200 Google ranking factors, holistic SEO should be done without differentiating between the major and the minor ones. In this new age, what Google wants to see is that you are leading everywhere, in particular as a brand and that people trust you.

How To: On-Page SEO Optimization

Now, It is the proper time to discuss what seo is about, in regards to how seo is done and how you can align your website with these factors to rank higher on Google and receive more traffic. 

This will involve a mix of on-page, off-page and technical optimizations so we will structure our steps in line with this. The optimization steps to focus on while doing on-page (or On-page SEO) should be as follows:

  1. Start with keyword research.
  2. Create quality content targeting these keywords.
  3. Place your keywords within your content.
  4. Optimize your headings (H1-H6).
  5. Optimize your meta title and description.
  6. Add and optimize images (don’t forget to add ALT tags!).
  7. Provide internal and external links.

Begin with Keyword Research for SEO

Keyword research is the first stage of search engine optimization. These are the keywords that people intending to visit your site might type into Google or any other search engine and every page of your website needs to target different keywords to avoid competing with themselves.

For instance, if you have a website on interior decoration, every page should develop a keyword group for interior decoration in a style that is unique and relevant to the user’s search intent.

How to Do Keyword Research?

The basic steps to find the best keywords that will give you targeted results for your content when writing organic content are as follows: The basic steps to find the best keywords that will give you targeted results for your content when writing organic content are as follows:

  • Create a list. Start by putting down some of the words and phrases that your actual and desired clients would key in on Google. Think about their interests, desires, pain points, goals, and the language they use, which may not be the same as the language you as an expert uses.
  • Input the list into a keyword research tool. The tools that you use will provide you with the data on these keywords, so that you could identify the terms that you can realistically rank for and locate the best opportunities.Metrics include:

Search Volume: An average number per month for which a term or phrase was searched in a search engine.

Keyword Difficulty (KD): A ranking difficulty metric for a keyword.

Enter the emerging terms and data into a spreadsheet. Now these can be categorized and ordered in general themes. The optimal approach is to focus on keywords with a sufficient search volume to provide a good level of visibility without being too competitive and authoritative to rank for. 

Better to rank on the first page for the low-volume, low-competition keyword than not to rank at all for the high-volume, highly competitive keyword. The majority of the users ask long-tail questions to the search engines and look for proper answers.

Create Quality Content Targeting Keywords

Your main navigation (menu) pages (home, about us, contact, products, services) as well as any other keywords will only target keywords; most of the keywords will be targeted in your blog posts or long-form content. A quality and SEO-friendly blog post should include: 

  • Select search-intent keywords. Make sure that your content gives people the information they are looking for when they search for these keywords. So, always google the keyword first and then target it
  • Give a user-friendly experience. Arrange your content so that it reads easily, without too invasive pop-ups, CTAs, and other distracting elements. (Read more about this in the technical SEO section).
  • Develop organic content. Do not overload with keywords. Be conversational, as if you were talking to your visitors and not as a content writer trying to optimize for a search engine.
  • Be detailed and unique. Google is not interested in short, duplicated, or low-value pages. On the contrary, writing a well-researched content of 1,500-2,500 words that delivers correct and current data.
  • Be consistent. Utilize your heading tags to show the level of information that is on the page.

Place Your Keywords in Your Content

Of course, apart from the body of the content (the <body> part of the HTML), you may have to use your keywords at some strategic places on the page to let Google know what you are trying to communicate. However, how does one correctly position keywords in the content? Let’s take a look:

  • Content headline (heading tag)
  • Page title (H1 tag)
  • At least two H2 headlines
  • Image alternate (ALT) text
  • Image file name
  • Within the content (Naturally…)
  • URL structure
  • Meta description

… as well as other elements, you should structure the targeted keyword in a cohesive manner. However, do not overuse the keyword, as it can very quickly lead to peaking and dropping or even complete non-appearance in SERPs when you publish your content. Keyword stuffing is not classified as spam by Google but, instead, as low-quality content.

Optimize Your Headings

You actually have two headings for every page on your website. The title meta tag is the title that shows up on the search engine results page (SERP) and is the best location to place your keyword. H1 tag is the content headline, which is the big headline that we see on the page when we have clicked on it. It is vital that these are according to or include the keyword in question.

Ensure You’re Doing the Following to Optimize Your Headings:

  • Include your keyword. Try as much as possible to annex relevant complementary words around the word in a way that is natural and captivating. (For example, what, why, how, prices, and so on.)
  • Display only one instance of H1 on the page entry. This is your primary headline, and use H2s for subcontent sections.
  • Do not exceed 55-60 characters for title meta tags. With Google publishing the title differently, Yi is in the conclusion that introduction of a keyword would be the smartest choice.

Optimize Your Meta Descriptions

The meta description is what shows under the title tag on the SERP. Google doesn’t necessarily show the information you offer in the SERP, but rather likes to create its own query based on the search, yet it is still necessary to optimize for SEO. Google while crawling this page reads this description to comprehend what this page is about.

What is the Correct Way to Use Meta Descriptions?

  • Include the keyword and related keywords if you can do so naturally and engagingly.
  • Keep it concise. The ideal length for a meta description is 155-165 characters. (But aim for 140 characters if possible.)
  • Make it compelling. Remember, appearing in search results is only the first step! You still need to get searchers to click. Add a brief description, a clear benefit, and a call-to-action message like an ad copy!

Add and Optimize Images

Image is a big player in SEO optimization. They allow you to keep your users engaged with your pages, improve the quality of information and provide ranking possibilities through visual results to divert traffic to your main pages. Moreover, Google is transforming the SERP into a more visual environment as people look for instant access to the needed information.

What are the Best Practices on Image Optimization for SEO?

  • File name: To save the file name with the keyword, in place of space, use the short dashes.
  • Add alternative text: Alt text describes an image to Google, thus making it possible for Google to “see” the image and evaluate it in relevance to the used keywords. It also renders your site usable by screen readers, and even when images do not load, alternative text is still visible. Avoid using keywords here. Picture explaining the image to someone who cannot see it; that is what this field is for!
  • Convert to WebP: Big pictures can make your site sluggish. Compress and scale them to make the files smaller in the right way. However, the dimensions for optimal width for an image is 1000 pixels, but each site is different. If you want a speedy website, you should not hesitate to convert your pictures.

Internal and External Links

Linking both internally and externally in the SEO of blog posts is a good idea. However, in some cases, internal linking is an essential parameter for SEO. External links in terms of trust and relevance make your site but they are secondary.

  • External links: Link to a few pages on other high-authority sites that are relevant to the topic you are targeting within your content. This is how trust is created on Google. (remember that reference is not obligatory, but when you use the information, statistics or facts from sources, you should mention them.)
  • Internal links: Use links to other related blog posts on your site in every content that you write. By doing this, it makes your site more crawlable by Googlebot because it provides many paths to any piece of content. The quantity of links you insert here is based on the length of the post and more other content that you can link to. Do not link to irrelevant pages, nor use irrelevant anchor text.

Important Tip: It is natural to link to old blog posts in your new ones, but also remember to go back to old blog posts and add links to new ones.

How To: Off-Page SEO Optimization

All the above steps are on-page SEO tactics. Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is everything you do on the other pages of your website, other websites and even other platforms to help improve the ranking of your page.

Develop a Proper Backlink Strategy

Backlinks are among Google’s top three ranking factors. High-authority sites backlinks are without a doubt more valuable than backlinks from low authority sites. The number of quality backlinks you have determines the rank you will reach.

What’s a way to achieve more backlinks? There are several generally known strategies, including: There are several generally known strategies, including:

  • Creating links to the original content that is unique.
  • Reaching out to sites that would appreciate the linking of your content and where your contribution would be advantageous.
  • Creating guest posts.
  • PR activities (sponsored posts, press releases, etc.).

 Publish Your Content on Social Media

In addition to providing a link to your main page on your social media profiles, you should regularly post your blog articles in the feed. This gives you organic and authentic traffic from the sites. The more a post is visible, the higher the chances of external links being received. Social media as it is is not a direct Google ranking factor but your activity on the platforms and user engagement with your content sends social signals to Google that do affect your ranking.

Boost Your Brand Reputation

When predicting the rank of a particular page on your site, Google doesn’t take this page into account only. It views your brand in its entirety and does so by looking at the other information on the web including reviews, ratings, listings, awards, and other mentions not necessarily related to your brand. 

As such, creating reputation for your brand via optimized listings, PR activities and reviews is important for SEO. Most of these strategies fall under local SEO services, however, there are also many brand-building strategies that are applicable to non-physical businesses.

Google values building brand reputation and uses brand data to personalize search results. The current sway of holistic SEO and its future dominance have become quite significant.

How To: Technical SEO Optimization

On-page optimization is done on the front end of your website to make it as easy as possible for Google to do its job on your site. Some of the key technical optimizations to pay attention to include:

  • Page Speed: Besides image sizes, coding on your website content and the loading sequence can affect the page speed as well. This is the point where lazy loading and page speed optimizations take part.
  • Security: Make sure that your site is HTTPS enabled rather than HTTP enabled.
  • Mobile-First: The mobile-friendliness itself is no more satisfactory. With Google’s indexing now first mobile, your website should work comfortably across all devices.
  • Core Web Vitals: Three metrics are used to track a user’s experience with your page.
  • URL Structure: Structured site with URLs such as /blog, /service-page, /product-groups, makes it easier for Google to crawl your site, for users to navigate it, and for you to segment data in reports
  • Site Architecture: Perfectly, every page of your site should be accessible by a user with not more than three clicks. Here internal linking is very important.
  • Crawlability/Indexability: Your sitemap along with robots.txt tell Google what you are up to and whether you want it to crawl or index your site.
  • Schema Markup: When you use schema markup, Google (and other search engines) gets to know what kind of content you have and displays rich results when applicable.

SEO Analysis Tools

Without data, you cannot perform efficient search engine optimization, and that data is obtained through tools. Sadly, the majority of them are free of charge. The best SEO tools for creating an effective strategy and conducting research are as follows:

  • Google Analytics: This is the gold standard in website traffic analysis and it’s free. Apply for all SEO metrics such as traffic, time on page, page engagement, pages per session, and more.
  • Google Search Console: Without GSC, content-focused and technical SEO are useless. Even if some of the Search Console data is shown in Google Analytics, there is so much more that you can get from the platform itself. Apply it for Core Web Vitals, elaborate query analysis, indexing, and so on.
  • Keyword Research Tools: As said earlier, you will need these to get realistic keywords to aim for in terms of search volume and competition. For instance, you may do keyword research with the help of tools such as SEMrush, Google Suggestions, Ahrefs, etc.
  • SEO Software: In case you are interested in more advanced SEO metrics such as backlinks, competition insights, and more complex keyword data, you will require a paid SEO tool like Ahrefs, Moz Pro, Screaming Frog, SEMrush, and the like.
  • Mobile-First: Just being mobile is no longer sufficient. With the indexing process of Google being mobile-first now, your site should be completely responsive.
  • Core Web Vitals: Three of these metrics are employed to evaluate a user’s experience of your page.
  • URL Structure: A site that has clear, structured URLs such as /blog, /service-page, /product-groups makes it easier for Google to crawl your site, for users to navigate it, and for you to segment data in reports.
  • Site Architecture: The perfect user experience would be finding any page of your site in three clicks or less. Linking within is imperative here.
  • Crawlability/Indexability: Your sitemap and robots.txt file on the other hand inform Google what you are doing and do you want it to crawl and index your site.
  • Schema Markup: Schema markup allows Google (and others) to understand what kind of content you have and provides the opportunity for rich results to be shown when relevant.

What Are the Most Important SEO Strategies?

Finally, we will conclude with some SEO tactics, practices, and recommendations that will contribute to your work effectively: 

  • Always google your target keyword. What you may think people are searching for on Google is not what they are searching for. The intent of the keyword is very important, so you have to also look for the keywords you are targeting for the intent match. (An informative blog post will not rank in a commercial keyword.)
  • Be patient. SEO takes time. The positive effects of your efforts may be visible after quite a while, but once they are, the advantages grow significantly over time, so do not give up too early!
  • Focus on quality. Though Google is ever-changing its algorithms and introducing new SERP features, what’s ultimately driving all of it is the patents created to return quality content. Therefore, your effort should never deviate from regularly producing useful and credible content. This is by far the best and most crucial SEO strategy.
  • Update your content. The most critical Google ranking signal is a regular publication of high-quality content, but this doesn’t mean that your old content should be forgotten. Keep updating your old pages to retain their SEO worth and achieve continued traffic growth. 
  • Analyze and measure. Create reports on traffic and site data weekly so you can understand what topics are being covered the most, determine issues, and set goals for more traffic.

Get #1 on Google with Digipeak SEO Services

At Digipeak SEO Agency, we keep on updating our revenue and visitor charts from our organic search traffic via multiple sources to our clients. You too will be a proud reference in our long list of satisfied clients, who enjoy the benefits of our comprehensive SEO strategy targeting revenue and visitors without sacrificing quality.

Our professional SEO team and prize-winning specialists will be pleased to collaborate with you in this area. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, need a free analysis of your website, or simply to discuss the subject you are interested in. Using our results-driven methodology, rank on SERP, as well as systematic advancement to your desired sales, visitors, or brand awareness.

Frequently Asked Questions about SEO Answered by Our Experts

How does SEO work?

SEO means knowing search engine programming and using those programs to get your webpage ranked. Search engine rating of the website is influenced by many factors such as keywords, site speed, mobile compatibility, backlinks, and the quality of the content. SEO is based on the optimization of these factors and the organization of the website in such a way that the search engines can recognize it.

What is a backlink and why is it important in SEO?

A backlink is a reference from one website to your website. A good link from a relevant site will make your website authoritative and search engines will think that your site is valuable. Hence, backlinks are among the most influential components of SEO, as they can help raise the ranking of your website.

How is keyword research done?

The process of keyword research is the determination of the words that are used by your target audience when they search. Research tools are used for the evaluation of keyword competition, search volume, and potential traffic. The keywords are then what are used in the content creation and optimization approaches.

What impact does site speed have on SEO?

In the SEO factors, the speed of the site is a crucial factor as search engines give priority to user experience. A website that loads fast helps to reduce the tendency of users to leave the site thus possibly enhancing the rankings. Apart from this, search engines such as Google do appreciate fast web-sites and place such websites above others.

Why is mobile compatibility important for SEO?

Mobile compatibility stands as a significant factor in SEO, as most internet users use mobile devices to surf the internet. Mobile compatibility of a website prevents some operation issues, increases fondness, and improves search engine ranking.

Why is content quality important in SEO?

The quality of the content is the factor that allows us to cover user needs and deliver useful information. Quality content makes users stay in your site for a longer period, makes them come back, and facilitates sharing. It is further awarded with better rankings by search engines.

What is the relationship between SEO and social media?

SEO and social media go hand in hand. Posts on social media sites make the brand more visible and create opportunities for backlinks. In addition, social media activity can assist search engines in judging the popularity and authority of the website.

Does the importance of SEO constantly change or is it fixed?

The significance of SEO is continuously changing as search engine algorithms are modified habitually and user behaviors evolve. For this reason, SEO tactics and approaches should change and evolve with time.

What is the cost of SEO and when will the return be seen?

SEO cost is not constant and varies with the size of the business, goals, and the competitive landscape. Quality SEO services usually need a budget but yield the long-term return on investment. The returns are typically seen within a few months of implementation of the SEO strategy, but the full effects are felt in the long run.

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Ahmet Abiç
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