The age of internet changed how we used to look for answers. Google is now our go-to place for finding answers to all our questions. But have you ever wondered how Google manages to show you just what you are looking for? Do you know how search engines (like Google) decide which pages will appear in the results? Google has millions of websites and the process of deciding the ranking involves complex algorithms, giving birth to the world of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Let’s understand a bit about the basics of SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimisation can be defined as the process of affecting the visibility of your website in a way that it ranks higher in the search engine results. So, for example, if your website is about songs, you need to make your website in a way that search engines can understand that your site is about songs. The search engine looks at just the text-based part of a website and hence, content is at the very base of everything of a website. For a website to rank better, it needs to have the content that users are looking for and should be optimised in a way that search engine can identify its relevance.
Why SEO? Why is it important?
When we search for something, we tend to limit our attention to the results we see on the first page and more specifically, the first five results. The majority of users are more likely to click on one of the top three suggestions in the search engine results pages (SERPS), so to take the advantage of this and gain visitors or customers to your website, you need to be at the top of the results. This is where SEO comes into play. Let’s understand some basic concepts of SEO.
a. Market Research – Research well about your target audience – their likes, dislikes, what’s trending, and what you can offer. This will be the very first step towards understanding SEO. Go through the sites that are at the top of search results, and analyse the type of content they are using. This will help you plan your own SEO strategy.
b. Keyword Research – Search engines use keywords to see and judge the relevance of a website. These are the keywords and phrases in your website’s content that makes it possible for search engines to locate your website. The knowledge about these actual search terms can help you with your content and marketing strategy. You can use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to research about the keywords that are trending. Check out this guide on how to do keywords research to learn more about the steps involved.
When you are done with your research, the next part is to optimise the site in a way that it can rank better. The optimisation process can be of two types:
1. On Page SEO: This includes optimisations done on the page itself including keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, alt tags, XML sitemaps, site design, meta description, heading tags, internal linkings, site speed, and so on.
The content of the page is the soul of a website and is almost always the reason visitors come to a site. Ideal content should be very specific to a given topic (usually a product or an object) and relevant.
Meta Description: This is a small description that gets displayed in the search results to describe the content of the page. Search engines don’t use this as part of their ranking algorithm; however, they do highlight/bold any keywords used here, which makes your site stand out more in the search results and seem more relevant. Check out this guide for writing the perfect meta descriptions for SEO.
Title tag: It is used to briefly and accurately describe the topic and theme of an online document. It is displayed in the top bar of internet browser and should contain all the keywords you wish to rank for. Let’s say your website is about mobile accessories- using a title tag like ‘best mobile accessories’ will give a clear idea about what your website is all about. For some more tips on title tags, read here.
URL: A well-crafted URL provides search engines with an easy-to-understand indication of what your page is all about. Say your website is about the Android smartphones. So it’s URL can be – http://www.androidsmartphone.com
Check out these best practices for a well-structured URL.
Alt text for images: Since the search engines read only text, you need to add text for the images which is called alt text. For example, if your image is of Nike sports shoes, using an alt text that says ‘Nike sports shoes’ will make search engine identify that the image is of Nike’s sports shoes.
2. Off Page SEO: This includes optimising all the off page factors, which needs to be done outside of the page including quality back linking, social indexing etc. One of the factors to determine the position of a web page in the results is the number of inbound links. The inbound links are counted as ‘votes of trust’ and have a positive effect on a website’s ranking. The more inbound links pointing to a website the better is the ranking.
One important thing to note here is, search engines see where the links are coming from. Your ranking position can be greatly affected either positively if the links are coming from well-known and trusted sites or negatively if they are paid links, article directories, or link farms (a set of web pages created with the sole aim of linking to a target page, in an attempt to improve that page’s search engine ranking.)
Tip: If you don’t want the search engine to follow the link, use the Nofollow attribute. So, if the website owner is linking back to you with nofollow attributes, it does not count as a point in your page’s favour, does not boost your page rank, and doesn’t help your page’s placement in the SERPs. A no follow link looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
Analysing the results of the website – To monitor your success, you can use Google Webmaster Tools and see the statistics you’re looking for. To learn your way around the site, here’s a beginner’s guide to Google webmaster tools.
To learn SEO, Moz is one of the most recommended resources. Search Engine Land and HubSpot are some more useful resources for learning.
Quick Sprout offers a good SEO course in infographic style. If you are looking for video tutorials to learn how SEO works and how you can improve the ranking of your blog by using different SEO tools, you can try Internshala’s digital marketing training.
Now that you know the basics of SEO, apply to these digital marketing internships to get a chance to implement your knowledge in the industry.
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