What is SEO and How Does It Work? A Beginners Guide.

In our connected digital world, it can be harder than ever to get noticed. As of 2019, there are nearly 2 billion websites on the Internet. It’s not enough to develop a site that’s informative and beautifully designed. To get all of your hard work seen by your target audience, you need to work with the tool that most people use to find new content: search engines.

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a great way to improve your site and generate organic growth. Whether you own a simple lifestyle blog or you’re running a site for your business, SEO techniques are a tried and true method for attracting your target demographic.

While there are marketing firms and web developers out there who offer SEO services, you don’t have to break the bank to improve your website. There are many techniques that you can adopt right now. Even a few changes can expose your site to a much bigger audience. So exactly what is SEO and how do you use it?

If you’re new to web development, SEO techniques may seem daunting at first. There’s a lot that goes into crafting a highly optimized site with killer content. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll go over the basics and provide you with the tools you need to get your blog seen.

What is SEO?

It’s all in the name. SEO is the practice of catering your website to work with popular search engines. The largest search engine provider, Google, performs over 5.5 billion searches every single day. People utilize search engines to find new information and websites on the topics that they’re interested in. So why not take advantage of this technology?

By utilizing SEO techniques, you can attract organic traffic from your target demographic. Instead of catering to a wider audience, you’re fine-tuning your content to deliver real results that matter. For example, if your blog is focused on a specific niche topic, your SEO methods would revolve around getting your site to appear on search engine results pages for queries with relevant terms.

What Does SEO Cost?

The beautiful thing about SEO is that it doesn’t cost a dime if it’s done right. There are plenty of Internet marketing techniques to improve your site’s visibility. You can pay for ads around the web and get that coveted spot near the top of a search engine results page. However, SEO is not about that. It’s all about organic growth.

It’s a way to earn unpaid traffic. SEO is a much more sustainable way to market your site. As your blog gets more traffic, you can continue to adapt your content to your changing audience.

Why is SEO So Important?

The digital landscape is constantly changing as technology and wireless communication improves. To become successful on the web, you have to keep up with the demands of users. Otherwise, you’ll get left behind.

No matter what type of site you own, the most important thing you need is real traffic. You can’t expand your business or create more content without an eager audience who is willing to view it.

While the basic benefits are obvious, increased traffic through proper SEO offers many real-world benefits. So, why is SEO so important? Here’s a small collection of reasons why you need SEO to push your site to the next level.

It Improves Visibility

SEO, at its core, it designed to get your site seen by more viewers. However, visibility goes beyond basic search engine result pages. To really stick out in the minds of web users, a brand has to make multiple impressions on them.

This means that they have to see your site name many times to remember who you are and what you have to offer. Even if they don’t click on your link to visit your digital space, appearing higher up on result pages can do a lot to increase your visibility within your market. Ultimately, this can lead to more brand awareness and improved credibility.

It Taps Into the Primary Source of Internet Traffic

As we mentioned earlier, billions of searches are performed every day. As the largest search engine provider on the web, Google ranks as one of the most visited sites in the world.

While social media platforms and other popular sites have billions of users, nothing can compare to the sheer amount of traffic that Google gets. Using Google to your advantage to gain organic traffic is always going to work in your favor.

It Serves Your Target Audience

Unlike other forms of marketing, search engine optimization is highly targeted to those who are interested in the content, products, and services that you offer. With traditional advertising, ads are displayed to a very broad audience in hopes of making a conversion. With SEO, half the work is already done.

Optimization techniques utilize common keywords and high-quality content pertaining to your site. Instead of throwing a wide net, SEO techniques are fine-tuned to attract attention from people who are using search queries that relate to your site. These are users who are actively seeking more information about a specific topic. If you have what they’re looking for, there’s a much higher chance of them clicking on your link and taking a look.

It Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Because SEO is aimed at your target demographic, you’re funneling high-quality traffic onto your site. This is especially useful for sites that are offering paid goods and services. Great SEO can make an impact at nearly every stage of the buying process.

Modern shoppers are savvier than ever before. People perform a significant amount of research before they decide to make a purchase. By crafting SEO-friendly content, you can positively influence the buying cycle, increasing your chances of making a conversion.

It’s Not Limited in Scope

SEO is flexible enough to reach a local audience and users who are on the opposite side of the globe. Local SEO is an important part of small business success. Since the advent of the smartphone, people now have access to a world of information at their fingertips. An optimized business site can set you apart from local competitors and put potential customers one step closer to giving you their business.

If you serve a wider population of people, SEO can be a cost-effective way to reach them. Whether you serve a single area or want to reach multiple markets, proper SEO can get the job done.

It Provides Lasting Results

Search Engine Optimization is, by no means, a quick fix. While small changes can certainly make a difference now, SEO is a long game. The techniques you adopt now can have long-term effects that benefit you for several years. Even if your market changes, having that increased visibility can put you at the forefront.

It’s a sustainable practice that pays off exponentially. To make things even better, your SEO methods will only hold more value as your site gets more popular. In the beginning, good SEO will lead to more clicks and conversion. This, in turn, improves your site’s optimization even further. What results is a snowball effect that can only benefit your blog.

It Enhances the User Experience

There are a number of factors that go into proper optimization. One of the biggest is the overall user experience. No one likes to visit a clunky site that takes forever to load and uses outdated layouts. Search engines consider how your site performs during the indexing phase. So, by adopting SEO techniques early on, you can ensure that your site provides an enjoyable experience to anyone who visits it.

It Increases Engagement

Another element of SEO is how people interact with your site and brand. These days, web users are looking for sites that are active and personable. Implementing social media into your site is a great way to increase visibility while connecting with your audience on a more personal level.

When you create high-quality content that promotes sharing and conversation, your site will get seen by a much wider audience. This leads to further growth and success.

It Provides Powerful Insight

While you’re optimizing you’re site, you’re going to learn a lot about who your audience is. You’ll be able to see where they come from, what types of things they’re interested in, and so much more. You can use this information to improve what your site has to offer.

Regardless of the type of blog you have, it’s always important to adapt to the needs of your visitors. Instead of making guesses on what they’ll enjoy, you can use SEO analytics to guide you in the right direction.

It’s Measurable

SEO is unique when it comes to calculating your return on investment. Optimizing your site on your own doesn’t cost you a thing, however, you can easily measure your growth to see how certain changes affect your site’s success. It’s a great way to set and meet growth goals. You can use search engine analytics to see what keywords are trending and create new content to generate traffic.

Alternatively, you can see how certain actions have affected your site. Whatever the case may be, SEO tools make it much easier to connect the dots. With typical advertising campaigns, measuring impressions and conversions is like a guessing game. With SEO, you can see hard data and use it to your advantage.

It Can Improve Your Overall Brand

Last, but certainly not least, SEO can help your brand flourish. Increased visibility is key here. No one’s going to trust a random site that they find several pages into their search results. Sites listed higher up on the list are viewed as more credible and trustworthy. A vast majority of people don’t even venture beyond the first page of search engine results.

By nabbing one of those top spots for a particular keyword or market, you’re positioning yourself as a heavy-hitter within your niche. This could lead to increased traffic and more conversions.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO can get very complex. The exact details of how search engine algorithms work is not public knowledge. Furthermore, they can change at any given moment. Luckily, years of trial and error have given web developers a good idea of some basics.

Search engines are designed to provide users with the best browsing experience possible. Aside from paid advertisements, they’re not going to put just any site in the number one spot. You have to earn it through high-quality content.

Once your site is published, it’s exposed to a crawler. A crawler is a program that visits sites to quickly analyze content. Crawlers may sometimes be referred to as spiders or search engine bots. The information that’s gathered during that crawl is then used to index the site. When your site is indexed, that means that it’s eligible to show up on search engine results pages. So how does SEO work in terms of indexing?

There are many different factors to consider. SEO is not a single technique. It involves many rules and processes. Typically, these factors get separated into two distinct categories.

What is On-Site SEO?

On-site SEO refers to all of the things that you have direct control over. It’s the quality of your content and how your site is catered to the user experience. This is where the brunt of work is done. If you create a site with optimization in mind, you can experience a significant improvement in overall visibility.

Essentially, the goal of on-site SEO is to provide the crawler with all the information it needs to index your digital space. Crawlers don’t spend a significant amount of time on your site. Nor do they read it like an actual human being. So, you need to create some signals that let the programs know what you have to offer real web users. There are many things that contribute to on-site SEO. Here are just a few.

Content

Content is King when it comes to SEO. Your site needs to provide the best information to readers that it can. Many smaller factors come into play here. It’s not just about which site has the most words or links.

Value-driven content is the best way to rank higher up on search engine results pages. Don’t just stuff your copy with fluff for the sake of padding wordcount. Instead, cover your topic in great detail. Include as much relevant information as possible. Most importantly, you need to stay on topic. Having an article or blog post that bounces around several ideas at once will only confuse crawlers.

Keywords

One way to make your content more valuable in the eyes of search engines is to implement relevant keywords. These are the terms that people are going to be using to find your site on search engines. Consider all the phrases your audience may use to find you and insert them into your article.

With that being said, this needs to be done in a natural way. Keyword stuffing, which is the act of putting as many keywords into a piece of copy as possible, can actually decrease your rankings. Use the keywords naturally and keep things relevant.

Website Structure

Website structure refers to the layout and overall user experience. As we mentioned earlier, web users don’t want to visit sites that don’t look good or perform well. Consider how your visitors will navigate your digital space and incorporate good design techniques to make it an enjoyable experience.

Technical Performance

The technical performance of your site goes hand-in-hand with its structure. Crawlers pay close attention to the coding of your site and the speed of its servers. With so many sites to choose from, Internet users aren’t going to stay on your page and wait for content to load. To rank higher up, you need to make sure that your site performs well regardless of where in the world it is accessed from.

Meta Data

Meta data is information that’s used by search engines directly. In most cases, this data isn’t found on your actual site. Instead, it’s read by crawlers to give the software a better idea of what users can expect. Some of it is also displayed next to your link on results pages. Title tags, descriptions, and more play a role in indexing.

What is Off-Site SEO?

While the on-site factors are easy to change, off-site SEO is a bit trickier to nail down. These factors cover how your site is portrayed in the eyes of viewers. Of course, there’s no exact science behind this. However, search engine crawlers measure a few different factors to determine how your site stands against competitors.

Authority and Trust

One element that is considered is how trustworthy your site is. Are you providing reliable information to your viewers or are you just stating facts without proof? Building trust among your readers and search engines is akin to writing a research paper. You need references and citations.

The best way to build trust is to provide high-quality backlinks to other sites. Linking out to authoritative sites shows that you’ve done your research.

Backlinking

On the other side of the coin, you can become an authoritative figure yourself. When other sites backlink to your content, your reputation improves. Gathering a network of backlinks is not easy and should be done organically. Spamming your links on forums and comment posts is strictly frowned upon. In fact, doing so can get your site blacklisted by search engine completely. To be successful, you need to create quality content that people want to link to.

Social Signals

Finally, social aspects are considered. Even before the advent of social media, people have been sharing links. The more shares that you get, the higher up your site will rank. This is because shares and likes show that people enjoy your content. Like backlinking, the quality of those social signals will affect how they’re weighed. Big influencers and trustworthy figures are going to have a bigger effect on your rankings.

How to Learn SEO

The best way to learn search engine optimization is to simply dive in head-first. Despite how complicated SEO may seem, there are plenty of things that you can do to get started. Small changes in the way that you produce your content can lead to drastic improvements.

You can use analytics to your advantage. Monitor your progress and see what people are searching for. Not every technique is going to work in every instance. SEO involves a lot of trial and error to get right. However, once you get the hang of things, creating optimized content will become second-nature. As you continue to develop your site and make blog posts, you’ll start to reap the benefits of your hard work.

Learn SEO Techniques, Concepts, and Theories

If you want to know how to learn SEO quickly, you can check out an SEO course. These courses are specifically designed to help bloggers and small business owners take advantage of all that SEO has to offer. They can show you what works, what doesn’t, and what techniques are best for your particular situation.

The courses are great for beginners and can help you hit the ground running with your SEO efforts. They’ll show you how to utilize analytics tools and give you more insight into what all that data means. Check out the courses below to get started.

Quick Tips for SEO Success

Create Relevant Content That’s Optimized for Your Audience

Providing great content for your readers should always be your number one goal. Search engines and web users can see right through useless fluff. To improve your rankings, you need to stick with high-value information that uses relevant keywords naturally.

Consider the User Experience

Spend some extra time designing a digital space that’s fun to view, easy to navigate, and even easier to access. Consider optimizing your content for better load times and stick with a hosting provider that can give your viewers good connection speeds.

Go Mobile

Having the ability to access your site on the go is essential. Google has made some recent changes on how it ranks mobile-friendly sites. Make sure that your blog seamlessly translates to smaller screens.

Keep Things Natural

Mobile access isn’t the only thing that’s gaining traction. Most modern mobile devices come with their very own virtual assistant, making voice search easy and fun. While voice searches are not as prevalent as standard search engines, you still need to accommodate them. To rank higher, implement long-tail keywords that sound natural when spoken.

Engage Your Readers

Treat your readers like your friend. Talk to them and keep them engaged. Not only does this help improve your brand and Internet presence, but it can also affect off-site SEO. Constant communication leads to more shares, backlinking, and more.

Conclusion

These days, no site can be successful without a bit of SEO. It lays the groundwork to get your website seen in a saturated market of digital content. While there are some tested techniques with SEO, it’s not an exact science. To improve visibility and keep your site relevant, you must stay on top of current SEO trends and concepts. Before you know it, you’ll have an eager audience who’s ready to engage.

Want to jump right in and optimize your site? Check out our recommended SEO course.

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