Want to know what you need to do to get your site to the top of Google? Do you want to attract thousands of visitors to your site without having to pay for each of them?
Or, are you going to hire an SEO agency to take care of optimizing your site and you want to get an overview of what SEO means or how SEO is done, to know how to quantify its work?
You’re in the right place. In this SEO optimization guide you will discover what SEO is, how to optimize a site step by step , you will find examples and concrete strategies that we used at SMARTERS or for our clients to be mentioned by some of the most important site locally and even nationally.
You will also learn how we managed to reduce your promotion costs to almost 0 by using search engine optimization.
The guide is especially aimed at beginners in the SEO world, each chapter contains printscreens and precise instructions for each step.
By reading this SEO guide you will:
- find everything you need to know about SEO in one place . From what SEO is, what search engines are and how they work, to actionable tactics to help you get the site in the top positions in Google – all are logically organized in this guide.
- save money – you won’t have to give money to an SEO expert for simple things you could do too.
- learn how to make your site visible without the need for technical knowledge of programming or web development.
- discover concrete examples to attract links and mentions, which you can use at any time and to promote your site.
- you know what to look out for if you hire an SEO expert or a marketing firm for SEO services .
This guide is intended primarily for people at the beginning of the road in terms of SEO and Google optimization . If you are more advanced and already know a lot about SEO, you can use it to discover new ideas for site optimization, especially on the Off-Page optimization (link building) side where we say we have implemented some creative campaigns, unique in Romania.
This guide is not a definitive resource when it comes to SEO optimization process. In the digital age, things are changing extremely fast, search engine indexing algorithms are constantly being updated.
Therefore, the principles and methods presented in this guide are the latest at the time of the design of the guide. No one can guarantee that they will remain valid for more than 5 years, but we will update this guide every time a change is made by Google and other players in the search engine market.
However, one thing is for sure: once you learn how search engines work and you have an idea of what SEO means, the updates that follow will not give you any trouble.
It’s like driving a car . If you buy a new, better car, you don’t go to driving school again just because you previously learned to drive an older one. The basis is the same.
Guie 1: What is SEO and how search engines work
The term SEO comes from English and means S earch E ngine O ptimization, search engine optimization.
Specifically, SEO optimization is a process by which you try to improve your site’s position in search engine results for certain keywords or phrases.
At the basic level, SEO optimization is divided into 2 main branches: On-Page and Off-Page SEO optimization.
I. On-Page SEO Optimization means helping search engines understand what your site is about
Search engines don’t read a site the way people read it. They “understand” what a site is about, reading the code (programming language) behind it.
Therefore, an essential part of SEO is On-Page optimization (ie optimizing some elements of the page / site).
Some examples of On-Page SEO optimization elements:
- The title of the page should contain the keyword;
- Create internal links to link pages together;
- The image name and ALT attribute (image description) should contain the keyword for which you want your page to appear on Google.
- Subtitles should contain keywords, etc.
- The site to have a very good loading speed;
Although they seem very technical, technologies like WordPress (on which your site is probably based), make everything very simple and you don’t have to be a programmer to do these basic things that can bring you more traffic to your site.
Don’t worry if things are unclear now. We will detail each of these aspects in the following chapters.
II. Off-Page SEO optimization means showing search engines that your site is trustworthy
Suppose you and your competitor have similar sites with similar content and all the technical elements we discussed above are optimized.
- Contain keywords in titles, subtitles, images;
- Charges less than 5 seconds;
- Have quality content;
- Have internal links that create a link between pages;
- And so on
How does Google know which of the two sites to display on the first position and which on the second?
Well, here Google (and other search engines) has borrowed a method that we humans use: it analyzes external “opinions”.
Specifically, search engines analyze how many sites link (through links) to your site.
In SEO terms, the links to your site are like votes of trust or popularity given by other sites.
Let’s continue the example earlier.
If 30 other important and trusted sites link to your site, and only 2 poor quality sites link to your competitor’s site, Google will perceive this as a trust signal in your favor and your site will appear before that of the competitor.
How search engines work
To better understand what SEO is or what SEO means, let’s see how search engines work.
Search engines are the portal through which we access information on the Internet (eg Google, Bing, Yahoo Search). But behind those simple interfaces we all know, there are thousands of microprocessors and algorithms that constantly crawl the World Wide Web and index (organize) content so that we can access it in milliseconds.
Crawling – How Google crawls sites
Imagine the whole Internet as a big spider’s web in which every intersection on that web is a page, and the links between them are the links.
To find all documents on the Internet, Google uses programs called spiders or ” crawlers ” that scan all sites on the Internet and then organize and store them on huge servers.
That is, if spiders start scouring the Internet from site A or page A, and from site A there are links to site B, C, and D, the spiders will follow the links and go to sites B, C and D.
Once they find a website, spiders store it in their databases and organize it according to various criteria. Just like in a library: books are not chaotic, but sorted by genre, authors, etc.
What happens when you do a Google search?
Let’s say you do the following search on Google: pancake recipes.
Google searches its database for every page that contains search terms that you enter.
There are hundreds of thousands of possible outcomes.
In order to sort the results and make sure they show you the answer you are looking for, Google asks questions (over 200). That is, it analyzes SEO On-Page elements (those elements in your site that I mentioned earlier) as well as from outside the site (how many links to your site you have, how high quality they are, etc.) for to find out if a page responds best to your search or not.
We will discuss all these elements that need to be optimized in the On-Page and Off-Page SEO chapters.
All of these questions are actually variables (ranking factors) in the algorithms by which Google extracts certain sites from the database for a specific search and is constantly updated to prevent spam.
If people searched Google for solutions to various problems and couldn’t find what they were looking for, people wouldn’t use Google anymore, they wouldn’t make money from ads and go bankrupt.
Therefore, their main guideline for search engine optimization is to create content FOR PEOPLE , not for search engines.
One last update to Google’s search algorithm is RankBrain . Now, Google is using artificial intelligence to deliver better search results. Basically, instead of being a fixed algorithm, it can gain new knowledge and always improves (on its own), to give us the best results when we do Google searches.
White Hat SEO Vs. Black Hat SEO
Now that you understand what SEO means and how a search engine works, it is very important that before you start optimizing, you choose which side of the barricade you are on.
Do you want to see results quickly and make money in the short term or do you want to enjoy the results constantly?
What is Black Hat SEO?
Black Hat SEO is an SEO optimization technique unapproved and punished by search engines. Black Hat SEO optimization techniques involve the use of software that automatically collects links, delivers content to search engines and content to people, rewrites the same content by turning words, and so on. Basically, you’re trying to fool the search engines.
These are just a few techniques. Some still work, some don’t. We do not recommend using them because, in the end, Google will “catch” you and penalize your site (it will appear in the last positions in the search results or it may even be closed).
What is White Hat SEO?
White Hat SEO is an approach in SEO optimization that follows the rules and guidelines of search engines.
If you have or want to have a site that enjoys long-term results then White Hat SEO optimization techniques are for you.
What does White Hat SEO mean?
Through the White Hat SEO optimization methods (presented in this guide) you will make sure that people who are looking for certain information and come to your site find what they were looking for.
Some White Hat SEO Techniques:
- Analyzing potential customers – how they search the internet, what they are looking for, what Words they use – in order to create content around their needs;
- Relevant content that includes keywords and their synonyms placed in a natural way that gives the text fluency;
- Site structure – the user can find from a maximum of 3 clicks the information he needs;
- Useful content – to be taken up naturally by other sites that link to your content;
That being said, now that we understand what SEO is and how search engines work, it’s time to see step by step how we can make it appear among the top results when our customers search for a product / service that we also offer.
On-Page SEO Optimization vs. Off-Page SEO Optimization
SEO optimization can be divided into 2 main branches: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO, ie what happens on your site and what happens outside it (how many sites link to your site).
Both optimizations need to be done for the site to rise in search engine results, but the first optimization you should start with is On-Page.
But before we get into the details, let’s see what each one means.
What is On Page SEO
As mentioned above, On-Page SEO means optimizing all the elements of your site, such as:
- HTML elements in the content of the page – “pieces” of code that help search engines understand what your page is about – page title tag, image description tag, subtitles of a page
- Site speed;
- Sitemap – the file that tells Google what the structure of your site is and how the pages are linked to each other, etc.
These are just some of the things that need to be considered when it comes to On Page SEO. We will give a separate chapter for each of them. The elements that are closely related will be discussed together in a single chapter.
What is Off-Page SEO
Off-Page SEO, in short, means making other sites send links to your site.
In this case, both the quantity and the quality of the links matter.