Search Engine Optimization Training
Fundamental Principles of SEO
Search engine algorithms are computer programs that look for clues to give the searcher the best results possible.
Google’s overall algorithm is called Hummingbird and it has lots of sub-algorithms which focus on enhancing its search results.
While SEO changes frequently, the underlying core principles have remained the same. They are technical SEO, on-page optimization, and off-page optimization.
Links, content and RankBrain are Google’s top three ranking factors.
Although SEO changes frequently, the underlying core principles have remained the same for a long time:
Technical SEO is any SEO work carried out that isn’t related to content or backlinks. It looks at how your website is constructed, whether it’s considered search engine friendly, and how easy the site is to crawl. Google Search Console is a great free tool provided by Google that helps diagnose technical SEO issues, and we will cover it in detail in this section of the module. Getting your technical SEO right lays a strong foundation for ranking your content on search engines and ensuring that your site is reliable.
On-page SEO focuses on the relevancy of your content. It starts with researching the keywords and topics that your customers use, and then looks at how you work keywords into your content to make it relevant and offer a great user experience.
Off-page SEO is concerned with how you encourage other websites to link to your website. Each time your site receives a link from an external website we call this a backlink, and it’s like a vote that the page being linked to is credible.
While technical SEO is largely a prerequisite to good rankings, there are three positive rankings factors to be aware of:
Mobile SEO: This is the process of ensuring your website offers a good mobile user experience.
HTTPS: This is a protocol for secure communication over the internet. This was widely used just on pages where sensitive information was captured (for example, a “checkout” or “contact us” page) but in recent years it has become popular to place on all pages of a website, and in doing so give all of those pages a slight ranking boost.
Site speed: Having fast loading pages is good for user experience, conversions, and as an SEO ranking factor. There are several things you can do to improve your site’s speed, which is investigated later.
Improving Technical SEO
Technical SEO is a prerequisite for good rankings and lays the foundation for everything else to be built upon it.
Google Search Console is a great way of detecting technical SEO issues.
It’s important to make your content easy for search engines to crawl and index.
Canonical links and structured data can help ensure your pages are not unintentionally de-indexed.
Mobile SEO, HTTPS, and site speed are positive ranking factors.
Be aware of potential indexing issues, such as content not being indexed or content being added to a secondary index.
Improving On-page Optimization
Understand that not all pages need optimizing, and the ones that do we call SEO landing pages.
A landing page should be focused on a specific topic or sub-topic that satisfies the user intent or keyword query.
Make sure to target keywords that are within your reach. We don’t want to target keywords that are unattainable.
When optimizing key on-page elements it’s important to include keywords, but do it in a way that’s natural for your customer and avoid keyword stuffing.
You can use SEO tools such as SEOptimer, Mozbar, and SEO SiteCheckup to improve on-page optimization.
Also optimize for what’s visible before and after a user clicks a result on an SERP.
Technical SEO: Is a prerequisite of good rankings. If the technical SEO is bad, it can make ranking difficult. However, in most cases it plays a smaller role in the ranking of a keyword – perhaps only 10%.
On-page optimization: Plays a more important role in the keyword rankings but perhaps not as much as you think – around 30%. If you are in a competitive industry and have perfect technical SEO and perfect on-page optimization, but very few backlinks, you’re unlikely to rank for popular keywords.
Off-page optimization: Plays the biggest role in rankings and many believe it’s twice as important as on-page optimization – and possibly more so. That’s because backlinks act as social proof that your content and domain are reputable. If you are in a competitive industry, it’s nearly impossible to rank for the top keywords without external factors like backlinks.
Improving Off-page Optimization
When building backlinks to a website, you are essentially building up its reputation.
Paying another website to receive a backlink can be considered black hat SEO and against Google’s guidelines.
Content marketing tends to be more engaging and informative than transactional content.
Backlinks are the number one ranking factor, so when you lose one, it’s likely to have an impact on your SEO presence.
The most common way of detecting and fixing broken backlinks is using backlink analysis tools.