What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is the practice of increasing organic traffic on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). It is also known as organic search or organic listings. If you want to rank number one for all the keywords, you need to apply SEO to increase your rank.

Suppose you started a blog for ice cream recipes, but your website doesn't rank high on the organic search results. There are a number of reasons why this can happen:

  • Your competitors have better content
  • You use improper keywords
  • You use poor link building practices
  • Your webpage load time is slow
  • Your website doesn't have a good user experience
  • Your website is de-indexed by mistake

In order to rank high on the SERP, you need to understand how search engines work. In this article, you will learn about how Google rank websites, the different types of SEO and various SEO techniques you can use to improve your ranking.

How does Google rank websites?

Websites are ranked primarily based upon the competition between your web pages and a number of other web pages for a certain keyword. The web pages which follow the best practices outrank every other web page in the competition and ranks on top for those keywords.

Search engines like Google follow three basic steps to rank a website. They are:

  1. Crawling - Search engines have spiders or bots which scans a website, copies the entire website's content and stores it in search engine's index.
  2. Indexing - Indexing is the method of adding web pages into Google search results. If your website is not in a search engine's index, no one will be able to find your website.
  3. Ranking - When you type something on Google, the most relevant websites (from the index) will appear on the search results. These results are based on multiple factors like user location, language, experience etc.

There are a lot of factors that go into ranking - relevancy being a very important aspect. For example, if you type Simplilearn, the web pages for Simplilearn shows up organically because they are relevant to that keyword. However, you also need to make sure that the page load time is fast for the end-user. Google also takes into account other factors like how long someone is staying on a website and the bounce rate (leaving the website after viewing only one page).

Language and location also plays an important role in ranking. For example, if you do a search in India, the results are going to be different than the results in the United States. This is because Google has different bots crawling different pages at different times. This means that Google's index is being updated continuously. However, it's not real-time syncing.

To elaborate, if you search“cafes” while in San Francisco you're gonna see different results. Now if you do a search for “cafes” while in Mumbai you're gonna see different results.

To sum it up, the most important factors for Google ranking are relevancy, user experience, language and location.

Types of SEO

If you want to rank for a particular keyword on Google, you need to apply SEO. There are two strategies for this:

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing website elements. When you do this, there are certain factors that you need to take into account. All these elements are something that you can control as an end-user. The elements of on-page SEO are:

Keyword research

Before you do anything with your website, the first thing you need to do is understand what keywords you want to rank for. In order to do this, you need to do a keyword research. In this process, you choose the primary and secondary keywords around which you build meta tags and content.

The primary components for keyword research are

  • Search volume
  • Competition
  • Relevancy

You can also use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs to search for keywords. Once you choose the keywords, you can go ahead and start optimizing your pages for those keywords.

Title tag

Title tag is a header title element displaying the summary of your website's content on the search engine results page. It also influences click-through rates and is the most important factor of on-page SEO. Search engines display the first 50–60 characters of the title tag.

Meta description

Meta description is a brief description that summarizes the content of a webpage. They are also displayed on the search engine page results. In comparison to the title tag, a meta description gives users more understanding of what your webpage is about. Meta description also influences click-through rates.

URL structure

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. The best practice is to use SEO-friendly URLs, as they help to understand what the webpage is about. Poor URL structure is a big issue in SEO which may result in your website getting lower ranks.

Header tags

Header tags helps to identify the headings and subheadings of your content. The hierarchy of header tags goes from H1 to H6. H1 is the main heading of a page, H2 tag is a subheading of H1 and so on. These tags help search engines to read and understand the content better.

Internal link

Internal links are links that link web pages together on your own website. They allow users to navigate through the website. They are also useful to spread link equity (value passed from one website to another website).

Keyword usage

A search engine crawls a website using Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP helps search engines look for content and keywords.

For example: If your website is about digital marketing and you have used only the keyword ‘digital marketing' in it, then the chances of you ranking high for this keyword is low. It is important to add related keywords such as types of digital marketing, skills in digital marketing etc.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is a way of organizing a website to help both users and search engines understand the structure of a website. There are 2 types of sitemaps:

  • HTML sitemaps: Designed for humans
  • XML sitemaps: Designed for crawlers

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO is another process of improving your rank on the search engine results page. It also helps to improve the credibility of your website and build a sense of domain authority and trustworthiness. Other benefits of off-page SEO are increase in traffic, page rank and brand awareness.

Link building

Off-page SEO is mostly associated with link building. Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own website. This is also known as external link building. The key behind link building is always content. From an on-page SEO perspective, having quality content allows that content to be optimized for relevant keywords and rank. From an off-page SEO strategy, having high-quality content allows other sites to link back to your site.

Here are some strategies for link building:

  • High-quality content creation - Other sites will link back to yours if your content is original, well-structured and reads well.
  • Off-site engagement - Spend a lot of time on other websites similar to yours. You can search for other sites that have relevant content. You can share your content with them they can share their content with you. You can also achieve off-site engagement through social media and collaborating with bloggers.

Do's and don'ts of SEO

Here are some important points to keep in mind for SEO.

DO's

DON'Ts

Opt for white hat techniques (basically all of the points mentioned above).

Do not opt for black hat techniques.

For example, choosing a keyword arbitrarily and stuffing that keyword into the content.

Try to get backlinks from relevant sites which have high-quality content.

Avoid backlinks from irrelevant sites.

Use keywords in your title tags, and have a unique title tag for multiple web pages.

Do not duplicate the same title tags on multiple web pages.

Write engaging content for better user experience.

Do not plagiarize content.

Do keyword research. Understand the volume and competition for all the keywords.

Avoid keyword stuffing. Google will be able to pick up on this.

Build internal links to your website naturally.

Avoid building sitewide backlinks.

It takes time to rank your content so be patient and wait for a while.

Don't stress out and start using black hat techniques.

Make your website responsive and user-friendly across multiple devices.

Don't ignore mobile devices while making your website for the desktop. Most users today start their search process on their mobiles

Conclusion

To make sure that your website stands out in the sea of millions of other sites, it is necessary for you to get your hands on SEO. Simplilearn's Advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) course will help you turn into an industry-ready SEO professional from day one. You'll master the many facets of SEO, including the process of organically driving traffic to your websites with keyword management and research, on-page and off-page optimization, link building, URL building, SEO analytics and more and you'll acquire extensive project experience to prepare you for managing inbound marketing initiatives.

About the Author

SimplilearnSimplilearn

Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies. Based in San Francisco, California, and Bangalore, India, Simplilearn has helped more than 500,000 students, professionals and companies across 200 countries get trained, upskilled, and acquire certifications.

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