What is SEO and what is it for? SEO is nothing more than a serries of activities aimed at optimizing for search engines in order to improve the visibility of websites in organic results. The acronym means Search Engine Optimization. In this SEO guide for small businesses we will see the basic concepts that will immediately serve to improve the visibility of your website in online searches.
We will mainly talk about Google as the Mountain View giant has a dominant position in the search engine sector. I leave you some data on global searches:
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE VISIBLE ON GOOGLE
Let’s start immediately with some data, which will make you understand the importance of working well on SEO and therefore be able to position your post in the first page of Google: according to a report of sixtrix.com, 99.1% of users do not go beyond the first page.
Besides, almost 60% of all organic clicks occur in the FIRST position. The second, in fact, only receives 15% of the clicks.
Being visible on Google means being found for keywords that relate to the services and products you sell. Through my blog, for example, I sell tailor made itineraries for families in London. And I assure you that even without spending a penny on ads, being found on Google let users trust me, and buy my itineraries.
That’s why SEO is an excellent investment: it guarantees you incoming traffic for free.
Being found does not mean that someone searches Google for the name of your brand / business.
If you get the first results, it simply means that Google has associated your brand name with a site, that’s all.
This does not mean optimising a site for SEO.
HOW GOOGLE WORKS
Nobody knows how exactly Google’s algorithm works (if not Google itself). SEO is not science, but it is based on empirical procedures, tests, analysed and put into practice by bloggers and SEO specialists from all over the world to try to give a guide to best practices, to optimize content and a site and be visible through Google searches.
You can go deeply into the best practices by checking the Google webmaster blog.
How does Google get to know that your website exists?
There are spiders, small bots that surf the net in search of content. They are crawling and that is the activity of crawling all the pages of a site.
This phase concerns the indexing of a site: once the site is indexed it means that Google has added and archived it in its lists. How this content is archived is based on many factors, which we will see later.
It is therefore possible to wait for Google to index your site, but it is not known exactly how long it takes, or, you can submit a sitemap to Google to speed everything up.
In what order then this content is shown instead concerns the positioning.
WHAT IS SEO RANKING?
SEO ranking – is the result of a series of factors, a value that indicates the average position of the pages of a site on search engines for specific keywords. The bigger this value, the higher the SEO ranking.
The goal of those who do SEO, in fact, is to obtain the first position in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page is the results page on the search engine) for a wide range of keywords.
To check the indexing level of your site and the keywords for which users arrive on your site you can use Google Search Console, which is a free tool.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE A WEBSITE FOR SEO
As far as I’m concerned, I always work by splitting the work into two phases:
- research, analysis and planning: keyword research with good traffic and not very competitive, so even a small brand can manage to position itself. And then again, creation of an editorial plan and an analysis of the site structure, which will be optimized. This fundamental part concerns the SEO audit of your site, which is used to analyse the weaknesses of your site.
- The phase of the technical implementation: all those operational activities to ensure that a site is easily readable by search engines, and all those techniques that help you position yourself. These processes include On-Site, On-page, Off-Page optimizations as well as Local SEO.
THERE ARE 3 DIFFERENT TYPES OF KEYWORDS
We have seen how SEO is used to make us find users who are looking for something online.
They must therefore satisfy a need.
And it is very important to understand in which phase of the customer journey your ideal customer is when he lands on your site. Because if we do not understand this, we will not use the suitable keywords to interpret a specific need, at a certain moment of the path that a customer makes before buying online:
There are in fact 3 different types of keywords:
- Informational keywords
- Transactional (or commercial) keywords
- Navigational (or brand) keywords
The potential customer has more clear what his needs are: his research in this case will be specific, because he has already been informed and is now ready to purchase.
The potential customer already knows the brand name, he is probably comparing prices and features with other same products from other brands.
Let’s take an example so it will be clearer:
- what it takes to run is an informational keyword
- nike running shoes ”is a navigational keyword
- best running shoes is a transactional word
WHAT SEO ON SITE MEANS
On-site optimization covers all factors that affect the structure and functioning of the site and the structure and content of the pages.
The ultimate goal of on-site SEO is:
- make search engines understand what a web page is about,
- associate it with a certain search query (and therefore a set of keywords used to perform that search)
- and give it a score, to define in what order to show it in the SERP.
On-site SEO optimization therefore concerns:
- Domain seniority
Domain authority and stability
The older a domain is, the more authoritative it is. Like wine.
This means that domain can affect SERP results. But that’s not the only value that Google takes into consideration.
For example: in my blog I speak mainly of London, but I positioned myself on the front page and in front of blogs older than mine (and therefore with a more authoritative domain) also with content on Sardinia.
I tell you this because in my opinion, Content is still the king.
The structure with which the contents are organized is fundamental. The further a content is located away from the home page the less it will be affected by the link juice (the value of a page).
The structure of the site also affects internal links, corrections of any broken links or error pages (4040) and metadata.
A site structure also affects the user experience, i.e. the user experience on your site. If you have done a great job on the content, but the user cannot find it on your site because it has been poorly designed, it will go away and never come back.
The length of time a user stays within a site and specifically on a page is a factor that affects SEO. Report to Google that that content is interesting and Google can detect it (having access to all the data of our sites through Google Analytics).
Google scores each page on the web. The greater the authority of a resource, the higher the chances that its content is positioned for one or more keywords.
This value is the Page Rank, which in fact no longer exists, because there have been various attempts over the years to manipulate its value. To give a website value, some companies have created proprietary algorithms.
Among the most famous we can mention PA and DA of Moz (Page Authority and Domain Authority), UR and DR of ahrefs (URL Rating and Domain Rating), ZA of Seozoom (Zoom Authority).
The speed of your site is a ranking factor. Given the very high percentage of searches made from mobile, the loading speed has become of fundamental importance.
The loading speed depends on several factors: the chosen theme, the images, the various animations and the presence of videos. And last but not least, the choice of hosting.
What is hosting?
It is the physical space on which your site resides.
Look for reliable hosting with a 24/7 customer care service. I use Siteground and after years of being with them and having tried their professionalism, I can really recommend it.
Tip: using a cache system, server side or client side, helps a lot to make the site faster.
WHAT SEO ON PAGE MEANS
The term SEO on page refers to the activity of optimizing pages to articles on your site.
Here are the main ones:
- Title, H1, H2 ..
- Alt Text images
- Meta description
- internal links
- external links
It is important that the title contains the keywords and is not too long.
For each page only one H1 must be present, but there may be more H2, H3 (I would not go beyond H4).
Organize the content by subtitles (H2 and H3) to facilitate reading.
All images on your site must be saved with the keyword as a name before being uploaded as a media. They must also always have the Alt Text, that is, the description of the image.
It does not mean giving a name to the photo, but describing it as if you were doing it to a blind man.
Urls must also contain keywords and should not be too long. I also recommend NOT to use the date format for your posts, because that could affect the SERP (Google could consider that content no longer fresh and updated and therefore self-serving).
Meta Title and Meta Description
The meta title is the “title” of the result that appears on the SERP and normally does not exceed 70 characters. The meta description, on the other hand, is the description (it does not exceed 155 characters) of the content of the page.
Attention the meta description affects the CTR, which is an SEO factor: it must be captivating and must entice the reader to click on your page rather than another
It is very important to connect each page to another to make the search engine understand how the contents and themes of your site are organized.
The so-called ‘backlinks’, that is all those incoming links pointing to your site. If these links come from an authoritative source and relevant to the themes of your site, they will be a valuable aid in growing your Page Rank.
Don’t forget to link also to authoritative external resources. This is also a signal to Google that you are aware that what is on your site is of value.
Cosa è la local SEO?
Local SEO deals with local searches and makes an activity visible within a specific geographical area.
It meets the research done by mobile where the ‘close to me’ even when it is omitted, is included in the search results.
Geolocation affects the results you will get in SERP.
Local businesses can therefore optimize their online presence for searches made by users in their geographical area.
They must also have the Google My Business card active and updated in order to appear in the local search results for certain keywords in the Google map.
We will talk more about local SEO in a dedicated post.
In the meantime, however, if you have not already done so, I recommend you download the SEO blog post checklist, which you will need to optimize the posts for SEO.
With lots of sparks
This post is also available in: Italian