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The Basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Written by

Symphysis

Published 

February 11, 2019

In a society where markets are driven primarily by customer convenience and online discoverability, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important brick in building a successful brand and driving traffic to your website. This brief article from our "Marketing How To" series takes a beginner’s in-depth look at the basics of SEO and tips on how you can you use it most to your own advantage.

The following queries are tackled in this article.

  1. What SEO is (Meaning and Definition of SEO).
  2. How is SEO an integral marketing strategy?
  3. Black Hat vs White Hat SEO.
  4. On Page vs Off Page SEO.
  5. Back Links and the Credibility Spam
  6. SEO Tips for utilizing SEO to your best interest and increase Ranking and Discoverability.
  7. What NOT to do.
  8. Footnotes

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

SEO

When you post content online, the main objective for the post is to make it discoverable to your target audience. There are two primary ways to do that. The first way is advertisement: paying websites with decent traffic to drive their users to your content. But the obvious flaws with this tactic is the audience attracted is often temporary and new startups and small businesses or organizations cannot invest a great deal in such advertisement.

The second and more effective way of generating long-term organic audience for your content is Search Engine Optimization (SEO.) Search Engine Optimization is the process of customizing your website to appeal to search engines. This can be accomplished by having relevant keywords to the topic of your site, a layout that Google (or another search engine) thinks is organized, and fast load speed. Google wants to show it's customers the best and fastest results that relate to their search queries. When someone does a generic or specific search on Google relating to the topics on your website, your pages with relevant content show up higher in search results. Generally, people will click on the first result they see, therefore increasing the traffic on your website.

How is SEO an integral marketing strategy?

In a dynamic online marketing environment, discoverability is one of the most important factors to staying ahead of the competitors. During a time of home delivery and on-call services, customer convenience is very important. Search Engine Optimization targets that precisely, along with building goodwill(1) for your brand, by attracting more and more people to your website. By increasing organic visits to your website, SEO ensures a dynamic buying cycle(2) for the products and services offered.

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO.

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO infographic
Source: MLwebdesigns.com

Black Hat SEO refers to the techniques and hacks for generating short-term audience for your website. These techniques include keyword stuffing (Including repetitive chosen keywords in your content), content scraping (Republishing your RSS links to different sites for backlink generation), comment spams (on different comment-enabled websites with links backing to your own website), cloaking (Showing different content to visitors and search engines), etc. Search engines bots, such as Google Crawler(3) do not appreciate Black Hat SEO methods, and upon identification, websites using them can be penalized or even banned.

White Hat SEO, on the other hand, emphasizes primarily on the content of your website. Methods such as better UI (User Interface), Keyword Research and Optimization, Speeding up the load time, and attracting backlinks from reputable websites are the main methods of white-hat SEO. Contrary to Black Hat SEO, it is a long-term marketing tool which focuses on generating organic audience and building an organization’s goodwill.

On Page vs Off Page SEO.

On Page vs Off Page SEO infographic
Source: Blog.alexa.com

On Page SEO is essentially optimization based on what is actually on your webpages. This is altering and modifying the content on your website to increase discoverability. A simple SEO checklist for On Page SEO is:

  • Creating Quality Content.

The contents of the page should be relevant to the desired search results. Relevant content increases the chances of appearing in organic search results and reduces bounce rate(4).

  • Keyword Optimization

The content should be inclusive of various relevant keywords (the actual words that users type in search engines) with a recommended ratio of 2-5:100 words. These words/phrases should be mentioned at least a few times in the content. Although it must be made sure that these are not spammed.

  • Website coding.

Behind every page there is coding and structure, with important factors such as Title Tags, Heading Tags, and Meta Data. Title Tag is the clickable link that shows up on the ‘Search results’ page of a search engine. Heading Tags are the particular heads of the page (for example ‘Black Hat vs White Hat SEO’, ‘What NOT to do’, etc. headings in this article). Metadata is the part of code that describes other parts of the code.

Off Page SEO is basically your online reputation based on other relevant websites. It is a long-term optimization method. There are no direct alterations to the content of your website involved. Our simple SEO checklist for Off Page SEO is:

  • Social Interaction and Online Presence.

Social activity is increasingly becoming an important factor for SEO. Google Crawler checks all relevant sources eventually backlinking to your main content. And although its exact algorithm is unknown, various trial-and-error experiments have shown significant direct impact of social media popularity and search engine ranking.

  • Backlinking

Acquiring backlinks from reputable and relevant websites for your content is the most important Off-page SEO factor. Links between websites create a web that search engine crawlers can follow to determine the quality and relevance of websites within the web. Bots like Google Crawler recognize both quality and quantity of backlinks.

  • Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is an effective way of getting backlinks from popular websites. As a guest blogger, you submit blogs to other more popular and relevant websites with backlinks to your own content. Upon acceptance, such blogs and content creates a decent backlink base for search bots.

SEO Backlinks and the Credibility Spam

Tiered back links are a black hat SEO tactic and not recommended
Tiered Back linking.
Source: apprize.info

Backlinks are off-site links pointing at your website. They play a significant role in Search Engine Optimization. Due to the popular misuse of such backlinks, search bots have become highly vigilant in identifying spam (such as Tiered Backlinking(5)). That means backlinking from your own secondary WordPress or Wix or any other suspected spam sites does little to harvest organic audience. On the other hand, backlinking from more popular and credible sites helps way more in increasing search ranking.

SEO Tips for Increasing Ranking and Discoverability.

  1. Make sure to post original, valuable, relevant, and quality content.
  2. Make sure that your clickable URLs and Permalinks are sensible and readable.
  3. Make sure to reduce the load time of your website by removing anything that slows it down, like extra code. You can check your load time and view tips on how to decrease your load time on websites like https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/ or tools.pingdom.com.
  4. Link to other websites with relevant content. This builds your own reputation as a trustworthy and relevant site.
  5. Acquire Backlinks from other sites by using methods mentioned above under ‘Off-Page SEO’.
  6. Create a social media presence and accountability for your content.
  7. Research. This is a very important strategy for Search Engine Optimization. Paid tools such as Semrush tell how many backlinks a particular site is using, what keyword ranking they have, and where they acquire their reference from. A free but less accurate way of doing this is by adding the Keywords Everywhere extension tool to your Chrome or Firefox browser. Ahrefs also offers a free backlink checker tool, with paid options to view more data. For a more comprehensive list of research tools, visit our article: Best Paid and Free SEO tools in 2019.

What NOT to do.

I have mentioned it before and would again, don't get banned trying to gain search priority. Spamming of any kind could easily be detected by search bots and will penalize your whole site. Tiered Backlinking was considered a hack to this, but Google’s algorithm is perpetually changing, and even that is an unsafe bet.

We Can help!

Search Engine Optimization can be a tricky concept to understand and even trickier to tackle. Symphysis maximizes the number of times you appear in organic search queries. Our SEO team begins by reducing loading time, improving image quality, removing leftover template code, implementing analytics, all while improving keyword ranking. For more information, call or text +1 (425) 390-4738.

Footnotes

  1. Goodwill is a long-term intangible asset of an organization. It is basically the organization’s reputation among its customers and the general public. It helps attracts customers and builds their trust in the organization.
  2. Buying-cycle, which occurs between two purchases, is the process that a customer undergoes before buying or renewing a product.
  3. Google Crawler is Google’s inter-site navigation block that navigates through various backlinks on different sites to a particular site.
  4. Bounce rate is the amount of users who leave the site before making a conversion. It is a crucial SEO factor as search engines do not prioritize websites with a high bounce rate.
  5. Tiered backlinking is a form of spam backlinking where a person with multiple websites links them through one another tier wise. For example, suppose you have nine websites, Sites A-I, and A is your primary site. In tiered backlinking you would link Website B to, D, E and F; and website C to G, H, and I. And then you’d link site A to B and C, which are more credible and relevant. Google Crawler will eventually find its way from site I to A, assigning it multiple backlinks.

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