Fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge subject, and we are just going to cover the fundamentals of it in this post.
These will certainly be sufficient for you to understand the power of SEO and start applying it for all of your content (especially on your website).
In the next two posts, we will look at on-page optimization and off-page optimization.
These are the two critical aspects of SEO that you need to work on. When you do this, you will give your content the maximum chance of ranking high in Google.
Don’t worry, all will become clear as you work through this and upcoming posts.
SEO is a long-term game.
It is something that you want to use right from the start so that in time your content will rank high in Google.
Sometimes you can rank content very fast in Google (a few hours to a few days) and other times it will take longer.
Having your content on the first page of Google will mean free, high-quality traffic for you.
How Google works
The first thing to remember is that all search engines such as Google are just machines.
They are pretty advanced, but they certainly have nowhere near the mental capacity that you have.
This means that they must follow sets of rules to keep track of every page on the Internet.
The next thing to realize is that there are literally billions of pages on the Internet and millions more are joining them each passing day.
Google’s job in life is to catalog all of these pages (known as indexing) and then rank them so that when somebody searches using their chosen keyword(s) such as “dog training” then the best dog training pages will appear.
Search engines use robots, sometimes known as spiders or crawlers to index pages.
When the Googlebot comes to visit your page, it will crawl all over it and notice the following:
- Your text
- Page title
- The age of your site
- The amount of content that is on your page
- Whether that content is duplicated elsewhere
- Whether you have any links on the page and where they point to
- Whether you have pictures (or images) or video on the page and more
When you first create a page on your website, you must get it indexed in Google.
Keep in mind that Google has had to index billions of sites and individual pages in its relatively short life and is faced with the prospect of millions of new pages appearing every day of the week.
So, it can be a slow process getting your site and pages indexed.
The way search engines rank pages is by examining each page to see whether it meets the criteria that the searcher has entered.
It doesn’t have much to go on – only those words like “dog training.”
So, it will scan every page in its dog section for those words, and then once it has found all those relevant pages it will rank them according to their authority.
It works a bit like your local library where you would ask the librarian for books on dog training, and they would give you directions to the shelves where these books reside.
You would then rank them on their authority (usefulness to you).
How Google Determines Authority
How does Google determine web page authority?
Well, Google is a machine and not a human, so it cannot read the words on a page.
But it can identify some factors that it will consider very relevant.
For example, if you have a website on dog training then it is vitally important that you include the words “dog training” a few times in your text.
In addition, it needs to appear in your page title and description – more of this in the next post.
Google also considers other factors such as any related keywords that may appear on your page and the popularity of your site on the Internet.
How do they measure popularity?
Well, they do this by counting the number of links to your site that they find on external websites.
Each one of these links from an external site is considered as a vote for your site and in general, the more votes that you have the higher your site will rise in the rankings.
These external links are known as Backlinks, and we will explain this in the post on “off-site optimization”.
Google considers other authority factors as well.
One of the most important is the age of your site.
Unfortunately, Google treats new websites with the ultimate suspicion.
This is because in the past, many people have tried to “game” Google by spamming them, and in virtually all these cases, the sites were new (less than 3 months old).
This means that if you have a new site, you must take an entirely different approach to SEO than if you have an older site.
For example, it is easy to get many votes (backlinks) for your site very quickly, and this will be flagged by Google as being totally unnatural.
If this is discovered, you could find that your site disappears from the rankings without a trace, and you will have to do a lot of repair work over the coming months to get it back again!
The authority of your domain is important too.
Moz provides a guide to domain authority and page authority based upon different factors such as age, popularity, and quality.
Google will not use the Moz scores, but they are pretty close to what Google is looking for.
If your website is brand new it has no authority.
Websites that have government or educational status are also deemed to have high authority by Google.
This is because the domain names for these sites are not available commercially and the mere fact that they are government, department, or educational sites gives them instant authority.
So, domains that have the .gov or .edu extensions are examples of what we are talking about.
Google Ranking Factors
SEO experts believe that there are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, but we are just going to concentrate on what is considered the most important.
In order of importance, they are:
- Site Age
- Site Authority
- Keyword optimization (also known as on-page optimization)
In the next post, we will discuss on-page optimization…
Look for More SEO training in upcoming posts.
Or, you can find the ones that have been published here.
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By Lynn Huber
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