Who is this guide for?
If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, or you're the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites or the SEO specialist in a Web agency this guide is meant for you. If you're interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. That said, let me being by saying this guide won't provide any secrets that'll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry, anyone that PROMISES they can get you on the first page of Google is not telling the truth), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results. You're likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they're essential ingredients for any web page, but you may not be making the most out of them.
You should build a website to benefit your users, and any optimization should be geared toward making the user experience better. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types
Ready to dive in? Cool...LET'S GOOOO!
SEO: From then to now
Anyone who has owned a business, has a website, or doesn't live under a rock since 1945, knows what SEO is and that it's important to generating traffic to your website. Unfortunately, the knowledge generally stops there. The reason being is that SEO standards are constantly changing and it's hard to keep up. We have a vague idea that keywords and links might play a role, but we aren't sure how and we don't know anything past that.
The truth is: these were the most important aspects in the days of SEO creation and these still matter, but there have been so many iterations, updates, new technologies and other forces behind changing the algorithm, that we can't focus on just these pieces anymore.
Over the years as these updates have occurred, it's forced us to stay on top of the changes. And as far as users are concerned, this is a good thing. It enables Google to deliver more relevant search results to users, rather that just keywords and it makes it harder for that bad guys like marketers (just kidding marketers. Love you!), to cheat the system. See, back in the day people knew that Google indexed based off key words, so they would inject a bunch of white text on a white background FULL of keywords, so that the user couldn't see it, but Google could. So now, Google looks at "Readability" which checks things like the contrast between the text and its background.
Black text on white background = GOOD.
White text on white background = BAD
It doesn't stop there...
They also factor in external links point to your site - which is why you always saw those spam comments in the ESPN comment section of an article that said 'check out how to make REAL money'. Ughhhh....
Also, since mobile usage has now eclipsed desktop, having a mobile optimized site is HUGE!
I can hear you asking "what does that mean?" Well, responsiveness. BUT ALSO - compressed images, site speed, navigation and more. In other words, a lot.
Now, they have gone through so many iterations of change that they also factor in:
*User search history
*External & internal links
*And the list goes on...
Which brings us to our current update (which uses machine learning).
Content quality & Uniqueness
Now Google looks at the quality of the content and how it's written on your site. Grammar, information, length, tone etc. The good news is, I'm going to share some best practices that you can follow!
Write easy-to-read text
Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.
Writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes.Awkward or poorly written content.Embedding text in images and videos for textual content: users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines can't read it.
Organize your topics clearly
It's always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one content topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps users find the content they want faster.
Dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation.
Create fresh, unique content
New content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.
Rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to users.Having duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site.
Act in a way that cultivates user trust
Users feel comfortable visiting your site if they feel that it's trustworthy.
A site with a good reputation is trustworthy. Cultivate a reputation for expertise and trustworthiness in a specific area. Provide information about who publishes your site, provides the content, and its goals. Shopping and other financial transaction websites should have clear and satisfying customer service information to help users resolve issues. News sites should provide clear information about who is responsible for the content.
Using appropriate technologies is also important. If a shopping checkout page doesn’t have a secure connection, users cannot trust the site.
Make expertise and authoritativeness clear
Expertise and authoritativeness of a site increases its quality. Be sure that content on your site is created or edited by people with expertise in the topic. For example, providing expert or experienced sources can help users understand articles’ expertise. Representing well-established consensus in pages on scientific topics is a good practice if such consensus exists.
Provide an appropriate amount of content for your subject
Creating high quality content takes a significant amount of at least one of the following: time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill. Content should be factually accurate, clearly written, and comprehensive. So, for example, if you describe your page as a recipe, provide a complete recipe that is easy to follow, rather than just a set of ingredients or a basic description of the dish.
Providing insufficient content for the purpose of the page.
There is more to come on this topic, but I hope that this helps in the meantime! Post below if you have any questions!