What Is SEO?
Finally you started that website and now you are trying to figure out what next to do. You have heard from friends, articles and ads – everyone is talking about organic SEO.
If you are fairly new to the web building or internet marketing you might be wondering what SEO is and how it works.
What SEO is?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It describes the actions you can take to increase the chances of your website showing up in major search engines like Google, Bing, Yelp and Yahoo when people search for what you do.
SEO is a fairly complex industry. The big search engines make it a secret not to reveal how their search engine algorithms work.
That leaves SEO experts using a mix of long-term observation, trial and error and research studies to figure out how best to optimise a website to land better search results.
While organic SEO is complicated and some of the details of how it all works are hazy nevertheless a number of best practices for improving your website’s search results are already known.
Let us start on the most important information that we do know about what SEO is and how it works.
2 Types of SEO
Point to note – the most important thing every website owner needs to know about SEO is whilst doing it correctly would benefit their business and doing it badly will hurt you more than not doing it at all.
Of the many companies providing SEO services, there have always been a category of practitioners that try to find shortcuts to getting search engine results.
The majority of search engines prioritise to deliver the best and most useful results to users.
When low-quality websites make their way into the results because of people trying to cheat the system, they take note and make changes to the algorithm.
Those changes do not only serve to correct the problem. It also actively works to punish the websites that gained rankings through sketchy SEO techniques using inappropriate practices.
The outcome is any business that decides to invest in SEO must learn the basic differences between white-hat SEO (the good, legitimate tactics) and black-hat SEO (the incorrect tactics the search engines hate).
White Hat SEO
White-hat SEO is any approach to search engine optimisation that falls within Google’s guidelines and aims to gain rankings through legitimate means.
The best way to ascertain if an SEO tactic is white hat is to ask yourself – how will this affect the experience for everyday visitors to the website?
If it will provide a positive or neutral effect for human visitors then there is a good chance it is a legitimate tactic worth pursuing.
And if it will make the visitor’s experience worse or more confusing then it is definitely a black-hat tactic.
All the tactics explored in here are white-hat tactics so if you want to get started on the right foot use only legitimate SEO practices.
Black Hat SEO
Black-hat SEO is described as all the scammy and inappropriate tactics that people use to try to cheat the system. Many of them are now well known to have negative effects on a website’s SEO.
Since they worked at some point in the past however briefly, some SEO providers still use them.
Many small businesses with good intention have inadvertently hired an SEO consultant that used black-hat tactics and suffered the consequences. Be warned and do not fall into this trap.
Below are some common SEO mistakes to stay clear of.
Utilising keywords in your content is an important and legitimate part of doing SEO effectively. But if you overdo it, it becomes spammy and you can get penalised.
Do not overfill your content with keywords that does not make sense. Only use keywords that make sense naturally in the text.
Note: Always ask would this sound good to a user or is it too sloppily stuffed in?
Search engines like Google explicitly frown on this practice and the algorithm has ways to recognise low-quality links that have been paid for.
If you buy a lot of low-quality links for cheap, your website will be penalised by search engines and you will have to disavow them later with great difficulty.
You need a lot of content for SEO that utilises the specific keywords you want to rank for.
When you have too many keywords that are similar, it can be tempting to reuse the content you already have created with slight variations to it.
For example, a heating plumber that serves a number of different neighbourhoods might create five copies of the same page with the term neighbourhood A heating plumber subbed with neighbourhood B heating plumber, neighbourhood C heating plumber, etc.
That seems like a clever way to cover your bases and target more keywords with less work but search engines do not like duplicate content. This is another way to get your website penalised.
For each keyword you target you need to create an entirely unique content for that chosen keyword.
Many blog comment sections allow commenters to include a link with their comment.
Cunningly some black hat SEO practitioners try to use blog comment sections as a way to build new links to their website.
This may have been a worthwhile tactic at some point but now it is mostly a waste of time.
Majority websites have anti-spam filters on their comments section which means most spammy link building comments would not make it through to begin with.
And on most sites that accept comments the links included are no follow – meaning they do not deliver any SEO authority.
When you can get a link in a blog comment that says do follow, Google’s algorithm does not count it anyway.
Cloaking is a shady practice that involves designing a website so it appears to be about one thing to Google’s algorithm while visitors will encounter something entirely different.
Any website trying this tactic risks being blacklisted and ultimately short sighted.
You do not want to rank for keywords unrelated to what visitors will find on your page.
Another similar tactic to cloaking and equally shady is including text that is in the same colour as the background or tiny enough to be overlooked by humans.
The thinking behind this is that you can cram a few more keywords in that algorithm without negatively influencing the user experience.
This is yet another sleazy tactic the search engines have caught onto and will penalise when they catch it.
Cheap & low-quality content
Previously the SEO industries were dominated by cheap content mills that paid writers a few bucks a piece to churn out high quantities of low-quality content.
Back then having lots of fresh content was a key part of getting higher search engine results.
It made sense to publish as much content containing your keywords as possible irrespective of whether it provides useful information to readers or not.
Majority of those content mills went bust as Google’s algorithm changed to increasingly penalise low-quality content and reward the sites that were providing more substantial and useful content.
But some SEO companies still promote quantity over quality and to the detriment of their clients.
How SEO Works
Now you know what to avoid doing, the following are white-hat tactics that are worth spending your time and money on.
One of the main benefits of SEO is that it delivers relevant traffic specifically. If you sell pet food you do not need visitors that are looking for holidays to Bahamas and vice versa.
With SEO marketing you help those customers who are actively looking for what you offer to find you more easily.
That makes keyword research an important component in any SEO strategy.
It shows you what terms your target audience is using when they are looking for information about your products and industry.
This will enable you to create your strategy around those language and topics.
Keyword research involves a few things:
While Google has limited the amount of keyword data it provides in Google Analytics, it is still useful to see which terms people are using to find your website now.
Pay attention to the keyword data that is provided and the data on which landing pages visitors are coming from.
This will often lead you back to the keywords you are ranking for.
A smart keyword strategy would be looking beyond the competitive high-level general keywords like chocolates.
You may start targeting long-tail keywords that are more specific and less competitive like milk chocolate with hazelnuts or best healthy chocolates for Valentine’s Day.
You can do some research to find out what is currently ranking once you know what term you are targeting and this is another important feature of keywords .
Analyse and figure out if there are any keywords used in the top ranking results on page one so you can create and design the content to beat them.
The next important component in SEO is on-page optimisation. This is everything you do on your website that makes it easier for search engine algorithms to understand what the pages on your site are about.
Ultimately this will ensure that visitors get a good user experience (UX).
This includes four main things:
Both Google and your visitors care about how fast your site loads. Take the steps needed to make sure it loads fast.
Google has been clear about the algorithm prioritising websites that are mobile friendly so make sure you build a responsive site that works well on small screens as on desktops.
Publishing fresh content regularly provides two big SEO benefits:
- It signals to the search engines that your website is up to date and consistently adding new valuable information.
Fresh Content also gives you the opportunity to create new pages targeting a range of relevant keywords.
Content creation is a huge part of any good SEO strategy. Make sure you create your content based on what your keyword research shows your target audience cares about.
Your website analytics will show you what, where and how they respond to.
Prioritise and provide valuable information to your readers over publishing a high quantity of content.
While more content can add up to better SEO results, ensure that the pieces you are publishing are also good.
Final but crucial component of SEO is link building. One of the main factors Google considers when determining the authority of a website is the number of links on respected and relevant websites pointing back to it.
Every time another site chooses to include a link to a page on your website they are telling Google that they consider what is on the page to be valuable.
As long as that website is considered reputable by the search engine algorithm it gives you a boost in SEO authority.
Link building is difficult to do well but there are a number of legitimate link building strategies you can use whether you are a blog, local business or online store.
A few common examples include:
When you write a guest post for a relevant website you can include a link back to your own website as long as you do so naturally.
Broken link building
SEO tools can help you find places around the web where links using your preferred anchor text no longer work. Preferred anchor texts are words that are hyperlinked on your website.
This provides you with an opportunity to spruce up your website by replacing the broken link with a working one to your content.
Brand mention link building
Any mentions of your brand around the web are an opportunity for a link. SEO tools will help you find them.
Then you can contact the webmaster to ask them to add a link where your brand is mentioned.
Wrapping Up - SEO is complicated but very importantk
SEO is not easy and it can take a while to start seeing results but it is important for any website that cares about organic traffic and visibility.
Now that you know the main things to look for and the things to avoid you can find a good SEO provider to do the work for you.
Best-Digital Marketing’s skilled SEO experts are here to help clients with all the components of white-hat SEO marketing described here.
You do not have to make a commitment until we have proven to you that we know what we are doing with a free SEO review.
Contact us now to learn how we can help your business rank better in the search results.
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