Free Search Engine Optimization Guide For Beginners 2021
A Detailed Guide to Search Engine Optimization Compiled by the Friendly SEO Experts at Unshakable
In this SEO foundations blog, we’re going to cover on-page optimization hundreds of signals are used by the search engines to determine the best search results for any given query generally speaking these signals can be categorized into two broad categories relevancy and popularity this lesson.
we will be discussing on-page signals or signals related to relevancy these signals tell users and search engines what a given website is about to describe the two broad categories of ranking signals recite best practices for on-page signals such as title tags header tags URLs alt text and others list and describe on-page SEO tactics that you should avoid describing. Our natural language processing aims to understand the meaning behind text search engine optimization is very very complex so when you’re trying to understand it for the first time.
I find it’s very easy and best to just break it into general concepts you already have some understanding of so when I look at the hundreds of cuds of signals that go into SEO.
I break all of them up into either relevancy and/or because sometimes it’s both popularity so relevancy popularity out of all these signals they fit into one of these two things throughout the rest of this chapter in this course.
we’re going to break all the signals we have into these two areas so that you can rely on what you already know about the concept of relevancy and the concept of popularity to have some kind of anchor point for these new brand these new ideas in this section we’re going to talk about the on-page factors and I’ll tell you right up front these are going to come your favorite these are the ones that you have the most impact on and that you can make a small tweak and have a gigantic impact on the amount of organic traffic that you send to start with one of my favorites title tags are the single most important on-page metric that we have access to.
This is the text that we get to express that we get to write that shows the intent and the purpose of that page on the Internet.
This is important because search engines use this text that we get to provide in their search results directly so we get to write what becomes the headline of the search result itself this in addition to the Meta Description as we’ll cover next are the two factors that we have.
A whole lot of control over that influence both click-through rates and people’s first impressions of our brand next up we have meta descriptions now meta descriptions are a little bit confusing because it is the text that we get to provide to search engines but more often than not they override what we provide and try to choose something better in their opinion.
Now I go both ways with this sometimes it is better most of the time though in my opinion, it’s not the important thing here is that we get to provide what would normally we’d have to pay for with AD copy we get to provide it for free customize it to however we want to type to entice clicks and the search engines are happy to promote that and show that in the search results.
All right now we’re getting into the good nerdy stuff the header tags so this was something that’s built into HTML when the web has first created the idea here is that you’re establishing a
hierarchy so you start with one h1 saying what the main purpose of the pages and you start to break it into subcategories so you’ll have multiple h2 below that multiple h3 is between all of that now each one’s used to be very important in primary SEO metric that we got to use but because it got abused it now has less of an importance than you used to so.
It shows what information is less or more important than other pieces of information on the page.
But it is no longer the strongest indicator of what is the most important page on it and right now that’s still title tags next up we have URLs Uniform Resource locators now these are the addresses of web documents online just like give a street address for your house on the internet.
We have URLs for any given document anywhere it can be PDFs it could image it could be texting via your homepage all these have URLs that are extremely important for SEO for a
The most important reason is your keyword usage. You want to make sure that the words that you’re trying to rank for are included in your URLs.
The second part of this ties indirectly the first is you want to keep these short so it’s not okay to just put a whole lot of words you want to write for in your L you need to remember that humans are the people are the things that use the internet they share URLs.
They try to say them over the phone to do all these different things where it becomes extremely important to keep these short and succinct so that people can easily share them and contact them in their browser without any issues.
Now that we’ve talked about the importance of URLs let’s talk about URL structure dive in a little bit here we’ll start with domain names so you probably heard of this concept before in the example with the URL I have here example.com would be the domain name so this is the first thing that people see with your online businesses what’s giving all your advertisements I mean all your marketing efforts. It’s this name right here.
I like to think of it in terms of an offline world so if you walk around buildings typically look like something so a barbershop almost always looks like a barbershop a fast-food restaurant almost always looks like a fast-food restaurant that the same idea is going to apply to domain names.
If you’re a very spammy looking domain name or one that’s hard to spell or one that’s confusing people are going to make an initial impression off of that so make sure that you have something there that’s going to make a great first impression be something easy to spell that one new tech like tech craziness that we live in people do a terrible job of that but something easy to spell and something easy to pronounce and it easy to share so how is this important SEO.
Well, keywords or wide support net CEO this it comes up all the time it’s important to have keywords in your domain name as long as you’re not taking it too far now this is one of the things.
I go back and forth with people all the time how do you know if you’ve gone too far I don’t know I mean if it looks like you bought the domain name simply because it has the keywords in it that you needed then you’ve probably gone too far but is that the best way of measuring it can I take out my calculator and calculate that now you’re just going to have to use it.
Your gut you have to look at it from making it from a human perspective to not go overboard keep it as short as possible make sure it’s something that you can easily share something you’ll be able to put on your business cards and be proud of not something that you bought because you’re doing this purely for SEO reasons you think you’re going to succeed okay so that is the domain name now what about everything after so in this case.
It would be this blog post that I wrote well that is called a subdirectory and you can have in theory unlimited subdirectories but from an SEO perspective you do not want to do that and for all the reasons we talked about before if you have lots of subdirectories, it’s going to be confusing.
it’s me hard to share it’s going to cause lots of problems in older browsers so your best practice here is to keep as few subdirectories as possible this will be good for both robots and for human beings with the subdirectories as well as the files that come after them you want to make sure you include your keywords so again this is one of those weird things where there’s not a quantified metric for it but don’t put the keywords in there too many times but put them in there just as many times as you think is necessary so generally this is once or maybe twice if it’s already a been domain name okay that’s all the information.
I have right now on URLs feel free to google this subject if you want to know more about it because trust me there’s a whole lot of technical knowledge that goes into this but if you’re at this point you already understand all the most important parts of it as you like we realize computers cannot see images the same way that humans can they do not have eyes and they do not have the complex brains that we use to get meaning out of pictures out of pixels so because of that we’ve had to come up with some other way of expressing the meaning behind images luckily the creators of the internet were forward-thinking and they provided us with a factor called image alt text is the alternative text that is shown.
When an image can’t load this is done on purpose so that people who are blind can extract meaning from something when they can’t see it this works out well for search engines because well they’re effectively brought blind and so that they can also use that information put into the image alt text to understand the meaning behind images internal links so we have an entire section on links but what I want to cover at this point is just internal links an internal link is a link that points from your website back to a different section of your own Website.
It’s not pointing elsewhere it’s not coming from elsewhere it’s from your website back to your website this is important from a relevant irrelevant C perspective you’ll see internal links in your main navigation when you’ll have one that likely says home one that might say contact us or one this is about what you’re showing two search engines and two humans is that this section that if you click on this link will be about our company or this will be a place where you can find contact information for us.
These links are not votes like external links but they are relevancy metrics that are extremely helpful when a search engine crawls and processes your website it doesn’t simply look for the instances of keywords it’s a lot more complex than that it’s using a technology called MLP natural language processing what is trying to do is it’s using algorithms to try to understand the meaning of text the same way humans do when they listen to other people talk or read the text instead of just looking for specific phrases or the order of words.
It tries to extract what’s behind that what is trying to be expressed here emotion feeling food anything so when a search engine goes to your website it may see keywords but it’s looking for a context to them you may say just soccer but just having the word soccer on your a website isn’t going to help you rank specifically for soccer what you need to do and what is more common happens naturally is that you’ll happen to use words like goal and World Cup and referee.
Google and the other search engines are going to take these into account and understand what that you rank for soccer or the irrelevant for that kind of keyword by the usage of other synonyms and other common words that are used within the context of a bigger broader idea the next on-site signal that we have is sitemaps.
Now there are two kinds of sitemaps there’s the kind that is for humans and there’s a kind of that are for robots or crawlers or spiders the limiter for humans is called HTML sitemaps and you’ve probably seen these before they’re generally in the footer of website click through it and it shows you the major sections of a website and usually provides some search functionality those help you understand as a human what the hierarchy of a website is how does everything fit together and how do I get to the to something I’m looking for as quickly as possible those are called HTML sitemaps and like I said they’re generally for humans there’s also something that exists.
On the back end called an XML sitemap now this is something you can look at but it’s formatted for computers so it’s not going to be easy to read an XML sitemap uses a format called XML as you can probably imagine showing the hierarchy and the priority of each of the URLs on your website so that search engines can understand that and figure out how everything is interconnected so this point we’ve covered a lot of things that are important and things that you should be doing and optimizing.
Now let’s go a different direction and cover things that you should not be doing so these are lists of the most common mistakes that I see that should not be done for a well-optimized page the first one is keyword stuffing so back in the day it used to be helpful on again this is in
In the past it’s not true anymore it used to be helpful to put lots of instances of the keyword that you were trying to rank for on the page search engines and humans for that matter are a lot smarter about this now than they used to be keyword stuffing does not work you’re not going to rank better for any given phrase by including 100 times on the page so this is something that doesn’t work you should not do anymore.
the next one is hidden text unfortunately I still see this one all over the web this is when you write content that is solely for search engines it’s not for people and you’ll put it say white text on a white background so a search engine can see this because their crawler they’re a machine but humans cannot because they cannot see the difference because there’s no contrast now that also used to work back in the day but it does not and that is not a useful thing to invest your time in today search engines it can tell when it’s white text on a white background.
It is very easy to tell from a computer science point of view there are other ways of trying to hide things but when you hide text modern search engines are most certainly smart enough to be able to figure that out probably better than humans, to be honest, so don’t bother trying to hide text just for search engines they’re going to figure.
It out and still work against you next one is repetitive anchor text so we’ve all read these articles where you get to a page and it just doesn’t feel like it was written for people you’re reading a sentence and it’s redundant it’s got lots of links in it that don’t need to link it just confuses the way the flow of the information on the page because you put links.
When they’re not necessary this also used to be a tactic that used to work but is no longer helpful search engines the natural language processing algorithms they use have advanced significantly so they can tell when something is not readable when something is probably intended for machines and not for people so do not waste your time on redundant links and trying to try to sculpt your PageRank or your link equity or the value of your links anyway like that because of just today’s world.
It does not work the last thing that we have on here is cloaking is the idea of showing one thing to search engines and something entirely different to humans now this is also like everything else almost something that used to work but as I’ve mentioned before search engines have their algorithms have gotten much smarter and much more clever and they can almost always figure out the difference between when you’re doing this if you’re showing one thing to search engine something else to humans with if with only a few exceptions that I know of it which is in the process of going out. There’s no reason to do this so it is not worth investing your time in now we’ve covered.
All the most important on-page optimization factors let’s take a look at what the theoretical perfectly optimized page would look like on the Internet now there’s a big asterisk here in that well no page would be perfectly optimized because the Internet’s dynamic and fluid and things change all the time but if there was one it would look very eerily similar to what we’re about to talk about let’s start with the basics you need to have a title tag the title tag needs to have optimized keywords in it preferably closer to the beginning of it and it needs to be clear and enticing users to click remember this is what we’re going to see in search results.
For most of the time for your surgery before the search result, itself is you’re going to have this text here so a clear and optimized title tag the next thing is an enticing meta description now remember meta descriptions not used for ranking purposes but they are tremendously important for click-throughs so this is the this is your chance to write copy this can entice people to click through your result rather than the other one-third remain on the search result page after that we have a short optimized URL so the important thing here is that needs to be short so it’s easily shareable.
it’s easy to understand from a search engine perspective but it also needs to contain the keywords that you’re trying to rank for so keep it there keep it in plain equal English use the phrases people are using to get to your site but keep it as concise as humanly possible now.
let’s talk about the page itself what does this look like how are things structured well the first thing you want to do is you want to make sure that is structured in the same way that people expect to see websites meaning there is a title at the top of it’s appropriate there’s some kind of navigational elements around the site there are pictures to make this worthy of me to spend the five minutes of my internet time grazing looking at your content you need to have text that is well written and this all is very hard to quantify.
But it’s things that you’re going to just take a look at and work with your team for things that are interesting there’s an attitude with the page that has some kind of opinion it’s expressing information it’s giving me the answer to whatever question I may have you make sure this content at the end of the day is written for humans there’s something that I would share with my
best friend because I think this is the single best source on the internet for whatever my information need is at that moment after that it needs to be bought accessible so I see this problem all the time with some of the major news publications the world will have an outstanding article or they’ll have a really beautiful photo gallery but they’ve done it in a way where the search engines can’t see it which means that on the internet it’s almost useless which is a shame.
it’s sad when this happens what you need to do is you need to make sure that you have the world’s best content which is hard enough but you also have to make it accessible to search engines so this is certainly very doable just to avoid technologies like flash and say Silverlight and use more of these open standards like html5 that will get you all the way there the next one is social.
It needs to be social it needs to be shareable so I had mentioned that what I’m trying to create content that the bar that I tried to rise to is that is shareable for my best friend well you need to facilitate that sharing you need to have some kind of way for them to share it so this could be as simple as adding the social sharing buttons or it could be something as easy as enticing them and giving them a call to action at the end of the article to share it with their friends or share with people. Who is important to them sharing on the Internet is extremely important not just for ethical reasons but for marketing reasons for bottom-line reasons so make sure that social sharing is very important.
I am the last one and it is certainly not the least important one is multi-device ready so I don’t care if you use the adaptive design I don’t care if you use responsive design just make sure that this content you spend so much time crafting is going to work and it’s going to be consumable easily on my tablet and my phone and my gigantic TV and all these other devices so that when it comes a time when you finally earned that person coming to your website to consume your wonderful content that they’re able to see it on whatever the device may be holding.
So this is a general overview of what a perfectly optimized website would look like now remember this is going to shift depending on context but make sure if you cover to cover all of these bases so that the signals that we’ve all talked about makes sense and you have a real
lasting impact with this the two broad categories of ranking signals are popularity and relevance of the on-page factors title tags are the most important individual field header tags are important but less so than they were in the past URL is important and should be semantic alt text is important for search engine as well as for blind humans avoid keyword stuffing and link sculpting you should always avoid keyword stuffing, hidden text, repetitive anchor text and cloaking natural language processing is a technology that aims to understand the intent and the semantic structure behind text written by humans.
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