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What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Explained

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) improves the volume and quality of organic search traffic to a website.

Month after month, passive website traffic is provided for free.

How is content optimized for SEO? What “ranking factors” are relevant?

To answer, we must understand search engines.

How search engines work

Digital libraries are search engines.

No books are stored.

Search engines search their indexes for relevant results when you enter a query.

It’s algorithmic.

Google hints at how these algorithms work.

Search algorithms consider your query, page relevance and usability, source expertise, location, and settings to give you relevant results. Freshness is more important for current events than dictionary definitions.

Most people search on Google. The algorithm is reliable.

Other search engines can be optimized.

Our search guide has more.

How SEO works

SEO demonstrates to search engines that your content is the best.

All search engines show relevant results.

Search engine optimization varies.

Google’s algorithm is key to organic web traffic. YouTube calculates video views.

This guide can’t cover every search engine’s algorithm.

We’ll prioritize Google.

How to optimize for Google

Over 200 ranking factors are utilized by Google.

Some predicted 10,000 in 2010.

Not all ranking factors are understood.

How? Because Google informed us, and many individuals, including ourselves, have studied Google rankings.

We will soon discuss some. Google ranks web pages, not sites.

Every page on your website should not rank for “stained glass windows” simply because your company manufactures the product.

Different pages can rank for different keywords and subjects.

Let’s discuss search engine rankings and visibility.

Crawlability

Before ranking, Google must know about your content.

Google crawls the web for new content, but it’s used. Google follows known links to new pages.

Spiders are used.

Google indexes your homepage’s backlink.

When they crawl that site again, they’ll likely index your homepage.

They’ll find other pages from your homepage.

Blocking Google crawlers:

Google crawls via internal links. Unlinked pages aren’t crawled.

Google ignores nofollowed links.

Noindex meta tags or HTTP headers exclude pages from Google’s index. Google may not find internal links on indexed pages.

robots.txt: Google uses Robots.txt to navigate your website. Not blocked pages.

If you have any of these issues, run Ahrefs Site Audit.

Mobile-friendliness

Mobile Google searches are 63% and growing.

Google boosted mobile-friendly websites’ search rankings in 2016.

Google started indexing and ranking mobile versions of pages in 2018.

Adobe statistics:

Poor mobile content would turn off 8 in 10 consumers.

Most people will return when a mobile site’s desktop version loads.

Google values happy customers. Unresponsive pages are frustrating. Few will read your content even if it ranks and gets clicked.

Google’s mobile-friendly tool checks websites.

Alternatively, hire a developer.

Pagespeed

Page speed. It’s used on desktop and mobile.

Why? Google wants satisfied customers. Slow search results frustrate users.

Pagespeed Insights checks website speed.

Search intent

Easy keyword searching. Paste a topic into Ahrefs Keywords Explorer to find keywords.

People often overlook whether their page matches search intent.

Search intent

“Slow cooker recipes” on Google:

Comparatively:

Google returns different results for similar keywords. They list many “slow cooker recipes.” They list “slow cooker” products and categories.

Google interprets queries and displays results.

Search intent.

Optimization?

Determine the “3 C’s of search intent” from top-ranking pages.

Blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages?

How-tos, lists, tutorials, comparisons, or opinion pieces? (This is for informative topics.)

Perspective: Do top-ranking pages share a theme or USP? You’ll know what searchers want.

SERP intent can be checked.

A featured snippet may indicate a searcher wants information.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer filters by SERP features.

Backlinks

Google’s algorithm is PageRank.

Links are votes. Page votes boost rankings.

Why? We found a correlation between referring domains and organic search traffic after studying 1 billion web pages last year.

Backlinks are crucial for ranking.

Building product page links is difficult.

Focus on your best informational content if you’re new to link building (e.g., a blog post or a free tool).

How?

Keyword search. Find bad pages. Paste URL to see top 100 links.

Why is your content better? Ask to swap links.

This is Skyscraper Technique.

These articles and videos explain backlinking.

Why is your content better? Ask to swap links.

This is Skyscraper Technique.

These articles and videos explain backlinking.

FURTHER READING

  • How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (and Get Results)
  • 9 EASY Link Building Strategies (That ANYONE Can Use)
  • Resource Page Link Building: The Only Guide You Need
  • How to Get Backlinks: 7 Tactics That Don’t Require New Content
  • A Simple (But Complete) Guide to Broken Link Building
  • 7 Actionable Ways to Loot Your Competitors’ Backlinks
  • How to Get Backlinks By “Stealing” From Low-Quality Pages

Authority

Duplicating Heavier ones exist.

PageRank considers this.

Low-authority backlinks are weaker.

PageRank was discontinued in 2016. Google can’t determine a page’s “authority.”

Similar to Ahrefs URL Rating (UR).

URL Rating considers a page’s backlinks’ quantity and quality.

UR and organic search traffic correlated positively.

Prioritize strong pages when building backlinks.

Ahrefs Site Explorer’s UR column shows backlink opportunities on competing pages.

Not only backlinks can boost a website’s “authority.”

URL Rating (UR) considers internal links, which boost page authority.

Adding internal links from high-authority pages can help you build backlinks.

“Best by Links” shows Ahrefs Site Explorer’s most authoritative pages.

Don’t force unnatural links. Link context.

This boosts product pages’ “authority.” These pages are hard to link to.

FURTHER READING

  • A Simple SEO Strategy for 2019 (The ‘Middleman’ Method)
  • Internal Links for SEO: An Actionable Guide

Content quality

Google wants always-reliable results.

Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness are key.

EAT

Google’s SQR guidelines explain EAT.

Other content quality improvements:

Grades 7 and 8. This is the American average.

Concise. No essay.

Add relevant links. No “PageRank hoarding.” Create visitor-worthy content.

Prevent text walls. Images, quotes, etc. Glanceable.

Searchers prefer accessible content.

Searches value freshness.

Almost all “best router” Google results are new.

Fast-changing technology. 2016’s top routers are irrelevant. Ineffective.

Other queries don’t require freshness.

Tie a tie:

The page hasn’t been updated in six years, but tying a tie is the same.

Check if keyword freshness affects rankings. Strategically plan.

Why ranking is overrated… kind of

Google “tailors” results using location, search history, and settings.

Your site may not be for everyone even if it’s #1 for your target keyword.

The UK and US search results for “flapjack recipe” differ.

Why? Oat bars are British flapjacks. Pancakes.

Check “true” rankings in an incognito tab and clear your search history. VPN aids location.

Ahrefs Rank Tracker tracks keywords by zip code. Local SEO benefits.

Rankings vary.

2018 “SEO audit” rankings:

Organic traffic is often preferred over rankings.

Ahrefs Site Explorer or Google Analytics can help.

Paste a URL into “Organic traffic” in “Overview.”

Your site’s important pages need this graph:

It’s better to focus on traffic than rankings for thousands of keywords. These keywords generate traffic in multiple ways.

Final Thought

Ranking content requires knowing how search engines work and what they look for.

What’s important today may not be next year.

Relax. Constants remain.

Backlinks, “authority,” and search intent won’t change soon.

Red Note: 30 September 2022

Banned Categories: Casinos, Betting, Gambling, Poker, Adult, Religion, Hate speech, Dating and Drugs related content. Any links from these niches in general posts are also strictly banned.

-Non English, CBD and Crypto content is Accepted

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