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8 SEO basics you shouldn’t ignore

SEO does not always have the best reputation, so in this guide, we will explore some SEO basics that every business or website owner needs to know.

Unscrupulous businesses or sadly “SEO specialists” have taken advantage of search engines to gain traffic by misleading users, or by utilising dubious practices to trick search engine algorithms. This is commonly known as, “Black Hat SEO1.” While breaking the rules can sometimes be a fast-track to short-term results, it is never sustainable. This is why Opace practice, “White Hat SEO2” – and we encourage you to do so too.

By following the SEO basics that we’ll outline in this guide, you will enjoy success safely and without breaking any rules.

Why SEO is important

We promised to cover SEO basics in this guide, and it doesn’t get much more basic than explaining why SEO is critical to your business.

In a nutshell, SEO is free advertising. Ask yourself a question. When was the last time you needed a product or service but did not consult a search engine to find a suitable option? Now, ask yourself a follow-up question. How many pages on that search engine did you scroll through before settling upon a provider?

If you answered, “one”, you are not alone. 71% of internet users do not pass the first page of Google results when conducting a search3. This means that reaching this hallowed ground is essential for the online visibility of your business. This prominence leads to more conversions. An effective SEO strategy will get your website where it needs to be.

Google is king

You’ll notice that we mentioned Google by name above, rather than referring to a generic search engine. The reason for this is simple. Google accounts for over 92% of all search engine traffic throughout the world4. There is a reason why Google is now a recognised verb in the dictionary5 and Bing is not.

SEO basics to play safe with Google

For most internet users, the words, “Google” and, “search engine” are interchangeable

As with any monopoly, this can be a blessing and a curse. As Google is the undisputed lord and master of search engines, it means you can focus all your SEO attention on pleasing this monolith. Alas, Google can be a harsh mistress. The site is governed by ever-evolving algorithms, using these to assign page rankings.

You need to be on the ball and stay one step ahead of algorithm updates, which unfold multiple times a year. We’ve seen sites promoted in January but penalised by August. This is how fast things can change and it will send traffic plummeting, which can have a hugely detrimental impact on any business.

Speed and page load times are critical

The first of our actionable SEO basics is noting that the speed of your website is important to page ranking. Users will not wait for a page to load. If you are not bringing a user what they want in less than two seconds, you will lose them.

When a user leaves a website moments after arriving, this is referred to as, “bouncing” – something that Google take a dim view of. If visitors are bouncing from your site, it suggests that you are not providing them with that they need. Check the speed of your site using Google PageSpeed Insights and follow the suggestions provided by our internet overlords. Once you have done so, seek out external tools to ensure your site is running at optimum speed.

Follow these steps to make sure your website speed and SEO are working hand-in-hand.

Search intent matters

Nobody uses Google to kill time in the same way they do social media sites or Wikipedia. Google is a tool to provide a specific answer to an equally particular question. This means that understanding search intent is one of the most fundamental SEO basics.

Successful search intent involves thinking like a user and tailoring your SEO appropriately. This is why we have added this as one of our SEO basics, it’s an essential step in the process. If somebody wants a question answered, and your site seems to offer an answer, they will be annoyed to be taken straight to a landing page that promises to resolve their query in exchange for credit card details.

This cuts both ways, though. If a user is keen to make a purchase, they’ll want to do so quickly. If they are searching for a vendor that offers a product or service they desire, ensure your SEO gets them to checkout quickly. 25% of online transactions are impulse decisions6. The longer you make a sales funnel from Google, the likelier a consumer is to change their mind.

Create quality content

Right at the very top of this guide to SEO basics, we discussed Black Hat vs. White Hat SEO. Ultimately, your content is what will assign you one of these statuses. When it comes to impressing Google, unique, superior and meaningful content will always carry favour.

Keywords are a fundamental SEO basic. Consider what keywords will be most impactful for your SEO and naturally craft your content with these keywords in mind. Do not overuse them though. Keyword stuffing is a red flag to Google’s algorithms, and may even get your site flagged as plagiaristic. Instead, build a compelling narrative around these keywords.

That does not just mean copy – although it is always advisable to seek the services of a professional copywriter if you are not confident in your skills as a wordsmith7. High-quality visuals and media are just as important. As a package, words, images and media will create a compelling online experience for your users.

Think about mobile users

As smartphones and tablets have overtaken desktop browsing as the most common source of internet use, Google pays particular attention to how mobile-friendly a site is and whether the site will provide a good mobile experience. This includes page loading speed on a mobile, in addition to the presentation. Ensuring a site is mobile friendly is another critical SEO basic.

Don't ignore Mobile SEO

Mobile and tablet browsing is now more commonplace than desktop surfing

Mobile users will not want to wade through pages and pages of small text on a tiny screen. They will not be happy if a poorly coded image takes up an entire page. They may be using a data plan rather than Wi-Fi, and thus want to make their visit comparatively short to save money.

Cater to these users through your SEO. Ensure that mobile users can find answers to their questions quickly and efficiently, while also ensuring your site performs adequately outside of a desktop or laptop. If Google deems your site to be non-mobile compatible, SEO and page ranking will suffer.

Refresh your website and content regularly

We live in a disposable society, and nothing is truly built to last. Sadly, this also applies to websites. No matter how good your content may be, Google will start to ignore sites that appear stale and are not regularly updated and refreshed. A fresh lick of paint on your site from time to time must feature in any list of essential SEO basics.

Undertaking a refresh could take one of two forms. You could complete a full root-and-branch review of the site. That means taking a look at the coding of the sight, considering an update to the optics and rewriting the content. Alternatively, focus entirely on the latter and just focus on giving your content a refresh.

You will know if it’s time for a website refresh by following the SEO basics that we have already discussed. If you are not seeing the results you expect, there could be other SEO fundamentals at play that need to be changed.

Focus on user experience

Ultimately, Google is concerned with recommending the very best websites to its users. Just like you, Google has a business model. It would not retain its standing if it constantly directed users to substandard sites based on their searches

Avoid bad user experiences

A bad online user experience can be infuriating. This will impact your SEO and ranking

This means that you need to make your site as appealing as possible to visitors. This is known as user experience or UX.

Conclusion

Utilising all the SEO basics that we have discussed in this guide will help you to make considerable gains in your internet marketing and visibility on Google.

In summary:

  1. Understand the importance of SEO
  2. Pay special attention to Google
  3. Ensure your site loads quickly
  4. Keep your site mobile friendly
  5. Ensure that your SEO matches the search intent of the user
  6. Create compelling copy and include appealing images
  7. Refresh your content and keep it up-to-date
  8. Focus on user experience

These SEO basics will help you come up with a content plan with the potential to improve your page ranking. There is still a lot more to learn, though. For intensive SEO support, contact Opace. We are experts in the field and would be delighted to work with you to create a powerful and rewarding SEO strategy.

Image Credits – https://pixabay.com/illustrations/google-search-engine-browser-search-76517; https://pixabay.com/photos/bar-ipad-mockup-business-computer-621033; https://pixabay.com/photos/furious-upset-person-woman-angry-2514031

 

References and further reading

  1. semrush.com/blog/black-hat-seo
  2. https://ahrefs.com/blog/white-hat-seo
  3. forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2017/10/30/the-value-of-search-results-rankings/?sh=63ddd36444d3
  4. oberlo.co.uk/blog/google-search-statistics
  5. searchenginewatch.com/2006/06/29/google-now-a-verb-in-the-oxford-english-dictionary
  6. emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/SJME-03-2018-007/full/html
  7. https://blog.twentyoverten.com/should-you-hire-a-copywriter-or-write-your-own-website-copy

2 Comments

  1. James Miller

    Quite a useful and informative article. As SEO plays an important role in search engine ranking, everyone must know the essential elements to help them rank.

    User experience and content are one of the most important elements. Kindly share about on-page and off-page SEO as well.

    Reply
    • opace

      Thanks for the comment. As this was only meant to cover SEO basics, we limited the subject matter so that it was easy to digest for newcomers. We do have other blog posts specifically covering on-page and off-page SEO in more detail. For example:
      Link building strategies
      Guide to link building
      Further SEO tips and advice
      SEO predictions
      Structured data
      And much more. I hope you find what you are looking for.

      Reply

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