What is SEO

What is SEO in 2021: Best Guide to Search Engine Optimization

There are millions of people who search for what is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) but are you finding the holistic content that can be consumed in less time. The answer is no because either you can find a small piece of content with limited information or you find content that is filled up with unnecessary information to get holistic in less possible time.

And, the important thing is there is no right or wrong in this as everyone putting their efforts to serve their audience most possible & better way. What I can assure you are, 98% of the time you will be served with the best and relevant content produced in the whole world, imagine the value it’s bringing to you, and that is the reason you are here.

Why am I telling all this to you? Because you will start your journey in SEO from now as a skill or you are here to know & understand the SEO to get the things done from an external SEO professional. The best way to understand SEO is from your perspective. When you can get the best results in the whole world, you already know the effort and knowledge required to win the game of SEO.

So, what are we waiting for, let’s jump into your beautiful Journey to SEO?

Let’s get a holistic view of the why, what, how, and when of SEO along with important terms that you should know in 2021.

The Internet and search engines together have put the world at our fingertips. We are generally getting the information that we are looking for within few clicks. When people are looking for products, services, and information on anything they just go online and search for it.

There can be odd chances that you have landed up here after going through other webpages at least initially, which are not given effective and satisfying results. When you searched for something and you didn’t find the information that met your expectations, you probably clicked the back button and scrolled down the page until you found what you were looking for, that where the game of SEO kicks in.

If your webpage site is not properly optimized with best SEO practices, your competitors start to appear in front of your customer. That means people who are looking for the product or services that you offer, will start seeing your competitor and they will never know that you have existed and the best thing is you have a chance to beat your competition.

That is right without SEO, your potential customers are going away.

The important thing that you have to consider now is that you are making your competitors (competitors those who are doing SEO) life easy but not putting up the fight.

So, who cares how search engines deliver results? You definitely should!

If SEO doesn’t matter to you in the first place after knowing why SEO is so important, then there is no meaning in knowing what SEO is, Right?

Why should you care about what is SEO?

The answer is simple; search is a biggest source of traffic.

Why Should You Care About SEO

Source: Backlinko

As you can see, approximately 60% of all the web traffic on the web, mostly starts with a Google search. If you add all the traffic from other popular search engines like Bing, Yahoo, and YouTube, it reaches approximately 70.6% of all traffic.

Proportion of web traffic

Source: Backlinko

Imagine the web traffic that you have for your business in terms of SEO, it’s a huge chuck for any business out there, even though if you can convert 10% of the traffic you have a huge number of clients signing up with you for doing a business or for buying products and services from you.

An average Google processes over 3.5 billion (3,500,000,000) search queries every single day (Internetlivestats, 2019). Generally, these searches are of high-intent & specific traffic.

If you have an online or offline business that is in search of clients or customers for your product or service, your online presence matters a lot when they search for your products and services. Because people constantly search for specific paid services or products. This kind of search intent is known as commercial intent. When people clearly show the intent of buying the services or products that you offer in their search, it is called commercial intent.

But, people before arriving at decisions they research a lot on every aspect of it, which opens another door for you to attract your audience or prospective customers by helping them through your answers to their questions, solve their doubts and become a trusted resource for them.

As you know billions and billions of people search for a lot of things on search engines. That traffic can be extremely useful for a business because they possess very specific, high-intent for buying products or services.

Organic vs. Paid Results

Majorly there are two distinct sections of Search engine result pages (SERP): organic and paid results.

Organic vs. Paid Results

Source: Backlinko

Organic Search Results

Organic Search Results

Source: Backlinko

Organic search results are ranked based the relevancy, authority, and user intent, it is 100% merit-based. These are also called natural.

In other words, there’s no way to pay to search engines or Google to rank your webpages or websites higher in the organic search results.

Search engines rank the organic search results based on 200+ different ranking factors. But organic search results shown by Google are the most relative, authoritative and trustworthy websites or web pages for a specific keyword.

When we talk about “SEO”, the major focus will be on ranking your website higher up in the organic search results (which are highlighted in green thumbs up).

Paid Results

Paid Search Results

Source: Backlinko

Paid search results are those results that appear on the top and bottom of the organic results of the search page. Paid ads are ranked based on how much you are willing to pay for a single visitor for a particular set of keywords. These are also known as pay-per-click advertising. Paid ads are completely independent of the organic search results.

Now, you have understood the importance and how awesome results it can bring if you do it in the right way, let’s answer your question about what is SEO.

What is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?

The activity of increasing the organic traffic on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) by optimizing a website or a webpage for user search queries to appear in front of your audience or potential customer in any search engine (i.e. Google, Bing, Yandex, and Duck Duck Go) is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Suppose you started a blog for Paneer (cheese) recipes, but your webpage doesn’t rank higher on search results. There can be several reasons why this can happen, but major reason can be:

  • Your competitors are producing better content
  • You are weak keywords or not doing proper keyword research
  • You have poor link building strategies
  • Your webpage loading time is too high
  • You are not concentrating on a good user experience on your website.
  • Your website is de-indexed by mistake

To rank your website higher on the SERP, you need to understand how search engines work. In this article, you will learn about how Google ranks websites, the different types of SEO, and various SEO techniques you can use to improve your ranking.

Types of SEO

If you want to rank for particular keywords on Google or any other search engines, you need to apply Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are two main strategies and one additional strategy that adds value to both of these:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Technical SEO

How Search Engine Works?

SERP ranking on any search engine is primarily based on the competition between other web pages and your web pages and for a particular keyword. The web pages which has the best user experience and which follow the best practices of search engines outranks every other web page in the competition and rank on top of the search engine for those keywords.

Google and other search engines follow 3 basic steps to rank a website. They are:

Crawling

A search engine bot or spiders scans the website and also copies the entire website’s content, and stores it in the search engine’s index.

Indexing

The process or activity of adding web pages into Google search results is called indexing. If the search engine does not index your website, then no one will be able to find your website during their search on the search engine.

Ranking

When you type something in search engines like Google, the most relevant webpages (from the index) will appear in the search results of the search engine. These search results are based on multiple factors like user experience, location, language, and 200+ factors.

How Search Engine Works

Source: Backlinko

How search engines come up with relevant results?

If a search query returns thousands of results, do you know how does search engine like Google decides to display the best content to their users in the best possible order. Google has around 200+ factors that decide this and most of them are not publicly announced and thanks to Brian Dean of Backlinko for making an effort to list almost all of them.

Returning with relevant results is done by engines and they use algorithms (mathematical equations and rules) to understand searcher (user) intent, find relevant results, and then rank those results based on authority and popularity.

Most of the SEO professionals out there knows that algorithmic decisions are done based on 200+ factors, including the following:

  • Content-Type

    Videos, audios, images, news, books & maps are different types of content that searchers (people) look for, Search engines prioritize different types of content based on their intent.

  • Content Quality

    Search engines prioritize informative and useful and content that satisfies the user intent. The best content out there might not appear as the content is not well optimized. So, SEO professional takes the responsibility to optimize your webpage to appear in front of your audience by making content that’s thorough, original, objective, and solution-oriented.

  • Content Freshness

    Everyone wants to know the new trends going on in their industry or the most relevant fresh content. With a proper balance between freshness and other search engine ranking factors, the search engine shows searchers results. So, two pieces of content on the same topic are judged to be of equal quality by the algorithm, the most recent piece will likely appear first.

  • Page Popularity or backlink

    Google still uses an upgraded version of their original 1990s PageRank algorithm, which justifies the page’s quality by the number of links pointing to it, and the quality of those links.

  • Website Quality

     Poor user experience and spammy websites are will go down the rankings by search engines.

  • Language

    Not every person is searching in English. Search engines prioritize results based on the language used in the search term.

  • Location

    Most of the local searches are location-based (e.g., “coffee shops near me”); search engines understand this and prioritize local results when appropriate.

Google and other search engine want to rank the most authoritative, relevant, and reliable results as always.

To do this, they look at content-related signals trustworthiness, authoritativeness, and expertise.

How search engines comes up with relevant results

Source: MOZ

After understanding how search engines come up with relevant results, let’s understand the following few more parameters, as these parameters can make or break your return on investment into SEO.

  • Quality of traffic

    You can attract all the visitors who are searching on the search engine, but if they are coming to your webpage just because search engine tells them you are a resource for Apple computers when you are a shop owner who is selling apples, that is not quality traffic. Instead, you need to attract visitors who are interested in the products or services that you offer. That why content without any context is useless.

  • Quantity of traffic

    Once you have the right searchers (people) entering your webpages after seeing your webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs), more traffic is better.

The quality traffic can multiply your revenue but quality with huge quantity explodes your revenue exponentially if you have the right business model set already.

On-page SEO

The process of optimizing elements within the webpage is called on-page SEO. When you do this, there are certain factors that you need to take into account. All these elements are something that you can control as an end-user. The aspects of on-page SEO are:

Keyword Research

Before you start doing anything with your website or on it’s, the very first thing you need to do understand is, what keywords you want to rank for. To do this, you need to do perform keyword research. It might look simple but as most of the SEOs don’t get results just because of improper keyword research or no research at all. Keep in mind 50% of the battle is your own if you choose the right keywords to rank for and go after it. In keyword research, you choose the primary, secondary, and LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords around which you start to build your meta tags and content.

The components for keyword research are:

  • Search volume
  • Competition
  • Relevancy

Google Keyword Planner and Ahrefs keyword research tools can be used to search for keywords. Once you choose the right set of keywords, you can go ahead and start optimizing your pages for those keywords.

Keyword research in itself is a big topic. So, stay tuned as I am coming up with whole new strategies for keyword research.

Title Tag

Have you read newspaper headlines? The title tag is a header title of the webpage. It is an element used to summarize and display the summary of your webpage’s content on the search engine results page. As it influences click-through rates (CTR), it is one the most important factor of on-page SEO. Most of the search engines display the first 50–60 characters of the title tag. So, make sure you choose a title that is under 60 characters to get the most out of it. 

Meta Description

A brief description that summarizes the content of a webpage is called Meta description. They are also displayed on the search engine page results (SERP) along with your title. As it displays 135-150 characters Meta description gives more opportunity to your to explain to your users more and help you in, understanding what your webpage is about. Meta description also influences click-through rates.

Header Tags

Header tags are used to help your audience to identify the headings and subheadings of your content. The header tags hierarchy goes from H1 to H6. H1 is the main heading (title) of a webpage, the H2 tag is a subheading of H1, the H3 tag is a subheading of H2, and so on. Header tags help search engines to easily read and understand the content better.

URL Structure

The best practice is to use SEO-friendly Uniform Resource Locator (URLs), as they help to understand what the webpage is about. Poor URL structure can become a big issue in SEO, which may result in your website getting lower ranks. 

It is recommended 

  • Use the primary keyword in URL,
  • Keep the URL short and
  • Do not use stop words

Image Optimization & Image Alt Text

Optimizing images is can add a lot of value as the image search is present on Google there is a lot of scopes to utilize to improvise your on-page SEO. Optimizing both image size and image file size is important. The dimension of the image is called image size (e.g., 1024 by 680 pixels). The image file size is the amount of space needed to store it on the server (e.g., 350 kilobytes).

The image alt tag helps in showing relevant images to the user when they are searching it and also image alt text explains the about the image. Image alt text is used to make sure those spiders and crawlers understand it. Search-engine crawlers parse these HTML attributes faster than the image file.

  •  Resize & optimize both image size and image file size
  • Use primary keyword in the image alt text
  • The image gives you more real estate and also traffic.
  • Use Unsplash, Pixabay, Flickr, or Google to find images
  • Use your keywords as a file name
  • Use keywords in alt tags

Internal Link

Internal links are hyperlinks that link web pages together that are within the website. They allow users to navigate other useful webpages within the website. They pass link juice (value passed from one webpage to another webpage) from one to another but are recommended only if it is useful to the reader, as user experience matters a lot.

Page content

Have you heard of content is king and it is valid till now? The search ranks your website as one of the contents on your webpage that is relevant & useful to users. If the user searches for something on search engines and lands your webpage they should be able to get what they want. Your webpage content has to provide value and a great user experience to users. Google has multiple ways to measure if your content is useful to the users.

  • Do not use duplicate content.
  • Use primary keyword in the beginning.
  • There is no exact formula, but try to have at least 500+ words on your content and try to satisfy user intent.

Off-page SEO

Process of improving your rank on the search engine results page (SERP) by carrying the supporting activities outside of your website is called off-page SEO. It also helps you to strengthen the domain authority of your website and build a sense of trustworthiness and credibility. Off-page SEO also helps in increasing the traffic of your website, page rank, and brand awareness.

Link Building

Link building is the most important factor in Off-page SEO. The process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your website is called link building. It is also called external link building. If you don’t have useful content it’s hard to build links. Quality content along with relevant keywords helps you to rank as a part of on-page SEO. High-quality content helps you to get links from other sites to your site as a part of off-page SEO. That is the power of content, it helps you both in on-page and off-page SEO.

Quality of links

From now on you start to hear that every backlink is not equal, as a quality backlink from an authoritative website matters a lot. The quality of your backlinks is much more than the number of links. And that’s a huge mistake for a few reasons:

  1. Search engines might ignore the majority of low-quality or spammy links.
  2. Links from brand new sites are worth more than repetitive links from the same sites that you already got have a backlink from.

Number of links

Once you are getting quality backlinks, you need to build high-quality backlinks at scale over time, as the number of total backlinks matters a lot.

Here are some strategies for link building:
  • High-quality content creation

    Write a great piece of content that everyone from your industry would link to link with relevant anchor from their content. Others will link back to you, only if your content is well researched, original & well-structured.

  • Infographic Promotion

    Create an infographic that helps the content creators in your industry to want to use and with a source link. Great Infographics takes a lot of effort & time to create. You can reach out to people who want to use them with a backlink.

  • Broken link building

    The fast and easiest way to get a backlink Broken link building. Create good quality content and find broken links from authorities that are relevant to your website and ask them to provide a backlink if they find it useful.

  • Local citations or business directories

    Listing your website on local directories helps you in Local SEO. Also it one of the easiest ways to get a backlink just by listing your business.

  • Resource Pages

    Find resource pages that add value to the audience in your niche and provide a value in your resource with a backlink.

  • Guest post

    There are authoritative websites that accept the guest post with a backlink find them and reach out to them with quality content to get a backlink.

TRUST

Another the major off-page factor is trust. Remember the famous formula that the founders of Google invented PageRank, of course, it isn’t the only measure they take when ranking pages in the top ten search results. If you are building a big brand, Google is likely to trust you. It also helps in improving your SEO rankings Quality backlinks from authoritative sites like .edu or .gov domains also help. There are four parts to building trust.

Authority

A Search engine determines the overall authority of your website by considering two kinds of authority:

Domain authority

The authority that widespread over your domain name is called domain authority. Backlinko.com is very authoritative, most of them have heard of it.

Page authority

Authority that is related to the content of a specific page within your website. For example a blog post.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate is a measure of how many people view only one page on your site before immediately leaving. Decreasing the bounce rate can add a lot of value to your website, which helps in ranking better

Domain age

Do you trust a website which is from 20 years or a website that is newly launched. So, domain age is an obvious signal for Google to consider. So have a long-term vision. 

Identity

Personal brand or personal identity online take a lot of time to build bit it is a huge trust signal for search engines

Technical SEO

Mobile-friendliness – Google already start started giving importance to the mobile-first index and if your page isn’t mobile-friendly, you lost. More than 55% of Facebook and other social media users use their network exclusively on mobile devices. Because there are 900 million mobile users and 1.65 billion monthly active users on Facebook opens the door for people who are optimizing their website also for mobile-friendliness.

Page speed

When you are searching for something and landed on some webpage that has slow loading, will you stay on the page. That indicates the real fact that no one will like slow page speed. So, optimize your website to have better page speed according to Google standards.

HTTPS and SSL

Whenever you search enter some website have you noticed them showing not secure. Because they haven’t used an SSL certificate that converts HTTP to HTTPS. SSL ensures safe data transfer with any problems. The data in the websites which do not have SSL certificate prone to get hacked. 

Redirects

When you delete or move a page from one URL to another URL, your old URL shows an error which ends up in a bad customer experience. So, to avoid this you need to redirect these URLs to proper pages with proper redirects. 

XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps can help search understand your site and find all of its content, making the job of search engine crawlers easy will simplify your work. Make sure that you do not include pages that aren’t useful, which helps the crawlers to crawl important webpages. There are several free tools to generate XML sitemaps.

Robots.txt

You can control the search engine crawlers by indicating how to handle certain content on your site. For example, you like them not to crawl a specific section of your site, you can control the same using the robots.txt file. This file already exists for your site at yoursite.com/robots.txt. Make sure this file isn’t currently blocking anything you want to get indexed by a webpage. 

Conclusion

If you have understood at least half of it, you already know the major portion of SEO which are important for SEO.

SEO is never a destination unlike other channels, it’s a journey as the main focus is on user experience. The more you optimize it better user experience, with better quality content with quality backlinks are major things that you need to win the game of SEO.

SEO is always been a long term and stable with a high return on investment channel for most of the businesses out there.

SEO helps you in building a great brand awareness along with good conversion rates.

If you are a business owner, you haven’t built your empire in one day in same the SEO empires take time and it lasts for long as long your competitors are not doing SEO.

If you want to become an SEO professional, you need to start by having a website for yourself to experiment with each and everything you learn.

If your are experienced SEO professional What is SEO according to you? let us know in the comments.

Cheers

Keerthi.P

People Also Frequently Ask

When you search for "What is SEO" in any search engines, you often see answers from authoritative websites like Moz, Backlinko, Ahrefs, Neil Patel answering the same question in different possible ways through their article or video. Their ranking position varies based in multiple due to ranking factors of ranking algorithm.

In simple words, SEO is satisfying the user intent with best possible customer experience. But, SEO takes long time to show it's results and you should be have patience as a beginner.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization

You can learn multiple experts in the industry through their online course. Find some free courses from Neil Patel to begin with to get a basic foundation. Search for a SEO experts in industry and opt for their paid course & working for someone is also a best of learning SEO.

SEO tools are the tools that simplifies the work of SEO professional by providing important data and alerts about the website, content and keywords.
They are very important like SWOT analysis which helps us to understand about strengths, analyzes about weakness, uncover the opportunism and alert about the threats.
Most common SEO tools are Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush etc.

As an SEO, the skills are required:
1.Keyword Research
2.On-Page SEO
3.Off-Page SEO
4.Technical SEO
5.Link Building
6.Competitors Analysis
7.Content Gap Analysis
8.Small Portion of Project Management Skills

The step by step procedure for SEO are:
Step 1: Audit your website with a tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush to to know the current state of website.
Step 2: Define and monitor the goals.
Step 3: Sort-out all the technical issues as per recommendations.
Step 4: Plan for content creation and do keyword research. Create a pillar content and other cluster contents around it.
Step 5: Do-on page optimization.
Step 6: Work on Local SEO.
Step 7: Start Link building with out reach.

6 thoughts on “What is SEO in 2021: Best Guide to Search Engine Optimization”

    1. Hey, Shilpa
      Thanks for the heads up.
      Currently, I am working on blog about guest posting methods and outreach techniques and I will keep you posted regarding the same very soon.

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