Written by Aliaa Noelle Hamza, Content Producer & SEO-specialist
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and can be directly translated to «søkemotoroptimalisering» in Norwegian. Search engine optimization, keyword optimization, and SEO optimization are also used extensively. However, they are all expressions of the same thing. But what is search engine optimization, and how can you get started?
SEO refers to several techniques that can help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) by making your website more visible to people looking for YOUR products, brand, or services. Of course, the most used search engine is our good friend, Google, but Yahoo! and Bing are also search engines that many marketers dig into. Remember that humans are searching for your services, even though it’s Google who decides whether your website should rank high or not, based on your website content. The overall goal is to rank high for organic search, meaning you should avoid traffic from paid campaigns and Google Ads when you focus mainly on SEO.
Optimizing a website’s pages, conducting the proper keyword research, and earning inbound links will show the results of your SEO efforts once the webpage has been crawled and indexed by a search engine. If you want to be ahead of your competitors in the search results, there is no other resort than to focus on SEO.
Let’s start with five essential cornerstones:
1. Optimize your page titles and meta descriptions for SEO
Optimizing your page title tags and meta descriptions is essential to use keyword analysis when you start. This is the first content a user will see when searching for a keyword on the Google search results page. So, a title tag is an essential optimization factor and gives a strong signal to search engines about the content on a landing page.
The first thing a visitor sees when searching for a keyword on the Google result page is the snippet. A snippet includes the page title, URL, and meta description.
Here’s what makes for a good title:
- Keep the title shorts and consistent. Google truncates anything past 70 characters.
- Use keywords you want to rank for in the page title.
- Add page titles to any page.
Here’s what makes for a good meta description:
- Limit your description to 175 characters. Otherwise, Google will cut off the rest, although Google has been known to allow longer meta descriptions – up to 220 characters. (Note: Mobile devices cut off meta descriptions at 120 characters.)
- Include your entire (and most important) keywords or phrases in the meta, but don’t add too many.
- Try integrating a call-to-action in your description that encourages users to click on your page (i.e., call us now, try for free)
- Avoid repeating the title in the meta description.
Blogposts, news, cases, or other pages:
The titles of other posts/pages of your website should describe what the page is about, so it’s attractive to the searcher.
2. Create a good link structure
Each page published on the web has a unique Uniform Resource Locator (URL). For example, the permalink is the full URL you will see in the browser for any given page, blog post, case study, or other pieces of content on your webpage.
- Make URLs simple and easy to understand for search engines and visitors
- Use hyphens’ – ‘to separate the words in the URL/permalink
- Avoid lengthy URLs with unnecessary information with a maximum length of 2083; the shorter, the better.
- Use words that describe the page’s content, but avoid using too many keywords.
Here is an example of a permalink:
A permalink is made of two parts:
- The website domain
- The page slug/path
3. Focus on internal link building
Internal links are among the most important Google ranking factors. You can’t do SEO without proper internal linking, building relevant links to your site, and keeping your link profile free of wrong links. Link building is all about creating good links to your website, as links are one of the ranking factors that Google looks at when ranking the search results. However, this does not necessarily mean that the more links to your website, the greater the popularity. Google also looks at the quality of your links – but which links are good and less good? The most effective links are, perhaps not surprisingly, the links that are most clicked on and the page’s quality. In addition to clicking on your website, the user should have a good experience using your website.
The more time the user stays on the site, and the more they interact with your content, the better it ultimately is for how Google rates the quality of the link the user has used to access the website. And remember, your index page is the most vital.
- Create good content and tell search engines to link back to your pillar page (the main page for a topic)
- The power of the link (aka link juice) is distributed from the home page to all other subpages.
- Remove links that point to 404 (incorrect) or status code 500 (pages that are no longer accessible).
- Link pages that don’t link to any pages already. Link them to other relevant subpages.
- Please don’t overdo it; a few internal links are enough.
4. Create unique SEO-headlines
Start with basic formatting when publishing content pieces and new pages to your website. You will organize the content by giving the page a unique headline while encouraging users to read on. Headlines are marked with h-tags in the HTML source code.
If your title does not attract readers’ attention, the article you are linking to may as well not exist. Lose your audience with your headline, and you’ve lost them altogether.
Tips for creating unique headlines:
- Use one H1 headline per page as the title of your post
- Use your primary keyword of the respective page in the H1 headline
- Arrange subheadings chronologically (h1, h2, h3, etc.).
- Keep headlines as short and specific as possible and remove all unnecessary words.
- Make your content easily skimmable by using elements like numbers, bullets, and images to attract attention.
Heading tags for SEO:
<h1> Most important
<h2> Second most important
<h3> Third most important
<h4> Fourth most important
<h5> Fifth most important
5. Keyword research
The more you already know about your target audience, the easier it will be to get started with your keyword analysis. The research helps you identify keywords that appeal to YOUR target audience. However, even if you start from scratch with no data available, making a good keyword analysis is still possible. Make sure to prioritize time for keyword research.
You get an overview of your existing subpages – also called landing pages – you should optimize through keyword analysis. You will also gain insight into whether there are search terms that you should be focusing on that you do not yet have matching content for.
Some great tools that can help you with your keyword research:
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Google Search
- Keywords Everywhere
- Answer the public
- SE Ranking
Want to get started with SEO? Contact Aliaa.