Gaining visibility online and improving web performance is all about winning at the SEO game. SEO can take good content and give it the visibility it deserves. Without meaningful SEO techniques, good content often reaches no one and stays forgotten.
So, what’s SEO? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is all about implementing techniques that make your site more discoverable through organic search. That’s especially true for Google searches. All sites want to be in the top three results of Google, or featured snippets, to drive business, increase conversions, and achieve business goals.
If you’re a self-starter and you want to master SEO, there are three crucial guides you have to rely on.
Google’s SEO Starter Guide
If you’re someone in the world of digital publishing and Google Search, this SEO guide will be useful in giving you a complete overview of SEO fundamentals and best practices. Whether you’re a writer, an SEO specialist, a website manager, or a website agency, implementing the right SEO practices can improve user site experience and organic search results.
#1. How to determine if your site is on Google
You can first start by determining whether your site is indexed on Google. Do a site: [insert website name] to check. If your site isn’t on Google, it might be due to four reasons:
Your policy restrictions
It’s too new or there was an error
The design’s complex
The site’s backlinked well
#2. How to get a site on Google
You can try to follow the Search Essentials outline to get your site on Google. While it doesn’t guarantee anything, it’s a good place to start.
Google Search Essentials are all about the elements that make web-based content, images, and videos perform well or appear on Google.
Meet Technical Requirements
Meet all technical requirements, like don’t have Googlebot (the Google crawler) blocked. The page should be operational, should have indexable content in supported file types, and generate an HTTP 200 (success) status code.
You can use a URL inspection tool to check the HTTP status.
You should steer clear of content cloaking, which is the practice of showing two different types of content to human visitors and search engine crawlers. For instance, to the search engine, the page looks like a news site but is actually a site selling drugs.
Having too many doorways (domains or sites) targeting specific search queries, with the destination not matching. Hacked content like harmful redirects, hidden texts and links, keyword stuffing, link spam and excessive link exchanges. For link exchanges, Google requires you to define each link with rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” to be credible.
AI-generated or automated content, spammy redirects, and user-generated spam and affiliates can violate Google’s spam policies.
Follow Best Practices
You can create reliable content that’s for the people, and not search engines
Make the most of alt texts and descriptions by adding search queries
You can also control what data Google crawls by disallowing robots.txt
You can opt out of specific Google properties and make Google focus on important pages
#3. How to get Google to understand your site
You can create accurate and unique titles to reflect your search query by placing elements within the head of the HTML document
Create unique titles for each page, and don’t use the same for all pages
Use meta description tags to tell Google what the page is about, and it’ll again appear within the head of the HTML document
You can also use heading tags to give your content a hierarchical structure, but avoid using them too much
Moreover, add structured data markup to your site’s pages, and this can be great for products you’re selling, location, event listings, hours, etc
So, Google Search needs a unique URL to crawl data and show it to users. This is true for all original content, like different items on an e-commerce site, and modified content, like translations.
You can organize your site hierarchy by planning the navigation around your site from the homepage. You can use a map to ensure where a user goes next. In fact, you can also use breadcrumb lists, which are internal links to help them navigate.
Create an XML sitemap for search engines to understand which page is linked to what. You can also create a navigational page for users – consider it to be an index of sorts.
When a site shows 404 errors, your page should take them to a useful working page to improve the site experience. Use URLs that are simple and meaningful. Don’t make them too long or complex.
#5. How to appear on Google’s first page
Well, there’s no easy shortcut, but Google recommends several best practices that can get you within the top three results.
You can use Google Search Console to understand what users are looking for and when your site is appearing
If your site has a lot of static content like blog pages, you can use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). It’ll keep your site fast and user-friendly. You can use dynamic serving to ensure the same URL is used for different devices, just that a different version is used.
#7. How to analyze performance on Google
Google Search Console will help you understand if your site is showing up on Google and how it’s doing. Moreover, if you have Google Search Console, you can immediately see the errors happening and fix them.
You can test out sitemaps and also submit them for better crawling. In fact, you can generate robots.txt files, remove URLs that have been crawled already, and identify issues with title and description meta tags. In case you violate spam filters, you’ll also be eligible for reconsideration.
SEO Best Practices by Washington Post
A website’s success depends on two things – SEO and web performance.
#1. Web Performance and its Core Elements
According to the Washington Post, web performance can be broken down into three major categories:
Responsiveness can be improved by allowing device compatibility, implementing techniques like fluid grids, flexible images, and CSS-based solutions
#2. SEO Elements for a Website’s Success
When it comes to SEO, there are four elements: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and content optimization.
Title tags are essential, and they help users and search engines understand the importance of your page. Moreover, you can optimize meta tags by writing descriptive tags that give users a preview and improve click-through rate (CTR).
In fact, you can also meta lang tags to specify the language your content is in. This is more crucial than you can think. Plus, there are Open Graph meta tags to help your content appear as richer snippets in social media shares. You can also use meta robot tags to guide search engines from not crawling a page or following any links.
You must also use header tags like H1, H2, H3, and H4 to establish a hierarchy of content for search engines and a better structure/outline for users.
Your website success also depends on the backlinks that are being redirected to your site. Moreover, that states authority and credibility.
You can also use social media to get more reliable backlinks. Not only that, guest posting and content outreach can also help you increase a site’s visibility.
Pages that load fast also appear higher in search results. Optimize your page speed implement HTTPS, and secure the site.
Moreover, you can implement structured data markup and use schemas using JSON-LD to provide additional context for what a site is about.
Have XML sitemaps and configure robots.txt files to better crawl and index data. Not only that, using canonical tags can help search understand which content is original.
Write content that’s engaging, fresh, and high-quality. In fact, you can use proper keyword tagging and optimize images by reducing file size and writing alt texts and descriptions.
Keep Monitoring SEO
While following best practices and establishing them on your site is important, you have to keep monitoring your site performance, flagging errors, and seeing reports to track performance.
You can use Google’s open-source tool called Lighthouse to audit your web pages and see how they perform. This is also useful for web apps.
You can also WebPageTest to get all the info on rendering time and page load speed from different locations and devices. Catchpoint can help you understand how users feel when they’re visiting your page. Plus, you can track Core Web Vital (CWV) trends on the Google Analytics CWV dashboard.
You can also set up Google Tracking tools like Search Console and Analytics to understand how each page is functioning.
SEO Marketing in 2023 by Forbes
Another reliable resource for all things SEO is Forbes. Effective SEO marketing is all about showing up on Google’s first pages and the rich-featured snippets like “people also ask”.
A search engine bot crawls information by seeing what the keywords are, what the relevance of content is to the keywords, and how fresh the page is. Is it plagiarized content or not?
Types of SEO Marketing
According to Forbes, the four types of SEO marketing include on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and local SEO.
Earlier, content was another part of SEO marketing by the Washington Post. However, Forbes includes content within on-page SEO because it considers good content as an integral part of good SEO.
Get backlinks from reliable sites, collect online reviews from users, and encourage brand signaling (a practice where users search for your product with the brand name)
Don’t underestimate the importance of title tags using your primary keyword or optimized and compressed images that have alt text. Have simple URLs, go for meaningful content as that’s the backbone of organic SEO, and don’t overlook the good internal linking can do you.
Local SEO is perfect for small businesses, regional retail stores, and brands that exist within the community. Moreover, you can improve your local SEO by having your name, address, and contact details (NAP) on every page.
That’s not all! You can also establish and maintain a Google Business Page so that when you’re searched for, your store comes up. You can also feature your NAP details on all social media posts so that they can be tracked back to your site or business.
Is your page loading speed lower than five seconds? The ideal is three seconds, or your bounce rate will undo any good you’re trying to bring via your organic traffic. Rectify site errors on priority and keep an eye out on Google Search Console. Furthermore, maintain XML sitemaps and eliminate any chances of automated or plagiarized content from your site.
How Forbes Ranks for Everything
Forbes ranks for almost everything. Here are the key takeaways from Forbes SEO strategist Shawn Hill that you can implement:
Content updates of existing content on the site are crucial to organic traffic
Internal linking is important and can’t be replaced
Identify VIP pages that are paying for most other content; the 80-20 rule is legit; only 20% of your content ends up paying for 80 percent else, so focus your energies there
Use the most popular SEO strategies but keep executing them consistently
Additional Steps to Optimize Web Search
Using proper keywords in the URL, title tags, breadcrumbs, and body of the content
Write content that answers search queries, or else users will bounce off quickly, resulting in pogo-sticking and affecting visibility
You can also use long-tail keywords and eliminate content that’s not performing well
Mastering SEO Can Help Website Success
While it’s always possible to do SEM marketing and pay for your content to be featured on search engines, SEO is the long-term solution for better visibility and engagement. All three resources from Google Search Central, Forbes, and the Washington Post rely on the importance of on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Good content is an important pillar of good SEO, and without having content pieces that genuinely meet search queries, you can never rank well. To establish credibility, you must also get backlinks from the community. You can also promote your site on social media for better visibility.
Keep utilizing Google Search Console to see if errors are popping up and what you can do to resolve them. Have sitemaps that guide navigation on your site, and use breadcrumbs for a meaningful user experience and keyword-rich navigation.
You may also explore some best AI SEO tools to leave your competitors behind.
Gargi is an experienced writer & editor who specializes in creating copies that inspire confidence and conversions. With 7+ years in the industry, she’s currently the Lead Sub-Editor of a global magazine. Her expertise lies in the home… read more
Narendra Mohan Mittal
Narendra Mohan Mittal is a Senior Digital Branding Strategist and Content Editor with over 12 years of versatile experience. He holds an M-Tech (Gold Medalist) and B-Tech (Gold Medalist) in Computer Science & Engineering.
Technical SEO is as essential as on-page SEO, ignoring which can take your SEO strategy falling to the ground. Technical SEO refers to the website optimization process that increases search engine rankings. It impacts the technical aspects of the web pages to make it faster and easier to understand for the readers.