If you are reading this article, you may have heard about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or already have a vague idea of what it is without being entirely sure of the specifics.
Considering that 91% of clicks on Google are on the first page, appearing in the first few search results is a common goal. Optimizing your site improves your PageRank, or your ranking on search engines.
By definition, SEO involves using a set of tools and techniques to improve your ranking on search engines. SEO should not be confused with SEA, which is search engine advertising.
This article will review the different concepts that define SEO and the challenges it poses in any advertiser’s web marketing strategy. Since this article is an introduction to SEO, our Montreal SEO agency‘s experts will introduce the different methods detailed in other articles with links to the concepts to be explored in greater depth.
- SEO definitions
- What is the purpose of SEO?
- How does SEO work?
- How to rank first on Google
Search engine optimization is a set of techniques designed to help search engines understand the theme and content of one or all pages of a website. These techniques therefore aim to bring a maximum of information about the content of a web page to the indexing bots of search engines.
That’s all! Now try to make do with that! 😐
My Little Big Web’s SEO definition
SEO is a set of techniques (so far we agree) used by search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc.) to make your website appear in search results according to internet users’ queries.
For example: You sell tennis equipment on your website. Thanks to SEO, you appear in the search results for people who want to buy tennis equipment online (“buy tennis racket”, “cheap tennis shoes” etc.). Considering that 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine query, ranking well on search engines is essential!
SEO is therefore a kind of language used to communicate with search engines by telling them “this is my site, it deals with this topic, this is how I have organized it, this and that page are important and there is no point in linking this or that page”.
Here we are referring to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. but they are not the only ones. If you think about all the sites where you need to search to find a result, many will come to mind. If you cannot think of any, here are some examples: YouTube (second search engine), Amazon, Facebook Search, App Store, etc.
What is the purpose of SEO?
As you already know (or so we hope), there are millions of websites accessible via search engines. Unless you decide to create a website tracing the history of the hairpin through the centuries (to each his own interests), you are likely not the only one to offer this type of content.
Therefore, it was necessary to define rules for search engines to understand the theme(s) of your site and to display the content that best meets the intent of internet users.
What exactly is the use of SEO?
The goal of SEO is to guide search engines to understand which of your site’s data matches the search of a Y user. The challenge for you is to rank well in search results so that the user looking for you finds you and wants to click on your link. As you can see on our website, Google can understand the services we offer in an amazingly simple way.
An example from our SEO agency
Thanks to the SEO actions we implemented, an internet user looking for a web design agency will find our website more easily. We give search engines enough information so that they can rank us on the keywords you type.
A flawed strategy with many common SEO errors or the total lack of a strategy can have an increasing number of negative effects. With over 29,000 gigabytes of data published every second around the world, “getting found ” has become crucial.
SEO therefore gives us guidelines to simplify the work of search engines.
How does SEO work?
How exactly does SEO work? SEO may seem very vague to you so far, so let’s take a closer look at how to improve your SEO.
Working on your SEO to rank among the first search results requires continuous hard work.
Note that in SEO, there is a difference between SEO actions done on-page and off-page.
Our experts have detailed all these SEO techniques in our blog articles, but here is a little overview of the differences between internal and external SEO.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO refers to the set of optimization actions to be applied on your website so that search engines can better rank you.
On-Page or On-Site optimization includes factors related to content, such as choosing the right keywords, content length and quality, content markup (pieces of code embedded in the content so that Google understands it well, metadata), and more. All this will help search engines understand your content and how it is structured. If your website has several pages, bots need to be able to understand the purpose of each page and the importance of the content found on them.
In addition to these factors, On-Page SEO involves the improving web page load time, your website’s navigation, internal linking, URL structure, no 404 errors, and more. This set of optimizations will facilitate the work of search engines and help you organize your site in a coherent way for your visitors.
Here is an illustration showcasing different elements you should optimize to improve your internal SEO.
The importance of keywords for On-Page SEO
Choosing the right keywords is crucial. These must be highlighted on your website across tags or “hotspots”.
There are many free keyword research tools that will help you find the most effective keywords.
Which keywords should you choose? Should you choose quality over quantity? How many words does a good keyword contain?
To give you a better idea, 32% of searches contain two keywords. Researching and integrating keywords on your site is a crucial part of your On-Page SEO strategy. It will effectively help you improve your search engine ranking by providing a better understanding of the topic of each page of your site.
Using tags for good SEO rankings
The goal of SEO is to help search engines understand your website. And search engines are bots, so give them a hand! Google needs to understand that your site best responds to the user’s query. There are various types of tags. For example, you can structure your website’s pages using heading tags following the hierarchy H1, H2, H3… This is where your keywords should be highlighted!
Another example of tags is ALT tags, which are used to describe image content. Google cannot read images yet, so these tags can help it understand what the images are showing.
You also need to optimize title tags and meta descriptions, which will be the first visible elements for internet users when they perform a search. The title tag and the meta description are very important to clearly define the subject of your page. On the one hand, they help Google to understand your page topic. On the other hand, they encourage the user to click on your result over your competitor’s.
External and internal links in your SEO content
Your website also needs to have external links, meaning links leading to websites outside of your own. You also need to include internal links (exactly like this one here). Link the pages of your website together. Optimizing these links will make give your website a boost in search engines. If your pages are linked to each other and you also support your text with relevant information from other sites, there is more chance that Google will promote your site. An SEO expert works on this aspect to provide qualitative links that are well-positioned.
An organized and structured website
Your website’s architecture is a key factor in your SEO strategy. It can improve user experience while also helping search engines analyze your website. We suggest thinking carefully about your website outline, especially if you are in the process of creating your website.
This will make it easier for you to optimize your internal linking. The other advantage is that Google’s indexation will be quicker and easier. In other words, Google will read, analyze, and reference your site more quickly and easily.
Quality SEO content
Having quality content will improve your SEO. Each of your pages needs to be optimized and offer interesting content. Having a page with some keywords and a few lines is not enough. All your pages must add value for visitors. In fact, pages with more than 3000 words are more noticed by Google, although it is not simply about quantity! This general data must also be adapted according to your field of activity and your competitors’ published content on the query you are targeting.
That is basically what SEO is: improving your website with qualitative content both in terms of visuals and text.
SEO directives for bots
Noindex or robots.txt are notions that may seem rather vague to you. Simply put, there are technical codes that allow Google to analyze your pages in different ways. For example, if you have an online clothing shop with a sweater offered in 50 different colours, give Google the option to list only one of the colours to avoid duplicate content. You can do this by inserting a “noindex” tag on some of the pages. Specifically, there is a set of tags and files to adapt your site for search engines. An SEO specialist will help you find the most relevant ones!
User experience or UX
The goal here is to improve the visitor’s experience on your site. There are various tools to improve user experience. To do this, your site needs to adapt to different devices, which is referred to as responsive web design. Since 60% of Google searches are done on a cell phone, you should make sure that your website’s visual content is responsive for mobile devices. You also need to optimize the loading speed of your web pages, visuals and design.
What is off-page SEO?
If you read the definition of On-Page SEO, you probably understand that Off-Page SEO is the set of techniques to be applied outside your website. Well-organized content isn’t enough to guarantee a good ranking in search results (that would be too easy). To help users quickly find the content they are looking for, Google (to name just one) will prioritize websites that already have a good reputation on the topic they are looking for. Off-Page SEO is almost more complex to optimize since we have no control over these optimizations.
There is a set of practices that can help you make your site known to internet users and show Google that you are a recognized expert in your field. Google rates you (PageRank) and improves your search engine rankings by comparing it to your “competitors”. For more information on PageRank, click HERE.
For example, it can take into account your backlinks, i.e. links to your website from another site. Having quality links will let search engines evaluate your online visibility. If you are mentioned by pages relevant to your activity, search engines will take your site seriously and suggest it more to internet users.
What is link building?
Link building, also called backlinks, is essential for your SEO strategy. This can include writing articles for external sites, such as the one we wrote for Isarta.com, or press release publications.
What do backlinks do?
Having quality links will allow search engines to gauge your online reputation. If you are mentioned by relevant pages related to your business, search engines will take your site more seriously and suggest it to users. Link building is an essential part of your SEO strategy.
You also need to make sure to improve your online reputation. Much of this is done through social media. These platforms will make your business shine online. You can share news about your company.
How to rank first on Google
Now that you have a better idea of what SEO is, you are probably dying to read our other articles on the topic. All our articles can be found in our blog’s SEO section. You now know which tools to improve for your SEO. As the saying goes, “Rome was not built in a day,” and SEO is a long and technical mission! If you wish to leave this mission to the experts, we will gladly assist you in your SEO strategy.
Contact us at +1(514) 572 7758 or using our contact form to speak with an expert who will be able to answer any of your questions.