The Evolution of SEO: Understanding the Myths and Embracing the Basics
One of the most common complaints that I have heard during my interactions with business owners, freelancers and commercial entrepreneurs is the challenge of keeping up with SEO practices. In simple terms, these professionals feel that staying on top of Search Engine Optimisation is too difficult and limits their ability to maintain this aspect of their business. In fact, most people state that the ever-changing nature of the SEO is the reason why they are overwhelmed, intimidated and uninformed. Unfortunately, this mindset is not only present in people without actual SEO skills of experience. Even seasoned veterans have at one point felt that the landscape of SEO changes too much.
The Truth of the Matter
But, is this belief true? If we want to understand the truth of this matter, we must identify the difference between SEO theory and the techniques that experts use to realise their goals. Over the years, I have worked with numerous companies, small businesses and individuals. Through this experience, I have gained insight on SEO. The technology surrounding SEO such as the search engines will continue changing and advancing. As a result, the techniques used as part of an SEO strategy must evolve to ensure success. However, there are some fundamental elements of SEO which remain considerably unchanged. Click here for the SEO Meaning or definition.
The Fundamental Elements of SEO
The algorithms used by Google in search processes are inspired by a simple concept of categorisation and links, just like in academia. In simple terms, the search engine uses keywords and other similar page details to determine the topic of the website page. Also, the backlinks or links from external sites will help in determining the authority of the site. Google has advanced significantly over the years, but these are the core design have remained the same.
If a business wants to establish a new SEO marketing strategy, they must understand the fundamental principles. These four elements will determine the success of the established plan to boost your company’s website ranking.
- Crawlability, the ability of the search engines to find your content.
- Site structure, the general organisation of the data.
- Keywords, the topic or subject of your content.
- Backlinks, the external links which prove that your content is trustworthy.
If your business website has been designed and developed with these four concepts taken into consideration, then Google or other search engines should not have a problem finding you. However, if you are establishing an SEO strategy for a new website of business, these baseline principles might not be easy to understand. Therefore, consider this comprehensive discussion on the four fundamental elements of Search Engine Optimisation.
Good content is useless for your website if the search engines cannot find it. In simple terms, you can only drive traffic to your pages from search engines if your content is visible. Therefore, crawlability is a critical element to consider when building your SEO foundation. If you want the search engines to find your content and rank it, you must ensure that the machine can:-
- Gain access to the content on your website that you would like ranked.
- Read the content posted on your web pages.
These processes can only be accomplished using technical methods. For instance, you might need to adapt specific code for your website or at least install an SEO plugin for your website, depending on the platform used. The technical procedures can be difficult for a complete beginner, so it is prudent to consult an SEO Agency (like us) or a quality web design company for this form of website optimisation.
If you are interested in understanding crawlability and related issues, you should consider learning more from some authority articles.
- Moz Blog: Find Your Site’s Biggest Technical Flaws in 60 Minutes
- Distilled Blog: What Web Development Taught Me about SEO
- Hubspot Blog: SEO Tools to Analyse Your Site like Google Does
Site structure is an important element of SEO because it helps the search engines crawling through the website to understand the hierarchy of the content. In simple terms, when creating your SEO strategy, you must ensure that the pages and content are ranked according to their importance. Often, people think that the pages on their sites are equally important. However, this is not the case. If you fail to prioritise the right pages through a hierarchical structure, the impact of the content which brings in money will be lost.
In general, when the search engine robots websites visit your site, they find the homepage and navigate to other areas. The bots are designed to rank the importance of the page by how convenient it is to access. For instance, a page which can be accessed via one click from the home page or which is linked on every page will be ranked higher than alternatives. Therefore, pages that you think are the most crucial for your business should be designed for maximum visibility in the site structure. Less important alternatives should also be planned for well, but you do not need them to be top priority.
To learn more about site structure and how to utilise this element for the success of your website, check out the outlined blog posts.
- Moz Blog: Information Architecture for SEO
- Wordtracker Blog: How to Create a Site Structure that Google will Love
- Kissmetrics: How to Create a Site Structure which Will Enhance SEO
- Search Engine Land Blog: The SEO Benefits of Developing a Solid Site Structure
Keywords and Search Phrases
Keywords are crucial components of your SEO strategy for your business. After making your website attractive and accessible by crawlers, you must make sure that they can understand the topics covered in your content. In simple terms, you must help them understand which of your material is relevant to the queries that users will search via the engines. Poor usage of SEO keywords will make your website relatively difficult to find and link to search queries. As a result, the website traffic might not increase.
In the past, businesses were encouraged to use specific keywords over and over again in their content. This practice resulted in written material which made little sense due to keyword stuffing and lack of coherence. For a time, this poor technique worked because Google was ‘younger’ and looked only for the usage and density of keywords.
The overall experience for users who wanted real information was very poor. Over time, the algorithms used by Google have changed. The engine now has semantic understanding of user queries and content. Therefore, even if one uses the right keywords, the search engine will not rank anything that gives users a bad reading experience.
When Google is searching your website for the right keyword usage, the search engine considers:
- The coverage of the topic: The content in your website should answer the questions asked by real people and the information should be in-depth and valuable.
- Terminology: The language used in the content should be similar to the terminology which the people interested in the content will use.
- Specific Keywords: The selected keywords should be used or positioned in a natural way. The words or phrases should appear in the content in the way that a normal person would use it.
When creating your website content, it is advisable to utilise only one primary keyword or phrase (how ever you can have 3-5 keywords or phrases if they are synonyms of one another). You can include some secondary keywords in your content, but these should be related to the first terms. I have found that numerous people attempt to use multiple different keywords to capture more users with different keywords. Regrettably, this does not work as expected because Google will discover that you have not expounded on any topic sufficiently. Therefore, use different pages to cover various separate keywords.
If you would like to learn more about keyword targeting, keyword ranking strategy and keyword analysis, consider studying some authority posts on the topic.
- Moz Blog: More than Keywords-Concepts of Advanced On-page SEO
- Backlinko Blog: Guide to Keyword Research
- Search Engine Watch Blog: Complete Guide to Keyword Research for SEO
Backlinking is another fundamental element of SEO which has remained unchanged over the years. When preparing your SEO marketing strategy, you should evaluate this aspect because it will play a major role in your Google ranking. In general, backlinks can be described as the number of links to your content from other websites. Search engines use these external links to determine if your website is a reliable authority on the topic in the industry.
Google or alternative search engines want to provide reliable answers to users. However, even when the semantic search is used, there are some gaps which cannot be resolved through machine learning. Therefore, the engine relies on other people’s opinion on your content. If other websites trust your content, they will share on different platforms. By looking at the links, Google can determine the value of your information.
On the other hand, you should note that backlinks are not just about the volume. Simply speaking, the search engine will also consider the authority of the website which has provided a link. This factor helps in identifying the quality of the backlink. The data gathered will then be used to determine the right ranking for a user query.
There are four important types of backlinks sources that you should know for your small business SEO strategy.
- Contextual Recommendation: Backlinks which come from local businesses and niche markets related to your company are compared valuable. These links might not be ranked on a global level. However, if a person is searching for local information or goods and services, these personalised links will elevate you on the results page.
- Authority Recommendation: There are some websites which are recognised as indisputable sources of reliable information. People have an inherent trust in these sources. Therefore, if you receive a backlink from such a high authority site, you will be ranked higher because the source is trustworthy. Websites without highly targeted goods, services or information will find that these links produce the best results.
- Popular Recommendation: If all the other factors remain the same, you should note that the content with the highest popularity will be ranked higher. Basically, more backlinks to your website in comparison to a competitor means that your content is more valuable and relevant.
- Negative Link Association: Backlinks can be used to spam a website. If there are multiple links coming from websites which are questionable or have a poor reputation, your ranking will suffer. This repercussion can be attributed to the fact that the search engines will assume that your content is poor by association.This is also sometimes known as Negative SEO.
You should also know that Google is aware that people purchase backlinks to their sites as a way to build their online reputation. However, this practice is viewed as dishonest. If you acquire too many links from poor quality sites, Google will identify the irregularity. If your website is linked to the questionable act of buying links, you might get penalised so you will need to ensure it is done correctly and for the sake of online exposure more than Google Ranking.
If you would like to learn more about backlinks and their importance in SEO, look into the subject from some of these authority blogs.
On Fundamentals of Links:
On Getting More Website Links:
- Whitespark Blog: 7 Easy Local Link Building Tactics
- Moz Blog: What is Link Building?
- Backlinko Blog: Guide to Link Building
So, Does SEO Really Change?
You may wonder: if SEO can be summarised with such simplicity, why is everyone still complaining about keeping up with the changes? The answer is simple. The details outlined on the fundamental elements of SEO present the theoretical aspects of website optimisation. These four aspects will remain the relatively unchanged.
However, the theory does not cover the techniques or tactics that SEO companies and professionals use to increase web ranking. These practices can be difficult to follow if you are not well-acquainted with the field. When choosing the best methods to incorporate into your SEO plan, you must consider the Search Quality Rating Guidelines.
Understanding the Search Quality Rating
Search engines want to provide the best quality results for user queries. Therefore, when planning to improve your website SEO, you should ensure that you can meet their quality standards. If the chosen techniques are not ideal, you might find yourself dealing with penalties and unexpected losses. There are established guidelines on Search Quality which you can use to evaluate your content.
- Expertise: Your website content should answer the questions that people present through search engines. The answer should be relevant and valuable to the visitor. Also, for higher rankings, the content should be more in-depth than alternatives.
- Authority: You should be able to speak with certain knowledge on the topic. The authority of your content will be determined by how many people consider you a reliable source.
- Trust: Your website should have the markers of trustworthy ownership. Google recognises indicators of an unreliable website by checking the ads versus content, popups, hidden content and site security.
The most important point that you must remember is that your goal in website optimisation must be to provide your visitors with the information they require. You can choose different techniques to improve your site ranking as long as you keep your website accessible, maintain a good site structure, optimise for your keywords and get high-quality backlinks.