A lot of people don’t know what SEO is and the power that the technique has to improve the engagement of an online content platform. Investing in search engine optimization is very important for your brand, being a fundamental part of digital marketing strategies.
Quick answer: when you have a question who (or what) do you turn to? Maybe you answered your family, friends. But if they don’t know it is likely that you will use search engines to find the answer you are looking for. Like this? Calm down, let’s explain!
There are several search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Qwant and Yandex, but without a doubt, Google is the most searched search site. In Brazil alone, it is preferred by 95.93% of internet users. If you have a digital business, appearing among the top results is a big step towards increasing traffic to your page and gaining visibility. What are you waiting for to adapt your website to Search Engine Optimization?
After all, what is SEO?
What is SEO? The acronym means Search Engine Optimization, and Portuguese, optimization for search engines. Basically, this is a tool to leverage organic traffic to a page through some ranking strategies that lead to website optimization.
Basically, Search Engine Optimization is a set of techniques, based on research, that helps in optimizing websites, so that they appear better positioned in search engines.
To understand what SEO is, you need to keep in mind that it is not a one-time action or a series of one-time tactics. Optimization for search engines is a continuous work that has its origins in the deep knowledge of the ways in which search engines work. Or rather, of algorithms.
Summarizing the answer to the question “what is SEO?”, we can say that it is a way to appear better in searches, attract visitors to your site and if you have quality content and a good product and/or service, attract leads and, consequently, sales.
What are search engines and algorithms?
To define what SEO is, we must first clarify concepts that are linked to Search Engine Optimization: search engines and algorithms.
Search engines or search engines are systems formed by a series of algorithms that track, index and rank web contents so that they can be displayed in an orderly manner in users’ searches, based on some criteria.
Thus, website optimization simply means adapting it to the SEO criteria so that search engines place your digital business page at the top during searches.
To ensure that users return to using their services, search engines invest in artificial intelligence so that people can quickly find the best content. User satisfaction is therefore the main objective of these tools – and it should be yours too if you have a page.
How do search engines work?
To know how to achieve search engine optimization, a fundamental part of Search Engine Optimization, you need to understand how they work. There are basically three steps.
In the first one, search engine robots or spiders track web content through paths pointed by the links, looking for new pages and updates.
Afterward, the pages found are indexed. That is, they are placed in the search engine’s index, a kind of content library, where they are organized according to the criteria and information collected, such as, for example, their loading time and their keywords.
Both crawling and indexing processes take place at the same time. Ranking happens when the user makes a search. It is at this stage that we must focus when we aim at optimizing for search engines.
In Google’s case, algorithms or web crawlers constantly scan the internet for quality information. The pages crawled by Google (there are billions in the world) enter a large database (indexing).
The search engine uses certain criteria to include pages in the so-called Search Index. Among the criteria are content to age, loading time and texts. Later, we’ll explain more about ranking.
In time, the computers of the largest search engine in the world are constantly being updated and are frequently revised and adapted. Each version comes out optimized to make the results the ones with the most useful answers.
Recently Google has been working hard on understanding a user’s search intentions. He wants to understand, more and more precisely, what the person wants to know when typing a certain term in the search field.
Once you understand what SEO is, it’s time to understand your ranking criteria. Google does not officially reveal the ranking factors for Search Engine Optimization, but it is estimated to be over 200.
Remembering that everyone has the same objective: to establish if the page is informative and if its content is relevant to meet the user’s information needs. Through studies carried out by specialized institutions in the sector, it was possible to verify some of these factors.
Website optimization criteria are divided into two categories SEO on-page, those under your control and directly linked to building your page, and SEO off-page, which depend on other websites, social networks or blogs.
Design, usability, responsiveness (web adaptable to mobile devices) are some of the factors that are under your control and contribute to your site being seen as relevant in Google’s ranking.
Of course, all of this is important, but one of the factors that most influence a good placement is what actually answers users’ questions: the content. Good content contains certain characteristics. Let’s go to them:
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long text, but it needs to be completely content that exhausts or come close to resolving a given subject with just one search. Although larger and more complete texts are more capable of answering users’ questions, the best size is one that manages to encompass all questions, leaving readers with no outstanding questions.
Despite generally influencing the content, size is not a direct ranking factor of the algorithm. But by no means, leave it out of your search engine optimization strategies.
The volume of posts favors site optimization. The reasoning here is simple: the more content you can publish, the greater the chances of ranking your page well.
Be careful not to be concerned only with the number of posts and end up forgetting the quality and relevance of the content. In addition, it is also necessary to have a frequency of publications.
There is no ideal post volume or frequency. You need to identify what your theme and persona demand, in addition to evaluating your business’ content production capacity.
Density is directly linked to text size. The content to work, according to Search Engine Optimization, must contain quality and relevant information, well-grounded, that in fact add to the reader. The strategy of making long texts that are very repetitive and not very enlightening is frowned upon by the search engine optimization algorithm.
It is basically what the user used to search for content. Using it strategically in the text and title of the landing page are good tactics to get a better rank. Synonyms and words from the same semantic field (similar meanings) are also positive strategies.
There are two types of keywords used in website optimization:
These terms refer to a tail. In addition to understanding what SEO is, you need to understand what each of these terms means, which correspond to different stages of the journey.
The thought is this: the more on the tip of the tail the keyword is, the more specific and, consequently, the closer to the purchase decision the user will be. For good Search Engine Optimization, it is important to work with both.
Head tail keywords are comprehensive and generic. They are usually used at the beginning of the shopping journey when the consumer does not know what he needs, so he starts with this type of search and then ends up making the search more specific.
The terms head-tail tend to have a high search volume, which tends to generate a lot of traffic, but at the same time, they also attract a very broad audience, with little chance of a conversion.
Another disadvantage is that there is usually a lot of competition for the top positions, which makes it more difficult to get a good ranking.
The long-tail keywords, which are also called the long tail, are far more specific and are often used at the end of the customer journey. At this point, the consumer has already researched in a much deeper way what he needs to solve his need. Therefore, he already knows the solutions better, but he is looking for even more information to make his final decision.
These words are not intended to generate as much traffic as they have a lower search volume. Unlike the head-tail. However, they attract people who are more inclined to make the purchase, and for that reason, long hail tends to generate more conversions. Also, using such words, search engine optimization is easier to achieve.
The longer it is on the air, the more authority your page generates. This logic follows the concept that the longer you do an activity, the more you know about it. But this idea only materializes if you are constantly updating, that’s why this item has such relevance.
Good reader experience
Published texts should favor the reader’s experience. Therefore, the scanability and semantics of texts are also important criteria to achieve good Search Engine Optimization, as well as the quality and relevance of publications.
Scalability is the ability of a text to provide a dynamic reading. For this, it must have resources such as intertitles, lists, bold and images. If the text doesn’t make use of it, probably no one will want to read it. These features improve the reading experience, engage the user and communicate information to Google.
Keywords are important, but you shouldn’t repeat them excessively. Remember that Google understands human language and therefore no longer focuses on exact keyword matching, which makes semantics very important in Search Engine Optimization.
You need to explore the semantic field that surrounds a term, taking advantage of its variations, synonyms and relationships with other words. In this way, reading is more pleasant, also facilitating Google’s understanding of the theme of the page. The title, headings tags, URL and the first paragraph, for example, are places where the robot’s eyes look first. Therefore, they must appear in these places.
The meta-description or meta description, in English, is the description of the page’s content. It’s visible in search results, inside the snippet that also includes the page’s title and URL. Therefore, it also acts as an attraction for the person to click on the link.
In order for the meta description to help in optimizing websites, it is a prerequisite that it be persuasive and descriptive. However, it is not a direct ranking factor. As such, Google does not consider this description for ranking, which in no way means that this is not an important feature of SEO.
It is important that keywords are used in the meta-description. Since the terms that match those searched by users are in bold.
Since Google doesn’t fully understand what an image means, it’s necessary that you give it a hand. To adapt photos to Search Engine Optimization it is necessary to provide data in text form about the images. For example, using alternative text (alt tag), file name, image caption, image URL and context.
Search engine optimization also goes through your site’s internal link network. The function of the internal link is to guide and direct the user’s navigation to other content that is relevant to him or that may arouse his interest.
In addition, the network of internal links makes the algorithms find your content more easily and also helps them to better understand the site, since the link shows a hierarchy between pages. For example, the closer you are to the home and the more internal links you receive, the more important the page is.
Off page SEO
Within this category are factors that do not depend directly on you. When your page delivers quality content, it’s easier for it to become a reference for others.
Being cited on other sites and having your content included in the form of links on other pages is seen by Google as a demonstration of authority. For the search engine, if people are indicating your content, it means it’s good. These are called backlinks .
There are different types of backlinks, some positive and some negative. They are important to your ranking because they influence how the algorithm understands your page. The more quality backlinks (authoritative sites) pointing to your site, the more relevant it is and the easier it will appear at the top of the results page.
As mentioned above, the more referrals from other pages to yours, the better. There is even a specific algorithm to classify the influence of your website: PageRank. It can vary from 0 to 10, it monitors external links to your page according to the quality and quantity of the sites that mention it.
As you can see, doing SEO is not easy. It requires knowledge of complex structures that are constantly being updated, which consequently require you to adapt.
If you already have an online course or are starting your project, find out how to generate organic traffic . If you want more information about Search Engine Optimization, leave your comments below. After all, it is noticeable that it is not that easy to answer what SEO is. Even so, we’ll explain some of the most important aspects of little off-page SEO.
It’s not just users who follow link paths across the Internet, but also search engine optimization robots, making link building important for SEO.
Link building is basically building a network of links that directs the reader to your pages, in order to strengthen your authority on the web. For the algorithm, the greater the quantity of quality backlinks that the page receives, the greater its relevance within the market.
As with content, quantity and quality must go hand in hand when we talk about Link Building. Backlinks from a single domain, from dubious sites or from out-of-context sites don’t help Search Engine Optimization at all.
But, after all, what are quality backlinks? Are those related to trusted sites that have references in the market. Your backlink must come from sites with domain and page authority, which are trusted by Google; from several different domains, naturally placed in the context of the page, use coherent anchor text and be in a prime position on the page, as at the beginning.
Nofollow and dofollow links
A feature of backlinks is the difference between dofollow links, in which the robot must follow the path indicated by the link and pass authority from one page to another. And the nofollows, which prevent the robot from following that path and assigning authority to the linked page.
We mainly use nofollow in blog comment boxes and social media links, which are often used to spam and build artificial authority. However, nofollow links are not expendable in off page SEO, as they generate traffic and lead people to know your brand. Even if they don’t convey authority directly.
This is a built-link technique. The guest posts are a posts as a guest publishing strategy in a partner blog. It works the same way as a partnership. You produce content for the blog’s audience and in return can insert one or more links that take the reader to your site.
If the link is dofollow, through guest posts, you can attract new visitors and gain authority. But don’t overdo it, if Google sees an excess of links in a short time, you can be perceived by search engine optimization algorithms as a black hat and be punished, we’ll see more in a moment what this means.
Search Engine Optimization includes some technical aspects, directly related to the structure of the site. These adjustments, which are part of on-page SEO, make a lot of difference when optimizing websites. The architecture of the page is intended to make it faster, more understandable, crawlable and indexable.
The sitemap is a text document that presents the relationship and information of all pages on a website. For example, date of last modification and frequency of updates. By introducing these functions more easily, you allow search engines to find and index you better.
Loading speed is one of the main criteria for Search Engine Optimization. In 2010, for desktop searches and, in 2018, for mobile searches, Google itself stated that desktop speed is a factor used for ranking.
Without the loading speed you will definitely not win the top. Remember that it doesn’t make your site gain positions, but if the page is slow, it will definitely lose positions. Google believes that the speed and agility of information directly interferes with the user experience
There is a free Google testing tool, PageSpeed Insights , which provides reports and provides a speed diagnosis. In addition, the engine offers tips to improve loading, such as optimizing images and site codes.
Responsiveness is linked to creating a website that is also suitable for mobile devices. This technique allows a page to better adapt to the different shapes and sizes of screens.
The growing use of cell phones makes responsiveness something fundamental nowadays. Understanding what SEO is also includes these more technical characteristics that are connected to better rankings.
Therefore, to achieve website optimization, invest in design, mobile URL, mobile version and Dynamic Serving, in which both versions have the same URL, but have different CSS and HTML for each device.
To find out if the site complies with Search Engine Optimization criteria, perform audits, especially when you are at the beginning of the search engine optimization process.
An SEO audit can identify loading, crawling, usability and other errors that hamper site optimization. It will point out, for example, broken links, tracking errors, redirect errors, duplicate content, blocked and slow loading pages.
There are tools that perform the Search Engine Optimization audit, such as Screaming Frog , which provides complete reports on each item. But you can also combine other mechanisms. For example SEMrush with Google Search Console.
Black Hat X White Hat
Website optimization is not simple. As stated before, algorithms continually work to improve the user experience. So, they also fight dubious and low-quality content, the so-called “black hat”, which end up left out in the rankings.
Previously, when Search Engine Optimization was still developing, it was easy to get around the loopholes. But now with search engine optimization it is better structured by algorithms.
With this, common practices on Black Hat pages , such as doorway pages , optimized only to redirect to malicious ones, cloaking, with different content for the user and robot, farm links, only contain backlinks to other pages, keyword stuffing, excessive repetition of keywords, text and hidden links for the user, but not for robot and spam in comments, comments on blogs only to gain backlinks.
The white hat is SEO done according to the optimization guidelines for Google monitors and other search platforms. Only then will you gain the searcher’s trust. These criteria are the ranking factors explained above.
How to start an SEO strategy?
In addition to learning what SEO is, you also need to know where to start optimizing websites. The content produced should not only be relevant to someone, but also easy to find.
The first step is to have planning. Ask yourself: what results do you want to achieve with SEO? Who do you want to reach? How do you intend to get there?
Remember that Search Engine Optimization does not offer immediate results, only in the long and medium term. However, the return is more sustainable over time.
1. Goal Setting
You need to know what goals you want to achieve with search engine optimization. Obviously, the chosen objective must be aligned with your brand’s goals. SEO can provide:
2. Decide which persona
The persona consists of who your SEO strategies are for, the target audience you want to attract, and who you want to communicate with. The persona will mainly help you specify the keywords that are critical to Search Engine Optimization.
Think of the persona as a semi-fictional character that represents an ideal customer of your business. This person must have real questions, pains and needs that you need to resolve. However, the persona is not built from scratch, but from actual customer data. Therefore, it is important to conduct surveys, questionnaires, interviews and consider the sales funnel.
3. Basic SEO Tools
To start optimizing websites it is necessary, at a minimum, to know how to use some basic and initial Search Engine Optimization tools. They will provide a diagnosis of the current situation, support the planning, make the first optimizations and begin to monitor the impacts of each action.
The essential engines are Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These are free tools offered by Google itself. They are for you to monitor your Search Engine Optimization strategies.
Google Analytics is a data analysis tool for various digital strategies that offers a multitude of features.
In SEO, it mainly helps to know your audience better to build the persona, identify which are the most visited and best performing pages, monitor organic traffic numbers, identify the channels that generate the most traffic (email, social, organic ), understand engagement (bounce rate, pages per visit, session duration), monitor conversions generated by the SEO strategy.
The Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a tool that serves to facilitate communication between websites and Google. It will provide you with various valuable reports for website optimization. It involves something more technical, aimed at people with more experience in the area, but its interface is not that complicated to use. Anyone is able to use it to make diagnoses and direct more complex demands to specialized professionals.
This tool will help you know if there are indexing problems on your site, if it has been hacked or penalized by Google, as well as monitoring the average position of your pages on SERP, identifying the click-through rate of your pages on SERP, verifying which keywords have activated your site on SERP, check which sites direct backlinks to your pages, and ask Google to reject dubious backlinks to your site.
Google Search Console also generates several insights that can be implemented in search engine optimization. However, its main use is to identify the queries that drive traffic to your pages and the click-through rate of your main keywords.
Now that you understand what SEO is and its importance, it’s time to invest in website optimization . Click here and meet SparkFunnels , a HeroSpark tool that helps you create high converting sales funnels. How about combining SparkFunnels with Search Engine Optimization and increasing the visibility of your page and your number of customers?