SEO is not as difficult as people make it sound.
By 2020, United States would alone spend an estimated $80 billion on search engine optimization.
That’s huge …
And the number is ever increasing – as more and more businesses start to realize the potential ROI that SEO is able to generate. While SEO in Nepal might be in the early stage, it has potential to bring a lot of value to the businesses here in Nepal.
Table of Contents
In this beginner’s guide, I will describe everything you need to know about SEO in depth – so that you can start implementing SEO for your website or start working for the clients.
What Is SEO and How It Works?
SEO (or Search Engine Optimization) is simply about getting traffic from search engines, (like Google and Bing) which will help in achieving the overall marketing objective of a business.
The actual SEO process is not that simple though. The complication keeps on increasing as Google releases new algorithm updates and the search competition keeps on rising – however the fundamentals will always remain the same.
We need to see Google as a business and searchers as their customers.
Now, what does Google want? In plain language, Google wants to show the best possible result for a certain query (“keyword”). In this way, it keeps their users happy – hence they will come back and want to search more.
Let’s change the perspective …
Think like a business (perhaps a local business) – what do you want from search? Of course, you want people to visit your website so that they can be your potential customers.
The question is:
“How do you make people visit your website from search engines?”
That’s what SEO is all about.
SEO is about making your business website rank in the search engines (mostly Google) so that people would click on it, and then visit your website. But in order to do that, you need to understand the thought process of Google in the first place.
Google only wants to show the best possible result for a certain query.
Hence, in order to rank #1 in the search engine, you have to deserve to be #1.
Let’s think in a high level perspective. There are 2 areas to consider:
How relevant is your web page to the search query. If someone is asking for “how to make coffee”, Google does not want to show the SEO blog instead.
Authority means how much trustworthy is your website. This comes from the links – both the quality and quantity of links. These days, Google also views the context of the links.
Relevance and Authority are not the only factors when it comes to ranking websites, however for the sake of simplicity – I have mentioned these 2 factors.
In addition, it provides us an idea of what Google wants.
How Search Works?
No one knows the inner working mechanism of Google (or Bing or any other search engines) – we just make an educated guess from the past data and experiences, along with the information that Google makes public.
Google started out with the PageRank algorithm.
PageRank works based on links. It starts out with a few pages that are extremely high quality and follows the links on those pages. Links are like the trust for the website – for example, “Website A links to Website B” means Website A trusts Website B in the eyes of the search engine bot.
Ranking in the early 2000s was easy …
… write a few content, buy few PR links and soon you’d be in the first page of the Google.
However, soon Google realized that people are misusing this technique – they are buying and selling links. Hence Google started to update it’s algorithm to make sure that black hats could not cheat their ranking.
Google updates it’s algorithm around 500 – 600 times a year.
While most of these updates are the minor one, Google occasionally releases major algorithm updates like Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird which affect the SEOs in a significant manner.
Here are few of the major updates in brief:
|Panda||Sites with low quality content|
|Penguin||Affected sites with spam links|
|RankBrain||Understands search behavior|
There is always a hype when Google releases a major update.
Nevertheless, that’s not something to bother you when you have done SEO on a website with discipline. SEO is a sector that requires patience and discipline – or else, you will be penalized and your business may see a down curve.
Follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines and you should do fine.
Why do People Search?
In order to get better at SEO, we need to understand why do people search in the first place.
Let’s get back to history:
Quite a few decades ago (when the internet did not exist) there used to be only one “SEARCH ENGINE” and that was Human Brain. We had to manually search for information from different sources like the library, Manuscripts, and so on.
Fast forward to today:
As of 2018, more than 3.5 billion searches are processed per day by Google alone (not including the data of Bing and other search engines).
Here’s the Real-Time proof:
These days, people search for a myriad of reasons. Search is not just a necessity – it’s become a habit.
Whether it is to be prepared for our next shopping items or find the results of our favorite sports team, we find ourselves on search more often – thanks to the speed that the search engines offer.
Despite the fact that a search is performed in a millionth of second, there’s an enormous amount of processing that’s going on the backend.
Google considers many factors all at once to find whether it’s the ‘Search Result’ you want – on-page factors, keywords used in the page, links pointing to the page and so on.
Google’s Ranking Factors
Google is believed to consider more than 200 factors while ranking search results. Whenever a user conducts a search, Google’s algorithm keeps hundreds of things in mind about all the websites that are in their index and then return the most appropriate results.
… in a fraction of a second.
Each ranking factor is a signal to the google’s bot that says something specific about your website.
Ever since it’s inception, Google has tried to understand the intent behind the query and what’s it exactly that the users are looking for. In order to provide the exact result that the searchers are looking for, they need to analyze your website (and millions of others) to know what the website is about.
… they do this using ‘ranking factors’.
Google has a sophisticated algorithm which takes into consideration 200s of factors to understand the ‘Users’ and the ‘Websites’.
Brian Dean has listed a handy guide of those ranking factors in this guide.
[Note that Google changes its algorithm with
Here are the few of the most important ones (especially for 2019):
Mobile Friendly: Is your page Mobile friendly? Does your page load well on mobile – or the user have to zoom in to see your content?
Page Loading Speed: Does your page load fast enough? If it’s slow, then user will press that back button – which decreases your ranking.
Organic CTR:The more the people click on your result, the better the chance it has to rank for that particular keyword.
Referring domains: How many domains refer to you? (in other words: how many websites link back to you?)
Dwell Time: Do people searching for you stay on your website? Or, do they press that back button after they land on your website?
Domain Authority: What’s Domain Authority? Domain Authority is a strong signal that people in your niche trust your website for content.
On-page SEO: What’s within your page matters? Does the keyword appear frequently in your web page? Do you use related words (LSI keywords) of the keyword?
Total Number of Backlinks: How many links have you got in total? Do websites linking to you link frequently?
You might be ranking for a keyword like ‘Best Freaking Passive Income Blog’, but if no one in the world is searching for that keyword, then what’s the use of that ranking, right?
After all, ranking means traffic.
Everything you do (in SEO) is to get relevant traffic to your website so that you can convert them to email subscribers (or loyal site visitors). For that, you need relevant people to visit your website right at the time they need.
That’s why SEO exists.
Every searchers find you through certain keywords. At the beginning, a person is unknown about your brand, and then s/he searches in that ‘search box’ using the keywords – when you show up in the search engine, the natural expectation is that your website is the one related to that keyword.
… that’s where keyword research comes in.
Keyword Research is the process of understanding the keywords, intent behind them, search frequency, competition analysis and so on. Without proper keyword research, your SEO strategy will not have a direction. Sure, you might gain some ranking and traffic, but your competitors (with strong keyword research) will outrank you at
Few aspects of keyword research that you’ll need to know:
Search Intent (also known as keyword intent) is the primary reason behind the search query. What are your searchers looking for? What’s their motivation behind the search?
.. that’s the most important question every SEO expert should answer.
Google is getting much serious about this topic (especially after the rankbrain). There are primarily 3 kinds of searches that goes into the search engines:
|Navigational||Searchers use ‘Google’ to find the content|
|Informational||Searchers want to know about a certain topic.|
|Transactional||Searchers are looking for products.|
Most of the search queries are informational in nature (80%) while navigational and transactional makeup only 20% of the total searches.
How frequently the keyword is searched is the metric that’s useful for SEOs. It’s often measured in terms of searches / month.
The more searches the better.
That’s a general rule of thumb. In addition to this, you need traffic, but also you need relevant traffic. However, the fact is the more the searches you get, higher the chance is that you get relevant traffic. Hence, I would go for getting higher traffic whenever it is possible.
You need a set of keywords which has low competition.
Or else, you’ll enter into a game of higher competition which will make it difficult for you to rank in the top 3 for your desired keywords. Hence, it’s always a better idea to search for keywords which have low competition.
The SEO changes that we implement are generally divided into 2 parts: on-site SEO and off-site SEO (Link Building)
Changes that we implement within a website. For example: changing title and meta description, internal linking and so on.
All the changes that we do outside of the website. For example: building links through other authoritative websites.
That’s a broad overview of On-site SEO. Generally, on-site may be referred to as on-page SEO. This is true to some extent because Google ranks the web page and not the website. Nevertheless, there is certain SEO implementation that’s done beyond changing what’s on the page – for instance: internally linking pages, submitting XML sitemaps, increasing site speed and so on.
What’s on the page is the most important factor that any SEOs should consider.
Simply, because that’s what the users see and that’s what the users were looking for in the first place. People refer to a quote ‘Content is KING!’ time and again for a reason.
Google loves Content – especially text content.
On-Page SEO is about implementing all the tactics within the scope of the web page itself. On-Page is about changing the content on the page. Right from the ‘Title and Meta Description’ to what’s within the page (‘headings, anchor text and all’).
Here are some of the most important On-Page SEO areas to consider:
#1 Use Short URLs
#2 Optimize Your Title (H1) for Your Target Keyword
#3 Use LSI Keywords in Your Content
#4 User Experience (and Dwell Time)
#5 Optimize Your Title for CTR
#6 Reduce Page Loading Time
#7 Write Long Form Content
Learn more about On-Page SEO in this article:
Google Search Console