Learning SEO: how to get to the top of the search engines?

Paul Knight 02 Aug. 2022, 12:11
Learning SEO: how to get to the top of the search engines?

Everyone who has ever started a website runs into the same problems. You can build the most beautiful website or app, but if no one hears or sees it, you won't get any visitors and therefore no revenue.

There are huge amounts of other websites trying to get to the top of the search results as well. Just having a beautiful website, good content will not automatically get you to the top. You can spend a lot of money on advertising and banners to attract visitors, or you can spend a fraction of the cost and start a good PR campaign, send out press releases and of course get higher in the search engines.

Welcome to the world of Search Engine Optimization, or SEO

SEO is not particularly technical. In fact, there is hardly any real programming involved. Instead, it involves manipulating the content of pages - their titles, the links they contain, and their words and pictures. The basics of SEO are accessible to everyone.

But SEO can be inscrutable and fickle. Search engines don't advertise the algorithms they use to rank pages. And whatever algorithms they use can change without notice.

Of all the search engines, Google is still currently the largest. About two-thirds of all searches go through Google. Google publishes clear guidelines on how SEO should and should not work, but in practice Google continues to shift the bar to stay ahead of those who try to game the system.

SEO basic principles

Of course, you can hire a specialized company to do all the SEO for you. But you can already achieve a huge amount yourself with a few tips. You need to familiarize yourself with some basic principles of SEO. Google calls these the "Starter Guide Basics"

  • Create unique, accurate page titles
  • Make use of the "description" meta tag
  • Improve the structure of your site
  • Improve the structure of your URLs
  • Make your site easier to navigate
  • Optimizing content
  • Offer high quality texts and services
  • Write better anchor text
  • Optimize your use of images
  • Use heading tags correctly
  • Dealing with search engine crawlers
  • Make effective use of robots.txt
  • Be aware of rel="nofollow" for links
  • SEO for mobiles
  • Notify Google and Bing about mobile sites
  • Guide mobile users accurately
  • Promotions and analytics
  • Promote your website in the right ways
  • Take advantage of free webmaster tools from Google and Bing

What you'll find in practice is that some of Google's pointers count more than others. It generally matters a lot whether your content is fresh and original, whether visitors spend more time on your site, whether the topic reinforces the meta tag descriptions, whether other sites find enough value to link to your site, and whether you're not trying to trick Google into thinking you're something you're not, just to improve your ranking.

Above all, use common sense, what is a visitor looking for, and why would a search engine want to recommend your site at that time?

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