What is SEO?
When you want to find out how to fix a broken oven igniter, find the best seafood restaurant near your hotel, find out why you are getting an error message on your computer, find SEO courses in Singapore or look for digital courses in Singapore, what do you usually do first? If you are like almost everybody else, you first try to search online using a search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing.
If you run an online business or if you have a business with a website online, you have to consider the fact that people use search engines to reach your services or products. SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the entire system of improving the quantity as well as the quality of website traffic by improving the visibility of a website to users of search engines.
Search engines on one hand have different rules or algorithms in ranking websites. The rules are based on relevance, quality and personalization. Let’s take Google for example. Google is the world’s leading search engine and they undoubtedly, do not reveal their algorithms and rules to the public. There are plenty of reasons you can think of why this is so but the most obvious ones are intellectual property and the naturalness of people’s searches.
Why is SEO Important to Your Business?
When users search for a set of keywords like say “auto detailing”, “SEO courses in Singapore” or “digital courses in Singapore” , they don’t usually go past the first page of search results. This makes SEO a really very competitive arena and making it to the 1st page of search resutlts for a particular keyword has been the highly-valued mission of many businesses. So, in short, the main reason why SEO is important for your business is visibility and to get to the 1st page of search results results in a search engine.
Aside from visibility, good SEO practices also improve the usability of a site as well as the user experience that goes along with it. Users also trust search engines and if you have a good ranking in the search engines, it means that users should be trusting you a lot. There is an SEO metric called Domain Authority where a site is given a score that could increase or decrease based on certain rules and criteria. Essentially, the higher the Domain Authority of a site, the higher the ranking of a site and the more users should trust the site.
If you practice good SEO for your site, there is a good chance that people will be talking about you in other channels such as social media. This will increase your visibility not just in search engines but in Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and you would widen your audience.
Ranking in search engines, as already mentioned, is a very competitive arena and practicing good SEO can help you outrank your competitors. SEO also helps you define your brand identity and your direction. With the use of strategic keywords, analytics software and feedback from customers, you should be able to define how people see your company. The data and the trends could also help you formulate your business decisions and strategies about where your company should be going, whether your strategy is working or not and if you need to change it.
How SEO Works
Google wants the searches of people to be as natural as possible and not influenced heavily or dominated by their rules. With their algorithms, Google is able to provide users with the most relevant searches and high-quality websites. They are also able to provide search results based on the user’s searches for the past 180 days which gives rise to personalization. So, don’t be surprised that for the same keyword, you will get different results compared to another user.
Although Google does not reveal their algorithms, they provide clues to businesses and marketers on how to do well in Google rankings. Some of these rules involve backlinks or outside links to your site, keyword density and website speed.
SEO can therefore be divided into two areas. One area is On-page SEO and another area is Off-page SEO. On-page SEO is the use of SEO on your website. This means using carefully-researched keywords on your website and improving the speed of your site. Off-page SEO means SEO that is done outside of your website. An example of this would be writing a blog about your site and then creating links or backlinks to your website. It is important to note, however that the blog is not a part of your site but on a different website altogether.
10 SEO Tips for Starters
Begin with 4-6 keywords
Relevance is perhaps the single most important factor that search engines consider when ranking websites. Not only does it retain users and visitors for your site but it also improves your search rankings. Targeting the right keywords can make search engines index and categorize your website properly for those keywords. You could rank number for a certain keyword but if the keyword has a low search volume then that means nobody is searching for that keyword. You need to consider the competition for the keyword and the search volume of the keyword.
Keywords can be long-tail keywords or short-tail keywords. A long-tail keyword is a keyword comprised of three to four words like “how to cook ramen”, “SEO courses in Singapore” or “digital courses in Singapore”. A short-tail keyword is simply a keyword with one to two words like “cooking ramen”, “SEO courses” or “digital courses”. It is recommended that you choose long-tail keywords because the competition is usually low. For keyword research, you can use Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest to understand their competitiveness and their search volumes.
Titles and descriptions
Google has highlighted the importance of page titles in SEO more than ever before. There are many factors that determine the optimization of a page title. The first factor is that the page must have a well-written and unique title that describes the content of the page accurately. The page title must also be short and descriptive. It should be around 60 characters. The title should help the user understand the content of the page.
Just like the page title, the meta description is also important. It is a summary of the contents of the page. Make sure that you maintain the length of your meta description to somewhere between 180-200 characters. Make sure that the meta description does not simply repeat what you already have on your title. Lastly, make sure that your meta description ‘advertises’ your page to readers so that they are enticed to click on the title and visit your page.
A permalink or permanent link refers to the format of URLs or pages and individual posts of a website. Make sure that your permalinks are easy to understand for users and search engines. Use hyphens when you separate the words on your URL. Only use necessary information on your URLs. Use relevant words describing what the page is all about. When possible, include keywords in your URLs.
Use formatting options and headings to make your pages much easier to read
When you publish text on your website, make sure you use formatting such as H1, H2 and H3. This is good for SEO and user experience. In general, you use H1 tags for the title of your article. You use H2 tags to highlight the main headings of your post. To place emphasis on text, use bold and italics. Choose a font size that is convenient for reading and write in small paragraphs.
Make sure your main content speaks to users first then search engines second
It can be tempting to optimize your content for search engines all the time but the rule is to simply create your content for humans first and then search engines next. Always think of your audience first when you write content. Make sure you try to make your content interesting and useful. You don’t need to stuff your content with keywords just to make it appealing to search engines.
Ensure that your core product/service content brings out value as well as differentiation. Include keywords in your content and place an FAQ section within. Every page of your website should have 600 words and above.
Create high-quality content and additional content to your main content
Even if content is king, you still have to prioritize quality and this is mainly for user experience. The better the quality, the more visitors you get and the higher the number of returning users is. Quality is determined by the usefulness of the article and its originality. Comparatively, your content should stand out among the content of your competitors who are also in the same niche as you are. Also, the content needs to have strategic keywords for search engines. The grammar should also be perfect.
Aside from your main content, add a blog or resource area. Your content should be useful and original enough to make your content a thought and trust leader. Topics should focus on keywords. For starters, you can begin with 1,000-2,000 words per content, then add more text, videos and images over time.
Place internal links in your content
Internal links are links in your webpages that point to other webpages in your site and not other websites. Use strategic keywords as anchor texts for your internal links. Make sure that your internal links are easy to understand for both the users and search engines.
Images give life to an article and can add to the SEO of your website. Make sure that your image is relevant to the article. You can optimize the file name of your image by making sure it is relevant to the image. You can use Alt Text for your image description and you can even add keywords to the text. You can use keywords in the image file name and make sure that the file name is descriptive. For example, instead of using person1.jpg, you can use man-working-on-a-farm.jpg. Allot a dedicated folder for all your images in your site. Lastly, consider the size of your image. The smaller the file size of your image is, the faster your website loads. For the size of your image, try something below 100kb. You may use imagecompressor.com.
Produce backlinks from other websites
Backlinks are links that you generate from other websites that direct users to your website. You should be careful however not to create low-quality content stuffed with keywords. as search engines are quite intelligent to detect them and your content could be taken down. Sites that accept guest posts are also pretty strict about backlinks. When you write content on other sites with backlinks to your site, try to go for websites with good domain authority or rank highly in search engines. Their reputation is very valuable and can boost your ranking as well. Also try to link to these high-authority sites so that you will invite them to link back to you.
Create a system for online reviews
Feedback from your customers or visitors is very useful. You can be proactive about it by sending e-mails to customers to write some feedback about your site, your services, your products or your company. Encourage your customers to write online reviews on your site or testimonials that will inform other visitors about your customers’ experiences. You might want to focus on Google Review.
A Final Word on SEO
SEO has been around for more than 20 years, but its main purpose is really to outrank your competitors in search engine results. It is also important to know that SEO is just a single aspect of Digital Marketing. Other aspects of Digital Marketing are content marketing, social media marketing, affiliate marketing, pay per click, email marketing, marketing automation, inbound marketing, online PR and Sponsored Content. While SEO takes a lot of effort, knowledge, time and resources, it is worth knowing that rising to the top search engine results is well worth it all.