Practical SEO tutorial, search engine optimization tips and basics (how to)
This article hopes to give you insights about SEO whether you are a beginner or an expert in this field. For beginners, it should be layman enough to get you going. For experts, it may reinforce what you already know, or provide some points for thoughts or discussion (feel free to give comments). It gives you a practical SEO tutorial based on my past experience and continuous learning and exploration about this topic.
Today, a website is a basic necessity for any product or business that wants to reach out to the world. Having a website to establish your Internet presence is good, having one that has good content is better, and having one that is easily searchable from search engine is the best! You will want to appear ideally in the first page of search results, not to mention the top ranks. You will want your search result info on search pages to shine and easily understood. Attracting high click through rates to bring your potential and target audience to the information or web page you want them to visit. The benefit of a well search engine optimized website is enormous!
Not going to talk about creating a website, or writing good content. But to give you practical basics and techniques of how to optimize your website or page for search engine. It is about SEO (Search Engine Optimization)! It’s a really practical SEO tutorial or guide.
Ready? Let’s begin the journey!
Practical SEO Tutorial: Web Page Title
Be very precise about your page title. It should be very representative of what the page is about. Be sure to include your important keywords in the page title. Since it is the most important element of your page in terms of content perspective to search engine.
It is the most obvious piece of information to your web page visitor as well.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Web Browser Page Title (browser tab title)
Emphasize your page title in front of the web browser page title. Rather than letting your website brand name chucked at the very front. Putting the brand name at the back of each browser page title is almost always fine as it is not the emphasis for the target page itself. However, it still gives exposure to search engine when it reads your browser page title.
The one place you might want to consider putting your brand in front is at the landing page or home page’s browser page title. And rather than putting a “Home” as the title, which does not mean much to represent your website, the brand name is an obvious choice. You see, unless your website is Home related 🙂
Practical SEO Tutorial: Quality Content
Write content that serves a purpose and it must tell your visitors what you want to convey for a particular page. Write with important keywords in mind and be sure to include them in your paragraphs with proper readable sentences.
However do not overuse or repeat too many times your keywords (people like to call this keyword stuffing). It may look like a page with a main purpose to rank high in search engine rather than to inform your visitors – search engines may not like to see that.
In short, write awesome content, with the aim to inform and educate your readers.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Meta Description
Modern search engine may not place emphasis on Meta Keywords or Description over quality content these days. However, a good Meta Description may come in handy if the search engine ever decided to use it to show as a result summary (when you really write the description well). It will attract users eyeball and lead to click through to your website.
Write good summarized Meta Description and focus on writing quality content, rather than dabbling too much on Meta Keywords. Meta Keywords is something not visible to the human eye on the web page, nor you will see your keywords displayed at search engine results. Search engines may not give high importance to them. It may be sound to craft good Meta Keywords in olden days but today’s search engine understands that keywords are less meaningful to human when hidden behind the scenes. Even when displayed, keywords put together in chunks may not make much sense to a human reader.
Practical SEO Tutorial: User Friendly URL
Build web pages with friendly (or readable) URLs especially those pages that are meant to inform users with information, rather than gibberish text or IDs. Imagine typing a page URL directly yourself , you would like to type human intelligible words. Search engine like web features that resonates well with human users. Because search engines audience are human beings, the technology is built with human’s quest of information in mind.
You might want to think in terms of search engines as cataloging machines that look at your website and content much like a human being.
Also bear in mind a dash represents a space in search engine world, rather than an underscore which means joining two words together.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Information Architecture
Make sure your web pages are well organized in your website. You content should be properly laid out and uncluttered. It is also important to provide easy to navigate menus so your visitors can easily find the information they need. It makes good sense that by having a good navigation structure, users will find it easy to traverse your website, so do search engines when they come to index (grab your content, analyse and catalog) your website into their search database.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Optimized Digital Assets (Image, Video, Document)
You should always reduce your digital assets footprint where possible especially those that are just meant for web display and consuming off the screen. Especially images that are used to beautify your web pages rather than to inform users. They should not take up the main bulk of your web page size.
A web page with lightweight footprint will load quickly enough to not deter visitors from staying on to read your content.
Photos or images should be web optimized.
Videos should employ modern streaming technology that allows users to start playing before the full video is loaded. If your web hosting does not allow for this, you may as well consider to offload this part of the job to some video hosting services such as youtube where all the streaming are robustly hosted and handled.
Downloads packages or documents should be indicated with the size, so your audience knows upfront the size of their potential downloads.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Alternate Text for Digital Assets
Provide alternate text for your digital assets. This ironically may not be very obvious information to your normal viewers, it is good information for search engine to know your digital assets context, and for audience with alternative accessibility needs (such as visually impaired using text reading tools on your website).
It also comes in handy when your digital assets are not able to display properly by your browser (example when your image source is broken). Your alternative text will be shown instead. A nice way to handle degradation and let your viewers know what was originally intended.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Accompanying Text for Info Graphics
If you are using info graphics, make use of accompanying text write ups that describes your info graphics. So that search engines can understand your info graphics context as well. Do not be carried away with nice info graphics without text descriptions.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Quality Links
You might think linking to external sites could hurt your website’s traffic or ranking, think again.
If fact, when you are referencing external quality contents that supports your content, your readers will appreciate it greatly. If search engines mimics your readers, so will they. Be generous to flow some link juice to great external content as well. It’s a cycle, pay it forward, and it will naturally pay back to you especially you have great content.
Just make sure the sites that you are linking to are genuine web pages and not dodgy sites that may be there for ulterior motives.
It also helps that you link internally to relevant content that supports your own content. Not solely relying on your navigation menu alone. It helps your readers (and search engines) get to know your website structure and related content as well.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Broken Links
When you have links, make sure you check that they are working links from time to time. Broken links irritates your readers as well as search engines. It does not go well with SEO.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Simple Coded Links
This might be a tad technical. If your links are dynamically built after your page is rendered on the reader’s browser, it could be harder in some cases not possible for search engines to find their way around with your links. Try to avoid complicated linking mechanisms if you could.
However, the good news is with advent of these types of linking mechanism for modern website needs, modern search engines are well aware and are also catching up. More powerful and advanced search engines could have already catered for these today.
So if you could, preferably stick to simple coded links.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Mobile Responsive
As more and more users browse the Internet with mobile devices (such as smart phones and tablets), it is no surprise search engines start to look at your website from these devices perspectives.
Your website should be able to adapt to the different sizes of the mobile devices view port and response accordingly. With nicely laid out and readable content. Without users having to pinch and stretch to adjust the device screen see your content properly.
Hence, mobile friendliness do count in today’s search engine optimization.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Secure website
Cyber security is also a big thing in today’s ever increasingly dangerous Internet landscape. Today’s search engine look at your website’s ability to protect itself and your visitor’s interests against cyber attack.
Search engines would not want to give a site high priority in search results and lead content searchers to a website infected with viruses or malware.
A website today is expected to have a its traffic encrypted with SSL via https, otherwise it may be labeled as not secure by the major modern browsers when viewed by your visitors. This will inevitably give your visitors lower level of confidence in visiting your site.
Search engines today such as Google would like to see websites protected with SSL and may prioritize search results for more secure websites. It make sense to both search engines and genuine Internet users.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Fast loading, speedy website
When your website and pages load fast, it helps your users get to your content without the initial waiting barrier.
When your website and pages load fast, it helps search engines get to your content faster. The last thing you want is a long wait time that will turn the search engines away! There goes your SEO…
Practical SEO Tutorial: User Experience
With a good website user experience (giving your visitors good vibes regardless of what device they view your website in, and how they traverse and interact with your website), it is a big win to retaining your visitors, encouraging them to stay longer for each visit, and a good reason to return to your website.
Coupled with great content, there is no reason whey search engines not prioritize your search results to search engine users.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Social and User Engagement
Having done so much for your website and preparing all the content, the logical thing you want to do is to get your target audience informed.
Shared your content on social media and entice your audience engagement.
With great content, you will sure to receive good readership, and a fair amount of shares from your social networks. When your content is worth sharing in your networks, it is definitely worth search engines’ attention to capture the interests and relate them to people who search for similar content.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Backlinks
As your content gets noticed and is useful and worth a value to someone, it will start to attract referencing as links from real users on their websites or blogs. That is the time when your website content is honored humanly and starts to harvest organic backlinks. And the more backlinks of this nature, the more highly will search engine respect your target content that is linked to.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Location Aware
Modern devices are also location aware. Modern search mechanics is also leveraging in this aspect.
If your website is about your business or products and services, it make sense to provide location based information. Such as your location of business or the product and services which the location is available.
It can be in the form of a location map on your website. Or putting up relevant location information on location aware tools such as Google My Business.
Modern search queries may give relevance to users searches by their location. Pretty neat for users looking for products or services that are near by.
Say for example, my company WhooshPro is based in Singapore and has our profile set up in Google My Business. Users in Singapore (or probably within a few kilometers away) who searched for related services or products nearby using a location aware device, may be prioritized to see related results located in the proximity. Which may include content from our website.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Web Analytics
With all the knowledge about SEO, you want to also know about your website visitors statistics so that you can look at areas which you may be able to fine tune. That is where web analytics tools comes in handy. Example Google Analytics.
You may be able to use the analytics to spot traffic trends to your website or usage trends on your website and learn about or make adjustments to your SEO effort.
Say you realised that one of your pages has got high direct landing page hits, you know that you could be doing something right on your SEO efforts.
Who knows with analytics provisioned from the same provider of the search engine, it may be possible (or is already so) for the search engine to know your website better, and to provide more relevant results for searches.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Search Optimization Tools
The best tool of all, might be search optimization tools from the search engines themselves. For example, the Google Webmaster’s Search Console. It provides all the things you need that directly relates to the search engine itself.
One very direct example will be the ability to spot backlinks easily from the search console. And you will be able to differentiate between quality and spammy backlinks and take necessary actions, especially against the spammy backlinks.
I particularly like the Queries – keywords or phrase – statistics that people use that yields matches for displaying search results. It gives very good insight about how you fair on getting your content out to the searchers.
Search statistics are also comprehensively presented where you can use to further optimize your website.
It is also worthwhile to link up (if available) the various tools that are affiliated (e.g. Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Search Console allows for linking). So that you could leverage on the linked features which are otherwise not available when the tools are operated stand alone.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Be Genuine and Fair
Write your own original content which are not copied from somewhere. Search engine respects content copyrights as well.
Avoid duplicating your own content as well, be it within your own website or in another of your own website. This may be treated by search engines as means to increase your website visibility and ranking – imagine if you are a search engine and you crawled two web content that are duplicates, which content are you going to give priority?
Do not attempt to use special tactics such as automated search engines submissions that attempts to artificially increase your ranking or automated submissions to directory sites to increase your backlinks.
Modern search engines are aware and can detect artificial methods and may penalize your website for all these.
Let your website’s traffic grow organically and through genuine human interactions and engagements.
Practical SEO Tutorial: Engage Professional Service
While you may want to do it yourself, it may actually be well worth if you focus on your core tasks. Such as writing quality content since you are best aware of what you wish to provide via the website. Let the professionals or experts do the SEO job for you. The experts may be able to do it faster and more efficiently. The cost to do it may well pay off for the time you spend dabbling yourself.
Time to up sell my company (based in Singapore) again – WhooshPro. We are also very capable of handling SEO for your website as well. If you need such a service, do give us a nudge 🙂
Keep it up, keep learning, keep exploring, keep in mind this Practical SEO Tutorial!
The Internet technology evolves at a very fast pace, and so does SEO. Although the fundamentals of SEO may stay the same for a long time, but don’t be caught by breaking changes and not getting your website up to date. In line with the progressions and trends of Search Engine Optimization techniques.
You will have to be savvy and diligent to keep up with the technologies.
Congratulations if you have reached this point! You definitely have what it takes to keep up, and make your website or pages optimized for search engines.
And thanks for reading up till this point! If you know a thing or two about SEO and I have not mentioned it here, or you have more insights about it, please leave some comments and share with me and those who are on the same page! Hope you enjoyed this practical SEO tutorial.
If you would like to see more of my technical know how go to my produce section.