SEO for dummies

Charlotte Vermeulen

Digital Marketing Consultant

It’s Monday and after the weekend you probably don’t want to cook, so you start thinking about eating out, but where should you go? Google it! You are going to Crete, but you don’t know what to visit? Must sees in Crete is a great search query! You want to buy a new headphone? Google it!

The figures confirm that we are searching a lot: 3.5 billon searches are made daily, resulting in 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide (*). That’s a huge amount! Keep on reading if you want to find out more on search queries, search engines such as google and search engine optimization (SEO) in general.

1. What is SEO in short?

Depending on the perspective, it can be described differently.

From a searcher’s point of view a search engine presents him/her the best fit to his/her search query.

From a company’s point of view, SEO is all about increasing its website’s visibility on search engines and rank as high as possible for the keywords it is interested in.

2. Who or what is involved?

In SEO the searcher/user, the search engine and the company/web page have each a role to play.

The user will go to search engines because he’s looking for information (informational), for a specific website (navigational) or he wants to buy something (transactional). These are referred to as the user’s intent or what he wants to achieve with his search query. This intent is of great importance for the companies optimizing their website, we’ll come back to that later.

Once the search query is typed in the search bar (Google, Yahoo, Bing…), it’s up to the search engine. It will crawl different webpages to discover available content, index (i.e. store and organize) the webpages and eventually rank the pages in the search engine result page (SERP) by how well it matches the search query. Therefore, it is important that the company’s webpage is visible for the search engine. You can check this by typing “site:yourdomain.com” in the search bar and see whether your webpage comes up in the SERP.

Next is the company’s webpage which the searcher is looking for and which the search engine will have to provide on the SERP.  The company has two tasks: making the webpage as user-friendly and appealing as possible to the user as well as making the content visible and clear enough for search engine crawlers to find.

3. Analyze before going into action

As mentioned, the company will have to think about the user and the search engine.

Answering following questions about the user might be a guide to make a webpage user-friendly:

  • What are they searching for online?
  • Which words do they use?
  • Which type of content do they like?
  • How do they search?

These answers will lead you to people’s intent and will tell you how you can best optimize your content for the user.

How do you start? Once you gathered the answers for these questions (for example out of Google Analytics and Google Search Console), you can start by typing in the keywords in search engines and evaluate the current SERP (Search Engine Results Page). If for example, there’s a photo carousel in your SERP, it’s probably because people who search for that keyword are looking for pictures. Check your competitors and see what is working for them. Once you know the keywords for which your company isn’t ranking high enough but should, you can start thinking about how to incorporate these in your website’s content to satisfy both searchers and search engine.

4. What can you do?

Two main parts that affect SEO are linking and content. There’s also a more technical SEO part that affects SEO but in lesser extent.

  • Linking

Inbound links/backlinks: links from other websites that point to your website. This is important for SEO because it builds a sense of authority and trust for your users and the search engine meaning that you will rank higher.

Internal links: links on your own website referring to other pages on your site. This is important for the search crawler, so it easily can find different webpages. For the user it makes the organization of the content clear and easy to navigate over to other webpages on your site.

  • Content

Content doesn’t only refer to text, but to video, images and anything that searchers can use in their query. Important here is that you share content that answers the searcher’s query.

In publishing content such as images, make sure to compress the sizes because everything you place on your website will probably slower the load speed of it. To check your load speed, use the pingdom tool. Having a fast loading website is good for your users as well as for the search engine.

  • Technical SEO – HTML elements

In HTML you can add different elements to make your website crawl accessible, so engines can reach and index your content. Follow the next best practices:

Header tags: a HTML element that points out headings on your page. For example, the H1 is the main title, while the H2-H6 could be subtitles. This should be a unique H1, describing the main topic of the page and including keywords. Wonder how it looks like?

<h1>Page Title</h1>.

Title tags: the title of a particular web page. This text will show up in the SERP as the title of each block. It has a big role to play in the first impression that users get from you, so make a compelling title.

Meta descriptions specify the contents of the page users are on. In the SERP, it is the short description that you can read.

URLs displayed on SERPS, meaning that URL naming and format can impact how many people click through. Users use URLS to decide whether to click or not and crawlers evaluate and rank pages on search engines, so make it clear, organize your content and include keywords.

5. Keep changes in mind

Ranking number 1 used to be the main goal for companies because then you were visible for consumers but Google has been adding search results in new formats on its SERPS. These are showed above the “normal” results with Title, URLs and short description, meaning that companies should also optimize in these formats. In below examples you’ll see that the first result is a featured snippet, then video’s and then a people also ask box and only then “normal” results. This means you will also have to think about how you can optimize your content to be shown in such formats.

What’s next?

Stay tuned, next time I’ll be writing about SEO in more detail. In the meantime, check the blogpost on the effects of voice search on SEO. If you want to be updated on similar topics, check the other blogposts and subscribe to our newsletter!

Need an expert to optimize your SEO?

At Minds&More, we have a strong team of digital natives to help you with your digital marketing strategy.

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