1. What is SEO anyway?
  2. Your top SEO questions answered
  3. SEO factors that rule today and beyond
  4. 3 Tips For Real Success In Search Engine Optimization
  5. Conclusion


These are just a few industry terms that SEO professionals use on a daily basis.

However, if you're a small business owner or you're new to the industry, they can't tell you what these acronyms stand for.

And it can seem intimidating to ask.

So what on earth is SEO? What does it all mean?

Do not worry. I will help you become fluent in the language of search engine optimization.

This post covers everything I know about SEO. Well, anything I could fit into at least 2,000 words.

What is SEO anyway?

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

At its core, SEO is the process of getting your website ranked as high as possible on Google when someone enters a "burrito blanket" (or whatever you're selling, promoting, or talking about).


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The higher the rank of your website, the more visible your business is and the more traffic and sales your business is likely to generate.

If you are just starting out with SEO you may be a little lost.

There are tons of websites, books, and guides out there (we even wrote one here in the Search Engine Journal) – and you may find that most of these resources contain conflicting information.

One reason SEO frustrates so many people is that it is constantly changing.

Why? Because when marketers stick their teeth into a new "strategy", they like to let it run into the ground.

Basically, we are the reason we can't have beautiful things.

In addition, Google is constantly updating its algorithm.

SEO is an endless battle to get more eyes on your website and convince Google that it is worth submitting search engines to your website.

Your top SEO questions answered

So what is important when it comes to SEO?

  • Is it just about the links?
  • Is the url structure really important?
  • What exactly is a meta description anyway?
  • Do you need to post a 2,000 word blog post four times a day?


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Before I dive into the more technical aspects of SEO, I'll answer the most frequently asked questions about SEO.

Is SEO Dead?

Yes. It is completely dead.

Our jobs are over. You should just stop now.

I'm mostly kidding.

I would argue that SEO is dying all the time. Think like Bill Murray on Groundhog Day.

When the strategies we know and love are replaced with newer, more effective strategies, SEO best practices die and new ones are reborn.

While it's not dead, search engine optimization is always changing. If you are to be successful at SEO, you have to be ready to roll with the blows.

What is the most important SEO factor?

There is no golden SEO factor that beats all others.

One of the most common answers you'll get in search engine optimization is, "Well, it depends …"

This may be frustrating, but it's the truth.

  • Are Links Important? Yes.
  • Do you need links to rank? Probably, but not necessarily.
  • Does the length of the content matter? Yes, but a shitty long post won't be superior to a short amazing post.

I could go on, but I think you understand.

How long does SEO take to work?

It depends on. (We are sorry!)

Only Google knows exactly how its algorithm works.

They publish updates and there are some lists of the most important ranking factors.

The truth is, SEO takes as long as it takes – that can be weeks or even months, depending on your strategy. If someone else does something just a tiny bit better, you might get bumped off the top of the SERPs.

What is the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to changes you make to your own website that affect SEO.

For example, add an XML sitemap to improve your SEO. Off-page SEO refers to SEO strategies that take place outside of your website, e.g. B. creating links to column content.

Link building is difficult – can't I just buy links?

You could. You can also run your hand through a blender – no one will stop you. But it's an ineffective SEO strategy.


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Instead of buying links, I'd recommend starting our guide on creating and buying links here.

SEO factors that rule today and beyond

Now that we've covered the basics, you can get your hands dirty.

Below are some of the most important SEO factors.

Keep in mind that SEO trends are always changing and what works now may not work in a few months.

Relevant, optimized content wins every time

There are a ton of technical SEO factors – site structure, anchor text, URL structure, and so on.

These details are important, but the backbone of SEO is high quality, optimized content. If you do that right, the rest of the search engine optimization will be a lot easier.

If you want to crack the first page on Google, you need relevant, well-optimized content that deserves links.

What do we mean by high quality content?

When developing content, keep the following in mind:

  • Keywords are still critical, but context is more important. Google crawlers are now analyzing the context and looking for related secondary keywords that share the searcher's intent.
  • Add clear, keyword-rich titles, meta descriptions, alt attributes, H1 tags and URLs. These factors tell Google that your website is relevant and that it is improving its ranking.
  • Length matters, but relevance is more important. Google says, "The amount of content required for the page to be satisfactory depends on the topic and purpose of the page."


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In short, make sure that any content you produce is written for people first and then optimized for Google.

Metadata matters

Metadata is the title and lines of text that appear on the search results page.

For example, if you google "who killed Carol Baskin's husband," you will see the following metadata:

What is SEO and how does it work?

Metadata tells the user what to expect when they click on the page.


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Optimizing your metadata is pretty easy:

  • Include relevant, but not repetitive, keywords and variations in the title and description.
  • Keep it short, but not too short. Google cuts off meta descriptions with around 160 characters. So aim less.
  • Be clear and concise so users know what to expect.

Think of metadata as ads for your content.

Why should users click? What can you tell them

Use the meta to promote clicks that drive traffic and lead to more traffic.

Links are important, but …

Links are a critical aspect of search engine optimization as long as Google is around.

In essence, links act as "voices" telling Google that other websites think your content is useful and relevant.

The more high quality, relevant links you acquire, the higher your website is likely to rank for related keywords.

In short, links are still fundamental to SEO.

However, quality is more important than quantity.

When investing in link building as part of your SEO efforts, target links from websites with high authority and traffic.

User experience (UX) influences rankings

The user experience (UX) plays an important role in the ranking of your website on Google.


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However, the user experience depends on a variety of factors such as: B. the infrastructure and layout of the website, the content, etc., which makes measurement difficult.

If you want to win in SEO, UX should be your top priority.

Here are some best practices that you should follow:

  • Make sure the page time and CTR is high and the bounce rate is low. These signals are not direct ranking factors, but optimizing your website for high engagement can be helpful indirectly. Happy users, happy Google.
  • Make your website easy to navigate. Improve the navigation of your website to ensure that the Google Way says users can quickly find what they are looking for. The “the simpler the better” approach works perfectly here. Navigation bars, drop-down menus, internal links and a site search help with this.
  • The speed of the website is very important. In an ideal world, your site should load in less than 2 seconds. Image compression, code and structure optimization and faster servers help. Start with Google's PageSpeed ​​Insights tool to see where you stand.

As Google gets smarter, UX is likely to play an even more important role in the future.

Now is the time to learn the basics and implement best practices on your website.

Mobile affairs more than ever

In 2018, Google switched to mobile-first indexing. This means that the search engine uses mobile versions of your website to rate your websites in terms of their results.

Moving from Google makes sense as more than 50% of the traffic worldwide is generated by a mobile device.

What does this mean for SEO?


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First, Google suggests investing in responsive design. You need to make your content consistent across desktop and mobile, and make sure your website loads quickly on both mobile and desktops.

In short, you need to update your mobile game or website to end up at the bottom of Google search results.

Don't ignore voice search

When it comes to language, there is a lot of conflicting information out there.

Google said back in 2016 that voice searches account for around 20% of all searches performed in the Google app.

Today, over a quarter of all Americans own a smart speaker. Still, 72% of marketers have no plans to optimize voice search.

Is voice search important? It does.

Voice search is growing in popularity and is likely to continue to do so. It shouldn't be your top SEO priority, but it makes sense to start with voice search optimization.

Here's why:

Most optimization strategies for voice search also make sense for semantic search.


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The following steps can help you optimize your website for voice search:

Voice search optimization isn't a must right now, but voice search optimizations generally make sense for Google and can give you a head start in the future.

3 Tips For Real Success In Search Engine Optimization

There are two types of SEO advice – the technical stuff I covered above, and then there are the basic principles of SEO. The technical stuff is about to change, but these SEO tips have stood the test of time.

If it appears shady, it will likely burn you

You may have heard of Black Hat, White Hat, and Gray Hat SEO.

Black Hat SEO refers to practices that are totally in violation of Google's Terms of Service. For example, create 10 websites and link them together to make Google look like your shitty bitcoin websites are legitimate.


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This is where the acronym PBN comes in.

Then there is a gray hat that might not be technically wrong, but it draws a thin (gray) line.

White hat is over the board, completely legitimate SEO. However, some have made convincing arguments that white hat is no longer really a thing.

Many SEO professionals go the gray hat line. And many of them are burned.

If you are to be successful in search engine optimization, you have to do things right.

If something feels wrong – like buying or selling links – it will likely burn you and torpedo your website.

Trust me. It's not worth the long-term risk.

Read real experts

There are many SEO experts out there.

Some of them claim to give you the top Google page "Guaranteed!" Others don't actually do SEO, but write a lot about it.

Follow the real SEO experts and take the advice of others with a grain of salt.


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What works for an e-commerce website in the technical field may not necessarily work for a restaurant specialty store.

Look for what's coming straight from Google from the likes of John Mueller and Gary Illyes.

Test, test, and retest

SEO is all about finding out what works for your website in your industry based on your unique landscape.

The only way to find out is to test – and test over and over again.

Keep in mind that all your work may be in vain if the latest algorithm update from Google makes changes, or if your competitor does something new.

Testing is an eternal part of any successful SEO strategy.


SEO is constantly evolving.

Any SEO professional would love to find the magic formula that will get their websites to the top of the SERPs and keep them there forever.

Unfortunately, that's not how SEO works.

There are rules and best practices, but the core of SEO is figuring out what works for your website or client and then changing it when it stops working.


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My final advice is:

  • Keep an eye on your competitors.
  • Follow the best practices.
  • Exam.

Selected image source: Paulo Bobita


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