Search Engine Optimization – How-to SEO Guide

SEO Defined

What is SEO: Search engine optimization is a collection of methodologies and best practices that help a website with expert information get more search engine traffic. It helps your site rank higher than competitors in the search engine results.

  • SEO helps to increase a website’s visitor traffic from search engine organic rankings.
  • SEO does that by making the site’s content more relevant and competent than the competition.
  • SEO influences relevancy by improving the internal and external factors that influence expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
  • SEO involves keywords, on-page content, links and mentions, server issues such as speed, page layout and performance, with a usual focus on Google search.
  • SEO is a major part of digital marketing that includes technical web programming expertise combined with business, persuasion, sales, luck, magic and a love for competitive puzzle solving.

SEO Methodologies

On-page optimization – the modification of page content, navigation, structure and experience to enhance the ranking of a page in the search results.

SEO involves many search engine optimization elements: on-page technical issues, on-page copywriting issues, expertness (inbound, outbound, and internal links), server issues, and Siloing. In general, based upon the needs of the SEO services often include comprehensive page edits including META tags as needed, keyword research, review and advice on Silo structure implementation, creating, adding or revising content, sitemap validation (crawled and XML), Google Search Console and Analytics validation, search engine ranking reports, monthly status teleconferences with clients, analytics reporting (search statistics), accompanied by comprehensive account management. Linking within the site or page (link magnet research and development, and other identified activities) will be validated.

The SEO will perform a review of the Website for key SEO elements believed to be important to facilitate organic search engine optimization. This review is conducted throughout the project to identify areas requiring repair. The SEO elements include site architecture and page construction (directory structure, layout, title, description, headings, image alts, and link tags), content (keyword frequency, density and distribution) and page speed performance. The purpose of the review is to identify SEO elements that could hinder the site from being well ranked in the search engines and will be used and adapted throughout the remainder of the SEO project. Since the eearch engines do not publish their ranking criteria or algorithms, a consulting project of this nature is based on professional experience, opinion and current beliefs – so to some extent it is a guess.

Off-page optimization – gaining organic authoritative inbound links from other websites, proper placement of outbound links to other expert sites, the management of sentiment in discussions and comments about your website, and general branding activities.

The SEO will perform a link analysis review for the website to identify potential penalties, recommending opportunities and risks associated with existing or future linking opportunities and identifying strategies for opportunities to improve the expert stature of the site through linking programs. This review is conducted throughout the SEO project to identify areas requiring repair. The review will include existing inbound and outbound linking practices, and may include tasks associated with the removal of poor and generally harmful existing links (link pruning tasks).

Server Optimization – this is a technical effort to improve site speed and performance by tuning the parameters and settings on the website server and content management system including plugins, image formats, content delivery networks, javascript and css file formats and processing, ecommerce implementations, templates, international considerations, spidering and indexing issues, and other activities to comply with various laws such as ADA compliance. Much of the Core Web Vital activity will occur here.

SEO Tools – there are hundreds of tools available on the market, some free and some paid. In most cases the paid tools are very comprehensive and powerful. In many cases they are specific to a task such as focusing on spidering a website. In other cases there are free tools, commonly for the DIY SEO to economically use… although many can fail, produce inaccurate information, or just plain not match data in other tools. The tools are commonly reporting one-size-fits-all numbers and suggestions and often are not focused on a problem specific to your website.

Access to tools that are paid and address specific data points and are designed for experts are recommended.

SEO Training – Since SEO is never done, training is never done. It is easy to take one of many “once-and-done” training courses but a real SEO knows that SEO training is perpetual. Normally the needed information flows fast and freely via Twitter or LinkedIn along with newsletters and blogs… but there is a lot of information, and much is speculation. SEOs need a site that focuses on continual training such as SEOtraining.com to complement their other readings if they want to remain current in their hectic and often chaotic daily SEO life.

The components of a solid training program starts with a great SEO course, often online and occasionally classroom, plus other deeper-dive subject courses, webinars, eBooks, Q&A videos and occasionally site reviews and even coaching. This, on a regular basis, is what allows a SEO to remain current.

How to do SEO: It takes strategy and skill to improve both internal and external factors that influence ranking. Our SEO Guide covers how to do SEO for yourself with steps to follow and tools to use. For a high-level summary, check our SEO: How and Why blog post.

If you can do SEO better than your competitors, and you provide equal or better content for users, then you should achieve higher search engine rankings. And you’ll have a quality website capable of maintaining your revenue goals.

What Is in This SEO Guide

We have many tools and run our own research about what works and what does not. Here you’ll find information and research results covering many recognized areas considered important: expertise, authority, trust, RankBrain, algorithm variables, linking strategies, server considerations, speed, schema and much more. The fact is, this SEO guide will lead you through what you need to get ranked.

Each lesson explains SEO basics and guides you to do hands-on optimization using free SEO tools and bonus videos. So you’ll improve your organic search marketing know-how and your website!

Starting line for the tutorial

  1. Keyword Research – How to Select Keywords
    Includes: Keyword Suggestion tool
  2. Competitive Research – Who’s Your SEO Competition?
    Includes: Top-Ranked Websites by Keyword tool
  3. SEO Competitive Analysis – Spy on Your Competition
    Includes: Single Page Analyzer
  4. Choosing Keywords for SEO Relevance
    Includes: Search Engine Optimization/KSP tool
  5. Key Considerations when Writing Content
  6. How to Use Keywords in Content
  7. How to Optimize Website Content for SEO
    Includes: SEO Multi-Page Information tool, Single Page Analyzer
  8. How to Submit a Website to Search Engines
    Includes: Check Server Page tool
  9. Sitemaps – How to Create a Sitemap
  10. Using Rich Media to Engage Your Site Visitors
  11. How to Optimize Multimedia Content for SEO
  12. Siloing – How to Structure Your Website
  13. Link Building – How to Attract Quality Links
  14. Avoiding Google Penalties
  15. Monitoring Backlinks and Link Pruning
  16. Technical SEO Tips
    Includes: SEO Cloaking Checker tool
  17. Mobile SEO and UX Optimization
  18. How to Monitor Search Engine Rankings & SEO Progress
    Includes: Single Page Analyzer
  19. Final encouragement – SEO: The Job That’s Never Done
  20. BONUS: Watch our free Executive’s Guide to SEO video training to learn the fundamentals in under one hour.

Go to Lesson 1

Bruce Clay quote with eagle flying

Why You Can Trust This SEO Guide

The Bruce Clay SEO Guide follows the proven methodology that thousands of students have learned in our SEO training courses. It is based upon SEO research and experiments.

These lessons cover only “white hat” SEO methods.

Everything you learn here adheres to search engine guidelines — to keep your site out of the penalty box.

In this SEO tutorial, you’ll learn how to optimize your content effectively for search engine rankings and resulting SEO traffic. You’ll learn how to find technical SEO problems on your site. And you’ll learn how to earn the expertise, authority and trust (E-A-T) that are the basis of Google’s definition of “quality.”

Bruce Clay set the standard for ethical web marketing by authoring the “SEO Code of Ethics.” This code has been translated into 18 languages. It has been a respected guideline in the ever-changing search marketing industry since 1996.

How Does a Website Rank, Anyway?

Search engines want to show the “best” results possible. They seek the most relevant, most expert and highest quality webpages that will satisfy the goal of the searcher.

To do this, the engines look at hundreds of factors (their ranking algorithm) to determine a webpage’s relevance to a search request.

Some of these factors are woven into the fabric of the website (on-page elements, server speed, etc.). Others are trust signals based on links from authoritative and reputable sites and, to some extent, social media engagement (off-page factors).

No single webpage, even with the best SEO practices and experts guiding the work, can be perfect in all 300+ ranking factors for the infinite number of keywords that exist. Search engine ranking comes from wisdom, expertise and sweat – and occasionally luck and magic. It definitely takes professionals to avoid it taking forever or the many pitfalls along the way. There is no “easy button”.

Further, no one knows precisely what the algorithm includes or how the factors are weighted to determine the search results for a given keyword or query.

So what’s a business owner or marketer to do?

This SEO guide teaches you a “beat the leader” approach to search engine ranking.

These are proven methods that have worked with our search marketing clients.

Think about it …

If you want to see what Google or Bing thinks is best for any specific query, you just need to look at the sites they are currently rewarding — the top-ranked results. Once you analyze what structural and content choices worked for the leaders, you can do even better. You can make your pages the “least imperfect”!

Then what is SEO? It is not secrets or tricks. As we said, it is ranking methodologies and “SEO best practices” to follow that help a site which offers value to users beat the competition in search results. The magic is in the knowing, just like an expert chef or artist – it is more than just science. You must be committed not just to optimizing your domain, but also to making it a quality site that attracts links naturally and is worthy of search engine ranking. Getting in the top 3 out of a million results is not going to come with an “easy button.”

SEO is a combination of digital marketing efforts all working together to increase a site’s value to users and visibility in search.

Watch this video for an entertaining intro to the role of SEO!

Ready to dive in? Go to Lesson 1!

It is not the job of search engine optimization to make a pig fly. It is the job of SEO to genetically re-engineer the website so that it becomes an eagle.

Bruce Clay

Creating a website that offers a good user experience is one goal. But the site must also achieve high rankings. That involves more than just tags and keywords, or content writing, or links, or speed. It requires an integrated SEO effort.

It is difficult to do this type of project without a proven SEO method and strong tools. This tutorial teaches you both. It’s like taking a free SEO training course on how to optimize your website!

Before you begin this guide, understand that being among the top 3 rankings in search engine results can be achieved, but not without great effort. Your webpages must earn that high ranking with high-quality content and best-practice SEO.

Even for the best websites, maintaining a top organic SEO ranking also requires monitoring and content rework. The work at hand never slows — but neither does your competition.

Ready to learn? Let’s get started! The Bruce Clay SEO Guide begins with keyword research.

Go to Lesson 1

 

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