WHAT IS SEO? A COMPLETE STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Ranking on page one of Google for your key SEO search term is the smartest thing a business can do.

The position of your content on search engine results pages (SERPs) is referred to as ranking in SEO. A #1 ranking position indicates that your website is the top result when users search for a specific phrase.

With Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), we strive to get your listing to the first page of Google or within the top 10 results. 

 

As illustrated by the graph above, the results on page 1 of Google (1-10) are the most clicked when compared to the results on page 2 (2-30).

 

But you can see the massive drop from position one to position two and three. Basically position one is the goal.

 

Have you ever heard the SEO joke?

 

What's the best place to bury a dead body?

 

On the second page of Google.

Source: https://backlinko.com/google-ctr-stats

Source: Backlinko.com

Search ads are great, but when you stop giving Google $$$, they switch off the ad and your traffic dies.

Having a website that ranks on page one of Google means that you will have a continuous source of traffic - one that never dries up. On average, position #1 on mobile gets you 27.7% of the overall clicks and position #1 on desktop gets you 19.3% of the overall clicks.

The challenge is that most people don't know how search engines work, which can lead to misunderstandings about how to optimise websites for better search engine visibility.

A lot of people think that if they just put the right keywords in their website content and titles, their site will show up at the top of all search engine results. Unfortunately, this is not the case - there are a lot of factors that go into how search engines rank websites.

Search engines use a variety of methods to determine which websites are the most relevant for a given query.

In this guide you will learn (Table of Contents):
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    Let’s get started.

    What is SEO/Search Engine Optimisation?

    SEO, at its most basic, is a set of strategies aimed at increasing the visibility and positioning of web pages in organic search results.

    Because organic search is the most popular way for people to find and access online information, an SEO plan is critical for increasing the quality and amount of visitors to your website.

    Consider it this way. When someone searches for "gluten-free pasta," they are most likely looking for a brand, recipes, product information, and instructions on how to make it themselves.

    What is SEO check

    You'd want people to find your products if you wrote an article about making gluten-free pasta. In order to do so, you will need to outrank all other websites with gluten-free pasta recipes for anyone to find it. 

     

    It is challenging, but not impossible. That is the beauty of SEO.

    Why is SEO Important?

    Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be a massive source of the traffic to your website. The three most popular search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The most popular search engine for driving traffic to your website by far is Google.

    “In September 2021, online search engine Bing accounted for nearly 7% of the global search market, while market leader Google had a market share of 86.64%. Meanwhile, Yahoo's market share was 2.75% during that period.” - Statista, 2021

    How Search Engines Work

    SEO works by optimising your website for search engines you want to rank, whether it's Google, Bing, Amazon, or YouTube. 

    When most people think of "search engine optimisation," they think of "Google SEO." Because Google is the largest search engine by far, we’ll be showing you how to optimise your site for Google’s algorithm. 

    Google RankBrain is a part of Google's core algorithm that employs machine learning and artificial intelligence to find the most relevant search engine results. 

    There are over 200 Google ranking factors that the spider looks at when deciding which page and position your website should appear at.

    The Spider looks at things like:

    • URL
    • Headings
    • Images
    • Text
    • Video
    • How long people stay on a page
    • But more on this below!

    To appear on page one position one, you need to make sure that your page is the BEST page in your region, about that topic.

    I. Organic Search and Paid Search (PPC)

    Search engine results are classified into two types: organic search results and paid search results also known as pay-per-click or PPC.

    ORGANIC SEARCH

    Organic search results are results that are ranked solely on their relevance to the keyword and rankability, you don’t pay for them to appear, they appear on merit and are ‘free’. 

    There is no way to bribe Google or other search engines to get better rankings in organic search results. Or there is, it’s called Paid Search. You pay to play.

    PAID SEARCH

    Paid search or paid advertisements are entirely separate from organic search results. 

    Pay Per Click Advertising, or PPC, is used to display ads in the paid results section of Google based on how much they are willing to pay for a single visitor from a specific set of search results.

    Organic and Paid search

    How SEO Benefits Your Business

    This year, the demand for SEO has reached an all-time high. As consumers move en masse to the internet, even the most traditional businesses recognise the need to accelerate the transition to digital.

    We recently worked on an SEO project for a leading BPO agency in South Africa. We conducted an in-depth SEO audit to help us find some key SEO roadblocks, current rankings for existing pages and understanding crafting SEO plan going forward.

    Their website saw an upward trend in SEO visibility through keyword and content optimisations and was fully optimised and developed.

    This resulted in an 86% increase in page 1 rankings within the first 6 months and a 45% increase monthly in new SEO traffic.

    BPO Client SEO chart

    HERE ARE 6 WAYS SEO CAN BENEFIT YOUR BUSINESS:

     

    1. USER-FRIENDLY WEBSITES

     

    Websites that are well-structured, clean, and uncluttered entice casual visitors to stay longer, lowering bounce rates and increasing page views.

     

    Highly relevant content keeps your readers happy because it answers their questions, solves their problems, and helps them find what they're looking for on your site. Having an SEO strategy helps you achieve this.

     

    2. BRING IN MORE CLIENTS

     

    The most cost-effective marketing strategy available today is SEO or search engine optimisation. SEO attracts customers who are actively looking for your product or service. Businesses with SEO-optimised websites bring in MORE customers and grow twice as fast as those without.

     

    3. BEAT THE COMPETITION

     

    The most significant advantage of SEO is outranking rivals on search engine results pages (SERPs). When your target audience searches for your products or services on Google, they are presented with a long list of results; when you appear above rivals at the top of the results, more people will be able to contact your company.

     

    4. IMPROVED CONVERSION RATES

     

    Websites that have been optimised for SEO load faster, are easier to read and navigate and look great on almost any device, including smartphones and tablets. 

     

    Websites that are simple to read and navigate are more likely to capture and retain the interest of your readers or visitors, all factors that Google looks at.

    5. BUILD BRAND AWARENESS

     

    Building brand awareness for your business is one of the advantages of better SERP ranks. The higher you rank, the more people will see your product or services.

     

    The first page of Google results is where you want your site to rank. It will help build trust and make it more likely that people click on links in those sites, boosting their search rankings overall!

    6. SUSTAINABLE SEARCH TRAFFIC

     

    SEO is the most cost-effective source of website traffic in the long run because it produces high-quality traffic with purchase intent and an improvement in ROI over time.

     

    The longer you engage in strong SEO strategies, the less expensive it is to drive each visitor to your website. That is something that no other traffic source does.

    The 8 Most Important Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Ranking Factors

    SEO is one of the most important aspects of a business' online presence. It can be the difference between being found by customers and being lost in the crowd. But what are the most important ranking factors? According to recent studies, here are eight of the most significant:

     

    1. Site Security - Google has spoken about site security as a ranking factor since 2014. It's now considered one of the most essential Google ranking criteria. A recent study by Hubspot showed that 82% of people leave a website that is not secure. The use of HTTPS encryption is referred to as site security. SSL certificates are used to provide a secure connection between a website and its visitors and add an extra degree of protection. Ask your hosting provider about this.
    2. Optimised Content - Optimising your content for relevant keywords helps you rank on Google. Beware of duplicate content because when it comes to SEO, fresh, original content is always best. If you do have similar content, be sure to use a canonical URL.
    3. Domain Authority - The Domain Authority score is a search engine ranking number that indicates how successful a website is in terms of search engine results.
    4. Mobile Friendliness - The term "mobile-friendly" refers to the way a website looks and behaves when viewed on a mobile device. Optimising your site for mobile is especially important because as of 2021, 52% of all website traffic around the world came from mobile phones.  Mobile-friendly websites provide a positive user experience by using responsive design to ensure content can adapt to any screen size.
    5. Webpage Load Speed - Websites that take too long to load create a poor user experience. Because search engines understand that consumers want answers as quickly as possible, they prefer to show fast-loading web pages to visitors. Google revealed that its Speed Update would make mobile search load speed an important ranking factor.
    6. Engagement of users - Search engines assess the activity of users to identify which pages to promote in search rankings. Google does this through the use of an artificial intelligence engine known as RankBrain.
    7. Targeted Keywords - Create content strategically by doing keyword research to determine which keywords to target and what to write about. The process of discovering popular keywords that might generate traffic to your site is known as keyword research.
    8. Backlinks - Backlinks are an indicator that a website is trustworthy and authoritative to search engines. Off-page SEO factors like the quantity and quality of links to your site have a big impact on your search rankings in fact 91% of all pages never get any organic traffic from Google, mostly due to the fact they don’t have backlinks.

    The 5 Different Types of SEO in Digital Marketing

    Many companies view SEO as a one-size-fits-all activity, but that's not the case. There are actually five different types of SEO, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. It's important to know which type of SEO is right for your business and to tailor your strategy accordingly.

     

    Here are five key types of SEO that we can help you get started with:

    1. Technical seo

    Technical SEO refers to the actions taken to assist search engines in crawling, indexing, monitoring and improving user experience (UX) on your website. 

    These requirements change as search engines and their algorithms become more complex, suggesting that this type of SEO is always evolving.

    The following technical SEO issues should be addressed:

     

    • Website Structure – To keep your site structure tidy, use HTTPS hypertext, a user-friendly and consistent URL structure, a simple navigation hierarchy, and consistent internal links.

     

    • Overall Website Speed – Faster website performance is usually preferable, and Google has lately included a range of load time characteristics as ranking considerations. Make your template as minimal as possible, reduce redirects, and optimise your aesthetics.

     

    • Mobile-friendliness – Mobile optimisation ensures that mobile visitors have an optimised experience for their mobile device by taking site design, structure, page speed, and other factors into consideration to ensure a quality mobile user experience.

    2. On-Page SEO

    On-page or on-site SEO is when you optimise the content on your website, this includes body content, keywords, headers, meta titles, meta descriptions, pictures, and other elements. 

    This factor is one of the most important in SEO as 57% of marketing executives say on-page content development was the most effective SEO tactic.

     

    The following On-Page SEO efforts should be addressed:

     

    • Research Relevant Keywords – Performing keyword research on search terms with high relevance and search volume allows you to properly map out your content hierarchy. Once you’ve determined the right keywords, create relevant content that answers your potential clients’ burning questions.

     

    • Use Proper Internal Linking – Internal links are URLs that link to different pages on your website. Internal links are attached to anchored texts. By inserting links on your targeted keywords and linking to high domain authority pages, Google is able to read your site much easier.

     

    • Optimise your Webpage Metadata – Google and other search engines rely on metadata to determine the content of our pages. To improve your chances of ranking higher, make sure your meta titles and meta descriptions contain relevant keywords.

    3. Off-Page SEO

    Off-page SEO focuses on increasing your company's visibility and credibility, which can lead to increased visits and revenue.

    The majority of off-page SEO efforts focus on link building, as it is considered one of the most important factors affecting your website's SEO ranking efforts.

    The SEO tool created by Neil Patel, UberSuggest, has a feature that identifies the average amount of backlinks a site would need to rank on the first page of Google, see below.

    UberSuggest Tool in action

    The following Off-Page SEO efforts should be addressed:

     

    • Competitor research – To start, analyse the backlinks acquired by one of your largest competitors. Identify the links they have acquired and which sites will allow them to hyperlink effectively.

     

    • Publishing Blogs on other sites – Another way to effectively grow strong backlinks from high ranking domains is to publish your blogs on other relevant sites. Sites like Medium and Reddit allows you to publish your blog posts and articles on their site.

     

    • Reaching out to Reporters – Signing up to press alerts like Media Alerts and writing relevant articles or supplying previously written relevant content to reporters and independent journalists allows you to build backlinks to other high domain sites. 

    4. Local SEO

    Local SEO focuses on a specific geographic location. Local SEO is about expanding your online presence in your local town and marketing your products or services to local clients.

    Your Google My Business profile is frequently used to assess how well you rank on Google. You must include your address, business hours, description, reviews, and images when creating your Google My Business profile.

    Local SEO and Google My Business

    The search engine results pages will examine proximity, relevancy, and prominence based on the user's search query and will select your business if you match the essential requirements.

    5. International SEO

    International SEO in action

    International SEO is nothing more than optimising a website to target people from different countries. People in various countries that speak different languages may be interested in your website.

    International SEO can help you in a variety of ways. You can use it to broaden your audience base based on the languages you speak and the areas you want to target. Search engines recognise the locations you want to target when you use global SEO. 

    These are the following types of International SEO:

    Multilingual SEO:

    It usually involves including localised keywords and phrases in your translated content to ensure that users can find it in their native language.

    The most significant overlap between multilingual and international SEO is the use of Google's recommended Hreflang tag. From a technical SEO standpoint, this is the most important and effective way to target audiences who speak different languages and/or live in different countries.

    Multiregional SEO:

    Is the practice of developing optimised website content for multiple geographic regions.

    It makes little sense to set up your website for multiregional SEO if you are not doing business in other countries. But if your business is expanding and servicing clients around the world, a multiregional website provides the same product or service in two different countries, allowing you to drive organic traffic to your site.

    Multilingual and multiregional SEO is also related to other parts of digital advertising. Conversion rate optimisation, pay per click advertising, and content strategy is a few examples.

    Featured resource:

    Meaning of SEO and SEM: What are the Differences?

     

    We have already discussed in-depth the definition and meaning of SEO. Let's dive into SEM. Search Engine Marketing (SEM, also known as PPC as mentioned above) is a type of internet marketing that involves increasing visibility primarily through paid advertising of websites in search engine results pages (SERPS). 

     

    The primary distinction is that SEM drives traffic via paid advertising, whereas SEO drives, monitors, and analyses organic (unpaid) traffic.

     

    SEO is one of the most effective long-term marketing strategies and is a real investment in your business because it gives you free organic traffic 24-hours a day, seven days a week. SEM or PPC only works if you pay for ads. Otherwise, page views come to a stop along with website traffic.

    SEO Keywords: Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis

     

    When it comes to SEO, keyword research is one of the most important steps. If you're running a business, it's important to know what your competition is doing.

    Keyword research and competitor analysis can help you understand what keywords your competitors are targeting, as well as what strategies they're using to rank higher in search engines.

    This information can help you fine-tune your own marketing strategy and stay ahead of the curve.

    keyword research

     

    Keywords are the holy grail of SEO. Everyone is looking for that high-search-volume keyword that hasn't previously been targeted by everyone else in the industry. 

     

    Before you consider your competition, you must first determine which keywords are the most appropriate, valuable, and realistic for your business.

     

    Your keyword research, like most things in modern marketing, should not be product-centric; rather, you should always begin keyword research from the standpoint of your potential customers. 

     

    You must first understand your customer's goals, wants, pain spots, and the customer journey they will take to make a purchase or use your services.

    Step one, log into UberSuggest or a similar platform and start your journey to discovering which keyword you should target.

    seo keywords overview

    Competitor Analysis

     

    It's critical to distinguish between your direct business competitors and your digital competitors when conducting an SEO competitor analysis. Your digital competitors are essentially the internet domains that compete to rank for the same keywords as you do.

     

    They may not exist in the same overall market as you, provide the same products or services as you, or plot your destruction in the same way that your direct competitors can.

     

    Again, UberSuggest will give you ideas here.

    How to Track Your SEO With Google Analytics & Search Console

     

    Google Analytics contains useful information that your company can use to monitor and improve SEO performance. The main benefit Google Analytics provides are competent reports to help you understand how visitors interact with your website. 

     

    The six important Google Analytics reports include:  

     

    1. Landing Page report
    2. Channels report
    3. New vs Returning Visitor report
    4. Site Search report
    5. Behaviour Flow report

     

    The Google Search Console is, without a doubt, the best free source of SEO performance data for your website. The issue is that, while the data is fantastic, it is not always clear how to use it.

     

    Google Search Console helps your business answer the following questions: 

     

    • Which search terms bring the most visitors to my site?
    • Which website pages receive the most search engine impressions and clicks?
    • What are the average click-through rates for our web pages? 
    • What is the average position in search results for our website pages?
    • How many clicks have our web pages generated in search results over a given period?

     

    Both Analytics and Search Console are free, you might need your developer to help you insert the code into your website, or your hosting company can assist.

    [SEO Checklist] 5 Steps to Publishing Successful Blog Posts

     

    Writing fresh content is key to ranking in Google and blogs tick this as well as many other boxes. The average content length of the top position Google article contains 2,416 words.

     

    You'll need a checklist to write successful blog posts. What is the objective? You want your blog post to appear high in the search rankings and in the search results that people see whenever they perform a search.

     

    1. Use an SEO related blog title that answers potential visitors related queries.
    2. Spread your target keywords effectively across your page. 
    3. Format your blog with on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
    4. Use social media to promote your blog post.
    5. Use a relevant featured image that will appear on all social platforms.

     

    And lastly, creating up to four blog posts a week will go a long way in driving up rankings. 

     

    Oh, and remember to cross-link them to each other!

    7 SEO Tools and Software To Drive Traffic, Clicks and Sales in 2022

     

    Did you know that 91% of all B2B companies are using content marketing? Furthermore, effective content marketing is projected to grow even more over the next few years. So if you're not using it yet, now is the time to get started. The problem is, where do you begin? With so many options out there, it can be difficult to know which tools and software are worth your investment. That's why we've put together this list of seven SEO tools and software that will help you drive traffic, clicks and sales in 2022.

    1. UberSuggest

     

    There are numerous keyword tools available to assist you in finding keywords and determining search volume. Unfortunately, most of them require payment to be truly useful. Ubersuggest, which hosts a number of useful functionalities, is an exception to the rule. And it's all for free.

    Ubersuggest SEO Tools

    2. Google Search Console

     

    Google Search Console is essentially a redesigned version of Google Webmaster Tools. Google search console supplies relevant information like the number of clicks based on keyword phrases, impressions, average click-through rate and average position.

    Google Search Console SEO Tool

    3. Google Analytics

     

    Google Analytics is essentially a redesigned version of Google Webmaster Tools. Google analytics supplies relevant information like user data, page sessions, bounce rates and overall acquisition channels. 

    Google Analytics SEO Tools

    4. MozBar [Extension]

     

    MozBar is a free chrome extension created by Moz that gives you quick access to basic SEO information. MozBar supplies relevant information like domain authority, domain authority trends, referring domains and the number of backlinks a website has.

    MozBar SEO Tools

    5. SEMrush

     

    SEMrush is a simple SEO software that encompasses various stats that help you navigate how to improve your SEO efforts. It was created in 2018 when SEO software was just starting to gain market traction and has since become one of the leading SEO software tools in the marketing industry.

    SEMrush SEO Tools

    6. yoast

     

    Yoast is a powerful WordPress plugin tool that helps you optimise your website's content and keywords to improve its search engine rankings. Much of what Yoast SEO does is automated, but it still requires you to fill in relevant on-page information. 

    Yoast SEO Tools

    7. Google Structured Data Testing Tool

     

    Google’s Structured Data is a useful way to communicate the information on your page in a way that search engines can easily understand. It is quite a technical tool and is not always easy to implement. The structured data testing tool allows you to see if your implementation is correct.

    Google Structured Data Testing Tool SEO Tools

    SEO Resources and Training

     

    This step-by-step guide is only a starting point to learning about SEO. But there's still a lot to learn.

    If you or someone on your team wants to learn these skills, check out the Digital Marketing Academy’s SEO and Google Analytics Training Course.

    Looking for the BEST SEO Agency in South Africa?

     

    Shift ONE Digital is a butt-kicking digital marketing and SEO agency with branches in Cape Town and Hannover, Germany. We have the ability to help you rank high for competitive keywords in your industry, cost-effectively.

     

    We do more than SEO in South Africa. We have worked with the top companies around the world; in fact, we’ve recently launched ShiftONE.EU to better service our clients around the globe.

     

    So whether you're based in Austria or Zambia, we'll make an effort to learn about your company's location and rank you for local search phrases.

    Frequently Asked Questions about SEO [SEO FAQs]

    Improve your on-site SEO by adding LSI keywords to your page. Monitoring your technical SEO and improving your overall website experience. 

    At Shift ONE Digital, we believe that one of the most important SEO ranking factors is content. Search engines prioritise sites with well-researched, in-depth, and well-written content because they want to provide the best results possible.

    SEO is an investment, not an expense. Search engine optimisation allows you to increase traffic without paying for every click.

    Pay Per Click, or PPC is an effective approach to enhance your SEO efforts and increase relevant visitors. We recommend PPC on a case-by-case basis at Shift ONE Digital, based on your individual needs, the industry your business is in, and the competitiveness of the keywords you wish to target. At least take out ads until your organic rankings improve.

    Ethical SEO agencies cannot guarantee anything over which they have no control, and any company that claims to be able to should be avoided. However, our SEO returns results within 3-6 months in nearly every case.

    Because search engines are constantly evolving, there is no way to know how a site will rank 100 per cent of the time, and guaranteeing rankings would be unethical.

    Boost Your SEO Efforts With Shift ONE

    This step-by-step guide has a lot of information, so we hope you got something of it. Keep this page in mind as you progress through your SEO marketing journey. 

    The first important thing to realise about SEO is that there are no shortcuts. You must do things well and go the additional mile if you want to stand out.

    If your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) lacks strategy, or if your website is losing traffic, there’s a problem. If you want to see results, plan on devoting at least six months to it and continue to optimise your content regularly.

    Contact Shift ONE Digital today to kickstart your SEO.