What it is and why it is important
If you already have an understanding of why SEO works, feel free to jump on over to chapter: 2. Although, we recommend skimming down as we review best practices for both Google and Bing.
For the rest of you lets get started with SEO basics.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search engine optimization. It is the practice of increasing both the quality and quantity of non paid website traffic. This exposure to your brand from search engine results is known as organic traffic.
In order to optimize your website in search rankings you must understand what people are searching for online, what questions are they asking, the type of words they are using, the type of content they find useful. Knowing the answer to these questions will allow you to target and connect with potential customers.
Understanding your audiences intent is only half of the battle. You must also deliver the content in a way that search engine crawlers can find and understand.
What is a Search Engine?
Search engines are answer machines. They sort and organize billions of pieces of content and determine which content is most likely to answer your inquiry. They do all of this, discovering and cataloging by a process known as crawling and indexing. This is done ahead of time, which is why you get results so quickly when you type a question in Google
What is an organic search result?
As I said earlier, organic search results are those that are earned through effective SEO practice, not paid for.
The search engine results page, often referred to as SERPs, are filled with both advertising and dynamic organic results formats (called SERP features). Some examples of SERP features are Google My locations, Q&A answer boxes, Image carousels, even twitter cards. New SERP features continue to emerge driven mainly by what people are seeking.
For example, if you search “Cleveland weather, you will see a weather forecast directly in the SERP. Try searching “Restaurants near me” and you will get a list of restaurants along with reviews and directions directly in the SERP.
Some SERP features on Google are organic and can be influenced by SEO. It is worth noting that some features even though they aren’t paid advertising, can’t be influenced by SEO. These features are populated from data sources such as IMDB or Wikipedia.
White hat vs black hat SEO.
White hat SEO refers to SEO techniques, best practices, and strategies that abide by search engine rule, its primary focus to provide more value to people
Black hat SEO refers to techniques and strategies that attempt to fool search engines. While back hat SEO can work, it puts websites at risk of being penalized or de-indexed (removed from search results) and has other ethical implications.
Google webmaster guidelines (Directly from Google)
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t decive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. Ask “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
- Think about what make your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Avoid the following techniques:
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Creating pages with little or no original content
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value.
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses
- Abusing structured data markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
Follow good practices like these:
- Monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears
- Preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site.
If your site violates one or more of these guidelines, then Google may take manual action against it. Once you have remedied the problem, you can submit your site for reconsideration.
Bing webmaster guidelines
Bing has an extensive webmaster help & how-to.
Why are webmaster guideline important
Webmaster guidelines are important for all sites that Google or Bing has added to its index. So if you want to permanently display your website on the SERP, you need to seek to meet these requirements. Google recommends that you report any new website to Google.
We recommend that you create an account in Google Webmaster Tools and submit an XML sitemap..
Know your websites goals.
Knowing your website goals, is most important. It is tempting to understand how search rankings work and then cater your content to rank well. But what is the point of generating traffic if its just to appease bots and not your target audience.
Create valuable content for your target audience first. Then optimize that content for SEO second.