SEO Basics

SEO-Expert Christian Kunz

Christian has been working in the Internet industry for many years. Within 1&1 he is responsible for all the projects regarding the Portal Search. As a recognized expert, he writes articles on SEO and he is an appreciated speaker within conferences. Christian posts regularly on the 1&1 Community information worth knowing about Search Engine Optimization and he gives tips on better placing your web page with WordPress.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Introduction

Search Engine Optimization (abbreviated SEO) describes all techniques that will help your website or a document reach as good a place as possible in the results of a search engine.

  • SEO helps improve the quality of the web pages thus creating added value especially for the visitors of the pages.
  • SEO also improves pages readability for the search engines. Thus, SEO contributes to quality optimization of the search results.

The article presents you the basis and sections of Search Engine Optimization. This basic understanding is important if you want to implement the techniques presented in the later articles.

SEO’s three sections

SEO is a marketing sub-discipline, in fact of Search Engine Marketing (abbreviated SEM). A large number of actions belong to it, all of them aiming to obtain better places for the websites and other documents within the results of a search engine. To be more specific it regards the so-called organic search results. Organic means that search results generated by computation are considered – not the paid search ads. It is the Search Engine Advertising or SEA that deals with the creation and optimization of paid search engine ads.

SEO Overview
SEO is realized especially for selected keywords. By better placing these keywords within the results, chances also grow that the page gets more visitors and thus, additional customers, subscribers, readers, buyers, etc.

Depending on whether the SEO measures are implemented within the website, or whether creation and maintenance of links on the website is concerned, there is Onsite or Offsite Optimization.

An essential element of SEO is also performance measurement and monitoring success. Usually, SEO measures are not immediately effective. Besides, the environment of a website is constantly changing. The search engine evaluation methods are changing and the competition is not asleep. So, it is important to check the current status regularly and to see if the measures taken have the desired impacts, or if new or adjusted measures are required.

Onsite Optimization

Onsite Optimization is related to all SEO measures taken within the website. The following sub-sections belong to Onsite Optimization:

  • Content
  • Technology
  • Design and Usability

Content

By far the most important part of Onsite Optimization is related to its content. The more relevant the content on a certain topic, the higher will Google rank the website for keywords of this topic. But it is not enough to use certain keywords as often as possible in a text in order to create topic relevance. Google, but also other search engines have become very clever in the meantime and recognize artificially manipulated texts. That is why the content should be always created so that to offer a value to the human visitor of a website.

That means: creating SEO compliant texts is an art, which requires both knowledge on how search engines work, and specialized knowledge on the topic in discussion.

This is valid not only for texts, but for all kind of contents that can appear in the search results, including images, videos, news, etc.

Technology

The technical optimization is also part of the Onsite-SEO.

Currently, the most important technical aspect is the speed of a website. The faster a website is, the better for the user and thus, for ranking the website. Additionally, it is an advantage also for Google if a website responds fast: in that case Google-Bot also needs less time to capture the page. And if you consider how many pages must be visited daily, then you can imagine how important the value is.

Besides: the increasing mobile Internet usage also increases the need for faster and leaner websites, as mobile usage is often limited by data bandwidth. Fast and lean pages provide significant advantages.

Depending on the Content Management System (CMS) used, you have distinct possibilities to influence the technology of a website. The common CMS such as Joomla or WordPress bring along for most of their requirements corresponding extensions that can be installed later on. There are extensions that help you avoid duplicate content, or others that ensure an optimized presentation on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets.

The performance of a website also depends on the user’s type of server and available network connection. There are many other factors that could have an influence, but describing them would overstep the available space.

Design and Usability

Navigation, font size, proportioning and much more: a well-conceived design and a good usability facilitate handling a website, and make the user feel comfortable, stay longer on the page and return. Then again this is registered by Google and other search engines, and can impact ranking.

A special focus must be on the website display on different devices. A website should appear exactly as good displayed on a tablet or a smartphone as on a desktop. The keyword is Responsive Design: which means the adjusted display of a website on the used terminal. As already mentioned, WordPress and other Web CMS offer already possibilities for Responsive Design.

Offsite Optimization

Google still considers links one of the most important ranking factors. A link stands for a website’s recommendation. But one link differs from the other. The quality of links makes the relevant difference. Bad or manipulated links can even damage. Bought or changed links have been reasons for Google to penalize websites lately. The name Penguin might be familiar: this name stands for certain updates with Google, aiming to recognize bad links.

Offsite optimization aims to improve the number and quality of links that indicate a website. For that, there are several possibilities: strictly speaking the only method complying with Google policy is to create high quality content. Others, who offer or promote links, are also accepted within a certain frame. There are many possibilities to get additional links. Among them are the posts in the social media such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter. Another link source is entering a website in directories, but it is hardly used. The quality of directories must be considered in this case.

The best links are those who can be found in edited content. Ideally, a link is placed in the text of a topic relevant post. Besides positioning it, the link text also plays an important part, meaning what words are to be linked. Theme-relevant keywords can be an advantage, but you must be careful. If all links on a website consist only of target Keywords, it appears unnatural for Google. So, it is best to consider a mixture.

Within these measures pay attention not to go beyond your objective and make sure to conduct a slow but consistent creation of links. Gathering too soon too many links, will appear suspicious to Google. Besides, pay attention what links you set, not to become victim of a “negative SEO campaign”. A “negative SEO” is when bad links are set on a page aiming to damage this page.

Success Monitoring

Constant monitoring and controlling belong to a SEO’s main tasks. There should be a concept to measure performance already before the begin of SEO measures. Measuring starts with an appraisal before the first SEO measures, and must be repeated regularly. Special SEO-Key indicators may be applicable, offering information about the performance of measures and described in a later post. Among the most important key indicators belong ranking target keywords and visibility indices, summing up rankings for distinct keywords and converting them to a single value.

What are the next steps?

The posts to come within this SEO series will regard individual optimization measures that can be easily implemented on the website. It will contain description of important SEO key indications and tips on the errors that you must avoid within SEO.

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