20 Basic SEO Principles

Search Engine Optimization or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is an effort that anyone with a web page should invest in to make their site more attractive to search engines. The reason is simple: if you are not discoverable by search engines, then all your efforts to build and maintain your site will simply be in vain.

Search engines are your invaluable helper to promote your business or blog organically without investing in advertising. To a large extent, thanks to search engines, your site will come to the so-called. organic traffic – priceless from a marketing point of view.


What is organic traffic?

Organic traffic is page activity as a result of searching for keywords in a search engine and clicking on a result with your site. In other words: you sell home textiles online, a user types in the search engine: “elastic bed sheet”, the search engine “understands” that such items are offered on your site and displays a page from the site as a result. The user, in turn, clicks on the link to your page. This is organic traffic.

Position matters (a lot).

A search usually brings up at least a few pages of results, each of which has about a dozen sites. Of course, ideally your site would be first. If you have achieved it – congratulations. If not, keep in mind that it is important to be as close to the beginning as possible. Here’s why: a study by backlinko of 874,929 pages and 5,079,491 search queries shows that an organic search result that ranks first is 10 times more likely to get a click than a page that ranks 10- that position. On average, moving your site forward one position increases the likelihood that a user will click on it by 30.8%.

However, it matters here exactly where you were in the order of results. If you go from number 10 to number 9, the effect will not be very noticeable, but a jump from third to second position leads to a significant improvement in CTR (click-through rate). Here is the place to specify that the CTR indicator indicates the share of clicks on your link from all views. For example, if your link was seen by 1000 people and 200 of them clicked on it, the CTR is 20%.

It is worth trying to “please” the search engines and they will bring your site to a higher possible position. Here are some of the most basic guidelines on how to make this happen.

The key words

1. Use keywords. Clearly define the theme of your site and update it regularly with content that includes the main keywords you would like to be found for.

 However, remember above all that you are writing for people. Structure your content with your users in mind, not search engines. Don’t risk alienating your users with excessive keyword stuffing and a lack of adequate and useful content.

Key phrases

2. In addition to keywords, insert key phrases, use synonyms, think about the different ways you would do a search in the Google search bar yourself. Make a list of them and weave them into the content in a natural way, thus you will significantly help the optimization.

Google specifically revamped its search engine with its BERT update to help the user find what they’re interested in, even when they make a typo or misspell an entire word in their search. Based on the remaining words, the mechanism guesses what the user wanted to write and shows him exactly such results.

The content

3. Content matters. It is important not only to attract, but also to keep users on your site. In fact, the second is even more difficult. For this purpose, the content must be useful and comprehensive. For search engines, it matters how long the user spends on your site, as well as whether, after opening one page, he continues to the second and third. The longer it stays on your site, the more useful the page appears to search engines.

Post content regularly. No matter how valuable the content on your site is, it’s not enough to “rest on old laurels.” You need to publish regularly to show search engines that your site is active, updated periodically, and thus becoming richer and more useful for users.

Internal titles

4. Use internal headings. This achieves two results. On the one hand, you divide the entire text into smaller meaningful parts. This saves the user from facing a wall of sentences and makes it much easier. On the other hand, the title blocks suggest to Google which are the main meaning parts and which are the keywords for the text, respectively, they additionally help the SEO of the site.

Internal links

5. We’re getting to the point with internal links. To increase the chance that the user will open the next page, it is a good approach to put internal links in the appropriate places. You can direct the user to a similar product, or if you have a blog, refer the reader to an article on a similar article.

For example, if you run a food blog and post a raw candy recipe, it’s a good idea to point out that in a one-to-one link readers can see other no-bake dessert recipes. Once the user has clicked on the raw candy recipe, it’s quite likely that some other no-bake dessert recipe will catch their eye as well.

Links to other sites

6. Links to other sites. If your site links to serious and established pages, it signals to Google that it is itself serious and worthy of attention. Therefore, when appropriate, you can direct your readers to a page from another site. This approach is often used when citing a study, article, or simply interesting content. It’s important to choose the referral well so you don’t score an own goal and lose the user.

And one more thing – adjust your site settings so that the links open in a new tab. This will ensure that if the user wants to return to your site and the content they were viewing, they can easily do so. It’s not a good idea to go overboard with external links, though. Nothing is too good.

Links to your business

7. While we’re on the link wave – it would be great if already established and indexed by search engines link to yours. On the one hand, in this way, visitors will be directed to your site, which from any angle you look at it is additional traffic, and on the other hand, in the eyes of search engines, part of the authority of the existing pages will be transferred to yours. That’s why it makes sense to strive to create the most useful and comprehensive content and, respectively, offer quality products.

SEO for photos

8. It is highly recommended that the site, in addition to text, also has visual content. It is a well known truth that a picture is worth a thousand words. Videos are also a powerful attention grabber, so if you have your own videos, use them.

Be sure to fill in the alt text fields. In other words, write a description for the photo. This makes it easier for search engines to “read” it by telling them what the image contains and when they can return it as a successful search result. If your site is about cosmetics, and the picture has a woman on the beach to illustrate the sunscreen page, you can put the alt tag “woman with sunglasses and a hat on a beautiful beach”. It is not advisable to accumulate keywords for your own sake, as this can become a disadvantage instead of an advantage. The reason is that Google may consider it an attempt to mislead by artificially accumulating keywords.

Optimization for videos as well

9. The same goes for videos – make it easy for search engines and set keywords/phrases to tell them what the video is about and improve SEO.

Unique content

10. Regarding visuals – unique content is important for both text and images. It is best to use your own photos/images. They are more highly valued by search engines.

Analyze traffic

11. Analyze where the traffic to your site is coming from, who are the main group of users – what gender and what age group, what type of content they prefer. When you have these answers, you can focus your efforts to meet their interests and accordingly provide information that is valuable to your users.

Meta description

12. Enter a meta description. To begin with, let’s explain what a meta description is – it’s those few lines of text that appear just below the page title in the search results list. It is important that this text is different and valid for each individual page/each post.

Often these lines, in addition to the title, become the reason for the user to click or not on your link. In other words, you are required to explain in a few words to your potential users the content of your particular page/post. If you’re building your site through code and have the technical skills to do so, you can set this description directly in the code. If the technical part is not your thing and you work on Word Press, there is a much easier option – through a plug-in to the site. One of the good ones is Yoast SEO. It has a free version that you can freely use, but it also offers a premium version with more features.

Simplify the url

13. Another move we advise you to take to improve your search engine performance is to write an understandable url ie. to replace the long string of numbers and percentages that usually appear after your site’s domain with a user-friendly and search engine-friendly description. For example: https://carrot.bg/kak-da-privlechem-millennium-pokolenieto/. If you are running WordPress this can be done from the site settings. Go to Settings -> Permalinks menu. There you will see 6 options for visualizing the link. The most relevant one is the one with the name of the post. Check it and save the setting. Keep in mind that it’s not a good idea to have your link in cylintra. In the optimal case, it is in Latin letters, although in essence it spells out Bulgarian words – see the link a few lines above, which we gave as an example.

Loading speed

14. Make sure your site loads as fast as possible. The speed depends on two main factors – on the hosting service provider and its quality on the one hand, and on what happens on the site itself. Unlike the first factor, which you can only demand and control, the second factor you can significantly influence. Slowing factors are unnecessary redirects, uncached sources, too many CSS, Javascripts, etc.

One of the easiest ways to avoid unnecessary site load is to reduce the size of the images you upload. High-quality photos are very valuable, but also “heavy” because of the large amount of information they carry. They can be especially useful for printing posters or other outdoor advertising, but for the web you don’t need the quality you need for a billboard. Therefore, it is absolutely unnecessary to upload a 24 MB photo to the site’s servers. Every image editing program has an option to edit their size. Upload to the system at a reduced size, such as 1024 by 768 px or even smaller, depending on the goals and vision you’re going for.

Optimization for mobile device

15. Optimize the site to look good on all devices. Of course, there is a subtlety here – if your site is not a custom development, i.e. if you haven’t hired developers to create it through code, it’s important to choose a mobile-friendly theme when creating it. The good news is that most themes already do, and even if the mobile view isn’t optimal, you can always manually optimize it.

It is important that your website looks as good as possible on a mobile device, since it is phones that are constantly in our hands and more and more users are browsing on a phone rather than a computer. If the site doesn’t adapt, doesn’t look good, or doesn’t allow the user to see all the content on the phone, you’re just losing the user. And you guessed it – the faster your users leave, the worse it is for your search engine rankings. Users who leave soon signal that either the site is not useful and not worth ranking high in the results, or something is wrong with it.

Easy orientation

16. Another important thing that depends on whether your users, once there, will stay, is how easy the site is to navigate and how smoothly it allows visitors to navigate. Are they finding the content they need, where they click the most, at what stage they leave your site – all this is useful information to take into account.

It may sound strange to you, but it all makes a difference to how long users will stay on your web address. Including whether purely aesthetically the pages look good, whether the colors used correspond correctly to the theme, whether they are not annoying or too intrusive and, of course, whether the font is legible.

Profiles in social networks

17. Keep in mind that social networks also matter – if your business or blog profile on social networks has active users and is frequently visited, search engines notice this. Note that the fact that you respond to reviews and questions that users leave for you does not remain hidden either.

Google Business Profile

18. Now is the time to pay attention that an effective way to gain more trust from Google – one of the most powerful search engines, is to register your business profile in Google My Business. Put a short description of the activity, photos, contact information, address, working hours, and of course, a link to the site. The more transparent you are, the more trust you will earn from the megasearch engine. And this, as we have already specified, is important.

Site Map

19. Create a sitemap. This is a document that contains information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site and the links between them. This map makes it easier for search engines to “read” the site and shows them which pages you think are most important. In addition, the file also carries information about when a given page was last updated and whether there is a version of it in another language. If your site is large, ie. with many menus/categories and pages or has a large archive, it is good to have a sitemap. The same applies if it is new and still has very few external links pointing to it. Here are guidelines from Google on how to create your sitemap.

The benefits of Schema

20. Take advantage of schema.org. It is a joint project of search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and Russia’s Yandex, and aims to unify the way search engines read and recognize website content. To do this, you need to add a piece of code to the HTML code of your site. Well, we have to admit that a bit more technical skills are required here, but you can always ask a friend or us for help :). The effort is definitely worth it – your site will be more friendly to the growing number of voice searches and therefore its chances of appearing further in results increase. There are many other advantages as well. Thanks to schema, already on the search results page, users can see the rating of a book or a cooking recipe, for example, the dates and times of events, articles with great popularity, important pages on your site.

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