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Search Engine Optimization Basics

Beginners resources to demystify the topic of search engine optimization

This article was written by my daughter during the early stages of setting up our Accidental Mentor website.

Google support site

The Google support site is especially detailed and gives clear examples of how to improve your website for more effective SEO and it covers all the bases.

It gives some quite technical advice but also some simpler more general advice that is useful. For example, it explains how simple URLs convey better information rather than intimidating long and cryptic URLs that do not give insight into what the page is about.

This site is good because as well as having a list of best practices under each heading it also has a list of things that are best to avoid which is helpful and will prevent you from making some mistakes.

It is very clear and discusses everything that is important with a good degree of depth but does not complicate things. 

This page has some information that is specific mostly to google and less so on other browsers and whilst not everybody uses google, it is easily the most popular browser so this is not problematic.

It gives a brief overview of google console which is a tool to analyze your search performance which considers whether google can find your content and how you are performing in Google search results.

The console can identify problems with your site that if addressed can improve site performance and lead to a higher place in search results. 

Backlinko

Backlinko is a blog by Brian Dean which is dedicated to SEO tutorials. Brian Dean is an expert on SEO and the backlinko blog has many in-depth articles that cover all aspects of the topic.

This particular article is about keyword research within SEO, the process of discovering words and phrases that are searched into engines like google and optimizing your content around those terms.

This article covers how to find keywords, how to choose the right keywords, how to use keyword research tools and advanced keyword research tips and is one of the most important parts of SEO.

This article, in particular, is useful but this entire website is full of good content, written by a recognized expert, that will help to understand all facets of SEO.

YouTube

This video discusses algorithm updates in the previous year that affected SEO so this video discusses what those changes are and gives very up to date tips that take into account recent changes. It discusses why it is important to have a mobile-optimized website and how to do this after Google changed its mobile optimization.

The video also advises that instead of just keyword research topic research is also of importance because targeting just individual keywords is the wrong way to approach SEO.

In a study of 3 million search queries, on average the number one ranking page also ranked for nearly a thousand additional keywords. He gives an example from healthline.com which gets hundreds of thousands of visits each month and ranks for around 30,000 keywords because it has a lot of keywords related to weight loss.

This shows how important it is to have a topic with lots of breadth and has lots of traffic potential.

He also discusses how to build topical authority within this topic and one way to do this is by creating contextual relevance on your website through internal linking with what is called content silos where there is a head term and then subtopics.

This YouTube video is useful because it has good visuals alongside the discussion which helps to understand what is being explained, and it can be easier to follow than articles with just text and pictures. 

Builtvisible

This blog specifically talks about SEO in the context of mobile use.

In 2015 google started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor and now over 50% of what google indexes are mobile-first indexing. Mobile phone usage has overtaken desktop usage, so it is really important to understand how to apply SEO to mobile usage.

Mobile-first indexing is how google crawls and indexes the web, now google crawls and indexes your website based on how it renders on a mobile phone instead of how it renders on a desktop.

This article explains what mobile SEO is, why it is important and what you need to do to optimize your website for mobile phone usage.

It gives a guide to how to configure your website to be mobile friendly and developing mobile content and they give visual examples to support their points.

Lyfemarketing

This article is useful because it focuses on what to avoid and points out common SEO mistakes. It offers guidance and solutions to fix these problems.

The mistakes outlined in this article are apparently common and easy to avoid mistakes and seem to be aimed at very beginner smaller businesses, but whilst simple it does give a good idea of common areas where SEO can be less successful.

Searchenginejournal

This article also talks about the worst SEO mistakes made but it seems to be aimed at more established businesses and people who have a more advanced understanding of SEO.

It gives a very wide list of 50 things that need to be done for successful SEO but does not go into much depth, however, is still a very useful overview of what is required.

This article has a much more technical focus than some of the other articles and discusses things such as canonicalization which refers to making sure google sees the URL that you prefer them to see.

Perhaps this would be a good place to learn the technical aspects and terms and then do further research into each of these.

Yoast

Specifically about SEO for blog posts whereas a lot of other content for SEO tends to focus on websites that sell products and services.

It does not cover many of the technical aspects that other articles cover but has more focus on how the blog itself should be written so that it is readable and also SEO friendly.

It advises that the keywords should be prominent but that over-using keywords hamper the readability and flow of your blog.

It emphasizes that quality is the most important, because whilst you can do tricks to maximize the SEO friendliness of your post good content leads to more dedicated followers and repeat visits to your site.

thebalancesmb

Like the previous link, this article also focuses on SEO for posts by writers so it is more relevant for blog posts.

It describes how in a blog post you need to find keywords and phrases that you need to feed into areas of your writing. These include titles and headlines, subtitles, meta titles, links to other pages that are relevant and also within the content of your text itself.

Littering your content with excessive uses of your key phrase is called “keyword stuffing” and you should try to avoid this. Whilst there is no agreed percentage of keywords this article mentions between 3% and 7% of your content.

It discusses how SEO writing must have a human side, as in you must write for humans and the human message it entails and not just for the search machines.

This link and the previous link make it clear that there are differences between SEO for websites that sell products and services and websites that contain written content.

Some articles about SEO seem to focus more on websites that sell products, in which there is a product photo, product URL, product description and often hundreds of products on one website so keyword stuffing is much less of an issue there.

Bear in mind that some articles have this website format in mind rather than blog posts when they give advice on SEO.