What is SEO? Beginner's Guide 2020

What is SEO, Beginner guide 2020
What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization (SEO). It's the exercise of optimizing content to be discovered through a search engine organic search results. Think of a search engine as a filing system in a library. The library has potentially billions of books with hundreds of trillions of pages. So let's say you want to find information on health supplements. The search engine will then look through all pages in its index as well as try to return the most relevant results. Now, you thinking the first search engine is Google. But there are tons of other search engines you can optimize your content for.

For example, YouTube SEO is the process of getting traffic to your videos in YouTube's organic search results. Amazon SEO is the same, but you're optimizing your product pages to get more free organic traffic. And of course, Google SEO is the process of optimizing your website to rank on Google and drive more traffic to your web pages.

Now, search engines use sophisticated algorithms and technology to return the best results for any given query. Nobody exactly knows how these search algorithms work, but we have clues, particularly for Google, so we can make some optimizations.

Now, why should you integrate SEO into your marketing strategy?


Well, there are 3 major benefits of search engine optimization that attracts marketers from all over the world.

1. Traffic from your SEO efforts is free.

2. Your traffic will be consistent once you are ranking high.

3. You have the opportunity to reach massive audiences, you wouldn't have access to otherwise.

Now, since every search engine has a unique algorithm, you and I won't be able to cover how each of them works. And for that reason, we're going to be focusing on Google how to rank pages since it's the largest search engine as well as the one that we here at Ahrefs have the most information on.

So how does Google work?


Well, there are two main terms you need to understand. These are crawling and indexing. Actually attain information, Google are uses crawlers, also known as spiders, which collect publicly available information from all over the web. The spiders start with a list of URLs, which they may have previously crawled or found in sitemaps. These are called seeds. They then follow the hyperlinks on the pages from the seeds and then crawl those new discovered pages on website. As well as this process goes on and on, allowing them to build a huge index of information.

They then take all of this data back to Google's servers to be added to what they call, their "search index." Their algorithms then work by taking things like keywords and content freshness to categorize queries so they can return the most relevant results to searchers in a fraction of a second.

Google isn't just about matching keywords within a search result query. They have been created something called the "Knowledge Graph," which is according to Google, "goes beyond keyword equal to better understand the people, places, and things that you care about." I'll show you some of simple examples. For now, let's jump into the details of how their search engine algorithm works. Again, Google's goal is to sort through hundreds of trillions of web pages within their search index as well as find the most to the point results in a fraction of a second. On Google's "How Search algorithms work" page, they say that they look at the words of a.

Searcher’s query, pertinence and usability of pages, the expertise of sources, as well as your location and settings. These ranking point aren't linear, but they are weighted depending on the nature of your query. As an example, they mention that the "freshness" of content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics.

Although for definition-based queries like "what is search engine optimization? " Inexperience wouldn't play as huge factor seeing this core definition itself hasn't really changed. In addition to technology-based innovations like artificial intelligence as well as machine learning, Google also uses a group of people to manually judge how well a website gives people who click on the results what they are looking for.

These people are called, "Search Quality Raters." Rest assured that these aren't people at Google Manually moving your web page around in the search results because of they like or don't like you.
These people don't directly effect rankings, but rather helps Google benchmark the quality of their search results.

For now, let's dig deeper into a few broad categories of Google's ranking factors. The first and most obvious thing they need to do is understand the meaning of a query. For example, if you search for "slow cooker recipes," what do you expect to see in Google's search results?

What is SEO?  Beginner's Guide 2020

Probably a list of recipes, right?


And that's how Google interprets the query too. If you are just search for the word "slow cooker?" What would you expect to see?

After typing that into Google search engine, you'll see the product listings and eCommerce category pages. Google is able to clarify that someone searching for this phrase likely has the intent to purchase the appliance sooner than look for recipes in that time. Understanding the meaning of a query comes down to language.

Google has created language models to decode strings of words they should peek up. They understand that when you type "slow cooker", that you're actually looking for a "slow cooker." They also understand synonyms. To give an example, staring at the search results for "how to make a website," you'll see that they have bolded synonyms within the search results. Beyond language, search algorithms also try to understand the type of detail you're looking for. To give an example, if you are searching for "ps4 unboxing review," You’ll see that the top 10 Google search results are chock-full of pages from YouTube.

They understand that anyone searching for an unboxing review tutorial would likely choose video content over text or images. Where as query like "map of New York city," will show you image results and a widget from Google Maps.

Now, what about a query like, "best American restaurant?" You well see that Google shows restaurants that are close to your area, get even not entering a city name in the query. And that's because someone searching for this isn't going to fly halfway across the world for lunch.

Another part of interpreting a searcher's query comes down to freshness. Such as, if you are search for "Donald Trump," Google understands that people likely want the recent news, over biographies. So they give more priority in their top stories widget from trusted sources. They also realize that if you are looking for something like "Top 5 headphones," that you probable want fresh informative information since new models and manufacturers are always on the rise. And you can identify this right in Google's

Google search results seeing as all top-ranking pages have the present year in the title. Most, if not all of the things we have covered here can be summed up into what SEO often refer to as "search intent," This basically means the reason behind a searcher’s query. This is arguably one of the most important things to master as an SEO. If you're unable to match the searcher's intent, in terms of content type and format, your chances of ranking are slim.

But there are additional layers to understand how Google works. This leads us politely into how Google recognize relevance through content on a web page. In the most primary form, search engines will watch at the content of the page to see if the words on that page are related to your query. But they're experienced enough to go beyond "exact match keywords." Google understands related keywords too. A page rise in relevance with other semantically

Similar keywords. For example, if you have an article on how to get a driver's license, you may have subsections on licensing for cars, motorcycles, and buses. These are all automobiles as well as should have keyword overlaps that help connect the topic as a entire. For example, "road," "driving," "seatbelt," "safety," "exam," and "test," these would all be semantically relevant keywords that can help search engines better understand what your post is about. Another example would be if you were creating a post on "the best luxury watches."

Now, I want you to think of a 5-letter word that pops to mind when it comes to luxury watches.
Let me help you out a bit. Rolex. And if you look at the content of the top 10 ranking pages, you'll see that they all include that brand, other popular luxury brands, and likely have to watch related jargon like "bezel," "bridge," or "chronograph." Rather than returning results that have "best luxury watches ever" written 100 and 10 times on the page,

Google can see of which pages are the most relevant to the searcher's request. And Google confirms this by saying:

"These relevance signals help search algorithms assess whether a website page contains a solution to your search query, soon than just repeating the matching question." Another issue Google appearance at is the "quality of content."

Google tries to prioritize and rank the most reliable sources. While "quality content," is impossible to Objectively nail 100%, they use three broad classes to assist identify quality pages. These are, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness on a given topic; Also known as EAT. One signal that Google mentions have gotten websites to link to your content.
What is SEO?  Beginner's Guide 2020
SEO Beginner Guide 2020

Which SEOs call backlinks?


Links build up a page's "authoritativeness," that is made public in Google's well-known patent on Page Rank. From a common view, expect of backlinks as votes. When people link to your pages, they're essentially vouching for your content and telling their readers that they should check out your page for more information.

Now, to prevent people from "gaming" the system, Google uses spam algorithms to try and identify deceptive or manipulative behavior. One instance would be "link exchanges," definition you contact other webmasters as well as ask them to link to you. And in return, you'll link to them. We won't dig too deep into these factors, but if you're interested in learning more, I'll link up to Google's search quality rating guidelines in the description, which has nearly 50,000 words on how they assess "quality content."


Another factor Google appraise is the advantage of Webpages. Google wants to reveal results that keep their searchers joyful. And this goes beyond providing the "right" content for the query. There are a couple of confirmed position factors that relate to advantage.

The first is page speed. Google found that as page load time rises, the possibility of bounce, or the chance of someone leaving your website without visiting another page goes up dramatic. And it makes sense.

If Google were to show slow-loading pages that result in bounces, then that dissatisfaction would increase among their users. As a result, Google declare in 2018 that page speed will become a part of their mobile search ranking algorithm. The second usability factor is "mobile-friendliness."

Today, websites should appear correctly no matter what device you're on and no matter what browser you're using. This is very often referred to as "responsive design."

Google has shifted to "mobile-first indexing."

This means that they'll predominantly use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. And as of July 1, 2019, all new websites will be "mobile-first" by default. All of these things and many more factors can be summarized in the user experience.

Google wants to return results that are both relevant as well as give a solid user experience. A very cool as well as somewhat controversial way that Google effort is throughout personalized details. Google keeps track of your position, past search record, as well as search settings to "tailor your results to what is generally valuable and relevant for you in that time." But as many people are becoming aware of the privacy issues on the internet, this may leave you extremely satisfied or perhaps, on edge.

Let's look at a few examples of how personalization affects your Google searches. I'm in Toronto, Canada, so when I type in the letter "b," Google provides relevant search suggestions to my location like "blue jays," which is our baseball team, and "BMO," which is a major bank in Canada.

Now, if I change my IP address to one in Chicago, then you'll see very different results like "bank of America," and "Barnes and noble," which is a popular bank and bookstore respectively.

Now, let's look at how they tailor search suggestions based on previous searches. Let's say I want to find "hotels in Barcelona." I'll start typing in "hotels," and let's say that I actually changed my mind halfway through the search. Take a second and look through the results. You'll see that they're all tailored to my current location.

So let's delete this.

Instead, I want to search for things to do in Barcelona, so I can choose a hotel around that location. Now, I'll search for "What to do in Barcelona." Lots of fun stuff! Now, it's time to find a hotel. So if I start typing in "hotels," you'll see that Google's first autosuggestion is, "hotels in Barcelona," which as you saw before was not the case. These are just a couple of essential ways Google works. And it's absolutely critical that you understand this when you're learning SEO. By understanding how search works, you can begin optimizing your pages with some level of direction.

So how do you start optimizing your website for search?

If you're new to SEO, then I highly recommend watching our video on doing SEO for beginners, where you'll get a top-level view of how you can optimize your website for higher Google rankings.

Or if you're past that "beginner stage," I recommend digging through our channel where we have a ton of actionable tutorials to help grow your search traffic. I'll link up both of those for you in the description.


Now, if you like this article, then make sure to share, and subscribe. And if you have any questions, leave one in the comments below.

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