SEO Demystified in 15 Minutes

If you should forget all you read on this page about Search Engine Optimization, don’t forget these two things: 

When it comes to SEO, think like this: 

  • What do search engines (like Google or Bing) like?
  • What do people like?

I’m going to try to simplify what is SEO and how it works in 15 minutes, but I need you to think of these two things. They work hand-in-hand if you think hard about it, but, for now, just think they are two entities.

Search engines and humans

Hey, Ade, are you saying I have to study human behavior and “robot” behavior? 

Yes, that’s what I am talking about here. 

Robots and people. 

Understand Robots, AKA crawlers (used by search engines like Google). Then understand people and how they like to consume content. 

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of doing the correct things, so it is easy for search engines to discover, crawl, and index pages on the web.

You will understand it better in a bit.

What Are Search Engines? 

They are tools humans use to find websites or information on the internet. 

It’s like this. The internet is like a town with houses. Let’s say you are looking for one blonde girl with blue eyes. Normally, you should go around knocking on each door in town asking, hello, who has a blue-eyed, blonde girl in their bedroom?

Scrap that.

You stay at the town entrance and ask someone who has names and descriptions of everyone in town. They check their diary and show you all the list of names they’ve got, all arranged according to some factors. Maybe age, maybe height, etc. 

In SEO, the town is the internet.

The place you search for what you want is a Search Engine. They include Google (the big guy), Yahoo, Bing, etc.

What you are looking for are queries? You type them in the form of keywords.

On the other hand, search engines use crawlers to discover, crawl, and index pages on the internet according to relevance and authority to certain queries.

When you go to search engines and type “restaurants in California.” They go to the list of websites they have collected and show you what’s there. They usually list them according to some factors (which we will talk about soon). So, you don’t have to go round and round by yourself. 

The problem is that there are too many websites, and only 10 or so could appear on the first page. SEO can put your website or page among these 10.

Read: What is local SEO?

Who Gets to Come First in This Ranking?

It’s not about the year or age or how good they cook in a restaurant. It is about what the robots are looking for, what crawlers consider great.

At the time of typing this, search engine crawlers are looking for two things:

  • Relevance 
  • Authority 

Relevance 

The crawler collects information about how people relate to the pages for each keyword you search. For example, they consider the time you spend on the page, the number of keywords on that page, the content format, the exact keywords on that page, etc.

Authority 

This is where it’s complicated. You can’t just tell these crawlers you are the best place for a certain topic. For instance, if I am selling phones and people search “Phone sellers near me.” My page on the internet will not rank because I am the newest and biggest phone seller in town. Instead, it will rank according to what a crawler sees on the internet when it visits my website. 

Have I left you behind?

Sorry. 

These robots collect information on the internet. So when you are creating a page or writing an article, you have to prepare for what they will like. That’s how they have a giant library of all websites and pages on the internet.

You can exclude your pages if you wish using a “robot txt tool.”

And If you’d like me to help in this process, I offer an SEO writing service at an affordable price. You can use the contact form, and I will respond shortly.

Let’s continue. 

Search Engine Updates Their Algorithm Periodically

Search engines adjust their algorithms regularly. Google, Yahoo, Bing, or whatever search engines you want to rank on their page will keep updating how things work.  That means you’ll need to learn about the updates if you want your page to rank. 

In that case, it’s a continuous challenge of learning, tweaking, and improving what you know and the content you create on your websites or platforms. 

I sincerely apologize if I’d lied that you can master it once and for all. You have to keep up with updates and changes by the providers.

Thank you for accepting my apology. Now, let’s get back to business. 

Let’s start with “robots” and what they like.

I have to ensure that you know what I’m talking about here. So, I will start from scratch. 

A Great Part of SEO Is About Creating Relevance and Authority

I said crawlers like “relevance”. Does your page solve the problem the person is looking for? 

Then I said crawlers like “Authority.” Are you the greatest person to ask about this topic at this point? 

To crawlers, “greatest” does not mean great content.

I’ve seen pages that don’t rank on search engine result pages (SERP), but they have quality content.

How Crawlers Measure Your Authority

Crawlers are not humans who can determine authority by the qualifications of the author of a blog. Instead, they use other methods to assess web page authority.

They use 2 major factors. You can learn other things about authority later or just focus on these 2 for now. 

  • Backlinks 
  • Your website structure and content

Okay, this post is getting longer than I want it to be, but we are almost done. I’m not going to talk about what humans like (how they consume content), which you should learn. You can use the tips about online marketing to improve how you write for humans

Let’s focus on what crawlers (robots) want to see.

What is a backlink in SEO?

Backlinks are links from other websites pointing to your website pages. They are links pointing to the pages on your website. 

Crawlers think it’s a sign of trust from other people. So when you have a lot of backlinks, your content will be considered an authority. 

When you are working on backlinks, you need 

  • Quantity and
  • Quality backlinks

How Can You Build Backlinks?

Now that you know what is a backlink in SEO, it’s time to get some quality links to your post. It’s like the missing piece if your content isn’t getting ranked.

You can use guest posting, answering press releases, or reaching out to other bloggers.

Quality matters when asking for backlinks. So a backlink from an authority website in your niche is way better than 5 backlinks from random blogs that have no authority.

How Many Backlinks Do You Need? 

You need as much as the number one page on search results. 

Let’s say I search for “phone sellers near me.” The first page that pops up has about 100 backlinks. I need about the same number of backlinks — plus better quality content that solves people’s search queries. 

Clear? 

Other things that can help you rank better:

  • how you designed the content on your page: pages or content format
  • How you mapped out the pages on the whole website: website structure

Focusing on Topics Instead of Just Keywords

Sometimes ago, Google says their crawlers now focus on topics rather than keywords. 

In other words, they can rank pages that don’t have some keywords. 

It also means they could rank pages based on how people trusted the websites on certain topics. 

Let’s break it down. 

There’s a website. They have been writing great content about phone repairs, how to buy phones, and phone reviews. Hundreds of blogs have linked to their website over time. So people stay on their page for a long time.

It’s possible that when you type a keyword, their page will pop up if they don’t have that exact keyword on that page. 

And if that page is getting backlinks from other websites and people spend time reading it, crawlers will rank it for that queries even if the exact keywords aren’t on that page.

This is what some analysis says about topic clusters as search engines continue to adapt. 

So How Can You Use This Information On Your Website:

Three things: 

  • The structure. Have sections and pillar page (a page where they could see every topic, or sections of topics or other pages in one place)
  • It should be easy to navigate. If someone comes to your page, it should be easy for them to move around.
  • It should focus on topics more than keywords. Define your niche and write great content around a set of topics. For instance, if you sell phones, someone who wants to buy phones will also ask questions about phones. Create a list of topics or problems that a person would have. Write content around them.

Arrange everything in what’s called a pillar page. Make it easy to go around and check what you have. 

One more thing, if the top-ranking websites are using certain formats (listicles or how-tos) or content types (video, write-ups, or images), it means crawlers and people like those things. You should do the same.

Remember the rules I mentioned earlier when we started this blog post?

Focus on what crawlers and humans want. In SEO, your job is to serve these two entities.

That’s it. This is the summary if you want to understand crawlers. 

There is another part of SEO called technical SEO. This part is about setting your website correctly and the steps you need to take for crawlers to find and update the records they have about your page. 

It’s better to employ someone skilled in that area. You can learn about technical SEO on the Yoast blog.

Read: Content Writing for New Business

Summary 

  • Understand what crawlers and humans want
  • Crawlers like relevance and authority, and formats (when it comes to content)
  • Authority is measured with backlinks (links from other websites pointing to yours).
  • Your website structure helps humans and crawlers navigate your website easily. 

Read: 17 best practices for SEO content writing

Further readings:

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