What is SEO? SEO is the abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. It is the set of techniques and strategies focused on optimizing organic positioning in internet search engines. Some examples are Google, Bing, Baidu, Yahoo!, Yandex, DuckDuckGo or YouTube.
Having a website for your brand or company is the basis of any digital presence, but the effort to create it is useless if you don’t make sure that your audience finds it. Therefore, it is essential to make Google work in your favor. Let’s take a look at what SEO is, why it’s so important, and how search engines work.
What is SEO or Search Engine Optimization?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of improving the visibility of a website in the organic results of any search engine.
It is very important to be clear that SEO refers to organic results, that is, not paid. The complementary option (paying a cost per click to occupy the first places for a certain search) is known as SEM or Search Engine Marketing. To put a metaphor, SEO is similar to looking for a good free parking next to the place where you have to go, while SEM would be the equivalent of paying for parking.
As with almost all disciplines of online marketing, SEO has evolved a lot over the years. In its origins, web positioning techniques were very primitive and were largely based on repeating some specific keywords, while now the user experience is much more important.
The concepts and techniques that you should take into account in the world of SEO are:
- SEO consultant. The professionals responsible for advising you, helping you and developing your search engine positioning strategy.
- Organic or natural positioning. It is the content strategy based on seeking the first organic positions in search engines.
- SEO analysis. The part focused on the analysis of SEO positioning data, to improve and optimize content in real time.
- SEO positioning or web positioning. They are other synonyms of organic or natural positioning. There are many types of techniques to achieve this goal.
- Positioning in search engines. Natural positioning in search engines. Each search is called a SERP.
- Mobile First Indexing. Google uses information found on the mobile version of a website to compile search results.
- SEOMarketing. All marketing techniques focused on improving organic search engine positioning.
- SEO strategy. The planning of the techniques that will be developed to improve web positioning.
- Guest blogging. Guest authors on a blog. It gives value and relevance if the editors are important people in the sector.
- Link building. Strategy based on the search for incoming links to our website.
- Blackhat SEO. SEO techniques penalized by search engines.
- White Hat SEO. SEO techniques endorsed by search engines, ethical and that help develop a healthy and lasting SEO over time.
- SEO agency. Companies specialized in positioning in search engines.
- SEO and SEM. Differences between two concepts related to appearing in search engines. Although SEO is organic positioning and SEM is the paid strategy to appear with ads.
- SEO on Google. SEO strategy focused on “liking” the most used search engine worldwide.
- Local SEO. Positioning strategy focused on appearing in queries made by users locally (close to our location).
- SEO expert. Professional who has focused his career and experience on developing SEO strategies for clients.
- Pillar pages and topic cluster. How to create a pillar content to rank better for a certain keyword and then create a content cluster around it to improve the positioning of the pillar page.
- SEO optimization. Techniques that seek to improve the positioning of a keyword or content.
On the other hand, broadly speaking, there are two basic factors that define the positioning of a page: relevance and authority.
Relevance in web positioning
The relevance of a web page can be defined as its correspondence with a certain search, that is, how well it responds to the doubt or request made by the user. The goal of Google and other search engines is to give the best possible service to users by offering them pages that are relevant to them.
To control this factor, we use on-site SEO techniques, dedicated to improving our own website. Your goal is to make search engines understand what your content is and how it relates to user searches. To do this, techniques such as keyword and URL optimization, loading time reduction, user experience improvement, etc. are used.
Authority and SEO
Secondly, we have the authority, which we can define as the popularity of a website. The more “votes” a website receives through links, the better it will be considered by search engines.
To improve the authority of a website, off-site SEO techniques are used, which focus on factors external to the website itself. What is sought is to improve the parameters that define the popularity of a website in the face of search engines: links to the website, presence on social networks, mentions in the media, how many users click on our website when it appears in their search results. search etc.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that we can also distinguish between White Hat SEO, which is based on the practices recommended by the search engines themselves, and Black Hat SEO, which seeks to take advantage of “holes” to quickly manipulate results. Although it can sometimes achieve results in the short term, in the long term the Black Hat is never worth it.
What are the origins of SEO?
Although today it seems absolutely essential to us, the truth is that Google did not make its appearance until the year 96 and even today there are countries in the world where it is not particularly popular. The origins of these types of tools, called search engines, date back to the early 1990s, when the boom in web pages began.
Almost all web pages have the same goal in common: to attract quality traffic. Search engines are one of the most effective ways to bring visitors potentially interested in the subject of the web in question. Webmasters realized this and began to compete with each other to rank higher in search engines. SEO was born.
Why is SEO positioning important?
Understanding what SEO is and putting a good strategy into practice is essential for the future of your brand. Do you think we exaggerated? Take a look at these reasons:
- Multiply your visibility. Imagine that you manage to position your website for a term with 500,000 monthly searches. If the first result that appears in the search engines receives 20% of the clicks, you would be obtaining 100,000 organic monthly visits, that is, they do not incur any additional cost.
- Improve your website. Done well, web positioning techniques not only improve your page for search engines, but also for the users themselves. And improving the user experience means improving your results.
- It is a long-term investment. Optimizing your website has certain initial costs, but if you manage to position yourself among the first positions, you will have a fantastic source of quality traffic at no cost. Continuing with the previous example, imagine that 1 out of every 100 users who visit your website ends up making an online purchase and that the lifetime value of the customer is 100 euros. In that case, you would be generating 100,000 euros per month in income. And of course, if you rank for multiple keywords or launch into international SEO, the benefits multiply.
- Monetize your website. If you have made a valuable investment in money, time and resources to build a website that represents your brand, the logical thing is to have as many users visit it as possible to take advantage of that investment.
- Increase your impact on social networks. Web positioning creates synergies with social media, since the links that are shared on the networks make use of the titles and descriptions that you will have optimized as part of your positioning strategy.
- Build trust and credibility. As I have already explained, authority and relevance are the two key factors of SEO. Therefore, when your website appears among the first search results, users know that it is a site that contains the information they are looking for and that it has been approved by many users. In short, it gives them the confidence they need to go out and convert.
- It can be measured and optimized. It is possible to evaluate the results of all the techniques and factors that intervene in your SEO, to see which ones are giving the best results and correct the course in case of need.
Understanding SEO: Search Engines
To fully understand how SEO works, we need to see what happens when Google’s “spiders” roam the web. Its operation can be summarized in two steps: tracking and indexing.
To understand how tracking works, think of the transportation system of a large city. Every web page or document (such as a PDF or image) is a stop. In order to record the content of each stop, the search engine needs to crawl the entire city, and to do this it uses the best available path: links.
The link structure of the web is what connects the pages to each other, which is why they are so important in optimization. Search engine bots use addresses from sitemaps and previous crawls to start their search and navigate from link to link. In this way, they reach the documents stored on the web.
Not all websites are crawled to the same depth or for the same amount of time. Spiders are especially attracted to new content, whether it’s because a site has been created from scratch or an existing one has been updated. The charging time is also decisive.
The second step is indexing. Once these documents are found, they take care of deciphering their code and saving some “pieces” of it so that they can be retrieved when a user does a search. As you can imagine, these “pieces” together represent an immense volume of information. Therefore, companies like Google have massive data centers where they store this information, so that it is easily retrievable.
All this information about web pages and documents available on the Internet is arranged in a series of indexes based on their content, their authority and their relevance. The criteria have evolved over time and are increasingly complex; In addition to keywords, factors such as the date of publication, whether they contain multimedia elements, the quality of the content and many others are taken into account.
And with these two steps, everything is ready for the user to search. At this point, an algorithm is launched that searches the indexes and sorts the results based on the hundreds of ranking factors, all in a matter of milliseconds. It’s not magic, it’s SEO.
The 10 keys of SEO positioning
The organic positioning of a website is influenced by many factors, which have also evolved over time and the advances of search engines. We are going to see the 10 great keys of SEO on-page and SEO off-page.
1) SEO-on page: work the keyword strategy
Any natural positioning strategy should be based on a good keyword analysis, which takes into account aspects such as the volume of searches, the level of competition, seasonality and the relevance of the term for the brand.
2) SEO-on page: optimize URLs
URLs should be short, easy to read and indexable by search engines. Try to keep them as simple as possible and contain the main keyword of the page they refer to. This last point is an essential part of web positioning. If the keyword is not included, Google will not correctly index the content.
3) SEO on-page: structure the pages with headers
Heading tags (H1, H2, H3…) are essential to organize the information within each text, both for search engines and for users.
4) SEO on-page: take care of loading times
Google penalizes pages with very slow loading times, which also generate a high bounce rate and worsen the user experience. Therefore, it is advisable to carry out a complete technical audit to optimize all the factors that influence the loading speed. To facilitate this SEO positioning work, one of the most used tools to evaluate the loading speed of a page is PageSpeed Insights.
5) SEO on-page: create quality content
In the end, both Google and users value well-structured, easy-to-read content that provides in-depth information. Watch this video to learn how you can develop a successful content strategy that helps you rank naturally in search engines and in the TOP 1 position.
6) SEO off-page: get quality inbound links
Link building is a key factor in SEO positioning, but not everything goes. Always bet on natural techniques to generate quality links.
7) SEO off-page: do video marketing
Quality videos generate many links to your website, and if you put them on YouTube, they will also show up in Google search results.
8) SEO off-page: do guest blogging
Guest blogging is a very effective technique both to position yourself as an SEO expert in a sector and to generate incoming links to your website.
9) SEO off-page: create infographics and other graphic elements
The richer your content, the easier it will be for you to generate inbound links organically. Infographics are one of the most popular formats, especially if they are based on our own studies.
10) SEO off-page: commitment to networking
In the end, what works best to improve the reputation of your website is to interact with other people in your sector and look for opportunities to collaborate with each other. You will all win!
Main SEO strategies
As the positioning evolves, so do the SEO strategies that are applied. These are the main trends in SEO strategies that you should take into account for your website:
Voice searches. It is estimated that in 2020, 50% of searches will be done through voice, with technologies such as smart speakers or the Google assistant. This implies a major change in the way positioning is approached, as voice searches tend to be longer, longer-tailed and more naturally expressed.
The intentionality. Artificial intelligence is increasingly playing a more prominent role in positioning. Therefore, instead of searching for keywords blindly, search engines are able to detect the intention of a user even if they express their search in different ways. Therefore, the focus must always be on the usefulness for the user and quality content.
Google’s position zero. Increasingly, Google searches incorporate a result in “position zero”, that is, it shows part of the content of a page as a direct answer to the user’s question. In order to appear here, it is important to include rich data on your website.
mobile prioritization. It is a fact that for years Google has decided the ranking of websites based on their mobile version, not the one for computers. Therefore, there is no excuse not to have a perfectly optimized mobile website, either through responsive design or AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).
Brand awareness as an SEO factor. As Google’s algorithms get smarter, it looks like factors like unlinked brand mentions might start to play a role. In the end, brand awareness and positioning are two elements that benefit each other, so both must work well.
Blackhat SEO vs. Whitehat SEO
In the world of SEO we can distinguish different “schools”, since there are many possible techniques to improve the positioning of a website. But the most important distinction is that of blackhat SEO versus whitehat SEO.
black hat seo
We call blackhat SEO the use of positioning techniques that are unethical or even explicitly prohibited by search engines. In the short term, it is possible to improve the ranking of a website with this type of practice, but in the long run it is never worth it, since these practices end up being detected and harshly penalized.
Among the most common blackhat SEO techniques we have:
Cloaking: create a web directed to search engines (but unreadable for humans) and “cover” it with another web directed to users but that is not traceable. Google’s rules include that the content aimed at search engines and users must always be the same.
- Cloaking: create a web directed to search engines (but unreadable for humans) and “cover” it with another web directed to users but that is not traceable. Google’s rules include that the content aimed at search engines and users must always be the same.
- Keyword stuffing: repeating a keyword over and over again so that Google positions us for it, negatively affecting the quality of the content and the user experience.
- Hidden text: another practice that violates the norm of showing the same content to search engines and users, in this case hiding texts with the same color as the background or small font sizes.
- Spinning: automatic creation of content that is optimized for search engines but of low quality.
- Link trading: Inbound links should always be organically sourced.
White Hat SEO
On the other side of the coin we have the SEO whitehat, that is, the one that uses only ethical positioning techniques and that have the blessing of search engines. We must always bet on whitehat SEO and bear in mind that it will provide us with solid and permanent results in the medium/long term.
Whitehat SEO techniques are the on-page and off-page SEO practices that we discussed earlier: optimizing URL structure and load times, adding headers, incorporating multimedia elements, guest posting, etc.
The importance of mobile first indexing and best practices
Today, traffic from mobile devices exceeds that from computers. And as Google is well aware of this, it has incorporated mobile first indexing into its algorithm.
Mobile first indexing is that Google’s algorithm first takes into account the mobile version of a website to determine its positioning. For webmasters, this means that the mobile web should be considered the main version and therefore should be perfectly optimized. To do this, it is recommended to either create a single version of the website with responsive design, or use the Google Accelerated Mobile Pages tool, which is used to design websites focused on optimization and loading speed.
In addition, it is always a good idea to put these Google recommendations on mobile first indexing into practice:
- Make sure that Google’s crawler can access and render all resources and content on your website. To do this, use the same robots meta tags on both mobile and desktop, don’t let important content lazy-load (for example, when a user clicks somewhere on the page), and let Google track all your means.
- Check that your mobile website includes the same content as the desktop site and uses the same headers on both.
- Check your structured data (rich snippets): make sure the mobile site includes the same ones as the desktop version, check that the URLs of the mobile site’s structured data are for mobile and, if you use Data Highlighter, train it with the site Web.
- Use the same metadata on both versions of the site.
- Follow the Better Ads standard for showing ads on mobile devices.
- Make sure your website’s visual content (images and videos) follows best practices, such as providing high-quality images, using supported formats, and placing videos where mobile users can easily find them
SEO analysis: the best tools
To facilitate the task of positioning and SEO analysis, it is always a good idea to rely on a tool that can simplify our work. To get started, check out 5 of our favourites:
- Google Keyword Planner: the classic of the classics. Just by entering a keyword or website, you can see a bunch of related keyword suggestions and data like search volume, competition, and cost per click. Of course, if you do not have an active Google Ads account, some data is restricted.
- Google Search Console: an essential SEO tool to better control your positioning, accurately measure the performance and traffic of your website and detect errors that can affect ranking in time. Its features include detailed search performance data, URL inspection, coverage analysis, and mobile usability review.
- SemRush: this tool is especially interesting to do an SEO analysis of the competition. You will be able to see how many organic visits the competitor websites have, how much traffic is paid, what links point to them and even what keywords they are using.
- Moz: Moz is an SEO software that includes multiple useful tools. Our favorite is Moz Site Crawl, which is focused on quickly detecting and fixing SEO errors. It allows you to quickly crawl a site and track new and recurring issues, and includes charts and explanations of the impact of each error.
- SimilarWeb: This tool identifies the keywords that are trending and the most viewed content of each site to help you increase the presence in each keyword and create more effective content.
SEM and SEO: what are the differences
Sometimes there is some confusion between the terms SEO and SEM, since both refer to positioning in the search results of Google (or other search engines). However, these are different disciplines.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in the organic results of search engines, that is, the company that owns the search engine is not paid for positioning.
Instead, SEM or Search Engine Marketing (search engine marketing) is based on placing paid ads in search results, through advertising platforms such as Google Ads.
Among the main differences between SEM and SEO we highlight the following:
- The place in the search results. Normally, paid ads are placed at the top and in the right column, while organic results occupy the remaining area. Although SEM positioning seems more advantageous at first glance, keep in mind that many users ignore the ads and go directly to the organic results.
- The required investment. SEO requires a certain investment in time, effort and resources, but ultimately the visits to our website are “free”. Instead, the SEM requires that we pay each time a user clicks on the ads to be directed to our website.
- The terms of recovery of the investment. SEO is a medium/long-term strategy, while with SEM we can obtain more immediate results.
- The type of content we work with. SEO focuses on producing quality content, for example, blog articles that cover a topic in depth and are accompanied by graphic elements. On the other hand, with SEM we work fundamentally with short text ads and landing pages.
- SEO and SEM are complementary disciplines, so it is always preferable that we work together, taking into account which keywords are more suitable for placing ads in the short term (generally those with a high purchase intention) and which ones we It is more interesting to work on content and authority in the long term (normally, those based more on searching for information).
Google and local SEO
Local SEO is an essential tool for businesses that have physical stores, as they allow us to direct users to them based on their searches. For example, if a user searches for “Japanese restaurant,” Google will suggest nearby restaurants for them to visit.
The local SEO of a company in Google depends on three factors:
- Relevance: How closely a user’s search matched a local business. Distance: How far away is the store or business based on the user’s location.
- Prominence: how well known a company or place is. Very popular sites may appear earlier in Google’s local search results, even if they are not as close as others.
- In order to position yourself in Google’s local SEO results, it is essential to be registered in Google My Business, Google’s service for companies. Here you can create a free profile with information about your business.
To improve the local SEO of your company in Google, write down these recommendations:
- Provide complete and accurate information about your business to be more relevant.
- Describe your company with unique and valuable information that includes the most important keywords.
- Verify your business locations with Google My Business so they can show up in search results.
- Add photos to listings to make them more engaging and informative for users.
- Encourage customers to leave you reviews on Google and respond to them.
- Keep your hours up to date so potential customers know when you’re open.
Link building and guest posting strategy
Link building and guest posting are two fundamental elements of off-page SEO. In both cases, the objective is to generate links to your website that increase its authority in the eyes of search engines and attract organic visits.
Link building is based on generating incoming links to our website. It is very important to keep in mind that paying for links or resorting to spam is penalized; We must always put first that the links created are providing real value to the user or else we will expose ourselves to a penalty by Google.
Here are some basic recommendations for quality link building:
- Do an analysis of your reputation and the competition. Not all links are worth the same, so we must assess which websites are linking to us and how much authority they have.
- Look for collaborations with websites in your sector. It is useless that the page that links to you has a lot of authority, if the theme has nothing to do with yours.
- Use different types of anchor text. Overly optimized anchor texts are suspicious for Google, as they indicate that the links have been obtained with fraudulent techniques. In the same way, be careful with the ratio of nofollow and dofollow links.
- Go little by little. There are automatic programs to generate links in bulk, but Google easily detects and penalizes them. The best thing is that the links are generated organically and progressively.
Guest posting is based on publishing articles as a guest on other blogs in your sector, so that an incoming link is generated from their website to yours. For this technique to work, we must always prioritize the quality of both the website that hosts our article and the content itself.
How to choose your SEO agency?
SEO is a very complex discipline that requires a large amount of time and resources from your team. For this reason, it is usually a good idea to leave it in the hands of professionals through a specialized SEO agency.
The SEO agency is responsible for preparing a report on the client’s needs, carrying out an audit of the situation, preparing and executing a search engine positioning plan, measuring the results and continuously communicating with the client.
To be successful when choosing an SEO agency, it is important that we start by clearly defining the needs of the company and that we look for a collaborator with the appropriate profile. There are large, small agencies, specialized in commercial sectors or in specific aspects of SEO… so we must be clear about what we are looking for.
These are the most important factors to consider in the choice:
Avoid agencies that promise the first position of Google (and even more so in the short term). An SEO agency must be honest and realistic and admit that they cannot promise such concrete results.
Avoid charging for keywords. Increasingly, SEO is an integral discipline where the quality of the content and the user experience are more important than the number of keywords entered.
Look for agencies that offer comprehensive services, that is, that cover both the more technical elements of SEO and those related to marketing and content.
Value clarity and communication. A good SEO agency is capable of explaining to the client what they are doing, even if they do not have any knowledge of the sector. In addition, you must submit reports of your results regularly and be available to answer questions.
It requires a personalized treatment. The work plan and the budget should always be individualized according to the situation and needs of each client.
Don’t let your agency blackhat SEO. They should always clearly explain to you what practices they are going to apply and guarantee that they are not penalized by Google.
Do not fall into the trap of prices that are too low. Doing quality SEO takes a lot of time, knowledge, and resources, so there are no shortcuts.