How does SEO work? What is it about? Why should it be used when you decide to go online with a website, or even content such as YouTube videos, and what are the aspects that it involves? I will try to explain it to you in the next lines. In addition, I will focus on the optimization of content within Google and I will offer you some useful tools to start planning your first SEO strategy.
SEO: what it is and how it works:
Maybe you are wondering what SEO is and how it works because you have vaguely heard about it, but you still don’t have a clear idea about it: I’m here to explain it to you.
First of all, however, I would like to emphasize that, when referring to SEO, we are not talking about magic formulas, “crafty” solutions, or miraculous techniques that can certainly make the owner of a Web page, a blog, or of a site.
Think of it like this: it’s a way to sort web content, a bit like when you set up your home. Do you prefer to live covered in disorder, or in a fresh and clean room, with all things in their place, which will therefore be more beautiful even in the eyes of any visitors? I invite you, therefore, to stay with your feet on the ground and to study this discipline to get the most out of it, being wary of charlatans.
Having made this necessary premise, now I can introduce you to the technical aspects of the subject.
SEO is the acronym for Search Engine Optimization, a definition that translated from English means optimization for search engines and refers to a series of activities aimed at improving the level of identification of web content by Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo Yandex, and other such portals.
To get into the order of ideas of the question, try to think about when you try to read up on a topic on Google, the most used search engine in the Western world: the one you type in the dedicated box, in fact, can be considered a request. The latter, in technical terms, is defined queries and Google’s task should be to provide the most relevant answers with respect to your request, that is, to your search intent ( Search Intent ). To do this, Google uses a technology called a crawler, or bot, capable of analyzing the immense amount of words and phrases present online, to lead you to the best solution.
Everything described above is part of the SEO factors which, among other things, contribute to making the content uploaded on the Net more authoritative. In addition to this, there is a vast corollary of conditions that can favor a Web page, more or less directly. Among them are the seniority of a domain, the use of the SSL certificate for safe browsing, having correctly sent the sitemap to the search engine (if you don’t know what it is, read my guide on how to create a sitemap ). Then there is the low bounce rate ( Bounce Rate ), that is the time that users spend on the page, without leaving it immediately because it does not respond to their queries, the CTR (Click Through Rate), i.e. the frequency of clicks on the page and, probably, also affects the following on social profiles in some way related to the web page itself.
If on the one hand there are factors that can bring value to Web content, on the other, there are also other sources of penalties, for which we speak of negative SEO. Among them, one of the worst is being linked (perhaps without knowing it) by sites of a violent type, of a pornographic nature, aimed at extorting data or money. Furthermore, the technique that until a few years ago was unfortunately widespread, consisting in the obsessive repetition of keywords (keyword stuffing), perhaps even written in bold and inserted in various parts of a Web page, has already been considered highly harmful for some time.
The SEO practice is essentially divided into two categories: SEO on-page, which refers to all the optimization operations performed within a specific web page, or a site, a blog, and so on and SEO off-page, i.e. activities carried out outside a specific web page, but which have the task of leading back to it, such as, for example, the care of a Facebook page linked to the contents of a website.
Google SEO: how it works
Most likely you also use Google when you have to do an online search, on any topic, so you will be interested in knowing how SEO works on Google: keep reading to find out.
The role of Google is fundamental in determining the hierarchy of the proposed solutions for the various search intentions and, over time, the search engine has developed several methods to highlight the most relevant and important content. We have gone from PageRank, an algorithm that evaluated the relevance of the topics covered in a page through mathematical calculations, to the evaluation based on the links that lead to it.
Beyond that, there are apparently at least two hundred different factors, many of them unknown, that combine with Google’s features to find the best content. Certainly, for this purpose, having implemented on a page (or on a site) good SEO practices, described in the previous chapter, can give a big hand. The goal is to ensure that Google’s mechanisms recognize the contents with confidence, according to the current criterion defined as TrustRank, which pays attention to their organicity and naturalness. To find out more, read my guide on how Google works.
That said, there are two basic requirements within the search engine: indexing and ranking. The first represents the simple presence within Google, while the second refers to the position of content in the SERP, which one would always want as high as possible and is a goal that can be achieved through SEO.
Entering a slightly more technical area, in SEO for Google, keywords and the wording of the elements that make up every single result present in the pages of the search engine, also called snippets, are of considerable importance. In particular, the first line, called Tag Title, must contain the main keyword that best represents the topic being talked about and which is also convenient to use, because it is not inflated. Then there is the URL, the unique address that connects to the content published on the Net and it too must contain the main keyword in a direct and precise way.
Finally, a brief description is identified, but more articulated than the elements just mentioned (called Meta Description ) in which the most important keyword is found again but within a captivating sentence, capable of attracting the interest of the user and leading him to click on the link that leads to our site.
Google itself makes available to users some indispensable resources to take care of the SEO aspects of an online project, such as the Keyword Planning Tool, useful for determining the most relevant and advantageous ones to use, in relation to a topic and also to design some investment plans around them. Very important for sending the sitemap of a site and to monitor any errors or penalizing actions that involve it is, then Google Search Console.
Putting search engine optimization strategies into practice requires specially designed SEO tools. I want to introduce you to some of the best known and used in the industry.
Remember, however, that the use of tools of this kind does not have “miraculous” effects and, indeed, in some circumstances it can even be counterproductive. My advice, therefore, is to always try with a “manual” optimization of the contents and try to understand, in case of lack of positioning on search engines, where to act to improve the situation.
Yoast SEO: how it works:
You may have heard of Yoast SEO, which is a plugin dedicated to SEO, which can be installed on the CMS (Content Management System) WordPress, the most popular system in the world for creating blogs and websites. But, perhaps, at this point you may be wondering how Yoast SEO works: it is immediately explained.
Yoast SEO allows you to automate many of the processes necessary for the construction of Web pages and sites in such a way that they are optimized, such as the definition of the snippet (I told you about it in the previous chapter ) and the indication of the desire to index them or not or, again, whether to label them as more relevant content. At the same time, it can also perform the function of an editorial assistant, reporting its own errors in terms of SEO or readability of the contents during their production.
Getting Yoast SEO for your website implies that you have already registered domain and hosting, so also downloaded WordPress
You will also need a WordPress theme, necessary to characterize your website graphically and at the structure level: please choose a theme that is already optimized for SEO and respect the standard terms of page loading speed. Typically, you should already find Yoast SEO included in the package.
If not, you can download it from the Board (or dashboard ) WordPress, by clicking on the item Plugins, then in the window that will generally choose the item Add new and type in the space the term Yoast SEO. Once the option appears on the screen, click on the Activate button. I remind you that Yoast SEO is available in a free version, widely used by most users, as well as paid, for professional and/or business needs.