Basic SEO Guide
SEO became a term we hear very often in Turkey. The number of agencies providing SEO services is increasing day by day, employers are in search of SEO experts. So what is this SEO that we start to hear so often?
SEO, which is part of the digital world, means search engine optimization in short. If we explain it in more detail, we can define it as an effort to improve internet sites in accordance to search engine’s directives. Every search engine has crawlers, and these crawlers visit and analyze websites. We can call crawlers online informants. They immediately snitch to the search engine whether we are listening to the word of the search engine, whether we are conducting unwanted behavior or not. We better behave before crawlers become a nightmare for us.
Let's sit and think; why the need for SEO came out? Can we say the reason for this is “The competition on the internet is increasing every day.”? Yes, we can say that. Because SEO is the best way to eliminate the weak and not beneficial ones, and of course to highlight the others in the highly competitive internet environment.
On August 6, 1991, Tim Berners-Lee founded the world's first website in his laboratory at the Swedish Alps. By the way, let's celebrate the 25th anniversary of www: Happy 25th year WWW! The world's first website is still being visited. Meanwhile, the address of the website is updated and shortened to info.cern.ch recently.
Of course, after the first internet address in the world, the number of internet sites have started to increase. As the number increased, the search engines of the time, like Excite, had to organize the accessibility and structure of the information on the Internet. And they found the best way to rank them was based on the presence of queried keywords in the content of the web pages. And so SEO was born!
Remember, we just talked about the queried words. We call them keywords and amount of search for those words the search volume. The basis of SEO efforts is “keyword analysis” where we extract keywords and search volumes.
Strategies that you will create in the light of keyword analysis allow customers to reach you. The words you get with these works will guide you based on SEO efforts.
So how will you find the right words for you?
There are many keyword analysis tools. One of these is the Keyword Planner from Google. Through this platform, you can see the search volume of any keyword and other related words to this keyword and their search volumes.
At the beginning of the keyword analysis, you should brainstorm on which words you want to improve your ranking. You can think of your categories first. If you are an e-commerce site; you can list all the products you sell, a list of services you offer if you are a marketing company, and a list of news categories that may include daily news if you are a news site.
Now let's extend the list a little. What more can we add, how do users search? It's time to ponder on questions like this! We have reflected, we started from the competitors, we wrote what comes to mind. We've finalized our list.
But now we've got a long list. So how do I decide which words to choose?
- High search volume words
- Related to your website
- Low competition words (Preferably)
Long Tailed Keywords
One of the things you should consider in the context of keyword analysis is long tailed keywords. These words are searched less compared to others but provide a high rate of organic traffic in total.
For example; Although Amazon receives a lot of traffic from the word “DVD, it also gets a lot of traffic from DVD titles (like Dark Knight, Toy Story). While the search volumes of DVD titles are not higher than that of the word DVD, in total they exceed the traffic of the word DVD.
When performing keyword analysis, you should not only focus on high volume words but also identify long-tailed words and place them in your strategies.
For this, the following should be done;
- Identify long-tailed words using tools such as UberSuggest, KeywordShitter, AnswerThePublic, and doing a brainstorm
- Acquire search volume of specified words
- Examine the competition over the keyword with the SEOQuake Chrome plugin
Yes, we've completed our keyword analysis. We will use this analysis at every stage of SEO work. SEO work can be grouped under two headings; on-site SEO and off-site SEO.
On-site studies can be grouped under 3 major headings.
1. Content Optimization
They say content is the king. In 1996, Bill Gates said, “Content is king” and nothing has changed since that day.
Why is content so important? Let us start from you as a user. You searched for “What is SEO?” or “Basic SEO Guide”. So in this case your goal is to start learning about SEO from somewhere. And since you're reading this right now, we can say that we have prepared a guide for your needs. Briefly; the basis of content optimization is to make the users happy by preparing content for the needs and expectations of them.
To get the best results in SEO work you should be patient and optimize your site in accordance with the search engine's guidelines. Quality content work is one of the cornerstones of this. Because the path to the search engine matching the queried word and our content, and the path to attract and provide a benefit user both pass from the content. At the subject of content, some issues need to be considered while performing optimization studies. Let's take a look at these.
As with any other work, you should not compromise on quality in content work. You need to consider subjects like what topics will contribute more to you and provide more conversions, or how and when your content will be made available to users in detail. And, of course, when writing about each topic, you should provide detailed content that is made up of smooth sentences, free of grammar errors and fallacies. If we need to provide an example;
Let's assume you have a website where you sell books. You have a blog where you share content about your books with your users. In your blog:
- You can present an annotated list of classical works.
- You can provide explanations about each branch of literature by categorizing them as French, English, Italian and Turkish Literature.
- You can categorize the books according to literary movements and give detailed information about each movement with sample books.
- You can share life stories and works of writers who have an anniversary of death and birth, every week or every month.
- You can share summary information, author information and reader comments about new books.
We can extend our list with ideas like this. What is important here is to provide detailed information that will appeal to your target audience and make them happy.
Meeting the Need
We talked about quality. We must identify our content topics before quality content. To determine the topics;
You can find successful content from your industry. There are many tools for this. One of them is flippa.com. Flippa is a platform where people sell their websites. And they provide all the information such as monthly users, monthly traffic so that they can add their sites to this platform for sale. Here you can make a plan for yourself by selecting the best ones according to your criteria in your industry.
Let's assume you have a life blog that provides information on topics such as women, fashion and health. When researching through Flippa, you can enter many criteria. We will try to find sites listed
- With at least 1000 users per month,
- With “Lifestyle” category,
- That produces Blog-style content
as shown below.
Yes, we made our choices and listed the results. By clicking the desired result you can see the breakdown of monthly traffic values, their ratios and revenue by traffic channels.
You can examine the sites with values you like in detail and start from their content to create your plan.
In addition, you can create several search strings and search directly through the search engine yourself. For example;
“Top 100” + (keyword)
“best” + (keyword) articles + 2016
“most creative” + (keyword) strategies
Based on all of these, you can access the content that users read, share and search for the most.
In addition to the above, you should follow the current topics and produce appropriate content. To do this, you can create notifications for any keyword with tools such as Google Alert.
Use of Keywords
We have launched our content plan and started writing. Of course, the goal of each content is to improve our position on the targeted words and get loyal users. For this, we must pay attention to the use of keywords.
What you should keep in mind here is BEING NATURAL! Do not set up sentences that do not have any meaning just to use the keyword in the sentence and do not disrupt the integrity of the meaning. And you should avoid using keywords all the time in a way that will annoy the user.
Focusing on the user rather than the keyword will benefit you when writing your content. Because, when you focus on the keyword, you will constantly force yourself to use that word anywhere, resulting in hollow sentences. If you focus on the user, you'll see that the keywords also find their sentences.
2. HTML Edits
Don't get scared of the title. Even if we mentioned HTML, you don't need to know like a professional code writer. The point is to make basic HTML edits in an SEO-compliant way.
The page title is the section that will give the user the first information about the subject of your content. The search results appear as shown in the red box below.
The following points should be considered when creating a page title;
- It must contain the targeted keywords.
- You may add your brand name at the end of your title to increase your brand awareness.
- It must be clear, plain and striking. The page title is your first chance to impress the user, and you should use the title in a way that will impress the user and state how appropriate it is for what she is looking for.
- You must specify an original title for each page.
- It must be 50-60 characters or 512 pixels. This is because segments exceeding the limit appear as ”…” on the search results page, which may lower your clickthrough rate.
The Meta Description is a summary of your page. It can be seen in the search results as shown below.
We can explain the impact of the meta description on SEO with user behavior. The meta description, which previously was among the direct factors of SE, since 2009 it is an indirect factor. The meta description can affect the clicking behavior of users, and the ranking of the websites that are repeatedly clicked through will improve after some time. The reason for this is that search engine rankings are based on user's happiness and satisfaction. The more visited a site is, the more it meets the expectations of users compared to others.
The following points should be considered when creating a meta description:
- Keywords can be used naturally. This will affect the user's click preference.
- It should consist of regular and meaningful sentences.
- You must specify the original meta descriptions for every page.
- It should not be longer than 160 characters. The portion exceeding the limit will appear as “...” as in the page header.
Subheadings are headings that are determined according to the hierarchy of page content. There are 6 different subheadings and are shown as H1, H2,…, H6. The things to consider are as follows;
- There can be only one H1. Because H1 is similar to the page title. It can also be the same as the page title. The primary subject / main title of the page content must be specified with H1.
- Other titles should be H2, H3 in accordance with the hierarchy.
- Make sure that each label is “text”, So you should avoid specifying links or images as subheadings.
When adding your images, you should add decisive and comprehensible overlays and captions to each. Even if the search engines cannot associate images with content, they can establish this relationship from their overlays and captions.
You can create a separate sitemap for your images. If you have a website that has photos or uses images with recipes, a separate sitemap is very important.
The breadcrumb structure, which provides users with the easy on-site navigation, monitors the users' movements and shows the pages they visit until they reach the page they are in.
When creating a breadcrumb structure, the keywords that you specify for each category feed the page with the relevant word and inform the search engine what the page is about.
3. Site Structure
A good site structure allows the user to easily navigate through the site, find what they are looking for smoothly, open the page quickly and open the pages properly on all platforms. The purpose of the site structure is to provide a structure that balances or meets your needs with the needs of the users.
For both the user experience and the SEO side, there are considerations to optimize your site structurally. If the search engine can reach your site easier, your site will improve more.
Let's explain how the search engine crawls your site. Search engines have crawlers for this job. These crawlers come to your website and start to crawl page by page. They report their results to the search engine. Thus, search engines decide on your site and this decision affects your rankings.
- The first place crawlers visit is your robots.txt file. It is located at domain.com/robots.txt, and you can specify where you want search engines to access and not access in it. Crawlers don't crawl where you don't want them to access and they don't appear in the search results. These files are usually pages for yourself rather than users, like /admin-panel, /admin.
- You should create a sitemap of all your pages are nice and you want to be indexed. Crawlers follow the links on the sitemap and crawl them one by one.
- They also navigate on-site links on each page. Therefore, you do not want any links on-site to the pages where you do not want search engines to reach.
- If you have too many categories, it's a good idea to create a separate sitemap for each category. In addition, a sitemap should not be larger than 50MB. This means a total of 50,000 links.
The smoother your links between pages are and the more simple and regular your site structure is, the easier search engines will discover and crawl your pages.
Every page on your site must be unique. This is your basic rule. As we mentioned in the Page Title and the Meta Descriptions under HTML Edits, the content of your pages must be original and unique.
In some cases, it may be the same or very similar content. For example, if you're an e-commerce site and offer filtering features for products, you'll often encounter this problem. When such a problem occurs, you can use one of the
- 301 Permanent Routing You
- Canonical Insertion
With 301 Permanent Redirection, you can completely remove one of the pages from the game, specify which page to redirect, and thus which one will be involved in the game instead. For example; You have two separate pages as “coat” and “jacket” and you realize that users want to examine both product groups at the same time. You don't want to lose the existing traffic and page values of these pages. In this case, you can combine two pages into a single page, and you can redirect the page that will be out of play with 301 to the page you have collected all of the products.
Canonical is mostly applied on filtered pages and on pages where users reach on-site search results. You can declare which page you prefer for that query, which one is your original page, with the canonical tag. Let's assume your user has sorted the products by price, and the URL has changed even though the content of the page hasn't changed, as such a different page has been created for the search engine. You can solve this problem by adding a canonical tag indicating your original page to the page ranked by price.
Mobile compatibility is a must nowadays as mobile usage is ever increasing. When you consider the number of users who make calls from mobile or tablet, we guess you will not want to ignore them.
You can test your site for mobile compatibility via the Google Mobile Compatibility Test as a first step.
If you are not mobile compatible, there are 3 different solutions for this.
- Responsive web design is the design proposed by search engines. Its cost is higher than others, but it is easier to control. This design shows the same URL from the same HTML on all platforms, such as mobile, tablet, and desktop. The view changes according to the screen size.
- Dynamic presentation, in which a different HTML is created for different platform types, but is shown from the same URL.
- Separate URLs in which a separate URL i.e. a separate website, is shown, for each platform. For example; If your website address is domain.com, it will be m.domain.com for mobile.
Mobile compatibility is crucial for both user experience and rankings. Google, which attaches importance to user experience, added mobile compatibility to ranking factors.
As a user, think of pages that open slowly and how frustrating they are. Even reflecting on it will illustrate the importance of page speed.
Search engines, which consider user experience important, negatively evaluate any situation that does not satisfy the user. You can measure your page speed through Google PageSpeed. To optimize your site speed:
- You should optimize image sizes.
- You should minimize your Java, CSS and HTML code.
- You must compress or otherwise reduce the size of your files.
- You should preferably take advantage of caching.
Google offers us guidelines for all these options, so you can easily follow these steps.
The URL structure is the address of your site or page on the Internet.
- When creating your URL structure, you should pay attention to the following;
- Your URL must include the main keyword of the relevant page. For example; domain.com/women-clothes/.
- “-” (hyphen) must be used to separate the words along with Turkish characters.
- URL should be static and dynamic parameters such as % & ! ? = should be avoided.
- Numbers, dates and unnecessary words should be avoided.
- Care should be taken to use words that are related and fewer in number.
A site map is a file that is a roadmap for search engines. Since it contains links to all the pages on your site, it also provides ease of crawling to search engines. There are two different sitemaps; XML sitemap and HTML sitemap. XML sitemaps are created specifically for the search engines to read, while HTML sitemaps are created for the convenience of users. If you have too many pages, you can link to all pages from your HTML map; but if you have a large number of pages, we recommend only linking to the most important pages. The XML sitemap is different from the HTML sitemap in this aspect. Even if you have thousands of links, you should have all the pages in the XML sitemap. Once you've created your XML sitemap, you must add it to your Google Search Console account.
HTTPS and SSL
Google announced in 2014 that HTTPS (the hidden version of HTTP) is among the SEO factors. HTTPS means that the user and the user's connection to the website that the user is sending information to will be encrypted, and that third parties absolutely can’t access this information. While it's difficult to move your HTTP-enabled site to HTTPS or SSL, the results are worth it.
Off-site activities include off-site optimization, such as linking activities. Search engines value you by looking at the quality, number and type of links you receive from other sites. All of this determines your off-site SEO quality.
At the beginning of SEO history, all the links added value to you regardless of the quality of the links and how they came from. However, the search engines have noticed that there were unnatural issues in the link strategy such as buying a link that reduced user experience and misled them. Therefore, it has started to bring some updates to off-site SEO activities and continues to do so. The main goal is that everything should happen naturally. In other words, any blog writer, blogger or site owner will write about you and link you because she likes and recommends your product and service, without you requesting it.
Google's most popular metric, “page value” used to be the most important metric when determining which sites to list on the first page. Recently, the “authority“ and “trust” metrics have also begun to gain importance to penalize spam sites and push them back.
Having links from trusted sites such as .edu, .gov increase authority and trust.
Authority and Trust Metrics (Authority and Trust)
Authority and trust values are the results of the SEO activities you do for your entire site. However, above all, the links that come to your site from other sites with high values increase your power and trust values.
You can measure your authority and trust metrics by using Moz's Open Link Explorer tool.
Link activity is intertwined with content optimization. Informative, interesting, and high-quality content on your site will provide proportional links to your website. We can list the things to be done for this as follows.
One of the most efficient ways to increase awareness of your website is to set up a blog and produce up to date content. Through your blog, you can link to different sites and thus create a link exchange. Through the blog, you can create content on current topics, industrial topics, or topics that interest users which you can relate to yourself. If you claim “I can't write”, you can work with the guest authors who will do this for you.
You can start a discussion about a topic or comment on an ongoing discussion in a high-quality forum with a high number of users. Of course, The important thing here is that you should be able to link to your website with your signature in the forums that can be crawled by the search engines.
You can also attract users through videos on your website. This also will return to you as a backlink. It is important that you prepare a video on an interesting topic and prepare your video in accordance with SEO guidelines.
Infographics are the way of presenting information visually. Instead of long paragraphs information is given in the form of notes, and include more graphs and visuals. As such it becomes more interesting. In addition to being easy to remember, the user can identify it with herself. For example; Where the world’s biggest tea drinkers are published by Quartz was shared widely and the reason for this was that everyone who drank tea found a part of themselves in this infographic. You can achieve this success by preparing infographics suitable for your audience.
Industrial Investigations and Analyzes
You can share your comments about your industry or interview experts in your industry. This will increase your success in the sector and you will be referenced in the relevant subjects. At the same time, you can add details to the analyzes made and share them with your users.
News or Press Releases
Press releases allow you to present your products and services through trusted sources. You can use this option if you make any discounts, organize an event, or introduce a new product. It also allows you to be mentioned in news query results.
Interactive Online Tools
Although not all industries are suitable for creating online tools, you can benefit from this if your industry is appropriate. For example; Some of the most commonly used tools are foreign exchange calculation, general purpose loan calculation, etc.
In this section, the factors that determine the value of links, as well as link generation strategies, are as follows:
Search engines don't give the same value to all the links to your site. Some have more value and others are of lower quality. While links from trusted sites are more valuable compared to others, the link you receive from a blog comment you made may be less valuable. At the same time, the links originating from sources that are relevant to your topics will add more value to you.
The word used for the actual link itself is called anchor text. Anchor texts that include keywords will benefit you. Of course, as it is difficult to control this, maybe you can find some of the inbound links and appeal for them.
In the meantime, rather than directly matching words such as “books” and “pens”, it would be more beneficial for search engines to see natural links as long tailed words such as “5 best-selling books of the year” and “most amusing pens ”.
Number of Links
Finally, the number of links is also important. The number of inbound links to your site improves your authority metric. The increase in your trust metric depends on how many links are coming from which site. For example; the large number of links from the same site means that this is not natural, and it will damage your trust metric. Getting many links from reliable and different sites will benefit you the most.
The impact of social media on SEO is increasing daily. We now see results from social media platforms for search queries. The two metrics we can evaluate in terms of social media are as follows:
Quality of Shares:
On the basis of quality, how often you are shared and by whom you are shared are influential. Once again it is content that will increase and encourage sharing on social media. The best example is Onedio. It is one of the sites that has all of its news, test, or list contents shared most. And the reason for that is, it knows its users very well and produces content that is virally strong and suitable for them.
Number of Shares:
Virally strong content will increase your number of shares. Of course, this can be difficult to achieve. The fact that you are shared frequently on social media means to the search engine that you create quality content.
The Primitive Period of SEO
Yahoo (1994) and Google (1997) come to the stage to simplify and improve the indexing process of pages. These years can be called the most primitive period of SEO. The websites used to do doing everything the search engines don't want to be done nowadays, such as filling pages with keywords, tagging them intensively and getting all kinds of links. How easy it was to get success from SEO work.
When Google began to take the stage, things become harder. Seeing that the best option was to provide users with quality content, Google began to set up regulations and rules for this purpose and laid the foundations for today.
The Early Years of SEO (the Early 2000s)
We can say that this was the last period of strategies that are seen as spam today. The page value, which we call PageRank, often varied according to the number of backlinks. Backlink strategies were about getting lots of links from all kinds of sites regardless of quality.
Google was only a search engine in this period and was looking at web results as a whole. So it didn't match web pages with the searched word. This exact situation was the catalyst to match pages with keywords and work started on this.
Google's Florida update in 2003 was a turning point for SEO. This update was devastating for numerous websites. First of all, the websites that used keyword stuffing, the practice to accumulate keywords on the page without giving any information were penalized. Quality content came to the fore.
2005: The Most Important Year for SEO
There were many improvements to SEO in 2005.
- Google merged with Yahoo and MSN for the “nofollow” feature. The purpose of this feature was to reduce spam links and comments to websites
- Personalized search results appeared on the scene. Thus, more relevant results were shown by checking people’s search histories.
- Google launched the Analytics platform.
Between 2005 and 2010
We were introduced with universal search. The reason for this was to provide content in search results such as news and images that are both more relevant and pique curiosity.
Google Suggest was introduced to improve usability and provide users with more relevant results based on their search history. Along with this, it was aimed to be more focused on optimization studies and more objective-oriented.
Bing, who collaborated with Microsoft, made the opening claiming it will change habits.
Google tested the Caffeine application. The goals for this application were to index faster, to expand the scope of the index, and to make the index and sorting synchronized. It took a whole year to fully implement.
2010 to Today
Since 2010, there have been many updates, especially by Google. With these updates, the aim was to improve the user experience, to provide the best results to the users and to penalize the websites that continue spam activities. Improvement activities are still ongoing. If you wish to work on SEO, first of all, you need to understand the goal of Google. You can better understand the importance of Google attaches to user-friendly strategies by looking at its update history.
If you apply all the strategies we attempted to explain summarily, you will surely achieve success in the sense of SEO. But you must be very patient in doing all this. Unfortunately, SEO is not a work that produces results quickly. You won't be able to see the results of your changes immediately. Likewise, the fact that you are not immediately penalized when you do an activity that the search engines do not want does not mean that you are on the right track. In the future, the search engine will first warn you when it notices it. If you do not take this warning seriously and do appropriate corrections, sadly you will be penalized.
You need to focus;
- What users are looking for, what they need, what attracts them,
- to create the necessary content and to make arrangements to provide users what they want
- And never forget to be user-friendly
We hope you have lots of traffic, plenty of users!