SEO guide & explanation for 2023
SEO stands for search engine optimisation which is the art of getting your website to appear at the top on search engine results pages (SERPS) in the organic listings.
Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimising your website & content so that a search engine likes to show it as a top result for searches of a particular keyword or group of related keywords. Read more on SEO trends for 2023.
When it comes to SEO, there’s you, the search engine, and the searcher. If you have an article about “how to lose weight”, you want the search engine to show your site as a top result to anyone who searches for the phrase “how to lose weight”.
SEO is the magic you have to work on your article in order to make Google very likely to include your site/page as one of the top results whenever someone searches for that keyword.
So what does SEO really look like and why does it even matter?
Like I said earlier, the vast majority of online experiences begin with a search query via Google or Bing, and more than 80% of people start their searches on Google.
Combine that with the fact that the first five results on Google get between 65% and 69% of all clicks, so you can see why SEO or search engine optimisation is so important.
If your website, page, or product is not on page 1 of Google search results, then it’s the equivalent of not existing at all.
But to understand how to show up first in the search engine results, you first need to know how search works.
How search works
Now that you have an idea of the basics of SEO, Let’s look at some of its components in detail.
While Google guards their search algorithms pretty well and not all of the over 200 determining ranking factors are public.
Here are the most important ranking factors for 2023 in no particular order.
- Referring domains – (Number of other domains linking to your website)
- Organic click-through-rate – (How & where people have visited your site from, best found in Google Analytics)
- Domain authority – (A measurement of how authoritative your domain is. This can be tracked in Moz or Ahrefs)
- Mobile usability – (Whether your website is mobile-friendly, also known as responsive web design)
- Content quality – (How valuable your content is, how it answers the searcher’s question)
- On-page SEO – (How well optimised your website content is for the searchers keyword/s)
- Off-page SEO – (Links from other reputable websites that are relevant to yours)
There are three big categories of on-page SEO that you’ll need to take a look at. The first and most important is content.
Google tries to give the searcher the best experience possible by directing you to the best, most relevant content it can find. This means that you have 2 jobs mainly. The first is keyword research, the second job is to take your time a write truly great content!
Easy right! Wrong! You still have to put in a lot of work.
Composition of on-page SEO
3. Meta title
4. Meta description
5. Title tags
Obviously, the domain plays a very big part of SEO. You see lots of companies nowadays taking profit from this. For example, you may see some domains like webdesignlondon.co.uk, plumberinlondon.co.uk or londonvets.co.uk. This seems to be common practice and still gets big ranking credit from search engines.
URL’s are used also to achieve ranking results, fewer and fewer websites now miss out on getting the most out of their URL structure. For example, jsmith.co.uk/plumber-in-london/. Ostensibly you are telling search engines that this page is about a “plumber in London. The search engines algorithms will analyse all their secret ranking factors, the content and the links pointing to the site and rank it accordingly. So make use of your URL’s structure on your website.
The title tag is an HTML tag that exists in the head section of every page on your website. It provides the first clue to what the subject matter of the content inside is.
It is featured prominently in the search engine results pages (usually the clickable link). Missing, duplicate, and poorly written title tags can negatively impact your SEO results, so make sure you check them.
Since the early days of SEO, meta descriptions have been an important optimisation factor. Meta description tags provide a description of what the page is about, are displayed in the SERPs underneath the title of the page.
Google maintains that meta descriptions don’t help with rankings, there is evidence that better descriptions do help.
Wording a meta description well can help improve click-through rate (CTR) and is your sales message to entice a user to your site.
Header tags are HTML elements (H1-H6) used to identify headings and subheadings within your content from other types of text (e.g., paragraph text).
H tags aren’t as important for site rankings as they used to be, but they still serve as guides for your users and SEO.
They can impact rankings by making content easier for visitors to read and providing keyword-rich context for search engines.
All your website content needs to be unique, researched, answers questions and written for people not search engines if you want to rank well in search, full stop. All content must be high-quality, fairly substantial (depending on the competition), and relevant.
Schema markup in 2023 is very important. Schema markup is semantic vocabulary in microdata format that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. Schema markup tells the search engine what that content means. The example below shows the use of schema. It shows as a product, the star rating of 5, how many reviewers and the general price.
If you have an HTML website you could use this schema generator to help construct your schema code snippet to add to the header of each page. If you are using WordPress, we recommend Schema Pro. It is hands down the best schema markup plugin on the market. There is nothing this tool can’t do. Read our review of Schema Pro here.
On-site SEO or on-page SEO is crucial to the success of your website and really important for links coming into your site. On-page and off-page must be relevant for you to rank well in the SERPs.
A good free tool for analysing all on-page factors is Screaming Frog.
Doing your keyword research up-front is a crucial part of great content.
Since you ideally want to include your target keyword in your post’s headline and throughout the article, you need to choose your keyword before you start writing.
Some free tips are directly from Google. Use the people also ask box to discover content, frequently asked questions and LSI or related keywords.
Another good tip is to use Google’s related keywords at the bottom of each page.
Out of all on-page SEO factors, these 2 are the ones you should spend the most time on.
A must-have tool for keyword research, on-going keyword research and analysis is Google Search Console, please put this on your site when you launch the website. There is no better data to use to rank in Google than Google’s own tool.
Neil Patel has a great tool with a free version, UberSuggest. This keyword research tool allows you to get insight into keyword strategies that are working for other sites so you can learn, improve and build on them.
Using the keywords you have found
Google is smart and only getting smarter. While you should use your keyword throughout the content you write, stuffing your keywords into your text as much as possible will hurt your rankings rather than improve them, if not immediately, down the line it most certainly will.
Just make sure your main keyword is present in important places like a headline or 2, part of the URL, and meta description, there is no need to mention it lots of times in the main body of the text.
Just focus on the reader and the user experience (UX).
Write great content
Type in your keyword into Google, open the 1st 2nd & 3rd websites in different tabs/windows. By doing this you are looking at something you want to rank for and looking at sites already ranking.
Read through their content, study the structure of the page or post and look at any images, start to plan how you can write and design yours better.
Don’t copy the content, Google and other search engines penalise for duplicate content. This method to see what is ranking should only be used for research purposes only. This goes the same for images. Only use free image sites for website pictures.
Here is one to get you started for images https://www.freeimages.com/
Fresh content helps
Posting new fresh content more frequently can improve Google rankings. However, posting new content is only one way to signal freshness, you can make already published content more up-to-date by amending and/or adding to it.
You don’t need to publish every day or week, you can still get great results by posting once a month as long as your content is comprehensive and unique.
Everyone gets confused and kind of overcomplicated this part of SEO. Technical SEO is fundamentally checking that everything is working properly and errors are kept to an absolute minimum.
I think you could go to virtually any website and find errors. so as long as these fundamental things are checked and all good, you won’t have problems in this department.
1. Broken links
You can either go through and correct your website manually to see if any of the buttons or hyperlinks are broken, or if you are using WordPress, you can use in our opinion the best plugin for automatically scanning for broken links. This plugin is by WPMU Dev, Broken Link Checker. This tool is lightweight and works flawlessly.
2. Website speed
This is a pre-requisite now in 2023 so making sure your website, WordPress or not loads as quick as your hosting allows is an absolute must. We recommend Nitropack, you can see our review here.
3. Duplicate content
This is quite self-explanatory, you only need to check similar pages to see if the content is the same. If it is, then remove the duplicate page.
Every website needs to have an accurate sitemap.xml file. This helps search engines crawl your website and find pages not immediately visible on your home page, service pages or pages not linked to by other pages. An HTML sitemap is useful, but not essential at this time.
5. Site is indexable & crawlable
Accidentally setting your robots.txt to noindex is easily done. If this has happened, you are effectively asking Google to not list your website in search results. This can be easily rectified, just look for your robots.txt in your FTP account or Yoast or RankMath for WordPress.
Structured data helps search engines understand your website, content or even your business better. With structured data you can tell search engines, what kind of products you sell or just info about your business.
There is a fixed format in which you should provide this information, search engines can easily understand it. Schema helps them to place your content in a bigger picture. Yoast SEO has free structured data content blocks for How-to and FAQ content.
Implementing structured data can bring you more than just a better understanding by search engines. It also makes your content eligible for rich results, those results with stars or details that stand out in the search results.
If you are using WordPress, we suggest Schema Pro. You can read our review on Schema Pro here.
7. Orphaned pages
Orphaned pages have no internal links from crawlable pages on your website. As a result, search engines can’t find or index them (unless they have backlinks from other websites). If any of the URLs that you find are important, you should incorporate them into your site structure. This might mean adding internal links from your navigation bar or other relevant crawlable pages.
8. HTTPS vs HTTP
If you see a red “Not Secure” warning, you’re not using HTTPS, and you need to install an SSL certificate. You can get these for free from LetsEncrypt or a free shared SSL with our cPanel cloud hosting plans. HTTPS is necessary for SEO or at the very least a box worth ticking off. It is not a big part of SEO, but why risk being on Google’s radar by not having one.
If you cover your bases with the 8 items above, you can pretty much consider your website to be good for technical SEO.
Off-page SEO (also called “off-site SEO”) refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
Optimising for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. This is accomplished by other reputable places on the internet linking to or promoting your website, and effectively “vouching” for the quality of your content.
Why does off-page SEO matter?
While search algorithms and ranking factors are constantly changing, the general consensus within the SEO community is that the relevance, trustworthiness, and authority that effective off-page SEO affords a website still play a major role in a page’s ability to rank.
While we don’t know the full algorithm Google uses to rank content, data from our Search Engine Ranking Factors study show that off-site SEO-related factors likely carry more than 50% of the ranking factor weight. (Moz).
Links and off-page SEO
Building backlinks is the staple of any off-page SEO campaign. Search engines use backlinks as indicators of the linked-to content’s quality, so a site with many high-value backlinks from reputable sources will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer backlinks.
How to do off-page SEO
At a high level, improving the “off-page SEO” of a website involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s quality. This happens by getting links from other sites (especially those that are reputable and trustworthy), mentions of your brand, shares of your content, and “votes of confidence” from sources outside of your own website.
This is where iwebsitez.com can help, with our expert SEO services, we can analyse your completion & the SERPs to see what links are needed to rank for your desired keywords.
Tools to measure SEO
The tools of choice by top SEO companies to measure metrics will be either Ahrefs, SEM Rush, or Moz. For us personally, we use all of them.
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Amazing post guys, thorough but yet not too wordy, love it, Concise, to the point and all the things that matter in SEO these days, well done!
Thanks, it means a lot. We try to help.
A good read, I found it really informative and should help me with my website. If I need help with mine, I know where to come.
You are so welcome Julian
Great informative post, helps explain SEO a lot. Some of the others, SEJ, Moz & NPatel ramble on a little but this gets right to the point. I may seek some help from you if I get stuck on my blog.
Thank you, Lorraine, you are more than welcome.
Loved the simplicity how you explain what SEO is, are you going to be adding more blogs?