04 Mar 2022

The Complete Handbook to SEO

️ Blog
28 min. reading time
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is also known in Dutch as search engine optimization. Many texts are now online and are found via search engines. That is why it is not only important that a text appeals to the target audience, but also that the text ranks high in Google. Let's face it, what good is a website that is not found? SEO is basically the art of writing texts in a way that appeals to both people and search engines. This way you can be found and read.

The Complete Handbook to SEO

1. How do search engines work?

You can ensure that your text appeals to search engines by taking the search engine's algorithm into account. Since Google is the most used search engine, we will focus on this in the explanation of search engines. However, other search engines use similar principles.

Google sends so-called spiders, crawlers or bots around the internet to index web pages. These crawlers determine what topic a website is about. For example, the crawlers look at titles, subheadings and introduction.

Based on this, they include the website in Google's database, better known as the index. Hence, this process is also known as indexing. By ensuring that the keyword for which you want to be found appears here, you can ensure that your website is listed under the correct terms in the index.

Don't think that this will immediately put you at the top of the organic search results. You are probably not the only one who wants to be found for a certain search term. Google's algorithm therefore uses different ranking factors. No one knows exactly how many ranking factors there are, nor which factors they are. The exact operation of search engines is therefore unknown.

We can say with reasonable certainty that Google in any case looks at the relevance of your content, the security of your website, its structure and the degree of link building.

Google tries to place the best websites at the top with the ranking factors. By the best website I mean the websites that best match the search term used, but also provide the best user experience. A website that only produces bounces, because the content does not match the search query or in which visitors get stuck because too much broken links will not have a high position.

On page, off page, technical
To make your website as search engine friendly, you need to take these factors into account. Although the ranking factors are not fully known, we can distinguish three areas that play a role: the on-site SEO, the off-site SEO and the technical SEO.

On-site SEO consists of the web text itself: make sure that the subject is as clear as possible with the url, title, headings and introduction, but above all make sure you have relevant content that meets the needs of your visitor. Off-site SEO includes connections to other web pages: external linking or backlinks. Technical SEO has to do with, for example, the speed and security of your site.

2. SEO is not static

Google's algorithm is constantly changing and is getting smarter, as it were. By constantly improving the algorithm, SEO is also changing. What was a good strategy ten years ago to achieve a high position in the organic search results is no longer so.

Penguins and Hummingbirds

A well-known adjustment is, for example, the Hummingbird algorithm from 2013. As a result, Google has started to attach more value to high-quality content. Putting keywords in strategic places haphazardly, without writing a good text, is punished as a result. Furthermore, Hummingbird has made local search results more important. If I search for a 'Thai restaurant' from an IP address in Utrecht, I will get suggestions from Utrecht and the surrounding area and not from Groningen.

The Penguin algorithm from 2012 is also known. This update, like the Hummingbird, aims to prevent over-optimization and therefore looks at the quality of the links on your website, among other things. Are these links really relevant to your content? In 2016 Penguin was updated again to perform indexing of websites in real time. The results of adjustments to your website are therefore more visible in the search results.

It is therefore a good idea to keep an eye on developments in the field of search engine optimization and to adjust your website if desired. In any case, the most important trend in SEO is that Google is getting better at recognizing high-quality content compared to tricks. Read more about the trends in SEO here.

3. SEO and Keyword Research

Enough about how Google works. How do you approach search engine optimization correctly? The first step in your SEO process is keyword research. It is important to know what people are looking for when they need services or products from your company.

Perhaps you expect them to search for a 'website builder', when in reality they are looking for terms such as 'IT agency' or a 'web developer'? Fortunately, there are tools such as the Google Keyword Planner of SEMrush to get this information out. This allows you to see what search volume search terms have and how much competition there is.

High volume, low competition
For the SEO optimization of your website, it is useful to choose keywords with a high search volume combined with a low degree of competition. Are there many searches for both 'website builder' and 'web developer', but many other companies are already trying to rank for 'web developer'? Then 'website builder' is the word you should use on your website to describe your company.

Of course you choose a different keyword per page of your website, or even multiple keywords to optimize for, such as 'website builder', 'app builder' and 'SEO expert'. With this small example, your research is far from finished.

Also keep in mind that both search volume and competition can change. This means that you should regularly update your keyword research. Read here our step-by-step guide to doing keyword research.

4. The Basics of SEO Optimization

Now that you know what the most important keywords are, you can look further into the content side of search engine optimization. Because how does SEO work now? To ensure that the crawlers are clear about what your website is about, make sure that the chosen topic and keyword comes back in strategic places. These are often places where you, as a reader, expect the subject or keyword: such as in the slug or url, the page title, the H1, a few headings and the introduction.

mind the gap
But there are also places that you may overlook, such as the alternative text (or alt text) with images or in the meta description. The meta description is especially important because it's the first thing your reader sees. Without a good meta description you will miss out on clicks. So make sure that you make the subject clear and that you make it attractive to click through. With this Social Brothers SEO Template you check this.

But as we already saw, there is more to SEO than just being indexed on the right keyword. It is also important that your website is given authority by Google. After all, this will put you higher than your competition in the organic search results. So make sure you good lyrics that are relevant to your target audience. Also ensure a good structure of your website, for example by including internal links. If these are relevant links, it becomes clear that you have a lot to say on this topic.

Backlinks, links from others that lead to your webpage, also increase your authority. You can ask your network to name your website. However, don't forget that especially good and relevant content makes including links to your website worthwhile for others.

Read here about Attune's get to the top of Google or view our ten tips for improving the SEO of your website.

5. No tricks, but keyword intent

Don't cram
In the past, tricks were often used for SEO, such as keyword stuffing† A keyword was repeated so many times that it can only be annoying to human readers. Fortunately, Google's algorithms are increasingly appreciating high-quality texts, making these tricks less and less useful.

That makes sense, because keyword stuffing texts are not the texts that people want to read. So it's not the organic search results they want. Assuming the search engines actually want to show the results that are actually searched for, it is logical that they penalize these types of texts, as it were.

Search intent
If you do want to be at the top of the search results, write good and relevant texts. Ask yourself what your readers or customers need. What do they want to know? Then make sure that your texts match.

One of the most important principles in modern SEO is keyword intent† If you want to be found for a specific keyword or keyword, such as 'web design', do not just provide a text in which this word occurs, but write a sincere text about web design. Make sure the text answers the question of the person who googled 'web design'.

So keep the reader and their wishes in mind. Of course you also keep an eye on the basic principles of SEO, but do not focus on this in such a way that people disappear from the picture. This fits within the principle of inbound marketing in which the customer and their wishes are central. Read more about it here the principles of inbound marketing.

6. Topic authority

The single most important principle in modern search engine optimization is subject authority† With this you show Google and your visitors that you are an authority in a certain field. And if that's not a reason to place your website at the top…. To gain this topic authority, it is important that you write more than one text on a topic.

topic clusters
The principles of subject clusters can help you with this. In the basics, you provide an extensive main page about your basic subject: the so-called pillar page. You use this as an umbrella for a dozen blogs about subtopics. Of course you connect these blogs to the main page by means of links. This structure allows you to write extensively about a topic and answer any questions visitors might have about the topic.

By working in this way you also keep an overview. This also prevents multiple pages with the focus keyword 'web design'. You save that for the main page, while you focus on subtopics such as 'UX' in the blogs.

7. The technical side of SEO

We already know a lot about the textual side of search engine optimization, but there is more. The technology of your website must also be in order. After all, Google wants to send people to websites that are useful to them and not to websites that do not load or, worse, are unsafe. Although technology does not require new blogs every week, as inbound marketing does, it is of course good to have and keep the technology in order.

Fast and accessible
Basically you want a fast website that is accessible and understandable for crawlers. You get that accessibility by ensuring a good structure of internal linking. But you can also continue with a robots.txt file. With this you give the crawlers directions when crawling and indexing your website. However, the robots.txt file is becoming less and less important. In fact, Google wants it to have no effect at all in the end.

Furthermore, it is important for the technical side of your SEO that you avoid dead links and duplicate content. You can do a lot for the security of your website, but the most important thing is to implement HTTPS on your website. If you want to know more about the technical side of SEO, check out the interview with our SEO expert.

How complicated the technical side of SEO is also depends on the CMS you use. For example, WordPress is known for its SEO friendliness. Read more about WordPress and SEO at our brother WP Brothers† With a headless CMS where the link between back end and front end is not one-to-one, it can be more complicated to get the SEO in order. Read more about it here headless CMS and SEO.

8. Tools to help with SEO

Fortunately, you don't have to do SEO optimization alone. Tools like Yoast of SEMrush can help you. SEMrush is a comprehensive tool that brings the whole search engine package together. This is how you can use this program for keyword research.

SEMrush provides information about search volume and competition level and can make suggestions for related keywords. The program indicates per page what can be done for SEO optimization, but also for the entire site.

So the program helps with the on-site, off-site as well as technical SEO† This makes SEMrush different from the more well-known program Yoast. It indicates where links do not work, where duplicate content occurs or where pages are not accessible to spiders. Read more about the benefits of SEMrush.

YOAST is a widely used plugin that is especially useful for on-site SEO. It was initially developed for WordPress websites. Yoast analyzes your web texts and on that basis provides concrete and personalized tips to optimize your web page for the chosen search term. If your keyword is not enough in the subheadings, YOAST will let you know. If the subject is not immediately clear from the introduction, YOAST will indicate it. In addition, the readability of your text is checked.

This makes Yoast a good checklist to see if you have paid attention to all SEO parts. However, it is not a panacea: writing the text and adapting it in response to the tips is something you really have to do yourself. Read more about Yoast on the WP Brothers website.

9. When SEO and when SEA?

SEO is part of SEM: Search Engine Marketing. SEM also includes SEA: Search Engine Advertising. SEA differs from SEO because here you simply pay Google or another search engine for an ad that appears among the search results. SEA is often about Google Ads.

Google ads
The principle of Google ads is simple: you create an ad and choose the keywords where the ad should appear. Then you choose a bid. As soon as someone clicks on the ad, you pay this bid. The higher your bid, the more often your ad will appear.

The question now is, of course, when to use SEO and when to use SEA. Both have their pros and cons. Search engine optimization is basically free, but it can take three to six months before you see results.

Pros and cons
SEA costs money, but gives immediate results: your ad appears immediately above the organic search results. If you stop the ad campaign, it will disappear immediately. SEA does give you more control. You know exactly for which keywords the ad appears and you can also keep track of exactly how many people click on it.

In most cases it is wise to combine SEO and SEA and to use Google ads mainly for temporary campaigns or to highlight certain products and services.

Tip from Social Brothers: it is a good strategy to use SEA first. This allows you to immediately see which search terms yield conversions. You can use this knowledge to set up your SEO strategy. Read more about it here SEA, how you use and why.

Want to know more?

Still not tired of SEO? Then read here the seven most common SEO mistakes† Or watch how Social Brothers de SEO of Easy Noise Control has improved.

Do you want to be kept informed of developments in the field of SEO and more? Then sign up for our newsletter.

Check out our here SEO services† If you need help optimizing your website, don't hesitate to contact us contact on. Social Brothers is ready for you.

Steven Founder[email protected]06-20413957
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