Back to Basics: Intermediate SEO 101
As I’ve mentioned in my previous article on introduction to SEO, I’m writing beginner’s guides because of a Marketing idea I got from reading one of @NeilPatel’s ebook. Therefore, here I am writing another SEO back to basics.
There are just so much to learn about SEO. This guide will answer some of the most frequent questions and define a few terms SEOs use all the time.
What are the SEO ranking factors?
One of the most important ranking factor in SEO is backlinks. Backlinks will not only give you traffic from other websites but also increase your ranking on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) which makes it easier for people to find you. The quantity and quality of backlinks play a big part in determining your ranking. Having a high quality but low quantity will be better than having high quantity but low quality in SEO and traffic.
Other SEO ranking factors includes:
- On-Page SEO (You can learn about on-page SEO in the introduction to SEO 101 article.)
- Domain Age
- How frequently you update your website. Search Engines want to provide users with the most up to date content; therefore, by updating your website frequently, it tells search engines that your website is fresh and up to date.
What will hurt my SEO Ranking?
There are many black hat tricks people do attempting to game the search engine. However, search engines are getting smarter and these little tricks will hurt your ranking badly. Here are a few well-known tricks that will hurt your SEO ranking.
- Have a lot of outgoing or reciprocal links to bad or spammy sites. A quality websites should also link to other quality sites.
- Keyword stuffing your content.
- Inserting keywords in the background of your site with the same font color.
- Having duplicate or similar content on your website
- Use a lot of flash, videos, audio without optimizing them. Search Engines can’t crawl them and it will also make your website load slower.
- Use robots.txt file to block certain pages which cause search engines unable to crawl.
What is 301 redirect?
In short, 301 redirect, also known as permanent redirect, is usually used when webmasters are moving sites. It is used to direct visitors and search bots to a new page. You can learn more about 301 and 302 redirect and when to use certain types of redirect here.
What is rel=”canonical” tag?
When there are two or more similar pages on your website, the rel=”canonical” tag is used to tell search engines which page you prefer to show in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP). That page is known as your canonical page.
To tell Search Engines which page you want as the preferred page, you can simply enter this code in the section of the similar (non-canonical) pages. (Pages you don’t want to show in the SERP).
<link rel=”canonical” href=http://www.example.com/page/product/file.html />
For example, I have page A, B, and C and they all show the same content. If I only want page A to show up in the SERP then I will enter the above code (replace it with a real link to your pages) to page B and C.
You shouldn’t use the canonical tag a lot. It makes things complicated as your website gets bigger and have more pages. If you stick to the best practices early on, you can avoid all this and save yourself trouble in the long run.
What is XML Sitemap?
This is a listing of all pages on a website. It is used to tell Search Engines about all your pages in case they missed some pages while crawling the website. It may be because you have a big website or the internal linking was bad and caused Search Engines to unable to crawl all pages. Therefore, by submitting an XML Sitemap, Search Engines will know all the pages to crawl on your site.
Furthermore, a XML Sitemap is used to tell Search Engines what page to index if you have multiple similar URLs. For example, you use www.examplesite.com and examplesite.com interchangeably, if you have www.examplesite.com in the Sitemap, Search Engines will know the index that URL over the other.
What is Robots.txt File?
Robots.txt file is a file in a website’s directory to tell Search Engines what pages on a website they should not crawl or skip. For example, if you have a test page for your service page, you obviously don’t want that test page to be indexed and appear on the SERP. Therefore, you include that URL in your robots.txt file and tell Search Engines not to crawl that page.
Related Article: Robots.txt file is no longer optional for Bing and Yahoo!