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Introduction to What is SEO

The blog before you is designed to educate on search engine optimization (SEO) for digital marketers and those interested to know more about search engine optimization in both Kampala and world over.
This post is rich with number of new techniques in the search engine industry, and the digital marketing field as a whole. Our goal is to help simplify a very complex, layered topic and to make it easier for people to grasp, as well as to make it easier to focus on the most important aspects 
of search engine optimization (SEO) for individual businesses—while at the same time providing depth of knowledge and expertise that the most advanced search veteran can utilize.
As a company, we have experience working on SEO in Uganda, a discipline involving deep proficiency in all aspects of digital marketing—from website development, information architecture, and user experience (UX) to market research, content strategy, analytics, conversion optimization, and data-driven decision making.
These technical skills, along with the ability to merge the analytical with the creative, compose the SEO professional’s toolkit. We have seen how search engine optimization works over a relatively long period of time, across a number of different websites. Any one of us could have written this blog post individually (in fact, one of us tried to), but we discovered that by working together we were able to create something of much greater value for you, the savvy marketer who recognizes the value of the most highly converting digital content.

 What Is SEO?

Let us start by defining what is SEO? It has very many definitions but they are so techie and confusing to the new digital marketing blood. I managed to get some easy to digest definitions from the industry respected experts.

Search engine journal  defines SEO as “the process of optimizing a website – as well as all the content on that website – so it will appear in prominent positions in the organic results of search engines.”

Search engine optimization requires an understanding of how search engines work, what people search for, and why and how people search. Successful SEO makes a site appealing to users and search engines. It is a combination of technical and marketing.”

The art of SEO defines it as ” The process of increasing the number of visitors to a website by achieving high rank in the search results returned by a search engine.” The higher a website ranks in the results pages, the greater the chance is that users will visit the site. In search engine optimization we have paid and organic search results.

Organic search results are the query results which are calculated strictly algorithmically, and not affected by advertiser payments while paid search results are basically ads paid for by businesses in order to rise above the organic results in the fastest way possible.

Marketers invest money into SEM (search engine marketing) in order to boost their website to (ideally) the first page when someone types an inquiry using specific keywords.search-engine-optimization-uganda

How SEO works?

This blog will disperse common misconceptions about SEO, show you how SEO works and reveal how to stay up-to-date with how Google ranks sites. But first, to understand how Google works today, we must understand a little bit about Google’s way of doing things.

To succeed with search engine optimization (SEO), and rank for keywords you care about, it’s necessary to understand a little about how Google and bing works.
Google does two basic things. First, it crawls the Internet looking for web
pages, storing these pages in its index. Think of the Google index as a massive catalog (much like a library would have a catalog of every book).

Second, it has software that processes user searches and finds the best matching web pages from its catalog. In order for your web page to rank well in Google for a given keyword, two things need to happen. First, Google needs to crawl and index your web page. If your web page isn’t being crawled, you’re not even in the race!

Then, of all the possible web pages that Google thinks is a match for the keyword being searched, your page or pages have to be considered better than the other possible candidates.
Getting Google to visit a Web page and index it is not as hard to do as it once
was. In the early days of search engine optimization, it was often necessary to manually submit new web pages to the search engines so they would know these pages existed.

Many SEO consultants and software tools offered this as a service called search engine submission. Today, manual submission of pages is rarely necessary. Instead, simply getting a link to a new web page from a page that is already being crawled by Google is sufficient to get the new page crawled as well. That’s how most new pages get into the Google index today.

If you do decide you want to manually submit your pages to Google, it’s free and easy (and should not involve hiring a consultant). Just use the Google’s search console tool to submit your website’s sitemap. Getting web pages indexed by Google is not the problem. Getting them to rank well is where the challenge is. To understand how to rank well, it’s helpful to understand the basics of how the Google ranking algorithm works.

 How GOOGLE’S BRAIN WORKS
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Let’s dig into how Google’s software brain works. We promise not to make it too technical, and you’ll know enough to impress your friends and family at the next holiday party.

When a user types a keyword into Google’s search box, Google first looks through the billions of pages in its index and comes up with a list of results that are matches for the term. For example, if you type search engine optimization into the Google search box, there are currently about 176,000,000 pages that Google finds related to that term.

Once Google has this list of pages, it sorts the list so the highest-quality results are at the top of the list and the lowest-quality results are at the bottom. Ranking is based on a combination of three things ,relevancetrust and authority.

Trust is at the very core of Google’s major changes and updates the past several years. Google wants to keep poor-quality, untrustworthy sites out
of the search results, and keep high-quality, legit sites at the top. If your site has high-quality content and backlinks from reputable sources, your site
is more likely to be considered a trustworthy source, and more likely to rank
higher in the search results.

The relevance is a measure of how close of a match a given web page is to the term being searched. This is based on factors such as the Title tag (sometimes called the “page title”), the page content, and the anchor text of links to the page.

The authority of a page is a measure of how important and authoritative that given page is in the eyes of Google. The authority of a web page is at the heart of the Google algorithm. Google calls this authority PageRankTM,
named for Larry Page, one of the founders of Google.

The idea behind PageRank is brilliantly simple and based on work at Stanford University on how to measure the credibility and importance of academic papers. The authority of a given academic paper can be determined by the number of other papers that cite and reference it.

The more citations a given paper has, the better the paper. But, not all citations are created equal. A citation from another paper that itself has a high number of citations is considered to carry more weight. High-authority papers are cited by other high-authority papers.

It is this same principle that drives Google’s PageRank, but instead of
academic papers, it’s about web pages. And instead of citations, it’s about
links from other web pages. The authority of a web page is calculated based on the number of inbound links from other web pages and the authority of those pages.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say you’ve created a web page about the best restaurants in Kampala. If your page is just sitting out there, and nobody is linking to it, Google assigns a relatively low authority score to your page. This is not surprising. Google has no evidence that you know what you’re talking about or that your content is of high quality. Over time, a few other bloggers find your web page and link to it from their pages. This causes your authority to increase. The more powerful the web pages that link to you, the more your authority goes up.

Now, if someday, Kampala.com (the website for the whole of Kampala) links to your page, your authority goes up significantly. Why? Because Kampala.com itself is a high-authority web site. So, to get search engine optimization authority, the name of the game is to get as many links as possible from as many high-authority sites as possible.

How do you get links?

By creating remarkable content. Search engine optimization (SEO) when done well is not about tricking Google into ranking your web page. It’s about creating content that users would want to find and helping Google deliver great search results is to create content that is rank-worthy. By rank-worthy, we mean content that is worthy of being ranked because it is what the user who is searching would consider to be of high quality and relevance.    

Google’s top ranking factors revealed

You may have wondered if you can find out the exact factors Google uses in their algorithm. Fortunately, there are a handful of industry leaders who have figured it out, and regularly publish their findings on the Internet.

With these publications, you can get a working knowledge of what factors Google uses to rank sites. These surveys are typically updated every second year, but these factors don’t change often, so you can use them to your advantage by knowing which areas to focus on.

Here’s a short list of some of the strongest factors found in sites ranking in the top 10 search results, in the most recent study by Search Metrics:
– Overall content relevance.
– Click-through-rate.
– Time-on-site.
– HTTPS—security certificate installed on site.
– Font size in main content area (presumably people find larger fonts more
readable and leads to higher engagement).
– Number of images.
– Facebook total activity.
– Pinterest total activity.
– Tweets.
– Number of backlinks.


If your competitors have more of the above features than yours, then it’s
likely they will rank higher than you. If you have more of the above features
than competitors, then it is likely you will rank higher. The above factors are
from the Search Metrics Google Ranking Factors study released in 2016.

 

Regrettably, after releasing the study, Search Metrics said they would stop
publishing their search rankings whitepapers in the future, but you can be sure content relevance, user engagement, social activity, links, site security (HTTPS), and most likely mobile support, are among current ranking factors.

 

If you want a deeper look into the study, you can browse the full report by visiting the link below. http://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/ Another well-known authority on the SEO industry, called Moz (previously SEOmoz), releases a rankings study every several years. Moz also publish this information for free, and available at the following page. Moz Ranking Factors Survey 

 

 Why is SEO important for marketing?

Search engine optimization is a fundamental part of digital marketing because people conduct trillions of searches every year, often with commercial intent to find information about products and services. Search is often the primary source of digital traffic for brands and complements other marketing channels.


Greater visibility and ranking higher in search results than your competition
can have a material impact on your bottom line.
 However, the search results have been evolving over the past few years to give users more direct answers and information that is more likely to keep users on the results page instead of driving them to other websites.

Also note, features like rich results and Knowledge Panels in the search results can increase visibility and provide users more information about your company directly in the results.

Quick tips to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) success

Am going to give you the basic points to know when starting search engine optimization. These points will not be in depth this being the first issue. We shall go in depth with each of these points in my follow up posts and I promise to teach you all I know about SEO. If you have read up to this far and feel you getting value out of the post why not share this with a friend or two its all I can ask for it keeps me going. Let us now dive in really fast enough of the rambling.

 

Keyword research. The most important step of SEO. 

Why is keyword research so important?
Keyword research is the most important step of every SEO project for two
reasons:

What exactly is a keyword?

If you are a SEO newbie, you may be wondering—what is a keyword? A keyword is any phrase you would like your site to rank for in Google’s search
results.

A keyword can be a single word, or a keyword can also be a combination of words. If you are trying to target a single word, lookout! You will have your work cut out for you. Single word keywords are extremely competitive, and difficult to rank highly for in the search results. Here’s some different kinds of keywords:
Head-term keywords: keywords with one to two words, i.e. classic movies.

Long-tail keywords: keywords with three or more phrases, i.e. classic Akira Kurosawa movies.

Navigational keywords: keywords used to locate a particular brand or website. Examples would be Facebook, YouTube or Gmail. 

Informational keywords: keywords used to discover on a particular topic.This includes keywords beginning with “how to…” or “what are the best…”

Transactional keywords: keywords entered into Google by customers
wanting to complete a commercial action, i.e. buy jackets online.

In most cases, targeting head-term or navigational keywords for other brands is competitive and not worth the time or effort. Despite their high traffic numbers, they will generally not lead to any sales.

On the other hand, long-tail, informational and transactional keywords are good keywords for most search engine optimization projects. They will lead to more customers.  

On-page SEO. How to let Google know what yourpage is about.

On-page SEO is the process of ensuring that your site is readable to search engines. Learning correct on-page SEO is not only important in ensuring Google picks up the keywords you want, but it is an opportunity to achieve easy wins and improve your website’s overall performance.

Link building or Off-page SEO. How to rank extremely high on Google. 

There are many stories floating around about business owners being slammed by Google for no good reason. Don’t let the horror stories mislead you.

In most cases, what really happened is the webmaster was doing something clearly suspicious or outdated, like building thousands of links to their site from link directories, and then their rankings suddenly dropped off from Google’s top 10 search results.

If you don’t exhibit overly spammy behavior in your link building, as a general rule you will be OK. These best practices will ensure you acquire links correctly and don’t break Google’s terms of service:

 

Conclusion

 I have tried to build the foundation for our series of Search engine optimization. For a beginner this is really strong knowledge and I promise to share more resources as we proceed.

If you are looking to hire a SEO expert or do it on your own you now have the basic understanding of SEO. Just to be frank with you if you do not have the time to do SEO please hire its the important.

Once again I will request you to share this with a friend you think will receive value from it. Many experts are charging tons of dollars to share their knowledge but am giving you this at no cost and promise a lot more great content about Search Engine Optimization, because I believe it can make a difference in someone else’s career if not yours.

 

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