You can do SEO yourself, but to do it properly you need up-to-date knowledge. That’s what this knowledge page is for. To get started, you can read here what SEO is and what it means in 2020. A lot is changing within the field!
But the more advanced marketer will also find what he / she wants here. How about a guide to conducting thorough keyword research ? Or various analyzes to tackle content SEO in a smarter way? Read on below or follow an SEO course and start increasing your SEO knowledge!
SEO explanation and advice
The articles below provide detailed explanations of crucial topics in the SEO field. Read them all to increase your SEO knowledge!
Tip! While reading, come across a term you don’t know? Then look it up in the SEO dictionary!
What is SEO and what does it stand for?
SEO is an online marketing discipline whose goal is to increase the number of relevant website visitors via search engines.
SEO therefore enables you to attract more visitors to your website. And the best part is: it’s completely free :-). You don’t pay anything to Google for it.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
With SEO you influence various factors that improve the rankings of your website on Google. Read on to learn the key SEO terms and what it takes to increase Google traffic!
How important is SEO?
We may be a bit colored, so take the following sentence with a little grain of salt, but if you ask us:
SEO is the most important channel for your website!
Why do we think so? Below are a number of arguments:
- Most successful websites get more than 50% of their traffic from SEO (unpaid traffic from Google)
- The organic (SEO) traffic is almost always of better quality than traffic from Google Ads (SEA) and Social Media. The conversion and average session duration are higher and the bounce rate lower. This is evident from practical experience with our customers.
- You do not pay for every click or impression, as with advertisements.
- It takes time and energy to get SEO going, but once it does it has a true flywheel effect: It takes effort to get going, but once it’s up and running, it can’t be stopped!
How Difficult is SEO?
Is it difficult to learn SEO you may ask? The answer is: it depends. Some people find SEO difficult, but that is certainly not the case for everyone. Why is it then? If you can answer the questions below with ‘yes’, then SEO is not very difficult at all:
- Are you willing to regularly keep up with recent developments in SEO?
- Do you have any technical knowledge or affinity with web technology?
- Are you willing to delve into what your potential customer really wants and is looking for on the internet?
SEO can come across as dizzying when you just start: it involves quite a bit of technical jargon, it is sometimes at the intersection of marketing and technology and the developments at Google – including SEO – never stand still.
When you are willing to:
- Take in the jargon (unfortunately this is necessary),
- To really immerse yourself in the matter
- Keep up with developments,
Then SEO is not difficult, we promise! However, it does take a lot of time and energy to get it right, but so does anything worthwhile in life, right? ;).
How SEO works
We start at the beginning: how does SEO work? Is it a trick? Is it magic? If you think so, we unfortunately have to disappoint you. Long ago, SEO activities were indeed a kind of tricks that you performed as a marketer, it was not very difficult to achieve results. Today, however, search engines are so intelligent (yes, you read that right) that you can only succeed if you work hard and do a lot of good.
How to Apply SEO to Achieve Success?
How do you apply SEO to get it right, you may ask? In short, there are four things you need to do well to get visitors to your website through search engines.
Main ranking factors
Below you will find the most important SEO factors (also called ranking factors more than once):
- Content , this is the content of your website. This can be anything: text, images, animations, videos, tools, products, etc. This is actually the core for which visitors come to your website. It is therefore important that the content of your website meets the expectations of the visitor. If possible, you should even exceed this expectation!
- Authority , your website needs to build authority with search engines. Google should start to see your website as an authority. You achieve this with qualitative links from other websites.
- Technology , your website must be accessible to your visitors and Google. To achieve this, the website must meet a number of technical preconditions.
- User Experience , last but not least: visitors must have an excellent experience on your website. They must be helped in what they are looking for. Google is increasingly able to measure this.
We will elaborate on the above ranking factors later in this article, but first a few SEO terms that you should know the meaning of!
How fast does SEO work?
Many people want to know how fast SEO works. That is not surprising because we humans are impatient beings by nature. Better results today than tomorrow, right?
The short answer is unfortunately: SEO usually doesn’t work very quickly.
The nuanced answer is that SEO is a real long-term strategy. Therefore, do not expect results overnight.
This certainly applies to a starting website. The domain needs time to build authority in Google’s eyes.
In addition, a starting website usually does not have much extensive content and this is usually necessary for SEO.
With SEO, therefore, think more in several months than in days or weeks.
That does not mean that quick results are not possible. This is indeed possible, but only when your website has been around for a while and has built up authority .
Do you want immediate results in the search engine? Then go for SEA, or search engine advertising, in the short term. You then have immediate results, but you pay for every click.
How do you pronounce SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. In English this is difficult to pronounce as a word, so they pronounce each letter separately. Phonetically that is: es-ie-oo.
In Dutch it is a lot easier to pronounce SEO as a word, but SEO specialists are often American oriented. This is because the USA is still at the forefront of the field.
Most seo specialists therefore pronounce SEO in English.
The well-known website Onze Taal has conducted a poll on Twitter about how the word SEO should be pronounced.
What are rankings?
When doing SEO we often talk about rankings. By rankings we mean: the position of your website in the Google search results page for a specific keyword. A position from 1 to 10 usually means that you are on the popular page 1 of Google.
It is good to know that the rankings of your website do not only depend on the keyword.
Google adjusts the search results to include the location and search history of the searcher.
What is the SERP?
The search results page of a search engine is called SERP. This stands for Search Engine Result Pages. Google’s SERP consists of two types of results:
Organic search results
The SERP consists primarily of organic search results. There is no payment for these search results. Google uses advanced algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant to the search query.
All traffic that you get on your website from Google that you don’t pay for is called organic traffic.
In SEO, the goal is to maximize the amount of relevant organic traffic.
Paid search results
In addition to the organic search results, Google also shows advertisements. These are also referred to as paid or sponsored search results.
In the case of Google, the paid search results are at the top and bottom of the page. Previously, the ads were also on the right side of the page, but Google no longer does this. You can recognize the ads by the abbreviation ‘adv’ before the URL.
In the image you see, in addition to paid and organic search results, an example of the Knowledge Graph. With this, Google tries to answer the searcher’s question directly in the SERP. The Knowledge Graph is part of the organic search results, because it is not (yet) paid to Google.
Search Engines: Why Only Google?
On this website we actually always talk about Google when we talk about search engines.
Bing (from Microsoft) is the number 2 with about 3.5% market share.
This fact does not make SEO worthwhile for other search engines, which is why Pro SEO Expert focuses 100% on Google.
The difference between SEO and SEA
Because there is a lot of confusion about it, briefly the difference between SEO and SEA. If you’ve read this page here, you now know what SEO is. SEA, on the other hand, stands for Search Engine Advertising. In the Netherlands this is also called search engine advertising.
So SEO is about increasing relevant traffic through Google’s organic search results and SEA is about increasing relevant traffic through Google’s paid search results. You pay for SEA, but not for SEO.
When you outsource SEO, you obviously pay for the services you purchase from the marketing agency, but you do not pay to Google.
You can also learn SEO yourself and it will cost you nothing. It is up to you whether the amount of time and energy you have to put into this weighs against the costs of outsourcing.
SEA goes beyond advertising via the search engine. With Google Ads (formerly AdWords) you can also advertise on websites other than Google. Google calls this network of websites the Display Network. This network consists of thousands of websites that cooperate with Google. These can be websites owned by Google itself, such as Gmail or Youtube, but also other websites, such as Nu.nl or Weeronline.
SEO ranking factors
Many years ago there were only a few simple factors that affected rankings. Back then, SEO was little more than applying some tricks and the traffic poured in. Many companies eventually regretted this because years later they received a penalty from Google for not following their guidelines. This is also referred to as Black Hat SEO.
Although search engine optimization still has the ‘trick image’ for many, in 2020 the opposite is true. There are several complex factors that influence rankings. Today, good SEO is in many ways tantamount to doing good online marketing.
We divide the most important factors that influence SEO into four main categories. You can see these categories as the foundation of SEO:
User experience (UX)
Google ultimately wants to provide visitors with the best search results. That is why the experience that visitors have on your website is very important to Google. It must be as good as possible. The user experience on your website is called User Experience in English, often shortened to UX.
User Experience is the most important ranking factor for SEO in 2020. However, it is also the most comprehensive and for many people the most elusive factor. For this reason, let’s go back to the basics and explain exactly what UX is and why it is so important to Google.
What does UX
User Experience is often confused with usability. Yet there is a lot of difference between the two. User Experience is a much broader concept. According to the well-known UX agency Nielsen Norman, UX means:
UX encompasses all aspects of the interaction that the end user has with the company, products and services.
The two requirements for an outstanding UX, according to Nielsen Norman, are:
- Meeting the exact needs of your customers.
- Simplicity and elegance so that your product is a pleasure to use.
How do you meet the exact needs of your customers?
Your website must therefore meet the exact needs of your (potential) customers. How do you do that? The answer is:
With the right content!
In fact, potential customers only visit your website for one reason and that is for the content you provide. It is therefore crucial that this content matches their needs and wishes. You can read how to achieve this later in the content chapter .
How do you ensure that your website is a pleasure to use?
Then you have to make sure that your website is a pleasure to use. Two factors play a role here:
- Graphic design: the look and feel of your website.
- Usability design: the user-friendliness of your website.
Giving tips and advice about graphic design is always dangerous. It is very time sensitive. Tips we give you now may be “outdated” by tomorrow. In addition, graphic design is also very subjective. What one likes, the other finds ugly. Beauty lies the eye of the beholder, is the English proverb for a reason.
Choosing a timeless design is therefore the safest choice. Whether this is also your choice, we leave it to you. Know that when you go along with a bold trend, Your website will need a redesign more quickly. A rule of thumb is that your graphic design should never be at the expense of user-friendliness, let this be exactly what usability is all about!
Usability design is a completely different story. Usability is about the user-friendliness of your website. The rules for this are much less time-sensitive and there is little gray area. In addition, with the help of user tests you are perfectly capable of objectively investigating user-friendliness.
According to Nielsen Norman, usability is determined by five factors:
- The ability to learn : how easy is it for users to perform important tasks on your website?
- Efficiency : once users get to know your website, how quickly do they complete tasks?
- The ability to remember : if users have not used your website for a while, how quickly will they be skilled again?
- Error sensitivity : how many errors do users make on your website and what consequences do these errors have?
- Satisfaction : how satisfied are users with the use of your website?
- The navigation of your website is extremely important. Think carefully about this and ask customers (preferably by means of user tests) if they can find what they are looking for.
- Use a breadcrumb trail. Then you give visitors a clear overview of the structure of your website, where they are and where they come from.
- Never use photo carousels or sliders that automatically switch photos.
- Never use videos that automatically start playing with sound.
- Analyze your website with Google Analytics and find pages that perform below par. For example, pages with a too high bounce rate or exit rate.
Does Google User Experience measure?
Yes! Google regularly emphasizes how important user experience is for the company. It is therefore a safe assumption that Google includes UX in determining rankings.
It is therefore not surprising that many SEO studies find strong correlations between high rankings and KPIs that say something about the experience of users on your website, such as:
- Bounce Rate.
- Average session duration.
- Average number of pages per session.
No one knows whether Google also uses these metrics. Many SEO experts believe that Google mainly measures pogo sticking and dwell time , because for the above figures Google Analytics must be consulted. Google once said not to do this. However, there are other ways to find out this data, such as using click stream data.
Incidentally, not entirely coincidentally, pogo sticking has a lot in common with bounce rate and dwell time has a lot in common with average session duration.
The user experience is so important today that we no longer have to be purely focused on the search engine when doing search engine optimization. In fact, the search engine should not be the start! By this we mean that in the content creation process we obviously have to take SEO into account from the first moment , but that it is no longer the starting point.
The starting point must be: satisfying your visitors and meeting their needs. In short: offering an excellent user experience. This may sound crazy because SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization after all. But Google – and with this also the SEO field – has undergone a major development over the years, making the literal meaning of SEO obsolete.
This means that the traditional SEO model is actually outdated. For this reason Pro SEO Expert has developed the UXO model. UXO stands for: User Experience Optimization. In this model, not the search engine, but the user experience is central.
We believe that in 2020 this is the way to success in the search engine, but at the same time it contributes better to satisfied visitors and achieving your other online marketing goals, such as conversion.
Content is king, it is sometimes said. SEO specialists mean that the content on your website is actually the most important thing. Without the right content there is no SEO and therefore no good rankings or organic traffic. By content we do not only mean texts. Images, videos, animations, etc. are also content.
Good for SEO learning to write
Below you will find the conditions for learning to write properly for SEO:
- Provides a clear need : there must be a search need for your content. Otherwise there is no search volume, so no search traffic.
- Unique : the content may not appear anywhere else on the internet. Plagiarism or copying will get you nowhere.
- High quality : Especially texts must be well written. For example, Google does assess the grammar on your website.
On page SEO
SEO optimization for content is also called on page SEO . This means that you optimize texts, images and other types of content for search engines. There are several on page SEO factors that influence your rankings. We divide them into visible and invisible factors on your page.
Visible SEO factors
- The meta title: this is the title of your web page. You can see this in the tab of your browser.
- Headings: these are headings and subheadings on your web page. In HTML they are called H1, H2, H3 etc.
- The URL: this is the address of your web page, visible in the address bar of your browser.
- The body text: the main text on your web page.
- Internal links: relevant links to other pages of your website.
Invisible SEO factors
- The meta description: a short description / summary of your page.
- Alt text: description for images so that Google knows what they are about.
Important : we call the meta description invisible here because you cannot see it at the front of your website. However, the meta description is often visible in the Google SERP. If Google finds your meta description relevant enough for the relevant search query, it will be shown in the SERP under the URL of your page. It is therefore very important to write a good meta description for every page of your website!
Writing for SEO
Do you want advice for writing for SEO? Perhaps surprising advice:
Write first for your target audience! Content is created primarily for your (potential) customers and secondly for Google. Why? If your website visitors are satisfied, then so is Google. This is perhaps the only SEO advice that will be 100% the same in 10 years.
Concretely this means:
- Start with keyword research to understand search needs, competition and the current state of your rankings. You use this to visualize the demand of your target group and discover where SEO opportunities lie. An additional advantage: you also learn which terminology your customers use (how they search).
- Group several closely related keywords and write high-quality content for them that meets the search intent of your target group. So get into the viewfinder’s skin. When someone searches for word x in Google. What is that person really looking for? Make sure your page fulfills this need. Then the visitor is happy and Google is happy!
- Optimize the content based on the points mentioned above for content optimization.
- Create as much buzz as possible around this content by sharing it widely. Not only on social media, but also among your colleagues, customers, leads, etc.
In our SEO step-by-step plan for writing text , you can read step-by-step how to write for your target group and for SEO!
Authority & link building
The authority of a website is determined by hyperlinks. The billions of webpages on the internet are connected by links. Google highly values these links.
If we take a political election as a metaphor, then Google sees every link to your website as a vote for your “political party”. In the past, the more links (so the more votes) the better. When this was widely abused, Google started improving its algorithms.
The SEO discipline aimed at improving links is called link building. At Pro SEO Expert we prefer to talk about link earning, because in our opinion links should be earned instead of requested (which is common in link building).
Why is authority not a pillar in the UXO model?
The attentive reader has seen that we have not given authority a pillar of our own in the above UXO model.
The reason for this is that authority is not a condition for a good user experience. When you offer visitors to your website an excellent user experience, high authority is ultimately a result of this. That is why authority has been given a place in every pillar in the form of a connecting element.
Conditions for good links
In 2018, the following conditions apply to links:
- A link must come from a good quality website . This means that the website that refers to you must be of good quality. Think of good content (see above), but also that this website itself must also have good authority.
- A link must be relevant . This means that the website that links to you must have something to do with your field or industry. The more the website is ‘up your street’, the better.
- Your link profile should be natural . Google has several ways to determine whether the links pointing to the website were created in a natural way. For example, Google looks at the anchor text of your links and looks for signals whether a link has been paid for (which is prohibited!).
- A link is in a prominent place : Google attaches less importance to links that are in the sidebar or in the footer of a website. Preferably a link is in the body of the page.
- There are not too many other links on the page : the more links there are on the web page that links to your website, the less the influence of this link on your rankings. For this reason, a homepage link is less valuable than a link in an article or page where only a few times on the page are linked to other websites.
Domain and web page authority
Both an individual web page and an internet domain have a certain authority. The page authority used to call Google PageRank, but they have not used this word for a while. There is a misconception that Google no longer attaches much value to PageRank or authority. The opposite is true!
The authority of a website as a whole is measured by domain authority. You can see this as a measure of the effectiveness of a website as a whole. So here we look at the total number of links, their quality, etc.
We refer to the authority of one individual page as the page authority. To measure this, it looks for links that specifically point to that particular page.
Internal links also count
External links are the most valuable, no doubt about that. But internal links also count. The thinking behind this is quite logical: if you do not link (much) to a certain page, then this page will not be very important for your website. Therefore, never forget to link to (new) web pages yourself. However, only do this where it is relevant. Don’t overdo it!
You can no longer measure authority with PageRank. Google has simply stopped making this transparent. PageRank’s last update was in 2013.
The American SEO company Moz offers a good alternative. They have their own spiders that map the web in a way similar to that of search engines. The authority they calculate for domains and web pages they make transparent through their Moz bar for Chrome or Firefox. The Moz bar not only provides insight into your own website authority, but also that of your competitors.
The technology of your website is also an important SEO point. Google likes fast websites that are well structured and free of errors.
Some technical advice:
- Make sure your website is optimally crawlable for search engines. Google maps any crawl problems in Google Search Console .
- Make sure your website contains as few errors as possible . Think of server errors, but also 404 pages (page no longer exists) or 403 pages (prohibited access). You can also find indications of these types of errors in Google Search Console.
- Minimize duplicate content . CMSs sometimes want to provide duplicate content. You solve this with canonical tags.
- Submit a sitemap.xml . Give Google an overview of your website by submitting a sitemap in Google Search Console.
Learning SEO by Yourself: 6 Extremely Helpful Resources
There are certainly more good sources than the 6 below. These 6 titles have helped me a lot to gain more information about SEO and eventually even make it my job.
Every week I listen to podcasts about SEO, read books, dig blogs or watch YouTube videos. Of all these sources, I think the 6 below are most suitable for entrepreneurs who want to learn more about SEO themselves.
Let’s take a look!
1. Brian Dean – Backlinko
Brian is one of the most respected SEO specialists today. With his own blog and YouTube channel he manages to achieve rankings with which he can beat large companies with a much higher budget in Google.
Brian is also known for his Skyscraper technique. He introduced it to the general public and now almost every marketing agency uses this well-functioning content strategy.
The great thing about Brian Dean’s articles is that you need little to no technical knowledge of your own to implement his SEO ideas.
2. Ahrefs Youtube channel
If you prefer not to read too much, but prefer to watch a video, I can wholeheartedly recommend the Ahrefs Youtube channel . Ahrefs is a backlinks and SEO analysis toolset. It is widely used by SEO professionals who are serious about link building and competitor analysis.
I also use Ahrefs and experience it as a very powerful tool.
On the Ahrefs YouTube channel you will find videos like this that can fully update you on a specific topic in a few minutes: in this case SEO for WordPress.
They come up with a new video almost every week, so keep an eye on these folks!
3. MOZ: Whiteboard Friday
Videos again. And that is something MOZ has understood very well. MOZ is the all-in-one toolset for SEO including keyword research, site audits and link building.
Every Friday MOZ publishes a “whiteboard Friday video” containing a different SEO topic almost every time. The videos are in English, but very easy to follow. They vary from beginner level to more advanced.
The videos are really worth it and usually last up to 10 minutes.
4. MOZ: Biginners Guide
Another part of MOZ. Unlike the Whiteboard Friday videos, this beginner’s guide is mainly text-based. But don’t let that deter you. Because a brief look at the guide will tell you that it is packed with valuable content and is also beautifully presented.
I can often be found in SEO groups and I read a lot of blogs in this area. Often when someone comes up with a question to learn the basics of SEO, they will be referred to this post.
In short, bookmark this guide and study it in detail. I am convinced that if you have studied this guide not once but twice, you know more about SEO than 95% of entrepreneurs.
5. Pocast: SEO 101 on WebmasterRadio.fm
As far as I’m concerned, a podcast should definitely not be missing from this list. If you don’t do it yet, I absolutely recommend listening to a podcast in the car or, for example, while exercising.
And how nice is it if you can combine this by finally brushing up on that SEO knowledge. With the SEO 101 Podcast on WebmasterRadio.fm this is perfectly possible. The great thing is that this podcast has already recorded over 200 episodes. This makes it a source of invaluable SEO knowledge for the beginner.
Hosts Dunn and Carcutt discuss basic SEO topics and really help improve your SEO knowledge, such as learning how to write for SEO, in a relatively easy way. So if you don’t like reading much and you prefer to listen to it, then you should definitely give this podcast a try.
6. Free SEO training for beginners from Yoast.
Yoast is a household name in SEO Land. The Dutch company has developed an SEO WordPress plugin that has been downloaded and installed millions of times.
How great is it that they share their SEO knowledge through a free training?
With this training you lay a solid foundation for everything you can do with SEO. From content such as Keywords, SEO Copywriting and the structure to your site. But also a piece of technology such as crawling your site and so-called ‘ Rich results ‘.
Need help with SEO?
If you are genuinely interested in learning SEO yourself and not outsource the basic SEO activities to a third party, the above references are really extremely valuable.
However, do you not like this?
Of course I can also help you further. I check whether your website has the basis for good positions in Google and come up with recommendations.
Because there are always recommendations.
Have you ever:
- Checked the speed of your website ?
- Did keyword research?
- Checked if you have an XML sitemap?
- Have you checked whether all your titles are unique and attractive?
- Checked on 404 pages?
Then that is really time . This is really the basis of good SEO.
Would you rather someone else do this for you? Then contact us without any obligation.