Connect with us
Cloak And Track Your Affiliate Links With Our User-Friendly Link Cloaking Tool, Try It Free

SEO

How Does SEO Work?

Published

on

How Does SEO Work?

You may have heard that SEO is essential when you want to increase traffic to your website.

When you are looking to increase the volume of customers coming to your store, incoming calls, and online orders, you need to be visible in Google Search.

Optimizing your webpages helps you rank higher and convert more searchers to customers.

But how does SEO work?

In this article, you will learn about the process used by marketers to optimize your website for search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and many others.

Let’s start by learning what SEO is all about.

What Is SEO, Anyway?

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

At its core, SEO is the process of making your site rank as highly as possible in Google when someone types in [burrito blanket] (or whatever it is you sell, promote, or talk about).

The higher your site ranks, the more visible your business is, and the more traffic and sales your business is likely to generate.

You might be a little lost if you are just getting started in SEO.

There are many sites, books, and guides (we even wrote one here at Search Engine Journal) to help you get started. But you might find that many resources offer conflicting information.

Part of the reason SEO frustrates so many people is that it changes continuously.

Why? Because when marketers get their teeth into a new “strategy,” they like to run it into the ground.

Essentially, we are why we can’t have nice things.

Also, there’s the fact that Google is constantly updating its algorithm.

SEO is a never-ending battle to get more eyes on your website and convince Google that your site is worth sending searchers to.

How Does SEO Work? Your Top SEO Questions, Answered

So, what matters when it comes to SEO?

  • Is it all about the links?
  • Does the URL structure really matter?
  • What exactly is a meta description, anyway?
  • Do you need to crank out a 2,000-word blog post four times daily?

Before diving into the more technical aspects of SEO, I will answer the most-asked questions about SEO.

Is SEO Dead?

Yes. It’s completely dead.

Our jobs are over. You should just quit now.

I’m kidding, mostly.

I’d argue that SEO is constantly dying repeatedly. Think of it like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

Strategies we’ve come to know and love get replaced by newer, more effective ones. SEO best practices die, and new ones are reborn.

So while it isn’t dead, SEO is always changing. If you want to succeed at SEO, you’ve got to be willing to roll with the punches.

What Is The Most Important SEO Factor?

There isn’t one golden SEO factor that outranks all the others.

One of the most common answers you’ll get in SEO is, “Well, it depends…”

This might be frustrating, but it’s the truth.

  • Do links matter? Yes, but they need to make sense.
  • Do you have to have links to rank? Probably, but not necessarily.
  • Does content length matter? Yes, but a crappy long post won’t outrank a short, amazing post.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

How Long Does SEO Take To Work?

Well, it depends. (Sorry!)

Only Google knows exactly how its algorithm works.

They release updates, and there are a few lists of the most crucial ranking factors.

The truth is that SEO takes as long as it takes – that might be weeks or even months, depending on your strategy.

If someone else does something just a tiny bit better, you might get bumped off the top of the SERPs.

What Is The Difference Between On-Page SEO & Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to changes you make on the site you own that impact SEO.

For example, adding an XML sitemap to boost your SEO.

Off-page SEO refers to SEO strategies that happen off your website, such as building links to pillar content.

Link Building Is Hard – Can’t I Just Buy Links?

You could. You could also run your hand through a blender. No one is going to stop you. But it’s often an ineffective SEO strategy.

Rather than buying links, I’d recommend starting with our guide to link building.

SEO Factors That Rule Today & Beyond

Now that we’ve covered the basics, you are ready to get your hands dirty.

Below, we’ll cover a few of the most critical SEO factors.

Keep in mind that SEO trends change constantly, and what works now might not work in a few months.

Relevant, High-Quality Content Wins

There are many technical SEO factors – site structure, anchor text, URL structure, and so forth.

Those details matter, but the backbone of SEO is high-quality content. If you get that right, the rest of SEO will be much easier.

If you want to crack the first page on Google, you need relevant, well-optimized content that earns links.

What do we mean by high-quality content?

Here are a few things to keep in mind when developing content:

  • Keywords are still critical, but context matters more. Google crawlers now analyze the context and look for related secondary keywords that share the searcher’s intent.
  • Include clear, keyword-rich titles, meta descriptions, alt attributes, H1 tags, and URLs. These factors tell Google that your site is relevant and help it rank.
  • Length matters, but relevance matters more. Google says, “The amount of content necessary for the page to be satisfying depends on the topic and purpose of the page.”

In short, ensure that all your content is written for humans first and optimized for Google second.

Metadata Matters

Metadata is the title and lines of text on the search results page.

For example, if you Google [who killed Carole Baskin’s husband], here’s the metadata you’ll see:

Screenshot from search for [who killed Carole Baskin’s husband], Google, July 2022

Metadata tells the user what they can expect to find if they click on the page.

Optimizing your metadata is pretty simple:

  • Include relevant but not repetitive keywords and variations in the title and description.
  • Keep it short, but not too short. Google cuts off meta descriptions around 160 characters, so aim for less than that.
  • Be clear and concise so users know what to expect.

Think of metadata as ads for your content.

Why should users click? What can you tell them?

Use the meta to encourage clicks, which will drive traffic and lead to more business.

Links Matter, But…

Links have been a critical aspect of SEO as long as Google has existed.

Links work as ‘votes’ telling Google that other sites think your content is useful and relevant.

The more high-quality, relevant links you acquire, the higher your site will likely rank for related key terms.

In short, links are still fundamental to SEO.

But, quality matters more than quantity.

If you invest in link building as part of your SEO efforts, target links from topically relevant, popular websites in your niche.

User Experience (UX) Impacts Rankings

User experience (UX) plays a substantial role in how well your website will rank on Google.

However, user experience depends on many factors like site infrastructure and layout, content, and so forth, making it hard to measure.

If you want to win at SEO, UX should be a top priority.

Here are a few best practices to follow:

  • Track internal metrics like time on page, CTR, and bounce rate. These signals are not direct ranking factors, but optimizing your site for high engagement can help indirectly. These statistics can tell you about your content’s performance. Happy users, happy Google.
  • Make your site easy to navigate. Improve your website’s navigation to ensure users quickly find the page they are looking for. “The simpler, the better” approach works perfectly here. Navigation bars, drop-down menus, internal links, and a site search will help.
  • Site speed matters a lot. Your site should load in less than two seconds in an ideal world. Image compression, code and structure optimizations, and faster servers will help. Start with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see where you stand.

As Google becomes smarter, UX will likely play an even more important role in the future.

So now is the time to learn the basics and implement best practices on your site.

Mobile Matters More Than Ever Before

In 2018, Google moved to mobile-first indexing, which means the search engine uses mobile versions of your site to rank your sites in their results.

Google’s move makes sense because more than 50% of traffic worldwide is generated from a mobile device.

What does that mean for SEO?

First, Google suggests investing in responsive design. You must make your content consistent across desktop and mobile devices and ensure your site loads fast on mobile and desktop.

In short, you need to up your mobile game or site to languish at the bottom of Google search results.

Don’t Ignore Voice Search

When it comes to voice, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there.

Google said, way back in 2016, that voice searches made up around 20% of all searches performed in the Google app.

Today, over a quarter of all Americans own a smart speaker. Yet 72%  of marketers have no plans to optimize for voice search.

Does voice search matter? It does.

Voice search has grown in popularity and will likely continue to do so. It shouldn’t be your #1 SEO priority, but it does make sense to start optimizing for voice search.

Here’s why:

Most of the voice search optimization strategies also make sense for semantic search.

Here are a few steps to help optimize your site for voice search:

Voice search optimization is not a must-have right now, but voice search optimizations make sense for Google in general and may give you a leg up in the future.

3 Tips For Actually Succeeding In SEO

There are two types of SEO advice: the technical stuff I covered above and the core principles of SEO. The technical stuff will change, but these SEO tips stand the test of time.

If It Seems Shady, It Will Probably Burn You

You might have heard of black hat, white hat, and gray hat SEO.

Black hat SEO refers to the practices that are totally against Google’s terms of service.

Like building 10 sites and interlinking them to make Google think your crappy bitcoin sites are legit.

This is where the acronym PBN comes into play.

Then there is a gray hat, which may not be technically wrong but walks a thin (gray) line.

White hat is above the board, totally legit SEO. Some have convincingly argued that a white hat isn’t a thing anymore.

A lot of SEO pros walk the gray hat line. And a lot of them get burned.

To succeed in SEO, you need to do things the right way.

If something feels off – like buying or selling links – it will probably burn you and torpedo your chances in search.

Trust me. It is not worth the long-term risk.

Read Real Experts

There are a lot of SEO “experts.”

Some of them claim to get you to the top of page one on Google “guaranteed!”

Others don’t actually do SEO but write about it a lot. Make sure your sources are reputable.

Take everything you read with a grain of salt because nothing is universal.

What works for an ecommerce site in tech isn’t necessarily going to work for a restaurant supply store.

Pay attention to what comes from Google directly from folks like John Mueller and Gary Illyes.

Test, Test, And Test Again

SEO is about determining what works for your site in your industry based on your unique landscape.

The only way to figure that out is to test – and keep testing repeatedly.

If you’re using shady tactics, all your work may go to waste if Google’s latest algorithm update changes things. But if you apply SEO best practices and consistently test, you can be prepared for when the winds change.

Testing is an eternal part of any successful SEO strategy.

Conclusion

SEO is ever-evolving.

Every SEO professional would love to find the magic formula that rockets their sites to the top of SERPs and keep them there forever.

Unfortunately, SEO doesn’t work that way.

There are rules and best practices, but SEO’s core is figuring out what works for your site or client and then changing it when it stops working.

My final advice is this:

  • Keep a close eye on your competitors.
  • Follow best practices.
  • Test.

Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal



Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

SEO

Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September

Published

on

By

Google To Upgrade All Retailers To New Merchant Center By September

Google has announced plans to transition all retailers to its updated Merchant Center platform by September.

This move will affect e-commerce businesses globally and comes ahead of the holiday shopping season.

The Merchant Center is a tool for online retailers to manage how their products appear across Google’s shopping services.

Key Changes & Features

The new Merchant Center includes several significant updates.

Product Studio

An AI-powered tool for content creation. Google reports that 80% of current users view it as improving efficiency.

This feature allows retailers to generate tailored product assets, animate still images, and modify existing product images to match brand aesthetics.

It also simplifies tasks like background removal and image resolution enhancement.

Centralized Analytics

A new tab consolidating various business insights, including pricing data and competitive analysis tools.

Retailers can access pricing recommendations, competitive visibility reports, and retail-specific search trends, enabling them to make data-driven decisions and capitalize on popular product categories.

Redesigned Navigation

Google claims the new interface is more intuitive and cites increased setup success rates for new merchants.

The platform now offers simplified website verification processes and can pre-populate product information during setup.

Initial User Response

According to Google, early adopters have shown increased engagement with the platform.

The company reports a 25% increase in omnichannel merchants adding product offers in the new system. However, these figures have yet to be independently verified.

Jeff Harrell, Google’s Senior Director of Merchant Shopping, states in an announcement:

“We’ve seen a significant increase in retention and engagement among existing online merchants who have moved to the new Merchant Center.”

Potential Challenges and Support

While Google emphasizes the upgrade’s benefits, some retailers, particularly those comfortable with the current version, may face challenges adapting to the new system.

The upgrade’s mandatory nature could raise concerns among users who prefer the existing interface or have integrated workflows based on the current system.

To address these concerns, Google has stated that it will provide resources and support to help with the transition. This includes tutorial videos, detailed documentation, and access to customer support teams for troubleshooting.

Industry Context

This update comes as e-commerce platforms evolve, with major players like Amazon and Shopify enhancing their seller tools. Google’s move is part of broader efforts to maintain competitiveness in the e-commerce services sector.

The upgrade could impact consumers by improving product listings and providing more accurate information across Google’s shopping services.

For the e-commerce industry as a whole, it signals a continued push towards AI-driven tools and data-centric decision-making.

Transition Timeline

Google states that retailers will be automatically upgraded by September if they still need to transition.

The company advises users to familiarize themselves with the new features before the busy holiday shopping period.


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

Meta AI Introduces AI-Generated Photos to All Platforms

Published

on

By

Meta AI Adds AI-Generated Images to Social and Messaging Platforms and Expands Availability to More Languages and Countries

Meta just released multiple updates to Meta AI which brings advanced image generation and editing capabilities directly to Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp feeds, plus availability in more countries and languages.

New Meta AI Creative Tools

Meta AI is bringing AI generated and AI Edited photography that can be generated at the moment a user is making a post or sending a message with a new tool called Imagine Me.

Imagine Me is a prompt that can be used to transform an uploaded image that can be shared. This new feature is first rolling out as a beta in the United States.

Meta explains:

“Imagine yourself creates images based on a photo of you and a prompt like ‘Imagine me surfing’ or ‘Imagine me on a beach vacation’ using our new state-of-the-art personalization model. Simply type “Imagine me” in your Meta AI chat to get started, and then you can add a prompt like “Imagine me as royalty” or “Imagine me in a surrealist painting.” From there, you can share the images with friends and family, giving you the perfect response or funny sidebar to entertain your group chat.”

New Editing Features

Meta products like Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram now have advanced editing capabilities that allow users to add or remove objects from images, to change them in virtually any manner, such as their example of turning a cat in an image into a dog. A new Edit With AI button is forthcoming in a month that will unlock even more AI editing power.

Adding AI generated images to Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp within feed, posts, stories, comments and messages is rolling out this week in English and coming later to other languages.

Screenshot of a Facebook user adding an AI generated image into their post

Meta AI In More Countries And Languages

Meta AI is now available in seven additional countries, bringing the total countries to to 22. It is also available in seven more languages.

List of Seven Additional Countries:

  1. Argentina
  2. Cameroon
  3. Chile
  4. Colombia
  5. Ecuador
  6. Mexico
  7. Peru

Meta AI is now also available in the following seven additional languages:

  1. French
  2. German
  3. Hindi
  4. Hindi-Romanized Script
  5. Italian
  6. Portuguese
  7. Spanish

Advanced Math And Coding

Meta AI is making their most advanced model, Llama 405B, available for users to take advantage of its advanced reasoning abilities that can answer complex answers and excells at math and coding.

Meta AI writes:

“You can get help on your math homework with step-by-step explanations and feedback, write code faster with debugging support and optimization suggestions, and master complex technical and scientific concepts with expert instruction.”

Read the official announcement:

Meta AI Is Now Multilingual, More Creative and Smarter

Featured Image by Shutterstock/QubixStudio

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

SEO

System Builders – How AI Changes The Work Of SEO

Published

on

By

Kevin Indig's Growth Memo for SEJ

AI is terraforming tech. The content and SEO ecosystem is undergoing a massive structural change.

Human-written content gains value faster for LLM training than for end consumers as the pure profit licensing deals between LLM developers and publishers show.

Publishers struggle to survive from digital subscriptions but get millions that go straight to their bottom line for providing training data.

Content platforms, social networks, SaaS companies and consumer apps coat their products with AI. A few examples:

  • Spotify DJ (AI-generated playlist).
  • AI Overview (AI answers in Google Search).
  • Instagram AI personas (celebrity AI chatbots).
  • Ebay’s magical listing (turn a photo into a listing).
  • Redfin Redesign (try interior designs on real house pictures).
Image Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality of machine-generated content (MGC) challenges human-generated content (HGC). I ran an experiment with my Twitter and LinkedIn followers: I asked them to choose which of two articles was written by a human and which by a machine – and they had to explain their answer.

Only a handful of people figured out that AI wrote both pieces. I intentionally framed the question in a leading way to see if people would challenge the setting or believe that one piece was written by a human if told so.

  • Not an isolated experiment: A survey of 1,900 Americans found that 63.5% of people can’t distinguish between AI content and human content.1
  • People seek help: Google search demand for [ai checker] has reached 100,000 in May 2024 (Glimpse).
  • Dark side: scammers use MGC to make money, as 77% of AI scam victims lost money.2
Search demand for AI checkerImage Credit: Kevin Indig

The quality level of LLMs pushes SEO work towards automating workflows and learning with AI, while writers will take content from good to great instead of zero to one.

Boost your skills with Growth Memo’s weekly expert insights. Subscribe for free!

How AI Changes The Work Of SEOImage Credit: Lyna ™

System Builders

Clients, podcasters and panel hosts often ask me what skills SEOs need to build for the AI future. For a long time, my answer was to learn, stay open-minded and gain as much practical experience with AI as possible.

Now, my answer is SEOs should learn how to build AI agents and workflows that automate tasks. AI changes the way search works but also the way SEOs work.

AI + No-code Allows SEOs To Automate Workflows

A few examples:

1/ Cannibalization

  • Old world: SEOs download search console data and create pivot tables to spot keyword cannibalization.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI workflow that sends alters, identifies true keyword cannibalization, makes content suggestions to fix the problem, and monitors the improvement.

2/ Site Crawling

  • Old world: SEOs crawl websites to find inefficiencies in internal linking, status code errors, duplicate content, etc.
  • New world: SEOs build an AI agent that regularly crawls the site and automatically suggests new internal links that are shipped after human approval, fixes broken canonical tags and excludes soft 404 errors in the robots.txt.

3/ Content Creation

  • Old world: SEOs do keyword research and write content briefs. Writers create the content.
  • New world: SEOs automate keyword research with AI and create hundreds of relevant articles as a foundation for writers to build on.

All of this is already possible today with AI workflow tools like AirOps or Apify, which chain agents and LLMs together to scrape, analyze, transform data or create content.

Moving forward, we’ll spend much more time building automated systems instead of wasting time on point analyses and catalogs of recommendations. The SEO work will be defining logic, setting rules, prompting and coding.

building automated systems Building workflows with AirOps (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

You Can Learn (Almost) Anything With AI

I never made the time to really learn Python or R, but with the help of Chat GPT and Gemini in Colab, I can write any script with natural language prompts.

When the script doesn’t work, I can paste a screenshot into Chat GPT and describe the issue to get a solution. AI helps with Regex, Google Sheets/Excel, R, Python, etc. Nothing is off-limits.

Being able to write scripts can solve problems like data analysis, a/b testing and using APIs. As an SEO, I’m no longer dependent on engineers, data scientists or writers to perform certain tasks. I can act faster and on my own account.

I’m not the only one to figure this out. People are learning to code, write and many other skills with AI. We can learn to build AI workflows by asking AI to teach us.

Search demand for coding with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for write with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig
Search demand for learn with AI is explodingImage Credit: Kevin Indig

When you can learn almost anything, the only limit is time.

The Work Of Writers Changes

Against common belief, writers won’t be crossed out of this equation but will play the critical role of editing, directing and curating.

In any automated process, humans QA the output. Think of car assembling lines. Even though AI content leaps in quality, spot checks reduce the risk of errors. Caught issues, such as wrong facts, weird phrasing or off-brand wording, will be critical feedback to fine-tune models to improve their output.

Instead of leg work like writing drafts, writers will bring AI content from good to great. In the concept of information gain, writers will spend most of their time making a piece outstanding.

The rising quality work spans from blog content to programmatic content, where writers will add curated content when searches have a desire for human experience, such as in travel.

A mini guide to Los AngelesTripadvisor’s attraction pages feature human-curated sections. (Image Credit: Kevin Indig)

Unfair Advantage

As often with new technology, a few first-mover people and companies get exponential value until the rest catch up. My worry is that a few fast-moving companies will grab massive land with AI.

And yet, this jump in progress will allow newcomers to challenge incumbents and get a fair chance to compete on the field.

AI might be a bigger game changer for SEOs than for Google. The raw power of AI might help us overcome challenges from AI Overviews and machine learning-driven algorithm updates.

But the biggest win might be that SEOs can finally make something instead of delivering recommendations. The whole value contribution of SEOs changes because my output can drive results faster.

Survey: ChatGPT and AI Content – Can people tell the difference?

Artificial Intelligence Voice Scams on the Rise with 1 in 4 Adults Impacted


Featured Image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal

Source link

Keep an eye on what we are doing
Be the first to get latest updates and exclusive content straight to your email inbox.
We promise not to spam you. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address
Continue Reading

Trending