Ultimate Guide to Google SEO by Sortlist

The Ultimate Guide to Google SEO

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This complete Google SEO guide will help you discover how to create content that will rank highly in organic search results, attract new visitors to your website, and convert them into paying customers.

Today, it makes no sense to have people creating content for your website or blog if you are not paying close attention to SEO. Experience has taught us that great content only delivers results when it’s combined with an SEO strategy that takes into account the different techniques for ranking on Google’s search results pages.

In other words, SEO is the main way to make any piece of content accessible to hundreds and thousands of people. It’s even more important than social media or any other form of distribution.

Section 1. Introduction to Google SEO

Google SEO, or Google Search Engine Optimization, is a specialized approach to optimizing websites for better visibility and rankings on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Google, being the leading search engine globally, sets the standard for SEO practices.

However, it’s important to note that while Google dominates in many regions, other search engines, such as Bing, Yahoo, Baidu in China, and Yandex in Russia, also play significant roles in specific markets.

Understanding the nuances of each search engine’s algorithms and preferences is crucial for a comprehensive and effective SEO strategy tailored to your target audience and geographic reach.

What is SEO?

First of all, what exactly is SEO? Search Engine Optimization is the process of implementing strategies to optimize blogs and website pages, improving their position in organic search rankings and making them easier for users to find.

phases of SEO

There are 3 common types of SEO:

  • Technical SEO – mainly refers to the techniques to get a healthy website
  • On-Page SEO – are all efforts made within the website to get high-quality, optimized content
  • Off-Page SEO – are all efforts made outside the website that will improve its credibility & authority

Remember that good SEO involves much more than on-page, off-page, and technical SEO. It goes the extra mile and involves other disciplines such as content marketing, branding, PR, UX, website development, and more.

Today, you can see that the sites that perform best in Google SERPs take their content optimizations and digital marketing efforts seriously.

But why does this matter? Simply put, you need your website to rank in Google to succeed as a business. In the past, traditional marketing on TV or radio was enough. Still nowadays, people are turning to the web search engines, social media and artificial Intelligence (AI) to find all kinds of information, answers, products, and more.

While the quality of your response is essential, it’s equally crucial for your website to incorporate SEO. Without effective SEO, no matter how valuable your answer may be, people won’t be able to discover it.

A good SEO strategy helps you position your brand in the top Google search results, increases credibility, gives you an edge over your competitors, expands your market reach, and increases sales.

Difference between SEO & SEA

It’s common for people to assume that SEO and SEA are the same thing. The truth is that they are very different. SEA (Search Engine Advertising) refers to the process of creating ads and ranking them in Google search results.

While they both happen in the Google environment, the main difference is that the first one looks for organic traffic to your web page, while the second one relies on paid advertising.

Each has its benefits and challenges. While SEO is something you should consider on an ongoing basis, SEA can come in handy at different times: to launch a new product, promote an event, increase website traffic, etc.

To explore more of SEA, we invite you to explore our comprehensive collection of articles dedicated to this specialization.

Understanding the Google Search algorithm and how it works

To gather data from web pages, search engine bots engage in a process known as “crawling,” wherein they systematically navigate sites to build an index.

Visualizing the World Wide Web as a vast spider web

Visualizing the World Wide Web as a vast spider web, these bots, often referred to as spiders, traverse from one page to another through interconnected links. After crawling through your website, these spiders compile and store all the acquired information in an index.

Google has created a series of algorithms to determine how pages rank in search results.

How does Google Search Engine Work by Sortlist

While the details of how it works are not public, key information will help you better understand this process and carefully use it to improve your website’s SEO.

How to determine which content will rank best

There are several ranking factors, and they are constantly evolving.

several ranking factors to determine which content will rank best

But Google has mentioned several times that they take into account factors such as:

  1. Content relevance: Creating helpful content to the end user and providing relevant and up-to-date information. Ask your team to consistently create content with the end user’s search intent in mind. What are they looking for?
  2. Content quality: Content should be created for humans, not search engine bots. This means it must be helpful, trustworthy, and valuable information, including statistics and links. A good tip is always to ensure your post adds value, provides useful information, cites multiple sources, and is consistent.
  3. User experience: Google takes user experience very seriously. To meet the criteria, your page must load quickly (under 3 seconds), automatically adapt to mobile devices, be clear and uninterrupted, and be secure (HTTPS).
  4. Backlinks: A good indicator of the quality of your content is having other web pages link to it, usually top-ranking results have thousands of backlinks. Keep in mind that the more competitive a keyword is, the more backlinks you need to earn to help it rank.
  5. Topical Authority: You earn this authority by consistently publishing content on a specific topic or industry. Our suggestion is to focus on creating topic clusters, or groups of content on similar topics, and linking them all together.
  6. Context: You have little control over this factor, but Google can provide search results based on the user’s past behavior.

Section 2. Within the Website Optimizations

On-page SEO and technical SEO are two distinct but interconnected aspects of optimizing a website for search engines.

On-page SEO encompasses various factors that can be optimized directly on the web pages to improve their rankings in search engine results. This includes elements such as content, meta tags, headers, and URL structure.

Technical SEO, on the other hand, deals with the backend and infrastructure of a website. It involves optimizing factors like website speed, mobile-friendliness, crawlability, site architecture, and the use of structured data. These technical optimizations contribute to a search engine’s ability to understand and index the content on a website more effectively.

In summary, while on-page SEO includes both content-related and technical elements, technical SEO specifically focuses on the backend and structural aspects of a website to enhance its overall search engine performance.

On-page SEO

On-page optimization refers to the set of strategies and techniques employed to enhance and optimize various elements directly on a website or webpage.

The primary goal of on-page optimization is to improve a webpage’s visibility to search engines and enhance its relevance to specific keywords or topics. This, in turn, can lead to better rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and increased organic traffic.

Keyword research and targeting

An SEO strategy has many different layers. There’s the on-page optimization, the technical piece, and the off-page optimization. Of course, there are also more advanced techniques that need to be implemented for mobile devices, e-commerce sites, and international businesses.

Let’s start with a quick recap of the different steps you need to take when it comes to on-page optimization.

Identifying relevant keywords

This process begins before you write your first piece of content or page on your website. It’s designed to help you identify the keywords you need to focus on in your new content or website page. By keywords, we mean the word or phrase for which you want your content piece to rank on the search engine results page.

Keep in mind that choosing the right keyword will make a difference in your organic traffic metrics.

To choose the right keyword, you must first decide what type of keyword you want to work with:

  • Long tail keywords: Phrases with at least 3 words that will make it easier for you to rank on the first page of SERPs.
  • Keywords by search intent: take into account the queries that users type into Google.
  • Low competition keywords: are the phrases or words that are easier to rank for.
  • Niche keywords: clear and specific topics that appeal to a very specific part of the market.
  • Brand keywords: allow you to attract people who are actively searching for information about your brand or company.
  • Competitive keywords: the phrases your competitors are using to rank in the SERPs.

To learn more about how to choose the perfect keyword, please read our article What is a focus keyword and why is it so important?

Once you have a clear understanding of the type of keyword you want to use, it’s time to go to a research tool (Wordtracker, Ubersuggest, Google Search Console, etc.) and analyze its search volume and domain authority.

keyword research is the starting point of your Google SEO strategy

If you are just starting your SEO efforts, you will want to focus on keywords with search numbers between 50 and 1000 and with low competition numbers. This will make it easier for you to rank for that keyword.

Optimizing titles, meta descriptions, and headers

Now that you’ve analyzed a number of keywords and you’ve chosen your focus, it’s time to start adding them to your content piece. We recommend that you work with an SEO plugin (Yoast is our go to option) to ensure that your text meets the optimization criteria.

where to add keywords

You should also add your keyword:

  • Page title
  • Meta description
  • Meta title or SEO title
  • The first paragraph of your content
  • Permalink or slug
  • Subtitles, at least one
  • Image alt text

But remember, you can’t rely on keywords alone to get your site to the top of a Google search. You need to use a semantic analysis tool such as Ahrefs and SurferSEO.

This is an AI-based software that analyzes the textual data of your page to understand what search engine users use as keywords in their queries. It’s a smart and strategic approach to keyword research that allows you to respond to different types of user queries:

  • Commercial: Users are looking for an immediate product or service purchase.
  • Informational: People want to learn more about different topics related to your industry.
  • Transactional: Those ready to purchase and want to compare different product options.
  • Navigational: the user wants to find a site they have already visited.

Content optimization

Now it’s time to start optimizing your content around a single keyword, your target keyword. Remember, when you are just beginning your SEO efforts, you should always work around a long-tail keyword; while they don’t generate tons of traffic, they are less competitive, so it will be easier to reach the top search results.

Optimizing your page or blog article involves more than randomly adding your keyword in different places. You need to follow specific parameters to give Google clues (in a language it understands) about your content.

Creating high-quality, informative, and engaging content

The key to SEO success is having quality, informative content. This can be in blog articles, ebooks, infographics, videos, or anything else. But it must provide value to the end reader, meet their expectations, and encourage them to take action.

Good content is also well researched, well written, and organized in a way that’s clear and logical to anyone.

So how do you create a great piece of content?

It all starts with research. You need to understand your audience, who they are, their interests, and their goals and pain points. But most importantly, you need to focus on learning what they are looking for, what queries they are making on Google. Once you have that information, it will be easier to determine what content you can create. Don’t forget to check out your competitors’ work; you might find some great ideas there!

Once you clearly understand what your next piece will be about, you need to create the outline. Be specific about the main points and sub-topics you will cover. Make sure everything is organized logically.

Then, it’s time to start writing. Always use clear and concise language. Avoid jargon and technical terms. Include examples, pictures, videos, or any other resource that will help the reader understand what you are explaining.

When the text is finished, revised, and edited, you need to approach it with an SEO mindset. Check that your focus keyword is included in the title, headings, body, meta description, slug, body copy, etc.

Do a final edit and have someone else look closely at it. Fresh eyes tend to catch grammar and spelling mistakes more easily.

Formatting for readability

A key aspect of SEO is organizing and formatting your writing for readability. Although you are writing for humans, not search engines, you must make your content easy to read and understand. Otherwise, you will not be able to reach featured snippets or top search results.

We want to encourage you to do this:

  • Keep your sentences short and simple: Sentences should be no longer than 20 words, and paragraphs should be no longer than 150 words.
  • Use bullets and/or numbered lists: They help present information in an easy-to-read and concise manner.
  • Add images, videos, infographics: Adding different media types is always a good idea to make your content more informative and engaging.
  • Avoid jargon and technical terms: Plain language is the perfect way to communicate with an audience that wants to learn more about something.
  • Write in an active voice: Always have the subject of the sentence do the action, it makes it easier for everyone to understand and relate to the content.
  • Stay away from negative statements: Writing in a positive manner helps make sentences clearer, more concise, and more optimistic.
  • Always use transitions and connectors: Connect your sentences, make sure there is always a relationship between one idea and the next.

Internal linking

To finish up with on-page SEO you need to focus on doing some internal linking. It is responsible for driving people from reading one article to the next, and so on. And it has a direct impact on your ranking on the SERPs.

Basically, this means that you add internal links in your content that redirect users to related content that they might find interesting. Throughout this article you will find many inbound links to other content related to the topic of SEO.

Technical SEO

Once you’ve covered all the on-page SEO best practices, it’s time to get your hands a little dirty and work on the technical piece of SEO. This involves a number of behind-the-scenes elements that make your site easier for search engines to crawl.

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing a website’s technical aspects and infrastructure to improve its search engine visibility and overall performance.

Unlike on-page and off-page SEO, which focus on content and external factors, technical SEO deals with the behind-the-scenes elements that affect how search engines crawl, index, and rank a website. Technical SEO is crucial for ensuring that search engines can efficiently understand and index a site’s content.

Website speed and mobile-friendliness

How long does it take for your site to fully load? If it takes more than 5 seconds, and that’s being generous, you have a 90% chance that the user will leave. Seconds matter, and so does your first impression.

Dwell time and bounce rate are metrics that are closely related to website speed and mobile-friendliness, and they play significant roles in assessing user engagement and overall website performance.

  • Dwell time, also known as time on page, is the amount of time a visitor spends on a specific page of a website before navigating away or taking another action. Optimizing website speed, resulting in faster-loading pages, can positively impact dwell time by reducing the likelihood of users leaving before fully engaging with the content, as visitors are more likely to stay and explore a site that loads quickly.
  • Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who navigate away from a website after viewing only one page, without interacting with the content or visiting other pages. A mobile-friendly website, optimized for a positive mobile experience, can significantly reduce bounce rates, particularly among users accessing the site on mobile devices, as it minimizes usability issues that might otherwise increase the likelihood of bouncing.
Make it a priority to improve your site load time

To do this, first go to Google PageSpeed Insights, this tool will do a quick analysis on your core vitales, but for now let’s focus on your speed index. In addition to telling you how long it takes to fully load, it will also give you a series of recommendations on what you should do to reduce load time.

How long does it take for your site to fully load? If it takes more than 5 seconds, and that's being generous, you have a 90% chance that the user will leave.

Some tips to help you reduce the average load time are

  1. Compress all your files: Images, CSS, HTML, JavaScript, any file you add to your page needs to be compressed to take up less space and have a faster load time.
  2. Check redirects on a regular basis: Every 301 redirect on your site affects your page load time. Having them on many pages will have a negative effect on your page load time.
  3. Trim your code: The more efficient the code, the faster your page will load. Don’t be lazy and keep your code all messy, trim it down and make it look nice.
  4. Check your plugins: Make sure you are always working with the latest version of the various plugins you have added to your site structure. Also minimize the number of plugins you have, this will only affect the speed of loading.

That said, your website development team also needs to spend some time making it available for mobile devices. Much of the Internet’s traffic is coming from these devices, so it’s your job to make their experience as smooth as possible.

Website structure and navigation

But the work does not stop there… Your web development team still has a lot of work to do.

Website structure refers to the relationship between the different pages that make up your website. It includes your home page, additional pages, subtopics, folders, etc.

But if you want to succeed in the SEO path, you need to be careful and create a well-executed website structure. This means:

  • You need to establish your site hierarchy and prioritize certain topics and sections. Take a closer look at the resources that will help convert your visitors into customers. For example, a page dedicated to your best-selling products should have a higher priority than your news page.
  • Organize your corresponding URL structure to make it simple and readable for search engines. One great option is to make your URLs represent the folder order in which your site is organized. For example, you might want to do something similar to: www.example.com/folder/article-keyword
  • Make it easy for people to navigate from one page to another. This will help them, and search engines, understand the structure and get to the different sections of your site.
  • Include breadcrumbs to help users trace their steps back to a previous location. Having an orderly trail is necessary to explain someone’s location within the deeper structure of your web page.
  • Always include a header and footer to improve the structure of your site. On the header, you must always include a quick path to your site’s primary sections. And, you should also add them to your footer, with any additional information you think is necessary.
  • Finally, internal linking is key here. Building links will help you show the relationship between pages and content published on your site.

Schema markup and structured data

Schema markup is the language that search engines use to read and understand the content of your website. And trust us when we say that Google highly values pages that have added schema markup to their data structure.

This process simply makes it easier for them to understand what they are navigating and the meaning of your page. And it increases your chances of appearing in the top search results and feature snippets.

You can add the schema markup to almost any action:

  • Product
  • Offer
  • FAQs
  • Event
  • Embedded non-text objects, etc.

In fact, there are over 790 different types available, so it’s necessary that your team takes the time to research and understand which ones they need to apply in order to have a positive impact on your SEO.

Image optimization

Of course, images also need to be optimized. They are there to ease the attention span of your readers and to help you catch the attention of the search engine bots.

It goes beyond throwing them randomly into your text. You need to do it in a smart and strategic way.

  • Add captions with your end reader in mind. What do they want to read there? A simple description that adds value. This is the only element that does not need to be added to every image, only to those where it makes sense to have it.
  • Add alt text to every image, it helps ensure that all information and functionality is delivered even when users have turned off images in their web browsers. Be sure to include your keyword here!
  • The title text is also a great place for you to include supporting information for the image.

Finally, make sure your web developer uses an XML image sitemap to give Google more information about the various images available on your site.

Core Web Vitals optimization

Finally, your web development team needs to spend some time analyzing and working on your site’s core vitals.

Web Core Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers important for measuring the user experience on a website. These metrics help website owners and developers assess and improve the performance, speed, and overall user satisfaction of their web pages.

The Web Core Vitals consist of three key metrics:
  1. Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures the loading performance of a web page. LCP specifically focuses on the time it takes for the largest piece of content (such as an image or text block) to become visible to the user.
  2. First Input Delay (FID): FID measures the responsiveness of a web page by examining the time it takes for a user to interact with the page (e.g., click a button or link) and the browser’s response to that interaction. A low FID is crucial for a smooth and interactive user experience.
  3. Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS assesses the visual stability of a web page. It measures the amount of unexpected layout shifts that occur during the page’s loading process. This is important because unexpected shifts in the layout can be disruptive to users, especially when they are trying to interact with the content.

These metrics provide a quantitative way to evaluate and improve the user experience of a website, with the goal of ensuring that web pages load quickly, respond promptly to user input, and maintain visual stability.

TBT (Total Blocking Time) and SI (Speed Index)

TBT (Total Blocking Time) and SI (Speed Index) are additional web performance metrics that are often used to assess and improve the user experience on a website. These metrics provide insights into different aspects of a page’s loading and rendering performance.

  1. Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures the total amount of time during which the main thread of the browser is blocked and unable to respond to user input. It includes all the time intervals where the main thread is occupied with tasks such as script execution, rendering, and other activities that can potentially block user interactions. TBT is crucial for evaluating the responsiveness of a web page and ensuring a smooth user experience.
  2. Speed Index (SI): The Speed Index is a metric that quantifies how quickly the visible content of a web page is rendered during the loading process. It takes into account the visual progression of the page and assigns a score based on how quickly the critical above-the-fold content becomes visible. A lower Speed Index indicates faster perceived page load times and a better user experience.

Both TBT and SI contribute to the overall assessment of a web page’s performance, and they align with the broader goal of providing a fast, responsive, and visually stable experience for users.

Website owners and developers often use these metrics, along with the key performance indicators mentioned above to optimize their websites for better performance and improved search engine rankings.

As we explained earlier, you can find a great analysis using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool will give you a comprehensive analysis of your website performance and user experience on both mobile and desktop in a matter of seconds.

Google's PageSpeed Insights. This givesyou a comprehensive analysis of your website performance

Dedicating time to each of the items and recommendations it gives you will help you improve the overall performance of your own website and the end user experience.

Section 3. Off-Page Website Optimizations

Off-page SEO, also known as off-site SEO, refers to the actions and techniques taken outside of a website to improve its visibility, credibility, and authority on the internet.

Unlike on-page SEO, which involves optimizing the content and structure of a website, off-page SEO focuses on external factors that impact a site’s search engine rankings.

The primary goal of off-page SEO is to establish a positive online reputation and signal to search engines that a website is valuable and trustworthy.

And the SEO work continues… There are some key actions you need to take from your website to increase the site’s ranking in the Google search engine rankings.

These actions mainly revolve around two things:

  1. Sharing your content on social media networks.
  2. Building links to other sites.

The first one is self-explanatory, so let’s focus on the link building process.

Strategies for acquiring high-quality backlinks

Link building is the process of having other websites include links and refer traffic to your site. There are several things you can do to be successful in your efforts, improve your domain authority, acquire referral traffic, and strengthen your brand authority.

For starters, you should consider using an SEO link building agency with a proven track record and portfolio. And, of course, there are various manual actions you should consider:

  • Manual outreach: Proactively connect with various website owners and industry leaders/influencers. Send them personalized messages asking them to link back to your site and send them a specific link you want them to include.
  • Guest Blogging: Writing and publishing content on third party websites is beneficial for creating connections with other people and organizations in your industry. It also helps raise awareness of your brand and position yourself as a thought leader.
  • Broken Link Building: Identifying broken links on third party websites gives you the competitive advantage to ask them to replace them with your content. It’s a process that takes time, but in the end it’s worth it.

Avoiding harmful link-building practices

While link building can have a positive impact on your strategies, it’s important that your team stays away from violating search engine guidelines, as this will only hurt your efforts and lead to punishment or a drop in search engine rankings.

This practice, also known as blackhat SEO, includes techniques such as

  • Keyword stuffing: Filling your content with irrelevant keywords to manipulate page rankings on search results pages.
  • Cloaking: Refers to the practice of presenting one piece of content to the user and another to the search engine. Organizations do this just to gain page rankings for multiple keywords, but in the end, it only hurts their efforts.
  • Sneaky redirects: sending people to a different URL than the one they originally clicked on.
  • Low quality content: publishing content that is of no value to the visitor.

Again, you need to make sure that your content team stays away from these actions. It’s only a matter of time before search engines notice and take action to prevent your site from appearing in their top results.

Link profile analysis and disavowing bad links

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if you want to build a strong website, you need to pay close attention to your backlinks. They help build an image of thought leadership, trust, and credibility.

But you need to be careful and avoid falling through the cracks of this practice and getting links that will only hurt your site. Google is very strict in its penalties for backlinks.

For example, there are cases in which Google can send you a warning for unnatural links and penalize you for it. Even if you were not aware of it!

So what can you do? Your webmaster needs to be constantly aware of Google’s penalties and monitor your backlinks. You want to avoid buying links from shady SEO sites and using intentional backlinking schemes from a private backlink network. These are two major forms that Google and other search engines penalize. However, you can also get spammy backlinks organically.

Either way, you can disavow a link or ask Google to ignore links from that domain. But don’t do this indiscriminately, take the time to fully analyze your backlinks and only take this action if there is a bad linking practice.

This is what you should do:

  1. Run a site audit using Google Search Console and its link report.
  2. Click the Export external links button and select More sample links.
  3. Create your list of disavow links, making sure to separate them by URL or by domain.
  4. Export the file.
  5. Go to the Google Disavow Tool and click on any warning prompts.
  6. Select the disavow file you created earlier and upload it.
  7. Google will take a few days to review your request and may approve it or not.

Local SEO (if applicable)

If you are a business with a physical location, you need to pay close attention to this section. Your SEO efforts will require you to do everything we have explained up to here and a little more to help users find your location quickly.

Just think for a moment… How do you find a good Italian restaurant near you? You probably went to Google and did a search similar to: best italian restaurant near me.

How to manage your local SEO

The same thing happens for all kinds of businesses: electricians, plumbers, pharmacies, bookstores, clothing, you name it!

So, let’s do a quick recap on the local SEO actions you need to take to ensure your listing appears in the first results.

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing

Your first step should be to claim and optimize your Google My Business profile. This is a free service that allows you to share more information about your business: hours, description, photos, videos, customer reviews, contact information, shipping area, link to your reservation service, and more.

Claiming and optimizing your Google My Business listing

To set up your account, you will need to

  1. Go to Google My Business
  2. Click Manage Now
  3. Enter your business name
  4. Enter your address. If you are a delivery only business, be sure to click the appropriate option.
  5. Select your business category. Make sure it’s the one that best describes what you do.
  6. Add your phone number
  7. Add your website URL

If your business is selected for verification, Google will send a postcard with a verification code to your physical address. It is usually delivered within 1 week. When you receive it, simply go back to Google My Business and enter it.

GMB listing example

Once that’s done, you’re ready to start the optimization process. Make sure to add valuable information about your business and fill out as much as you can. You want to make it easier for potential customers to find you and buy your products or services.

  • Use your actual business name and avoid adding keywords to it.
  • Add a local phone number, it helps to show that you are a legitimate local business.
  • Add the correct hours of operation, you don’t want people coming to a closed business.
  • Write a business description. Avoid adding keywords here, it will not help your rankings.
  • Add high quality images of your exterior, interior, and products.
  • Upload videos of 30 seconds or less.
  • Ask your happy customers to share reviews.

Local citations and online directories

Online directories are your second best option for promoting a local business and improving your search engine rankings. They help reinforce consistent information about your business across the Internet.

Our suggestion here is that you do a quick search and look for local online directories, contact them and ask them about the process of adding your business to their listings. Some may charge, some may be free, but trust us when we say it’s worth it.

Positive customer reviews

After all, nothing says more about your business than someone who has had the experience of buying from you. Reach out to your happy customers and ask them to leave a review on your website, Google My Business profile, or local listings. It’s your choice, just make sure it’s an easy process for them. The more complicated it is, the less likely they are to complete it.

You can use software like Hotjar, Typeform, Popupsmart, Qualaroo, and Feedbackify.

Section 4. Advanced SEO Techniques

Advanced SEO techniques go beyond the basics and delve into more sophisticated strategies to optimize a website for search engines. Here are some advanced SEO techniques that can help elevate your website’s visibility and performance

SEO for e-commerce websites

As with any SEO effort, you need to start with keyword research. But in the case of SEO for e-commerce, the keywords will vary from product page to product page. So it’s important to pay close attention to search queries in Google,Amazon, and Reddit. Don’t forget to check your competitors’ keywords, you’ll find a lot of insights there too!

Product and category pages optimization

Once you have the keywords you want to use for each product, or category, it’s time to sit down and start working on each product page.

Make sure your site is free of clutter, don't add extra information the user doesn't want. Just stick to the basics and remove all distractions.
Source: Shopify

Of course, your work will start by including your keyword in your title, title tag, and meta description. Optimize images, site speed and mobile friendliness. But you need to go the extra mile.

  • Make sure your site is free of clutter, don’t add extra information the user doesn’t want. Just stick to the basics and remove all distractions.
  • Include clear calls to action, most likely to buy now or add to cart. You want to make their experience as smooth as possible.
  • Use amazing product images that show different angles and uses. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Include a showcase video. It helps build customer confidence.
  • Keep your copy short and sweet and loaded with key information like price, shipping, availability, colors, sizes. Anything that will help the user make a purchase and fits under 300 words.
  • Include reviews and testimonials from your happy customers.
  • Include a FAQ section It helps you answer common questions your potential buyers have, and it’s a place to provide additional information on features they may not be aware of.

Technical SEO considerations for e-commerce sites

Just as with a regular website, you want to make sure that your website development team or your webmaster has installed a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate on your site. This adds another layer of security to protect credit card information and passwords.

You should also make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices and uses responsive design, which adapts to different screen sizes.

You need to submit your Sitemap to Google, which is a file that contains a list of all the pages on your site to make it easier for the search engine to find and index them so they can appear in search results.

Finally, it’s important that you constantly monitor your site’s loading speed and keep it under 3 seconds, and for any other technical issues. A great way to do this is through Google Search Console. Its page report provides any technical SEO issues that may have a negative impact on your ranking.

International SEO

Now that you have set out to conquer new frontiers, you need your marketing and Web site teams to work toward the same goal.

There are several actions you need to take on your website to manage your presence on the Internet and start getting visitors from your target countries.

Targeting different languages and regions

This process presents a number of challenges. One of them is language. Just because they speak a different language than you does not mean you have to translate everything. There are terms they will still use in English. But you need to spend time analyzing how they do searches. What keywords do they use?

Based on this information, you need to start updating your content.

Keep in mind that even if your new target market speaks the same language as you, such as English, they may use different terms and slangs. Pay attention to them, they play a key role in your optimization process.

A good idea is to do some Google searches using the location of the new markets. It will give you a better understanding of the terms they use and the content they find.

Hreflang implementation

These attributes are the key signal for Google to know which URL to show the visitor based on their language and location.

Google has published a quick guide on how to do this. Just click here to access it.

Cultural considerations

A new market means a new audience and a new culture. Your marketing team needs to spend time analyzing the culture, the way they think and act. They will determine the type of content, the way you write, the format, and everything else related to your marketing efforts.

For example, the thumbs-up signal generally has a positive connotation. But in cultures like Iran, it is a derogatory sign.

Section 5. Measuring and Tracking Your SEO Performance

Effectively measuring and tracking SEO performance is crucial for understanding the impact of your efforts and making informed decisions to improve your website’s visibility.

Setting realistic goals and expectations for your SEO efforts

As with any marketing effort, you need to set goals for your SEO strategies. They are the key indicators for measuring success, tracking progress, and making sure your efforts are paying off.

But, we get it, setting goals is not easy. In fact, you probably don’t even know where to start. To help, here is a quick guide to setting your SEO goals.

Smart goals for SEO

First, you need to have a clear understanding of what your desired outcome is. Increased sales? Organic traffic? Keyword Google ranking? Every business has something they want to achieve with their SEO efforts, take the time to think about what you want.

Second, these goals need to be SMART goals, they need to be:

  • Specific: It’s your main SEO goal and what determines the KPIs to use and the metrics to measure.
  • Measurable: Measuring and tracking are key elements of your success.
  • Achievable: Make it realistic and achievable for your resources and capabilities.
  • Relevant: Make sure it’s aligned with your business goals.
  • Time-bound: Set a specific time frame for completion.

For example, your SEO goal might look like this: “Increase organic traffic by 20% in 4 months”. Or “, Reduce page load time to under 2 seconds in 3 months.”

Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed during this process. It’s normal. Try to keep your focus on the metrics that have the greatest impact on your business goals.

Here are key SEO metrics to consider:

Key SEO metrics to track

There are over 10 SEO metrics you can track. Each one will help you understand whether or not your efforts are working toward your ultimate goal. Some of these metrics are essential (we explain them below), others are simply not helpful at all.

4 SEO metrics you should focus on
  • Organic traffic: refers to all organic (unpaid) traffic that comes to your website from search engines. Google Search Console gives you the most accurate view of your traffic over time.
  • Keyword Ranking: refers to the ranking of your website in Google search results for each keyword you use. You can find this metric using a third party tracking tool like SemRush.
  • Backlink profile: Tells you the quality of your backlinks, including the number of links pointing back to your site. SemRush comes with a tool to collect this data.
  • Conversion rates: the actions your visitors take when they land on your site: register, download, subscribe, buy, etc. You can track this with Google Analytics.

Reporting and analysis

Detailed and regular analytics reports allow you to better understand what efforts are resonating with your audience. It helps you identify which messages, formats, graphics, and even keywords are performing better and which need to be rethought. After all, you do not want to spend your budget on efforts that produce little or no results.

In addition to collecting data, your team needs to analyze it and come up with a set of conclusions and recommendations based on the trends they see.

Ask your team to answer the following questions each time they present an SEO report:

  • What search queries are driving more traffic to the site?
  • Which page generated the most impressions and clicks from search engines?
  • What is the CTR for the pages on the site?
  • What is the average ranking of the site pages in search engines?
  • How many clicks did the site generate last month?
  • What are the conversion numbers?

Google Analytics and Search Console will be your first choice when looking for data to support these answers.

But what really matters is what you do with the reporting data. As a business owner or marketing manager, you need to pay close attention to it. Interpret it and decide on different actions and adjustments based on what you see there.

For example, if your average time on site is not long, you should take action and improve the content you are sharing. If you have a high bounce rate from mobile devices, it’s time to rethink your mobile-friendliness. If your pages are not converting, take a closer look at your offer and CTAs.

Section 6. FAQs and Troubleshooting

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) for SEO, along with troubleshooting tips, can help address common queries and challenges.

Common SEO mistakes and how to avoid them

As you can see, the world of SEO is made up of so many different pieces that it’s easy to make a mistake. That’s why at Sortlist we believe it’s better to rely on SEO agencies with a proven track record to handle all your efforts, they have teams of trained professionals and access to the best tools out there to take action and present you with in-depth reports and analytics.

Here is a quick recap of some of the most common mistakes we have seen companies make.

Not working from keyword research. If you don’t understand search volume and domain authority, you can make the mistake of trying to rank for a keyword that has thousands of monthly searches and huge companies ranking for it. In essence, you would be wasting time.

Ignore search intent. Not only is this a waste of time, but your content will never be seen by your target audience. Their search queries and information needs are the foundation of all SEO efforts.

Not paying attention to backlinks. We’ve said it before, backlinks are the backbone of SEO success. Not having quality links only tells search engines that your content is not trustworthy or relevant.

Not letting Google crawl your site. If they can’t crawl it, they won’t be able to index it or rank it in their search results.

Thinking that SEO is a one-time thing. You may be ranked number one in search results today, but that won’t last forever. Your content and SEO teams must constantly work, update, and improve your site to meet Google’s algorithm and ranking criteria.

Resources for further learning

If you want to continue learning about SEO, we suggest you take a look at the following pieces we have published on our blog:


Search engine optimization is a long-term marketing approach. It requires consistent budget, attention, effort and monitoring. Otherwise, your website won’t be able to deliver the expected results and help your business achieve its ultimate goal.

While people may not even realize that you have spent hours working on your site, each of these actions is designed to improve your:

  • Clickability
  • Rankability
  • Accessibility
  • Indexability
  • Crawlability

To accomplish this task, you can either do it with an in-house team, or you can turn to a specialized agency with a proven track record and years of experience dealing with Google and its ever-changing algorithm. But the decision is yours, it depends on your company’s budget, staffing and expectations.

In the end, this blog post serves as an introduction to the world of SEO and a guide to understanding how to implement certain actions on your site.

Article co-authored and edited by Emmaree Lozada


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