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The Complete
Guide to SEO
Endemaj Funds The Complete Guide to SEO
The importance of and methods to utilise
SEO.
endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO
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SEO is the process of improving
your site to increase its visibility
when people search for
products or services related to
your business.
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1.	 What is SEO and why do it?
	 o	 The benefits of seo
2.	Vocabulary
	 o	 How is seo different from sem?
3.	 How to plan a successful SEO strategy
	 o	 Setting business and marketing goals
	 o	 Setting SEO goals
4.	 Top Aspects of Successful SEO
o	 Conducting competition analysis
	 o	 Keyword analysis
	 o	 Linking analysis
	 o	 Content analysis
o	 Onsite and Technical SEO
	
o	
Domain					o	
URLs
	
o	
Page title				o	
Meta descriptions
	
o	
Alt-text					o	
Robots.txt
	 o	 Example: An optimized page
o	 Content Optimization
	 o	 What is web content 			 o	 Use anchor texts and internal linking
	 o	 How to do content optimization		 o	 Explore different kinds of content
	 o	 Define your goals				 o	 Plan an editorial calendar		
	 o	 Consider your audience			 o	 Analyze, reassess, refine	
	 o	 Consider your target keywords	
o	 Off-site SEO
	 o	Link-building
	 o	 Content marketing & influencer marketing
	 o	 Guest blogging and digital pr
o	 Additional tips
	 o	 Social activities				 o	 Optimize for voice
	 o	 Review pages for keyword integration	 o	 Optimize for mobile
	 o	 Create a sitemap				 o	 Improve UX
	 o	 Use secure HTTPs
o	 Important SEO metrics
	 o 	 Organic traffic				 o	 Core web viTALS
	 o	 keyword ranking increase			 o	 Website health
	 o	 Search visibility				 o	 Page load time
	 o	 Leads + conversions			 o	 Top exit pages
	
o	
Traffic value				o	
Crawl errors
	 o	 Referring domains			 o	 Index coverage errors
	 o	 Indexed pages
5.	 USEFUL Tools
	 o	 Keyword research
	 o	 On-page seo
	 o	 Link building
	 o	 Technical seo
	 o	 Monitoring and analysis
6.	FAQs
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WHAT IS SEO
...and why do it
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What is SEO and why do it?
When you want to find out the top fine dining restaurants in the city, or the most popular
vacation places in Europe, what do you do? You go to your phone or computer’s web browser,
type in Google, and do a Google search.
This practice has become such an important part of our daily lives that “Google it” has
practically become synonymous with “look it up.”
In fact, we do it so often that it’s said Google processes 63,000 search queries every second
– that’s 5.6 billion searches per day and 2 trillion global searches per year.
Considering how much people rely on search engines, businesses need to be appearing for
searches made by their target consumers if they want to succeed in the digital age.
“If you consider that results on the first page of a Google search get over 90%
of search traffic, you cannot afford not to be there, especially if your competitors
are.”
Forbes, 10 Key Benefits of SEO For Your Business
How can businesses do this? By building their presence online through search engine
optimization or SEO.
SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for
products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines.
The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner
attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business. And in the digital
age, greater visibility and ranking higher in search results than your competition can have a
material impact on your bottom line.
Ranking higher on search engine results pages or
SERPs can mean more sales, more subscriptions,
more business enquiries, and more growth
opportunities.
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That is why businesses and brands are allocating more resources towards improving their
Google rankings. According to industry experts, majority of businesses are spending $5,000
on average on their SEO efforts.
This is budget that is being allocated to capture the growing volume of people who are
using the internet and search engines to make purchase decisions. Need proof? Here’s a few
stats for you:
65%
39%
45%
90%
The percentage of people who use their phone in their I-want-to-buy moments.
The percentage of purchasers who were influenced by a relevant search.
Approx percentage of global shoppers buy online and then pick up in-store.
The percentage of consumers who used the internet to find a local business in
the last year.
SEO represents one of the most common digital marketing strategies, and it remains super
popular because of its reliable return-on-investment. As much as half of all website traffic
comes from search engines like Google or Bing. This means that close to 40% of online
revenue comes from search traffic as well.
Here’s something else to think about: The top 1st result on Google gets more than
32% of keyword traffic, and the first page of search results grab as much as 91.5% of
traffic.
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If done properly, SEO can help with improving a number of areas that are beneficial to
your business such as:
•	 Lead Generation: As the popular saying goes, “The best ability is availability.”
SEO makes your business readily available by bringing your website in front of
your target online audience. By being one of the top results on search, you can
accelerate your lead generation. And the more leads you have, the better you
can get at building your customer base, thus resulting in higher revenue for your
business.
•	 Branding and Brand Recognition: Your brand is the identity of your business.
When your target online customers remember and trust your brand, this increases
the likelihood of them choosing your products or services. SEO can help with your
branding and brand recognition by making your website visible for top searches
relevant to your business.
•	 Reputation Management: In the unfortunate instance that your business
encounters negative PR, SEO can help in rehabilitating your public image through
reputation management.
•	 Improved ROI: If your business is intent on doing full-scale digital marketing, SEO
can prove to be a valuable strategy that delivers positive return on investment.
Why? New leads acquired through SEO have a close rate of 14.6%, which is
significantly higher than the 2% close rate of leads acquired through traditional
marketing. How is it so high? That’s because SEO is basically making your business
visible to those who are already interested in the product or service you have to
offer. That reduces the friction in the decision process.
Clearly, there is a business benefit to doing SEO. But before we dive into tips, strategies,
techniques, and the like, let’s make some clear distinctions and definitions first. This
way, we don’t get confused with any of the terms we use as we move forward.
The Benefits of SEO
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VOCABULARY
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The SEO industry and the online landscape in general uses a wide range of terminologies
that may seem intimidating when encountered for the first time. But fear not! That’s one
of the reasons why we made this guide in the first place! So grab your popcorn, sit down,
and let us introduce you to these commonly used terms, which we will likely use repeatedly
further on in the guide. Enjoy!
Vocabulary
301 Redirect
A 301 redirect is a status code that tells search engines and users the page has permanently
moved and makes sure that they are sent to the correct page. As this is permanent, when a
301 redirect is used it signifies that the content on the page has been moved forever. Users
are redirected to a new page, which has replaced the old one.
302 Redirect
302 redirect is a temporary change that redirects both users and search engines to the
desired new location for a limited amount of time, until the redirect is removed. This 302
redirect may be shown as a 302 found (HTTP 1.1), or moved temporarily (HTTP 1.0).
404 Not Found - A 404 not found error occurs when a user tries to access a page that does
not or no longer exists.
404 Not Found
A 404 not found error occurs when a user tries to access a page that does not or no longer
exists.
500 Internal Server Error
The server encountered something it didn't expect and was unable to complete the request.
Algorithm
A complex computer program used by search engines such as Google to retrieve data and
deliver results for a query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms to deliver ranked
webpages via search engine results pages (also known as SERPs) based on a wide range of
criteria called ranking factors and signals.
Alt Text/Tag
An SEO element for describing images to search engines. It is a text-based property
attributed to an image file in order for Google to understand the visual content of an image.
Anchor Text
Text within a website that is clickable and links to another page on the site or a different
website or domain.
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Backlink Profile
A list of all the sites currently linking to your site (including how they’re linking to it and which
pages they’re linking to). A backlink profile measures: (1) the number of inbound links to your
website; (2) the number of unique domains that link to your website; (3) the quality of those
links.
Black Hat SEO
"Black hat SEO" refersto techniquesandstrategiesthat attempt tospam/foolsearch engines.
While black hat SEO can work, it puts websites at tremendous risk of being penalized and/
or de-indexed (removed from search results) and has ethical implications.
Bounce Rate
It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave ("bounce") rather
than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Bounce rate is a measure of
"stickiness." The thinking being that an effective website will engage visitors deeper into
the website. It is calculated is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and
dividing that by the total visits. It is then represented as a percentage of total visits.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
The rate that users click on a website URL from organic or paid search results. CTR is a way to
gauge web page title and meta description performance. Well-performing web page titles
and meta descriptions effectively draw the interest of a search user enough to entice clicking
on a website from SERPs.
Conversion Rate
The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. A
conversion can be a website visit, a purchase, a sign up to a subscription, or even a phone
call via a clickable link on the website.
Dofollow links
Dofollow is the default state for a link. Any link that is not given the “nofollow” attribute by
a site admin is a dofollow link. As such, when another website links to yours with a standard
(aka dofollow) link, it can directly affect search engine rankings, as it is essentially a backlink
that is “linking back” to your website.
Domain Authority
The overall “strength” of a website, built up over time, which can help a new page rank well
quickly, even before that content has earned links or engagement.
Grey Hat SEO
Grey hat SEO is the blurred line between approved and frowned upon SEO practices.
Grey hat SEO uses “ill-defined” or “ill-advised” SEO practices and strategies that don’t
necessarily or explicitly violate a search engine’s guidelines but are still risky, as they could
result in penalties.
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Guest Blogging
Guest blogging (or guest posting) is publishing an article on someone else’s website. People
do this so they can get more brand awareness and traffic back to their own website (also
known as referral traffic). In guest blogging, blog owners or hosts invite other reputable
writers and subject matter experts to write on their blog, providing valuable content to
readers. In exchange, guest bloggers or posters can be allowed to link their guest article
back to their website, thus giving their website a backlinking boost.
Heading
Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being
the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally
and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a
small SEO benefit. One important thing to remember when crafting and placing heading
tags is that there should always only be one H1 in a web page, and at most, three H2s. As for
H3s and beyond, there is not recommended limit.
Internal Link
A hyperlink of text or an image within a website that links to another page on the same site.
IP Address
A unique set of numbers usually separated by periods that devices including computers,
smartphones, and tablets use to communicate with each other on the same network. An IP
address is a digital footprint for internet activity on a given network.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics used to measure the effectiveness
and performance of an SEO or marketing campaign against key business objectives.
Keyword
The word, words, or phrase that an SEO professional or marketer targets for the purpose of
matching and ranking for what users are searching for.
Keyword Research
The process of analyzing and identifying the actual words search engine users type in when
looking for information about a brand, product or service is called keyword research. These
sets of keywords can be identified using the various free or paid keyword research tools
available in the market.
Keyword Stuffing
A black hat SEO tactic for adding a significant amount of a keyword onto a page or website
to manipulate organic search engines.
KPIs
Key performance indicators, are the critical indicators of progress toward an intended results.
In SEO, KPIs include organic traffic, keyword ranking, conversion rate, bounce rate, page
load time, backlinks built.
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Link Building
Link building is the process of generating links that points back to the main URL of your
website or specific pages and posts within the site. These external links act like “votes” that
will tell search engines the relevance of your web pages with regards to certain keywords,
ranking your website higher in SERPs for that particular set of keywords. Links from high-
authority sites send a trust signal to Google. It’s like having somebody vouch for you. The
more people that vouch for you, the more trustworthy you are.
Meta Description
The snippet of information that appears below the title tags in SERPs are called meta
descriptions, and are basically HTML attributes that describes or summarizes what a
particular page may contain. The optimum size of meta descriptions is 150 to 160 characters
and should be written with the precise intent of letting searchers know if the information or
content they are looking for can be found within this particular web page.
Nofollow Link
HTML markup on a link telling search engines not to pass link juice and authority to the site
it’s being linked to.
Optimise page
Implementing your targeted keywords into your site’s content. Each page on your site should
be targeting a core term, and a “basket” of related terms. a nice visual of what a well (or
perfectly) optimized page.
Off-Page SEO
Off-page or off-site SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages and make them rank
better in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by improving the link popularity of these web
pages to certain keyword phrases. Generating a large quantity of backlinks however should
not be the only focus in off-page SEO, but rather generate back links from relevant sites,
preferably websites that already trusted by the search engines.
On-Page SEO
On-page SEO, or what other marketers also termed on-site SEO, refers to a set of processes
designed to optimize internal elements of web pages to make them more search engine
friendly. Optimizing these page elements make these web pages more relevant, easier to
use and easier to navigate, giving your site visitors a better user experience. This is turn will
signal search engines to give a better ranking importance to your pages. On-page elements
include: title tags, mate description, h1 tags, keyword density, etc.
Organic Search
The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are
analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result
based on their query.
Outbound link
Links within a website that take users to another website.
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PageRank
Created by Google and that ranks both the quality and quantity of links to a site that will
help determine a domain’s authority. This scale is 0-10 with 10 being of the highest authority.
Pay Per Click (PPC)
The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are
analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result
based on their query.
Ranking
Rankings refer to the actual position of a particular web page in search engine results pages
using one or more keywords. The higher the rankings, the higher the chances a web page
get more targeted traffic. There are several factors that search engine use to rank websites
and most of these can be done through incorporating white-hat SEO techniques.
Relevance
A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by
bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
SEM is digital marketing across organic and paid advertising platforms to increase the
visibility of a website or web page. Search engine marketing (SEM) includes both organic
and paid. So you can think of it this way: SEO + PPC = SEM
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the digital marketing practice for increasing free traffic and visibility to a website or
web page through search engine rankings. It is the process of affecting the visibility of a
website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results.
Search Engine Results Page (SERP)
SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page and is the main battleground for all
activities included in SEO campaigns. Every search query made through a particular search
engine returns these SERP pages. The whole point of SEO is to have your web pages rank
high in SERPs based on a particular set of keywords, ultimately going for the first few pages
of these results where it all matters.
SEO Tracking
Process of measuring the performance and progress of a campaign
Sitemap
A list of pages on a website that is easily accessible to search engines, crawlers, and users.
Social Activities
Social media has gained a significant foothold that affects Internet marketing trends. It has
evolved as a very important element in Search Engine Optimization and has come to be a
very important and very significant tool for generating links, improve online reputation and
solicit participation from online users.
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Target Keywords
Once relevant keywords for your brand, product or service are identified by the keyword
research tools of your choosing, the next step is to create target keywords that will serve as
the central focal points for the whole Search Engine Optimization process. Target keywords
are usually a key phrase that may or may not contain your actual brand, product or service.
Title Tag
Title tag is an HTML element that contain the title for a particular web page, which in turn will
be displayed in a web browser’s title bar when that particular page is displayed. It is a very
important element for SEO as it contains the keywords that will appear on SERPs as clickable
links. Each document or web page is allowed only a single title tag that is why it is important
to create title tags that contain keywords that are relevant to the contents of that particular
web page.
Top-Level Domain (TLD)
The extension of a given web address. These include .com, .org, .net, and .info.
Traffic
The people (and sometimes bots) who visit your website.
Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
A web address that points to a unique page on a website, FTP, email, or database access.
User-Generated Content (UGC)
Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – that is created by users
or customers.
User Experience (UX)
Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – that is created by users
or customers.
White Hat SEO
"White hat SEO" refers to SEO techniques, best practices, and strategies that abide by
search engine rule, its primary focus to provide more value to people.
Now that we’ve gone through the most basic
definitions, let’s get into one of the most
important distinctions – and also one of the
most commonly mixed up terms – in the
industry: SEO and SEM.
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HOW IS SEO DIFFERENT FROM
SEM?
Before we get into differentiating SEO from SEM, first we have to identify the two kinds of
traffic websites get from search engines: paid and organic. Paid search traffic is traffic that
can be attributed to paid-for channels, otherwise known as online advertisements. These
online ads are run through PPC campaigns that are executed to target a specific type of
search engine user.
On Google, PPC ads are the search results that typically appear at the topmost position of
the SERPs, and are prefixed with the label “Ad.” In order to appear for these ad positions,
businesses must pay, just as you would with physical outdoor advertising, for example. As
these positions are prime real estate online, there are plenty of businesses who will also want
to take these positions.
Google facilitates this through a bidding process, where businesses essentially “outbid”
each other to appear for these positions. If your webpage is properly optimized and adheres
to Google’s guidelines, the bid required for you to appear for your choice position is often
reduced compared to others who haven’t done the same thing. This essentially means, you
get to run your PPC campaign at a lower cost (or Cost Per Click) than competing businesses.
The key to a PPC campaign is to have a properly optimized webpage to earn
higher ROI
(i.e. lower CPC + longer-running campaigns = more traffic and higher chances of
conversion).
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PPC RESULTS
SEORESULTS
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On the other hand, organic traffic is website traffic coming from organic positions in SERPs. In
Google, organic SERP positions are those located below Google ads.
Whereas in search ad positions, competitors can essentially unseat you with a higher bid, there
is no amount of money to get you in the top organic positions. Organic search positions are
awarded by Google to websites that have earned enough trust and authority through proper
SEO.
At this point, you might be thinking, “Well, why would I want to be in organic search results when
I’ll obviously be higher up on the page with Google ads?”
The answer is simple: organic traffic is essentially free. While doing SEO does take time and effort,
once Google places your website on the top of SERPs, you will be earning traffic without paying
for anything. This means, long-term and continuous return on investment for your business.
Also, organic search results are more perceived as more credible than ads by web savvy users.
That is why organic results receive more clicks than paid ads. In fact, a recent study revealed that
the first organic result has an average CTR of 28.5%. Meanwhile, for US searches, only ~2.8% of
people click on paid advertisements. As such, SEO represents one of the most common digital
marketing strategies, and it remains super popular because of its reliable return-on-investment.
So if that’s what SEO is, what is SEM? SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a more comprehensive
online campaign that involves both SEO and PPC. You can think of it this way: SEO + PPC = SEM.
Why engage in SEO and PPC at the same time, instead of sticking to one strategy? Simple.
SEO is a long-term game that is meant to bring about lasting results and business impacts.
Carefully building authority in your area of expertise or industry involves carefully establishing
yourself as a credible source of information, on top of providing quality products or services.
When you’ve done this successfully, you will be able to acquire leads organically – that is, through
search engines like Google that show your website for searches relevant to your business.
While you’re doing this, however, you will need to build some traction for your business to survive.
You will need leads to come in, even as you’re slowly working to climb Google search rankings.
This is where PPC comes in.
Through targeted search ads, you can appear at the top of search results for a specified period,
based on your PPC campaign settings. This will give your brand the visibility that it needs to
attract customers, while you’re building for long-term staying power and sustainability through
SEO.
In the beginning, you might have to allocate a relatively larger budget for PPC, while you’re
simultaneously working on developing your SEO. Naturally, the leads you get from your marketing
mix might be largely attributed to PPC, instead of SEO.
However, over-time and if done correctly, you can gradually see leads from SEO and PPC even
out, until the point where you can reduce your PPC budget and still get the same number of
leads in total, due to the increasing free traffic you’re getting from organic search.
The result is better return on investment on your marketing spend, which can translate to growth
for your business in the long run.
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HOW TO PLAN A
SUCCESSFUL SEO
STRATEGY
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HOW TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL
SEO STRATEGY
If you want to succeed in growing your search engine presence, first you need to have a plan
– a definitive SEO strategy to keep you on track. An SEO strategy that identifies techniques
and processes that will work for your business will allow you to maximize your resources to
achieve the best results possible.
But before you even start developing an SEO strategy, you need to know the end goal that
you want to achieve from your efforts. You need to determine the material, financial, or
business impact that you want to accomplish. You need to determine your business and
marketing goals.
Identifying your business goals is as simple as asking yourself, “What is my company trying
to accomplish this month? This quarter? This year?”
Is your brand trying to increase sales by 10% this month? Are you trying to boost subscriptions
to your company’s services by 30% this quarter? Are you looking to exceed your revenue by
5% year on year in a specific geographical region? When determining your business goals,
always follow the SMART principle:
SETTING BUSINESS AND
MARKETING GOALS
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Your business goals will serve as the foundation of all your business efforts moving forward –
from operations to advertising and beyond. Every strategy and campaign that your company
takes on should be aimed at and crafted for reaching whatever business goals you have set
out.
After you’ve determined your business goals, you can then move on to determining your
marketing goals. Marketing goals are the objectives that you will need your marketing
campaigns to accomplish in order to help achieve your business goals.
So if the company has a goal of increasing sales, what is marketing’s job? Is marketing's
job improving the conversion funnel? Is it getting more traffic to the top of the funnel? Is it
bringing back more traffic that's already been to the site but needs to be re-earned?
Your marketing goals will be key in determining the other factors essential to your marketing
efforts, such as where you should be concentrating your efforts, whom you should be
targeting, and through which channels you can reach them. One important thing to note
is that your marketing goals should be relevant to your bottom line – this is how you can
rightfully justify any amount of spending on your advertising and marketing efforts. Your
marketing goals should be accompanied by the potential benefit it will generate in order to
reflect its positive impact.
Additionally, your marketing goals should also follow the SMART principle. Concrete and
SMART marketing goals will allow you to update and improve your marketing goals as you
progress throughout your marketing timeline.
Once you’ve set your business and marketing goals, then you can move on to setting your
SEO goals.
•	 Specific. In order to work, objectives need to be concrete and highly detailed.
•	 Measurable. Put a figure or value, such as a dollar amount or percentage, to the
objective.
•	 Action-oriented. Lay out which actions need to be taken by which people, and
when.
•	 Realistic. Make goals challenging but consider your resources so that you can
actually achieve them reasonably.
•	 Time specific. Set a deadline to keep things on track.
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SETTING SEO GOALS
SEO goals are specific and measurable objectives that you aim to achieve over a period of
time. Each goal should contribute to the main purposes of doing SEO, which are to increase
the online visibility of the business or brand through organic search, reach target audiences
and prospects, and turn them into customers.
SEO goals are important because they bring focus and clarity to your strategy by providing
a clear target. If you don’t have SEO goals, you’re shooting in the dark. That’s never a good
idea because you’re unlikely to achieve something unless you aim for it.
Additionally, without SEO goals, you have no idea whether or not your efforts are contributing
to your business and its bottom line.
Doing this will ensure that your efforts on search engine optimization are always helping your
business or brand grow in a definite, measurable way. Having metrics and SEO goals will also
enable you to identify and boost efforts that are helping achieve the results you desire, and
tone down strategies that have minimal benefit.
One good way to set SEO goals is to use what’s called an SEO Goal Pyramid. An SEO Goal
Pyramid is a hierarchical visualization of the three different levels that make up SMART SEO
Goals – namely Outcome Goals, Performance Goals, and Process Goals.
The objective of an SEO Goal Pyramid is to break down an SEO goal into performance and
process metrics, so that you can always keep track of your progress. You can see an example
of a completed SEO goal pyramid:
It’s, therefore, important that your SEO goals extend beyond your department
and that they are defined by (and therefore aligned with) the overall goals of the
company.
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We can break down how to get to a completed goal pyramid in 3 simple steps:
Create an outcome goal. The first step is to set an outcome goal. An outcome goal
is something you want to achieve through your SEO efforts and the timeframe you
want to achieve it in. You can determine an outcome goal by answering this question:
What SEO outcome contributes towards my company’s broader marketing
and business goals?
1.
One example of a good SEO outcome goal is this: “Rank in the top 3 for [high-value
keyword] in 6 months.” Why? Because it follows the principles of SMART goals.
•	 The goal is specific and relevant because ranking for a [high value
keyword] will increase revenue.
•	 It’s measurable because you can track keyword rankings with any
good rank tracking tool.
•	 It’s achievable because you already assessed keyword difficulty.
•	 And it’s time-based because you specified the timeframe.
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What short-term wins will most likely get us to our SEO outcome goal?
Break the outcome goal down into performance goals. Next, you should look to set
performance goals. These are goals that you set for yourself to help you achieve the
outcome set above. You can have one or multiple performance goals. What they are
will depend on your outcome goal and capacity. Just as with outcome goals, these
must be SMART as well. You can come up with performance goals by asking yourself
this question:
2.
One example of a good performance goal is this: “Get 40 high-quality backlinks
to the page within six months.” In the same vein as the outcome goals, this goal is
specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and measurable.
•	 The goal is specific and relevant, as acquiring a high number of
quality backlinks to your target webpage will help increase the
chances of your webpage ranking for your target keyword, which
can then translate to increased revenue for your business.
•	 It’s measurable because you can easily track how many backlinks
you are acquiring through a backlink monitoring tool like Moz’s
Link Explorer.
•	 It’s achievable because there are many strategies you can use
to gain links from highly reputable websites, such as digital PR,
blogger networking, and guest blogging.
•	 •	And it’s time-based because you specified the timeframe.
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What will I need to do to achieve our performance goal(s)?
Break performance goals into process goals. Process goals are the specific measures
that you look to implement in order to achieve your performance goals. These are the
even smaller goals that are 100% within your control. You can determine a process
goal for your SEO efforts by answering this question:
3.
Based on the above sample performance goal, we can set multiple process goals.
We can set one process goal to run a ‘skyscraper’ campaign focused on creating
a large piece of highly informative, highly shareable content. We can then initiate
an email marketing campaign enticing people to read the content you created and
place a call-to-action in the end to re-share the piece on their platforms. If done well,
a highly valuable content piece will be reshared and linked back to by multiple online
properties, which will then build the backlink profile of your webpage organically.
This strategy can be supported by other process goals, with their own integrated
strategies.
Based on the above sample performance goal, we can set multiple process goals. We can set
one process goal to run a ‘skyscraper’ campaign focused on creating a large piece of highly
informative, highly shareable content. We can then initiate an email marketing campaign
enticing people to read the content you created and place a call-to-action in the end to
re-share the piece on their platforms. If done well, a highly valuable content piece will be
reshared and linked back to by multiple online properties, which will then build the backlink
profile of your webpage organically. This strategy can be supported by other process goals,
with their own integrated strategies.
Now that we’ve learned how to set goals, we
can then move on to the next stage, which is
developing an SEO strategy.
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TOP ASPECTS OF
SUCCESSFUL SEO
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Conducting competition
analysis
After you’ve set your own unique SEO goals, the next step for you is to survey the landscape
and identify who you’re competing with in the online space. If you know your business well
enough, you should have a rough idea of who your main competitors are going to be.
But it is important to keep in mind that there are two types of competitors: direct and indirect.
Who are Direct Competitors?
Direct competitors are businesses and brands that are offering the same product or service
you are offering to the same target customer as your business.
Say, you have an auto repair shop in Al Quoz offering car repair and maintenance services to
European and Asian car brands.
A direct competitor is an auto repair shop similarly located in Al Quoz that provides similar
services at the same price as your business. In this case, the business you are competing with
is targeting the same range of customers as you are, meaning you are looking to a take bite
off the same piece of the pie as them.
Who are In-Direct Competitors?
On the other hand, an indirect competitor may be (1) a business that sells similar products or
services but targets a different customer sector, or (2) sells different products or services but
shares your customer base.
So in our example, an indirect competitor may be an auto repair business in Al Quoz that
provides car maintenance services exclusively to American brands and vintage cars. While
their shop does provide the same car maintenance services as yours, they specialize in a
different range of automobiles, meaning a different customer base.
Why Bother With This at All?
Finding and analysing your direct competitors will help you understand what they are doing
online, how they are attracting customers, and through what ways they are growing their
digital presence. This information will be vital in how you develop your own SEO strategy
moving forward.
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But why do analysis on your indirect competitors?
Well, identifying and researching indirect competition will give you a different perspective
on your business or customer base. This can help you gain value-added information that you
can use to give your business an edge over your direct competitors.
Maybe you can be the first to start offering unique promotions such as free car health check-
ups after a certain period or mileage, or loyalty programmes that will keep them coming
back to your shop.
If you’re quite unsure who your competitors are, there is one neat trick that can get you
going in the right direction.
Staying with our example of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, if you want to know who your
competitors are, you can do a simple search on Google for a keyphrase like “car repair shop
in Al Quoz.”
But why do analysis on your indirect competitors?
Well, identifying and researching indirect competition will give you a different perspective
on your business or customer base. This can help you gain value-added information that you
can use to give your business an edge over your direct competitors.
Maybe you can be the first to start offering unique promotions such as free car health check-
ups after a certain period or mileage, or loyalty programmes that will keep them coming
back to your shop.
If you’re quite unsure who your competitors are, there is one neat trick that can get you
going in the right direction.
Staying with our example of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, if you want to know who your
competitors are, you can do a simple search on Google for a keyphrase like “car repair shop
in Al Quoz.”
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When you do, look beyond the first results that have the “Ad” label on them, as those results
are paid advertisements done through Google AdWords, which is a topic we’ll cover later
on.
Instead, what you’ll want to look for are the numbered results without the “Ad” label. These
are what’s called “organic search results.”
The websites appearing at the top places of organic search results will be the ones that are
worth looking into, as these are the ones with whom you’ll be competing against in your SEO
campaign.
Ranking 1st position on SERPs can be particularly beneficial for a business of this nature, as
research has revealed one important statistic:
“The #1 result in Google gets approximately 32% of all clicks.”
- Backlinko
List the websites that appear on the top positions. Then, dive into each website to see
whether they fit into the category of direct or indirect competitor.
Do they offer the same products or services as you?
Are they targeting the same customer base?
Are their offerings around the same price range as yours?
Once you’ve done this for results of this keyphrase, do another search for a relevant keyphrase.
Follow the same method of listing the sites that appear on the top positions and if they
identify as competitors. Rinse and repeat this process until you get a reasonable selection.
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After you’ve gathered a comprehensive list, you can then categorize the websites between
direct and indirect competitors. You can then use this list as a point of reference to accomplish
a number of things, such as:
Setting benchmarks
If you’re just starting out on your SEO campaign, a comprehensive list of competitors can
help you set benchmarks or starting points for your website. What are your competitors
doing well? In what areas are they falling short? What kind of content are they featuring on
their own websites? This is information you can use to help you get off on the right foot.
Keeping updated with industry and marketing trends
How are businesses in your industry marketing themselves online? Are they producing
videos of their products and sharing them on social? Are they creating long-form blogs to
post on their websites? Are they partnering with online magazines and publications to get
their brand out there? Identify the marketing trends they are involved in, as you will want to
get in the mix as well.
Learning new best practices and mistakes to avoid
Mistakes are opportunities for learning, but what’s even better is if you can learn from the
mistakes of others. See what marketing channels have worked and not worked for your
competitors. Have they been using grey hat SEO techniques and got penalized for it? Have
they featured copy-pasted content on their website? Have they tried tricking Google by
stuffing their content with keywords? Learn from their experiences, and avoid those pitfalls
early on.
Refining your goals
As the online landscape changes and evolves, so should your SEO and marketing approach.
For example, according to Accenture, 69% percent of young shoppers prefer to purchase
based on visual-oriented searches. If you have been neglecting optimizing the images on
your website, then one of your short-term SEO goals might be to get them properly optimized
for search. Knowing who your competitors are will let you know if they have engaged in the
same strategies.
Once you’ve done this preliminary step of competitive analysis, you can then move on to
the more specific aspects, which are keyword analysis, linking analysis, and content analysis.
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Keyword Analysis
Keyword analysis is fundamental to every SEO campaign. To understand why, first we must
understand (in a very simplified manner) how Google works.
When people search for something on Google, the search engine analyzes the words that
they used, and retrieves what it believes to be the most relevant web pages to the topic.
These words that people use to search are what’s called “keywords” or “keyphrases.” These
are basically what you should be optimizing for – what you should want your website to rank
for on Google.
Your aim in your SEO campaign is to appear for searches that are relevant to your business,
product, or service. So you can reach the people who are interested in what you have to
offer, and turn them into customers.
Naturally, the question follows: How do you know which ones are best for your business or
website? That’s where keyword analysis comes in.
The first thing you need to do when conducting keyword analysis is figuring out who your
prospective customers are and what they’re likely searching for online. One of the best ways
to do this is to create customer personas.
A customer persona is an archetype or model that represents the key traits of a large segment
of your audience. It is a tool used to help businesses gain insight on their prospective
customers, particularly how they think, feel, and act.
A customer persona template would look something like below:
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Your customer personas should help answer a few key questions about your customers, such
as:
•	 What types of things are they interested in?
•	 What problems do they have?
•	 What type of language do they use to describe the things that they do, the tools that they
use, etc.?
•	 Who else are they buying things from (this means your competitors, but could also mean
tangential sources)?
These questions are meant to help you come up with an initial “seed list” of potential
keywords, based on factors such as your customers’ needs, what they search for online, and
how they search online. This seed list will be what you will build on towards creating a more
concrete, metrics-based roster of keywords.
Now, for this next step, you will have to do keyword analysis.
There are three core factors you should consider when doing keyword analysis:
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1. Search Volume
What it is: The first factor to consider is how many people (if any) are actually searching for
a given keyword. In keyword analysis, this is what’s called search volume. There are many
tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of keywords. There are
many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of your choice
keywords. One of the most popular tools is Google’s own Keyword Planner tool.
Why is it important: The more people there are searching for a keyword, the bigger the
audience you can potentially reach. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword,
there is no audience available to find your content through search. On the other hand, if no
one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through
Google search. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO
campaign – whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. Basically, search
volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – and whether it will reach
a large number of people or none at all.
How to find out search volume:
What it is: The first factor to consider is how many people (if any) are actually searching for
a given keyword. In keyword analysis, this is what’s called search volume. There are many
tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of keywords. There are
many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of your choice
keywords. One of the most popular tools is Google’s own Keyword Planner tool.
Why is it important: The more people there are searching for a keyword, the bigger the
audience you can potentially reach. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword,
there is no audience available to find your content through search. On the other hand, if no
one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through
Google search. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO
campaign – whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. Basically, search
volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – and whether it will reach
a large number of people or none at all.
How to find out search volume:
Step 1: Enter “Seed List” into AdWords Keyword Planner. Following our previous example
of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, we’ve entered an initial selection of keywords that are
relevant to the business. Following this, we’ll click on the GET RESULTS button to see the
search volume for our seed list of keywords.
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Step 2: Clicking on the GET RESULTS button will bring up this page:
Looking at the picture above, you can see keywords from our seed list (left) along with how
many times people use them on average every month (right). This is important, as this will
give you insight as to how many people you can stand to attract and turn into customers for
keywords that are tightly connected to your business.
As you can see from the above example, you can choose to broaden your search by adding
more keywords to your research.
To do this, simply click on the plus (+) sign beside the suggested keywords you want to
include and then click on GET RESULTS. The AdWords tool will give you the search volume
data on the keywords that you just added.
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Step 3: Once you’re satisfied with the list you have, you can then choose to export it and all
relevant data by clicking on the export and download button on the upper right-hand corner
of the screen:
Important: At this point, you might be thinking, “If search volume is so important to the
potential reach of my campaign, why don’t I just go for the keywords with the highest
volume?” Answer: search volume isn’t the be-all and end-all of an SEO campaign. For
example, let’s take a look at the table below:
Coming back to our previous example of a car repair business, it might interest you to see
that the average search volume for “car” can go from 10k to 100k per month. However, ask
yourself this: of those searches, how many do you think were done with the intent to search
for a business like yours. In all likelihood, most of those searches are simply done for the
purpose of research irrelevant to your business. Some people might be searching for car
brands, while others might be trying to learn about types of automobiles. 	
In the end, only a small fraction of the search volume is probably interested in auto repair and
maintenance. Which brings us to the next factor to consider when doing keyword analysis.
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3. Relevance
What it is
Relevance seems straight-forward: if you’re offering car maintenance and repair services, you
don’t want to show up for searches that don’t have anything to do with your business, like
“pet supplies.” Basically, relevance is simply how appropriate a keyword is for your business,
in terms of marketing. You can tell if a keyword is relevant if it’s somehow involved in the
customer journey. Do they use it to make or inform a purchasing decision? Is it a search
phrase that’s used in their research process? Do they use it to find a specific product?
Why is it important
Relevance determines whether or not you should even be targeting a keyword in the first
place. The more relevant your keywords, the more refined your SEO campaign will be. What
this means for your bottom line is that you will have a more streamlined funnel consisting of
highly relevant search users who are already engaged in the customer journey.
Put simply, when your business website ranks for keywords that potential customers are using
to either make or inform their purchasing decision, you are making your business available
to them. And if you’ve managed to establish yourself as an appealing option by displaying
your expertise and authority (through high quality content), you make a strong case for your
customers to purchase a product or service from your brand.
Just as we illustrated in our previous example, people who are searching for “car” are not
necessarily looking for “car repair services.” What you want is to target keywords that are
more relevant to your business, such as “car repair Dubai” or “auto repair shop in Al Quoz.”
Even though those keywords don’t have as much traffic as “car,” the people who are searching
using those keywords are more likely intent on finding a business like yours, which makes
them potential customers, and therefore, more relevant.
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4. Competition
What it is
Competition, also known as “SEO difficulty” or “keyword difficulty”, is the likelihood to rank
for specific terms on Google. It is based on a number of different factors, including domain
authority, page authority, and content quality.
Google brings up what it believes to be the best websites and online resources for a particular
keyword based strongly on these three factors, as it believes these metrics correlate strongly
with the fulfilment of search queries.
Basically, if your website is considered authoritative and trustworthy, your page as a credible
source of information, and your content high quality, then Google will recommend it to
search users.
Why is it important
As with any business opportunity, in SEO you want to consider the potential costs and
likelihood of success. This means determining whether or not it’s worth competing with other
websites for search queries that you are targeting. High search volume keywords are often
highly competitive, as SERPs of these keywords are often populated by big online platforms
and brands.
Competing against bigger, more established websites and platforms for search rankings will
take more effort, time, and resources. If you are launching an SEO campaign for a business
with a more limited budget, then you will want to target search phrases or keywords that
are less competitive but are still relevant. Doing this will enable you to find that sweet spot
where the amount of effort and resources that it takes to rank for organic search delivers
growing traffic and ROI for the business.
One way you can do this is by refining your research and incorporating what’s called long-tail
keywords. Long-tail keywords are exactly that – longer search phrases that incorporate more
words. For example, for our fictional auto maintenance shop, while “car repair” is a relevant
keyword, you are likely competing with bigger, more established brands than if you target a
long-tail keyword such as “car repair shop in Al Quoz.”
So even though you can potentially benefit from the keyword “car repair”, it might be
better for your marketing budget to target longer keywords with less competition. With less
competition, you can rank your webpage faster, capture search traffic more efficiently, and
convert them into customers for your business.
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After you’ve managed to do proper keyword analysis, you can move on to the next step,
which is doing linking analysis.
The graphic below sums up the idea behind competition:
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Linking Analysis
When it comes to SEO, linking or backlinking remains one of the most integral parts of the
process. That’s because Google is primarily designed to see links as “votes.” The more
backlinks or “votes” a page gets, the higher it tends to rank.
In fact, research found that the number of backlinks pointing to a webpage coming from
different domains correlates with higher rankings, more than any other factor. That’s why it’s
worth looking into the backlinks of your competitors and see where they are getting them.
Looking at your competitor’s backlink profile will let you know which sites are linking back to
their content and how it is affecting their domain rank and authority. Unfortunately, there is
no way to manually look at a competitor’s backlink profile. The only way to be able to do this
is through an SEO analysis tool such as AHREFS.
But before we go deep into the process of backlink analysis, it’s important to note what
factors are worth looking out for:
•	 Number of Backlinks – this is pretty basic and goes back to the point we made earlier – the
more backlinks pointing to your page, the more “votes” you’re getting in Google’s eyes.
•	 Domain Authority of Linked Sites – are the sites linking back to your competitors’
authoritative sites, like trusted information portals, online magazines, and business review
platforms? Remember: The more authoritative the site, the more valuable the link.
•	 Relevancy of Linked Content – What kind of content pieces are linked back to your
competitors’ web pages? Are they well-written, highly informative, well-researched pieces?
Do they include well-made graphics? Most importantly, are they relevant to the webpage
being linked?
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These are factors that you should keep in mind, as you’re
doing your competitor backlink analysis.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty.
In this guide, we’ll discuss how to do analysis using the AHREFS linking analysis tool.
This will reveal a dashboard rich with info on the target website’s backlink profile, such as the
number of backlinks it has and the number of referring domains linking back to it.
Step 1: Place your competitor’s website into the tool and click the “search” button.
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Step 2: Then you’ll want to look at who are linking
to your competitor, which you can do by clicking on
“Backlinks” on the sidebar.
This will give you a full list of websites linking to your webpage, which might look similar to
the below.
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Step 3: If your competition has built a large backlink profile, then you’ll want to go through
the most important links first, which are the “do-follow” links. “Do-follow” links are the links
that look like positive “votes” in Google’s eyes, which means they are instrumental to how
your competitor has built authority.
To do this simply, go to the “Link type” filter on the tool and select “Dofollow.”
Step 4: To make sorting through the links even easier, you can also select “One link per
domain” or “Group similar links.”
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Why do this? Because backlink analysis is less about the individual links that are pointing
to a webpage, and more about WHO (or which domains) are linking back to it and WHY
they’re doing so. Are they linking to your competitor’s webpage because it has a well-written
and highly informative article? Are they linking to a webpage because it has an engaging
graphic? Are they linking to it because it has a popular video they made?
Once you know what your competitors are doing in terms of acquiring backlinks, it will be
easier for you to create a similar strategy and implement these for your own site (more on
that later on).
Now that you’ve looked at the keywords that are beneficial to your website, and the backlink
profiles of your competitors, you’re ready to dive into the third important factor to consider
when doing analysis for your website: content.
Unlike with keyword and backlink analysis, there is no one tool that you can use to do content
analysis. This stage of competitor analysis will require more manual work on your part. You
will need to read through your competitors’ content, particularly the ones that are getting
lots of backlinks, and analyze why these webpages are performing well.
Take note of the keywords they are using on these webpages and how they are used in
the content. Are they used in the headings? What about the subheadings? What keyword
variations are used across the body of the content? Have a close look at these things as
you’re doing your analysis.
Additionally, look at your competitors’ content pieces and compare them with your own.
When doing this, you need to be critical with your own work and identify the areas where
your own content is lacking as compared to theirs. Did they use more graphics to illustrate
data? Is their content longer and more in-depth? Did they use videos to supplement their
content?
Doing this will give you an idea of your own gaps in content and how they can be addressed.
It will also help you formulate your own content plan, so that the websites that link to your
competitors will also link to you.
Once you’re done with this stage of the analysis, you can then move towards making the
necessary improvements to improve your search engine rankings. There are three general
areas that we’ll be focusing on: ONSITE SEO, CONTENT OPTIMIZATION, and OFFSITE
SEO.
Content analysis
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Onsite SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web pages
to improve a website’s search engine rankings and earn organic traffic. Specifically, onsite
SEO delves into the technical details of a webpage and aligns them with best practices
so that both search users and Google have a clear understanding of what the web page is
about, and that it is established as a valuable, trustworthy resource for the search phrase it
is targeted for.
There are multiple onsite aspects that make up an optimized web page. In this chapter, we’ll
try and cover all of them and briefly explain why they are important.
Domain
Your website’s domain name is the unique, human-readable Internet address of your website.
A domain name is commonly made up of three different parts:
	 1.	 Top-level domain (sometimes called an extension or domain suffix)
	 2.	 Domain name (or IP address)
	 3.	 Optional subdomain
Let’s have a look at the example below to understand what these parts look like together
before discussing each one in detail:
Onsite and technical SEO
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Top-level domain (TLD) is the formal term for the suffix that appears at the end of a domain
name. In our example, that would be the “.com” at the end. While there are thousands of
different TLDs nowadays, some of the most popular are:
•	 .com	 Commercial
•	 .net		 Networks
•	 .org		 Organisations
•	 .edu		 Educational
•	 .info		 Informational
•	 .gov		 Government
•	 .ae		 United Arab Emirates (.ae is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) in 	
			 the Domain Name System of the Internet for the United Arab Emirates.)
Domain Name
Domain names are the second level of a domain's hierarchy (after the top-level domain).
Domain names on a specific TLD are purchased from registrars and represent the specific,
unique location of a website. Following our above example, the domain name would be
“tinydancinghorse”.
Subdomain
Subdomains are the third level of a domain's hierarchy. They are added in front of the
root domain and are separated from the domain name with a period. In our example, the
subdomain would be the “www” placed before the domain name.
The two most common subdomain choices are:
•	 http://www.example.com ("www" is the subdomain)
•	 http://example.com (has no subdomain)
Top-Level Domains
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If you can organically include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does
while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly, go for it.
Despite saying that, it should be noted to stay away from domain names that might be
considered"keyword-rich"or"keyword-targeted"(suchasbest-pancake-pans-for-pancakes.
com or senior-eldercare-retirement-home-finder.com).
While these types of domain names once carried weight as a ranking factor, their tendency
to be associated with low-quality content means searchers (and search engines) may now
view these keyword-dense domain names with a negative bias.
If your domain name is multiple words (like www.servicemycar.com), you might be tempted
to separate the words with a hyphen for readability: www.service-my-car.com. But, keep
in mind that use of hyphens also strongly correlates with spammy behavior and decreases
domain name readability and memorability.
For that reason, generally, no more than one hyphen should be used (if any at all).
Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even
though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains
and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it's still recommended to place content that
you think people will link to such as quality blogs and articles in subfolders rather than
subdomains.
For example: www.example.com/blog/ would be a better structure instead of blog.example.
com.
How Do I Optimize my Domain
Tip 1. Make your domain name memorable
Tip 2. Use broad keywords when sensible
Tip 3. Avoid hyphens when possible
Tip 4. Favor subfolders or subdirectories over subdomains
Strive for domain names that are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say. This
is valuable for word-of-mouth advertising because visitors will need to visit your domain
directly and a domain that’s easy to remember will be easier to navigate to. People also
tend to remember and have positive associations with things that we can easily say and
think about.
With that in mind, stay away from domain names that include numbers or other non-standard
characters, use unusual spelling, or are longer than about 15 characters or so.
And because Google is increasingly emphasising usability and accessibility as ranking
factors, the easier a domain is to read for humans, the better it looks for search engines.
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URLS
Why is it important?
How Should my URLs Look Like
A URL is human-readable text that is meant to replace the IP addresses that computers use
to communicate with servers. They also identify the file structure on the given website.
A URL is made up of a protocol, domain name, and path (which includes the specific
subfolder structure where a page is located).
In our example, the protocol is https://. The protocol indicates how a browser should retrieve
information about a resource.
Following the protocol is the domain name, which in our example is servicemycar.com. The
domain name is the human-readable format of the location where the webpage is found –
or basically, the website.
A well-crafted URL provides both humans and search engines an easy-to-understand
indication of what a webpage will be about. Just as with the meta description and the page
title, the URL should provide visitors with an improved user experience by making it clear
what they'll see if they click the link.
URLs are also a ranking factor that Google uses to determine whether a page is relevant to
a specific search query.
Tip 1. Keep your URLs short, simple, compelling, and accurate. Doing this will make it
easier for both your users and search engines to understand them, which will help with
your webpage ranking higher. Although URLs can include ID numbers and codes, the best
practice is to use words that people can understand.
Tip 2. When necessary for readability, use hyphens to separate words. URLs should not use
underscores, spaces, or any other characters to separate words.
Tip 3. Use lowercase letters. In some cases, uppercase letters can cause issues with duplicate
pages.
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A page title or title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. A page’s
title tag is displayed as part of the search snippet in a search engine results page (SERP). It
appears as the clickable headline for the search result and is important for user experience,
SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise
description of a page's content.
Title tags are major factors in helping search engines understand what your page is about,
and they are the first impressions many people get when they discover your page via organic
search. Title tags are used in three key places: (1) search engine results pages (SERPs), (2)
web browsers, and (3) social networks.
Your title tag determines your display title in SERPs and is a search visitor's first experience
with your site. Even if your page ranks well, a good title can be the make-or-break factor in
determining whether or not someone clicks on your link. It’s basically your website making
a good first impression to the search user – if you don’t make a good impression right away,
you stand to lose the interest of your audience.
So going back to our example of a car repair business in Dubai, a sample page title would
look something like this:
So what does a properly SEO-friendly URL look like? Check out the one below:
Page Title
Why is it important?
In SERPs:
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In web browsers:
In social networks:
How Do I Write a Good Title Tag
When someone visits your page, the title tag is also displayed at the top of their web browser
window and acts as a placeholder, especially when there are several browser tabs open.
Unique and easily recognizable titles with important keywords near the front help ensure that
people don't lose track of your content.
You can find your title tag on your web browser here:
Some external websites — especially
social networks — will use your title
tag to determine what to display when
the page is shared. Here's a screenshot
from Facebook, for example:
Because title tags are such important parts of both search engine optimization and the search
user experience, writing them effectively is a terrific low-effort, high-impact SEO task. Here
are some critical recommendations for optimizing title tags for search engine and usability
goals:
Tip 1. Watch your title length
If your title is too long, search engines may change your display title by adding an ellipsis
("..."), removing words, or even rewriting it entirely. A generally recommended length for
title tags would be 60 characters long, but don’t take that as an exact number. Research
suggests that 90% of all titles will display properly in SERPs if kept within 60 characters.
However, also keep in mind that Google will still take into account the entire title tag (within
reason) when they crawl the page, even if it is not displayed in full in the SERPs.
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In this example, we can see that the title has been written so that it’s just variations of the
same keyword, repeated over and over. These titles are bad for search users and could get
you into trouble with search engines.
Unique titles help search engines understand that the content on a page is uniquely valuable.
But what if you’re an ecommerce website dealing with a wide range of products? If you have
thousands of product pages with a database of product names and categories, you could
use that data to easily generate titles like the one below:
On the other hand, steer clear from default titles, like "Home" or "New Page" — these titles
may cause Google to think that you have duplicate content across your site (or even across
other sites on the web).
Research has shown that keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag may have more
impact on search rankings. This is why it is highly recommended to craft titles where the
most unique aspect of the page (e.g., the product name) appears first, just as we’ve seen in
the example above.
The meta description is an onsite attribute that provides a brief summary of a web page.
Search engines such as Google often display the meta description in search results, which
can influence click-through rates.
In our car repair business example, this is what the meta description looks like:
Tip 2. Avoid keyword stuffing
Tip 3. Write a unique title tag for every page
Tip 4. Put important keywords first
Meta Description
Title tag length is not an issue with Google, but keyword stuffing is, and you can run into
trouble if you start stuffing your title full of keywords in a way that creates a bad user
experience. What makes a bad user experience? Something like the one below:
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Why is it important?
How Do I Write a Good Meta Description
Alt text
Along with your page title, your meta description is key to making a good first impression to
your target search users. A strong meta description not only informs search users about the
contents of the page, but also entices further action – it draws the audience towards clicking
on the headline and visiting the webpage to know more.
Alt text are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image
on a page. Because Google can only scan text and code elements within a page, it cannot
tell what kind of information an image is trying to convey. That’s where the alt text comes in.
In cases where an image on a webpage cannot be loaded, the alt text is displayed. Also, alt
text attributes provide better image context/descriptions to Google, helping it to index an
image properly.
Below you can see an example of an image with an alt text attribute:
Meta descriptions can be any length, but Google generally shortens snippets to ~155–160
characters. So what you want to do is to “advertise” your business to search users in an eye-
catching and engaging way within the character limit (the use of green checkmarks in the
above example).
A page's meta description should intelligently and organically employ the keywords that a
page is trying to rank for, while also being compelling and informative. It should be directly
relevant to the page it describes, and unique from the descriptions for other pages.
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Robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (or Google robots) how to
crawl pages on their website. In practice, robots.txt files indicate whether web robots can or
cannot crawl parts of a website.
How does robots.txt work?
Search engines have two main jobs:
	 1.	 “Crawling” or exploring the web to discover content
	 2.	 Indexing (or storing) that content so that it can be served up to searchers who are
looking for information
To crawl sites, search engines use robots to follow links to get from one site to another —
ultimately, crawling across many billions of links and websites.
Upon arriving at a website, Google’s web robot will look for a robots.txt file. If it finds one, the
web robot will read that file first before continuing through the page. Because the robots.txt
file contains information about how the search engine should crawl, the information found
there will guide the actions that it will take on this particular site.
If the robots.txt file does not contain any directives that disallow a web robot’s activity (or if
the site doesn’t have a robots.txt file), it will proceed to crawl other information on the site.
How Do I Write Good Alt Text
Robots.txt
Tip 1. Keep it highly specific. Alt text is, first and foremost, designed to provide text
explanations of images for users who are unable to see them.
Tip 2. Keep it short. The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125
characters, so it's advisable to keep it to that character count or less.
Tip 3. Use your keywords. Alt text provides you another opportunity to include your
target keyword on a page, and thus another opportunity to signal to search engines that
your page is highly relevant to a particular search query. While your first priority should be
describing and providing context to the image, if it makes sense to do so, include your
keyword in the alt text of at least one image on the page.
Tip 4. Avoid keyword stuffing. This is pretty simple. Just as with writing title tags and meta
descriptions, Google will not appreciate you trying to game the system by stuffing your alt
text with keywords. Instead, focus on writing descriptive alt text that provides context to
the image and if possible, includes your target keyword – don’t do anything more than that.
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This might sound a bit complex and confounding, so here are a few examples of what crawl
instructions look like, and how they disallow or allow behaviors. Let’s say we have a website
called www.example.com.
Blocking all web crawlers from all content
User-agent: * Disallow: /
Using the above syntax in a robots.txt file would tell all web crawlers not to crawl any pages
on www.example.com, including the homepage.
Allowing all web crawlers access to all content
User-agent: * Disallow:
Using the above syntax in a robots.txt file tells web crawlers to crawl all pages on www.
example.com, including the homepage.
Blocking a specific web crawler from a specific folder
User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /example-subfolder/
The above syntax tells only Google’s crawler (user-agent name Googlebot) not to crawl any
pages that contain the URL string www.example.com/example-subfolder/.
Blocking a specific web crawler from a specific web page
User-agent: Bingbot Disallow: /example-subfolder/blocked-page.html
The above syntax tells only Bing’s crawler (user-agent name Bing) to avoid crawling the
specific page at www.example.com/example-subfolder/blocked-page.html.
•	 In order to be found, a robots.txt file must be placed in a website’s top-level directory.
•	 Robots.txt is case sensitive: the file must be named “robots.txt” (not Robots.txt, robots.
TXT, or otherwise).
•	 The /robots.txt file is publicly available: just add /robots.txt to the end of any root domain
to see that website’s directives (if that site has a robots.txt file!). This means that anyone can
see what pages you do or don’t want to be crawled, so don’t use them to hide private user
information.
•	 Each subdomain on a root domain uses separate robots.txt files. This means that, if your
blog is located on a subdomain like blog.example.com, you should a separate robots.txt
file for blog.example.com and example.com (in this case, blog.example.com/robots.txt and
example.com/robots.txt).
What are Robots.txt Best Practices
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With all that said, what does a page that’s been optimized according to these best practices
look like? Well, let’s take a look at one below:
•	 Make sure you’re not using your robots.txt file to block any content or sections of your
website you want crawled.
•	 Some search engines have multiple robots. For instance, Google uses Googlebot for
organic search and Googlebot-Image for image search. Most robots from the same search
engine follow the same rules so there’s no need to specify directives for each of a search
engine’s multiple crawlers, but having the ability to do so does allow you to fine-tune how
your site content is crawled.
EXAMPLE: AN OPTIMIZED PAGE
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What is Web Content?
How to Do Content Optimization
Step 1. Define your goals
Now that we’ve dealt with some of the technical website optimizations that are fundamental
for better website performance for search engines, we delve into web content optimization,
which is an incredibly important aspect of the entire SEO process.
Web content, online content, or simply content, is any piece of information that exists and
can be processed on the web. There are many different types of content, from written
formats to video and multimedia (we will discuss content types, later on). But basically,
anything from a personal blog to a viral vlog can be considered web content, as long as it
is posted online.
Content optimization, then, is simply an approach to make content pieces with the goal of
attracting search engine traffic. It is a process of ensuring that your content is developed to
engage with both search engines and search users.
Proper content optimization is a methodical approach of crafting content that not only
aims to attract search traffic but also helps in enhancing conversions. We’ve summarized
the entire process into 4 steps that should help guide you in crafting a customized content
optimization plan that works for you.
First, determine your goals for your website or business. What are you using your website
for? Do you have an e-commerce platform and want to increase sales? Do you run an online
magazine or publication that earns revenue through ads? Do you run a service-oriented
business and want to use your website for leads acquisition?
If you’re running an e-commerce website that’s trying to sell products, your primary focus
should be creating attractive, informative product pages that are optimized for both search
engines and converting visitors into customers. To supplement this, you could create
informative blog content about your products, and whenever relevant, link back to your
product pages.
On the other hand, if you are running an online magazine that earns revenue through
advertising, you will want to attract new readers through search engines. In this case, you’re
more interested in developing long-form content, which ranges from 700 to 2,000 words
per post. You can also focus on developing info-rich video content that keeps visitors on
your site for longer. The intention here is to build a loyal audience that consumes your
content and comes back for more.
Whatever the nature of your business, you must first have clear goals for your website
in order to have a focused content optimization strategy. Your goals will determine what
types of content you should focus on.
Content optimization
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If you are only starting with your website and don’t have any access to previous analytics
data, then a solid foundation would be to go back to your Customer Personas. Step into
the shoes of your target audience and try to visualize their online behavior. You can also
reference surveys and market research data.
Step 2. Consider your website audience
Creating content is all about connecting with your target audience. There’s no point in
attracting search engine traffic, if people just bounce off your website because they don’t
find your content informative, engaging, or relevant to their search. With that in mind, it’s
important to create content that your target search users will actually consume. One of the
best ways to do this is by looking at your analytics and seeing what kind of traffic you’re
getting.
Are your website visitors tech savvy and always on their mobile phones? Then you should
be prioritizing your content optimization plan for mobile rather than desktop users. Are you
selling skin care products for women? Then it would be helpful to list the proven benefits
of your products alongside some “before” and “after” images for further illustration. On
the other hand, if you’re operating an online news and information website, then depth,
accuracy and timeliness are the most important aspects to focus on.
You might also want to consider the age group of your target audience and their online
behaviors. C-Level executives around the ages of 50-64 are more willing to download and
read lengthy research documents and technical white papers, while teens and, to some
extent, Millennials are more attuned to videos, images, and shorter content, supplemented
with more frequent updates.
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Step 3. Consider your target keywords
After you’ve factored-in your human audience, the next step is to consider Google. We
already know how Google works. It crawls webpages, ranks them in terms of relevance to
particular keywords, and brings them up as search results when the keyword is entered by
a search user.
In this process of “crawling” webpages, Google scans the written contents and the code of
each page to “understand” what the page is relevant for. It is to this end that we discussed
the technical onsite optimization measures mentioned above, where we sought to integrate
keywords into webpage aspects like title tag, alt text, and meta descriptions.
In the same way, when crafting content for your website try to integrate your keywords into
the text as organically as possible.
DO NOT STUFF YOUR CONTENT WITH KEYWORDS. Google has always
maintained a strict stance on keyword stuffing or spamming. In the early days of
search, webmasters tried to game the system through unethical or “black hat”
techniques, such as placing large blocks of keyword-stuffed text content at the
bottom of a page, and making it imperceptible to human eyes by making the text
the same color as the background of the page.
Over the years, these measures evolved into other techniques, like the intentional
and unnatural repetition of keywords in the body content of a page to make it rank.
However, just as these techniques evolved over time, Google has also become
smarter in determining which pages are relevant and which aren’t. Gone are the
days of keyword spamming success.
Now, if Google recognizes (and it is smart enough to detect this now) that you are
spamming your content with keywords, it will penalize your website for it. Worst
case scenario is you get de-indexed, which means your website won’t show for
your target keywords – not on the 2nd page or even the last. It will be like your
webpage doesn’t even exist.
So don’t try to over-optimize.
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Whenever it’s relevant or appropriate, it’s advisable to link to other pages within your
website using what’s called anchor texts. An anchor text is basically a keyword or phrase
in your webpage content that is relevant to another topic/page within your website and is
connected to that page through a link. Let’s take a look at the example below:
If you look closely, the text inside the green box is blue while the text around it is black.
That means, the text doubles as a hyperlink to another page as well – that is an anchor text.
When you hover over this text, your web browser (in my case, it’s Mozilla Firefox) indicates
the page where the anchor text is leading to.
The text is organically placed in the body of the content and is not forced. Additionally, the
internal page that the anchor text is linking to is also relevant, not only to the topic of the
page but also to the anchor text itself.
Step 4. Use anchor texts and internal linking
Instead, flesh out your content with as much depth and expertise as you can muster. If your
business is a car garage in Al Quoz, you will be able to organically integrate keywords such
as professional car maintenance or expert auto servicing in your content without forcing it
in.
And if you’re targeting search users in Dubai, you’ll manage to localize your content
organically as well, if only you try to provide as much value and information to your audience
as possible.
One helpful way to ensure you align and optimize your content with best practices is to
go back to how Google is designed in the first place – as a tool for retrieving the right
information for the right people. If you work hard to help Google do that by providing
valuable information in your content, you will gradually help your website rank for your
keywords.
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The text is organically placed in the body of the content and is not forced. Additionally, the
internal page that the anchor text is linking to is also relevant, not only to the topic of the
page but also to the anchor text itself.
We already mentioned earlier that Google bots use links as pathways to crawl other
webpages. If you have a webpage that is ranking well on Google for a target keyword,
and you link to another webpage in your website from that webpage, you are able to pass
some of the page authority from one webpage to another, thus helping improve the latter
webpage in terms of ranking.
Step 5. Explore different kinds of content
As mentioned earlier, when creating content, keep your target audience in mind. You want
to craft content that they will engage with and consume. There’s no point in writing long
blog posts and guides if your audience doesn’t have the patience to read through them.
And there’s no point in spending time creating videos if your audience finds them juvenile.
So don’t be afraid to explore various content formats to see which one clicks. Some of the
more common ones include:
•	 Blogs
•	 Long-form articles and news posts
•	 Graphics and infographics
•	Videos
•	 Podcasts and audio shows
•	 White papers
•	 Guides and how-to’s
•	 Slide presentations
Graphics and infographics can be useful in supplementing your long-form blog content, or
they can replace them completely – it’s all depending on your audience. Perhaps, from time
to time, it’s a refreshing break to have a video roundup that summarizes the most important
topics that you have covered in over the past week.
Exploring other formats will give you the opportunity to churn out more content, without
having to necessarily start from scratch. It also gives your audience something to look
forward to, aside from the content you produce on a regular basis. Not only does it help
your SEO (as you are creating more valuable content, which you can optimize for search),
but it also helps in retaining your audience and building a loyal following.
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•	 Tip 1. Consider creating ongoing features – A blog series that runs on a central theme will
help you keep crafting content that’s valuable, relevant, and timely – on a consistent basis.
Create a category page for each ongoing feature, so visitors can find all of your blogs and
roundups in one place.
•	Tip 2. Give yourself plenty of lead time when producing more complicated types of
content, such as videos and infographics. These often need multiple rounds of edits to
perfect and can be more complicated to optimize for search.
•	Tip 3. Don’t plan too far out in advance – Calendars often get derailed after a month
or two, due to changes in marketing goals, budgets, or staff, so don’t try to plan out a
schedule for the next year and risk wasting a lot of time and effort. You can do a quarterly
content calendar, so as to keep things modular and flexible while also allowing you to see
far ahead to plan comfortably.
Regularly analyze your content to see what’s working and what isn’t. Good measures of
success and engagement include page views, links, comments (on blog posts and some
other types of content), social shares (Facebook likes, tweets, etc.), and conversion rates.
Your analysis should have two goals:
•	 Study your successes so you can repeat those strategies – Look for patterns. Does
your audience love videos? Then make more videos! Adjust your editorial calendar
going forward so you can focus more time and effort on the content types that connect
with your audience.
•	 Carve out time for updating and improving older SEO content – If you tried to
optimize an article for a certain keyword, but it’s getting more traffic for a different
variation of that keyword, then go back in and re-optimize it for the new keyword. You
might be able to significantly increase traffic by putting that keyword in the title, for
example.
Step 6. plan an editorial calendar
A few tips when creating an editorial calendar:
Step 7. Analyze, re-assess, refine
Once you have an idea of who you are targeting and why, you can start to build out an
editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a schedule that guides when you will publish new
content and what type of content it will be. This will help you stick to a regular schedule (it’s
especially important to create new content on a regular basis if you have a blog), as well as
prevent you from scrambling to come up with a topic for new content at the last minute.
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As we mentioned in the beginning of this document, SEO is a multi-faceted approach.
While you should be focused on onsite optimization and content optimization, you should
also make sure that your offsite optimization is up to par.
Why is it important?
Link building
Offsite optimization or “offsite SEO” refers to all the activities that you and others do away
from your website to impact your rankings within SERPs.
“So offsite SEO is link building or getting backlinks?”
Yes and no.
While building backlinks is an important part of it, offsite SEO involves a wide-ranging
strategy of optimizing ranking factors that affect a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness,
and authority. Even something as simple as leaving a relevant comment on a blog can be
considered offsite promotion.
Simple. It’s practically impossible for Google to determine the value of a web page if there
are no links pointing to it — no matter how useful, fresh, or in-depth the page content might
be.
Remember that Google bots crawl webpages through links, and that Google itself likens
links as positive “votes.” So while it is important to optimize the technical aspects of your
website and create amazing content for your webpages, they are virtually invisible and
unimportant in Google’s eyes unless there are links pointing to them.
And so we move on to the first essential aspect of offsite optimization: link building.
Search engines use backlinks as indications of the linked-to webpage’s quality. So a site with
many high value backlinks will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer
backlinks.
Think of it this way: You are more likely to trust a financial advisor who’s been highly
recommended by your close peers, friends, and family, than one whom you’ve never heard
of and doesn’t have a track record whatsoever.
Google functions in the same way. It looks at “recommendations” – or in this case, the
quality and quantity of links pointing to a webpage to – to tell whether or not a webpage is
trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative.
There are three main types of links, defined by how they were earned: natural, manually
built, or self-created links.
Offsite SEO
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Regardless of how links were obtained, those that offer the greatest contribution to SEO
efforts are generally those that pass the most equity. There are many signals that positively
contribute to the equity passed, such as
•	 The linking site's popularity
•	 How related the linking site's topic is to the site being linked to
•	 The "freshness" of the link
•	 The anchor text used on the linking site
•	 The trustworthiness of the linking site
•	 The number of other links on the linking page
•	 The authority of the linking domain and page
In terms of offsite SEO, manual links are quite valuable as they deliver value to your website
without you needing to exert tons of effort. If the website linking to yours receives a lot of
search traffic, then there is the chance that some people click on the link to visit your website
as well. So not only is the link passing equity to your website but it’s also passing on traffic.
Manually built links are valuable as well. In social circles, a linkback to your website in the
form of a recommendation is a positive social signal. And research indicates reading online
reviews before the physical interaction with a product can help reinforce the confidence of
a consumer in a product. So not only is it a positive sign for Google to see a link going to
your website, but also a positive vote for actual search users.
Content marketing is creating and promoting useful content that also includes specific terms
you’d want to rank for. And while it is a laborious and gradual process, it is a way to get links
and social shares without the risk of getting penalized by Google for black hat SEO.
Content marketing is essentially built on three major steps, which you should build your
strategy around:
•	 Natural links are editorially given without any action on the part of a website owner.
For example, a famous food blogger that publishes an article on a popular magazine,
with a link to a post that points toward their favorite produce farm is a natural link.
Natural links are also known as earned links, as they are earned organically and are not
a result of deliberate action.
•	 Manually built links are acquired through deliberate link-building activities. This
includes things like getting customers to link to your website or asking influencers to
share your content.
•	 Self-created links are created by practices such as adding a backlink in an online
business directory, forum, blog comment signature, or a press release with optimized
anchor text. Some self-created link building tactics tend toward black hat SEO and are
frowned upon by search engines, so tread lightly here.
Content Marketing + Influencer
Marketing
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Step 1. Identifying and understanding your linking and sharing audience
If you can consistently provide value to smart content creatorsand influencers in
your niche, you’ll start to build powerful relationships that will pay dividends as
you’re creating content.
The first thing you need to do to get traction for your content, is understand who is likely to
link to and share your content. There are several tools to help you identify influencers within
your niche who might share your content, but BuzzSumo is probably the most powerful one.
Doing this will help you identify the influencers or “voices” in your niche that people listen
to online, as well as those who actively link back to sources when they create their own
content.
Secondly, doing this help you understand what kind of content these influencers tend to
share and link to. This will give you a contextual base for your content marketing strategy.
Find out what their problems are, what types of content they typically share, and start to
think about how you can create something they would find valuable and want to share with
their audience (who would also find it valuable).
As a jumping point, think about what you can do for these influencers. How could you help
them with their own projects? What can you do (unsolicited) that would help them achieve
their own goals? What is the unique thing that you can offer them that can help them be
better at what they do?
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Endemaj Funds Complete SEO Guide

  • 1. The Complete Guide to SEO Endemaj Funds The Complete Guide to SEO The importance of and methods to utilise SEO.
  • 2. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 2 SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business.
  • 5. November 2021 5 1. What is SEO and why do it? o The benefits of seo 2. Vocabulary o How is seo different from sem? 3. How to plan a successful SEO strategy o Setting business and marketing goals o Setting SEO goals 4. Top Aspects of Successful SEO o Conducting competition analysis o Keyword analysis o Linking analysis o Content analysis o Onsite and Technical SEO o Domain o URLs o Page title o Meta descriptions o Alt-text o Robots.txt o Example: An optimized page o Content Optimization o What is web content o Use anchor texts and internal linking o How to do content optimization o Explore different kinds of content o Define your goals o Plan an editorial calendar o Consider your audience o Analyze, reassess, refine o Consider your target keywords o Off-site SEO o Link-building o Content marketing & influencer marketing o Guest blogging and digital pr o Additional tips o Social activities o Optimize for voice o Review pages for keyword integration o Optimize for mobile o Create a sitemap o Improve UX o Use secure HTTPs o Important SEO metrics o Organic traffic o Core web viTALS o keyword ranking increase o Website health o Search visibility o Page load time o Leads + conversions o Top exit pages o Traffic value o Crawl errors o Referring domains o Index coverage errors o Indexed pages 5. USEFUL Tools o Keyword research o On-page seo o Link building o Technical seo o Monitoring and analysis 6. FAQs ENDEMAJ FUNDS THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO SEO 08 14 26 36 55 67 73 80 91 107 108
  • 6. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 6 WHAT IS SEO ...and why do it
  • 8. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 8 What is SEO and why do it? When you want to find out the top fine dining restaurants in the city, or the most popular vacation places in Europe, what do you do? You go to your phone or computer’s web browser, type in Google, and do a Google search. This practice has become such an important part of our daily lives that “Google it” has practically become synonymous with “look it up.” In fact, we do it so often that it’s said Google processes 63,000 search queries every second – that’s 5.6 billion searches per day and 2 trillion global searches per year. Considering how much people rely on search engines, businesses need to be appearing for searches made by their target consumers if they want to succeed in the digital age. “If you consider that results on the first page of a Google search get over 90% of search traffic, you cannot afford not to be there, especially if your competitors are.” Forbes, 10 Key Benefits of SEO For Your Business How can businesses do this? By building their presence online through search engine optimization or SEO. SEO is the process of improving your site to increase its visibility when people search for products or services related to your business in Google, Bing, and other search engines. The better visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract prospective and existing customers to your business. And in the digital age, greater visibility and ranking higher in search results than your competition can have a material impact on your bottom line. Ranking higher on search engine results pages or SERPs can mean more sales, more subscriptions, more business enquiries, and more growth opportunities.
  • 9. November 2021 9 That is why businesses and brands are allocating more resources towards improving their Google rankings. According to industry experts, majority of businesses are spending $5,000 on average on their SEO efforts. This is budget that is being allocated to capture the growing volume of people who are using the internet and search engines to make purchase decisions. Need proof? Here’s a few stats for you: 65% 39% 45% 90% The percentage of people who use their phone in their I-want-to-buy moments. The percentage of purchasers who were influenced by a relevant search. Approx percentage of global shoppers buy online and then pick up in-store. The percentage of consumers who used the internet to find a local business in the last year. SEO represents one of the most common digital marketing strategies, and it remains super popular because of its reliable return-on-investment. As much as half of all website traffic comes from search engines like Google or Bing. This means that close to 40% of online revenue comes from search traffic as well. Here’s something else to think about: The top 1st result on Google gets more than 32% of keyword traffic, and the first page of search results grab as much as 91.5% of traffic.
  • 10. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 10 If done properly, SEO can help with improving a number of areas that are beneficial to your business such as: • Lead Generation: As the popular saying goes, “The best ability is availability.” SEO makes your business readily available by bringing your website in front of your target online audience. By being one of the top results on search, you can accelerate your lead generation. And the more leads you have, the better you can get at building your customer base, thus resulting in higher revenue for your business. • Branding and Brand Recognition: Your brand is the identity of your business. When your target online customers remember and trust your brand, this increases the likelihood of them choosing your products or services. SEO can help with your branding and brand recognition by making your website visible for top searches relevant to your business. • Reputation Management: In the unfortunate instance that your business encounters negative PR, SEO can help in rehabilitating your public image through reputation management. • Improved ROI: If your business is intent on doing full-scale digital marketing, SEO can prove to be a valuable strategy that delivers positive return on investment. Why? New leads acquired through SEO have a close rate of 14.6%, which is significantly higher than the 2% close rate of leads acquired through traditional marketing. How is it so high? That’s because SEO is basically making your business visible to those who are already interested in the product or service you have to offer. That reduces the friction in the decision process. Clearly, there is a business benefit to doing SEO. But before we dive into tips, strategies, techniques, and the like, let’s make some clear distinctions and definitions first. This way, we don’t get confused with any of the terms we use as we move forward. The Benefits of SEO
  • 12. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 12 VOCABULARY
  • 14. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 14 The SEO industry and the online landscape in general uses a wide range of terminologies that may seem intimidating when encountered for the first time. But fear not! That’s one of the reasons why we made this guide in the first place! So grab your popcorn, sit down, and let us introduce you to these commonly used terms, which we will likely use repeatedly further on in the guide. Enjoy! Vocabulary 301 Redirect A 301 redirect is a status code that tells search engines and users the page has permanently moved and makes sure that they are sent to the correct page. As this is permanent, when a 301 redirect is used it signifies that the content on the page has been moved forever. Users are redirected to a new page, which has replaced the old one. 302 Redirect 302 redirect is a temporary change that redirects both users and search engines to the desired new location for a limited amount of time, until the redirect is removed. This 302 redirect may be shown as a 302 found (HTTP 1.1), or moved temporarily (HTTP 1.0). 404 Not Found - A 404 not found error occurs when a user tries to access a page that does not or no longer exists. 404 Not Found A 404 not found error occurs when a user tries to access a page that does not or no longer exists. 500 Internal Server Error The server encountered something it didn't expect and was unable to complete the request. Algorithm A complex computer program used by search engines such as Google to retrieve data and deliver results for a query. Search engines use a combination of algorithms to deliver ranked webpages via search engine results pages (also known as SERPs) based on a wide range of criteria called ranking factors and signals. Alt Text/Tag An SEO element for describing images to search engines. It is a text-based property attributed to an image file in order for Google to understand the visual content of an image. Anchor Text Text within a website that is clickable and links to another page on the site or a different website or domain.
  • 15. 15 Investing in Digital Transformation in the MENA Region and Beyond November 2021 Backlink Profile A list of all the sites currently linking to your site (including how they’re linking to it and which pages they’re linking to). A backlink profile measures: (1) the number of inbound links to your website; (2) the number of unique domains that link to your website; (3) the quality of those links. Black Hat SEO "Black hat SEO" refersto techniquesandstrategiesthat attempt tospam/foolsearch engines. While black hat SEO can work, it puts websites at tremendous risk of being penalized and/ or de-indexed (removed from search results) and has ethical implications. Bounce Rate It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave ("bounce") rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site. Bounce rate is a measure of "stickiness." The thinking being that an effective website will engage visitors deeper into the website. It is calculated is calculated by counting the number of single page visits and dividing that by the total visits. It is then represented as a percentage of total visits. Click Through Rate (CTR) The rate that users click on a website URL from organic or paid search results. CTR is a way to gauge web page title and meta description performance. Well-performing web page titles and meta descriptions effectively draw the interest of a search user enough to entice clicking on a website from SERPs. Conversion Rate The rate (expressed in a percentage) at which website users complete a desired action. A conversion can be a website visit, a purchase, a sign up to a subscription, or even a phone call via a clickable link on the website. Dofollow links Dofollow is the default state for a link. Any link that is not given the “nofollow” attribute by a site admin is a dofollow link. As such, when another website links to yours with a standard (aka dofollow) link, it can directly affect search engine rankings, as it is essentially a backlink that is “linking back” to your website. Domain Authority The overall “strength” of a website, built up over time, which can help a new page rank well quickly, even before that content has earned links or engagement. Grey Hat SEO Grey hat SEO is the blurred line between approved and frowned upon SEO practices. Grey hat SEO uses “ill-defined” or “ill-advised” SEO practices and strategies that don’t necessarily or explicitly violate a search engine’s guidelines but are still risky, as they could result in penalties.
  • 16. 16 16 endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO Guest Blogging Guest blogging (or guest posting) is publishing an article on someone else’s website. People do this so they can get more brand awareness and traffic back to their own website (also known as referral traffic). In guest blogging, blog owners or hosts invite other reputable writers and subject matter experts to write on their blog, providing valuable content to readers. In exchange, guest bloggers or posters can be allowed to link their guest article back to their website, thus giving their website a backlinking boost. Heading Heading tags (H1-H6) separate content into sections, based on importance, with H1 being the most important and H6 being the least important. Headline tags should be used naturally and should incorporate your target keywords where relevant, as doing so may provide a small SEO benefit. One important thing to remember when crafting and placing heading tags is that there should always only be one H1 in a web page, and at most, three H2s. As for H3s and beyond, there is not recommended limit. Internal Link A hyperlink of text or an image within a website that links to another page on the same site. IP Address A unique set of numbers usually separated by periods that devices including computers, smartphones, and tablets use to communicate with each other on the same network. An IP address is a digital footprint for internet activity on a given network. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) Key performance indicators (KPIs) are quantifiable metrics used to measure the effectiveness and performance of an SEO or marketing campaign against key business objectives. Keyword The word, words, or phrase that an SEO professional or marketer targets for the purpose of matching and ranking for what users are searching for. Keyword Research The process of analyzing and identifying the actual words search engine users type in when looking for information about a brand, product or service is called keyword research. These sets of keywords can be identified using the various free or paid keyword research tools available in the market. Keyword Stuffing A black hat SEO tactic for adding a significant amount of a keyword onto a page or website to manipulate organic search engines. KPIs Key performance indicators, are the critical indicators of progress toward an intended results. In SEO, KPIs include organic traffic, keyword ranking, conversion rate, bounce rate, page load time, backlinks built.
  • 17. November 2021 17 Link Building Link building is the process of generating links that points back to the main URL of your website or specific pages and posts within the site. These external links act like “votes” that will tell search engines the relevance of your web pages with regards to certain keywords, ranking your website higher in SERPs for that particular set of keywords. Links from high- authority sites send a trust signal to Google. It’s like having somebody vouch for you. The more people that vouch for you, the more trustworthy you are. Meta Description The snippet of information that appears below the title tags in SERPs are called meta descriptions, and are basically HTML attributes that describes or summarizes what a particular page may contain. The optimum size of meta descriptions is 150 to 160 characters and should be written with the precise intent of letting searchers know if the information or content they are looking for can be found within this particular web page. Nofollow Link HTML markup on a link telling search engines not to pass link juice and authority to the site it’s being linked to. Optimise page Implementing your targeted keywords into your site’s content. Each page on your site should be targeting a core term, and a “basket” of related terms. a nice visual of what a well (or perfectly) optimized page. Off-Page SEO Off-page or off-site SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages and make them rank better in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) by improving the link popularity of these web pages to certain keyword phrases. Generating a large quantity of backlinks however should not be the only focus in off-page SEO, but rather generate back links from relevant sites, preferably websites that already trusted by the search engines. On-Page SEO On-page SEO, or what other marketers also termed on-site SEO, refers to a set of processes designed to optimize internal elements of web pages to make them more search engine friendly. Optimizing these page elements make these web pages more relevant, easier to use and easier to navigate, giving your site visitors a better user experience. This is turn will signal search engines to give a better ranking importance to your pages. On-page elements include: title tags, mate description, h1 tags, keyword density, etc. Organic Search The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query. Outbound link Links within a website that take users to another website.
  • 18. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 18 PageRank Created by Google and that ranks both the quality and quantity of links to a site that will help determine a domain’s authority. This scale is 0-10 with 10 being of the highest authority. Pay Per Click (PPC) The natural, or unpaid, listings that appear on a SERP. Organic search results, which are analyzed and ranked by algorithms, are designed to give users the most relevant result based on their query. Ranking Rankings refer to the actual position of a particular web page in search engine results pages using one or more keywords. The higher the rankings, the higher the chances a web page get more targeted traffic. There are several factors that search engine use to rank websites and most of these can be done through incorporating white-hat SEO techniques. Relevance A type of advertising where advertisers are charged a certain amount (usually determined by bid, relevance, account history, and competition) every time a user clicks on the ad. Search Engine Marketing (SEM) SEM is digital marketing across organic and paid advertising platforms to increase the visibility of a website or web page. Search engine marketing (SEM) includes both organic and paid. So you can think of it this way: SEO + PPC = SEM Search Engine Optimization (SEO) SEO is the digital marketing practice for increasing free traffic and visibility to a website or web page through search engine rankings. It is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results. Search Engine Results Page (SERP) SERP is an acronym for Search Engine Results Page and is the main battleground for all activities included in SEO campaigns. Every search query made through a particular search engine returns these SERP pages. The whole point of SEO is to have your web pages rank high in SERPs based on a particular set of keywords, ultimately going for the first few pages of these results where it all matters. SEO Tracking Process of measuring the performance and progress of a campaign Sitemap A list of pages on a website that is easily accessible to search engines, crawlers, and users. Social Activities Social media has gained a significant foothold that affects Internet marketing trends. It has evolved as a very important element in Search Engine Optimization and has come to be a very important and very significant tool for generating links, improve online reputation and solicit participation from online users.
  • 19. 19 Investing in Digital Transformation in the MENA Region and Beyond November 2021 Target Keywords Once relevant keywords for your brand, product or service are identified by the keyword research tools of your choosing, the next step is to create target keywords that will serve as the central focal points for the whole Search Engine Optimization process. Target keywords are usually a key phrase that may or may not contain your actual brand, product or service. Title Tag Title tag is an HTML element that contain the title for a particular web page, which in turn will be displayed in a web browser’s title bar when that particular page is displayed. It is a very important element for SEO as it contains the keywords that will appear on SERPs as clickable links. Each document or web page is allowed only a single title tag that is why it is important to create title tags that contain keywords that are relevant to the contents of that particular web page. Top-Level Domain (TLD) The extension of a given web address. These include .com, .org, .net, and .info. Traffic The people (and sometimes bots) who visit your website. Uniform Resource Locator (URL) A web address that points to a unique page on a website, FTP, email, or database access. User-Generated Content (UGC) Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – that is created by users or customers. User Experience (UX) Any form of content – videos, blog posts, comments, reviews, etc. – that is created by users or customers. White Hat SEO "White hat SEO" refers to SEO techniques, best practices, and strategies that abide by search engine rule, its primary focus to provide more value to people. Now that we’ve gone through the most basic definitions, let’s get into one of the most important distinctions – and also one of the most commonly mixed up terms – in the industry: SEO and SEM.
  • 20. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 20 HOW IS SEO DIFFERENT FROM SEM? Before we get into differentiating SEO from SEM, first we have to identify the two kinds of traffic websites get from search engines: paid and organic. Paid search traffic is traffic that can be attributed to paid-for channels, otherwise known as online advertisements. These online ads are run through PPC campaigns that are executed to target a specific type of search engine user. On Google, PPC ads are the search results that typically appear at the topmost position of the SERPs, and are prefixed with the label “Ad.” In order to appear for these ad positions, businesses must pay, just as you would with physical outdoor advertising, for example. As these positions are prime real estate online, there are plenty of businesses who will also want to take these positions. Google facilitates this through a bidding process, where businesses essentially “outbid” each other to appear for these positions. If your webpage is properly optimized and adheres to Google’s guidelines, the bid required for you to appear for your choice position is often reduced compared to others who haven’t done the same thing. This essentially means, you get to run your PPC campaign at a lower cost (or Cost Per Click) than competing businesses. The key to a PPC campaign is to have a properly optimized webpage to earn higher ROI (i.e. lower CPC + longer-running campaigns = more traffic and higher chances of conversion).
  • 22. 22 22 endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO On the other hand, organic traffic is website traffic coming from organic positions in SERPs. In Google, organic SERP positions are those located below Google ads. Whereas in search ad positions, competitors can essentially unseat you with a higher bid, there is no amount of money to get you in the top organic positions. Organic search positions are awarded by Google to websites that have earned enough trust and authority through proper SEO. At this point, you might be thinking, “Well, why would I want to be in organic search results when I’ll obviously be higher up on the page with Google ads?” The answer is simple: organic traffic is essentially free. While doing SEO does take time and effort, once Google places your website on the top of SERPs, you will be earning traffic without paying for anything. This means, long-term and continuous return on investment for your business. Also, organic search results are more perceived as more credible than ads by web savvy users. That is why organic results receive more clicks than paid ads. In fact, a recent study revealed that the first organic result has an average CTR of 28.5%. Meanwhile, for US searches, only ~2.8% of people click on paid advertisements. As such, SEO represents one of the most common digital marketing strategies, and it remains super popular because of its reliable return-on-investment. So if that’s what SEO is, what is SEM? SEM or Search Engine Marketing is a more comprehensive online campaign that involves both SEO and PPC. You can think of it this way: SEO + PPC = SEM. Why engage in SEO and PPC at the same time, instead of sticking to one strategy? Simple. SEO is a long-term game that is meant to bring about lasting results and business impacts. Carefully building authority in your area of expertise or industry involves carefully establishing yourself as a credible source of information, on top of providing quality products or services. When you’ve done this successfully, you will be able to acquire leads organically – that is, through search engines like Google that show your website for searches relevant to your business. While you’re doing this, however, you will need to build some traction for your business to survive. You will need leads to come in, even as you’re slowly working to climb Google search rankings. This is where PPC comes in. Through targeted search ads, you can appear at the top of search results for a specified period, based on your PPC campaign settings. This will give your brand the visibility that it needs to attract customers, while you’re building for long-term staying power and sustainability through SEO. In the beginning, you might have to allocate a relatively larger budget for PPC, while you’re simultaneously working on developing your SEO. Naturally, the leads you get from your marketing mix might be largely attributed to PPC, instead of SEO. However, over-time and if done correctly, you can gradually see leads from SEO and PPC even out, until the point where you can reduce your PPC budget and still get the same number of leads in total, due to the increasing free traffic you’re getting from organic search. The result is better return on investment on your marketing spend, which can translate to growth for your business in the long run.
  • 24. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 24 HOW TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL SEO STRATEGY
  • 26. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 26 HOW TO PLAN A SUCCESSFUL SEO STRATEGY If you want to succeed in growing your search engine presence, first you need to have a plan – a definitive SEO strategy to keep you on track. An SEO strategy that identifies techniques and processes that will work for your business will allow you to maximize your resources to achieve the best results possible. But before you even start developing an SEO strategy, you need to know the end goal that you want to achieve from your efforts. You need to determine the material, financial, or business impact that you want to accomplish. You need to determine your business and marketing goals. Identifying your business goals is as simple as asking yourself, “What is my company trying to accomplish this month? This quarter? This year?” Is your brand trying to increase sales by 10% this month? Are you trying to boost subscriptions to your company’s services by 30% this quarter? Are you looking to exceed your revenue by 5% year on year in a specific geographical region? When determining your business goals, always follow the SMART principle: SETTING BUSINESS AND MARKETING GOALS
  • 27. November 2021 27 Your business goals will serve as the foundation of all your business efforts moving forward – from operations to advertising and beyond. Every strategy and campaign that your company takes on should be aimed at and crafted for reaching whatever business goals you have set out. After you’ve determined your business goals, you can then move on to determining your marketing goals. Marketing goals are the objectives that you will need your marketing campaigns to accomplish in order to help achieve your business goals. So if the company has a goal of increasing sales, what is marketing’s job? Is marketing's job improving the conversion funnel? Is it getting more traffic to the top of the funnel? Is it bringing back more traffic that's already been to the site but needs to be re-earned? Your marketing goals will be key in determining the other factors essential to your marketing efforts, such as where you should be concentrating your efforts, whom you should be targeting, and through which channels you can reach them. One important thing to note is that your marketing goals should be relevant to your bottom line – this is how you can rightfully justify any amount of spending on your advertising and marketing efforts. Your marketing goals should be accompanied by the potential benefit it will generate in order to reflect its positive impact. Additionally, your marketing goals should also follow the SMART principle. Concrete and SMART marketing goals will allow you to update and improve your marketing goals as you progress throughout your marketing timeline. Once you’ve set your business and marketing goals, then you can move on to setting your SEO goals. • Specific. In order to work, objectives need to be concrete and highly detailed. • Measurable. Put a figure or value, such as a dollar amount or percentage, to the objective. • Action-oriented. Lay out which actions need to be taken by which people, and when. • Realistic. Make goals challenging but consider your resources so that you can actually achieve them reasonably. • Time specific. Set a deadline to keep things on track.
  • 28. 28 28 endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO SETTING SEO GOALS SEO goals are specific and measurable objectives that you aim to achieve over a period of time. Each goal should contribute to the main purposes of doing SEO, which are to increase the online visibility of the business or brand through organic search, reach target audiences and prospects, and turn them into customers. SEO goals are important because they bring focus and clarity to your strategy by providing a clear target. If you don’t have SEO goals, you’re shooting in the dark. That’s never a good idea because you’re unlikely to achieve something unless you aim for it. Additionally, without SEO goals, you have no idea whether or not your efforts are contributing to your business and its bottom line. Doing this will ensure that your efforts on search engine optimization are always helping your business or brand grow in a definite, measurable way. Having metrics and SEO goals will also enable you to identify and boost efforts that are helping achieve the results you desire, and tone down strategies that have minimal benefit. One good way to set SEO goals is to use what’s called an SEO Goal Pyramid. An SEO Goal Pyramid is a hierarchical visualization of the three different levels that make up SMART SEO Goals – namely Outcome Goals, Performance Goals, and Process Goals. The objective of an SEO Goal Pyramid is to break down an SEO goal into performance and process metrics, so that you can always keep track of your progress. You can see an example of a completed SEO goal pyramid: It’s, therefore, important that your SEO goals extend beyond your department and that they are defined by (and therefore aligned with) the overall goals of the company.
  • 30. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 30 We can break down how to get to a completed goal pyramid in 3 simple steps: Create an outcome goal. The first step is to set an outcome goal. An outcome goal is something you want to achieve through your SEO efforts and the timeframe you want to achieve it in. You can determine an outcome goal by answering this question: What SEO outcome contributes towards my company’s broader marketing and business goals? 1. One example of a good SEO outcome goal is this: “Rank in the top 3 for [high-value keyword] in 6 months.” Why? Because it follows the principles of SMART goals. • The goal is specific and relevant because ranking for a [high value keyword] will increase revenue. • It’s measurable because you can track keyword rankings with any good rank tracking tool. • It’s achievable because you already assessed keyword difficulty. • And it’s time-based because you specified the timeframe.
  • 31. 31 Investing in Digital Transformation in the MENA Region and Beyond November 2021 What short-term wins will most likely get us to our SEO outcome goal? Break the outcome goal down into performance goals. Next, you should look to set performance goals. These are goals that you set for yourself to help you achieve the outcome set above. You can have one or multiple performance goals. What they are will depend on your outcome goal and capacity. Just as with outcome goals, these must be SMART as well. You can come up with performance goals by asking yourself this question: 2. One example of a good performance goal is this: “Get 40 high-quality backlinks to the page within six months.” In the same vein as the outcome goals, this goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and measurable. • The goal is specific and relevant, as acquiring a high number of quality backlinks to your target webpage will help increase the chances of your webpage ranking for your target keyword, which can then translate to increased revenue for your business. • It’s measurable because you can easily track how many backlinks you are acquiring through a backlink monitoring tool like Moz’s Link Explorer. • It’s achievable because there are many strategies you can use to gain links from highly reputable websites, such as digital PR, blogger networking, and guest blogging. • • And it’s time-based because you specified the timeframe.
  • 32. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 32 What will I need to do to achieve our performance goal(s)? Break performance goals into process goals. Process goals are the specific measures that you look to implement in order to achieve your performance goals. These are the even smaller goals that are 100% within your control. You can determine a process goal for your SEO efforts by answering this question: 3. Based on the above sample performance goal, we can set multiple process goals. We can set one process goal to run a ‘skyscraper’ campaign focused on creating a large piece of highly informative, highly shareable content. We can then initiate an email marketing campaign enticing people to read the content you created and place a call-to-action in the end to re-share the piece on their platforms. If done well, a highly valuable content piece will be reshared and linked back to by multiple online properties, which will then build the backlink profile of your webpage organically. This strategy can be supported by other process goals, with their own integrated strategies. Based on the above sample performance goal, we can set multiple process goals. We can set one process goal to run a ‘skyscraper’ campaign focused on creating a large piece of highly informative, highly shareable content. We can then initiate an email marketing campaign enticing people to read the content you created and place a call-to-action in the end to re-share the piece on their platforms. If done well, a highly valuable content piece will be reshared and linked back to by multiple online properties, which will then build the backlink profile of your webpage organically. This strategy can be supported by other process goals, with their own integrated strategies. Now that we’ve learned how to set goals, we can then move on to the next stage, which is developing an SEO strategy.
  • 34. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 34 TOP ASPECTS OF SUCCESSFUL SEO
  • 36. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 36 Conducting competition analysis After you’ve set your own unique SEO goals, the next step for you is to survey the landscape and identify who you’re competing with in the online space. If you know your business well enough, you should have a rough idea of who your main competitors are going to be. But it is important to keep in mind that there are two types of competitors: direct and indirect. Who are Direct Competitors? Direct competitors are businesses and brands that are offering the same product or service you are offering to the same target customer as your business. Say, you have an auto repair shop in Al Quoz offering car repair and maintenance services to European and Asian car brands. A direct competitor is an auto repair shop similarly located in Al Quoz that provides similar services at the same price as your business. In this case, the business you are competing with is targeting the same range of customers as you are, meaning you are looking to a take bite off the same piece of the pie as them. Who are In-Direct Competitors? On the other hand, an indirect competitor may be (1) a business that sells similar products or services but targets a different customer sector, or (2) sells different products or services but shares your customer base. So in our example, an indirect competitor may be an auto repair business in Al Quoz that provides car maintenance services exclusively to American brands and vintage cars. While their shop does provide the same car maintenance services as yours, they specialize in a different range of automobiles, meaning a different customer base. Why Bother With This at All? Finding and analysing your direct competitors will help you understand what they are doing online, how they are attracting customers, and through what ways they are growing their digital presence. This information will be vital in how you develop your own SEO strategy moving forward.
  • 37. 37 Investing in Digital Transformation in the MENA Region and Beyond November 2021 But why do analysis on your indirect competitors? Well, identifying and researching indirect competition will give you a different perspective on your business or customer base. This can help you gain value-added information that you can use to give your business an edge over your direct competitors. Maybe you can be the first to start offering unique promotions such as free car health check- ups after a certain period or mileage, or loyalty programmes that will keep them coming back to your shop. If you’re quite unsure who your competitors are, there is one neat trick that can get you going in the right direction. Staying with our example of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, if you want to know who your competitors are, you can do a simple search on Google for a keyphrase like “car repair shop in Al Quoz.” But why do analysis on your indirect competitors? Well, identifying and researching indirect competition will give you a different perspective on your business or customer base. This can help you gain value-added information that you can use to give your business an edge over your direct competitors. Maybe you can be the first to start offering unique promotions such as free car health check- ups after a certain period or mileage, or loyalty programmes that will keep them coming back to your shop. If you’re quite unsure who your competitors are, there is one neat trick that can get you going in the right direction. Staying with our example of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, if you want to know who your competitors are, you can do a simple search on Google for a keyphrase like “car repair shop in Al Quoz.”
  • 38. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 38
  • 39. November 2021 39 When you do, look beyond the first results that have the “Ad” label on them, as those results are paid advertisements done through Google AdWords, which is a topic we’ll cover later on. Instead, what you’ll want to look for are the numbered results without the “Ad” label. These are what’s called “organic search results.” The websites appearing at the top places of organic search results will be the ones that are worth looking into, as these are the ones with whom you’ll be competing against in your SEO campaign. Ranking 1st position on SERPs can be particularly beneficial for a business of this nature, as research has revealed one important statistic: “The #1 result in Google gets approximately 32% of all clicks.” - Backlinko List the websites that appear on the top positions. Then, dive into each website to see whether they fit into the category of direct or indirect competitor. Do they offer the same products or services as you? Are they targeting the same customer base? Are their offerings around the same price range as yours? Once you’ve done this for results of this keyphrase, do another search for a relevant keyphrase. Follow the same method of listing the sites that appear on the top positions and if they identify as competitors. Rinse and repeat this process until you get a reasonable selection.
  • 40. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 40 After you’ve gathered a comprehensive list, you can then categorize the websites between direct and indirect competitors. You can then use this list as a point of reference to accomplish a number of things, such as: Setting benchmarks If you’re just starting out on your SEO campaign, a comprehensive list of competitors can help you set benchmarks or starting points for your website. What are your competitors doing well? In what areas are they falling short? What kind of content are they featuring on their own websites? This is information you can use to help you get off on the right foot. Keeping updated with industry and marketing trends How are businesses in your industry marketing themselves online? Are they producing videos of their products and sharing them on social? Are they creating long-form blogs to post on their websites? Are they partnering with online magazines and publications to get their brand out there? Identify the marketing trends they are involved in, as you will want to get in the mix as well. Learning new best practices and mistakes to avoid Mistakes are opportunities for learning, but what’s even better is if you can learn from the mistakes of others. See what marketing channels have worked and not worked for your competitors. Have they been using grey hat SEO techniques and got penalized for it? Have they featured copy-pasted content on their website? Have they tried tricking Google by stuffing their content with keywords? Learn from their experiences, and avoid those pitfalls early on. Refining your goals As the online landscape changes and evolves, so should your SEO and marketing approach. For example, according to Accenture, 69% percent of young shoppers prefer to purchase based on visual-oriented searches. If you have been neglecting optimizing the images on your website, then one of your short-term SEO goals might be to get them properly optimized for search. Knowing who your competitors are will let you know if they have engaged in the same strategies. Once you’ve done this preliminary step of competitive analysis, you can then move on to the more specific aspects, which are keyword analysis, linking analysis, and content analysis.
  • 42. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 42 Keyword Analysis Keyword analysis is fundamental to every SEO campaign. To understand why, first we must understand (in a very simplified manner) how Google works. When people search for something on Google, the search engine analyzes the words that they used, and retrieves what it believes to be the most relevant web pages to the topic. These words that people use to search are what’s called “keywords” or “keyphrases.” These are basically what you should be optimizing for – what you should want your website to rank for on Google. Your aim in your SEO campaign is to appear for searches that are relevant to your business, product, or service. So you can reach the people who are interested in what you have to offer, and turn them into customers. Naturally, the question follows: How do you know which ones are best for your business or website? That’s where keyword analysis comes in. The first thing you need to do when conducting keyword analysis is figuring out who your prospective customers are and what they’re likely searching for online. One of the best ways to do this is to create customer personas. A customer persona is an archetype or model that represents the key traits of a large segment of your audience. It is a tool used to help businesses gain insight on their prospective customers, particularly how they think, feel, and act. A customer persona template would look something like below:
  • 43. 43 Investing in Digital Transformation in the MENA Region and Beyond November 2021 Your customer personas should help answer a few key questions about your customers, such as: • What types of things are they interested in? • What problems do they have? • What type of language do they use to describe the things that they do, the tools that they use, etc.? • Who else are they buying things from (this means your competitors, but could also mean tangential sources)? These questions are meant to help you come up with an initial “seed list” of potential keywords, based on factors such as your customers’ needs, what they search for online, and how they search online. This seed list will be what you will build on towards creating a more concrete, metrics-based roster of keywords. Now, for this next step, you will have to do keyword analysis. There are three core factors you should consider when doing keyword analysis:
  • 44. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 44 1. Search Volume What it is: The first factor to consider is how many people (if any) are actually searching for a given keyword. In keyword analysis, this is what’s called search volume. There are many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of keywords. There are many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of your choice keywords. One of the most popular tools is Google’s own Keyword Planner tool. Why is it important: The more people there are searching for a keyword, the bigger the audience you can potentially reach. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through search. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through Google search. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – and whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. How to find out search volume: What it is: The first factor to consider is how many people (if any) are actually searching for a given keyword. In keyword analysis, this is what’s called search volume. There are many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of keywords. There are many tools – free and paid – that you can use to find out the search volume of your choice keywords. One of the most popular tools is Google’s own Keyword Planner tool. Why is it important: The more people there are searching for a keyword, the bigger the audience you can potentially reach. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through search. On the other hand, if no one is searching for a keyword, there is no audience available to find your content through Google search. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. Basically, search volume will determine the potential range of your SEO campaign – and whether it will reach a large number of people or none at all. How to find out search volume: Step 1: Enter “Seed List” into AdWords Keyword Planner. Following our previous example of an auto repair business in Al Quoz, we’ve entered an initial selection of keywords that are relevant to the business. Following this, we’ll click on the GET RESULTS button to see the search volume for our seed list of keywords.
  • 45. November 2021 45 Step 2: Clicking on the GET RESULTS button will bring up this page: Looking at the picture above, you can see keywords from our seed list (left) along with how many times people use them on average every month (right). This is important, as this will give you insight as to how many people you can stand to attract and turn into customers for keywords that are tightly connected to your business. As you can see from the above example, you can choose to broaden your search by adding more keywords to your research. To do this, simply click on the plus (+) sign beside the suggested keywords you want to include and then click on GET RESULTS. The AdWords tool will give you the search volume data on the keywords that you just added.
  • 46. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 46 Step 3: Once you’re satisfied with the list you have, you can then choose to export it and all relevant data by clicking on the export and download button on the upper right-hand corner of the screen: Important: At this point, you might be thinking, “If search volume is so important to the potential reach of my campaign, why don’t I just go for the keywords with the highest volume?” Answer: search volume isn’t the be-all and end-all of an SEO campaign. For example, let’s take a look at the table below: Coming back to our previous example of a car repair business, it might interest you to see that the average search volume for “car” can go from 10k to 100k per month. However, ask yourself this: of those searches, how many do you think were done with the intent to search for a business like yours. In all likelihood, most of those searches are simply done for the purpose of research irrelevant to your business. Some people might be searching for car brands, while others might be trying to learn about types of automobiles. In the end, only a small fraction of the search volume is probably interested in auto repair and maintenance. Which brings us to the next factor to consider when doing keyword analysis.
  • 47. November 2021 47 3. Relevance What it is Relevance seems straight-forward: if you’re offering car maintenance and repair services, you don’t want to show up for searches that don’t have anything to do with your business, like “pet supplies.” Basically, relevance is simply how appropriate a keyword is for your business, in terms of marketing. You can tell if a keyword is relevant if it’s somehow involved in the customer journey. Do they use it to make or inform a purchasing decision? Is it a search phrase that’s used in their research process? Do they use it to find a specific product? Why is it important Relevance determines whether or not you should even be targeting a keyword in the first place. The more relevant your keywords, the more refined your SEO campaign will be. What this means for your bottom line is that you will have a more streamlined funnel consisting of highly relevant search users who are already engaged in the customer journey. Put simply, when your business website ranks for keywords that potential customers are using to either make or inform their purchasing decision, you are making your business available to them. And if you’ve managed to establish yourself as an appealing option by displaying your expertise and authority (through high quality content), you make a strong case for your customers to purchase a product or service from your brand. Just as we illustrated in our previous example, people who are searching for “car” are not necessarily looking for “car repair services.” What you want is to target keywords that are more relevant to your business, such as “car repair Dubai” or “auto repair shop in Al Quoz.” Even though those keywords don’t have as much traffic as “car,” the people who are searching using those keywords are more likely intent on finding a business like yours, which makes them potential customers, and therefore, more relevant.
  • 48. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 48 4. Competition What it is Competition, also known as “SEO difficulty” or “keyword difficulty”, is the likelihood to rank for specific terms on Google. It is based on a number of different factors, including domain authority, page authority, and content quality. Google brings up what it believes to be the best websites and online resources for a particular keyword based strongly on these three factors, as it believes these metrics correlate strongly with the fulfilment of search queries. Basically, if your website is considered authoritative and trustworthy, your page as a credible source of information, and your content high quality, then Google will recommend it to search users. Why is it important As with any business opportunity, in SEO you want to consider the potential costs and likelihood of success. This means determining whether or not it’s worth competing with other websites for search queries that you are targeting. High search volume keywords are often highly competitive, as SERPs of these keywords are often populated by big online platforms and brands. Competing against bigger, more established websites and platforms for search rankings will take more effort, time, and resources. If you are launching an SEO campaign for a business with a more limited budget, then you will want to target search phrases or keywords that are less competitive but are still relevant. Doing this will enable you to find that sweet spot where the amount of effort and resources that it takes to rank for organic search delivers growing traffic and ROI for the business. One way you can do this is by refining your research and incorporating what’s called long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are exactly that – longer search phrases that incorporate more words. For example, for our fictional auto maintenance shop, while “car repair” is a relevant keyword, you are likely competing with bigger, more established brands than if you target a long-tail keyword such as “car repair shop in Al Quoz.” So even though you can potentially benefit from the keyword “car repair”, it might be better for your marketing budget to target longer keywords with less competition. With less competition, you can rank your webpage faster, capture search traffic more efficiently, and convert them into customers for your business.
  • 49. November 2021 49 After you’ve managed to do proper keyword analysis, you can move on to the next step, which is doing linking analysis. The graphic below sums up the idea behind competition:
  • 50. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 50 Linking Analysis When it comes to SEO, linking or backlinking remains one of the most integral parts of the process. That’s because Google is primarily designed to see links as “votes.” The more backlinks or “votes” a page gets, the higher it tends to rank. In fact, research found that the number of backlinks pointing to a webpage coming from different domains correlates with higher rankings, more than any other factor. That’s why it’s worth looking into the backlinks of your competitors and see where they are getting them. Looking at your competitor’s backlink profile will let you know which sites are linking back to their content and how it is affecting their domain rank and authority. Unfortunately, there is no way to manually look at a competitor’s backlink profile. The only way to be able to do this is through an SEO analysis tool such as AHREFS. But before we go deep into the process of backlink analysis, it’s important to note what factors are worth looking out for: • Number of Backlinks – this is pretty basic and goes back to the point we made earlier – the more backlinks pointing to your page, the more “votes” you’re getting in Google’s eyes. • Domain Authority of Linked Sites – are the sites linking back to your competitors’ authoritative sites, like trusted information portals, online magazines, and business review platforms? Remember: The more authoritative the site, the more valuable the link. • Relevancy of Linked Content – What kind of content pieces are linked back to your competitors’ web pages? Are they well-written, highly informative, well-researched pieces? Do they include well-made graphics? Most importantly, are they relevant to the webpage being linked?
  • 51. November 2021 51 These are factors that you should keep in mind, as you’re doing your competitor backlink analysis. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get into the nitty gritty. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to do analysis using the AHREFS linking analysis tool. This will reveal a dashboard rich with info on the target website’s backlink profile, such as the number of backlinks it has and the number of referring domains linking back to it. Step 1: Place your competitor’s website into the tool and click the “search” button.
  • 52. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 52 Step 2: Then you’ll want to look at who are linking to your competitor, which you can do by clicking on “Backlinks” on the sidebar. This will give you a full list of websites linking to your webpage, which might look similar to the below.
  • 53. November 2021 53 Step 3: If your competition has built a large backlink profile, then you’ll want to go through the most important links first, which are the “do-follow” links. “Do-follow” links are the links that look like positive “votes” in Google’s eyes, which means they are instrumental to how your competitor has built authority. To do this simply, go to the “Link type” filter on the tool and select “Dofollow.” Step 4: To make sorting through the links even easier, you can also select “One link per domain” or “Group similar links.”
  • 54. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 54 Why do this? Because backlink analysis is less about the individual links that are pointing to a webpage, and more about WHO (or which domains) are linking back to it and WHY they’re doing so. Are they linking to your competitor’s webpage because it has a well-written and highly informative article? Are they linking to a webpage because it has an engaging graphic? Are they linking to it because it has a popular video they made? Once you know what your competitors are doing in terms of acquiring backlinks, it will be easier for you to create a similar strategy and implement these for your own site (more on that later on). Now that you’ve looked at the keywords that are beneficial to your website, and the backlink profiles of your competitors, you’re ready to dive into the third important factor to consider when doing analysis for your website: content. Unlike with keyword and backlink analysis, there is no one tool that you can use to do content analysis. This stage of competitor analysis will require more manual work on your part. You will need to read through your competitors’ content, particularly the ones that are getting lots of backlinks, and analyze why these webpages are performing well. Take note of the keywords they are using on these webpages and how they are used in the content. Are they used in the headings? What about the subheadings? What keyword variations are used across the body of the content? Have a close look at these things as you’re doing your analysis. Additionally, look at your competitors’ content pieces and compare them with your own. When doing this, you need to be critical with your own work and identify the areas where your own content is lacking as compared to theirs. Did they use more graphics to illustrate data? Is their content longer and more in-depth? Did they use videos to supplement their content? Doing this will give you an idea of your own gaps in content and how they can be addressed. It will also help you formulate your own content plan, so that the websites that link to your competitors will also link to you. Once you’re done with this stage of the analysis, you can then move towards making the necessary improvements to improve your search engine rankings. There are three general areas that we’ll be focusing on: ONSITE SEO, CONTENT OPTIMIZATION, and OFFSITE SEO. Content analysis
  • 55. November 2021 55 Onsite SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web pages to improve a website’s search engine rankings and earn organic traffic. Specifically, onsite SEO delves into the technical details of a webpage and aligns them with best practices so that both search users and Google have a clear understanding of what the web page is about, and that it is established as a valuable, trustworthy resource for the search phrase it is targeted for. There are multiple onsite aspects that make up an optimized web page. In this chapter, we’ll try and cover all of them and briefly explain why they are important. Domain Your website’s domain name is the unique, human-readable Internet address of your website. A domain name is commonly made up of three different parts: 1. Top-level domain (sometimes called an extension or domain suffix) 2. Domain name (or IP address) 3. Optional subdomain Let’s have a look at the example below to understand what these parts look like together before discussing each one in detail: Onsite and technical SEO
  • 56. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 56
  • 57. November 2021 57 Top-level domain (TLD) is the formal term for the suffix that appears at the end of a domain name. In our example, that would be the “.com” at the end. While there are thousands of different TLDs nowadays, some of the most popular are: • .com Commercial • .net Networks • .org Organisations • .edu Educational • .info Informational • .gov Government • .ae United Arab Emirates (.ae is the country code top-level domain (ccTLD) in the Domain Name System of the Internet for the United Arab Emirates.) Domain Name Domain names are the second level of a domain's hierarchy (after the top-level domain). Domain names on a specific TLD are purchased from registrars and represent the specific, unique location of a website. Following our above example, the domain name would be “tinydancinghorse”. Subdomain Subdomains are the third level of a domain's hierarchy. They are added in front of the root domain and are separated from the domain name with a period. In our example, the subdomain would be the “www” placed before the domain name. The two most common subdomain choices are: • http://www.example.com ("www" is the subdomain) • http://example.com (has no subdomain) Top-Level Domains
  • 58. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 58 If you can organically include a keyword that helps make it obvious what your business does while keeping your domain name catchy, unique, and brand-friendly, go for it. Despite saying that, it should be noted to stay away from domain names that might be considered"keyword-rich"or"keyword-targeted"(suchasbest-pancake-pans-for-pancakes. com or senior-eldercare-retirement-home-finder.com). While these types of domain names once carried weight as a ranking factor, their tendency to be associated with low-quality content means searchers (and search engines) may now view these keyword-dense domain names with a negative bias. If your domain name is multiple words (like www.servicemycar.com), you might be tempted to separate the words with a hyphen for readability: www.service-my-car.com. But, keep in mind that use of hyphens also strongly correlates with spammy behavior and decreases domain name readability and memorability. For that reason, generally, no more than one hyphen should be used (if any at all). Search engines keep different metrics for domains than they do for subdomains, so even though Google itself has stated that — from a ranking perspective — content in subdomains and subdirectories is treated roughly equally, it's still recommended to place content that you think people will link to such as quality blogs and articles in subfolders rather than subdomains. For example: www.example.com/blog/ would be a better structure instead of blog.example. com. How Do I Optimize my Domain Tip 1. Make your domain name memorable Tip 2. Use broad keywords when sensible Tip 3. Avoid hyphens when possible Tip 4. Favor subfolders or subdirectories over subdomains Strive for domain names that are short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to say. This is valuable for word-of-mouth advertising because visitors will need to visit your domain directly and a domain that’s easy to remember will be easier to navigate to. People also tend to remember and have positive associations with things that we can easily say and think about. With that in mind, stay away from domain names that include numbers or other non-standard characters, use unusual spelling, or are longer than about 15 characters or so. And because Google is increasingly emphasising usability and accessibility as ranking factors, the easier a domain is to read for humans, the better it looks for search engines.
  • 59. November 2021 59 URLS Why is it important? How Should my URLs Look Like A URL is human-readable text that is meant to replace the IP addresses that computers use to communicate with servers. They also identify the file structure on the given website. A URL is made up of a protocol, domain name, and path (which includes the specific subfolder structure where a page is located). In our example, the protocol is https://. The protocol indicates how a browser should retrieve information about a resource. Following the protocol is the domain name, which in our example is servicemycar.com. The domain name is the human-readable format of the location where the webpage is found – or basically, the website. A well-crafted URL provides both humans and search engines an easy-to-understand indication of what a webpage will be about. Just as with the meta description and the page title, the URL should provide visitors with an improved user experience by making it clear what they'll see if they click the link. URLs are also a ranking factor that Google uses to determine whether a page is relevant to a specific search query. Tip 1. Keep your URLs short, simple, compelling, and accurate. Doing this will make it easier for both your users and search engines to understand them, which will help with your webpage ranking higher. Although URLs can include ID numbers and codes, the best practice is to use words that people can understand. Tip 2. When necessary for readability, use hyphens to separate words. URLs should not use underscores, spaces, or any other characters to separate words. Tip 3. Use lowercase letters. In some cases, uppercase letters can cause issues with duplicate pages.
  • 60. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 60 A page title or title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. A page’s title tag is displayed as part of the search snippet in a search engine results page (SERP). It appears as the clickable headline for the search result and is important for user experience, SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page's content. Title tags are major factors in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and they are the first impressions many people get when they discover your page via organic search. Title tags are used in three key places: (1) search engine results pages (SERPs), (2) web browsers, and (3) social networks. Your title tag determines your display title in SERPs and is a search visitor's first experience with your site. Even if your page ranks well, a good title can be the make-or-break factor in determining whether or not someone clicks on your link. It’s basically your website making a good first impression to the search user – if you don’t make a good impression right away, you stand to lose the interest of your audience. So going back to our example of a car repair business in Dubai, a sample page title would look something like this: So what does a properly SEO-friendly URL look like? Check out the one below: Page Title Why is it important? In SERPs:
  • 61. November 2021 61 In web browsers: In social networks: How Do I Write a Good Title Tag When someone visits your page, the title tag is also displayed at the top of their web browser window and acts as a placeholder, especially when there are several browser tabs open. Unique and easily recognizable titles with important keywords near the front help ensure that people don't lose track of your content. You can find your title tag on your web browser here: Some external websites — especially social networks — will use your title tag to determine what to display when the page is shared. Here's a screenshot from Facebook, for example: Because title tags are such important parts of both search engine optimization and the search user experience, writing them effectively is a terrific low-effort, high-impact SEO task. Here are some critical recommendations for optimizing title tags for search engine and usability goals: Tip 1. Watch your title length If your title is too long, search engines may change your display title by adding an ellipsis ("..."), removing words, or even rewriting it entirely. A generally recommended length for title tags would be 60 characters long, but don’t take that as an exact number. Research suggests that 90% of all titles will display properly in SERPs if kept within 60 characters. However, also keep in mind that Google will still take into account the entire title tag (within reason) when they crawl the page, even if it is not displayed in full in the SERPs.
  • 62. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 62 In this example, we can see that the title has been written so that it’s just variations of the same keyword, repeated over and over. These titles are bad for search users and could get you into trouble with search engines. Unique titles help search engines understand that the content on a page is uniquely valuable. But what if you’re an ecommerce website dealing with a wide range of products? If you have thousands of product pages with a database of product names and categories, you could use that data to easily generate titles like the one below: On the other hand, steer clear from default titles, like "Home" or "New Page" — these titles may cause Google to think that you have duplicate content across your site (or even across other sites on the web). Research has shown that keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag may have more impact on search rankings. This is why it is highly recommended to craft titles where the most unique aspect of the page (e.g., the product name) appears first, just as we’ve seen in the example above. The meta description is an onsite attribute that provides a brief summary of a web page. Search engines such as Google often display the meta description in search results, which can influence click-through rates. In our car repair business example, this is what the meta description looks like: Tip 2. Avoid keyword stuffing Tip 3. Write a unique title tag for every page Tip 4. Put important keywords first Meta Description Title tag length is not an issue with Google, but keyword stuffing is, and you can run into trouble if you start stuffing your title full of keywords in a way that creates a bad user experience. What makes a bad user experience? Something like the one below:
  • 63. November 2021 63 Why is it important? How Do I Write a Good Meta Description Alt text Along with your page title, your meta description is key to making a good first impression to your target search users. A strong meta description not only informs search users about the contents of the page, but also entices further action – it draws the audience towards clicking on the headline and visiting the webpage to know more. Alt text are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Because Google can only scan text and code elements within a page, it cannot tell what kind of information an image is trying to convey. That’s where the alt text comes in. In cases where an image on a webpage cannot be loaded, the alt text is displayed. Also, alt text attributes provide better image context/descriptions to Google, helping it to index an image properly. Below you can see an example of an image with an alt text attribute: Meta descriptions can be any length, but Google generally shortens snippets to ~155–160 characters. So what you want to do is to “advertise” your business to search users in an eye- catching and engaging way within the character limit (the use of green checkmarks in the above example). A page's meta description should intelligently and organically employ the keywords that a page is trying to rank for, while also being compelling and informative. It should be directly relevant to the page it describes, and unique from the descriptions for other pages.
  • 64. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 64 Robots.txt is a text file webmasters create to instruct web robots (or Google robots) how to crawl pages on their website. In practice, robots.txt files indicate whether web robots can or cannot crawl parts of a website. How does robots.txt work? Search engines have two main jobs: 1. “Crawling” or exploring the web to discover content 2. Indexing (or storing) that content so that it can be served up to searchers who are looking for information To crawl sites, search engines use robots to follow links to get from one site to another — ultimately, crawling across many billions of links and websites. Upon arriving at a website, Google’s web robot will look for a robots.txt file. If it finds one, the web robot will read that file first before continuing through the page. Because the robots.txt file contains information about how the search engine should crawl, the information found there will guide the actions that it will take on this particular site. If the robots.txt file does not contain any directives that disallow a web robot’s activity (or if the site doesn’t have a robots.txt file), it will proceed to crawl other information on the site. How Do I Write Good Alt Text Robots.txt Tip 1. Keep it highly specific. Alt text is, first and foremost, designed to provide text explanations of images for users who are unable to see them. Tip 2. Keep it short. The most popular screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters, so it's advisable to keep it to that character count or less. Tip 3. Use your keywords. Alt text provides you another opportunity to include your target keyword on a page, and thus another opportunity to signal to search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query. While your first priority should be describing and providing context to the image, if it makes sense to do so, include your keyword in the alt text of at least one image on the page. Tip 4. Avoid keyword stuffing. This is pretty simple. Just as with writing title tags and meta descriptions, Google will not appreciate you trying to game the system by stuffing your alt text with keywords. Instead, focus on writing descriptive alt text that provides context to the image and if possible, includes your target keyword – don’t do anything more than that.
  • 65. November 2021 65 This might sound a bit complex and confounding, so here are a few examples of what crawl instructions look like, and how they disallow or allow behaviors. Let’s say we have a website called www.example.com. Blocking all web crawlers from all content User-agent: * Disallow: / Using the above syntax in a robots.txt file would tell all web crawlers not to crawl any pages on www.example.com, including the homepage. Allowing all web crawlers access to all content User-agent: * Disallow: Using the above syntax in a robots.txt file tells web crawlers to crawl all pages on www. example.com, including the homepage. Blocking a specific web crawler from a specific folder User-agent: Googlebot Disallow: /example-subfolder/ The above syntax tells only Google’s crawler (user-agent name Googlebot) not to crawl any pages that contain the URL string www.example.com/example-subfolder/. Blocking a specific web crawler from a specific web page User-agent: Bingbot Disallow: /example-subfolder/blocked-page.html The above syntax tells only Bing’s crawler (user-agent name Bing) to avoid crawling the specific page at www.example.com/example-subfolder/blocked-page.html. • In order to be found, a robots.txt file must be placed in a website’s top-level directory. • Robots.txt is case sensitive: the file must be named “robots.txt” (not Robots.txt, robots. TXT, or otherwise). • The /robots.txt file is publicly available: just add /robots.txt to the end of any root domain to see that website’s directives (if that site has a robots.txt file!). This means that anyone can see what pages you do or don’t want to be crawled, so don’t use them to hide private user information. • Each subdomain on a root domain uses separate robots.txt files. This means that, if your blog is located on a subdomain like blog.example.com, you should a separate robots.txt file for blog.example.com and example.com (in this case, blog.example.com/robots.txt and example.com/robots.txt). What are Robots.txt Best Practices
  • 66. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 66 With all that said, what does a page that’s been optimized according to these best practices look like? Well, let’s take a look at one below: • Make sure you’re not using your robots.txt file to block any content or sections of your website you want crawled. • Some search engines have multiple robots. For instance, Google uses Googlebot for organic search and Googlebot-Image for image search. Most robots from the same search engine follow the same rules so there’s no need to specify directives for each of a search engine’s multiple crawlers, but having the ability to do so does allow you to fine-tune how your site content is crawled. EXAMPLE: AN OPTIMIZED PAGE
  • 67. November 2021 67 What is Web Content? How to Do Content Optimization Step 1. Define your goals Now that we’ve dealt with some of the technical website optimizations that are fundamental for better website performance for search engines, we delve into web content optimization, which is an incredibly important aspect of the entire SEO process. Web content, online content, or simply content, is any piece of information that exists and can be processed on the web. There are many different types of content, from written formats to video and multimedia (we will discuss content types, later on). But basically, anything from a personal blog to a viral vlog can be considered web content, as long as it is posted online. Content optimization, then, is simply an approach to make content pieces with the goal of attracting search engine traffic. It is a process of ensuring that your content is developed to engage with both search engines and search users. Proper content optimization is a methodical approach of crafting content that not only aims to attract search traffic but also helps in enhancing conversions. We’ve summarized the entire process into 4 steps that should help guide you in crafting a customized content optimization plan that works for you. First, determine your goals for your website or business. What are you using your website for? Do you have an e-commerce platform and want to increase sales? Do you run an online magazine or publication that earns revenue through ads? Do you run a service-oriented business and want to use your website for leads acquisition? If you’re running an e-commerce website that’s trying to sell products, your primary focus should be creating attractive, informative product pages that are optimized for both search engines and converting visitors into customers. To supplement this, you could create informative blog content about your products, and whenever relevant, link back to your product pages. On the other hand, if you are running an online magazine that earns revenue through advertising, you will want to attract new readers through search engines. In this case, you’re more interested in developing long-form content, which ranges from 700 to 2,000 words per post. You can also focus on developing info-rich video content that keeps visitors on your site for longer. The intention here is to build a loyal audience that consumes your content and comes back for more. Whatever the nature of your business, you must first have clear goals for your website in order to have a focused content optimization strategy. Your goals will determine what types of content you should focus on. Content optimization
  • 68. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 68 If you are only starting with your website and don’t have any access to previous analytics data, then a solid foundation would be to go back to your Customer Personas. Step into the shoes of your target audience and try to visualize their online behavior. You can also reference surveys and market research data. Step 2. Consider your website audience Creating content is all about connecting with your target audience. There’s no point in attracting search engine traffic, if people just bounce off your website because they don’t find your content informative, engaging, or relevant to their search. With that in mind, it’s important to create content that your target search users will actually consume. One of the best ways to do this is by looking at your analytics and seeing what kind of traffic you’re getting. Are your website visitors tech savvy and always on their mobile phones? Then you should be prioritizing your content optimization plan for mobile rather than desktop users. Are you selling skin care products for women? Then it would be helpful to list the proven benefits of your products alongside some “before” and “after” images for further illustration. On the other hand, if you’re operating an online news and information website, then depth, accuracy and timeliness are the most important aspects to focus on. You might also want to consider the age group of your target audience and their online behaviors. C-Level executives around the ages of 50-64 are more willing to download and read lengthy research documents and technical white papers, while teens and, to some extent, Millennials are more attuned to videos, images, and shorter content, supplemented with more frequent updates.
  • 69. November 2021 69 Step 3. Consider your target keywords After you’ve factored-in your human audience, the next step is to consider Google. We already know how Google works. It crawls webpages, ranks them in terms of relevance to particular keywords, and brings them up as search results when the keyword is entered by a search user. In this process of “crawling” webpages, Google scans the written contents and the code of each page to “understand” what the page is relevant for. It is to this end that we discussed the technical onsite optimization measures mentioned above, where we sought to integrate keywords into webpage aspects like title tag, alt text, and meta descriptions. In the same way, when crafting content for your website try to integrate your keywords into the text as organically as possible. DO NOT STUFF YOUR CONTENT WITH KEYWORDS. Google has always maintained a strict stance on keyword stuffing or spamming. In the early days of search, webmasters tried to game the system through unethical or “black hat” techniques, such as placing large blocks of keyword-stuffed text content at the bottom of a page, and making it imperceptible to human eyes by making the text the same color as the background of the page. Over the years, these measures evolved into other techniques, like the intentional and unnatural repetition of keywords in the body content of a page to make it rank. However, just as these techniques evolved over time, Google has also become smarter in determining which pages are relevant and which aren’t. Gone are the days of keyword spamming success. Now, if Google recognizes (and it is smart enough to detect this now) that you are spamming your content with keywords, it will penalize your website for it. Worst case scenario is you get de-indexed, which means your website won’t show for your target keywords – not on the 2nd page or even the last. It will be like your webpage doesn’t even exist. So don’t try to over-optimize.
  • 70. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 70 Whenever it’s relevant or appropriate, it’s advisable to link to other pages within your website using what’s called anchor texts. An anchor text is basically a keyword or phrase in your webpage content that is relevant to another topic/page within your website and is connected to that page through a link. Let’s take a look at the example below: If you look closely, the text inside the green box is blue while the text around it is black. That means, the text doubles as a hyperlink to another page as well – that is an anchor text. When you hover over this text, your web browser (in my case, it’s Mozilla Firefox) indicates the page where the anchor text is leading to. The text is organically placed in the body of the content and is not forced. Additionally, the internal page that the anchor text is linking to is also relevant, not only to the topic of the page but also to the anchor text itself. Step 4. Use anchor texts and internal linking Instead, flesh out your content with as much depth and expertise as you can muster. If your business is a car garage in Al Quoz, you will be able to organically integrate keywords such as professional car maintenance or expert auto servicing in your content without forcing it in. And if you’re targeting search users in Dubai, you’ll manage to localize your content organically as well, if only you try to provide as much value and information to your audience as possible. One helpful way to ensure you align and optimize your content with best practices is to go back to how Google is designed in the first place – as a tool for retrieving the right information for the right people. If you work hard to help Google do that by providing valuable information in your content, you will gradually help your website rank for your keywords.
  • 71. November 2021 71 The text is organically placed in the body of the content and is not forced. Additionally, the internal page that the anchor text is linking to is also relevant, not only to the topic of the page but also to the anchor text itself. We already mentioned earlier that Google bots use links as pathways to crawl other webpages. If you have a webpage that is ranking well on Google for a target keyword, and you link to another webpage in your website from that webpage, you are able to pass some of the page authority from one webpage to another, thus helping improve the latter webpage in terms of ranking. Step 5. Explore different kinds of content As mentioned earlier, when creating content, keep your target audience in mind. You want to craft content that they will engage with and consume. There’s no point in writing long blog posts and guides if your audience doesn’t have the patience to read through them. And there’s no point in spending time creating videos if your audience finds them juvenile. So don’t be afraid to explore various content formats to see which one clicks. Some of the more common ones include: • Blogs • Long-form articles and news posts • Graphics and infographics • Videos • Podcasts and audio shows • White papers • Guides and how-to’s • Slide presentations Graphics and infographics can be useful in supplementing your long-form blog content, or they can replace them completely – it’s all depending on your audience. Perhaps, from time to time, it’s a refreshing break to have a video roundup that summarizes the most important topics that you have covered in over the past week. Exploring other formats will give you the opportunity to churn out more content, without having to necessarily start from scratch. It also gives your audience something to look forward to, aside from the content you produce on a regular basis. Not only does it help your SEO (as you are creating more valuable content, which you can optimize for search), but it also helps in retaining your audience and building a loyal following.
  • 72. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 72 • Tip 1. Consider creating ongoing features – A blog series that runs on a central theme will help you keep crafting content that’s valuable, relevant, and timely – on a consistent basis. Create a category page for each ongoing feature, so visitors can find all of your blogs and roundups in one place. • Tip 2. Give yourself plenty of lead time when producing more complicated types of content, such as videos and infographics. These often need multiple rounds of edits to perfect and can be more complicated to optimize for search. • Tip 3. Don’t plan too far out in advance – Calendars often get derailed after a month or two, due to changes in marketing goals, budgets, or staff, so don’t try to plan out a schedule for the next year and risk wasting a lot of time and effort. You can do a quarterly content calendar, so as to keep things modular and flexible while also allowing you to see far ahead to plan comfortably. Regularly analyze your content to see what’s working and what isn’t. Good measures of success and engagement include page views, links, comments (on blog posts and some other types of content), social shares (Facebook likes, tweets, etc.), and conversion rates. Your analysis should have two goals: • Study your successes so you can repeat those strategies – Look for patterns. Does your audience love videos? Then make more videos! Adjust your editorial calendar going forward so you can focus more time and effort on the content types that connect with your audience. • Carve out time for updating and improving older SEO content – If you tried to optimize an article for a certain keyword, but it’s getting more traffic for a different variation of that keyword, then go back in and re-optimize it for the new keyword. You might be able to significantly increase traffic by putting that keyword in the title, for example. Step 6. plan an editorial calendar A few tips when creating an editorial calendar: Step 7. Analyze, re-assess, refine Once you have an idea of who you are targeting and why, you can start to build out an editorial calendar. An editorial calendar is a schedule that guides when you will publish new content and what type of content it will be. This will help you stick to a regular schedule (it’s especially important to create new content on a regular basis if you have a blog), as well as prevent you from scrambling to come up with a topic for new content at the last minute.
  • 73. November 2021 73 As we mentioned in the beginning of this document, SEO is a multi-faceted approach. While you should be focused on onsite optimization and content optimization, you should also make sure that your offsite optimization is up to par. Why is it important? Link building Offsite optimization or “offsite SEO” refers to all the activities that you and others do away from your website to impact your rankings within SERPs. “So offsite SEO is link building or getting backlinks?” Yes and no. While building backlinks is an important part of it, offsite SEO involves a wide-ranging strategy of optimizing ranking factors that affect a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority. Even something as simple as leaving a relevant comment on a blog can be considered offsite promotion. Simple. It’s practically impossible for Google to determine the value of a web page if there are no links pointing to it — no matter how useful, fresh, or in-depth the page content might be. Remember that Google bots crawl webpages through links, and that Google itself likens links as positive “votes.” So while it is important to optimize the technical aspects of your website and create amazing content for your webpages, they are virtually invisible and unimportant in Google’s eyes unless there are links pointing to them. And so we move on to the first essential aspect of offsite optimization: link building. Search engines use backlinks as indications of the linked-to webpage’s quality. So a site with many high value backlinks will usually rank better than an otherwise equal site with fewer backlinks. Think of it this way: You are more likely to trust a financial advisor who’s been highly recommended by your close peers, friends, and family, than one whom you’ve never heard of and doesn’t have a track record whatsoever. Google functions in the same way. It looks at “recommendations” – or in this case, the quality and quantity of links pointing to a webpage to – to tell whether or not a webpage is trustworthy, relevant, and authoritative. There are three main types of links, defined by how they were earned: natural, manually built, or self-created links. Offsite SEO
  • 74. endemajfunds.com The Complete Guide to SEO 74 Regardless of how links were obtained, those that offer the greatest contribution to SEO efforts are generally those that pass the most equity. There are many signals that positively contribute to the equity passed, such as • The linking site's popularity • How related the linking site's topic is to the site being linked to • The "freshness" of the link • The anchor text used on the linking site • The trustworthiness of the linking site • The number of other links on the linking page • The authority of the linking domain and page In terms of offsite SEO, manual links are quite valuable as they deliver value to your website without you needing to exert tons of effort. If the website linking to yours receives a lot of search traffic, then there is the chance that some people click on the link to visit your website as well. So not only is the link passing equity to your website but it’s also passing on traffic. Manually built links are valuable as well. In social circles, a linkback to your website in the form of a recommendation is a positive social signal. And research indicates reading online reviews before the physical interaction with a product can help reinforce the confidence of a consumer in a product. So not only is it a positive sign for Google to see a link going to your website, but also a positive vote for actual search users. Content marketing is creating and promoting useful content that also includes specific terms you’d want to rank for. And while it is a laborious and gradual process, it is a way to get links and social shares without the risk of getting penalized by Google for black hat SEO. Content marketing is essentially built on three major steps, which you should build your strategy around: • Natural links are editorially given without any action on the part of a website owner. For example, a famous food blogger that publishes an article on a popular magazine, with a link to a post that points toward their favorite produce farm is a natural link. Natural links are also known as earned links, as they are earned organically and are not a result of deliberate action. • Manually built links are acquired through deliberate link-building activities. This includes things like getting customers to link to your website or asking influencers to share your content. • Self-created links are created by practices such as adding a backlink in an online business directory, forum, blog comment signature, or a press release with optimized anchor text. Some self-created link building tactics tend toward black hat SEO and are frowned upon by search engines, so tread lightly here. Content Marketing + Influencer Marketing
  • 75. November 2021 75 Step 1. Identifying and understanding your linking and sharing audience If you can consistently provide value to smart content creatorsand influencers in your niche, you’ll start to build powerful relationships that will pay dividends as you’re creating content. The first thing you need to do to get traction for your content, is understand who is likely to link to and share your content. There are several tools to help you identify influencers within your niche who might share your content, but BuzzSumo is probably the most powerful one. Doing this will help you identify the influencers or “voices” in your niche that people listen to online, as well as those who actively link back to sources when they create their own content. Secondly, doing this help you understand what kind of content these influencers tend to share and link to. This will give you a contextual base for your content marketing strategy. Find out what their problems are, what types of content they typically share, and start to think about how you can create something they would find valuable and want to share with their audience (who would also find it valuable). As a jumping point, think about what you can do for these influencers. How could you help them with their own projects? What can you do (unsolicited) that would help them achieve their own goals? What is the unique thing that you can offer them that can help them be better at what they do?