Want to get started with SEO or hone your skills? We'll help you understand the basics of SEO and guide you to the top.
Part 1 - What is SEO?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is about optimizing websites to get a good rating from search engines. A good rating, in turn, leads to the website ending up high up in the search engines. Google is Sweden's most popular search engine and accounts for about 90 percent of all searches in Sweden.
SEO is a type of digital marketing that focuses on giving websites a good rating and a top position on Google in an organic way (not through ads).
What affects SEO
There are several things that affect how well a website performs. There are thousands of factors that affect how SEO-optimized a website really is. There are technical and creative elements that influence. Everything from the content of your website to how other links to your website affect SEO. It can also be about how you have set up the structure of your website where a good structure makes it easy for search engines to process the content and index the page.
It's not just about satisfying the search engines, it's about making the visitors to your website appreciate both the content and the structure. With a site tailored to the visitor, you get visitors who stay for a long time and come back, which is something the search engines recognise and reward.
Why should you work continuously with SEO?
- On average, 55 million searches are made through Google every day. If you want any of these searches to lead to your website, it's time to start working on SEO.
- You need to be constantly up to date on how and what your potential visitors are searching for to get them to your site
- Google adjusts its algorithms continuously, which means that something that worked well six months ago may not work now.
Is it possible to SEO-optimize your website yourself?
The answer is yes. It's all about how much time you want to spend on it. If you're interested in doing the pilling yourself, that's fine and there's a wealth of information online on how to do the various steps. It's also possible to do some of it yourself and bring in a digital marketing agency to do the rest, or have an agency do it all. Put it at the level that feels best for your particular business.
Something to be aware of when you want to do a lot of it yourself is that SEO is quite complex and it's not one thing but several that work together. It's also important to keep up with the trends of both visitors and Google's algorithms. As we mentioned above, Google changes their algorithms on a regular basis so something that has worked in the past may not work anymore.
Part 2 - How a search engine works
Before we get into how to optimise your site, we thought we'd tell you a bit more about how search engines work. Knowing how search engines work will also make it easier to optimize your website.
Search engines have two main purposes
1. Find websites and create an index
2. Provide users with relevant suggestions for information sources
Crawling and indexing
As we mentioned above, one of the main missions of search engines is to find websites to create an index, but how does this actually work? In order for search engines to keep all the millions of different websites apart, they need powerful tools and in the case of search engines, these are called spiders.
Google's spiders crawl website after website and then continue crawling the pages that the first pages link to. The spiders work around the clock, but as new pages and content are produced continuously, your website may not be indexed immediately.
Find out if your website is indexed
You can easily find out if your website is indexed or not. Here are two methods:
1. Type your URL into Google's search bar, if your page comes up it means that your website has been indexed.
2. You can also use Google Search Console (one of Google's own analytics tools). In Search Console, type the URL you want to test into the search bar at the top, and you'll know whether your page is indexed or not.
Provide the applicant with relevant answers
The second purpose of a search engine, as mentioned above, is to provide relevant answers to the questions, words or phrases that the user types in.
When a search engine receives a new query, it scans through its vast index of content and uses algorithms to find the most relevant content. The result of the scan is;
1. The user receives relevant suggestions
2. The results displayed are ranked according to the popularity of the websites displayed
SEO exists to influence both relevance and popularity. Relevance is about creating relevant content while popularity is about getting other pages to link to the page being optimised. More on relevance and popularity later in this guide.
Part 3 - How to create an SEO-friendly website
So how do you create a website that is SEO-optimised? We'll start with what's called technical SEO and the basics of a search engine friendly website. Something that might be good to know before we get started is that search engines see a website differently than how you see a website. Search engines are much more limited in how they scan and interpret a website's content. Search engines can only interpret HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) so what is not visible in the HTML code they cannot read. What search engines cannot read are images and Flash files.
Here is an example of what HTML code might look like:
<title>Titeln på sidan</title>
<body>Här står texten som placeras på hemsidan.
For search engines to be able to read what is on the website, the content must be in HTML text format, which works for their spiders.
A website that is more graphical and uses flash filters will be difficult for search engines to find. In order to make a website with a lot of images, videos, sound files and so on visible to search engines, certain measures are needed. We will go through them below:
Give your images an alt text. It's a description of what the image represents and makes it easier for search engine spiders to understand what it represents.
Audio and video scripts
By writing down the content presented in the audio or video file, search engines can take in the information and index the content.
If you want to optimize your content for voice searches, we recommend the blog post Optimizing for voice search and featured snippets
A good link structure makes it easier for search engines to navigate around the website.
As mentioned earlier, Google uses spiders to find and index the web. The spiders start crawling a few pages and then continue with the pages they first link to. So, in order for Google to find all the pages on your website, it is important to link the pages on your website together. So if you create a new page, you need to remember to link to it from one of your existing pages in order for it to be indexed.
The structure of your URLs also affects SEO. When designing URLs, there are a few elements that are important to consider.
By reading a URL you should understand what the page contains.
Use abbreviations such as SEO instead of search engine optimisation where possible.
Include keywords in each URL if possible, but do so in moderation.
- binding stretch
Use hyphens between words to separate them.
- link hierarchy
Using link hierarchy is a way to clarify the structure of a website. The hierarchy facilitates the understanding of the structure by defining each level with an additional extension.
Example of link hierarchy
Part 4 - Keywords
Keywords have long been the focus of SEO. For every search on Google, we use either a keyword, phrase or query. To be found through Google searches, you need to pinpoint the right one. It's about being indexed on the words used in searches.
To find out which words are important for your company to work with, you should do a keyword analysis. The analysis will show you how many people search for each word or phrase each month and how much competition there is for the chosen word. It's all about finding the words that are relevant to your business and then it's a lot of patience and hard work to beat the competition that's trying to compete for the same keywords.
There are several tools available for keyword analysis, including Google's own keyword planner.
Part 5 - User-friendly content
Google's goal is to make it easy for people looking for information to find it. Creating user-friendly content is the key to meeting Google's requirements. So how does Google know if your content is user-friendly? Well, Google gets an indication from how long users spend on your page in the context of different searches.
Turns out that everyone who searches "How do I build a sauna?" and come to your website also stay for a longer time, it indicates that your page has relevant content related to that search phrase.
It's about creating content that users are interested in and usually deeper content performs better. Texts of around 2,000 words have also been shown to perform better than shorter texts.
How to write user-friendly content
- 1000-2500 words
- Keywords in the title
- Click-friendly title
- Maximum length of title 68 characters
- Short paragraphs
- Synonyms are counted in the same way as keywords
- Use related keywords
- Use images and remember alt-text
- Linking internally and externally
- Use bullet lists
Metatags tell you what information you can expect to find if you click on the link from Google.
The meta title is the title that comes up when you Google a specific piece of content.
The meta description can be found just below the title and describes what you can expect to find if you click on the link.
Part 6 - The power of links
Google spiders use links to find their way around but also to determine the power of the page. If a page with a good SEO ranking links to a page with a weaker ranking, the better page can boost the weaker page's SEO.
Here we list three methods to attract links
If you have good content, the chances of someone else wanting to link to your page and your content increase. This type of link is naturally provided by other websites and what is required of you is good content.
It is possible to guest blog on someone else's website, usually in exchange for a link to their website.
Another way to create power through linking is to ask suppliers or partners to link to the website. This is rarely a problem, just ask.
Part 7 - Track and Measure
To succeed in SEO, tracking, measuring and analysing results are some of the most important elements. In our work with SEO, it's largely about tracking a lot of data in order to make the right decisions going forward. Something that worked well in the past may not work as well today or vice versa. It is important to be constantly up to date with the latest in order to optimise the website for the best possible results.
Why is it important to measure, track and analyse?
Measuring, tracking and analysing is important to help you focus on the right kind of activities. You should spend your time and effort on the activities that generate results. Nowadays, most things can be tracked and measured, which makes SEO work both exciting and fun to work on.
Tools for tracking and analysis
There are a variety of tools available, but below we have listed some of Google's tools that may be useful to know about.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the tool that tells you what is happening on your website when visitors are on the page. What pages do they visit, how long do they stay, what source do they come from, what device do they use, demographics and so on.
- Google Search Console
Google Search Console tells you what's happening before visitors arrive on your website. How do you appear in Google's feed, how many people click through to your page from Google, what type of keywords/phrases are used to get to your page and how high do you rank for each keyword/phrase.
- Google Optimize
Google Optimize is the tool that helps you A/B test your website. The tool allows you to set up variants in parallel with your existing website, on which some of the traffic to the site lands. The adjustments are made in Optimizer so you don't have to go in and change your real website. Once the test is complete, your variants will no longer be visible to visitors. Google Optimize gives you the opportunity to optimize your website based on facts. For example, you can find out if a button that is black or orange gets the most clicks and then make a decision on how to color your buttons.
- Google Tag Manager
With Google Tag Manager, you can easily set up tags to track specific goals that you're interested in following on your website. You set everything up in Google Tag Manager, which means you don't have to edit the code on your website.
You've now gone through our SEO guide for beginners. We hope you will continue to explore the field of SEO in the future. If there's something you're wondering about or need help with, we at Contitude are here for you.