Search Engine Optimization (SEO): the Basics

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Toolshero

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is interesting for anyone with a business. Many people navigate the internet via Google and other search engines. Are you looking for a specific product or service? Chances are, that you will use a search engine to look it up. Therefore, it is important for companies to be easy to find. For years, Search Engine Optimization has been a well-known method to get more visitors (and therefore customers). However, SEO techniques have changed a lot over the years.

Do you want to get started with Search Engine Optimization yourself? Or do you want to outsource it, while also having the necessary knowledge yourself? In this article you can read everything you need to know about SEO! For example, we explain to you what impact techniques such as voice search and ChatGPT have had on Search Engine Optimization.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization is the improvement of findability in Google and other search engines. A search engine user searches for a specific term, after which the most relevant results are shown. Naturally, it is important for a search engine to properly filter the results for quality and reliability. If a search engine often shows poor results, users will switch to another search engine. The search engines assess how relevant, reliable and informative a website is based on various factors. We speak of Search Engine Optimization when you improve these factors.

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What are the benefits of Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is a good way to get more traffic to your website. You can also optimize your website for specific search terms, or keywords. By choosing relevant keywords, you can specifically reach your target group. This way, your website is visited by people who are actually interested in your services or products.

Search Engine Optimization also has the advantage that there is no Cost per Click, unlike Google Ads, for example (a Search Engine Advertising solution). Once you have a good position in Google’s organic search results, you will benefit from this for a long time.

Another advantage is that SEO is possible with almost any budget. Do you have a smaller budget? You can then simply focus on keywords with less competition. This means it is always possible to do some Search Engine Optimization, and your efforts will almost always be worthwhile.

Is SEO still relevant?

With the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), many people wonder whether SEO will remain relevant. The answer? Yes, even today many people still use search engines like Google! So, as an entrepreneur you can still benefit greatly if your company ranks high in the search engines.

Of course, there are tools like ChatGPT that are able to answer questions quickly. However, the answers are not always correct. Most people still use search engines when they are looking for in-depth or reliable information. And people who are looking for providers of specific services or products also use Google for this.

The rise of AI has made SEO look slightly different, just like voice search has done in the past. However, that does not change the fact that Search Engine Optimization is still relevant and will probably remain so in the coming years.

How has Search Engine Optimization changed over the years?

Search Engine Optimization has changed a lot over the years. For example, initially it was very easy to manipulate search engines. Did you want to rank on a specific keyword? Then you simply incorporated this keyword into your content as often as possible. For a long time now, such techniques no longer work.

Search engine algorithms are increasingly better able to understand content. It is no longer necessary to literally incorporate keywords into your content if this makes sentences grammatically incorrect. In addition, Google is increasingly able to estimate how reliable and high-quality content is.

Previously, Search Engine Optimization often came at the expense of the user experience. We then spoke of ‘over-optimization’. Nowadays, user experience and SEO go hand in hand. The better the content meets the needs of the user, the easier to find the website generally will be.

How does Search Engine Optimization work?

Do you want a higher position in Google? Then it is important to know the basics of Search Engine Optimization. Google determines which position your website will receive in the search engine based on hundreds of factors. Of course, not all websites are checked manually. Instead, search engines have elaborate algorithms that crawl and index the websites. The better your website is optimized, the easier to find the website will be.

Off-page SEO (backlinks and authority)

As indicated, there are hundreds of factors that determine your position in Google. Many factors relate to your own website. However, a new website will usually not immediately appear at the top of Google. The algorithm also attaches great importance to authority. For example, Google assesses how popular your website is by checking how many backlinks your website receives from other domains. These references are a sign that there is interesting content on your pages.

Off-page SEO includes all optimization techniques that do not take place on your own website, including link building, or acquiring new backlinks to your site. But creating and improving your Google Business Profile also falls under off-page SEO.

On-page optimization (content and technology)

On-page SEO includes all techniques that do take place on your own site. Consider, for example, the technical optimization of a web page, but also the creation and improvement of the content on your website. Your website should be informative, user-friendly and secure.

How do you create good content for Search Engine Optimization?

Content is an important part of Search Engine Optimization. Search engine users are often looking for information. If you want a good position in the search engines, it is important to create quality content. We would like to give you some useful tips that will help you create SEO-optimized content.

Do an extensive keyword analysis

Before you get started with SEO, you first need to know which keywords you want to be found for. Keyword research can give you insight into which search terms the target group uses. This will help you determine which keywords you want to create optimized pages for.

The keywords that are most searched for do not always have to be the best option. There is often more competition for these search terms. Moreover, the more specific the keyword, the higher the conversion rate will often be. It is therefore important to choose keywords based on your budget and the desired strategy.

Ensure the right keyword density

Have you chosen keywords that you want to focus on? Then you can create a new page and fill it with quality content or optimize an existing page. The latter can be interesting if you already have a page that is indexed for this keyword. It is important that there is sufficient information on the page. But it is just as important that the search engines know what the page is about. You can optimize the page by incorporating the focus keyword in the correct proportions.

The percentage of the total number of words that consist of the keyword is called the keyword density. According to best practices, a keyword density of 2-3% works optimally. There are several ways you can use to check whether the keyword appears on the page in the correct proportions. You can do this manually or use tools such as a keyword density checker.

Create informative and valuable content

Avoid writing content purely to rank in the search engines, but make sure that the content is really valuable to the visitor. That is the best way to ensure that your pages score well. Nowadays, anyone can write an article very fast using tools like ChatGPT. But creating truly valuable content remains a challenge. Keep in mind that Artificial Intelligence will always choose a logical answer, so the tool will not go in depth quickly.

We see that Google has also become even stricter in assessing content since the arrival of ChatGPT. AI content is not necessarily penalized, but the content on your website must offer real added value. This means that you can never just copy something indiscriminately. Not even from ChatGPT, despite the fact that there is no copyright on it.

Add images with appropriate alt text

Most people are visual. Is a website only filled with blocks of text? Then this website does not offer the best user experience. And as mentioned earlier, user experience is very important for Search Engine Optimization. So make sure that your website has beautiful images and use appropriate alt text, so that the algorithms also know what can be seen in the image.

Write compelling meta titles and descriptions

In addition to creating quality content, it is crucial to pay attention to your meta titles and descriptions. This is the first point of contact between your potential website visitor and your website, so it needs to make an impression. It must convince you to choose your result over that of someone else. USPs (Unique Selling Points) can be an excellent addition to stand out. Make sure your meta title is no longer than 60 characters and your meta description is a maximum of 160 characters. Please note that these limits may vary in the future, so use a meta length checker to check the current status.

Technical SEO

Without good content it is impossible to obtain top positions in the search engines. Yet content is not the only factor that plays a role. Your website must also perform well technically, as this also has a great influence on the user experience. Moreover, a technically optimized website is also easier for search engines to crawl. Below we list a number of ways in which you can technically optimize your website.

Ensure a good structure

A website must have a clear structure. This makes it easier for Google to assess which pages are important. But it also ensures that users can navigate the website better. When optimizing the structure of your website, you can think of a clear menu, but also of internal links and a sitemap. Sitemaps are files that provide search engines with an overview of your pages and explain what the algorithm should do with them.

Optimize your website for mobile devices

The majority of people today use a mobile device to navigate the internet. It is therefore important that your website performs well on mobile devices. The algorithms of search engines such as Google also attach great importance to this. Is your website not optimized for mobile devices? Then the website will also be found less quickly by people who search Google with a smartphone, for example.

What other technical factors play a role?

There are many technical factors that influence your ranking in the search engines. Even the structure of your URLs affects your findability in Google. And the loading time and the use of the correct HTML tags are also very important. There are many tools you can use to analyze your website. This can be done with Search Console from Google itself.

How has voice search changed Search Engine Optimization?

Over the years there have been several major developments that have significantly changed Search Engine Optimization. Artificial Intelligence currently plays a major role, but in the past voice search, for example, has also had a significant influence. With voice search people often search for specific questions and complete sentences. With a keyboard one is often more inclined to omit prepositions, for example. Since the arrival of voice search, it has become more interesting to focus on so-called longtail keywords.

What does the future of SEO look like?

Search Engine Optimization today looks very different than it did ten years ago. Search engines are getting better at recognizing good and reliable content. With the developments that Artificial Intelligence has undergone in recent years, this process will probably only accelerate.

It is expected that search engines will be even better able to show the best results in the future. Do you want to improve your positions in the search engines long-term? Then we advise you to always put the end user first. That is also what it is all about for the search engines; they want to provide users with the best results.

What can you do about Search Engine Optimization yourself?

In principle, you can do a lot of Search Engine Optimization yourself. For example, many entrepreneurs choose to write their own content. It is also possible to write your own company profile on Google. If you decide to get started with your own SEO, it is important that you are willing and able to take the time for this. Bad backlinks or articles can also have a negative impact on your ranking in Google.

Which tasks are best outsourced?

The technical optimization of your website can be quite complex. For example, do you want to change the structure of your URLs? Then it is essential to also work with redirects. Technical SEO has many more challenges. This not only applies to technical SEO, but also to copywriting and linkbuilding, for example. Also keep in mind that SEO is an ongoing process. If you want to see good results, it is wise to continue to pay attention to this. Do you not have enough time or expertise? Then it is better to outsource certain tasks.

Conclusion

Search Engine Optimization is still very relevant today, and will likely remain so for many years to come. However, SEO has changed a lot over the years and it is important to take the latest developments into account. Since the arrival of ChatGPT, Google’s algorithm has become even better at recognizing quality content.

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It’s Your Turn

What do you think? What is your experience with search engine optimization? Do you agree with the above or do you have any additions? What do you think are other success criteria or factors that can contribute to good search engine optimization?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Google. (n.d.). Creating helpful, reliable, people-first content. Google: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/fundamentals/creating-helpful-content.
  2. Tucker, E. (2024, March 5). New ways we’re tackling spammy, low-quality content on Search. Google: https://blog.google/products/search/google-search-update-march-2024/
  3. Vora, A. (n.d.). Voice search optimization: 6 tips to improve your results. Semrush Blog: https://www.semrush.com/blog/voice-search-optimization/

How to cite this article:
Heinink, K. (2024). Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/marketing/search-engine-optimization-seo/

Original publication date: 05/24/2024 | Last update: 06/17/2024

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Kai Heinink
Article by:

Kai Heinink

Kai is the founder of MarketingCollega, an SEO agency based in the Netherlands. He developed the unique SEO+ strategy, which combines Search Engine Optimization with basic CRO and online branding. With a special focus on e-commerce, they help businesses improve their online visibility, conversion rates, and brand awareness. According to Kai, the most important aspect of modern SEO is to optimize for the website visitor, not for Google.

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