What does SEO 1

Search engine optimization (SEO): definition, meaning, first steps, sub-areas, tools, training, technical terms

You are interested in the topic SEOor.Search engine optimization. Then you are exactly right here. In this post you get all the important information on the topicSEO. This article focuses on the classic search engine optimization for Google, Bing & Co. and is updated regularly. The current status is February 2021.

Table of Contents

Search engine optimization short SEO is a method in online marketing to improve search engine findability. The abbreviation SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In the last few years it has been with Search Experience Optimization also enforced a second meaning. In classic search engine optimization, between Onpage SEO and Offpage SEO differentiated.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of search engine optimization is as follows:

Search engine optimization, or Englishsearch engine optimization (SEO), describes measures that serve to ensure that websites and their content in the organic search engine ranking(Natural Listings) appear in front seats. By consciously influencing the placement of websites, images, videos or other content on search engines, their reach should be increased. The optimization includes all different types of searches such as image, video or news searches.

With regard to Google SEO, a distinction can be made between search engine optimization for the individual vertical indices or databases on Google and according to end devices:

  • Classic SEO
  • Image SEO
  • News SEO
  • Voice Search SEO

 

What is the difference between SEO, SEA and SEM?

Search engine marketing (SEM) as an umbrella term for SEO and SEA

SEM is the abbreviation for Search Engine Marketing in German Search engine marketing. Globally, there are two different definitions of the term SEM or. Search engine marketing enforced. Some mean by search engine marketing or SEM only paid advertising in search engines, while others define it as a generic term for SEO and SEA or search engine advertising in German search engine advertising.

We at Aufgesang follow the second definition because it makes more sense to us.

 

SEM (Search engine marketing) consists of the elements SEA (Search Engine Advertising), in German Search engine advertising, also as Keyword advertising designated and SEO (Search Engine Optimization), in German search engine optimization. SEO deals with the organic search results, while with SEA one means the paid text ads in search engines.

More about search engine marketing (SEM).

 

The importance of search engine optimization (SEO)

The importance of search engine optimization (SEO) as a sub-discipline of online marketing has increased steadily over the past 20 years. This also shows the interest and demand for SEO in the form of the increasing number of search queries.

According to the agof study digital facts, search engines are the most frequently used digital application, even before email.

As a product search engine, Google has just had to surrender large market shares to e-commerce platforms such as Amazon since 2010, which are the most important product search engines today and have therefore overtaken Google in the preference phase of the customer journey for potential B2C customers.

Importance of search engines in content distribution

People who search for information online have various options to start research. Here are a few options:

  • Google, T-Online search, Web.de search (all based on the Google index)
  • Bing, AOL search (all based on the Bing index)
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon
  • Youtube
  • XING
  • Voice search or digital assistants (Alexa, Google Now, Siri, Cortana ...)

A large part of the searches for information is currently still carried out on Google and the video search engine YouTube, but product search engines such as Amazon or the digital assistants have grown significantly in recent years.

On the other hand, companies have to consider where their target groups are looking for information or where they can reach it with their content.

The importance of SEO in content distribution cannot be determined across the board, as it depends on many factors, where which touchpoints should be set in what intensity and quality for the content distribution.

The following factors can play a decisive role:

  • Branch
  • Content format
  • Is it push or pull content?
  • Goal definition
  • target group
  • Current thematic domain authority
  • Current brand popularity, authority and reputation
  • Current reach of your own social media channels
  • Current reach of your own e-mail distribution list

Still, there are some clues that search engines like Google and / or social networks like Facebook prioritize.

Study by Statista, source: https://de.statista.com/infografik/9572/versorgung-des-referral-traffics-nach-themen/

I think there are certain pillars for content distribution that make sense in most cases in the distribution mix. This is easy to find on Google & Co., i.e. SEO in combination with selected elements from content promotion, content outreach and content seeding. The exact mix then results from the factors mentioned above.

In most cases, just one channel or instrument will not work because there is always at least one important component missing to prepare or complete the goal closure.

More on the topic of content distribution in the article Content Distribution: The Art of Systematic Distribution of Content in Content Marketing

Why is search engine optimization so important?

Search engine marketing and especially search engine optimization (SEO) ensures a visible positioning in search engines such as Google. Search engines are still the linchpin in getting information from people around the world. Especially when researching knowledge on certain topics such as health, product tests and evaluations, science, business, finance, sports ... Google & Co. are the most important starting point for information.

Search engines like Google play an important role, especially in the first phases of the customer journey.

7-step customer journey model by Aufgesang

Using search engines, potential customers can be approached early on in the customer journey for pre-purchase research. But potential customers with a specific interest in buying are still doing research on Google & Co. to find suitable providers.

This means that SEO and SEA play a very important role in the (online) marketing mix.

Diversification in modern SEO

In most cases, SEO means the optimization of findability on the world's most popular search engine, Google. You can do search engine optimization, but also for all common search engines such as Bing, Baidu, Yandex or alternative search systems such as Amazon, XING, jameda ...

In addition to Google SEO, other sub-disciplines of search engine optimization have developed over the past few years.

  • Youtube SEO
  • Amazon SEO
  • App SEO

However, the effects on business success through SEO for Google are currently the greatest for most business models.

In terms of diversification, one should also keep an eye on other search engines relevant to one's own business model when optimizing search engines, in order not to let the search engine monopoly from Mountain View become too dependent. More on this in the article Why Google, Facebook & Co are not allowed to be the core of the marketing strategy.

 

The following SEO tips are best practices in search engine optimization and can be quickly applied by anyone without paying tools.

If you answer the following basic questions first, you can be sure that you have already considered the most important points right from the start:

  • Will my website appear in Google search?
  • Am I offering quality content to users?
  • Is my company location visible on Google?
  • Can users access my content quickly and easily on all devices?
  • Is my website safe?

Checking the URLs indexed by Google

To find out which URLs of your own domain you can use the search operator site: deinedomain.de. Simply enter this site query into the Google search bar and almost all URLs for your domain that are currently indexed by Google will be displayed.

 

site query on google

If an important URL is not in the index, it could be for the following reasons:

  • The website is not sufficiently linked to other websites.
  • You just published the website and Google hasn't crawled the page yet.
  • The structure of the website makes it difficult for Google to effectively crawl the content of the page.
  • Google received an error message while trying to crawl your website.
  • Your robots.txt is blocking Google from crawling the website.
  • The meta robots tag noindex prevents indexing.

Google usually finds new content automatically and you don't have to actively report it to Google. In exceptional cases or because the new or updated content needs to be indexed quickly, you can request (re) indexing via the Google Search Console under URL check.

Help search engines crawl your content

Most search engines crawl the Internet and individual websites primarily through links. Therefore, you should make sure that you have sufficient links to important content. The more links externally and internally refer to your content, the more likely it is that the crawler will find them and gradually crawl them again. An (XML) sitemap is a crawling aid for search engine bots. An XML sitemap can be reported via the Google Search Console and / or stored in the htaccess file (only for Apache servers).

Use keyword research to find important searches

With the keyword planner from Google you can find relevant search queries for your business and your target groups in order to create the corresponding content. Don't just think about the most obvious keywords that are directly related to your product or service. In their research, people often go through a customer journey or customer journey in which they often first google for general topics or tips.

Use important keywords in the page title, meta description and content

To make it easier for Google to interpret your content, you should use the most important keywords for the respective document in the following elements.

  • Page title
  • Description
  • headlines
  • in the first paragraph of the text

Create quality content

The following points should serve as guidelines in order to create high-quality content and to classify or increase the quality of the content:

  • Would you trust the information in this article?
  • Was the article written by an expert or enthusiast who is familiar with the subject? Or is the content rather general and not written in detail?
  • Does the website have duplicate, redundant, or overlapping articles on similar topics with only slightly different keyword variations?
  • Would you trust this website with your credit card information?
  • Are there any misspellings, stylistic or technical errors in the article?
  • Did the topics and articles come about because of the real interest of the readers of the website or just to be found more easily for some key words?
  • Does the article contain original, self-created content, own reporting, self-conducted tests or collected analyzes?
  • Does the article offer significant added value for the user compared to other content in the subject area, which can be found on the first search results page?
  • How good is the quality control of the article / website?
  • Does the article deal with both sides / aspects of the subject?
  • Is the website a recognized authority on this topic / subject area?
  • Does the website content suggest mass production or outsourcing (large number of different authors)? Is the content of the website distributed over a larger network of websites or also published elsewhere? Does the feeling arise that articles on this website are not getting enough attention or care from the author?
  • Has the item been prepared with care or does it seem sloppy and hasty?
  • If it is a health-related search query, would you trust the information in this article / from this website?
  • Would you rate the website as an authority / authoritative source of good information just hearing its name?
  • Does the article provide a full or comprehensive description of the subject?
  • Does this article contain insightful analysis or interesting information that goes beyond the obvious on the subject?
  • Would this article be worth it for you to bookmark it, share it with friends or recommend it to others?
  • Does this article have an excessive amount of ads that are distracting or annoying when you read it?
  • Would you expect or could you imagine that this article would be published in a newspaper, an encyclopedia (e.g. Wikipedia) or in a book?
  • Are the articles on the website (too) short, meaningless or omit helpful information that could make the content special for the reader?
  • Have the articles on the website been created with great care and attention to detail?
  • Would users complain if they found content on this website?

Be consistent in the signals in search engine optimization

Make it easy for Google to identify the most relevant content for a keyword / topic within your domain. Avoid too much content on the same keyword / topic. With the search operator-query combination site: deinedomain.de intitle: keyword you can find out which URLs that could be. Then think about whether it makes sense for the user to make all these different contents available. If not, merge them into one document or delete outdated or irrelevant content. Use identical or similar link texts when linking content internally and externally and avoid inconsistent use of link texts in any case. Always link a keyword to the same URL and not to several.

Draw attention to your content

Distribute your content e.g. via social media, email ... or make it easy for users to do this. With a little luck, these will be picked up and linked by multipliers such as journalists, bloggers, authors ... More on the topic of content distribution in the article Content Distribution: The Art of Systematic Distribution of Content in Content Marketing

Optimize the search engine snippets

The search engine snippets are the showcase for your content on Google / search engines. Make them chic with relevant page titles, meta descriptions and the use of markups for rich snippets. More about it here.

Meet the search intention of the search query in search engine optimization

When planning, designing and creating content, make sure that the purpose of the content matches the search intention of the keyword. More on this in the article Identify Search Intent, Search Intent & User Intention

 

Overview: To dos in search engine optimization

Typical tasks of tactical SEO aretechnical optimization to improve crawling and indexing thatImprovement of user behaviorContent optimization and parts of theLink building or theOffpage optimization, insofar as these can be controlled in a scalable manner.

Overview: SEO tasks / measures in search engine optimization with Aufgesang

SEO measures in technical search engine optimization

  • Page speed analyzes
  • SEO audit
  • Relaunch support
  • Establishment and optimization of structured data

 

To dos in search engine optimization with regard to content

The following measures are part of the daily tasks of an SEO in relation to content optimization:

  • Snippet Optimization: Page Title, Decription, Rich Snippets
  • Landing page conception regarding UX and CRO
  • Content audits
  • TF-IDF analyzes
  • Creation of text briefings
  • Content competition analysis
  • Topic research to uncover W-questions
  • Keyword research & analysis

SEO measures regarding navigation and information structure

The following measures are part of the daily tasks of an SEO with regard to the navigation structure:

  • Internal link analyzes to ensure consistency and optimization of internal links
  • Keyword and topic mappings for meaningful classification of content in the information structure of the website

Measures in the offpage search engine optimization

In addition to the goal of inheriting PageRank and Trust via backlinks, the goal of off-page optimization is the creation of co-occurrences from your own brand + topic / keywords in external media and in search queries. The following measures are part of the daily tasks of an SEO in relation to offpage optimization:

  • Accompaniment of linkbaits as part of PR work
  • Accompaniment of marketing measures that can affect the link, co-occurrences of brand name + topic and search behavior for the brand.
  • Proactive link acquisition
  • Offpage competition analysis
  • Link building planning
  • Link source research
  • Measures for penalty removals
  • Detox link analyzes
  • Analysis of broken links

What are the important tasks of an SEO manager?

In the following I have summarized the most important tasks of an SEO manager. In the article SEO Tasks: What Does an SEO Manager Do? you will find a detailed description of the SEO tasks.

 

This section describes the most important sub-areas of SEO:

  • Onpage SEO
    • Technical search engine optimization
    • Content SEO
    • Optimization of the navigation and information structure
  • Offpage SEO

What is offpage SEO?

Offpage SEO includes all measures that can lead to an improvement in keyword rankings. Offpage SEO comprises the following areas:

  • Link building
  • Optimization of broken links
  • Improvement of the co-occurrence of search query patterns from "own brand name + topic / keyword"
  • Optimization of co-occurrences in external media (other websites, social media ...)
  • Optimizing brand popularity by increasing the search volume for your own brand
  • Promotion of brand mentions (brand names) in external media (other websites, social media ...)

Offpage SEO can strengthen individual documents as well as improve authority and trust at the domain level in the sense of E-A-T.

What is content SEO?

Content SEO includes all activities that improve the relevance of a document to specific search queries. These include:

  • Snippet optimization (page title, description, rich snippets)
  • TF-IDF optimization to improve the semantic context of a content
  • Optimization of headings
  • Featured snippet optimization
  • Optimization of the usability of the content (jump labels, content design ...)
  • Keyword research & keyword analysis
  • SERP analyzes
  • Topic research

Technical SEO to optimize crawling and indexing

Technical optimization is a typical task area in tactical search engine optimization. Technical SEO ensures the smooth recording (crawling) of content and storage (indexing) of content and guarantees fast and smooth use of the websites.

Crawling is the first step of a search engine such as Google to discover content. This is done using so-called bots or crawlers that search the Internet for content. The bots follow links, domains and URLs and react to entries in the Search Console or the Chrome browser. As a second step, the content is prepared for indexing. This process is called parsing. Then the indexing follows. In a fourth step, the indexed content is displayed as it is the user. In addition to the html, CSS and Java Script are also executed. This process is called rendering.

Overview: crawling, parsing and indexing on Google

 

Technical SEO is used to optimize technical errors on the website, to ensure barrier-free crawling and indexing by search engine bots and users.

Here are some of the most common technical errors:

  • Incorrect entries in the Robots.txt
  • Wrong status of the redirects (302, 307 instead of 301)
  • Crawling and indexing of content that is not relevant to search engines
  • Bad internal linking
  • Non-SEO-compliant use of Java Script for important content

Crawling control, indexing control and website hygiene are important tasks in technical SEO

Sub-areas of technical search engine optimization include the following:

Crawling control

Crawling is the basic requirement for indexing on Google, but should still be viewed differently from indexing.

Google allocates a different crawl budget to each domain according to certain criteria.

The crawl budget is made up of the Crawl rate limit and the Crawl demand.

The crawl rate limit is determined by

  • Loading time. For a page that loads quickly, the Google bot can take more connections to crawl the page. In other words, more content can be crawled in parallel.
  • Number of error messages: A domain that generates a lot of error messages will have a lower crawl rate limit, since proportionally less content is of interest to the Google index.
  • The crawl rate can also be reduced manually using the Search Console.

Crawl demand is influenced by:

  • Popularity of the URL: URLs that are very popular, i.e. are often accessed via the search results, are crawled more frequently.
  • URLs that are updated frequently are also crawled more frequently to keep the index up to date.
  • Change of the url
  • Domain transfer

Other factors that can influence the crawl budget are the quality of the content and the benefits for the visitor. These include e.g.

  • Facet navigation and session URL parameters that are common in shops
  • Duplicate content
  • lots of soft 404 pages
  • hacked pages
  • Low quality and spam content

Crawling control is an important issue, especially for large websites> 10,000 URLs. For smaller websites, the crawling budget on the part of Google is usually sufficient to record all relevant content.

  • Optimization and maintenance of the robots.txt
  • Masking of internal links to prevent crawling, e.g. via PRG patterns
  • Use and optimization of sitemaps
  • Use of certain http status codes

A nice video on the subject of crawling:

Indexing control

  • Monitoring and control of the pages indexed by the search engines
  • Provision and maintenance of an XML sitemap
  • Control of the indexing by Meta Robots specifications noindex or index, e.g. to avoid duplicate content
  • Avoidance of duplicate content through the use of canonical tags

Site hygiene

  • Monitoring and elimination of 404 error pages and accessibility of the URLs
  • Monitoring and optimization of forwardings

Technical SEO to improve UX

Optimizing user behavior includes all measures that can improve common user signals. E.g.

By 2021, the following factors had an impact on the ranking in relation to user experience (UX):

  • The website is mobile-friendly
  • Page load speed (Pagespeed)
  • https encryption
  • possible disruptors such as pop-ups or too much annoying advertising

From 2021, Google will consider factors such as web vitals as factors for the ranking and combine them to flow into the signals for the page experience as a ranking factor.

Core Web Vitals are:

  • Loading time. The Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) metric measures the perceived loading speed and marks the point in the page loading timeline at which the main content of the page was likely loaded.
  • Time to interactivity. The Firt Input Delay (FID) metric measures responsiveness and quantifies the user experience the first time they try the page.
  • Visual stability. The Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) metric measures visual stability and quantifies the extent of the unexpected layout shift of the visible page content.