Search engine optimization (SEO)

Practical SEO Guide: Actionable Tips to Win SERPs in 2021

If you want practical SEO tips that you can implement rather than just read, then this practical SEO guide is for you. In this beginner’s guide to SEO, you will find answers to all your burning questions about:

  • What is SEO, and how it works
  • Why SEO is so complicated
  • How Google ranks sites
  • How to do SEO for website step by step

After reading this blog, you will know how to do SEO without tapping on any black hat SEO practice.
So let’s begin!

Why do You Need to Understand SEO?

There are only a few words in the world of digital marketing that are as buzzed and enigmatic as SEO is.

Google gives a very simple definition of SEO in its SEO guide:

So as per Google, SEO means:

The process of optimizing your web pages to rank higher on search engine result pages against a searget higher rankings by paying Googlech query.

According to this definition, we can say that:

SEO leads to site optimization that leads to a higher ranking.

Wao, it’s so simple, right?

Well, it isn’t.

Pick up any practical SEO guide…

…and you will get bombarded with many technical jargon and complex processes.

After reading all these terms for the first time, the LAST THING that can come to your mind is:

SEO is not easy.

On top of that, there is a huge pool of online information about SEO that you start feeling choked.

So what can you do to understand this oh-so-important but the err-so-complicated world?


Find a guide that answers your question: 

How do you do SEO practically? (Ehm… Like the one you are reading right now (Congrats! You reached the right spot.)

But before we dig out this practical SEO guide 2021, let’s find out a thing or a few (if you don’t already know) about SEO.


Why is SEO So Complicated?

You already know what is SEO (we began our blog with it).

And to be honest, if you talk about the definition of SEO, it really ends in a line.

But when you start decoding this one line and everything surrounding it, you realize:

Oops! You have been ditched. 

So as this search engine optimization guide promises to give you a reality-based, practical idea about SEO, so let’s come to the real point:

What makes SEO so complicated?

You might be thinking it is because of all the complicated terms we discussed above.

Yes, it is one of the reasons, but not the only one.

Here are a few other reasons that tell why SEO is such a dense world?


REASON # 1: Ever Changing Google’s Algorithm

Here is the definition of Google’s algorithms:


In simple words:

Google algorithms are the criteria Google considers to define the ranking of a site.

But the thing is that these factors are way too COMPLEX.

Algorithms are made up of many factors.

Here is what Google says about the working of the search algorithms.


Besides being a complex process, Google rolls out many algorithms every year.

Some of them are major, while others are minor.

And with this amalgamation of major and minor changes, fulfilling the parameters of these algorithms become difficult.

Wait, there is another wave in this turbulent stream.

In the above image, you can see that the guide has mentioned a few factors, like:

  • The nature of the query
  • Relevance
  • Usability of pages
  • Expertise of source
  • Location
  • Settings

But that’s just a small chunk of the big pie.

Google has not disclosed other parts of the pie.

Yeah, the solve the puzzle scene is on here.

So it is difficult for SEOs to keep track of algorithms against which they are fighting.


REASON # 2: No Clear Road to SEO Success

It is no more early days of SEO when you need to have only a few things to rank.

  • Backlinks – irrespective of their quality
  • Content – just quantity, no quality
  • Keywords – stuffed like crazy

Now, you don’t have a clear and straight road to do SEO.

There are so many twists and turns. And you have to move on all these twisted roads to achieve the ultimate success.

No matter how smart you are, there is a huge possibility that you might get entrapped into this maze before reaching the endpoint.

You need to burn the midnight oil, shed sweat, and lose some brain cells to make things work for you.

REASON # 3: SEO is Time Consuming

SEO is a slow process.

Unlike PPC advertising or SEM marketing, you can’t get higher rankings by paying Google.

What happens in SEM marketing is that:

  • You pay search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to make your advertisements appear in the search result.
  • And your advertisement starts appearing at the top of the search rankings.


But that’s not the case with SEO.

Even if you haven’t done many experiments on your website and you are doing all things right, you still need 2-3 months to rank for a keyword.

And this time increases to an unpredictable period if your website has seen the blow of experiments and it has low authority.

So it is evident to feel confused and lost and make little blunders in this lost situation.

Now you know why SEO is so complicated, and looking at these reasons, we can say that SEO will remain this way forever (seemingly!).

We are the ones who need to learn things to cope up with this situation.

In this quest to make the right turns, let’s find out how Google works.


How Does Google’s Ranking System Work?

We have already discussed that Google has well-defined algorithms to determine the ranking of a site.

But before implementing those algorithms on any content, another focus question is:

How does Google know that a page exists in the online world?

It means that Google’s ranking process is divided into two parts:

  • What Google does when content is uploaded
  • What Google does when a relevant query is generated

That is what Google says about its process:

The first part includes two steps:

  • Crawling
  • Indexing

The second step includes ranking that is further divided into three steps:

  • Understanding the query
  • Matching your content with the generated query
  • Determining the rank


When you write content, that’s what Google does with it:


# 1: Crawling

The first step begins with Google’s effort to understand your content.

When you launch a new website, upload fresh content, Google sends its crawlers/bots to understand your content.

Google’s crawlers land on a web page, read it, and then go to other pages for crawling.

Now you may ask how does Google know that new content has hit the web and it should crawl it?

There are three ways:

  • First Way: Google has already visited the site before, and it keeps a check on it to see if new content is uploaded
  • Second Way: It has followed the backlink from a known site to the new site
  • Third Way: You submitted a list of pages for Google to crawl

So it is very important that Google first DISCOVERS your content.


# 2: Indexing

Once Google’s bots have discovered your content, it is time to register it and add it to its inventory.

How much time does Google take to give out a search result?

Only a fraction of a second.

How does it only take such a short time to give out the result?


Every page is in its inventory – handy. Close to it!

Obviously, if Google will not have any content in its pocket, it will not be able to show it on SERPs.

After all, Google isn’t a magician (it really isn’t; trust me!).

In simple words, if crawling is discovering, indexing is ACKNOWLEDGING.

Google first understands 5Ws and 1Hs of discovered content.

It helps Google to have a deep and concise knowledge of content.


# 3: Ranking

Next, it is time to rank a site on SERPs.

The ranking process starts the moment a searcher generates a query.

  • Google understands the query, i.e., understands the user’s intent.

  • It matches the query and present sites in its inventory.
  • Uses algorithms to find the relevant and the best possible results from its collection.

So now you know how Google works. But the next question is:

How to please Google to work in your favor?

Or: how to improve SEO to rank higher on search engines?

Here are simple SEO tips and tricks to boost your rankings.


Practical SEO Guide to Optimize Your Website for Google

Pick up the beginner’s guide to SEO or professional guide to search engine optimization, both of them will categorize SEO into three basic types:

  • On-page search engine optimization
  • Off-page search engine optimization
  • Technical SEO

On-page SEO is the process of considering, incorporating, and maintaining different quality and optimization factors on a webpage so that:

It becomes worthwhile and relevant for Google to rank higher.

Off-page SEO means to take actions outside your webpage to make it the best choice for Google to rank it on SERPs.

Technical SEO means taking care of the technical aspects of a website so that Google can crawl and index your website easily and properly for ranking.

SEO is a combination of all these three factors.

Let’s find out how these factors and everything included in them fits into the SEO basics 2021.


STEP # 1: Make an Exhaustive List of Keywords

Keyword research should be the very first step in any SEO campaign.

It paves the way for many other SEO steps.

Like, talk about search intent, quality content production, content optimization, and many others. All are dependent on your selection of the keyword.

That’s why when you are looking to buy SEO services, always check out their keyword selection criteria if you don’t want to throw your hard-earned money down the drain.

But if you want to learn SEO at home, or you are a newbie SEO, you need to know how to select keywords for the SEO strategy.

The problem is:

There is no standard keyword book that searchers use to search their queries.

Different people use different terms to search for a single thing.

For example, if you run a bookstore, people can use terms like…

  • The best book store near me
  • Children books store
  • Cheap book store
  • Affordable bookstore
  • Buy fiction books near me

…to find your business.

It means that if you want to reach your target audience, you can’t just rely on a couple of keywords.

You might miss out on many other target audiences that are using different terms to search for you.

Here are given some methods to find relevant keywords:


#1: Use Google in the Best Possible way

You don’t need any other tool when you have Google in your hand.

Google’s algorithms make things difficult for you. Agree. But when it is about finding the best keywords, Google is your friend.

Type in any related search term and Google starts rolling awesome suggestions.


Scroll down the search result, and you will find some other suggestions in the middle under the title of ‘people also ask’…



…and in the bottom.



#2: Check Out Your Competitors

Check out top-ranking competitors’ target keywords.

Your competitors can be a great go-to place to find the best variants of your target keywords.

You can see that you can find so many variants in just a few paragraphs.

It is a JACKPOT!

But remember that you only have one focus keyword (also called primary keyword).

(Yeah, all keywords can’t be tagged as the primary keywords. You will not be able to optimize like this)

Even if you have a HUGE list of keywords, you need to find your primary keyword.

So the question is:

How to select the best keywords for your content?

You can measure keywords based on two parameters:

  • Search volume
  • Competitiveness

Search volume means how many people are using it and how much traffic does it drive.

Competitiveness means how hard it is to rank for the keyword.

Don’t worry. You can use different keyword research tools, like SEMRUSH, to find both these factors.

You can make a list of the best keywords based on their related metrics.

Once you have the keyword’s list, you get a strong foundation to make your SEO castle.


STEP # 2: Dig Out Users’ Search Intent

Forget about those search engine optimization guidelines that jump on to content writing before talking about search intent.

This is a practical SEO guide, and SEO in 2021 demands that you should know the ‘why this content’ answer before writing the content.

Google is smart; we all know that. But it has become even smarter as now it tries to dig out the intent of users behind generating a query.

Like, if someone searches for the keyword best pizza, there could be three possible reasons behind it.

  • A: He wants to know the place to buy the best pizza
  • B: He is looking for the recipe to make a fantastic pizza
  • C: He just wants to know about the types of pizzas

See? There can be various reasons for a search.

And now, Google knows it.

So Google tries to understand the purpose of the query and match it with the content available in its inventory.

For example, when you type ‘best pizza’ in the search bar, you get a list of pizza places.

It means that Google’s understanding of the search intent for this query is that someone typing this keyword is looking for the best places.

That’s what you should also do.

Before writing the content, find out why people use certain search terms.


STEP # 3: Create Google-Friendly Content that Searchers Love to Read

You can’t see SEO optimization tips that don’t talk about creating high-quality content.

And they all are right.

If keywords are the foundation, then high-quality content is the lifeline.

But here the deal is:

What is high-quality content?

Is it something that is filled with keywords?

Not at all. It is a crime in the SEO world.

Is high-quality content based on what readers like to read?

Yes, but not entirely.

Is it about writing content for Google?

Nah! But we can’t forget Google either.

You can see that coming up with a perfect definition of high-quality content is not easy.

However, we know one thing for sure:

Killer content is one that satisfies readers as well as feeds Google well.

In fact, Google calls a website Google-friendly when it contains useful and in-depth information for the visitors.


Write content that focuses on making Google as well as readers happy. 


STEP # 4: Place Your Keywords Strategically

You have…

Selected the potential keywords

Understood the search intent

Written the best content

Next, it is time to place the keywords within the content.

Keyword placement is more of a science than a random act.

Where you place your keywords have a major impact on the level of content optimization.

So instead of randomly throwing your primary keyword in the content, put it on the top.

Let’s see if your primary keyword is travel bags, where you should put it.


#1: Title Tag

On-page SEO services begin from the place that takes readers to your page: title tags.

Meta titles inform Google bots what the content is about.

So place your primary keywords in the title tag (preferably in the beginning) to give a quick heads up to Google about your content.


 #2: Meta Description

Besides the title tag, it is better to put your primary keywords in the other part of meta tags: meta description.

Meta descriptions are for the readers as they tell them what they are going to get after clicking the result.

But using keywords in it can make it considerable for Google as well.


#3: Heading

Once you are done inducing optimization punch into the meta tags, it is time to work on the optimization scene within the content.

First things first, add the keyword within the H1 heading.


 #4: Initial 200 Words

Every first thing gets the primary keyword.

So how can we skip the first two paragraphs? We can’t, right?

Put your keyword in the starting 150-200 keywords.


#5: Subheadings

Your primary keyword also looks very cool – to Google – when you put it in the content’s subheadings.

So put it.


#6: URL

So you think that the URL is just your website’s address?


Google’s bots first encounter a site’s URL while selecting it to rank.

Using your keyword in it makes your content relevant to appear in the related search results.


STEP # 5: Make Your Content Link-Worthy

Backlinks are one of the most significant ranking factors (and also one of the oldest!).

But the answer to what types of backlinks matter for organic SEO has changed.

Now you need natural backlinks to make them act as a trustworthy vote for your site.

No backlink can beat the power of high-authority natural backlink.

But earning a natural backlink is more difficult than merely wishing.

That’s why you need to create that extra oomph in your content so that people feel happy while giving it a backlink.

That extra oomph is anything in the content that makes it the link magnet.

It can be:

  • Better content
  • Fresh research
  • New stats and findings
  • Skyscraper content
  • Different concepts

There are many other ways to get good backlinks, but what can be better than creating content that becomes a natural source to attract backlinks?


STEP # 6: Do Internal Linking

Don’t forget to do the internal linking of your webpage while writing content.

Internal linking is different from external linking or backlinking.

It involves giving out links to different webpages on the same domain.

Source: Sistrix

Internal linking might not have any direct relationship with the ranking of a website, but it helps you in two ways:

  • Google bots can easily find content on your website for crawling
  • Transferring authority throughout the website

Obviously, if bots will not crawl your content, it will not get indexed, and if it does not get indexed, it will not show on SERPs.


So internal linking is important if you do it right.

That’s what you should do:

  • Link from high authority pages to low authority pages increases the overall reputation of the site
  • Use keyword-rich anchor text to tell bots what the linked content is about


STEP # 7: Enhance Your Content’s Readability


You have written awesome content.

It matches the user’s intent.

The content is well-optimized with the right keyword placement.

You have also done internal linking.

But your efforts will still flop if your content doesn’t have readability.

Unfortunately, online content has a high bounce rate.

Source: CXL

The reason is simple:

No one likes reading dense content that is hard to read, unpleasant, or difficult to digest.

And once your readers start clicking back, your bounce rate will increase.

It casts a negative impression on Google and can impact your rankings.

So focus on giving the best user experience by working on the readability of your content.

Use bullets and subheadings to break the long log of content and make it digestible.

For example, if you are working on home décor tips, here is what can be the heading structure of your content:

  • H1: Home Décor Tips
    • H2: How Home Décor Improves the Curb Appeal
      • H3: Reason 1
      • H3: Reason 2
    • H2: How to Do Home Décor
      • H3: Tip 1
      • H3: Tip 2

Besides using headings, use easy words that deliver the information straight without the usage of any fluff and heavy vocabulary.


STEP # 8: Pair Your Content With Visual Elements

Now there is a thing like awesome content because visual elements have become an essential part of every content.

It doesn’t matter how amazing content you have written; it will not trigger the fancy of readers because today’s readers want visual elements.

That’s why marketers are using visual content more and more in their content.

So if you are not focusing on visual elements, you might lose your audience and competition of content.

Use infographics, screenshots, images, videos, and whatever it takes you to make your content appealing, readable, and awesome.


Much has been talked about SEO, and more will be said, but the funniest thing is that it is still an enigma and hidden gem.

But this practical SEO guide is designed to make SEO less of an enigma for you.

SEO requires a focus on details and doing things the right way.

It doesn’t mean that you should make your content Google-oriented or reader-oriented.

Your attention should be to provide value, not to make anyone happy.

Once you start doing this, everything automatically starts working in your favor.

There is no short cut and no tricks. Keep on doing things according to your designed SEO strategy, and you will reach the point.

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