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SEO 101 - Search Engine Optimization

SEO 101 for developers

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. I feel like it was originally one of many components that made up the world wide web but now, it is the key factor that defines the very existence of a website. Yes, SEO is a factor that determines the number of potential visitors to a website/webpage. In this article, we’ll discuss briefly what and how to get started with SEO.

Meta tags

If I ask you to read a story and summarize it to me in a few lines you would but, can a computer do it?. It cannot without some fancy artificial intelligence tech. So, we have our content/website ready and we expect search engines to somehow magically understand what topic and context to show up as a first result. To fix this, we use a certain HTML (HyperText Markup Language) tag known as meta tags that hold metadata, they are a set of tags, and each one exists for various reasons. Believe it or not, these one-line tags form the pillars of Search Engine Optimization.

The H1 Tag

The main heading or the first line of most pages will be a <h1> tag, the content between these tags defines the topic or theme of a particular page and we must make sure our page heading conveys what we need to.

<h1>SEO for beginners</h1>

Title tag

The <title> tag has the same functionality and purpose as the <h1> tag, but this can let search engines know what our page contains. This also forms the text for the link on Google search results that we click hence, it should be short and crisp.

<title>SEO for beginners</title>

Meta Description tag

This tag isn’t for the users but it is for the bots and machines to summarize what a page contains and it shows the summary of our article on the search results page and other social platforms. In most cases, users might read this short description and decided whether to navigate to our website. Important keywords must be present in the meta description tag.

<meta name="description" content="SEO is a very important factor to determine a website's ranking, it is really important that we take care of it as this determines the number of visitors.">

Meta Image

In simple words, this is the thumbnail image we get when we share links of a website on any social platform like Twitter. This tag is actually more important than we think it is as the users are more likely to click on the link with an image than the one without. Images also show up in image search results and can drive more traffic to our page.

<meta property="og:image" content="https://path_to_image">

There are more tags in this category for more customization and can be platform-specific too so, we have so far discussed some of the most important and essential SEO tags.

Testing your SEO Score

We can use the lighthouse to check the SEO score of a page, it also suggests the fixes needed. If you are new to SEO and don’t know where to begin, addressing the lighthouse warnings might be a good place to start.

lighthouse seo score

Next Steps in your SEO journey

Readable content

Do keep in mind that SEO is entirely dependent on readable content i.e purely in the form of the text so whatever a webpage may contain leaving all the media like images, audio, and video a search engine can read and acknowledge only readable content in the form of headings, paragraphs, plain text.

Content is King

There will always be new changes to the way search engines rank our pages, it is said that Google uses around 200+ factors to determine the ranking factor however we can’t just keep finding hacks to satisfy all of them instead we can just focus on quality content first. Nothing beats content when it comes to SEO as the ultimate goal of search engines is to make sure the users get good quality content they need.

Remember: there’s always more to SEO

This SEO part is getting more complex and competitive day by day with the boom in digital marketing and people constantly keep finding new ways to rank better and sites spend thousands of dollars on SEO experts and tools that specialize in analyzing our competitor’s websites and what can we do to rank over them.

Bonus: Common hacks for better SEO

Some of the most popular hacks for SEO, I have used most of them and I’ve got some good results.

  • Latest content > outdated content
  • Add rich media like images and video
  • Numbers in titles generate more clicks
  • The longer and more descriptive the content the better ranking
  • Images should have alt text which might help with discoverability
  • Accessible and Optimized website for speed also determines the ranking

So, what are your plans for enhancing SEO in your next project?