Search engine optimization • Guide for beginners • SEO basics • Optimizing websites for search engines • Keyword research

Search Engine Optimization: SEO – What does that mean?

The abbreviation SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is partial area of Online Marketing.

All technical and content-related activities that improve the ranking of a website in search engines fall into the category of Search Engine Optimization. Classic SEO is primarily focused on the two major search engines Google and Bing.

You should know the following basic SEO Rules

1. A webpage or (or Web page) can only be indexed by a search engine if it has been found and analyzed by a crawler. Web crawlers typically discover a new web page through a hyperlink from an already indexed web page. The crawler's path on the internet is much like a spider's web. This is why web crawlers are also called web spiders.

2. A webpage must be indexed by a search engine in order to appear in the search results (abbr. SERPs = Search Engine Result Pages) for a search query.

3. A webpage must be relevant to a search query in order to rank well. The keyword has to be used in the content of the page and in the Meta Tags.

4. A webpage may be relevant to more than one search term (keyword), and may therefore be displayed in the search results.

5. The relevance of a particular webpage is determined by its content.

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What does content SEO mean?

Content SEO refers to all activities that improve the relevance of a webpage to a specific search query. This includes in particular:

Snippet Optimization: Title Tag and Meta Description

The page title and meta description are the most important meta tags that should be specified for each individual webpage. These two pieces of information are used to briefly summarize the webpage's content. The title and description are displayed as text snippets in the SERPs. They are the first signboard for a webpage. For this reason, the this information should be created individually for each webpage and formulated well.

Practical tips for optimized meta data

  1. Each URL should have a title and meta description.

  2. The title and description should be unique and relevant for each URL.

  3. The title and description should contain the main keyword of the page.

  4. The title should not exceed 55 - 65 characters including spaces. It should be short and concise.

  5. The description may be 140 - 160 characters long including spaces and should be formulated precisely and attractive. If possible, it should contain a clear call-to-action.

  6. The title and description may contain special characters. This allows the snippet to be visually emphasised. However, special characters should be used sparingly, otherwise the snippet may appear dubious.

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Optimization of Headings

Headings are generally used to divide the text of a website into sections. They are usually followed by one or more paragraphs.

For HTML documents, up to 6 different types of headings with different priorities can be used. The main heading of the webpage is marked with <h1>.

Every web page needs to have exactly one 1st order heading.

Headings form hierarchical sections and structure the text of the webpage. Subordinate headings (subheadings) can be defined using <h2> to <h6>. The <h6> heading has the lowest relevance (importance).

The subheadings <h2>, <h3>, … are primarily used to give the page a fixed structure and to break up the text. The <h2> and <h3> headings in particular fulfill this function.

The structure helps the reader to quickly find the way on the webpage. This allows them to recognize important content at first glance.

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Example
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Main heading in H1

Subheading in H2

The headings <h1>, <h2>, … <h6>, and paragraphs (using the <p> tag) are the basic options for the logical structuring of text. Headings are used to organize text. Six different levels (priorities) of headings are possible.

Subheading in H3

The number in the heading tag (<h1> to <h6>) indicates the level of the heading. H1 has the highest relevance and H6 the lowest. For most web pages, three heading types, H1 to H3, are sufficient. The headings H4 to H6 are more relevant for technical documentation and scientific articles.

Subheading in H3

Note that you mustn't skip or omit a heading level. An H2 heading is followed by an H3 heading, but not by an H4 or H5 heading. Placing headings in a logical order on a page makes the text easier to read.

Subheading in H2

Headings divide the text into logical sections. This makes it easier to see the content structure of the page. Headings are even more important in web design than in print media. This is because search engines use headings to rank webpages. Headings should be short and concise. Headings are often not only the first thing people read on your website. They are often the only thing they read.

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Main heading in H1

Subheading in H2

Reading long text without a clear structure can be tiring. Headings break up the text and make it easier to understand. Visual headings stand out from the rest of the content. This change in typeface is not only a welcome break, but also makes reading easier.

Subheading in H4

Headings should structure the text in a logical manner. The text on the page is divided into logical sections by headings in descending order. No heading level may be omitted or skipped. A well-structured website is important for both readers and search engines.

Subheading in H3

The correct use of headings is important. If we think of an HTML page as a book, we need exactly one heading for each page (main heading with H1) and different headings for chapters (subheading with H2) and sub-chapters (subheading with H3). Jumps in the logical order of the headings would damage the logical structure of the webpage.

Subheading in H2

The content structure of the page is emphasized by headings. A good structure of the page is important for the users as well as for the search engines. The requirement for a well-structured page is the use of the correct HTML tags.

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Keywords in Headings

Search engines evaluate the H-tags. So it makes sense to use a keyword in the heading. But not at any cost. A heading should always match the content of the following paragraph. If the page has a logical structure, then it is almost a matter of course that the heading will have an appropriate keyword.

Keyword Density

It is clear that every text has a need for keywords. The keyword density indicates how often a certain term is used in the text. Keywords should not be used too frequently. If a search term is used too often, the text will become difficult to read and the webpage will be devalued by the search engines. A keyword density of 0.5 to 1 percent is sufficient.

It is important to use the keyword in the main heading of the page and once or twice in subheadings. It should also be used in the first 100 words of the body text (i.e., paragraph). It is also a good idea to use synonyms for the keyword you are searching for.

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