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SEO – The 10 golden rules of search engine optimization

search engine optimization

The importance of SEO for your website

Search engines are the key to making customers aware of your products and services. Very few internet users go directly to your page, but you can find it via a Google query. From personal experience, users know that search results on the first Google page are clicked almost without exception, subsequent pages are often neglected.

Table of Contents

  • What is SEO?
  • safety
  • loading time
  • mobile
  • reachability
  • URLs
  • Title tags
  • Meta descriptions
  • headlines
  • Content
  • Backlinks
  • Conclusion

What is SEO (search engine optimization)?

What does SEO actually mean? SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization – one of the most important and established methods in online marketing. The term summarizes a variety of measures and strategies that should have a positive impact on the relevance of the website for search engines such as Google. With a well thought-out SEO strategy, among other things, better rankings for search queries can be achieved, which in the long term ensures more traffic and better prospects of a customer conversion.

Getting into the top 10 positions in Google searches is no coincidence. The algorithm from Google, but also any other search engine such as Yahoo, Bing or Yandex, evaluates the relevance of all indexed websites worldwide to match the search query. On the first page, the most relevant search results are displayed based on a wealth of criteria. The aim of search engine optimization is to design a website according to these criteria and to improve the ranking sustainably.

Demarcation SEO & SEA: these are the differences

A search engine – we will stay with Google in the following – usually provides the user with two types of result after entering a search term: first, the organic search results, and second, the ads that match the search term. The advertiser has to pay Google for the ads – with every click a price determined via an auction mechanism is due.

For organic search results, Google’s algorithm delivers the web pages that he thinks best match the search term entered and displays them as the search result. The operator of the website does not have to pay Google for this.

Why is SEO important?

Search engines and Google in particular are the gateway to the Internet. Many users have set Google as the home page of their browser, and almost all online sessions start with a search query. For website operators, this means that even the greatest website with the most useful content is wasting potential if Google cannot find it. And for commercial providers, business success depends crucially on the placement in the organic search results – the higher up, the better, but definitely on the first page. Because as the saying goes: The best place to hide a body is on page 2 of Google search results.

The different areas of SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) can be divided into different areas:

  • Keywording: This is about determining the most important key terms (keywords) on which the website should then be optimized.
  • Technical SEO: This is all measures that ensure that the Google algorithm can read and understand the content of the page.
  • Onpage SEO: This affects the components that are implemented directly on the page: For example, meaningful meta information, internal links and enriching the page with multimedia content (such as videos) ensure a better ranking.
  • Mobile SEO: More and more people are accessing the Internet with mobile devices such as smartphones. It is therefore important that the website is optimized for mobile display.
  • Editorial content: The Google algorithm recognizes better and better whether a page offers useful content for the user. Therefore, high quality content is a must.
  • Offpage SEO: This is primarily about external links. The number and quality of externally linked pages can have an impact on the organic ranking.
  • Voice Search SEO: More and more users make their search queries by voice. Voice Search changes search behavior and places new demands on a website. Voice Search SEO relies on content and technical optimizations for voice search.

Important SEO KPIs

KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator, in German: key performance indicator. The success of SEO measures can be measured using the KPIs. These are the most important key figures:

  • Clickthrough rate (CTR)
  • Keyword ranking
  • Loading speed
  • Search engine traffic
  • Bounce rates
  • Time spent on the page

The goals of SEO

The goal of search engine optimization is to bring more visitors to the website to be optimized via organic search from Google and Co., so to speak to improve the Google results. In order to achieve this goal, the status quo of the KPIs should first be determined in order to then improve them via targeted SEO measures.

Essential SEO tools and software

Special tools and programs can be helpful in achieving the SEO goals, for example:

  • Sistrix: Determines the visibility of the website, among other things
  • Ryte: Provides, among other things, detailed analyzes of the status quo of a website and relevant on-page measures
  • ScreamingFrog: Checks the page using a crawler and provides helpful data such as external links, meta keywords or server and browser errors
  • SearchConsole : Provides many error reports and status of the website directly from Google
  • Keywordtool.io : helps with keyword research
  • PagespeedInsights: Analyzes the loading speed of a page and helps with optimization

The following 10 golden SEO rules are just as helpful as the use of these tools:

SEO rule 1: ensure security

In the meantime, websites with SSL encryption have become a fixed standard, which must also be taken into account when it comes to search engine optimization. People also take this for granted. A site with an SSL certificate clearly says something about the site operator, namely that he has the topic of security on his screen. Take a look at this screenshot: s confirmed HTTPS as a ranking signal since 2014and meanwhile Google Chrome even shows the following: “The connection to this website is not secure”. Would you trust such a website? Probably not. If you haven’t already done so, make sure you switch to HTTPS, preferably sooner rather than later. Incidentally, Google sees it the same way and could punish your SEO efforts by downgrading your rankings and thus organic visibility due to the lack of security on your website. Here you can read in the morefire blog exactly how to change your website to HTTPS .

SEO rule 2: PageSpeed ​​optimization

People don’t like to wait, nor do search engines. Every user expects a fast loading page and will be disappointed if this expectation is not met. And here it is similar to Google: why waste valuable resources on slow pages? With a slow website you risk the success of your SEO work. The following points should be observed and checked regularly:

  • Eliminate resources that block the rendering of your website
  • Postponing invisible images (offscreen images that appear below the fold)
  • Reduced load on the main thread (saving time by reducing parsing, compiling and executing JavaScript)
  • Provide modern image formats to enable faster loading of the images

You can get a first overview with the “PageSpeed ​​Insights” tool :

The advantage of this tool is that you get clear instructions on how to improve the speed of your website. If necessary, a lot more information about the respective PageSpeed ​​aspects can be called up.

As with PageSpeed ​​Insights, the “TestMySiteWithGoogle” tool provides an overview of the most important PageSpeed ​​aspects of your website. This tool also provides recommendations for the optimization of your PageSpeed. You can also have a free report sent to you here, which summarizes the analyzes and recommendations.

The third tool that you can use for a first PageSpeed ​​analysis is the tool “WebPageTest.org . Particularly important: Take a close look at your competition. If your competitors have faster websites, they have a clear advantage when it comes to search engine optimization. More information about faster websites can be found here or here .

SEO rule 3: optimize mobile presentation

How important the topic “Mobile” is in connection with SEO should be clear at the latest with the statement that Google takes the step to “Mobile First” and no longer wants to differentiate between desktop index and mobile index. Tool providers such as SISTRIX also follow suit and analyze a special visibility index for mobile devices. Therefore, you should be prepared for it and ideally be mobile-optimized right from the start of a new website. The “MobileFriendly” tool tests your website for mobile optimization.

Rules of thumb for good mobile usability and thus SEO basics are:

  • Fast loading time
  • Recognizable font sizes
  • “Sausage finger” operability
  • Sufficient space between the different side elements

If, in addition to search engine optimization, you also want to deal a little more with the topics of mobile and usability, we recommend that you take a look here in our blog .

SEO rule 4: make content accessible

People are supposed to find certain content, so make it as easy as possible for them. Here, too, search engines like Google want the same thing again. Ensure a clean information architecture and a flat hierarchy of your website, because this definitely has a positive effect on your SEO results. In practical terms, this means:

  • Share content with search engines
  • Make every content accessible with 3-4 clicks

As banal as it sounds, check whether your website is even approved for search engines. Often it is enough to put a small tick or forget and the page flies out of the Google Index. Keyword: noindex.

A so-called “site query” on Google can help:

The 77,000 results shown here in the example correspond to the number of pages that are in the Google Index. If this number differs roughly from the number of pages that you have stored in your CMS or shop system, then you should go one step further and crawl your entire website. Crawling means using a tool to try to follow every link on your website. With a crawl you can also find out the click depth of your website, i.e. how many clicks your content can be reached. A very good and inexpensive tool (for websites under 500 pages even completely free) for crawling a website is the so-called ” Screaming Frog SEO Spider “:

If you find that most of your content can be reached on average with more than 3-4 clicks, you should optimize your internal linking. A good example of internal linking with regard to SEO is a typical Wikipedia article, which links to other important content within the same website:

A flat hierarchy and a well-structured information architecture through internal linking increases the chance of successful search engine optimization and thus for happy visitors many times over. By the way, here you will find further practical application tips for the Screaming Frog SEO Spider from the morefire blog .

SEO rule 5: use clean urls

The most important thing here is that you use “speaking” URLs. So-called speaking URLs consist of readable words or keywords instead of long ID numbers or cryptic characters. The advantage from an SEO perspective is the higher click-through rates within the Google results, which describe exactly what the searcher can expect on the website. In order to operate search engine optimization successfully, you should adhere to the following rules in addition to speaking URLs:

  • Keep your URLs as simple and short as possible
  • Use keywords
  • Avoid special characters
  • Use the minus sign as a separator
  • Use only lower case
  • Do not use noise words

So this could be a URL that is appealing to the user and at the same time SEO-compliant:

If you want to deal with SEO-friendly URLs in more detail, we recommend that you take a look at the MOZ blog .

SEO rule 6: optimize title tags

Among the more than 200 different SEO ranking factors at Google, the HTML title tag still plays an extremely important role in the search engine optimization of your website. You can see the title tag of your website either in the browser, in the source text or in the Google search results.

Optimize the title tag of your website as follows:

  • EVERY URL should have an individual title
  • The keyword should be as far in front as possible, ideally directly in the front
  • The title should consist of no more than 70 characters
  • The title should animate the user to click

Example of a good title tag that encourages the user to click:

If you would like to simulate what certain SEO snippets look like in Google search results, we recommend that you take a look at the SISTRIX Snippet Generator .

SEO rule 7: optimize meta descriptions

In contrast to title tags, meta descriptions are not visible to visitors to your website. The HTML meta description can only be seen in the source text or in the Google results. Although meta descriptions have no direct influence on your SEO ranking, they should be maintained individually for each individual page of your website. The reason for this is that search engines display the meta description within the search result lists. With an optimized meta description, you can therefore directly influence the click rate in the Google results in order to attract more visitors to your website. An indirect ranking factor, so to speak, when it comes to search engine optimization and the organic visibility of your website.

The following rules apply to meta descriptions:

  • At least 80 characters, maximum 150 characters including spaces. If you exceed this value, Google simply cuts off the meta description and replaces the last characters with (…).
  • Keyword at the beginning of the first 80 characters and ideally again within the second 80 characters. The keywords are highlighted in bold in the search results.
  • Write for promotional and informative. Also use a clear call to action to have a positive impact on the click rate within Google results.
  • Use special characters to draw searchers’ attention to your snippet. As always, the same applies here: don’t overdo it, otherwise we will have spam!

Example of a good meta description that encourages the user to click:

As with the title tags, we recommend working with the SISTRIX snippet generator for the meta descriptions .

SEO rule 8: optimize headings

After the visitors clicked on their SEO snippets within the Google results, the user has finally reached your website. As with usability and speed, it is now about meeting its expectations. The first point of orientation is the heading. It is important to stick to the hierarchy of h1 – h6. Logically, the most important heading comes in h1, the least important in h6. It is important to note here that you only use as many levels as it makes sense for the corresponding element. In practice, h3 is often sufficient as the last level. Follow the rules below and it will work equally well with users and search engine optimization:

  • Consistent with title tag and meta description
  • Short and memorable
  • Informative
  • Use keyword

A good example of a user- and search engine-friendly heading is, for example, this one from the SEO tool manufacturer SISTRIX :

SEO rule 9: Provide content with added value

Since Google is (still) primarily a text-based search engine, the first step is to write texts that keep the user on the website. So keep the following rules in mind when writing to be successful in SEO:

  • Every text should be unique on the web.
  • Each text should offer the user added value.
  • Structure your texts sensibly.
  • Address your visitors directly and use an identifying language with “we” and “us”.
  • Describe in your content how you can help your visitors. Avoid sentence modules like “We are the best …”, but write something like “… this is how we help you with …”.
  • Last but not least: Include the appropriate keywords in your texts. Under no circumstances should you struggle with any key figures, such as keyword density. Write texts that are easy to read for your visitors so that they stay on the website long enough to complete the contact form or buy your product.

So the content of your website shouldn’t be all about you as a company. Instead, focus on your potential customers, deliver content with know-how and added value! And so that your page does not degenerate into an unsightly text desert, it is just as important to provide additional content for your visitors in addition to good texts. So offer your visitors more than just your products. Provide studies, e-books, checklists, white papers, videos and other content with clear benefits and added value.

SEO rule 10: earn backlinks

If you have followed all nine previous SEO rules, it should be no problem to have your content linked from other websites. Because Google evaluates such a link (also called backlink) as a recommendation. Websites that have more good recommendations than others are logically classified as more relevant and generally have better SEO rankings. When it comes to backlinks, however, the following applies very clearly: quality over quantity. A link from a reputable and well-visited website is worth more than 100 links from flimsy rather dubious websites. If you try to promote your content by referring other websites, ask yourself the following questions when cho