Singapore Digital Marketer’s Guide to SEO Basics

seo basics singapore

New to SEO?

Well, the concept itself may appear complex, but that’s no reason to be intimidated by it. Forget about the technical jargon or the sheer volume of the learning materials lined up before you, and there will be nothing left to scare you.

With lots of misinformation flying around, not so often do you come across a SEO guide that lines up everything in clear, digestible chunks. The point is to obfuscate everything and make SEO appear like it’s an incredibly difficult undertaking.

But the truth is, you can be an SEO autodidact, who learned everything on their own, and ended up becoming as good as any self-proclaimed Singapore SEO expert out there.  

What is SEO?

At its core, SEO is all about improving a company’s visibility in the search engine result pages. It’s a concept search engines use to rank web pages based on their value and the degree of usefulness to online visitors.

For business owners, the higher your website appears in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), the more traffic you get, which in the end translates to more sales, reads, downloads, money and so forth.

So SEO is basically about two things: visibility and ranking.

Ranking

A criterion used by search engines to determine where to place a web page in SERPs.

Visibility

Visibility on the other hand focuses on individual web owners. It’s basically about how prominent individual websites are with regards to the results displayed by search engines.

If your site registers high visibility, then that goes to show it’s very prominent in SERPs. Low visibility on the other hand is a clear indication of unpopularity. It’s the confirmation that your website or that particular web page you’re on isn’t very prominent in SERPs.

How Search Engines Operate

Search engines work to make sure those keying in their queries are presented with the best possible results from what’s constantly fed into the internet system.

They simply don’t care how much a particular site craves for that top spot in the search engine. All they care about is that their users are able to find relevant information whenever they hit them with their queries.

That’s partly the reason businesses pay to advertise on search engines. They know people use them on daily basis, so they pay to secure a top spot. But there has to be a strike of balance between what’s relevant and what’s paid for, so search engines, particularly Google, uses a special formula that combines SEO score and ad payments to determine one’s ranking in SERPs.

Meaning, a site cannot outrank its competition by solely banking on paid advertisements. Google’s first priority is with the experience of the users its serves. If they’re satisfied with the results they get, they’ll keep using the search engine. So they have to find a way to both make a profit and, at the same time, serve them with relevant content. That’s where things get a little complicated.

Web Crawlers or Spiders

Web Crawlers or spiders are the automated robots that go around scanning billions of world’s interconnected documents across the web. Their job is to index them, based on a number of ranking parameters, including keywords and backlinks.

Search engines are also involved with keeping updated records of almost all existing web pages online. It also has to develop a clear understanding of what’s inside each one of them.

They’ve therefore adopted a massive web pages indexing system. With this, search engines can easily identify and organize every single content filling up the net, by drawing a connection between the keywords people query into their search bars and the type of content web owners feed into the internet system.

But that’s NOT all, considering not all type of content is the same in terms of quality, originality, and usefulness. This is particularly the case when a number of articles are covering the same topic. To ensure a search engine user is presented with the best of the content they can find first and exponentially so to the least relevant content, search engines list the links in order of relevancy.  

Keep in mind that all this is handled by machines, as there will never be enough people to read through all the content filling up the internet. Plus people can’t just be trusted.

Search engines are able to determine what constitutes good quality by looking into several factors, all of which can be objectively measured by their machines (read Google algorithm).

Ranking Factors

Ranking factors determine the order to be followed in listing web pages based on their perceived quality degrees.

Google and any other known search engine uses these factors to determines one’s rank in SERPs.

They include:

Backlinks

As of now, links are considered one of the most important ranking factors, next to keywords. That’s because every time your site receives a link from an authoritative site, signals are right away send to search engines alerting them that there’s something of value being linked to.

And when scores of sites are all linking up to one particular website, that goes on to show the site is high value.

get google ranking ad

But as far as backlinks go, not all links are considered equal — with spam links earning you a link score of almost zero, if not negative; and links from authoritative sites earning you the top-most score.

Web Age

Older websites are generally considered more trustworthy. They therefore stand a better chance of being considered authoritative compared to new ones.

Keywords

Search engines are mostly concerned about delivering the most relevant search results to online people using their services. They first have to scour the net for all results relating to any given query, before sorting them out on matter of relevancy and finally presenting them in SERPs.

One way search engine tell if a piece of content is relevant is by looking for related key words. If your content has a stack of keywords relating to the keyed-in search term, then there goes another reason to rank it higher.  

Mobile Responsiveness

Google made it clear a few years ago that it will also be using mobile responsiveness as one of their ranking factors.

Makes sense, considering majority of online users access the internet via their mobile devices. Now imagine a scenario where one searches Google only to be presented with jumbled up pieces of the best content floating around.

The same way an unresponsive website hurts your fragile feelings as a user, is the same way Google wants it to hurt your ranking as a web owner.

Page Speed

Makes sense as well — the internet is made up of impatient people. We want faster internet speeds because we don’t want to waste another precious second of our time waiting for a site to load.

Now imagine your reaction when you find out that the bulk of the results presented by Google load like molasses. 

Behaviour Data

Google tracks people’s behaviour to exactly figure out what it is that they want. Ever searched Google and opened up one of the results presented, but only to end up backtracking immediately after opening one of the pages and realizing it wasn’t what you were looking for?

Well, Google got that… and it reacted by offering something totally different with subsequent Google searches.

It’s a Wrap

SEO is an extremely wide topic to ever grasp it all in one read, regardless of the number of hours you’re willing to put in. This introductory part only covers the tip of the infinite iceberg. It clearly paint’s the big picture though. For more clarification and advanced understanding of SEO and how it is done, then consider reaching out to a company like MediaOne for help.

Author Bio

Tom Koh is widely recognised as a leading SEO consultant in Asia who has worked to transform the online visibility of the leading organisations such as SingTel, Capitaland, Maybank, P&G, WWF, etc. Recently he was instrumental in consulting for a New York-based US$30B fund in an US$4Bn acquisition. Tom is a Computational Science graduate of the National University of Singapore. In his free time he performs pro-bono community work and traveling.
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December 30, 2018

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