SEO Search Engine Optimization written on chalkboard with arrows to related things such as website, ranking, backlinks, keywords, site architecture, content, traffic and data analysis

Dominate Google Rankings: What is the First Step in SEO with the new Google SGE?

Dominate Google Rankings: What is the First Step in SEO with the new Google SGE?

What is the first step of SEO?

To answer what is the first step of SEO, we first need to explain what SEO is. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a critical component of online marketing. It’s a strategic, methodical process designed to enhance a website’s visibility on search engine result pages (SERPs). Essentially, SEO is all about making your website more attractive and comprehensible to search engines, which in turn, can lead to higher rankings, increased visibility to potential customers, and, ultimately, better business outcomes.

SEO is not a single, monolithic concept but a diverse array of techniques and tactics, all contributing to the ultimate goal of improving your website’s SERP rankings. These techniques encompass multiple elements, including keyword optimization, content creation, link building, and technical website optimization.

  • Keyword optimization involves researching and strategically using relevant keywords in your website’s content, meta tags, and other elements to increase its visibility for those terms in search engines. These keywords are the search terms that users enter into search engines when looking for products, services, or information. By incorporating these keywords strategically into your content, you can help search engines understand what your website offers and match it to relevant user queries.
  • Content creation, another crucial aspect of SEO, goes hand-in-hand with keyword optimization. Creating high-quality, valuable content that appeals to your target audience and satisfies their informational needs is central to effective SEO. Your content should be original, engaging, and enriched with your target keywords, providing real value to your audience and making your website a go-to resource in your field. This not only attracts more visitors but also encourages them to stay longer and interact more with your site, sending positive signals to search engines about your site’s relevance and value.
  • Link building is another critical element of SEO. This involves getting other reputable websites to link to your site, thereby vouching for its quality and relevance. These backlinks are considered votes of confidence by search engines and can significantly boost your site’s rankings. Furthermore, internal linking, or linking your own pages together, helps search engines navigate your site, understand its structure, and index its pages, which can also contribute to improved rankings.
  • Technical SEO deals with the backend of your website, ensuring that it’s easily crawlable and indexable by search engines. This includes optimizing your site’s speed, ensuring it’s mobile-friendly, creating a clean URL structure, implementing a clear and efficient site architecture, and more.

Each of these elements, when combined and executed effectively, helps search engines understand your site. This will lead to higher rankings, more web traffic, and increased conversions. However, it’s essential to remember that SEO isn’t a one-time task but a continuous process that requires ongoing monitoring, tweaking, and refinement to stay effective.

In the ever-evolving world of the internet, where search algorithms constantly change and user behavior continually shifts. By understanding and implementing effective SEO strategies is more important than ever. This guide will delve deeper into each of these aspects of SEO, offering insights and strategies to help you optimize your website, improve your SERP rankings, and achieve your business goals. Before we learn “What is the first step in SEO?” I want to take a moment to discuss the new Google AI, let’s dive in.

Embracing Google’s AI-Powered Search: The Future of SEO

In 2023, Google introduced a groundbreaking AI-powered search update that fundamentally changes the way we interact with search engines. Dubbed the ‘Search Generative Experience’ (SGE), this feature leverages Google’s advanced Large Language Models (LLMs) to generate ‘AI snapshots’—comprehensive, AI-generated summaries of search queries that appear at the top of the search results.

The AI snapshots pull information from across the web, providing users with detailed, corroborated answers to their questions. More importantly for us, these answers directly reference the sources of information, putting authoritative and high-quality content in the spotlight. As content creators and SEO specialists, we need to understand and adapt to this transformation. Our content is no longer competing just for the top spot in a list of blue links—it’s competing to be referenced and validated by Google’s AI in the coveted AI snapshot.

The implementation of SGE poses new opportunities and challenges for SEO. One of the key aspects to focus on is the creation of comprehensive, well-structured, and authoritative content. Google’s AI is designed to break down complex queries into smaller questions, source answers from across the web, and combine these into a single, cohesive response. This means that our content needs to be rich and detailed enough to be identified and referenced by the AI when it generates these responses.

Long-form content plays a significant role in this new landscape. Comprehensive articles, guides, and posts that delve into a topic in depth have a higher chance of being sourced by Google’s AI. This is because they can provide the extensive information the AI needs to answer various sub-questions related to a complex query.

Furthermore, the credibility of our content is paramount. Each sentence in the AI snapshot is corroborated with sources, meaning that the information we provide needs to be trustworthy and reliable.

That said, the introduction of SGE does not spell the end for traditional SEO strategies. Keywords, backlinks, and user-friendly site design remain crucial. But we need to view them through a new lens—one that recognizes the growing influence of AI in shaping the search experience.

While the new Google AI search update represents a significant shift in the SEO landscape, it ultimately reaffirms one of the central tenets of SEO: quality content is king. As we navigate this new landscape, let’s focus on creating content that’s not just SEO-friendly, but also AI-friendly—content that’s comprehensive, authoritative, and valuable to users.

Remember that these are still early days for Google’s AI-powered search. The technology is experimental and will likely continue to evolve in the years to come. It’s crucial for us in the SEO field to stay updated with these changes and adapt our strategies accordingly. As SEO practitioners, we are no strangers to evolution and change—it’s what keeps our field exciting and dynamic. Let’s embrace this new chapter with the same spirit of adaptability and innovation that’s always defined our work. 

With that being said, let’s dive into the first step in SEO.

2. SEO Evaluation: The First Step in SEO

Before you embark on the journey of optimizing your site for search engines, it’s vital to understand your current SEO standing. This initial evaluation or baseline setting is incredibly crucial as it provides valuable insight into what aspects of your SEO strategy are already working and what needs improvement. It’s like a health check-up for your website, allowing you to diagnose any issues and plan targeted treatment to enhance your site’s performance in search engine rankings.

There are numerous SEO tools available that can assist you with this evaluation process. One of the most widely used is Google Search Console, a free tool that provides insights into how Google views your website. It offers a range of valuable data, including what keywords your site is currently ranking for, how much organic traffic you’re receiving, the status of your site’s indexing, and even identifies technical issues that may be hampering your SEO performance. It’s like having a direct line of communication with Google, helping you understand how the search engine interacts with your site and where improvements can be made.

In addition to Google Search Console, there are other tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, Moz, Screaming Frog that can also aid in your site’s SEO evaluation. These tools offer comprehensive site audits, allowing you to delve into the nitty-gritty of your website’s SEO health. They can track your rankings over time, monitor your backlink profile, analyze your on-page SEO, and help identify opportunities for improvement. By using these tools, you get a detailed and holistic view of your website’s SEO performance, which can guide your optimization strategy moving forward.

One of the critical aspects you need to check during this evaluation phase is crawlability. In simple terms, crawlability refers to a search engine’s ability to access and crawl through all the text content of your site to understand what your site is all about. It’s the initial step in the SEO process – if search engines cannot crawl your website pages efficiently, they can’t index them, which can severely impact your visibility on SERPs.

Issues like broken links, dead ends, and poor site architecture can hinder crawlability, making it difficult for search engine bots to navigate your site. Tools like Screaming Frog can be particularly useful in identifying these issues, providing a roadmap of your site’s structure and highlighting any pages that might be difficult for search engines to access.

In addition to crawlability, your site’s indexability is another crucial factor to check during the evaluation phase. Indexability refers to whether a search engine can include a page in its index. While crawlability issues can affect indexability, other factors like meta directives (noindex, robots.txt disallow) can also prevent pages from being indexed. Ensuring that your important pages are both crawlable and indexable is key to achieving good visibility in search engine rankings.

An SEO evaluation isn’t just a one-off task but should be a regular part of your SEO strategy. It can help you keep track of your site’s performance, identify any issues early, and provide a guide for your ongoing SEO efforts. With the right tools and a systematic approach, you can gain a deep understanding of your site’s SEO health and pave the way for effective optimization.

3. Keyword Research and Optimization

In the realm of SEO, keywords play an integral role. These are the actual terms and phrases that users type into search engines when they’re looking for information. By understanding and leveraging the right keywords, you can tailor your website’s content to meet the needs of these users, increasing the likelihood of your site appearing in their search results.

The process of identifying these keywords is known as keyword research, and it is an essential step in your SEO strategy. This involves understanding your target audience, their search behavior, and the keywords they use when searching for the products or services that you offer. This data-driven approach ensures that your content aligns with the needs of your audience, leading to better engagement, higher rankings, and increased conversions.

Keyword research often begins with brainstorming. Think about the topics that are relevant to your business and then break these down into potential keywords. For example, if you’re a bakery, relevant topics might include “bread”, “cakes”, “pastries”, and so on.

However, it’s important to remember that not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords might have high search volumes but also high competition, making it difficult for your website to rank for them. On the other hand, long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific, might have lower search volumes but also less competition, making them easier to rank for. Understanding the balance between search volume and competition is a key part of keyword research.

Once you’ve identified your keywords, it’s time to optimize your website for them. This involves incorporating these keywords naturally into your website’s content, including in the title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and body content.

Keyword optimization isn’t just about quantity – it’s also about quality. Overloading your content with keywords, a practice known as “keyword stuffing”, can lead to a poor user experience and can even harm your SEO. Instead, aim to use your keywords naturally and contextually, focusing on creating content that is valuable and informative for your readers.

Finally, keep in mind that keyword optimization isn’t a one-and-done process. The keywords that users search for can change over time, as can the competitive landscape for those keywords. Regularly reviewing and updating your keyword strategy is an essential part of maintaining your SEO performance.

Keyword research and optimization are foundational elements of SEO. By understanding what your target audience is searching for and tailoring your content to meet those needs, you can improve your website’s visibility, drive more traffic, and ultimately, increase conversions. Now let’s find out how quality content ties in.

4. Creating Quality Content

“Content is King,” as the saying goes, and nowhere is this more true than in SEO. High-quality, relevant content is one of the most powerful tools you have for improving your search engine rankings. It engages your audience, helps to establish your authority in your field, and provides search engines with the information they need to understand what your site is about.

Creating quality content starts with understanding your audience. Who are they? What are they interested in? What problems are they trying to solve? By understanding your audience, you can create content that speaks directly to their needs, interests, and challenges.

Next, you must consider your keywords. These are the terms that your audience uses when they search for the products, services, or information that you offer. By incorporating these keywords into your content, you can help search engines understand what your content is about and how it should be indexed.

However, it’s not just about stuffing your content with keywords. The search engines of today are sophisticated enough to understand the context of your content, so it’s important to use your keywords naturally and in a way that adds value to your readers.

Quality content is also about depth and breadth. Rather than creating a large number of shallow articles on a wide range of topics, consider focusing on a smaller number of topics and going into more depth. This can help to establish your authority in your field and provides a more valuable resource for your readers.

Moreover, strive to create evergreen content – content that stays relevant and valuable over time. This kind of content tends to rank higher in search engine results and can generate traffic to your site for months or even years to come.

But creating quality content is only half the battle. Once your content is created, it’s crucial to present it in a way that is easy for both your readers and search engines to navigate. This involves creating a logical structure for your content, using headers and subheaders to break up your content, and linking between your pages to help users explore your site.

Images, videos, and other forms of multimedia can also enhance your content, making it more engaging and appealing to your readers. However, it’s important to remember that search engines can’t “see” images in the same way humans can. Therefore, it’s important to use alt tags to describe your images, helping search engines understand what they’re about.

Another key aspect of content creation is regular updates. Search engines favor sites that are regularly updated, as this indicates that the site is active and providing fresh content. This doesn’t mean you have to create new content every day, but you should aim to add new content or update existing content on a regular basis.

Lastly, remember that quality content should also be shareable content. Social media shares can contribute to your site’s visibility and traffic, and they can even influence your search engine rankings. Encourage your readers to share your content by including social share buttons and making your content easily digestible and shareable.

Creating quality content is a fundamental aspect of SEO. By focusing on your audience’s needs and interests, using your keywords effectively, and presenting your content in an accessible and engaging way, you can improve your search engine rankings and drive more traffic to your site. Now let’s take a look at the technical side of things.

5. Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for the crawling and indexing phase. It’s about improving the infrastructure of your site so that search engines can read and interpret your site effectively. Without proper technical SEO, all your other SEO efforts may not yield the desired results.

Responsiveness and mobile-friendliness are two critical aspects of technical SEO. With the rise of mobile search, Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing, which means that Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk losing visibility in mobile search results, which could significantly impact your traffic given the growing number of mobile users.

One way to test the mobile-friendliness of your website is by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool. This tool can help you identify any issues affecting your site’s mobile usability and provide recommendations on how to fix them.

Another essential aspect of technical SEO is your site’s loading speed. Speed has been a ranking factor for some time now, and with the introduction of Google’s Core Web Vitals, it’s become even more critical. Slow-loading websites offer a poor user experience and can hurt your rankings.

To test your page speed, you can use tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix. These tools not only provide a speed score but also give detailed insights into what might be slowing your site down and how you can fix it.

Ensuring clean and concise code is another crucial aspect of technical SEO. This involves removing any unnecessary or redundant code and ensuring that your HTML is easy for search engines to parse. The structure of your URLs also matters; simpler URLs with clear, concise structure and keywords are easier for search engines to interpret and users to understand.

Moreover, secure your website with HTTPS, the secure version of HTTP. HTTPS ensures that the data between your website and your users is encrypted and safe from interception. Google has confirmed that HTTPS is a ranking signal, so securing your site can also help improve your rankings.

Lastly, use canonical tags where necessary to deal with duplicate content issues. Duplicate content can confuse search engines and lead to a situation where they might not know which version of a page to rank. Canonical tags can help you indicate to search engines which version of a page they should consider as the primary one.

In summary, technical SEO is about making your site easy for search engines to crawl and index. By ensuring that your site is mobile-friendly, fast, secure, and free of technical errors, you can improve your visibility in search engine results and provide a better user experience. Remember, SEO isn’t just about content and keywords; the technical health of your website is equally important. Now let’s take a look at the next, and arguably the most important ranking signal, link building.

6. Link Building and Domain Authority

Links are the lifeblood of SEO, and they play a crucial role in improving your website’s visibility in search engines. Think of links as votes of confidence from other websites; when a site links to your content, they are essentially vouching for your credibility, and search engines take this into account when ranking your site.

Inbound links (also known as backlinks) are particularly valuable. These are links from other websites pointing to your content. High-quality backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites can significantly boost your rankings, as they signal to search engines that your content is valuable and trustworthy.

However, not all links are created equal. Links from high-authority sites carry more weight than those from low-authority sites. Also, context matters; links from sites that are closely related to your industry or topic are typically more valuable than links from unrelated sites.

Building a strong link profile is a long-term process that requires strategic planning and execution. Here are some tactics you can use to build high-quality backlinks:

  • Content Creation and Promotion: Create unique, high-quality content that people will naturally want to reference and link to, and tell people about it. You can’t just build great content and expect people to find it – you have to be proactive.
  • Guest Blogging: Guest blogging is another effective strategy for earning high-quality backlinks. It involves writing posts for other people’s blogs. In exchange, you usually get a link back to your site in the author bio or within the body of the post.
  • Public Relations: Another effective way to earn high-quality backlinks is through public relations. This can be as simple as sending your content to relevant influencers or bloggers in your industry, or as complex as running a full-fledged PR campaign.
  • Broken Link Building: This strategy involves finding broken links on other websites, creating content that matches the broken content, and asking the site owner to replace the broken link with a link to your newly created resource. Use a tool like Ahrefs for this.

Keep in mind that while these strategies can help you acquire backlinks, they should be used with discretion. Google’s guidelines prohibit manipulative link-building tactics, and violating these guidelines can result in a penalty that could significantly hurt your rankings. To go more in depth check out SEO Expert Matt Diggity’s Link Building company Authority Builders Co.

In addition to building backlinks, you should also focus on developing your domain authority. Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.

Improving your Domain Authority is a long-term process that involves creating high-quality content, improving your internal linking structure, and removing bad or toxic links. Remember, the goal isn’t to achieve a perfect Domain Authority score but to use DA as a comparative metric against other similar or competing websites.

Link building and developing your domain authority should be integral parts of your SEO strategy. While it can be a time-consuming process, the benefits in terms of improved visibility and traffic can be substantial. Remember, SEO isn’t just about what you do on your site; it’s also about how the rest of the internet perceives your site. The more high-quality links pointing to your site, the better your chances of ranking high on search engines.

7. SEO and Content Strategy: Hand in Hand

SEO and content strategy are two sides of the same coin. They go hand in hand in creating a successful online presence. While SEO involves technical aspects like site structure and keyword optimization, content strategy focuses on planning, creation, delivery, and governance of content.

SEO and content strategy intersect in several ways:

  • Keyword Research and Content Planning: Keyword research is an SEO activity that informs content strategy. By identifying the keywords your target audience uses, you can plan your content around these topics. This approach ensures your content is relevant to your audience and has a good chance of ranking in search engines.
  • Content Creation and SEO: When creating content, SEO should be front and center. This includes incorporating keywords naturally, using header tags, writing compelling meta descriptions, and optimizing images. Well-optimized content has a better chance of ranking higher in search engine results.
  • Content Promotion and Link Building: Once your content is live, promoting it can help earn backlinks, which are vital for SEO. This could involve sharing your content on social media, reaching out to influencers in your niche, or guest blogging.
  • Content Analysis and SEO Audits: Regularly analyzing your content’s performance and conducting SEO audits can provide insights into what’s working and what’s not. You can then refine your content and SEO strategies based on these insights.

If you want to succeed in the digital landscape, you need to invest in both SEO and content strategy. And here’s where a content calendar comes in handy.

A content calendar is a tool that helps plan, organize, and schedule your content. It can help ensure consistency, which is key for both your audience and search engines. A well-maintained content calendar can help you:

  • Plan Ahead: A content calendar helps you plan your content in advance. This can help ensure you have a steady stream of content, which is important for SEO and audience engagement.
  • Maintain Consistency: Consistency is key in content marketing and SEO. A content calendar helps ensure you publish content consistently, which can help improve your SEO and keep your audience engaged.
  • Coordinate Efforts: A content calendar helps coordinate your content efforts across your team. This can help ensure everyone is on the same page and can reduce duplicate work.
  • Track Performance: A content calendar can also help track your content’s performance. This can provide valuable insights that can inform your content strategy and SEO efforts.

A successful SEO strategy requires a solid content strategy, and vice versa. While SEO can drive traffic to your site, your content is what keeps visitors engaged and encourages them to convert. By investing in both SEO and a robust content strategy (including maintaining a content calendar), you can increase your site’s visibility, attract more visitors, and ultimately, achieve your business goals.

Taking the Leap: Harnessing SEO Power with the Right Tools and Expertise

The world of SEO may seem complex and improving your ranking takes time, but remember, every journey begins with a single step. Take that first step today, and begin the journey towards enhancing your website’s visibility and ranking.

2 thoughts on “Dominate Google Rankings: What is the First Step in SEO with the new Google SGE?”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *