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This blog post includes instructions involving Google—a proprietary, closed-source, web search engine. The author recommends using a free (as in freedom) and open-source search engine like metaGer

SEO Basics: A Quick Rundown

  1. Accessibility
    1. Meta Tags
    2. Semantic Elements
    3. Alt Tags and More
  2. Indexing
  3. Sitemap
  4. Monitoring and Tracking
  5. Content
  6. Summary

Although getting more exposure on the Google-owned web can seem a steep hill to climb, following basic SEO guidelines can dramatically improve discoverability.

Accessibility

A good rule of thumb to follow: if it's machine friendly, it's search engine friendly. An accessible UI is vital to ranking higher on search engine result pages.

Meta Tags

Meta tags define a web page's metadata, and is unique to every page. Search engine crawlers parse meta tags and use them to retrieve basic information.

Value Usage
description A brief description crawlers can pull and serve as a summary to search engine users. This meta tag can house author and illustrator information
google-site-verification A verification tag used in Google indexing. More on this later.
viewport Crawlers look for this tag to confirm a web page is mobile-friendly.
rating Typically, this tag is used to indicate a web page includes adult content and should be filtered by SafeSearch results.
robots A general meta tag used to block crawlers from searching a particular web page.

A full list of all meta tags supported by Google

Any engine-specific tags can be found in its equivalent to Google Search Portal

Semantic Elements

Use of semantic elements makes it easy for crawlers to navigate any web page. Essentially, a semantic element is an element with an immediately obvious meaning. Examples:

Element Meaning
<h1> Heading
<p> Paragraph
<button> Button
<a> Link
<img> Image

Using the role and aria-label HTML attributes makes it easier for search engine bots to crawl generic elements like div or section

Alt Tags, and More

As a general rule, crawlers cannot parse an image without a descriptive alt attribute. For non-decorative images, the value of the alt attribute should clearly describe the intention of the image, or its content. Search engines ignore any image with an empty, or nonexistent, alt attribute.

An example of a well-written alt attirbute:

<img alt="Amazon's Homepage" />

A poorly-written alt attribute:

<img alt="logo" />

For a full guide on accessibility, visit the W3schools tutorial

Indexing

As long as a website meets Google's technical requirements, Googlebot, and most search engine bots, will most likely automatically index it; however, for various reasons, Googlebot can decide against indexing a website

If not indexed, a simple way to get any webpage to show up in Google results is to verify its ownership using Google's Search Console.

A quick Google search is enough to find out whether a website has been indexed:

site: mohab.xyz

Alternatively, tools like Index Coverage report and URL Inspection Tool provide detailed reports on a web page's indexability.

A full list of Search Console's reports and tools

Sitemap

A sitemap is a website's catalogue; it's used by Google, and other search engines, to retrieve information about a website's indexable content, be it videos, images, links, or otherwise. Sitemaps are not mandatory to get a website indexed; however, creating and maintaining a sitemap is a healthy habit.

Crawlers can read sitemaps in three formats: XML, RSS, or TXT. A simple sitemap has to:

  1. Be encoded in UTF-8.
  2. Include only URLS.

An example of a .txt sitemap:

https://www.mohab.xyz/index.php
https://www.mohab.xyz/seo_basics.php
https://www.mohab.xyz/lightweight_css.php
https://www.mohab.xyz/fgf_file.php
https://www.mohab.xyz/aggro.php

Monitoring and Tracking

Google's Search Analytics generates reports detailing:

  1. Visits from Google Search.
  2. Relevant search queries.
  3. Average position in Google Search results.
  4. URLs of visited pages.
  5. Visitors' country, and device type.

Periodically checking Performance Search Reports gives site owners a chance to capitalize on spikes, and react to dips in incoming traffic from Google Search. For example: if impressions are high and clicks are low, an adjustment in meta tags could help improve performance.

Using a service like Plausible to track general traffic can help in performance assessment. If the average Visit Duration is low and Bounce Rate is high, improving content, or user experience, will probably lead to general improvement in incoming traffic, and better performance in search engine results.

Content

Finally, and most importantly, quality content is the heart of SEO. Search engines will keep getting better at detecting, and favoring, people-first content, which means putting search engines first is a losing strategy on the long run.

Google describes quality content as 'content that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness'

Other important qualities:

  1. Clear sourcing.
  2. Built on verifiable facts.
  3. Free of spelling or stylistic issues.
  4. Original.
  5. Informative.

Summary

SEO can be tricky to navigate; however, getting the basics right, namely accessibility, indexing, sitemapping, tracking, and content is fairly straightforward, and can carry any website a long way.

For a comprehensive tutorial on search engine optimization, visit Google's SEO Starter Guide