The basics of SEO

The basics of SEO
Remacle Jean-Claude
9 minutes
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You can get pretty far in the SEO performance of your website by just understanding and applying the basics of SEO.

SEO, what is that?

First off, lets make sure that you know what SEO stands for.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

If you break it down to the very core of it, then it's simple a process of making your website rank as high as possible in search engines, like for example Google.

Why is SEO necessary

If your thinking, "Is SEO really necessary for my business website".

Then I can say to you, "Yes, it is worth every spend minute".
Because, how higher your website ranks, the more visibility and traffic you get on your website and that means, that your business is likely to generate more sales.

Where to start with SEO

There are so many websites, books and guides about SEO, but what is thrust worthy and still accurate? That is a very good question.

That's one of the main reasons why SEO frustrates so many peoples.

Some of the other reasons why SEO can be frustrating are:

  • the search engines algorithm are constantly updating
  • there is no end in the SEO process of your website, it's a never-ending battle to get higher in the ranking and keep your position

But, don't worry, this blog post will help you by understanding the basics of SEO.

SEO factors

Ok, let's make our hands dirty and start with some of the most critical SEO factors.

But keep in mind, search engines algorithms changes constantly, what works today might not work in a few months.


One of the first thing that search algorithms will check is the URL.

How to have a good URL:

  • a good URL contains words relevant to the page and not only parameters that nobody understand
  • the URL structure match the website navigation and structure
  • there are no special character, spaces or underscores in a good URL
  • the URL is completely lower case
  • don't create a to long URL

For example:

  • "" , this is not a good URL.
  • "" , this is a good URL.


Website security is very important to search engines.

So, where to start with this SEO factor?

Easy, start with making sure that your website has a SSL certificate in place without any errors.

One of the easiest way is to use the SSL certificates of Let's encrypt.

The next thing is to have the necessary protection to make sure that your website has no vulnerabilities that can be used to manipulated the content, etc.

No matter at what level, getting hacked, is never good. It hurts the user experience and the trust signals to search engines.

But keep in mind, that the security doesn't slow down the speed of your website.
Because, speed is also a very important SEO factor.

If you are using Joomla or Wordpress, then I can recommand the extension "Admin Tools from Akeeba".
I haven't got any hacked website since I started using this amazing extension.

Response code

The server response code also matters.

Make sure that your website pages renders a response code in the 200 range (successful response).

One of the best and easiest tools to check the redirects, status codes, response headers, and redirect chains is


Speaking of response codes, one of the other ranges are the 300 (redirection).

Redirects are critical when you replace your website with a new one or when you restructure your website.

Also, make sure that you use a 301 redirect from the old to the new URL.


XML sitemaps are the easiest way to make sure that the search engine know all your pages.

How to have a good XML sitemap:

  • keep insignificant pages out the XML sitemap
  • create a separate XML sitemap for the images
  • remove old URL's and insert the new one
  • make sure all listed pages renders a 200 server code
  • make sure that the changefreq and priority is filled in correctly of the URL', don't waste search engines resource


Don't let the robots.txt file be the last thing that you think about.

All your effort doesn't matter if your website can't be indexed and showed in search engines, just because the robots.txt contains wrong info.

Mobile friendly

Google uses "mobile first" indexing since 2018.

That means that they look first at the mobile version of your website to rank your website in heir results.

The better your mobile version scores, the better it is for your ranking.

How to have a good mobile friendly website:

  • make sure that all important content is visible for search engines
  • optimize your images for mobile
  • the faster it loads, the better it is
  • make sure it's mobile friendly
  • invest in a responsive design

Site speed

Site speed is very important, not only for UX but also for the conversion rates.

The site speed also have an impact on the SEO performance.

Keep the following things in mind when you're optimizing your website to gain more speed:

  • keep the code clean and light
  • if you are using a CMS, don't instal unnecessary extensions
  • choose a hosting with an optimized environment, one of the best server hosting are those of SiteGround.
  • compress and minify Js and CSS
  • optimize and compress your images and if necessary load mobile other images then on desktop

One of the best extensions for Joomla and Wordpress to speed up your site is "JCH Optimize".

Some of the best websites to test your site speed are:

Heading tags

Heading tags are one of the best context clues for search engines that you can use.

Where do you need to watch out for:

  • use the heading tags in the correct hierarchy
  • you may use css styling on them, but, keep them in order of importance
  • keep the header tags consistent, aim for a consistent user experience
  • don't make the header tags to long. A header tag is not to write an entire paragraph or a keyword rich text.


There are a lot of technical SEO factors to think about like the site structure, URL's, speed, and so forth.

But what you can't ignore, is that, high-quality and optimized content wins every time.

If you want to be on the first position of the first page on Google, you need relevant and well-optimized content.

Keep in mind following when you are trying to write high-quality content?

  • length matters, but relevance matters much more. Google says: "The amount of content that is necessary depends on the topic and the purpose of the page"
  • include clear header tags
  • make sure that you have alt attributes
  • user friendly URL's that are relevant words
  • keywords are still critical, but the context matters more. Google crawlers are analysing the context and are looking for related secondary keywords that share the searcher's intent.

Structured data

Structured data is becoming more and more important these days.

Very basically said, structured data is organized information.

You can find out more about structured data in the blog post "What is structured data and how to use it".

One of the most used website to test structured data is the "Rich Result test" from Google.


Metadata matters because it's the title and the first lines that you see on the search results page.

With the metadata you tells the user what to expect when they click on the page.

The easiest way to check your meta tags is with the online tool "Meta Tags".


As long as Google has existed are links one of the critical aspects of SEO.

You can see links as votes, how more links to your website, the more votes your website has, the higher it will ranks.

But be aware, not every link is the same value. A link from a high-quality website will give you much more value then a link from a shady website.

The problem about this is that it's not easy to gain high-quality links.


Because the algorithms are constant changing, you need to keep on testing to see what is working for your website.

One of the best online tools for checking your SEO is "SEO Site Checkup".

Some alternative factors to think about

Now you know some of the most basic SEO factors that you need to keep in mind.

But, there are some other factors to keep in mind, that gives your website just that little bit more:

Voice search

Voice search is becoming more and more popular these days.

Just think about "Siri", "Alexa", "Robin", and so much other personal assistants.

How can you optimize your website for voice search?

  • use natural language in content
  • optimize your content for featured snippets
  • make use of FAQ page (use Q&A schemas)
  • use long-tail keywords
  • use questions instead of keywords


The favicon is a visual representation of your website and business.

At first they where only used in the browser tab and bookmarks, but things started to change when Google started to show the favicons also in the search results on mobile devices.

Favicons are not a ranking factor but they can help you with your SEO.

You are probably asking your self, "how can favicons help me with my SEO if they aren't a ranking factor".

That is a good question. Websites with a higher click-through rate will always get the upper hand in the search engine rankings.
So, when mobile users are looking at the SERP, they are more likely to click on a link with a favicon that stands out then one that's not clear.

How to create a good favicon:

  • make it recognizable and attractive
  • a favicon should have a connection with your website
  • avoid text
  • keep the favicon transparent
  • consider making 2 kind, one for the light mode and one for the dark mode
  • make a high quality favicon


Now you know the basic of SEO and what you need to keep in mind for boosting your website so that you can higher in the SERP.

And the bonus point is that your website is also a bit more user friendly after you optimized your website.

Need some help in optimizing and boosting your website for SEO and UX?

We can help you.

Contact us