Complete Guide to SEO for 2023

Complete Guide to SEO for 2023

What is the first thing you do when you need new ideas for marketing strategies and campaigns? Or when you want to find a new gadget? Indeed, in these cases, you go to Google, like most.

Marketers know the importance of search engines for attracting consumers and as a means to get closer to people: for this reason, 61 % consider SEO their priority. Furthermore, they know that companies must have a presence in these media to succeed in today’s market.

Therefore, this guide will discuss what SEO is and how to build a strategy. Our interest is that you understand the essential parts of SEO without complicated concepts.

Complete Guide to SEO for 2023

Index of contents

  1. What is SEO?
  2. How does SEO work?
  3. What is the importance of SEO?
  4. How does Google classify content?
  5. What is an SEO strategy?
  6. How to build an SEO strategy
  7. How to measure and track the results of the SEO strategy
  8. Local SEO
  9. What is black hat SEO?
  10. SEO Resources

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (or SEO) is a set of marketing techniques and practices that expand a company’s visibility in search engine results, such as Google. This allows for more visitor traffic to a site and, therefore, a higher conversion rate and profit.

The goal of SEO is to make it easy for consumers to find your site when searching for a product or service on Google or another search engine.

How does SEO work?

SEO works through the optimization of content on the network. This allows you to compete to appear in the first results of a search through the use of keywords and links. This process is slow since it requires designing content tailored to consumers.

In simple terms, SEO implies two things: visibility and the place you occupy in the classifications or rankings. Let’s look at each of these elements in detail.


Rankings or classifications are the processes that search engines use to determine where a particular page should have within the search engine results pages (or SERPs, for its acronym in English). Your site will generally change its position in the results because other carriers have more up-to-date content or because of the algorithm itself. The important thing is to keep your pages in the first results.


This term defines how striking a domain is in the results returned by a search engine. High visibility means that your domain has plenty of content that ranks high on the SERPs. Low visibility, for its part, implies that a field does not stand out in many of the searches relevant to its line of business.

What is the importance of SEO?

The visibility of your site and brand on the web, regardless of whether it is high or low, is responsible for the number of SEO objectives you achieve, measured by the traffic and conversions you obtain.

But there is another reason why you should be interested in SEO. This strategy will help you position your brand and increase its recognition in practically all stages of the sales process. It can give you greater security for your marketing strategies; These will better match the behaviour of new customers and ultimately increase sales.

And it is that customers’ behaviour is no longer what it was before. Every day, more people use search engines to find the services or products they need. Since Google obtained more than 92% of the searches made in the last year, considering the positioning of your company in this search engine becomes an invaluable tool.

Customers often prefer to do most of the buying process on their own: people research a brand before contacting it, and having optimized content will lead them to your solutions.

Early in the process, customers use Google or another search engine to find information about their problem or need; Some also search for possible solutions.

After this, they evaluate the alternatives available to them based on the reviews or the popularity and reputation of the brands on social networks. They always consult this data before going directly to a company and asking to solve their needs. But this happens after all sources of information have been exhausted.

Thus, the opportunity you have for customers to notice and consider your company is to appear in the results of their searches.

How does Google classify content?

Search engines have only one objective: to provide users with the most relevant answers or information for their questions or searches.

Every time you use a search engine like Bing or Google, the algorithms choose the most relevant pages to your search; they classify and arrange them according to which are the most popular or most authoritative, from the first to the last.

To deliver the correct information to users, search engines look at two factors:

  • Relevance between the search and the content of a page:  search engines organize the results based on multiple factors, such as topics or keywords (keywords).
  • Authority:  It is measured by the popularity of a website on the Internet. Google assumes that the more popular a page or resource is, the greater its content’s value to readers or media consumers.

Search engines use complex equations called search algorithms to analyze this information. Each search engine keeps its algorithms secret, but over time each SEO has identified some of the elements it considers when ranking a page. These elements are the ranking factors and key to an SEO strategy.

As you will see later, adding more content, optimizing image names and adding alt text, or improving your page’s internal links affect the ranking of your content and the visibility you get in searches. That is why each of these actions improves classification and positioning.

What is an SEO strategy?

An SEO strategy is a plan that aims to attract a higher volume of visitors to a website through search engines. Using keywords, links and content tailored to the ideal audience is part of a good SEO strategy.

How to build an SEO strategy

To optimize a site, you will need to improve the elements or factors of classification or positioning according to three areas:

  1. Technical configuration of your site
  2. Contents
  3. links

For this reason, we will analyze each of the areas individually; In this way, when you carry out an SEO audit of your site, you will know better which size you need to improve and which elements to change.

1. Technical configuration

For your site to rank well, three things must happen:

  1. A search engine needs to find your published pages on the Internet.
  2. It requires scanning them to understand the topics it deals with and identify their keywords.
  3. You need to add this content to your index, which is a database of all the content found on the web.

Once these three things happen, each engine’s algorithm may consider displaying your site for searches as relevant content. And although it seems something simple that you shouldn’t have to worry about, the reality is that some obstacles make the situation difficult to handle.

A web page is seen differently by search engines than the creator would see it. You can see it as a collection of images, colours, links, and text with a format; to search engines, they are just text because everything you see is encrypted.

As a result, any element of the pages on your website may appear invisible to search engines. Therefore, even if you see it well, Google could find all its content (or a part of it) inaccessible.

We will show you an example below. This is how a standard search engine sees one of our articles.

You may notice several things in this example:

  • First of all, the page only has text. Although we designed it carefully, the only elements that the search engine can see are texts and links.
  • As a result, it cannot display the images on the page (the element we mark with an arrow is an image). This is because it only recognizes the name of the picture. Therefore, if the image contains a keyword that we need to reach a specific category in the positioning, this could make the content visible to the search engine.

This is where the technical configuration or optimization of the site comes in, which ensures that your website and pages allow Google to scan and index their content without any problem.

And the most important elements or factors that affect this process include the following:

Navigation on your website and links

Search engines crawl sites just like you do: they follow links. Crawlers from each engine land on a page and use a link to find more content to scan. However, they can’t see images, so they only set navigation and links to text.

The simple URL structure

Search engines prefer to read shorter lines of words with simple structures. For this reason, we recommend keeping the URLs of your site with a temporary extension. Set them to include as little beyond the keyword as possible; in this way, you can optimize the page.

page speed

Search engines use page load time as a quality indicator. This is more relevant now due to the increased use of smartphones to access websites, which require different formats and content loading. Using a tool like Google’s ( PageSpeed ​​​​Insights ), which gives you suggestions to improve your pages, is an excellent option to strengthen this aspect and improve ranking positioning.

Broken links or failed redirects

A broken link sends visitors to a page that doesn’t exist, and a failed redirect indicates a resource is no longer available. In both cases, they are things that cause the user an unpleasant experience, but they are also events that prevent search engines from indexing your content.

Sitemaps and robot.txt files

A sitemap is a file that lists all the links or URLs on your site. Search engines use it to identify which pages to crawl and how to index them. A robot.txt file, on the other hand, tells the search engine what content it shouldn’t index, for example, specific pages with policies or internal rules that you don’t want to appear in searches. Creating both file types will help speed up the crawling and indexing of your content.

double content

Pages containing identical or very similar content need to be clarified for search engines, which often find it impossible to determine which content they should display in the results. For this reason, search engines consider duplicate content a negative factor. If they find it on your website, they can penalize you by hiding all those pages in the results.

This decreases the positioning you could otherwise achieve by considering all your produced content.

2. Content

Whenever you use a search engine, you seek content or information to solve a particular issue or problem.

This content could be in different formats: text, such as a blog post or on a website; It could also be in the form of a video, a product recommendation or a review, even as a list of various businesses that offer the solution to the topic that interests you.

But everything, without a doubt, is content.

And content is just what helps you gain higher search visibility from an SEO perspective for two reasons:

  • First, content is what customers are looking for when they search. Regardless of the topic they want to know; content is the answer. Therefore, the more you publish, the greater the chances of increasing your visibility.
  • Search engines use content to determine how to rank for you. So the important thing is a page’s relevance in a person’s search.

When a search engine crawls a page, it determines the topic it deals with: it analyzes elements such as the extension or structure since this allows it to qualify its quality. Based on that information, the search algorithms can match a person’s question with the content/pages it considers most relevant to that issue.

This is why the process of optimizing content begins with the search for keywords or keywords, which we will explain immediately.

keyword search

SEO is not looking for you to get any visitors to your site. What is expected is that you attract people who need what you sell; several of those people can become leads and customers.

This is possible if your content is positioned in the first place according to the keywords they search for. For this reason, optimization work begins by finding out what phrases potential customers type when searching.

The process typically involves identifying terms and topics relevant to your business. You need to convert these topics into seed keywords and do extensive research with tools like Google Trends to figure out the related terms your audience might be using.

We have published a guide to keyword research for beginners. This guide takes the keyword research process in detail, so you can use it to identify search terms you should target.

Once you have a simple and well-defined list of keywords, your content will be optimized. Specialists refer to this process as on-page optimization.

On-page optimization

On-page or on-page optimization ensures that search engines understand a page’s topic and keywords and match pages with relevant searches.

Note that we use the word “page” and not content. This is so because, although on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it includes optimizing elements in the code that houses your content.

You may have heard of some of these elements as title or description meta tags. They are the most popular, but there are more elements related to the code of your pages.

So, to make your optimization on the page more accessible, we leave you a list with the most important actions to carry out in the process. Keep in mind that because blog content appears on most websites when we talk about things to consider, we’re referring to blog SEO: optimizing posts for keywords. In any case, all the tips are valid for optimizing other types of pages and not just those that host blog posts.

1. Keyword optimization

First, ensure that Google understands which keywords you want to rank for on a specific page. To achieve this, you need to include the main keyword in the following elements of your post:

  • Post Title – Ideally, you should put this as close as possible to the start of the title for your post. Google gives more value to the words at the beginning of the title or heading.
  • URL – The address of your page on your website should also include the main keyword. You shouldn’t add anything extra. It would help if you also eliminated familiar or empty words (for example, recipe-cake-cheese-strawberries are better than recipe-for-cheesecake-with-strawberries ).
  • H1 tag: This tag displays the page title by default in most content management systems. Still, you must ensure that your platform doesn’t use a different configuration. If it does, remember to include the keyword here to prevent your page from being discarded.
  • The first 100 words (or the first paragraph) of the content: Finding the keyword at the beginning of your blog post will reassure Google that this is the page’s topic.
  • Meta Title and Meta Description Tags: These two code elements are used by search engines to display listings. They consider the meta title as the title in the list and the meta description as the content shown below. But beyond this, the information provided by these two elements is used to understand the theme of the page better.
  • Image filenames and alt tags: Remember that search engines can’t see images, only the filenames of images on your pages. Check that at least one of the images in your post has the keyword in the file name.

The alternative tag, or ALT tag, on the other hand, is what text search engines display instead of an image (so that people with visual difficulties can understand it). Once an ALT tag is within the captcha, search engines use it as a sign of relevance.

You can also add semantic keywords, such as variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google and other search engines use them to determine a page’s relevance better.

We will give you a small example. Suppose your keyword is “Mango”. Are you referring to the fruit or the clothing brand with multiple subsidiaries worldwide? It might be hard to tell, but if Google finds other terms or words like sugar, orchid, or cider in the rest of the text on the page, the choice of which search to rank for would be self-evident.

That’s the role of adding semantic keywords. Using them will help your page not appear in search results for which it is irrelevant.

  1. Optimization for elements or factors not related to the keywords

On-page SEO is not just about spreading keywords all over the page. The factors listed below also confirm the credibility and authority of a page:

  • External links: Adding links that lead to other people’s pages, as long as they are relevant to the topic your page is about, allows Google to determine better the case you developed on your page. In addition, it gives the visitor a good user experience since it positions the content of your page as a valuable resource that helps them to understand the topic better.
  • Internal links:  on the one hand, they allow search engines to find and crawl pages on your site; on the other hand, they show the semantic relationships that several pages of the same area have (you can follow a topic cluster structure ). In this way, it facilitates the determination of relevance for the searches carried out regarding your site’s central theme. As a rule, you can include two to four internal links for each post.
  • Content length:  Posts that appear on the first page of results have an average size of 1,447 words. According to Backlinko, while long content tends to have more backlinks (which you’ll learn more about in the next section), there is no direct relationship between the number of words in an article and its rank.
  • Multimedia: Although not required, multimedia elements (such as videos, diagrams, or audio players) can signify a page’s quality. These types of resources keep readers on a page for longer and this, implicitly, is a clear sign that they found valuable and helpful content.
  1. Links

With everything you’ve read so far, you already know that a page won’t rank well if it doesn’t have two factors: relevance and authority.

In the quest to provide users with the most accurate answers, Google and other search engines prioritize the pages that they consider to be most relevant to their research but also those that are most popular.

The first two items (technical setup and content) focus primarily on increasing relevance and very slightly on authority. Links, however, are what determine the popularity of a page. Let’s see how important they are in SEO strategies.

What is a backup link or backlink?

Backlinks are references to your content that exist on other sites on the web. Every time another site mentions and points its readers to a page with your content, you earn a link back to your site.

For example, there are articles in  Entrepreneur that mention some of our statistics and link their readers to those pages that contain the cited research and numbers, as well as more information to give them a chance to dig deeper.

Google uses the quality and quantity of links as a sign of authority for websites. The logic is that page admins will only refer to a high-quality and popular site and not a mediocre one.

In any case, remember that the links must be of quality. This is because not all links or links are the same. Low-quality ones can hurt your rankings.

Link quality elements

Low-quality or suspected links (for example, those that Google believes were made to give a site more authority) can lower your rankings.

Therefore, the focus of SEO should not be to create any link. The purpose is to generate the highest quality reference possible.

Of course, just like the search algorithm, we don’t need to know precisely what factors determine the quality of a link. Even so, over time, the constant practice of an SEO strategy has revealed that some of the elements that can link have quality are:

  • The popularity of a linked site: Any link from a domain that a search engine considers authoritative will have a high quality almost automatically. Links or site links that, in turn, cite other good quality links will increase your popularity and, with it, your authority.
  • Topic Relevance: Links from domains that develop topics similar to yours will give you more authority than those that come from random sites or that touch on those topics sporadically.
  • Trustworthy domains – Just like popularity, search engines also rate trustworthiness. Links or links that come from trusted sites will always have a positive impact on your positioning and ranking.

link building

Acquiring new support links or backlinks is known in SEO as link building. Many experts admit that it can be quite a challenging activity.

Link building requires creativity, strategic thinking and a lot of patience. Generating quality links will need a strategy, and that is not easy.

Remember that your links must have several characteristics to be of quality. You should also ensure that it is not apparent that the creation of these links was planned for the search engines.

Some of the strategies to do this are:

  • Organic or editorial links: These endorsement links come from sites that refer to your pages.
  • Contact: in this strategy, you contact other sites to ask them to refer to content on pages of your site. This can happen in several ways: you can create a fantastic piece of content on a page and email it to selected areas. They will talk about it on your site if they find it valuable as a reward. You can also suggest what kind of content they include as a link or link.
  • Guest Posting: Guest posts are blog articles that you publish on third-party sites. As a reward, these companies typically allow you to include a link to their place in the content you post and in the author bio on their site.
  • Profile Links: Many sites on the Internet offer the opportunity to create a link. Online profiles are a good example. Usually, when you set up a profile, you can also list your site there. Not all links in profiles are highly effective in increasing your authority, but some will. It is worth the effort and time invested since doing this are effortless.
  • Competitive analysis – Finally, many SEO strategies regularly analyze the backlinks of their competition to identify what might be backlinks that they could use for their sites.

If you’ve made it this far, you already know your responsibility for your site’s search success.

The next step is to realize if your SEO efforts and strategies are paying off.

How to measure and track the results of the SEO strategy

The technical configuration, the content and links are crucial elements to achieving the relevance of a website in the search results. Also, monitoring your activity and efforts will allow you to improve your strategy and take it to the next level.

Measuring the success of SEO strategies means tracking information about traffic, engagement, and links. Most companies develop their key performance indicators (or KPIs), but several overlaps exist. Here we leave you the most common:

  • Organic traffic growth
  • Keyword ranking (split between brand terms and non-brand terms)
  • Conversions from organic traffic
  • Average time visitors spend on pages and bounce rate.
  • Detection of landing pages with the highest organic traffic
  • Number of pages indexed in search engines
  • Growth of links or links (including new additions and those of lost connections that have been recovered)

Local SEO 

So far, we’ve focused on ranking in general search results. Still, if you’re a local business, Google also allows you to type in the rankings of potential customers in the same geographic area as you. For that, you will need to use local SEO.

78% of users use search engines to find local businesses or solutions nearby more than once a week. They search for dealer suggestions and even specific addresses of the companies that may have the products or services they need. 72 % of those searches end in a visit to a nearby store or location of the business they are interested in. Now, is local SEO different from the SEO that we have been talking about throughout this article? Only in part.

Search engines follow similar principles for global and local ranking. Still, given the position of a particular place, results based on a specific address need to look at other factors for ranking.

Also, local search results look different:

  • They appear only within searches that specify local research, with options like “restaurants near me” or when a person clearly defines their location.
  • They contain specific results for a suitable location.
  • They focus on delivering timely information to users, so they don’t need to research elsewhere.
  • They focus on smartphone users since most local searches are done from these devices.

The most salient item in local results includes the most information a person would need to choose a business. For example, here we put the results that Google shows for the search for “cafeterias in downtown Montevideo”:

Note that the results do not include links or links to any content. Instead, there’s a list of coffee shops in the specified area, a map showing their location, and additional information about each one, such as:

  • business name
  • Description
  • picture
  • Schedule
  • Ratings
  • addresses

Typically, the results also include other information, such as the business’s telephone number or web address. All this information helps customers choose which company they want to visit, but it also allows Google to determine how to rank each.

Local search elements for positioning

When looking at local sites, Google looks at how close those businesses are to the searcher’s location. With the rise in local searches thanks to the phrase “near me”, it is evident that Google would try to present the nearest business that tops the list.

Search engines need a method to determine the location of a business. Keywords are also essential for local SEO. Either way, an additional element of on-page optimization is the company name, address, and phone number on the page. This data is often referred to as NAP in local SEO.

Google rates authority in local searches by links, reviews, and citations (references to a business’s address or phone number) that make its source stand out.

Lastly, the information a business lists on Google My Business (the search engine platform that helps manage local business listings) plays a huge role in rankings.

What we just mentioned is just an introduction. You can use Google Maps to position yourself better.

What is black hat SEO?

Black hat practices seek to manipulate the search engine algorithm using strategies against the rules. The most common techniques include using extra (or stuffing) keywords, using covert words (achieved by hiding keywords in the code: visitors don’t see them, but search engines do), or buying backlinks.

Why would anyone want to use black hat-SEO techniques if it’s practically a scam? Simple: It takes time to position a site in a good ranking in Google. A long time.

For example, these strategies allow you to skip the tedious and complex backlinks process. Using keyword stuffing makes it easy to rank a page for many keywords without creating more content that needs to be organized.

Remember that if you get caught using these techniques, you will likely be dropped from the charts, and your high ranking (albeit fast) will be lost.

We bring it up because we want you to see that there are no shortcuts in SEO. It is important to be alert when someone suggests strategies that seem too good to be true.

Should you leave your SEO strategy in the hands of third parties?

Whether you work directly on your SEO strategy, delegate it to another team member, or leave it in the hands of a specialized service, you must make operational decisions with as much knowledge as possible.

Do your SEO

Ask yourself: are you interested in learning SEO? Do you have the time to familiarize yourself with the basics, and do you have the resources to solve problems? If your answer is “no”, it is very likely that you cannot take responsibility for designing and implementing an SEO strategy on your own. Remember that this should be considered a long-term plan and that, like muscles, require training and dedication before seeing results. This can mean a good investment of time. If you feel this task is beyond you, consider delegating the work to someone within your company.

Delegate your SEO to a member of your team

This option is the best if you already have staff specialized in marketing or web development and design since knowing more about SEO will be a good skill that will help them grow professionally. You can consider hiring an expert if you do not have a specialized employee.

The person in charge of this position will have to communicate with your marketing, design and development department since SEO is involved with practically all areas of a business. Remember that these strategies require a defined structure, so you must have staff with a long-term commitment.

Leave your SEO in the hands of specialists.

If you are not interested in learning SEO, your work team is working at maximum capacity, and you need more money to hire a specialist, it is best to approach an SEO consultant to advise you. They are the experts in increasing organic traffic, generating leads and driving conversions for companies, so you can delegate these functions to the best without spending time preparing or recruiting your collaborators.

Hiring the services of an expert can be cheaper than including someone full-time in your company and reduce the expenses derived from a labour contract. But what other costs should you take into account?

SEO can cost $100 and $500 per month using keyword research tools. From $75 to $150 an hour for the services of a consultant and up to $10,000 a month if you hire a specialized agency. Keep these costs in mind (although it is essential to mention that this also depends on the company’s size).

Consider that additional expenses may arise significantly when you must invest in your organic search strategy or when you need to carry out paid search engine marketing strategies, such as in Google Ads. Also, if you pay for any tool or the services of a consultant or agency to optimize your content, the fees can vary significantly.

SEO Resources

This guide is just a start to using SEO to your advantage, but there is still much more to learn.

Here are free online resources for you to try:

  • SEO Lessons from HubSpot Academy
  • HubSpot’s Getting Started Guide to SEO
  • Google Analytics Course

You can also choose resources from industry experts and their blogs. We leave you a list with authority sites in SEO (available in English):

  • MOZ
  • Yoast
  • BrightLocal (local SEO tips)
  • Search Engine Journal
  • search engine watch
  • Search Engine Land
  • Bruce Clay Inc.

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