If you want to bring traffic to your business website, you’ll need some SEO basics to get started. Even with more than 200 ranking factors now driving search bots, by understanding SEO for beginners, you can get your page moving up the search engine results page (SERP).
Search Engine Optimization can get pretty complicated, but you can start with the basics to get yourself going. The more you practice, the more you’ll learn, and soon, you’ll feel comfortable with most of the essential SEO basics.
What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, involves developing your website so that it’s friendly to search engines and helps them get the best content to search engine users. It includes on-site and off-site components.
By starting with on-site SEO, you have the greatest opportunity to improve your site’s page rank. As you learn more, you’ll want to incorporate off-site techniques, too.
Get Started with On-Site SEO Basics
As you develop and prepare to upload your content, you’ll be creating and publishing pages or posts. That’s the best place to start your SEO strategy.
Get Your Keywords
You probably already have an idea of what keywords your customers and potential customers might use. But, don’t be overconfident. Do some research, and jot down all of the ideas… the good and the bad, in a spreadsheet. Even the lousy ones might prove helpful as you search for ideas.
Once you have your ideas jotted down in a spreadsheet, go to Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool. You’ll need to sign up and open an account to use it. Once you’re on board, go to the tools menu (look for the little wrench in the upper right-hand corner).
In the “Planning” column, click on the “Keyword Planner.” From there, you can click on “search for new keywords using a phrase…”. In the box under, “Your product or service,” you’ll paste your list of ideas, and Google will give you some more ideas. For example, from the list of keyword phrases, “buy healthy foods,” “buy fresh fruits and vegetables,” “raw fruits and vegetables,” “raw vegan diet,” “raw vegan food shopping,” Google churned out this:
It provided 700 new ideas for keywords! As you can see (above), it also provided information about keyword volume and competition.
On-Site SEO Title Tags
As you work to improve your on-site SEO, you’ll need to add a title tag to help the search engine understand what your page content holds. You can write title tags up to 70 characters, and each should only describe what that page discusses. To “tag” it, you place it between strings in the HTML.
Don’t let the concept of HTML scare you off. If you’re using WordPress, or another content management system (CMS), the system and its plugins guide you through these steps. For example, using WordPress and the Yoast plugin, Yoast guides you through most of the important tags for your on-site SEO.
You’ll also need to add meta descriptions to each page. Again, you’ll “tag” your description in HTML, but, as with your title tag, your CMS and plugins do a lot of this work for you. You just write the text.
You’ll want to invest some time and effort in both the title and meta description tags because they will show up in the SERP. Make sure that between your title tag and meta description search engines see your keyword and your brand. You’re undoubtedly familiar with them already, and Google’s search results display your title tag and meta description like this:
Header Tags Help Humans and Machines Read
As you develop text-based content for your website, make sure that you add headings and subheadings to break up the text and allow both types of readers (humans and machines) to use them as reference points.
On your word processor and your CMS, you’ll see heading and subheading categories that add your HTML tags for you, in your text. They’re hierarchically organized:
- H1 – Headline
- H2 – Heading
- H3 – Sub-heading
Make sure that you use these as you write. Header tags help search bots classify your texts, and they’ll help your human readers navigate it.
Add Internal Links for Happy Spiders and Humans
Internal links also help the web spider (web crawler) that crawls your websites for Google and other search engine companies. They help demonstrate how the pages relate to one another and strengthen the spider’s concept of your site’s architecture.
Use internal links linking text, photos, or other elements of your content to refer to pages within your website. For example, if your home page refers to a product page, make sure that you hyperlink the text referring to your product page to that text. That makes happy spiders and happy humans.
Make Sure Images Have Title Tags and ALT Tags
Images are part of your content. Whenever you add an image, video, or another non-text medium to a web page, your CMS will prompt you to tag it with a title tag and ALT tag. Do not skip this step.
Take advantage of this opportunity to get your keyword and other text onto the page, where search engines can see it and interpret it. Not only will it bring in some traffic that results from people looking for images, but it adds to the overall collection of keywords and phrases that help search engines understand your site and distinguish it from similar sites.
Give Your Visitors Content
Google and other search engines are into content. They want their users to find unique, relevant, high-quality, satisfying, engaging pages when they use their search engine. That’s what keeps their customers coming back and clicking on revenue-generating links.
Your site’s content can include web pages, blog posts, galleries, articles, questionnaires, tutorials, wikis, infographics, videos, podcasts and more. You want to develop quality content that your visitors will share and that other site owners will link to. That will help your off-page SEO strategy.
If you’re not a content specialist, you’re not alone. Start with what you and your co-workers do best, and expand from there. If you have a good writer on board, have that person post a monthly blog post. If you have a top-notch drawer, start with an infographic. The key is to get started and keep going.
Once You Have Enough Pages On-Site, Start Off-Site SEO
As you practice SEO for beginners, off-site SEO will mostly involve link building … off your site. Yes. You need other site owners to link to your pages on their pages. That shows search engines that your site is important.
How’s that? How can you build links off your site, if you only own your site?
Well, if you published quality, unique, relevant, interesting, well-written content for your website, the chances are that some people who see your content will eventually start linking to it. However, don’t expect everyone in your niche to find your content and start linking without a little encouragement.
You will need to work at getting others to find, carefully review, and eventually link to your content. When that happens, it results in an organic link: a link that a site owner, writer, or editor added to a site because you provided substantial, quality content worth linking to.
Network for Off-Site SEO
To earn these links, you may have to do some networking and giving to gain attention and, eventually, links. Influencers often practice this.
For example, look at Danny Sullivan, one of Oberlo’s “Top Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017.” Sullivan’s the founding editor of Search Engine Land, and he has gotten his work out all over the internet, outside his website. You can find his name on Forbes, TechCrunch, The Huffington Post, CopyBlogger, and many other websites. His expertise, authorship, and work with staff on different sites earns links back to his sites.
You can submit work to other publications in your niche. Also, reach out to others in your market. The relationships you form can get people reviewing your content. Check to see if some of your collaborators have link pages for their collaborators and ask them to link to you.
Open Accounts in Directories and Social Media for Off-Site SEO
Are you in any directories related to your niche? Add your information and links there.
Does your business have social media accounts? If not, get them started. If so, get them posting content. You have a free, easy-to-use, popular means of getting links back to your site. Search engines will not count them like links from an independent website, but they will get people flowing into your website.
See How You Have Done with Google Analytics
As you advance, you want to see how your on-site and off-site SEO affect your website traffic and user retention. Are you getting more traffic? Are site visitors interacting with your links? What keywords are bringing them in?
Google Analytics can provide you with information about your website visitors, organic search traffic sources, and the keywords that brought visitors to your site. It can give you lots of information about your site visitors’ activity to help you improve your website.
If you want to get traffic to your website, it’s time to get started on the SEO basics. By sticking to SEO for beginners, you can advance on your content-development goals together with your SEO goals, and you’ll learn SEO in the process. Each day you wait to get started, your competition may be getting the jump on your business!
If you’re interested in learning SEO basics for your website, feel free to contact us for a complete SEO audit to get your website started ranking in the search engines.
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