SEO for Beginners: A Comprehensive Guide
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERPs). The definition of SEO is the same but the whole process is changing.
SEO (search engine optimization) is changing rapidly and with recent Google updates, staying on top of it can be frustrating. The definition of SEO is the same but the whole process is changing. In fact, the SEO tactics you used to get on top of the SERPs might not even work now.
It now takes more than just using keywords and building links to improve your organic search rankings and increase your website’s visibility. To stay on top of SEO, you need to keep track of and understand:
- Latest search engine updates (the most recent one is June 2021 Broad Core Algorithm Update)
- Emerging trends (e.g. Voice search)
- Your target audience (what they’re searching for and what they expect from you)
- Technological advancements (e.g. Marketing automation)
Remember, SEO isn't only about ranking on top of the SERPs. It is also about providing an excellent user experience.
In this guide, we'll talk about everything you need to know about SEO and today's most important SEO components. Let's start with what is SEO.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to rank higher on the search engine results page (SERPs). SEO helps you increase the quality and quantity of organic traffic and improves your online visibility. Remember, SEO is the process of enhancing unpaid results and does not include direct visitors and the purchase of paid placement.
Is SEO Important?
Yes, SEO is essential for every business unless, of course, you have a lot of cash to burn (in paid advertising). SEO is the best way to attract visitors at almost no cost. There are a lot more benefits to SEO than just attracting high-quality traffic to your website. Some of the benefits of SEO are:
- Helps you provide a better user experience
- Acts as a primary source of generating leads
- Enables you to generate a higher ROI
- Decreases your cost per acquisition
- Improves your brand's visibility on Search Engines
- Helps you build Brand Credibility and Trust
- Gives you a competitive edge
- Enables you to gain market share
- Can eliminate cold calling and other traditional strategies
- Allows you to improve page speed
SEO is the best investment you can ever make. It will help you gain a competitive advantage and qualitative website visits.
Is SEO Difficult?
Long answer short, SEO isn't difficult, but it is also not fair to say that it is easy, especially with the latest search algorithm updates. It requires enormous planning and is time-taking as well. If you're new to SEO, it could be a little difficult for you as you'll need to learn a lot of various aspects to become an SEO expert.
If you're an entrepreneur or a website owner with little to no knowledge of SEO, optimizing your website could be a lot difficult and time-taking as there are a lot of aspects of SEO that you would need to take care of. Not to mention the other revenue-generating elements you will need to focus on at the same time.
Since SEO is continually changing, you will need to keep yourself updated with the latest SEO trends and search algorithm updates.
Keyword Research and Keyword Targeting Best Practices
Keyword research is the process of finding out the actual search terms people use to find your business. Keyword targeting best practices is a way of ensuring that search engines don't penalize your website.
Crafting content that pleases both your target audience and the search engine is significant. One of the best ways to do so is including the keywords your target audience is using when searching for your business.
To know what keywords or phrases people use to search for your business use tools such as Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest or SEMRush Keyword Explorer.
Make sure you don't stuff your content with keywords. Stuffing keywords could lead to a search penalty (can reduce your website's ranking). The optimum keyword density (the number of times a keyword appears on a page) is 1-3%. This means if you're writing 1000 words content and you're using the keyword 15 times, your density will be 1.5%.
Many people use a different formula, but the most common method to calculate the keyword density is:
(Number of keywords/Total number of words)*100
Also, use the right combination of short-tail and long-tail keywords to get the most out of it.
How Do Search Engines Work?
When it comes to showing results, search engines have three primary functions:
- Crawl: Looks at all the content/code for each URL they find on the internet.
- Index: Organize and store the content they find while crawling. Once a page is in the indexing stage, it is more likely to be displayed as a search result to relevant queries.
- Rank: Provide the pieces of content that are more likely to answer a searcher's query. It arranges the resources by the most relevant and least relevant.
If your website can't be seen anywhere in the search results, there are a few possible reasons why:
- You have just launched your site, and it hasn't been crawled yet
- No external websites have linked to your website
- You have a very complex site structure that makes it hard for a robot to crawl effectively
- Your site contains specific code called crawler directives that is blocking search engine crawlers
- Your website has been penalized for using spammy SEO tactics
If you want to check which of your pages are being crawled by Google, create a free Google Search Console account and head towards the index coverage report. Google Search Console also allows you to submit Sitemaps for your site.
When it comes to optimizing a website or a blog, there are two types of optimization.
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the process of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher on the search engine results page while off-page SEO refers to the action you take outside of your website to enhance its ranking on SERPs.
Now that you know the difference between on-page and off-page SEO let's have a look at the techniques you can use to optimize your website.
On-Page SEO Tactics
When it comes to on-page SEO, every little thing like meta tags, ALT text, and keyword density matter a lot.
1 - Use One H1 Tag: Using headings tag on your content helps search engine crawlers understand the context of your content. But, make sure you use only one H1 tag. Using more than one H1 tag could confuse crawlers about what the content is precisely about.
2 - Use Your Focus Keyword in Title and Meta Descriptions: Title and Meta descriptions are the best places to integrate your keywords. The closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title and meta description, the more weight it has with search engines.
3 - Optimize your URL: Your URL should tell what the content is all about. Avoid ugly URLs such as google.com/search-results/2019 and modify your URL into something meaningful such as google.com/on-page-seo.
4 - Use ALT Text Tag: Google can't view the images on your websites like humans. Hence, it relies on the Alt Text tag to understand what the image is all about. Using descriptive ALT text can even help the image on your content rank higher on Google Image search results.
5 - Use your keyword in the First 100 words: Make sure you use your keywords once in the first 100 words of your content.
6 - Internal Links: Internal linking will help you keep your readers engaged and spend more time on your website. It would be a great idea to use a keyword as your anchor text.
7 - Fix Broken Links: Do a technical audit of your website every few weeks to figure out broken links and block search engine crawlers from indexing it.
8 - Boost Site's Speed: Your site's speed matters a lot. 57% of visitors will leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. You can use a CDN or optimize your images to boost your site's speed.
There is a lot more to On-Page SEO, which I will talk about in my next post. Till then, follow the above-mentioned tactics to optimize your website.
Off-Page SEO Tactics
Off-page SEO is often misunderstood by creating links. But, there's a lot more to it.
1 - Backlinks: This is the most important off-page SEO technique of all time. There are three types of links: natural links, manually built links, and self-created links.
- Natural Links: When another website naturally links to your content, it is referred to as natural links.
- Manually Built Links: These links are acquired by asking influencers to share your content or getting your customers to link to your content.
- Self-Created Links: These links are created by adding a link in an online directory or adding a link to your website when guest blogging.
When obtaining backlinks, make sure you don't use Black Hat SEO techniques as it can lead to a penalty.
2 - Social Media Marketing: Social media doesn't impact your website's rankings directly, but it does influence your website's ranking indirectly. Create a business profile on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., and engage with your target audience regularly. Post updates on it and redirect them to your website.
3 - Forum Marketing: One of the best things you can do to prove your expertise in your niche is by getting involved in online forums and answering questions related to your industry.
4 - Directory Submission: No, directory submission is not dead yet. Submit your site details on the niche directories to increase your site's visibility on SERPs.
5 - Guest Blogging: As I mentioned above, Guest blogging is one of the best ways to get high-authority backlinks. This also allows you to attract other site visitors.
6 - Influencer Marketing: This could be costly, but worth it. But, if you're hiring an influencer to promote your website, make sure their followers resonate with your target audience.
Off-page SEO is as important as on-page SEO. If you want your SEO efforts to be successful, you have to do both.
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to improve your site's visibility and ranking on search engines. There are other benefits of SEO as well, such as it helps you build your brand image, reduces the cost per acquisition, and more.
Using both on-page and off-page SEO techniques together can help you generate the best possible results. In the end, don't forget to measure your SEO performance.