SEO is not hard; you just need to learn the processes. Here are the most important points in SEO for beginners.
Let’s start at the beginning, seeing as this is SEO for beginners. Firstly, SEO – Search Engine Optimisation (Or Optimization for American readers!) – is the process of fiddling with things on the web to make your website rank higher in search engines for specific keywords.
There is such thing as negative SEO, which is used to decrease the rankings of other websites. However, this is unethical and we will leave it to be discussed another time.
Two main points in SEO for beginners
There are two points we will touch on that are the most basic and important foundations to improving and learning SEO – Keywords and on-site/on-page SEO
Keywords are the most important part of SEO. Get these right before you do anything else.
You are tailoring your webpages to a certain, or maybe more than one, keyword. You choose this keyword because it is relevant to your niche. But, there are other reasons to choose keywords too. It is important to note that a keyword can be a string of words, such as ‘SEO for beginners’, which is the keyword for this blog.
Keywords have competition, as you can imagine. For example, trying to rank on the front page of Google for the keyword ‘shoes’ would be very hard. However, optimising your page for a keyword such as ‘black shoes size 9 wide’ would be much easier as the competition is less. But how do you find which keywords to focus your pages on?
Keywords have two metrics that are very important to consider – the competition and the search volume. The best keywords are the ones that have low competition but a high search volume. If you find one of these, you have struck gold! This means that when people Google this particular string of key words, also known as a search query, the results are not optimised for this query. In other words, the search results do not satisfy the people, meaning there is room to infiltrate the front page!
What I have been describing is leveraging the long tail of keywords. Here’s a picture to help visualise what I mean:
As you can see, the cost to compete for the high competition keywords is very high, which would mean your site would receive minimal traffic. Another important point is that the accumulated search volume of the long tail keywords exceeds that of the high competition keywords. Therefore,
We will be able to gain more viewers faster by using long tail keywords!
By utilising long tail keywords, you will grow your site from the ground up, and as your traffic and link density grows, you site will have a higher domain status which will enable you to compete for higher competition keywords in the future.
So now we have our keyword, we need to know how to optimise our webpage or blog post to this keyword.
On-site SEO is the changes you make on your website to increase the status of your page. Pretty simple right?
So let’s look into how you improve on-site SEO. Don’t worry, there are applications and plug-ins that help you check this so you can learn on the go.
Put your keyword in the title of the page. The closer to the start of the page it is, the better it is.
Keep the title below 65 characters. This is optional but it is highly recommended to follow this as it is much more aesthetically pleasing if the title is not cut off by Google.
Put your keyword towards the beginning of the first paragraph. This lets search engines know what your content is about.
Mention the keyword throughout the article, where it is relevant.
Put the keyword in headings – but not all of them if there is a lot. The earlier the header, the better. Having it in header one (<h1>) is a big plus.
Maintain a keyword density of less than 2.5%, but higher than 0.5%. This is because Google cracked down on keyword stuffing. So as mentioned, you want to place the keyword in the text. However, don’t overdo it.
Include inbound links. You don’t need many but it helps and they will also pass link juice to your linked pages.
The more text the better, but it is recommended to have at least between 300-500 words on the page.
Add at least one image to the page, and put the keyword in the alt description of the image.
Create a meta description, and make sure the keyword is in the meta description.
Include the keyword in the page URL, and have a visually friendly URL.
Ensure that your page is not a duplicate or too similar to another one of your pages
Include outbound links which are dofollow links. These are just normal links, so you don’t need to research the difference of dofollow and nofollow links for now.
Ensure your site is mobile friendly. This is very important to Google and you will be punished if it is not.
Make sure your site speed is fast, if it is not it won’t rank well.
Most importantly, make sure the content is good. The better the content, the more likely people are to share it and help to increase your link density and therefore your growth. Link to your social channels too! It’s always good to promote sharing of content and help your social channels grow.
These are the two main points in SEO for beginners – understand keywords and optimise your site. Without these two steps done correctly your additional measures will be futile. This is because you will be attempting to build on top of broken foundations. Stay tuned for future posts going into depth about how to find long tail keywords and off-site SEO!
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