A couple of years ago, we opened an online store that sold lamps. After a few months, we quickly realized that the search engines was bringing us the most traffic.
We were far from alone with that result. A study made by Experian Marketing Services showed that 87% of the traffic to brand websites comes from organic search.
That’s a lot of free traffic.
So even if you don’t want to become an SEO expert, it doesn’t hurt to learn the SEO basics.
In this article, I’m going to cover SEO for beginners. But even if you’re more advanced, you might still learn something new here.
Either way, let’s get started so you can begin to get more free traffic to your website.
I will focus on Google specifically since that is the search engine that represents around 80% of the traffic.
Here Is What You’ll Learn In This Article:
- The best SEO strategy
- SEO basics
- What Google wants
- How social media and SEO goes together
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Small changes that you can do today
- A WordPress plugin that will help you rank your content
- SEO trends
- Great resources for SEO
The Best SEO Strategy
Google has made it clear through penalization that they don’t want, manipulated low-quality backlinks.
Google’s goal is to provide relevant and high-quality information to the people searching. Believe it or not, Google is not the only search engine out there.
They know that if the people that are searching aren’t happy with the results. They could go to a competitor like Bing or Yahoo to search for solutions.
So focus on providing relevant and high-quality content if you want to rank on the first page on Google.
By understanding what Google wants, you can work with their algorithms instead of against it.
Now you might be thinking, but how can Google know what is relevant content and not? And, how can they tell if the content is high quality?
Well, nobody really knows how Google’s algorithms operate except the people that are working there. Google has good reasons for keeping that information secret.
But I will try to answer these questions with the knowledge that I have about SEO.
Tell Google What Your Content Is About By Using Keywords
Imagine if you Googled for shoes and got results of bikes. You wouldn’t be a happy user of Google, would you?
Therefore, when you Google for shoes, you’ll find results that contain the keyword shoes.
The word “shoes” appeared 14 times. And that doesn’t count all the other words that are in the subcategory of shoes like sneakers, oxfords, sandals, etc.
The conclusion from this is that in order to make your content relevant in the eyes of Google—you should use keywords.
Now, it’s important to know that you should never do keyword stuffing. That worked for spammers over a decade ago, but now we are in 2016.
So when you use keywords, make it natural and don’t over do it. Here are a few tips:
- Use keywords in your headline.
- Have the keyword in your SEO title, slug and meta description (more on this later).
- Mention the keyword in the text.
- Download the plug-in Yoast SEO (more on this later).
Now, before you optimize your content for keywords, you need to know which words people are searching for.
Never do guess work when it comes to adding keywords. Use a proven method to find keywords to see exactly how many people are searching for that word or phrase per month.
We use a software called Long-Tail Pro to find our keywords. We concluded that it is the best keyword tool out there since it allows us to see the competition of that keyword as well.
You can read more about finding keywords in our article called How To Find Keywords And Optimize Your Blog Posts for The Search Engine.
How Does Google Know If The Content Is High-Quality?
The second question after relevancy was, how can Google tell if the content is high-quality?
Here are a few things that I believe that Google looks at to determine how valuable the information is:
The length of the content
I’ve recently researched a lot to get answers about the “ideal” length of articles. What I found is that the recommended word count seems to be 2000+ words.
I looked at the highest search results for 20+ articles and found that the majority of them were over 2000+ words.
So it seems to be some truth to the fact that long articles have an advantage in the eyes of Google.
Bounce rate and the time that visitors spend on your website
This ties together with the length of the content. The longer the content, the longer the reader will stay (presuming it’s valuable information.)
Do people share the content on social media? When they do, it tells Google that your content is popular. You’ll get high-quality backlinks which will rank your site higher.
Now, there’s a difference in strength when it comes to shares on social media. For example, an orphan page is a page that has very low impact on SEO.
Such a page has no friends, followers, likes or anything that links to that profile.
So basically, if you want to make the best use of social signals; make sure you’ve got a big following and be interactive on social media.
Try to get your content shared by other people with big social profiles, so you can increase your rankings in the search engine.
Add images to your articles. Pictures can help your readers as well as make the content more attractive. Write the keyword name as an alternative text for the picture once you’ve uploaded it.
If you can, embed videos in your content as well. Youtube is now owned by Google which says a lot. Video stands for 62% of Google searches according to Marketing Land.
On-Page SEO Tips
On-page SEO is about optimizing the pages on your website to help you rank in the search results.
We’ve already touched on some of the on-page SEO tips like content length, adding media and using keywords. But here are a few more tips for optimizing your website.
Use Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a free plugin for WordPress that allows you to see your SEO score. Yoast will tell you if your content is optimized or not.
If it’s not, they will tell you exactly what you need to do to improve your content for optimal results. Here is a picture of the Yoast SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO will also help you to edit your SEO title, slug and meta description.
Interlinking is linking to one of your web pages from another web page of yours.
So for example, let’s say you are writing an article about weight loss. In that article, you link to another article that you’ve written on nutrition.
Put the link on the word nutrition – if nutrition is the keyword that you’re trying to rank for on that other article.
If you have a lot of your pages linking to a particular page – it tells Google that the page is relevant.
Off-page SEO is basically about getting other websites to link to your site.
Now, spokespeople of Google has said that you should try to avoid link building. It could hurt your website, more than it will add to your site, they say.
Google has stated that even links from guest posting are considered to be spam.
So, what do Google want? Well, they want you to make it easy for people to share your content. That way, if the content is epic – it will be shared and get natural backlinks.
Download a plug-in like SumoMe to your WordPress website to create social share buttons for your content.
Some big no-no’s when it comes to Off page SEO are:
- Buying links.
- Using software to get backlinks.
- Spamdexing or other black hat SEO tactics.
Diversify Your Traffic Sources
Far too many people have learned this lesson the hard way. If Google makes a change in their algorithm, the rankings might be affected.
One way to diversify your traffic is by using different social media platforms to drive traffic. Learn how to master Pinterest or another social media platform.
What Are Some Action Steps That You Can Take Today To Optimize Your Website For The Search Engines?
The first step is to make sure that you’ve done your keyword research. You can use Google Keyword Planner tool if you only want to see the search volume.
However, if you want to go more advanced and be able to see the competition of the keyword, use Long-Tail Pro.
The second step after you’ve chosen one keyword or keyword phrase is to optimize your content.
Make sure to download the Yoast SEO plug-in and optimize your content for the keyword. Again Yoast SEO is free, and it will show your SEO score for the content.
Also, try to make your content a little bit longer. 2000+ words if you can.
After that, make it a habit of always sharing your new content on social media. If you’re a WordPress user, you can download a plug-in called Publicize.
Publicize will automatically share the new content to all of your different social media accounts.
You can also submit your content to different bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Reddit.
The final step is to adopt interlinking. Now, make sure to make it natural. Only add links to places where it would make sense.
An example of interlinking is the fact that I’ve put a link in this article to another article that goes more in depth into keyword research and optimizing your content. (Scroll up to see the example).
That is because these two articles complement each other.
One SEO trend is mobile searches. Therefore, make sure that your website is Mobile friendly.
Another trend in SEO is the fact that social media pages and posts will rank higher up in the search engine.
Therefore, learn how to master social media marketing!
There are many more trends to study, but I think that these two are the most impactful. As I’ve stated before, videos have a big impact on SEO, so it might be worth considering as well.
First and foremost, I recommend that you make sure that you’ve integrated your site with Google Analytics.
That way, you can track your data. You can see how many people that are visiting your site each day as well as where they are coming from.
Perhaps you can see that you get a lot of organic traffic to a particular article or web page. Ask yourself, why is that? What keyword did you use and how did you promote it? Perhaps it’s because that article went viral on social media?
The next resource that I recommend is Google Webmasters. Webmaster tool will allow you to see if your site has any errors or anything that might be hurting your rankings.
You can also submit a sitemap to Google Webmasters which can be beneficial if your website is new. That way, your website will be indexed faster by Google. There are many tutorials online on how to submit your sitemap.
Webmasters tools also have a bunch of videos on SEO which I’ve watched and continue to watch. I’ll drop a link to their Youtube channel if you want to continue studying Google and how they work.
We’ve also gone over the importance of keyword research. So either use Google keyword planner or Long-tail pro to find keywords and phrases that people are searching for.
And finally, I’m going to repeat something that I’ve mentioned many times throughout this article:
Install the Yoast SEO plug-in if you haven’t already! It’s truly a gift from an SEO perspective, and because it’s free, it should be a no-brainer to get it.
Thanks For Reading SEO for Beginners!
I hope that you learned something new from this article. I would love if you shared your experience with SEO down in the comment section. Also, please share this article with anyone that you think will benefit from it!