The Ultimate SEO Guide For Beginners
Constructing a beautiful site isn’t enough in this day and age. Traffic generation is vital and has to be focused on.
Where does one begin? Some will look towards social media accounts, classified ads, and even posting on related forums to generate interest.
These are interesting methods and have their purpose, but SEO is the ultimate all-in-one solution for those who wish to acquire targeted leads.
The benefits of SEO far outweigh any other method making it the most sought after option for site owners.
However, for beginners, it’s initially going to be confusing. How does SEO work? What does it entail? Can anyone maximize their site to rank for specific keywords? This guide is going to let you in on all of the nuances to ensure you take the right first step.
What Is SEO?
Before anything else, it is best to define what SEO is. Those who are beginning will want to get an in-depth understanding of this term because it will be used throughout the read.
SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. A search engine is a place where one goes to search specific keywords before locating related sites on the Internet. For example, a person seeking assistance for acne might hop onto Google or Bing to type “best acne treatment” before thousands of sites pop up.
SEO is a method used to rank higher for these particular keywords in your niche. You will want to be the first site a person sees when they use a search engine. This is the ultimate “top prize” as one would say in the world of marketing. Businesses are earning millions of dollars by hitting these rankings.
So, now that you have understood SEO let’s move onto the nitty-gritty details.
You understand what SEO is, but what about its benefits? Why should your marketing campaign be focused on this method? There are certain advantages associated with SEO that won’t be found through other traffic generation opportunities.
Unless you’re hiring an SEO company (many do!), you will be able to pursue this method for free. You can quickly optimize a site using DIY tactics and see results. In fact, this guide is only going to focus on DIY methods as that is most important.
SEO is free, and that is always good for those on a budget.
You’re acquiring leads that are highly targeted. These are individuals who’re going out of their way to search specific keywords related to your business. Once again, with the example of acne products, imagine your acne-related business coming up for a person searching “best acne treatment.” It would lead to an immediate conversion and a rush of new sales.
You can get people who otherwise would have ignored your site. This is one of the biggest plus points with SEO.
3) Builds Authority In Niche
A lot of research has gone into search engines and how people respond to sites listed for major keywords. People have automatically become accustomed to the best sites in a niche being listed at the top. It shows authority, quality, and consistency in the eyes of incoming traffic.
Once you are up among the top sites, you’re passively displaying authority. This is what leads to an additional boon in sales.
Key SEO Factors
Let’s move onto the key factors to consider as you build an SEO campaign. Too many people automatically assume they can throw in a few keywords into their text, and they’re ready to go. This might have worked in the 90s when Google was new, but those days are long gone.
There are seven key SEO factors split into two categories (On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO). Let’s take a look at all of them.
On-page SEO is anything optimized on one’s site. This can be images, title tags, HTML links, text, or any other aspect of one’s site. Off-page SEO is the opposite and is anything away from your site. This can be social media accounts or incoming links from other sites.
1) Site’s Design (On-Page SEO)
This SEO factor is important as it gauges the outline of one’s site. How easy is it to crawl for incoming search engine bots? You want the site to be as easy to access as possible for these bots since they will assess whether you should rank higher or not.
Too many sites are clunky in this regard and have massive indexes without purpose.
The site should be structured, and this is why most people stick to WordPress themes as they work well in this regard.
The site’s design will also include things such as mobile-friendliness. With millions of devices being used to access Google and other search engines, it has become paramount to incorporate this into one’s site. Using themes which are mobile-friendly will help build authority in the eyes of search engines. In fact, recent studies are showing those who aren’t mobile-friendly are being docked points and pushed down the results page for each keyword.
Get out in front of this and make sure you start off with a site that is easy to read on mobile devices.
The last aspect of a site’s design that matters will involve duplication. You don’t want to go with a site where content is duplicated, or pages look the same. You need variety, and the bots will look for this. It plays a significant role in the long-term.
2) Content Creation (On-Page SEO)
This is the biggest SEO factor of them all. Without content creation being optimized, a person will be languishing in the pits of search results, and that is not a nice place to be!
Content creation begins with one’s research. You have to find specific keywords, which will help get your site out into the open. You want to find related keywords that connect with your site and make sense. For example, you’re not going to target depression while running a site for Instant Pots!
Keyword research involves a variety of factors including search results per month, relatedness, and length.
You want to target keywords, which are higher in search results, but you have to realize there is added competition for these keywords. People run for the large traffic sources first, and this can be a hard battle to start with early on. Therefore, most people go for the low hanging fruit (i.e. 500-1000 searches per month) to get their feet wet. This is up to each individual and mixing things up is a good thing.
Relatedness matters as well because content should connect with one’s topic otherwise, people will leave the site in seconds even if they do click through.
With length, longer keywords tend to rank easier than primary keywords (one or two words long) because they are specific.
Spend time looking at these details through “Google Keyword Planner”. This is a free tool and is provided by Google with updated figures on each keyword. You can get a great read on related keywords through this tool and build your collection.
After the research is done, you begin to create content with the right use of each keyword. You want to target one keyword per article/blog post. Do not spam which means 3-4 times in one article is more than enough. Anything more and you’re hurting the website’s chances.
It has also become important to think about quality. You want to create content people want to read instead of gaming the system. Once you try to game the system, people will catch on and run away. You want them to stick around and become loyal visitors. Quality always comes first.
3) Underlying Code (On-Page SEO)
A site is coded from top to bottom. You might not understand this coding or how it comes together, but you don’t have to for SEO. The goal is to optimize what you can and let the code work for you.
How do you begin?
It starts with the use of tags. Title tags are a good place to start. What are you going to name the article or blog post? Do you keep using the same words? You will want to optimize by including your keyword in the title tag as this will help rank.
You have to do the same with image tags (captions) and description tags.
The reason for this is simple. The bots will come onto the site and process this code while judging the value of each article. If the tags are optimized, the bots will push a site upwards. The underlying code is important and should not be ignored. Simple changes can make a difference.
4) Social Media (Off-Page SEO)
Now, we move towards things you do away from the site. You will want to start building social credibility as that is a major plus point in the eyes of Google and Bing.
Not only should you start social media accounts on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram, you should remain active as well. Don’t let these accounts stagnate and encourage participation. This will help push your accounts upwards along with the site.
Social media has become a large part of Google’s algorithm when it comes to how bots rank, so you’ll have to factor this in.
It’s essential to remember interconnecting the accounts with one’s site is important. Post the links to these accounts on your site to help rank. It will push things forward in seconds.
5) Incoming Links (Off-Page SEO)
How are you going to spread the word? Most beginners have a sizable understanding of this factor because this is how they drive in traffic.
The idea is to find related sites or forums to highlight your website. This will help put your link out there in front of people who are interested in the subject matter. Well, the reason this is an important SEO factor comes down to building credibility.
Google or Bing will look through these links and realize you are an authority in this niche. The stronger a site is (with their ranking), the better your link’s quality is going to be.
Now, this doesn’t mean a person starts to spam their site!
This will often get the link taken down, and it is better to have the link stay. Therefore, it is recommended to converse with these site owners and ask for guest spots by posting related content. They will often accept as it’s free content for their site.
6) Authority (Off-Page SEO)
This has been touched on before in the guide and has to be mentioned as an SEO factor. Authority is critical for a site to succeed. If the bots do not feel a site has authority via links, quality content, and depth, it’s going to be penalized.
Authority is a must.
Incoming traffic should feel the site has value to offer and will want to stay online for long periods. This is when the site is going to blossom in general. Building authority is something all site owners should covet when hoping to succeed.
You want to build multiple methods to get people to engage. This is why social media engagement is critical. This encourages bots into recognizing your site is the real deal.
7) Personalization (Off-Page SEO)
This is the final SEO factor in the guide. Personalization is a must in this day and age. You will realize this soon enough when starting.
You’re not going to target people in the same manner. In the past, this was okay where you would find broad keywords and call it a day. Nowadays, you have to be specific. For example, if you are running an AC repair company do you want leads from another country?
No, you will want leads from your city and nearby areas. Any other lead is a waste of time for you. This is why local SEO has started to play a role. You have to personalize the keywords and look for specific search strings that are associated with your area.
Bad Example = Best AC Repair Company
Good Example = Best AC Repair Company In X City
See the difference? It is significant and targeted. You want to stick to understanding how you can personalize as much as possible.
SEO Mistakes To Avoid
Let’s move onto the mistakes a person can end up making when it comes to SEO. It’s not always going to be a rosy process, and people will learn this quickly. You will have bumps along the way, but this is why you have to learn from what others have done in the past.
1) Being Overzealous
You will have people who want to do everything in one sitting. This is a positive mindset to have, but it’s essential to give everything to each step. You don’t want to skip over details because you are low on energy and running out of time.
Sometimes, it is better to spread things out and do it piece by piece. As mentioned, there are seven factors and each one is intricate. You will have to take your time.
2) Be Patient When Everything Is Set
You will see people who continue to play around with their site because they aren’t at the top after an hour. This is not how things work. Rankings take a long time because thousands of people want to do the same as you.
As long as the steps are followed and you have built a solid site, it will rank, but it’s going to take time as well. You have to let it sit for months and make sure you are adding fresh content as often as you can. This is when the results will pour in.
Never do this. If your goal is to ruin the site and never let it get back to how it was, you can spam, but anyone who is serious should avoid such a colossal mistake. This might be the worst mistake a person can make. You never want to spam.
Google and other search engines have designed their algorithms to pick on these things in seconds.
You cannot spam keywords into your text or spam links on other sites. It’s a disaster waiting to happen, and once you’re penalized, it’s near impossible to come back.
These are the mistakes you will want to avoid right off the bat. Don’t take the chance as it’s not worth it at all.
Building The First Campaign
Now, it’s time to start building your first SEO campaign. You will want to be methodical with this approach as you are laying down a foundation. It’s akin to building a house. You want to get this right so you can make tweaks later on.
If the foundation isn’t okay, you’re going to lose out for a long time to come.
So, how do you set the foundation? This is the question you are going to ask.
Begin with the site’s structure. Make sure you are using the right theme. It should be easy to use, and you should be testing it on various devices. Is there lag? Is it choppy? Does it take time to get from one link to another? You want to assess all of this before moving on. The site should be running seamlessly when you are ready to go.
You also have to start building your social media accounts. Set all of this up as soon as you can along with interconnecting the accounts to your site. In fact, it is best to have a brand people can relate to instead of using generic terms. It will help create authority in your niche.
Once all of this is done, you are going to move onto the next stage, and that is keyword research. Look for keywords that are going to rank well. You want a beautiful, mixed bag of keywords where you’re going broad and specific. This will ensure you can target low-hanging fruit along with highly searched targets.
Spend time on that step as keyword research is necessary. You will want to have the right keywords otherwise you might end up ranking for terms people don’t care for.
Content creation is essential, so you will want to have a good amount of content ready to go. Look to play around with lengths because variety is required. It shows you’re an authentic site and aren’t gaming the system. Therefore, you want to have varied lengths and spread them across the site as much as possible. The same goes for the type of content you are displaying. You don’t want text-only content as that’s annoying not only for incoming traffic, but for the bots as well. You want to have images, videos, infographics, and text. Mix it all in.
At this point, you can start working on optimizing the rest of your site. This means you look at the HTML tags (titles, sub-titles, and image tags). Look to work in the keywords and keep them short. This will matter when it comes time to rank.
You also should start looking at speaking with related site owners to see if they welcome a “guest post”. Create these posts and send them over (make sure to provide good content) to get this process started. It will expedite everything for you in the long-term.
There you go, the first SEO campaign is up and running. It will take time, and that is a given. You don’t have to rush as most beginners will learn. A site owner that does this right is going to be rewarded for a long time to come, so be patient and keep chugging along.
SEO is the way of the future, so maximizing it is a must. Be smart and set everything up based on what this guide provides and never stop learning.