Have you ever wondered why your website isn’t attracting traffic like it’s supposed to? Maybe you’re seeing your competitors’ websites performing much better than yours.
One significant way of increasing your website’s influence is via Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Here, we will cover all the important things you need to know as a beginner’s guide to SEO.
This includes the definition of SEO for beginners, its benefits, and how you can start implementing it for your own website.
Knowing a little bit more about search engine optimization for dummies will allow you to have greater control over how your website functions in influencing your target audience.
What are you waiting for? Let’s go!
SEO: What is it and How Does it Work?
In order to start implementing SEO on your websites, it’s important to first understand what is SEO and how it works. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and is a series of things you can do to optimize your website, making it appear more prominently on search engine organic search results.
The concept of SEO is not new and has been around as long as search engines have existed, which dates back to the early 1990s.
This is important for business owners, as these websites depend on continuous and quality website traffic in order to be seen and noticed. Ultimately, a high level of traffic will mean higher chances of conversion and sales, which is the main aim.
When a user is interested in something related to your products or services, they will enter certain search terms on Google and other search engines. As a business owner, you have to ensure that your website fits their needs and will appear prominently at the top of these search results.
SEO involves many different methods and techniques, some of which are more technical and happen at a programming level (back end) while others happen at the content or design level ( front end).
SEO works to improve the visibility of your website by generating organic traffic, meaning that you work to push your website higher with free methods, rather than paid ones.
This is opposed to PPC or Pay-Per-Click marketing, whereby search engines like Google will require you to pay a certain sum to have your website featured as an ad at the top of search results.
Both SEO and PPC together make up the concept known as Search Engine Marketing (SEM).
SEO has three important components that we will discover in detail later on, namely the website’s technical aspect, quality content, and strong backlinks.
To implement SEO, we have to understand how Google and other search engines work as well, and what websites they tend to push to the top.
Why Is SEO Important for Your Website?
Why is SEO important for your business and online marketing strategies? This is because SEO is a cost-effective way for you to improve your online presence.
These days, almost everyone is online in one way or another. Making yourself visible is an effective way to market and promote your brand. Here are some of the main benefits SEO has for your business:
1. It Drives Organic Traffic
Research has shown that over half of the traffic a website receives is traffic from organic search results. The position your website holds in a list of search results will affect the number of people who see it.
In essence, the higher you appear on a search engine results list, the more people will see and notice you. In fact, Google’s statistics have shown that the first website on a list has almost double the number of clicks compared to the second one.
2. It Doesn’t Involve Much Costs
SEO can be free of any costs, and you don’t have to pay anything to make your website more visible. Instead, it is a series of strategies and techniques to optimize your website so that the algorithms will recognize it as relevant to key search terms.
Spending on paid SEO methods will produce results too, but free or charge methods can work just as well, given time and added effort. This is particularly useful if you don’t have a large marketing budget.
You may be interested in: SEO Price Malaysia
3. It’s Easily Monitored
When you are active as a website on search engines like Google, there will be back-end methods available for you to track whether your methods are working.
This will make it easier for you to set goals and focus on the strategies that work, and leave out less effective SEO strategies that don’t. In the end, you’ll be able to come up with the correct combination of SEO methods for your website.
For example, you can target to increase your website visitors and this can be tracked by any free Google marketing tools such as the website analytics tool, Google Analytics.
How Can You Start Implementing SEO?
It doesn’t matter if you want to perform SEO for new websites or improve existing ones, the core concepts and strategies are common for both – optimization.
In this guide to Search Engine Optimization for dummies, we will recommend simple steps that you can carry out on your own.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO is not complicated and can be carried out as long as you spend time understanding the basic concepts attached to it.
Here are some SEO optimization tips that you can practice on your own:
1. Keyword Research and Optimization
It is a known fact that Google and other search engines use a method called ‘crawling’ and ‘indexing’ to determine a website’s relevance to a user’s search term. Crawling is a process whereby the search engine goes through all the aspects of your website’s content, and indexing is when your website’s content and information are analyzed and stored.
Therefore, you first need to optimize your content by inserting relevant keywords. This involves knowing how to find keywords for SEO, whereby keywords are search terms that users will enter into the search engine.
The first step is of course to determine which keywords users tend to look for the most. To do this, you can rely on various on-page SEO keyword research tools. These tools will list out keywords and phrases based on their popularity.
Next, you’ll have to insert these words into your website’s content. Avoid jamming too many keywords into one page and make sure that your SEO content writing makes sense.
There are plenty of ways out there to find the perfect keywords for your website. All in all, it all boils down to your business goals and utilization of keywords search intent.
As a small business that is just starting out, when going through keyword research and choosing the right keywords, you should try to include longtail keywords that are more specific, despite them having relatively lower search volume compared to short ones. The same applies to the rule of blogging. One way to do this is by localizing and specifying your keywords.
For example, if you run a food review blog, relying too much on generalized keyword data or search queries like ‘nasi lemak’ and ‘sambal’ with high search volume will mean that there are thousands of websites using the same terms.
However, if you use competitive keywords like ‘Nasi Lemak Damansara Uptown’ and ‘Nasi Lemak Damansara review’, you will compete with fewer websites using the same keywords.
2. Optimizing SEO in Permalinks
Another aspect of your site that’s indexed is your permalinks. Permalinks are the address of your website pages that appear at the top. Your website should have several as the main page and each of the sub-pages on your site will have a permalink of its own.
In order to improve and optimize your permalinks, you have to ensure that they remain simple and shareable. Good permalinks are ones that are simple, short, contain exact descriptions of the page, and don’t have long random numbers or alphabets.
Making your permalinks short and sweet will enable users to share your page by copying and pasting them. This way, your pages can be shared on social media and messaging apps more easily. The more shares you get, the more your page views will increase in the long run.
3. Link Building
Part of SEO for beginners is understanding how Google and other search engines rank your website. Basically, the more authoritative and valuable your website is, the higher it will rank.
In order to determine how trustworthy and valuable a website is, Google looks at the number of backlinks to that website. Backlinks are links to your website found on other sites.
The more that external websites link to yours, the more your website is seen as authoritative. As a website owner, you have to start building diverse and quality backlinks.
This means that your backlinks have to be from other valid and trustable websites, rather than from spammy sites or comments. One of the many existing link-building techniques is to build links is to form partnerships with relevant businesses, and then mutually feature each other’s sites as links in your respective content.
Further reading: How to Increase Domain Authority
4. High-Quality Content
Earlier, we looked at how keywords will increase your site’s SEO. However, you can’t just trick search engines by spamming a page with SEO resources and keywords that don’t make sense.
Your website has to have its own character and quality content that engages readers and visitors. Part of how to SEO a website is understanding how to make it suitable for humans and not just search engine algorithms.
In order to optimize your content, you will have to decide on the key topics you want to present. For example, if you’re a digital marketer, there will be portions of your website discussing digital marketing techniques and tips, trends of different niches under digital marketing, etc.
Therefore, you also want good copywriting services to support your content. Translation: to write content with good grammar, flow, and creativity.
Additionally, you should ensure that your content is up to date, is informative, provides value to the reader, and has a unique point of view. Finally, it has to be readable with a tone and style that fits your brand image.
5. Optimizing Images
A website that’s jammed with long rows of texts alone won’t be interesting to visitors. Therefore you need images to go along with your content.
An optimized set of images are ones that can be loaded relatively quickly. This means you may need to resize or compress images accordingly. Make sure that these processes don’t reduce the image’s quality and they don’t get blurry.
Image loading times are crucial, so make sure that there are no image files that are too large that they slow the website load time significantly. Images should ideally load all at once with the other aspects of your website to create a cohesive user experience.
Additionally, optimizing websites with images would also mean you should pay attention to the images’ alt texts, which are short descriptions of the image found in the code. This will make search engines understand the image better, thereby determining the relevance of your page to a search term.
6. Optimizing Page Download Speed
Yet another ranking factor that will make your website rank highly is a fast download speed. You want to ensure that users can view your page in a matter of seconds and not have to wait too long, thereby contributing to the bounce rate.
The good news is, there are several simple ways to increase your site’s download speed.
Before you start, you’ll want to assess whether your website’s download speed is acceptable. One free tool to do this is Google PageSpeed Insights, which will recommend what you can improve as well.
Some of the simple and practical things you can do to increase download speed are to reduce the size of images, minimize the number of third-party plug-ins, find a good host server and implement caching.
7. Don’t Neglect Mobile SEO
Another aspect of how to do SEO is learning how to optimize mobile SEO for your site. Providing a mobile version of your site will make it more mobile-friendly, accessible, and convenient to users, and increase the number of visitors you can potentially attract.
Your mobile version should be designed to load across different devices, and not hide any content. You should also ensure all your internal links and redirects are working, and that your website speed is optimized.
Mobile-centric site designs are important too, as you should have larger fonts, links, and menu sizes as well as a responsive layout.
When a search is performed, Google will usually display websites with mobile versions higher. This is Google’s Mobile-First indexing concept and applies no matter if a search is done on a phone or on a desktop. Therefore, if your page doesn’t have a version dedicated to mobile devices, you may be pushed down the list.
8. Learn About Technical SEO
Technical SEO is actually several aspects of your website that involve the way your website is designed and programmed. Technical SEO tips for beginners require some expertise to understand. However, you’ll find that investing some time to increase your technical SEO knowledge will help you in the long run.
Related: SEO Expert Skills for Online Presence
Improving the technical side of your website will help search engines like Google with their crawling and indexing.
Among the aspects of your website that fall under the technical label would be site structure, page’s URL structure, crawling assessment, internal links, XML sitemap, eliminating duplicate content, security certification, and more.
9. Keep Your Content Updated
It’s not enough to have content that’s optimized in terms of keywords or structure. You should also update your content regularly.
This means posting updates about your business or products, publishing new blogs, promoting special events, and the like. Updating your content keeps your website relevant to the current times, and with current events thereby increasing its ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Keeping your content fresh is also important for user engagement, in order to make them stay longer and even interact with your page and share it.
Apart from that, you should also optimize your old content with the latest information and versions, including rewriting them or adding information to them. This ensures you maintain its value while still in line with current news and trends.
10. Structure Your Content Wisely
There’s no denying that a big part of SEO marketing for your website depends on the quality of your content. However, there’s a lot more to good content than just creativity, flow, and grammar.
There’s also the technical side of creating good content. For articles, placements of keywords should be done naturally. Sentences should be kept short and language as simple as your brand allows.
Use headings and subheadings when presenting articles, and remember to conduct keyword research and site audits to determine the optimal number of keywords and overall length of the piece.
Website hosting platforms like WordPress actually have plug-ins to help you improve all these parameters. You can also incorporate external SEO optimization plug-ins to any site you’re working on to improve content structure and form.
11. Internal Link Building
Previously, we discussed the importance of backlinks, which is when other sites reference your website. Apart from having backlinks, it is also crucial to have internal links throughout your content. Internal links are when one part of your content has links to another part of your site.
For example, a blog post can have a link to your ‘Contact Us’ web page or your Homepage can feature a link to a page promoting your latest products or services.
Internal links have many benefits. Some of which include improved crawlability, increased link equity, and better user experience overall.
12. Customized Title Tags and Meta Descriptions
First impressions matter a lot, and the way that your website makes these first impressions is by creating eye-catching title tags and descriptions.
A title tag is the main title that your website or page will be identified by in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). A meta description will be displayed beneath it, which is a short description of your page.
Both of these will play a big role in determining whether a user clicks on your link or not. It can make or break their decisions. You have to make sure your meta tags and descriptions are brief, to the point, include your focus keyword and stand out from the rest in a positive way.
Tracking Your Website’s SEO Progress
Part of SEO 101 is knowing whether your optimization steps are working or not. Apart from searching for your own website using keywords from keyword research, here are a few other tracking methods we can recommend:
Manually conducting keyword research for the main keywords that you use on your site will reveal where your website ranks in the resulting Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
For example, if your website uses ‘digital marketing’ as its focus keyword, entering that into Google will reveal where your website ranks. If your SEO efforts are working, you’ll see your website ranking being pushed up as time goes on.
Basically, organic search engine traffic means the visitors that your site is attracting directly from your website’s link on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). This means that your page is gaining visibility and more people are clicking on it, indicating that it is appearing at the top of people search results rather than later.
Leads and Sales
Ultimately, SEO’s main aim is always to generate more customers and sales for your business. Therefore, if your sales and organic leads are increasing, this is an indication that many more people are seeing your business online and that your own site is rising in the ranks.
Number of Backlinks
When you first start out, you may have to solicit backlinks from other sites. However, as your brand and website gain traction, it will naturally attract more organic backlinks whereby other sites voluntarily link to your site.
SEO Tools That Are Useful For Beginners
In this beginners’ guide to SEO, we can’t help but list down some of our favorite SEO tools that will be of immense use to you.
1. Google Keyword Planner
A target keyword research tool among many keyword tools on Google Ads for choosing the best keywords for your ad campaigns and websites.
2. Google Analytics
Track your website’s SEO performance in terms of existing site visitors and search traffic. A must-have in the SEO community!
3. Google Search Console
Analytics with extensive information on backlinks. Google Search Console can also check your sitemap and use it to improve your website’s crawlability.
An all-in-one SEO tracker with in-depth analytics.
Analyzes any website in minutes, and has a great geodata feature that allows you to see where your traffic is coming from.
SEO: Wrapping Up The Basics
Understanding what is SEO marketing is an important part of being a business owner, especially these days when you just can’t escape from digital marketing.
SEO mainly requires you to improve aspects of your website in order to make it more amenable for search engines. This in turn will increase its visibility among internet users and increase the number of organic visitors to your site.
Spending some time with a Google SEO starter guide or SEO for dummies article can be rather daunting, especially since there are several new concepts and terms to understand.
If you would like to have a proper session to understand how to SEO, including its main principles and implementation, contact us and you’ll be able to speak to our SEO experts.