SEO For Beginners: First Steps

In today’s competitive market, search engine optimization (SEO) is more important than ever. SEO refers to the method used to increase a website’s position on search engine results pages (SERPs) on sites such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. Developing an SEO strategy for your business can help draw consumer traffic to your website as well as grow your sales and revenue.

To have a good basic search engine optimization is not as hard as most people think. The most important work can be done with very little effort. For those who don’t even know what SEO is, don’t worry, we’ll start from the beginning. And for those who are already experts seeking for the tip of the iceberg when it comes to online marketing, maybe this is not the right article for you.

SEO vs. SEA vs. SEM

In this article, we’re only going to talk about SEO. Because there are so many confusing terms out there related to SEO, we’ll also define the three most popular ones. First, SEO (search engine optimization) means the use of certain strategies or techniques to increase the amount of visitors to a website by acquiring a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine. A well prepared SEO strategy will do most of the work. But it’ll also take time until your ranking actually increases on search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo.

If you don’t want to wait until your ranking is where you want it to be, a good way to speed up this process is SEA. In SEA (search engine advertising), advertisements in the form of text or images are posted prominently in result pages of search engines such as Google or Bing. SEA is the perfect kickstart if you want to be seen immediately and if you don’t mind spending some money on advertising. But keep in mind that SEA is only effective long-term in combination with SEO.

Last but no least, there is SEM (search engine marketing), which is basically the combination of SEO and SEA.

Let’s head back to SEO. In the following I’ll mainly focus on a step by step guide to a good basic search engine optimization.

First Step: Think About Content

Nowadays, content marketing is a huge part of online marketing. Good content will attract visitors and the more content you have, the more likely visitors will stick around on your website. Quality content can include a variety of things, like blog posts, videos, images, podcasts, infographics, tutorials and more.
Your goal should always be to have high quality content on your website. With this you may not only satisfy your customers visiting your site, but also search engines.

What is quality content?

Over the last years, search engines’ definition of quality content came closer to what people would define as quality content. Even though there are still differences, search engines’ highest priority are the consumers’ preferences .
This means, good content has to be valuable for the visitor, it has to entertain, inform or help. It has to animate the user to join, share or like your content, leading to even more visitors.

  • Unique Content: Your texts should always be unique, as duplicate content will lead to a lower ranking, because Google is able to track down sites with similar content.
  • Text length: The text on your page should at least contain 300 words, so Google can actually analyse what your site is about.
  • Holistic Content: Furthermore, the text should describe a subject as precisely as possible. The overall content of your website should make it clear to any search engine what the website’s subject is.
  • Up-To-Date: Good content should be refreshed and expanded regularly. Search engines give your webpage a better ranking if you work on it. A good way to do so is by writing blog entries, articles or simply changing some of your already existing content.

Second Step: On-Page SEO

Some of the most important elements in search engine optimization happen on your own website. Here are the minimum on-site optimization elements you should always consider when working on SEO.

Keywords

The first step in getting your site ready to rank is making it clear to Google what your site is about. Finding the „best“ or most effective keywords can be very important. Therefore, it’s important to at least spend some time brainstorming to come up with a few keywords. Since this is a beginner’s guide, I won’t dive into the many possibilities to find the perfect keyword. I suggest entering some preliminary ideas on Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool to get suggestions, if you’re not sure which keywords to use.

Title Tag

The title tag tells search engines what your website is about. It should ideally be no more than 65 characters long and contain your keywords and business name. You find the title tag placed between the <HEAD> </HEAD> tags near the top of the HTML code for the page.

Using WordPress?
If you use WordPress on your own domain, it’s even easier. You can use free plugins such as All in One SEO, Platinum SEO, and SEO by Yoast to easily add title tags and meta descriptions to your website.

Meta Description

Even though it’s unclear whether meta descriptions can help with keyword rankings or not, you should definitely write one. Because having a good SEO is not only about ranking, it’s also about the people clicking on your website when they see it. And a well written meta description can be a huge conversion factor. Your keywords should be in the meta description as well.

Other On-Page SEO Elements

Beside the title tag and the meta description, there are some more basic on-page SEO elements you might consider working on.

  • Internal Links: Building internal links can be supportive for search engines to learn more about your website. Therefore, not only external links are important, but also internal links.
  • Header Tags: By using header tags, you can help both readers and search engines read and understand your content. There should be one <H1></H1> tag per page and multiple <H2></H2> and <H3></H3> tags for your subheadings to break up your content into smaller sections.
  • Image Name & ALT Tags: Images should always have a well chosen image name and alt tag. You can simply think of good keywords that describe the image best.

Third Step: Off-Page SEO

When we’re talking about Off-Page SEO, we’re talking about links (sometimes we call them backlinks, but it’s really the same thing). Search engines see every link to your website as a weighted vote. By linking to something, you tell the search engine: „This is worth checking out.“ Depending on how legit you are, your vote carries more or less weight.

So how do you get links? There are lots and lots of ways to do it. But in this article, I only focus on the good quality link building (Whitehat) instead of the spammy low-quality link building, which is often referred to as Blackhat. This should also be the method you strive for. The best way to build links, is to not build links. These organic links are the best kind, especially if they are on well-recognized name websites.

Social Links

The easiest way to build high quality links are social sites or any site that lets you post stuff. Social sites can not only count as a link, they also attract clicks which will generate more incoming traffic to your website. And don’t worry if you’re going to have a little seedling of traffic in the beginning. You’re not doing anything wrong. The traffic starts as a trickle before it becomes a flood. Here is a list of popular social sites you can use to generate links to your site.

  • Twitter
  • Github
  • YouTube
  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • Tumblr

Link Worthy Content

Another good way is to create great content and allow other people to use it on their own website in exchange for linking back to yours as credit. For example, you create a beautiful infographic with important information or a video or image others want use.

Fourth Step: Analyse Your SEO Progress

There are a lot of valuable SEO tools out there. How to keep track of your SEO progress and how to use search engine optimization tools like Google Analytics will be the topic for my next post. Thank you for reading our blog and see you next time!

Hey everyone! My name is Leif-Mikael Löffler. I’m a young developer and designer from Germany. If my content has been of value to you, feel free to buy me a coffee!

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