Are you new to the online world and that of SEO? Have you recently started your own site and got some content on there already or just thinking about starting your site and want to learn SEO basics?
If so check out this post to help you start to get to grips with SEO and apply it to your site to start to see your website and its traffic grow.
You have landed on this page probably because you have searched the term “SEO for Beginners” or similar and already know the SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In other words, optimising your site for search engines. You want to optimize your site so search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo can find, crawl and rank your site. You can optimize your site in many ways and I’ve picked out the ones that are key and proven to work below.
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I am only going to mention this very briefly at the start of this post as it is not strictly SEO but is important for growing your site and readers.
The frequency you post content can depend on many things. Publishing content on a regular basis can be difficult for many reasons. Maybe due to your job, family commitments, childcare and even just peace to get it done when living in a busy household.
Publishing regular content is IMPORTANT. Even if you can only publish 1 good piece of content a week, strive for it to go out regularly. It can be really hard, in the beginning, to get content out on a regular basis as you continue to learn about working online as well as juggling your everyday life but set a goal to have at least one piece of content out each week.
As your site grows your readers will be looking out for new content and if you choose to build an email list through your site you will want something to send out in those newsletters.
If this is something you struggle with you can read the following post to give you some tips for writing on a regular basis. https://workuponline.com/becoming-a-writer
One of the first things you will want to do when you get your site up and running is to set up a google analytics account. This will help you in tracking what is going on within your website. From the number of visitors you are receiving, how long they are staying on your site and what posts are performing well to name but a few.
To set up a google analytics account head to Google Analytics and follow the onscreen instructions to set up a property.
Enter your website details and click the create button. This will then take you to a page giving you a unique tracking number for you to place within your website to allow Google to gather information and analise the site.
You will need to copy and paste this number into your website and this can be done through your dashboard. For me this is done through All in One Seo Pack, you may be using Yoast or something similar.
You want to look for Google Analytics setting as this is where you will need to paste your tracking code. Remember once you have pasted your tracking code in here to update options or save at the bottom of the page.
It may take a day or 2 for you to start seeing any results on here, especially if you have just started your site, be patient and know that you are going to have the data needed to show you how your site is growing. There is lots of information provided by Google Analytics but as you start you want to be seeing traffic coming to your site and checking for errors and fixing those promptly. Google will explain what any errors are and how to resolve them.
Having Google Analytics set up will allow you to see how your website is performing and make the necessary adjustments you need to keep your site growing.
Keywords & Keyphrases
An important part of being found on search engines is using keywords or key phrases. These are what potential readers will be typing into their browser to search (search query) for what they want.
SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) will then list, in rank, content that matches the person search query. That is why you hear so many people talk about ranking for keywords. Essentially using keywords and keyphrases helps you rank in search engines result pages and drive traffic to your site.
For this reason, the keywords or keyphrases that you use within your content must be –
- Relevant to your content.
- Appear naturally within your content.
- Be within the meta description for that piece of content.
- Be within the title of the post, where possible.
- Used within Alt Tags where possible.
For this reason, it is good practice to do some keyword research before you start to write your content. This research can provide you with data relating to the keywords you may be looking at using and also provide other keyword ideas as well as showing you potential organic traffic for that keyword and who else, or how many other domains are also ranking for that keyword.
There are a lot of different keyword research tools out there including Keyword Tool, Ubbersuggest and one of the ones I use, Jaaxy. Most Keyword Tools have both free and paid versions. I would recommend trying a few out to see what one suits you most before committing to a paid keyword tool.
Keyword tools can help you determine keywords, how often a particular keyword or phrase is searched per month, average traffic for that keyword should you rank 1st page on google with it and many other stats.
It also allows you to look at similar keywords and phrases and gives the stats on them too. By using such research tools you can better plan what keywords you will use in your content and those that will help you rank higher on search engines.
As you can see below the keyword “keyword” is searched around 12264 times a month and if you ranked on the first page of the search engine for this keyword it could result on average 2085 page visits just for that keyword in a month.
Keywords are best used in a natural way, so think about what people may type into the search, this is also better as many people are using voice searches and would ask for a search on how they would if they were conversing with another person.
Use keywords naturally throughout your content and don’t try to keyword stuff (stuffing too many keywords into a set piece of content) this can look messy. It is always best to try and rank high for a few targeted keywords through good quality content that provides real value to the reader than to stuff as many keywords as you can into a post and have poor content.
When you use keywords naturally they should be appearing not only in the title and description that is shown on SERP’sbut also in the first few sentences or first paragraph, throughout your body of content and in the conclusion or summary of the content. Remember if you are using pictures within that content that your keywords can also be in “alt image tags” if it is suitable to put them there.
Gone are the days where you could write the content of under 1000 words and get plenty of traffic. Websites are way more competitive these days and readers are eager to gain as much knowledge on a subject as the possibly can, in one place. For this reason, blog and content posts are getting longer and being more informative than they had been in the past. Most are word counts these days are upwards of 2500 words. That is not to say if you write something of fewer words that it won’t rank in search engines, but it may be harder to rank.
If you want to see what word counts your competition are putting out you can do this by simply copying and pasting their content into a word document or Google doc to see the word count. This will give you a rough idea of what you need to be writing to compete with them. Try to check against more than one site so you are gathering an average count for similar content.
Don’t just copy and paste though, read the content they have written. Then ask yourself, is it informative? Have they missed out anything? Is it direct and straight to the point or is it filled with fluff? Could you write something better or from a different angle that could compete with that content?
Use this information when writing your own content. Especially if writing about the same or a similar subject. Use the knowledge to give your reader more in-depth content or take a different approach to provide the information. Write with the intent of giving more than your competitors. Your word count doesn’t necessarily need to be higher, especially if they have filled out their content with fluff or useless information. Your content does, however, need to give more value to the reader in some way.
If you already have some content on your site and you now feel that the word count is too low or not giving as much value as some of your competitors are you can always edit those posts to bring them up to match or outdo similar sites. However, do not get too caught up on this as you need to publish new content frequently. If you do choose to edit and update some older content it is worth using analytics to see what pages got what views and that knowledge to choose which content you edit first.
Image Alt Tags
Image Alt Tags, alt tags, alt descriptions and alt attributes are tags or descriptions you give any pictures placed on your site. This is important and is what will be displayed if the image doesn’t load correctly, giving value to web accessibility. Again this also helps search bots that crawl your site as they will use the tag or description of a picture rather than see the picture itself.
This will help screen reading tools to describe a picture to a visually impaired reader. So, for this reason, your image alt tags should be an accurate phrase or description of the image. Imagine if you were visually impaired and you wanted someone to describe a picture so as you could picture it fully. That is what you should be aiming for.
Do not leave blank or keyword stuff in alt images tags or leave as to how you uploaded it such as “IMAGE_2355.png”. This is far from good SEO practice and it will hinder you from getting good ranks with your site. If you already have a website with content on it, as much as it can be a pain, go back and check your images. Are they descriptive enough, would you now change descriptions? check them out and see. Remember to resubmit to search engines when making changes to older posts asking for them to be recrawled.
Good alt descriptions will also help crawl bots to correctly index the image. As the description you enter will be read by the bots in HTML.
Internal Links are when you link from one page of your website to another page of your website. In other words, you are linking internally on your website. This can often be done from your menu and homepage but the internals links that are worth focusing on are contextual links or links that link similar or related content.
Internal links are an important part of building out your website and a good way of keeping readers on your site. If you are writing a post that links in with another you have already written then link to it. Likewise, if you can link to your new post from an older post you may want to go back and edit that content to include a link to your new content.
This helps search engines such as Google and Bing to crawl your site following your links using their bots. It shows that you are interlinking pages and information that are similar or related and the more a page is linked to internally or externally from another source the more importance that page will be given by search bots.
External links are when you link to another site, taking your readers off or away from your site. When using this style of links it is important that you use sites that are more authoritative than yours where possible and make sure that they are a credible source to link to. The link should take the reader to a relevant source, where they can complete an action, gain additional knowledge to what you have given them, check out stats or such. There is no point sending them away from your site to another site containing similar content, especially a competitor site unless they can expand on what you have said or that their content is more in-depth than what you have written.
It is also worth remembering that if you are linking to an external source that you check the “open link in new tab” box when creating the link. This will allow the reader to click the link and open a new tab without them leaving your site.
The meta title is what appears in the search results. It may not be exactly what you have as the title of your post with the content you are ranking for. If you look closely at the picture below you will see the meta title “Common Mistakes Made When Creating Meta Titles” is different to that in the web address “/mistakes-with-meta-titles”.
A Meta Title is what you are wanting to display on the search results, this is your chance to grab the attention of those who have landed on these search results. Here you are competing with all other sites listed on that page to have that person click on the link to your site. Thus bringing traffic to your site. So you want your meta titles to be catchy or stand out but they still must remain relevant to the search term or keyword.
A reminder that a meta title should be no more than 75 characters long. Always keep within this number as if you go over it will mean that keywords in the title may be omitted in the search engine result and this could lose you traffic.
A meta description just like a meta title is your chance to stand out in the results pages. This is where you tell those who land on that result page what you are offering, about your content or what to expect if they read your content.
Writing meta descriptions can take a little practice as you only have 160 characters, which is not many words to convince someone to click on your site’s result and visit your page. I actually went and changed some meta titles and descriptions on early content on one of my first sites before I really knew much about meta titles and descriptions. This simple action of updating these resulted in more traffic in the following weeks and therefore ranking higher in search engines for those keywords. It took about half an hour to change these on 5 pages of content which produced results of around 5% more traffic to that site.
The last SEO top I want to leave you with is checking your site for errors. The sooner you find and fix errors on your site the better. The best way to do this is to use your google analytics. If you have followed the steps above and set up your analytics account you will be able to see if there are any errors on your site. This is best seen in Google Search Console and is shown in your overview area.
As you can see under Enhancements, search console will display any errors on your site. From here you will be able to open a report and fic that error.
Keeping your site as error-free as possible is vital for giving your site users the best experience possible and keeps your site running smoothly.
We really hope that this article has helped you to understand the basics of SEO and how you can start applying it to your site as you start growing your online presence. SEO is an important part of how your website will perform and rank on search engines and what has been covered today is only the very basics.
As you continue to grow and learn in the online world you will also need to grow your knowledge on SEO but for now, you have the basics to start and grow your site. Getting the basics right allows you to have a solid foundation from which to grow.
If you want to further your knowledge on this subject there are many good sites out there that will teach more in-depth SEO and one that I would recommend is Neil Patel’s Ubbersuggest. Once on Ubbersuggest simply click on the training tab at the top of the page, and click on SEO Unlocked. This is a great FREE course for anyone starting out and will give you a more in-depth look at SEO as the course runs over several weeks.
Good luck on your online journey, we wish you all the success in your future endeavours.