SEO 101: A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

SEO is short for “search engine optimization” or “search engine optimizer.” Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques, and tactics used to increase the number of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) – including Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. It is common practice for internet users to not click through pages and pages of search results, so where a site ranks in a search is essential for directing more traffic toward the site. SEO service helps to ensure that a site is accessible to a search engine and improves the chances that the site will be found by the search engine. SEO is typically a set of “white hat” best practices that webmasters and web content producers follow to help them achieve a better ranking in search engine results.

What is SEO?

Fruitful site streamlining is the way to making your web website more accessible for internet searcher, SEO. Internet searcher, with the end goal that you will get a higher positioning for your site. A higher positioning converts into more guests when individuals type in a catchphrase that is applicable to your site. The key component of this is that it gets your site better seen and more visited. Most of individuals are utilizing web indexes as the underlying advance in looking for an item or administration, with the end goal of an internet searcher a higher positioning infers a particular site fitting the models of the internet searcher better than a lower positioning site. Regularly Onpage improvement and Off Page Optimization are the two components expected to get a higher positioning. Onpage enhancement is a method where you alter your website such that you can get higher positioning of your site. Various methods of doing this can be through adjusting the HTML coding, improvement of Meta Tags, Alt Tags, text and site titles and all the more significantly the situation of catchphrases. The ideal thickness of catchphrases in a passage or archive ought to be around 4-7%, with anything over this showing up as catchphrase spamming. This is an exercise in careful control and it isn’t important to basically make text bounteously clarified with catchphrases. Reasonableness and stream should at present be untouched. Satisfaction of this should result in a higher positioning of your site in internet searcher perceivability. Off-page Optimization takes components of changing an open excellence of a site. This is proposed to make an active visitor clicking percentage between your site and another more successful. Bond this is wanted to set up a more grounded feeling of projecting your site including what it’s had practical experience in, a higher showcasing of your set up brand or picture and promising the site to a particular and concentrated segment on the web. This should increment general progression of your site through outside means just as impart a more grounded item character for your site.

Importance of SEO for businesses

Search engine optimization (SEO) is becoming more important for businesses to establish a strong online presence. As consumers are becoming more reliant on search engines to provide and obtain information, it is vital for companies to ensure that their target audience is able to easily locate their product or service via search engines. Additionally, with millions of web pages out there, the competition to appear at the top of the search engine results is a challenging and ongoing battle, but one that has lucrative returns. According to imFORZA, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. This means that if a company is able to get their website to appear on the first page of the search engine results, there is a high chance that the user will visit their website. If a company’s goal is to increase brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately increase sales, then SEO is a must. SEO provides a way to increase your website’s presence in search engine results and it is an investment with long term results. This is because the effects of SEO are organic, meaning that it is not necessary to pay for ad space on search engines once a high ranking is achieved. An example of how SEO can have long term effects is seen by looking at Wikipedia. Wikipedia does not pay for ad space on search engines, yet it is always found near the top of search results. This is because Wikipedia has built a reputation and trust with search engines, therefore whenever any topic is searched for, Wikipedia is seen as a credible source of information and is often rewarded with high search rankings.

Benefits of implementing SEO strategies

Cost effectiveness – SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it targets users who are actively looking for your products and services online. SEO’s inbound nature helps businesses save money as opposed to outbound strategies like cold-calling. While cold-calling can still be an effective strategy, the leads generated cost 61% more than leads generated by an inbound strategy like SEO. And since SEO also targets users who are actively searching for products and services like yours, the traffic resulting from SEO is more qualified than many other marketing strategies, resulting in cost savings for companies.

ROI – SEO provides trackable and quantifiable results, regardless of whether you are an e-commerce or non-e-commerce site, so there are no qualms when it comes to ROI. SEO agencies are able to track nearly every aspect of their strategy, like increases in rankings, traffic, and conversions. Comprehensive analytics also provide the ability to drill down at a granular level and see demographic information and other engagement metrics for individuals who have interacted with your website. For e-commerce sites, SEO agencies can see which paths users take in order to complete a sale, all the way down to which keyword they used to search for you prior to purchasing. For non-e-commerce sites, you can attribute values to your lead conversions, like a ‘contact us’ form fill-out, and calculate the value of your SEO strategy that way.

Increased traffic – Top positions on the search engine result pages receive a majority of the impressions and clicks, so ranking in these top positions can result in significant traffic increases for your website.

On-Page Optimization

Title tags and meta descriptions It is also important to consider using these keywords in the title and meta description of your web page. Title tags are the most important aspect in on-site SEO, as they are given a lot of weight with search engines. Adding your primary keyword to the title tag can result in higher visibility in search engine results. Title tags should be between 50-60 characters in length, and each page should have a unique title tag. Meta descriptions are essentially summaries of the content on a web page. They are very important as they are what a searcher will read and decide whether or not to click on your page. A good meta description will contain your keywords and is generally between 150-160 characters. A default title and meta description can be set using many content management systems.

But how do you use your keywords? You’ve settled on just a few keywords, but you’re not quite sure how to use them on your site. They may be something like “on-site optimization,” so you try to use these words every chance you get on the page. This is a mistake. Unnecessarily repeating keywords is not only a turnoff, but it can also result in a keyword “density” that is too high. This means the content is so filled with keywords that it’s awkward, nonsensical, or just plain spammy. High keyword density can undermine your page’s relevancy. Consider using these keywords in areas where they will be most effective.

Keyword research and selection

Step one in researching your keywords is to brainstorm. There are always many ways to say something. Sit down and think about your business. What are the main terms that describe what you do? Now that you have a general idea of your business, some terms you come up with might be quite broad. Would you consider ‘card’ to be a very effective keyword if you were selling exclusive jewelry? Probably not. This keyword is also highly unlikely to lead to a sale. Step two is to perform searches using your potential keywords on a keyword research tool to find out how many searches are done monthly for those terms. This will give you an indication as to the traffic volume a particular keyword could bring you. Be sure to consider the season in which search terms would be more popular. For example, if you sell snow gear in Australia, it might be more effective to frame PPC campaigns around terms such as ‘buy ski jackets online’ during the start of winter, rather than a general term like ‘ski jackets’. Step three is to assess how much competition there is for these keywords. A keyword might appear to be great in terms of the traffic it can bring you, yet if it has very high competition, it may be very difficult to achieve high rates of conversion from search traffic in comparison to a keyword with lower traffic but less competition. Step four is to make sure that the keywords you’re targeting will actually bring in traffic that is relevant to your business. Targeting generic keywords can sometimes bring traffic that does not result in sales if the search is too broad. A market separation might be necessary. After brainstorming, use your common sense and put yourself in the shoes of a consumer using search terms to find a business like yours. If you’re performing SEO for a Gold Coast-based business, what would a potential customer type into a search engine?

When it comes to on-page optimization, the most critical step is the quality of the keyword research and the selection of the keyword. Keywords are the terms that your target audience types into a search box to find what they are looking for. This essay contains too many details to list, so a very basic tip regarding keyword research and selection is described here, whilst more information on this topic is in the designated URL. With high-quality keyword research, you might find that there are better markets to target than the one you had originally planned. The keyword you plan to target might not be the most effective search term to bring you traffic. Therefore, it is essential to find alternate search terms that give high rates of traffic and have not as much competition. The more quality research you conduct, the better the results you will achieve. It is not uncommon for a site to achieve 100-200% more traffic than the original keyword research had indicated is possible.

Title tags and meta descriptions

Meta descriptions act almost like an advertisement for the webpage. It should be a concise and relevant summary of the content of the page. Like title tags, it is important to use keywords and keyword phrases in meta descriptions. This shows viewers that the search is relevant to their query, and bolded keywords will have the same effect. A bolded meta description will have much the same effect as a bolded title tag and so is still important to viewers as well as in search engine ranks.

It is best to separate keywords and phrases with the “|” character and/or “-” as this acts well as a semantic space to search engines, while still making sense to a human reader.

Title tags should ideally be created using keywords and keyword phrases that best represent the contents of the page involved. When choosing the keywords to use in the title tag, it is best to keep in mind some basic rules. The title tag has the most direct impact on search engine results, but should also be easily readable by humans. It is pointless to rank highly for a search term if the resulting title tag does not make sense. This is known as keyword spamming and will be considered below.

The content of title tags and meta descriptions is very important. Title tags have long been considered one of the most important on-page SEO elements. Meta descriptions have also been fairly important. As both are essentially short introductions to the webpage, it is important that they are well written and suit the webpage.

URL structure and optimization

If your website has a ton of content, a clean URL structure is something that should be considered prior to doing anything with on-page optimization. You want to make sure that the URL is search engine friendly. URLs that have too many parameters can cause problems with search engine crawlers, so a simple URL with 1-2 parameters is ideal. Static URLs are also preferred over dynamic URLs. This is because the keywords in a dynamic URL are not obviously located by the search engine. If you are using dynamic pages, it is best to convert them to static URLs. An easy way to determine if you have a search engine friendly URL is to ask yourself, can you remember the URL? If you can’t, then it’s likely that a search engine won’t be able to remember it either. In cases of e-commerce sites, I realize it’s extremely difficult to have a clean and search engine friendly URL. The best you can do is try to rework the URLs so they are as clean as possible and leading to the most important content. This in itself can result in higher rankings. Using a site map and linking to the page in question can also aid in search engine crawling.

Heading tags and content optimization

Heading tags are very important; not only for the purpose of search engine optimization but also for the usability of the website. A good example of this would be Before, when you viewed Amazon’s source, the very first tag you would see would be a table. Now, Amazon has a quite obviously defined title for what the user is looking at. The tag represents the category or sub-category. As you continue further into the website, the subcategories will have more defined titles. The title is wrapped in the h1 tag, leading to the h2 tags that are wrapped around the titles for each individual product. Title tags should be descriptive and also reflect the keyword that you are attempting to highlight in the search engine ranking. What a lot of people do is have a very nice looking graphic as the title and use the ‘alt’ attribute as the method of reflecting what is there in plain text. This is not beneficial in the initial part of search engine optimizing the website. Using the graphic is of course fine, but there should be a plain text title wrapped in the h1 tag which reflects what the graphic is. This is because the search engine will not recognize what is in the alt attribute of an img tag, it will only recognize what is wrapped in text within tags. Never skip from an h1 tag straight to an h2 tag, or an h2 tag to an h3 tag and so on. Always stay within sequential order. This shows how well the website is planned out, and washes away any content confusion between what tag represents what content. Most of all, use the heading tags to show/hide content. This is a great way to implement extra content without pushing down the page. An example of this would be having a JavaScript slide open content window, with links as the header representing what content is. This method has an upside for both usability and search engine optimization.

Off-Page Optimization

The value of links has been diluted a fair amount. Adsense has been an unwelcome savior for the uninitiated, and SEOs have been forced to diversify into their own blends of link building process. This has actually driven the value of all links up, because the more force required to obtain a link, the more valuable it is. A site with great link popularity is likely to be ranking well and receiving a high level of traffic. All of this can be turned around to your own benefit.

This confusing and usually overspammed topic is a crying shame, because there are so many different ways to create links, and all of them will have varying degrees of success. Believe it or not, there are actually white-hat, honest methods to build links. There are even methods to buy links or trade links. There are also some great methods to gain free links.

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own. A hyperlink (usually just called a link) is a way for users to navigate between pages on the internet. Search engines use links to crawl the web; they will crawl the links between the individual pages on your website, and they will crawl the links between entire websites. There are many different methods to link building, and many take a lot of time and hard work. It’s generally advised you start with your own website. Great content is more likely to be linked to, so invest time and resources creating it. When it is ready, and only when it is ready, look for ways to get it out in the wide internet community. This will in turn attract links. This can be done through article marketing, forum posting, social media and press releases.

Link building strategies

Article submission is quite a good way to generate a few one-way, contextually relevant links. There are many article hubs on the web where you can submit articles and in return get one-way links. This may be a time-consuming process, so it is important to consider the value of the link and the article. It is of great benefit to have an article published on your own website and then use that article to submit to other article directories.

Directories are a good place to start with a new site. There are many different directories with differing levels of credibility. Some are free, some require reciprocal links, and some require a fee. It is also important to consider the relevance of the directory. DMOZ is a human-edited, very credible directory, and a link from them will be of great benefit. It is very difficult to get into DMOZ, and it may take a very long time.

Link building is one of the most important aspects of off-page optimization. Building a diverse link profile is important, as it tells the search engines that your website is important to others on the web. There are many different strategies to employ when developing links.

Social media marketing for SEO

Social media marketing is an extension of your off-page SEO strategies. Using social networks as a vessel for link building and content promotion (article, video, infographics, etc.) may have benefits, with the recent shift on content being shared within social networks. This shows a strong correlation with social signals and rankings. I have mentioned both the correlation between social signals and rankings many times before; this is because it’s a debatable topic within the SEO industry whether it holds any SEO value. The simple fact that search engines have begun to include social signals within their search results is enough for me to suggest that it’s a definite factor in the algorithm. A good resource on understanding the correlation between social signals and SEO is detailed in this detailed whitepaper on social signals’ effect on SEO rankings. Also, Rand Fishkin has recently explained the future of SEO and its correlation with social media. One definite benefit of social media is that you are given the opportunity to increase brand awareness. Building a strong following and engaging with your audience proves to be beneficial in the long run. With a strong fan base, they are likely to want to visit your website to find out more about you and what you have to offer. This, in turn, would result in an increase in direct and organic traffic. Overall, your social media efforts will increase the likelihood of gaining natural backlinks, and these are by far the most valuable links that you can get. Building a strong fan base gives the opportunity for content to go viral, and this is the sweet spot where you will gain the most natural links.

Guest blogging and influencer outreach

Mention the methods of link building you have tried in a spreadsheet and follow up after a few weeks. If the method has not been effective, try something else. This will help keep track of the various methods of link building tried and their effectiveness.

Email link exchange requests to particular websites: This may help you get inbound links from websites in the same category.

Exchange links with relevant websites: This method has become less effective in recent years, but it is still worth giving a try.

Submit to web directories: This is a slow process, but it increases link popularity.

Participate in forums: It helps to get connected to people in a similar line of business. In forums, you can put the website’s link in your signature, which will be useful in obtaining inbound links.

Publish articles: It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get the website’s name on the web. Writing articles will get you a number of inbound links within no time.

Link building is a tedious process, but it pays off really well. Some effective methods of link building are as follows:

Link building is a process of increasing the number of inbound links to a website. It is one of the most important aspects of search engine marketing. Increasing the number of links pointing to a website helps to get the website to a good position in search engine results, which in turn increases traffic to the website.

Off-page optimization is a big part of search engine marketing. The main objective of off-page optimization is to increase link popularity, which is obtained through link building methods. Below is a detailed explanation.

SEO Analytics and Monitoring

So you have a site up and running and you want to find out what keywords are sending traffic to your site, and in what volume. In SEO, this is an age-old quest as you try to figure out what keywords you should be targeting to increase your rankings, and what keywords to drop because they waste your time. Google Analytics is the first place to start researching this as you can access data directly from your website and through Google Webmaster Tools. The best thing about Google Analytics is that you can see what keywords people are using to find your site and back it up with a volume of how many times those keywords were used to land on your site. This data can be compared to find the most effective keywords for your site to use and similar keyword opportunities that you may not have noticed.

Setting up Google Analytics

I would strongly recommend using Google Analytics no matter how many visitors you’re getting. This powerful piece of software is invaluable when it comes to understanding not only how much traffic you are getting, but where it is coming from and what they are doing when they land on your website. The information you can get on keywords is also very valuable. You may only be getting 30-40 visitors a day from Google for a specific keyword, but is it converting? Without analytics, you could be throwing money and time away on keywords that are not performing. The majority of visitors to your website might not act the way you’d like them to, and unless you can understand why they are not taking the action you want, you have little chance of improving the problem. Whether your purpose is to get people to buy something, to submit a contact form, or to download a file; you want as larger percentage of your visitors completing this action as possible. User behaviour and how to track it in Google Analytics is a huge topic that I shall leave for another day, but I did find a very good article on it tonight. Step 4 from this guide on improving WordPress SEO is also completely focused on using Google Analytics to track user behaviour which is a highly recommended read.

Tracking website performance and keyword rankings

There are many tools available that will help track your website’s search engine rank with various keywords. This is useful because it can be quite tedious using a search engine to type keywords into and then search through pages of results to find your website. StarPulse is a simple tool that anyone can use to do this and there is a free trial available. The Google Webmaster Tools provides a more complex tool that can track search engine rank with a more in-depth analysis. This tool is more complex to use but provides vastly better results and insight.

Once you’ve got your website up the search engine ranks with a few keywords, it’s good to regularly check your progress. You can do this by typing the keywords into a search engine and seeing where your website is placed in the results. Alternatively, using Google Analytics to track the actual traffic to your site and tying that in with your search engine rank is a great way of seeing what keywords are working for you. This way, if you see a keyword that isn’t bringing in much traffic but is a high search engine rank, this is a clear indicator that the keyword isn’t very effective.

This is the most difficult part of search engine optimization for most people. You will need to be patient and not expect to see results overnight. It is important to keep in mind that achieving a high search engine rank won’t automatically mean more traffic. It’s all about the quality of traffic. You could get a top 10 rank in a search engine with a certain keyword but only get around 2% of people searching actually clicking into your website. So, it is clear that ranking high with that specific keyword isn’t particularly great, because what you want is traffic and achieving a high rank with a specific keyword doesn’t necessarily mean the keyword is one that will drive traffic to your site.

Analyzing user behavior and conversion rates

Understanding and analyzing user and consumer behavior is essential for any SEO campaign. There are a number of good tools and strategies to utilize when attempting to track and analyze on-site behavior. One of the simplest and most effective is to set up a survey on the site that asks the consumer questions that are directly related to their consumer behavior. Questions should address who/what brought them to the site, was the visitor able to accomplish their task, how often do they visit the site, and did the visitor find what they were looking for. Taking the time to interview consumers in the target market can also yield valuable information about consumer behavior. Ask consumers to address what they think about the product and site, how the product and site fit with their lifestyle, and is there anything that would prevent them from buying the product.

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