A Guide to SEO for Beginners and New Marketers
Whether you're new to the world of marketing or a traditionalist hoping to establish yourself in the digital world, one of the first things you need to master is SEO (search engine optimization). You've probably heard the term used quite frequently and always wondered what it meant. We've compiled this handy beginners guide to SEO to explain it, teach you the basics, and help you start developing your skills.
What Is SEO, and Why Is It Important?
As we've established, SEO stands for search engine optimization, but what does that mean? Essentially, SEO is a set of practices implemented by marketers to help their website rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) and generate more website traffic. In theory, improving your SERP visibility will drive more users to view your content. Being a search engine user yourself, you know that most people won't go past the first page of results, meaning that if your business doesn't appear on the first page, it is unlikely to be clicked on by users and potential customers.
How Does SEO Work?
Google, Bing, and other search engines work in very similar ways. They all use highly complex algorithms to present users with the most relevant search results based on the search query entered. But, how do they discover all of these website pages and list them accordingly? Search engines use bots, known as crawlers, which automatically and periodically work through your website. They assess its quality against the algorithm's parameters, index your pages, store them, and are ready to place them in results when someone searches for terms relating to your product or service.
There are hundreds of ranking factors, and algorithms are kept under wraps, so marketers can't manipulate them. Search engines provide accurate, relevant, and up-to-date information for users, so they don't want website owners to have all the insider information about algorithms.
SEO Tips for Beginners: The Most Important Ranking Factors
As mentioned, there are hundreds of ranking factors, each carrying different levels of importance. As a beginner, you don't need to know the minor technical changes that have little impact; you want to know the most significant alterations to help you scale to the top of search engine results pages.
Historically, search engine algorithms meant that marketers needed to build websites that catered to the needs of bots over the needs of users. Marketers would hide hundreds of keywords on white backgrounds, known as keyword stuffing, and pay people to link to your website. The new algorithms discourage keyword stuffing and unnatural links.
Search engines have evolved; they've become much more innovative and now focus on user experience. In 2018, Google updated its algorithm 3,234 times to focus on users. Remember, the purpose of a search engine is to present the most relevant information for a user – not to get you lots of website traffic.
1. Keywords and Content
Content has always been king, and it is still one of the most crucial ranking factors. Keyword-optimized content will take your pages to the top of SERPs. If you aren't familiar, keywords are search terms that are most commonly used by your target audience to find your products and services online.
How do you find out what the best keywords are? Many SEO tools provide you with keyword data, such as how many times a term is searched for in a month and how difficult it would be to rank for them. A couple of free tools to get you started are Semrush and Ahrefs.
Someone linking from their website to yours is known as a backlink. Search engines view this as somebody else suggesting your content is worth reading, reliable, and up-to-date. However, not all backlinks are good. You'll be penalized rather than promoted if they come from spam websites or link farms. It's suggested to try and build links with reputable websites such as news outlets, industry publications, and websites that rank highly in search results.
3. User Experience
A good website works perfectly on mobile devices and loads quickly. Search engine algorithms know that most people are surfing the web on their mobile devices and that users are extremely impatient and won't wait long for pages to load. You can use two free tools to assess your performance for these metrics, Google Mobile-Friendly Test and Google PageSpeed Insights.
How Can I Learn More About SEO?
We have a host of thorough SEO blogs, articles, and tutorials for all ability levels, and we recommend starting there. However, when broadening your search for SEO lessons, you should cover these important topics.
- On-page SEO: understand keywords, content creation, internal linking, and more
- Technical SEO: learn about sitemaps, loading speeds, mobile responsiveness, etc.
- Local SEO: a must for businesses who rely on local customers
- eCommerce SEO: discover how to produce product pages that sell more
What Does SEO Do For My Website?
Taking the time to implement a refined SEO strategy will drive more high-quality traffic to your website. Often, beginners will purely focus on the number of visitors to their website. While this is an ok metric, it doesn't tell you much. What if your business sells toy cars, and most people landing on your website are looking for an actual, drivable vehicle? You're not going to make any money because you are not reaching customers who would purchase your products.
In conclusion, SEO will make your website better, more productive, incredibly efficient, and widely visible to your target audience. Hopefully, this beginner's guide to search engine optimization has given you an insight into why SEO is essential and a few additional ideas you can begin to implement.
Mastering SEO takes time, and it is an ever-evolving platform that requires consonant improvements. SEO is a full-time job, and you may feel that you need further assistance or that you just don't have the time to conduct SEO on your own. Please, feel free to reach out to our team of SEO experts. They will guide you down the right path.