SEO Tips For Beginners

SEO is hard work and complicated so we’ve put together some SEO tips for beginners in this post. There is no shortage of people who promise page 1 rankings in exchange for your money.  Some are legitimate SEO providers and provide a valuable service. On the other hand, some use techniques that may result in quick gains but eventually get penalized by Google. These SEO tips will help you better understand what you should know.

Understanding Search Engines

Graph showing an increaseThere are plenty of technical details about how search engines work, but for now, I want to focus on why they operate. We’ll focus on Google but these tips apply to all search engines. Google is the most used search engine because it provides the best results in response to a search query. This is Google’s core mission and is key to how they work and how you can rank well. Searchers enter queries into the search engine looking for something. In response, Google provides a list of results and tracks which result seem to answer the question. If they see that your content provides a good answer, it helps your page rank higher. Google looks at many factors to know what is a “good answer”.  In short, your goal is to present quality answers to as many questions that relate to your product or service as possible.

So while many SEO beginners may concern themselves with the hundreds of ranking factors that search engines use, it’s important to remember this:

SEO Beginner Tip 1: Google is in the business of providing the best search results for their users. Focus on answering the questions your visitors are asking.

Keywords for SEO

Keywords are indicators of what your content is about and are fundamental to any SEO strategy. If you sell shoes, “running shoes” would likely be a keyword phrase you are interested in. Keywords can also be thought of as the question search users are asking. It would not be unusual for a search user to type “Shoe stores that sell running shoes in Santa Rosa”. In response, Google will analyze this query and match it to what they think are the best results.

So it’s important to know what keywords are relevant to your business and promote them accordingly. This is called Keyword Analysis and is an important first step in any SEO strategy. There are a variety of tools and techniques available to help with this including:

SEO Beginner Tip 2: Keywords tell search engines what a page is about so they should match the phrases your prospects are searching for.

Link Building for SEO

The secret sauce for Google is how they process inbound links to your site. In short, Google views inbound links as a popularity contest. The thinking is that a site with many inbound links must be important. Back in the day, SEOs would use “link farms” which were websites set up just to provide links. These were often paid directories and buying enough links would help your rank go up. In short, this was an example of “gaming” the system and Google didn’t like that.  They eventually modified their search engine to detect link farms and sites that were ranking well because of them saw their rankings plummet. As a result, many sites saw traffic drop by 50-60% or more.

Google now looks at the quality of inbound links so too many spammy links will do more harm than good. One of the greatest challenges for SEOs is how to build high quality inbound links. Once again, it comes back to understanding what Google wants. They look for authority on subject matter that relates to what the searcher is looking for. So your site needs to be the source of quality content that people will want to link to. An inbound link from a high ranking site is far more valuable than a bunch of links from low quality websites.

SEO Beginner Tip 3: Link building takes a lot of time and effort and does not happen overnight. In short, it is very hard work, but the results are worth it when done right.

Website Structure for SEO

One of the easier ways for SEO beginners to optimize their website is by structuring content in a search friendly way. For example, this may include using HTML tags available to support your keywords. However, it goes a little deeper than that. It turns out that Google is a big fan of content structure. Content on your site should be grouped into pages that form a logical structure. Be sure to consider website content structure with any new web design. If you already have a website, take a look at the organization of the content. Is it well organized or is the content scattered? Ask your web designer for help if you’re not sure.

SEO Beginner Tip 4: Good website content organization has impact on SEO.

SEO should be viewed as a marathon rather than a sprint. It can easily take 3-6 months to see good results and requires ongoing effort. However, with the right approach and some patience, an SEO beginner can achieve excellent, long lasting results.