SEO Tips For Beginners

SEO is complicated, hard work 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 get penalized by Google. These SEO tips will help you with a base knowledge to build on.

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,  for instance, “garage door repair”. In response, Google provides a list of results and tracks which result seems 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 determine what is a “good answer”.

An SEO expert will address all these factors giving your site the best chance to show up on page 1. In short, the goal is to present quality answers to as many questions that relate to your product or service as possible.

So 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 providing information visitors want over sales copy.

Keywords for SEO

Screen grab from SEMRush SEO toolsKeywords are indicators of what your content is about and are fundamental to any SEO strategy. If you are an asphalt paving contractor for example, “asphalt driveway paving” 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 “Asphalt driveway paving contractor in Santa Rosa”. In response, Google will analyze this query and match it to what they think are the best results.

So a tailored SEO strategy for asphalt paving contractors would identify as many useful keywords for this type of business. Search phrases with local intent fall into the local SEO category and there are additional strategies to help with that.

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: Use keyword analysis to match content keywords to what customers are searching on most.

Optimize Page Title and Meta Description

Page title tags and meta descriptions are two essential components of a webpage’s metadata that play a critical role in optimizing a website’s search engine ranking and attracting potential visitors.

The page title tag appears at the top of the browser window and serves as the title of the webpage. It should be descriptive, concise, and relevant to the content of the page. A well-crafted title tag can help search engines understand the content of the page, making it easier for them to categorize and index the page in search results. Additionally, a compelling title tag can entice users to click on the link to visit the page, increasing the click-through rate (CTR) and driving more traffic to the website.

The meta description, on the other hand, is a brief summary of the content of the webpage that appears below the title tag in search results. It should accurately describe the content of the page and include relevant keywords. A well-written meta description can help users decide whether to click on the link to visit the page, as it provides a preview of what they can expect to find. Furthermore, a compelling meta description can improve the CTR and help the website stand out from its competitors in search results.

In summary, page title tags and meta descriptions are important elements of a website’s SEO strategy that can help improve its search engine ranking and attract more visitors. Investing time and effort into crafting these elements can result in increased traffic, better engagement, and ultimately, higher conversion rates.

SEO Beginner Tip 3: Invest time and effort into crafting solid page titles and meta descriptions to increase the chances of searcher clicking your listing

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 vote of confidence. The thinking is that a site with many inbound links from a number of external sites must be important and has authority.

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. This was an example of “gaming” the system and Google didn’t like that.  They eventually modified their search engine to detect questionable links. 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 overnight.

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 4: Create unique, helpful content that people will want to link to.

Website Structure for SEO

Website with good site structureOne 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 like heading tags and image alt tags 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 or SEO provider for help if you’re not sure.

SEO Beginner Tip 5: Website content organization has impact on SEO.

SEO should be viewed as a marathon rather than a sprint. Gone are the days of stuffing keywords and bogus links. Google has never changed what they want, they’ve just gotten better at evaluating web content to get what they want.