Search Engine Optimization: A Quick Guide for Beginners

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Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by Mandy Schmitz

Search Engine Optimization

If you’ve just started your business, perhaps you’d want to expand your target audience, increase brand awareness and earn more revenue, then search engine optimization is the way to go.

I assume you run a business site for that purpose but is it searchable? Does it rank high on search engine result pages? And are you able to target the right audience?

If the answer is no, I’m afraid you’re missing out on a crucial step for boosting the credibility of your brand and low credibility implies slow to no growth.

So, how to go about it?

Well, you need to learn search engine optimization (SEO) basics to build long-term equity for your brand.

If you’ve been in the digital world for a while, chances are, you’ve heard of this term. Yes, it might sound complex and overwhelming, but by the end of this guide, you’ll have a strong understanding of SEO and its importance in content marketing.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

Search Engine Optimization
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Search engine optimization is a procedure of optimizing your website to boost your ranking in the search results.

As a result, you get more traffic (un-paid) on your website.

The history of search engines can be explored back in the 90s when Aliweb first emerged as a browser on the web.

Today, there are a plethora of search engines regularly used worldwide. However, Google is the world’s most popular search engine, with a market share of 91.66%.

That implies most people flock to Google when they want to search for something. While you might think of it merely as an engine where people “search” about anything, it offers you a golden opportunity – a chance to grow your business.

Consider this: You write a blog about pets. If you’ve done your homework for basic SEO, Google will rank your website in the top results, and pet lovers will eventually dash to it. As a result, your website will get more traffic, earn credibility, and thrive.

Whether you write a blog or sell a product or service, SEO is essential for your business. Unfortunately, your website may appear on the last pages without search engine optimization, and people are less likely to visit those.

Why? Because they find what they need on the first page. Also, they trust the first-page source more than the ones ranking on the later pages.

Perhaps that’s why the first page of Google captures 71% traffic clicks and is reported to be as high as 92% in recent years.

Note that SEO is different from PPC optimization (Pay-per-click optimization) as it focuses solely on organic search results. While both are part of search marketing, SEO is free of cost, and if you know the basics, your brand will be on a roll soon.

Why is SEO Important?

traffic
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SEO improves the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through search engines, and increased traffic is directly proportional to your business’s success – that’s why SEO is important.

Discover below how else SEO benefits your business.

  • SEO is FREE! It does not cost you money – it does cost you time, however. But, unlike pay per click, you handle SEO all by yourself. Search engines help you find new customers and promote useful content organically 24/7.
  • If you’re willing to try paid marketing strategies (PPC), know that SEO and PPC perfectly complement each other. PPC helps your site appear in the top results, whereas SEO does the same organically. So you won’t be labeled as a website that merely throws money to be on the top.
  • Investing your time in SEO can help you outrank your competitors in business. Did you know the first page of Google gets 90% of traffic? So if you want to outgrow your competitors, you cannot afford not to be there.
  • Ranking high on search engines adds credibility to your website/business.
  • Search engine optimization and authentic content go hand in hand. You can create captivating videos, images, and texts to rank your site better, and SEO will do the rest of the work for you.

Defining Basic SEO Terms

Search Engine Optimization
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Are you ready to dive into chapter one of basic SEO? If yes, you need to know about basic SEO terms. You might have come across some on the web already; others might sound new to you.

Whatever the case, we’ll briefly explain the SEO glossary below.

1. Keyword

A keyword is a phrase, word, or words that a user enters in the search bar. They can indicate a topic, question, or idea.

SEO professionals search for target keywords and optimize each web page to draw in visitors who have searched particular keywords.

2. Algorithms

Algorithms involve a formula through which stored data is retrieved and arranged in meaningful ways.

Search engines leverage a set of algorithms to display rated web pages based on the number of ranking signals (via a results page)

3. Black Hat SEO

The term “Black Hat” originated from western films to identify “bad guys” from “good guys,” who wear white hats.

Black Hat SEO violates the SEO practices of Google’s quality guidelines. Though the goal is to rank a page in Google search results, the tactics involved in Black Hat SEO are unethical and not recommended by SEO professionals.

4. White Hat SEO

Since good guys in western films wore white hats, they do not indicate anything unethical or bad.

Similarly, White Hat search engine optimization complies with Google quality guidelines and dismisses the idea of hacking, creating viruses, and performing unethical activities.

5. Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text with which you link a web page, just like this.

You can either create internal links (to your website) or external (to other people’s websites). The text typically appears blue. However, the color can vary depending on the website.

6. Conversion

You might be getting tons of visitors on your website, but are they filling out your forms? Are they signing up for your company’s newsletter? If yes, it indicates conversion rates.

That means you’ve successfully converted your visitor. As a customer, they will purchase your product or service, and as a reader, they will follow your blog.

7. Crawl

Crawling is when search engines send bots – known as crawlers or spiders – to your web page to read the post and extract links to discover additional sites.

If Google or any other search engine detects changes on your website, it will update its index in response to those changes.

8. Search Engine

Search Engine is software that helps people find what they’re looking for using specific phrases or keywords.

9. Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

Simply put, SERP is a page that shows up after entering a keyword or phrase in question into any search engine. It typically has ten results on it. Nonetheless, it can vary depending on the search engine or your query.

10. Backlink

Also known as “incoming links” or “inbound links,” Backlink is a link from one website to another. Backlinks play a significant role in the search engine ranking process because they indicate a website’s content authority.

11. URL

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the web address that users enter in the browser to access it.

It is also known as a web address or link. The URL also signals how to download the source – also referred to as “protocol” – like HTTPS, HTTPS, FTP, etc.

12. SEM

Perhaps by now, you know that SEO optimizes a website to gain organic traffic. SEM (Search Engine Marketing), however, aims to attract traffic through paid methods.

13. Internal Link

An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your site. These links are sometimes created for relevant pages to help users find more useful information.

14. External Link

An external link is a link from a page on your website to a page on another website. Creating links to high-authority websites improves the authority of your website.

15. Click-Through Rate

CTR (Click-through rate) refers to the ratio of users who click on a particular link to the number of users that actually visit the page or advertisement. For instance, the CTR for 1,000 impressions and one-click will be 0.1%.

16. Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides basic analytic tools and statistics for marketing and SEO purposes. It makes you understand your customers better, helping you boost your traffic and conversion rates.

How SEO Works

how seo works
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Many website owners are confused why Google ranks a particular website on the top and not theirs. On top of that, SEO professionals also struggle to understand what needs to be done to outsmart their competitors.

If you’re in the same boat, read below to know how search engine optimization works.

1. Crawling

Once you publish content on your website, search engine spider/bot crawls to the website to understand the page’s content. After crawling through your web page, it brings a copy of the content to the internet server.

Google Webmaster Trend Analyst, Martin Splitt, explains the crawling process, “We start somewhere with some URLs, and then basically follow links from thereon. So we are basically crawling our way through the internet (one) page by page, more or less.”

2. Indexing

A search engine index is a giant library of all the crawled websites.

When Google bot crawls your website for information, it tries to analyze and understand the pages, categorizes them, and stores them in the gigantic library known as the index.

The goal of indexing is to understand the website content and categorize it under a relevant listing.

3. Ranking in SERPs

When a user enters a query, Google digs and scrutinizes the index to find out the best results. The list of these results appears on the top, also known as a SERP (Search Engines Result Page).

If you’ve done your research right, Google will rank your website on the top pages.

4. Search Results

Wondering what Google considers to provide the best search results? Here are a few factors.

  • The search engine needs to comprehend what the user is trying to find out.
  • Is your page relevant to the query? If yes, it might appear in the search results.
  • Even the most relevant content won’t rank in the search results if the content quality is low. This is because the search engine picks the best sites in terms of quality.
  • The search engine also considers the readability, safety, and accessibility of pages.
  • The user’s history, location, and settings also count.

Basic SEO Techniques

basic Search Engine Optimization
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Maslow’s hierarchy theory divides human needs into five categories: physiological needs, safety needs, love, and belonging needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs.

The theory prioritizes basic human needs (air, water, food) over advanced needs (love, self-esteem), etc. Therefore, one cannot achieve the needs from top to bottom. That is, self-esteem doesn’t matter if you do not have food to eat.

Below, we’ve explained the foundation of good SEO. Basic search engine optimization techniques begin with keyword research and end with optimization. Therefore, it’s crucial to follow the correct sequence.

1. Keyword Research

How do you expect your page to rank in the search results if you do not know the terms people are searching for?

Basic SEO begins by determining what you’re optimizing for. That means you have to identify the terms people search for if you want your website to rank in search engines.

Sounds simple, right? You want your tie-dye T-shirt company to show up when people search “Tie-dye T-shirts” or maybe when they type, “Best Tie-dye T-shirts online.”

Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward.

You need to consider a few factors to determine the keywords you want to target for your website.

Search Volume

Search volume is the first factor to consider in keyword research. It indicates the number of people searching for a particular keyword.

The more searches you get for a keyword, the more people you can reach. But, on the flip side, if no one is searching for a keyword, there’ll be no audience on your website.

Relevance

If a particular term is searched frequently, it’s great! But is it relevant to your target audience?

Relevance is not as explicit as it seems. For instance, if you’re selling fidgets to help people with anxiety, perhaps you do not want to appear in cat toy search results, and you know that! But what about the terms like “Best fidgets?”

The term might sound relevant to what you sell, but not everyone searching for this keyword will be willing to purchase your product.

Conversely, you need a more tangible keyword like “Best fidgets for anxiety” to drive traffic.

Competition

You also need to determine the likelihood to rank specific terms and understand the relative competition. To outpace your competitors, you need to know:

  • The things your prospects are interested in
  • Their problems
  • The type of language they use to describe the things they do
  • Who else are they buying from?

2. Content Optimization

Content optimization is a method of ensuring your content is written in a way that reaches a greater target audience. When you optimize your content, you look for the following things:

Associated Keywords: Does your content contain relevant keywords?

Meta Description: An HTML element that summarizes and describes the content on your page in 150-160 characters.

Title Tags: It allows you to give your web page a title.

Relevant Links: Including links to relevant web pages.

3. Link Building

Google Algorithm is primarily based on links. Therefore, having several links from authoritative websites to your site is incredibly important to drive traffic.

Link building is the practice of creating hyperlinks from other websites to your website. Creating links to an authentic website adds credibility to your site too.

Nonetheless, these have to be relevant, and the aim should be to promote useful content. It is one of the tactics in search engine optimization that signals Google that your website is a quality resource and can be cited.

4. On-page Optimization

On-page optimization, also known as on-page SEO, refers to all the steps you can take within your website to improve its rank in search engines. Here are a few fundamental on-page elements to drive traffic to your website.

  • Title Tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Meta Tags
  • Headings
  • Images and Alt Text
  • Internal Link Building

5. Local SEO

Local SEO refers to local search engine optimization, and every business owner knows driving local customers is key to success or failure.

Consider you run a pet supply business in New York. Make sure you do keyword research based on location and your service.

For instance, “Best Pet Suppliers New York” can be a keyword to drive organic traffic. But make sure your website doesn’t have any technical issues that might prevent localized rankings.

6. Mobile Optimization

Did you know globally, 68.1% of all website visits in 2020 came from mobile devices? That’s right, the number of mobile users is significantly greater than desktop users.

So, make sure you adjust your website content to ensure mobile users can access your website and navigate it without trouble. Here’s what you can do.

  • Make your content scrollable instead of making people click through several pages.
  • Break your text into small paragraphs (2-3 sentences per paragraph)
  • Use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to create a fast mobile experience
  • Optimize your images and videos to make them compatible with mobile devices.

Top SEO Tools

Search Engine Optimization
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If you’re willing to compliment your search engine optimization efforts, here are a few tools that’ll do the needful.

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free service offered by Google. It allows you to monitor and maintain your website’s presence in Google search results.

What’s more, you can track your website impressions, average position, keyword rankings, organic traffic, and click-through rate.

2. Backlink Tracking and Analysis Tools

In an ideal world, you’ll see nothing more than relevant, quality links to your site. In the real world, however, it’s not that easy.

You need to examine your link profile and find broken/bad links to improve organic rankings and get referral traffic. Here’s when backlink tracking and Analysis tools come in handy. These tools give you access to complete backlink data in one place.

Common tools include Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz Link Explorer, BuzzSumo, etc.

3. Keyword Research and Tracking Tools

Keyword research and tracking tools help you:

  • Find target keywords for the right audience
  • Identify what works best for your website
  • Monitor competitor websites
  • Troubleshoot traffic drops
  • Boost your revenue
  • Find CTR issues

Some common examples include.

SEMrush: The all-in-one tool helps you discover marketing insights and improve online visibility.

Ahrefs: You can analyze your website’s link profile, SEO, and keyword rankings. It also allows you to discover content that performed well and why.

cognitiveSEO: It helps with SEO issues and allows you to compare your website with competitors.

Wordstream: This easy-to-use software saves your time by giving you accurate SEO keyword suggestions.

4. Google Ads Keyword Planner

Google Ads Keyword Planner enables you to find and measure new keywords relevant to your business and the expense to target them.

5. SEO Software

SEO (Search engine optimization) software is designed to improve the ranking of your website on search engine result pages. Common SEO softwares include:

  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • Ubersuggest
  • Serpstat
  • Accuranker
  • SERanking
  • SemRush

6. Social Media

Social Media is a powerful tool to increase SEO rankings.

Facebook, for instance, is the largest platform with 2.74 billion active users and can help you improve SEO results. If you’re unsure how to get started with it, you can check a detailed guide on Facebook Marketing.

It’ll enable you to:

  • Share your content with the target audience
  • Optimize images for SEO
  • Build relationships with your customers
  • Boost local search engine optimization
  • Improve engagement

How Can You Learn SEO?

Jim Rohn, an American entrepreneur quotes, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” Others may facilitate learning for you; no one can teach you better than yourself.

So, if you’re willing to learn more about search engine optimization, there’s no better option than reading about it.

Neil Patel, a top influencer and best-selling author, has several blogs about SEO practices. You can skim through those to catch a few tips.

Further, Authority Hacker, a leading education marketing company, has several blogs and video training courses about SEO techniques. You can take up a course or read the blog posts and practice basic SEO.

What You Need to Remember

Search engine optimization aims to establish a foundation of credible websites with an effective user experience.

Whether you’re a small business owner or run a large-scale business, perhaps you have a website to reach your target audience.

SEO can help you increase engagement, traffic, and conversions. As a result, your business revenue will boost.

Yes, SEO comes with its set of challenges, but the opportunities it brings are enough to scale your business.

 

Mandy Schmitzhttps://mandyschmitz.com
Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest product & software reviews.

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Mandy Schmitz is a freelance consultant and project management expert with 10+ years of experience working internationally for big brands in fintech, consumer goods and more. Join me here on Changeaholic.com to learn how to optimize your business operations and find the latest product & software reviews.

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