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SEO for Beginners: The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

SEO for beginners - the basics of search engine optimization
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash

By The Editorial team

To enter the world of SEO, you must be aware of how search engines work and how they determine rankings.

A lot of beginners have heard about search engine optimization and the basics of SEO but don’t know where to begin or who to ask. What does it take to get my site higher in search engine rankings? What does it take to rank on search engines? You shouldn’t just dive in and begin messing with the code on your website without having a basic understanding of what SEO entails.

If you’re a beginner you’re in luck! I will start with the basics of SEO, including what it is and how it affects your website and content. Then we’ll move on to some actionable SEO tips that will get you started with search engine optimization on your websites today.

What does SEO mean?

SEO is an online marketing technique used to increase a website’s visibility in search engines. SEO can be done on both web pages, apps and social media. A page or post that has good SEO tends to show up higher in search results than one without it, which results in more visitors.
 
While you may already know what SEO means, you might not know exactly how it works or how to get started with it. For most websites, implementing SEO is pretty straightforward once you understand what goes into it and where to start—even if you’re new to SEO. Techniques like on-page SEO concerns optimizing the content on your site; while off-page SEO refers to backlinks and other link-building tactics used to promote a site. Search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Baidu use algorithms to rank sites based on relevance.
 
SEO is an area of marketing that can be confusing and intimidating. However, with a little bit of research and a willingness to learn you’ll be surprised how easy it is to get started.The ultimate goal in search engine optimization (or SEO) is to improve your website’s visibility by creating compelling content that engages your audience. Essentially, you want people from across different demographics and geographical locations to visit your site as opposed to one of your competitors’ sites.

Why you should care about SEO

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) can help your business thrive better. SEO is all about making sure your content gets found when people look for it on search engines like Google and Bing. You could think of SEO as a collection of techniques and strategies that guide how you make your website more findable online.
 
This means you should care about SEO because, first, if done right, it’ll make your visibility job easier. Think about it like buying a billboard—if nobody sees it, then there’s no point in buying one. Second, SEO can drive organic traffic to your site by increasing its discoverability through search engines. Ultimately, SEO is just another way to get more eyes on your work… not a bad thing at all.
93 % of all web traffic is via search engines, and Google alone processes more than 63,000 searches every second. That’s around 5.4 billion searches per day. Your business could be one of them! How? Search engine optimization (or SEO) is the name of the game.
 
With potential buyers looking to search engines for products and ideas, it makes search engines the most qualitative source of leads for your business. You probably already know (if you don’t know, now you do!) that to get an audience or make any money online you have to be found on Google, Bing, or via other similar search engines.
 
According to Seach Engine Journal, around 25% of users will click on the first search result from a search engine. This means that people trust the first few search results that show up when they search online. It also means that high-ranking sites that show up are considered high quality and trustworthy. This, in turn, can boost the authority and credibility of businesses that rank higher in search results.
 
Even if you own a small business website, SEO can make a massive difference to your bottom line. It doesn’t matter how large or small a business is, SEO is an essential part of it. Whether you want to rank well in Google and bring in targeted leads, increase traffic to your e-commerce store, or just gain an audience for your content; SEO will help.

SEO for beginners - the SEO Ingredients

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a key factor in marketing your website to potential customers. Three major ingredients are needed to achieve good SEO. This list outlines what those ingredients are and explains why they’re essential to achieving top search engine rankings.

Great content:

Having a website is great, but having people visit it is even better. People are more likely to visit your site if you have interesting and relevant content that they’ll enjoy reading. We recommend offering informative, educational information that’s not readily available on other sites. Regularly updated blogs are an excellent example of SEO-friendly content that generates traffic to your site. Google and other search engines love new content and rewards bloggers who update their sites regularly with higher search engine rankings. Be sure to choose a topic or theme that has strong demand in your industry so that potential customers will be interested in visiting your site often.

Backlinks:
When you create quality content, other sites cite your content when they create related content: Other online properties will cite links back to your website as evidence that you’re an authority in your field; we call these backlinks, and they’re another essential ingredient in any SEO campaign. How do you get backlinks? One way is by being linked on authoritative or popular sites within your industry. Another way is by guest-posting on related sites and podcasts and linking back to your site.
 
You should never use dubious means to get backlinks for your site. Be wary of services that promise huge amounts of backlinks for a fee as you could be penalized by search engines if your backlinks are low-quality or suspicious. It’s better to build your backlinks slowly from qualitative content that you churn out, as eventually, these links will take on authority and help boost your rankings over time.
 
With great content and relevant backlinks, users will find value in visiting your website often – which is what you want for your site. If people enjoy reading and interacting with content on your site, they’ll return regularly, increasing traffic to your site over time and thus increasing exposure to other pages on your website.
 
Technical SEO:
When you apply SEO techniques to your site, you’re technically implementing SEO. You can do several things to ensure that your website is search engine friendly by making sure that pages load quickly and have relevant title tags and meta descriptions. Other technical SEO factors include enabling search engine bots to crawl through your website easily so they can find all pages, images, and other content on your site, optimizing permalinks, and setting up the right alt texts for your images. If your website runs on a CMS platform, SEO plugins like Rank Math and Yoast SEO can do most of the technical stuff for you.

Tips that can help you improve your site's SEO performance

1. Review the content and structure of your site to ensure it can be found by search engines. If you have multiple pages with similar, related information, consider making them into a single page with internal links to each topic, as opposed to having a separate page for each one. This will help you avoid duplicate content penalties from search engines, and also improve your user experience.
 
2. Make sure that all links on your site are consistent in tone (i.e., if they’re all blue they should remain blue throughout your website). Users may be confused if some are colored differently than others or if certain links are underlined or bolded while others aren’t, so make sure that every type of link you use has an identical presentation on-site (unless there’s a specific reason it needs to stand out).
 
3. Create unique titles for your posts and pages: these are more important for SEO than most people realize. Include keywords in post titles, URLs, alt tags, meta descriptions, and headers; always think about how search engines might interpret what you’re writing before hitting publish—it’s not just humans who need to know what they’ll find inside your page.
 
4. Don’t overdo it when using keywords—your actual audience is more important than search engine robots. Each keyword should only appear once per paragraph at most; otherwise, you risk having text that’s dense but unhelpful for readers who don’t share those exact interests.
 
5. Create relevant content regularly: publishing new material shows search engines that your site isn’t stale and keeps visitors coming back regularly.
 
6. Be wary of accidentally duplicating old material: in addition to being frowned upon by Google, it doesn’t do much good to create two nearly identical articles on different sites. It may seem like a good idea at first because both places get fresh content, but users probably won’t want to read redundant updates across platforms (and besides, Google will likely find out and penalize you for it), so stay away from excessive duplication.
 
7. Get active online and connect with other writers, publishers, social media experts, and potential clients online; keep building up relevant connections to grow your network further down the line.
 
8. Encourage sharing across social media networks whenever possible. Share it on Twitter and Facebook too (and if you have the budget, promote it).
 
9. Track your progress and see what’s working best for you: running a site that generates lots of traffic? You might want to focus on creating more posts like it, rather than spreading yourself broad by trying to write about everything.
 
10. Keep improving your skills: education never ends, no matter where you are on your career path.
 
11. Research your keywords so you know what to optimize for—popular target searches, long-tail searches with low competition, or niche terms that might be easier to rank for.
 
12. Use a variety of SEO tools: Use free and paid tools to find indepth analysis for optimizing your website. (Google Keyword Planner – free, Semrush and Moz – paid ). It’s an excellent way to increase search visibility and monitor your progress.
 
13. Link to high-quality external sources wherever possible: linking out is good for SEO and helps expand your reach on a larger scale; however, make sure that you’re linking to trusted sources instead of simply adding links anywhere you can find them.
 
14. Set realistic goals so you know where you want to be in six months or a year from now and how you plan on getting there.
 
15. Create easy page navigation for your users; you may want to consider upgrading your site’s design for better, more intuitive navigation.
 
16. Make social media work for you: share your latest posts on social media as often as possible (be careful not to spam them), and encourage users to subscribe to your email newsletters. Also, start guest posting on other related blogs—building relationships online is a great way to establish credibility and generate interest in your content.
 
17. Create an about page with solid contact information so users can easily find out who you are and reach you if they have any questions or feedback for you.

Final thoughts

The SEO industry is a fast-paced, ever-changing one that’s constantly adapting as new sites and more advanced technology emerge. While this post may not cover all the areas of SEO, it gives you a starting point and an introduction to some basic concepts. If you can understand these tips and begin implementing them on your site, you’re likely to be at a good starting point for future success in search engine optimization.

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