SEO For Beginners

SEO For Beginners - Where To Start?

SEO for beginners needs to start with some definitions and concepts. It's like anything else you want to learn - start with basics, then go from there.

I've put together some definitions and explanations for anyone who's just starting to think about optimizing their site or blog. They're listed below in sort of an order that makes sense to me.

SEO For Beginners - What Is Search Engine Optimization?

I'll give you my definition, then move into some more detailed, technical explanation. I explain SEO to folks like this: it's the things you do to your web pages with keywords and phrases your target audience uses to find your products and services online. It's the things you do to your site to show up high in Google search results.

Otherwise, SEO is defined as a marketing process to increase a site's visibility in organic search results. It's getting more visitors to your pages from search engine results. It's methods, tactics, techniques, processes and strategies applied to your website to show up higher in search results.

What Do Search Engines Do To Display Pages In The Top Of Search Results?

There's a basic process that's done by the search engines to put pages at the top of your search results. First, let's look at this diagram:

seo for beginners - how search works

There are automatic programs generated by search engines called "spiders," crawlers, "bots" or "robots." These programs go out on the internet and query web hosting servers for new or updated content.

They gather information about that content, including the title, description, image description, the content itself and associated files. The crawlers send this information back to one of the Google's many index locations, to be stored in their servers.

So, if you type in "tiny purple widgets," these crawlers pull out all the relevant, authoritative content that has that phrase, or something close to it (broad phrase match), sorts out these pages according to the search algorithm (highly secret) and displays them for you.

All in the blink of an eye. This is an extremely simplified explanation. It's SEO for beginners!

SEO For Beginners - Keywords & Phrases

The most fundamental, basic, and important task you do to optimize your pages is knowing the keywords and phrases your target audience is plugging into the search engines to find your services and products.

If you don't know what those are, your pages won't show up in their search results.

So, you do keyword research. This is a research and discovery task where you put together some of the basic words and phrases that describe what you offer, then you use online tools to research those keywords and discover variations of them that you can use in each page and post on your site to rank higher in search results.

For example, let's say I operate a site that sells all kinds of bike shorts. I need good phrases so that people who buy bike shorts online will find my page first.

There are many keyword research tools. My two favorites are Google Trends and WordTracker. Google Trends is free, and WordTracker is paid. Let me give you some screenshots to show you exactly why:

seo for beginners keywords

Hmmm...according to Google Trends, looks like I should seriously consider mountain bike shorts, then padded ones. I could also do a comparison of the best bike shorts. OK, a couple product categories and a blog post could be made out of this research.

WordTracker is giving me some very specific data I can use and it looks like specific types of bike shorts should be made into individual product pages, and I definitely should still compare the best rated bike shorts.

Now that I have some phrases that I can use, what's next?

SEO For Beginners - Writing Content

You want to write content that's for your human audience. So, write to their comprehension level, use sentences that are easily understood by them, and fully explain what you're offering. Answer all of their questions.

Use the old newspaper formula to create content by answering who, what, where, why and how. Go in-depth, don't hold back! Write as much as you need to. It could be as short as a couple hundred words, or it could be more than one thousand. You know what's best.

Use one keyword phrase per page, and use your chosen keyword phrase in:

  • Page title tag
  • Page description tag
  • H1/H2 tags
  • Image alt text tag
  • Page URL
  • Bolded/Italicized text
  • Post or post content

This is a high level introduction into SEO for beginners. Do you want to learn more? Do a live class or learn SEO online - we've got all the basics ready for your to master!

Until we meet again, keep it between the ditches!

All the best to you,

Nancy McDonald

Screenshots courtesy of author July 2017

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