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Learn SEO: The Basics

Learn SEO: The Basics

Are you a digital marketer wanting to learn SEO? After all, SEO is one of the most important skills you can have when it comes to digital marketing.

Fortunately, learning SEO is not as difficult as it may seem at first. With a little effort and dedication, you can master the basics of SEO and start seeing results in no time.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. In its simplest form, SEO is the process of making your website more visible to search engines like Google. This is done by optimizing your site content, structure, and on-page elements like titles, metatags, and anchor text. If you learn to do that well, you will do well in SEO. 

In other words, SEO is all about making it easier for search engines to find and index your website.

Why is SEO important?

SEO is important because it can help you get more traffic from search engines. When your site is properly optimized, it will appear higher in the search results pages (SERPs), which means more people will see it and visit it. This can lead to more customers and sales for your business.

One of the major benefits of SEO is that when you rank high for valuable keywords and phrases, you are being seen 24/7 by customers, for free.

That doesn’t mean it won’t come at some sort of cost though. Most websites these days rank well because of a well coordinated effort. If you are ranking fine in your small town, locally, and putting little effort into it, it is just a matter of time before someone else comes along and takes your place.

SEO is a never ending process. If you are lucky enough to get to the number one spot on your most valued keywords, someone else is gunning for your spot. The moment you get complacent, someone else will take over.

Each click on any site has a value for businesses. It could be worth $.01 or $50,000 or more, depending on the business.

I’ve known many people who felt like the kings while they dominated the search results, and now they are paupers. They got complacent. Don’t let that happen to you. If you are already ranking and have a profitable business, you are lucky, or good. If it’s luck, it won’t last for long, and there isn’t a guarantee even if you are good.

How do I learn SEO?

There are many ways to learn SEO. You can read articles and blog posts (like this one!), watch video tutorials, talk with SEO experts, or even take an online course.

In this case, we have a small tutorial prepared for you where we will go over some of the basics of SEO right here.

Step 1, creating your website

There are several parts to this process. Here’s what you need to do in order to create your website:

  • Find a good company to buy your domain and hosting from: I prefer Siteground because they have good hosting plans, great customer service, and are simple to use. They also offer free SSL certificates.
  • Choose your domain name: Don’t worry about choosing a name that will “work for SEO”, it’s not a ranking factor. I have a few basic rules I like to stick to with my domains. Choose a .com and keep the name of the site fairly short or very easy to remember. Avoid hyphens.
  • Pick your platform: I prefer WordPress. There are other options, and they can rank as well. WordPress is simple enough that most people can work with it. If you don’t like WordPress because it is too complex, you might want to hire someone to do your SEO too.
  • Install an SEO plugin: Yoast and Rank Math are two of the most popular.

Tips for creating a positive experience on your website:

  • Use visuals: Good, unique images and logos are helpful.
  • Security/Encryption: Make sure you are using HTTPS to keep your visitors safe from hackers.
  • Page speed: Make sure your website uploads quickly. People are impatient online. Page speed is an important part of the user experience. You can check you page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Tool.
  • Mobile Friendly: Most people are using the internet on their phones, so a good mobile experience is a must.
  • Avoid pop-ups and too many ads: These take away from the user experience and will drive users away from your site.

Step 2, get your site indexed by Google

You want to make sure you have a sitemap on your website. It will help you get your website indexed by Google faster than otherwise. It is important that Google is able to see the content on your website so that it can rank your site based on relevance to the search query.

If you do not have one, you will want to create a sitemap.

You also want to make sure that your website and sitemap are connected to Google Analytics. This will help you in multiple ways:

  • Track your progress
  • See what keywords are driving traffic to your site
  • Find out how to optimize your site

Step 3, SEO Basics 

Oh, you thought you were done working on your website? Not even close. Here’s what you need to do next.

Keyword research

You want to make sure you are targeting the right keywords. There are a few ways to go about this:

  • Google’s Keyword Planner: This is a great tool that allows you to see how much traffic certain keywords get as well as giving you ideas for other keywords.
  • Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer: This is a paid tool, but it gives you more data than Google’s Keyword Planner. Worth it if you are doing a lot of SEO for paid clients.
  • SEMrush: Another paid tool that has a free trial. It is similar to Ahrefs but also has other features such as site audits and competitor analysis.

On-Page SEO

This is the process of optimizing your website’s pages to rank higher in search results. Here’s what you should be working on next:

  • Title tags: These are what show up in the tab at the top of your browser when you have a page open. They are also what shows up as the title in the search results. You want to make sure these are clear, accurate, and include your target keyword.
  • Meta descriptions: These are the short descriptions that show up under your title tags in the search results. You want to make sure these accurately reflect the content on your page and include your target keyword.
  • Headings: Use headings (H tags) on your pages to break up the content and make it easy to read. You should also include your target keyword in your headings.
  • Images: Whenever you can, you want to include images on your pages. These help break up the text and make your page more visually appealing. You also want to make sure you include keywords in the file names and alt tags of your images. Compress images to make the pages load faster too.
  • Internal links: Link to other pages on your website when it is relevant. This helps Google understand what your pages are about and can also help improve the user experience on your site.
  • External links: Links to other websites can also be helpful. Just make sure you are linking to high-quality websites that are relevant to your page.

Technical SEO

This is the process of making sure your website is easy for Google to crawl and index. A few things you should do:

  • Fix broken links: These can hurt your SEO as well as the user experience. Set up redirects: If you change the URL of a page, make sure you set up a 301 redirect so that users and search engines are redirected to the new URL.
  • Check indexing: You can use Google Search Console to check if your pages are being indexed properly. If not, there are a few things you can do to fix it.
  • Canonical Tags: If you have multiple pages with the same content, you want to make sure you use canonical tags so that Google knows which page to index, or change the content from page to page.

and these other topics that have already been covered pretty well:

  • Mobile-Friendly
  • Page Speed Improvements
  • Security/Encryption

Link Building 

A link to your site from another legitimate site is one method that Google uses to determine your ranking. You can think of links as a sign of approval from other sites that you are also legitimate and authoritative. The more links you have, and the higher the authority website they come from, the more authority you will have in the eyes of Google.

It is incredibly difficult to rank a website without having some links to your site. Links can be built in one of two ways.

  1. Naturally: You can produce great content that other websites want to link to. You could also do something newsworthy or write a PR piece that gets picked up by other websites.
  2. Manually: You can reach out to other website owners and see if they are interested in linking to your site. This is sometimes called link outreach.

Both methods take time and effort, but the manual method is the quickest way to build links.

Link building is a controversial topic when it comes to Google. It is technically against Google’s terms to manually build links for your site, but most everyone does it. It is also incredibly difficult to track who is doing it manually and who is doing it naturally. 

Here is what Google says about link building.

You should be careful about how you build your links because you can be penalized by Google for doing it.

Google recommends that you should simply:

“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

You can rank that way. It takes a whole lot longer, but it is safer too. If you have the time and resources, focus on creating great content that will earn links naturally.

If you want to learn more about link building in SEO, here are a few articles:

The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

LINK BUILDING FOR SEO

Link Building for SEO: The Beginner’s Guide

Content

Content is still the king when it comes to SEO. If you want to rank your website, you need to have great content. Your content needs to be well-written, informative, and relevant to your niche.

It also needs to be updated regularly. Google loves fresh content, so the more often you can update your site, the better. Keeping a blog is a good method for updating your website with new information on a regular basis.

Don’t forget to include your keywords in your content, but don’t stuff them in there. Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing, and it will also hurt the user experience.

A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Use images and videos: People are more likely to engage with your content if it includes images or videos.
  • Make your content scannable: People don’t usually read articles word for word. They scan them for information.
  • Use short paragraphs: No one wants to read a wall of text. Breaking up your content into shorter paragraphs makes it more user-friendly.

Conclusion

This is the basics of SEO. Hopefully you are able to use this information to learn SEO and implement it in your strategies for ranking on Google.

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