Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO as it is more commonly known as, is the organic way to drive traffic to your website using SERPs.
SEO? Organic? SERPs? Do these terms confuse you?
Do not worry, this is why you clicked to read this article. In this post, you can expect a detailed introduction to SEO for beginners that covers these topics (and acronyms):
- What is SEO?
- Why does my website need SEO?
- What are some basic SEO techniques I should implement on my website?
- What are the advantages of SEO?
- What are the disadvantages of SEO?
Keep reading to learn more about SEO for beginners
What is SEO?
As I mentioned previously, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It refers to the organic traffic that is generated to your website, that is, unpaid traffic that comes from mostly search engines but also other sources such as social media.
When you want to look something up on the Internet, what do you do? Type a query into a search engine such as Google.
The results appear on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). There are usually two types of results that come up: organic, which is what we are covering here, and paid ads. These ads are typically at the top and bottom of the results, and are labelled as “ads”.
The organic results that you should pay attention to are the 10 blue links that are not labelled as ads. There are 10 on each SERP.
The intention of SEO is to get your website to appear as high in the SERPs as possible. The higher the rank, the more visitors you will have to your page because let’s face it, who clicks on page 2 of the search results anyway?
Why does my website need SEO?
So how exactly does one go about improving their website rank? Through SEO. This is why you website needs it. It will increase your rank, meaning that more people will see your website link and be inclined to click on it.
Without SEO, you will be missing out on key growth opportunities to generate qualified leads for your business using your website. You will also need to rely on other forms of marketing such as paid traffic (AdWords, sponsored posts) and social media. While these methods are effective, incorporating SEO into your marketing strategy will greatly enhance it.
What are some basic SEO techniques I should implement on my website?
There are many SEO techniques, on-page and off-page. Each of them plays a specific role in contributing to your SEO strategy.
Keywords are the core element of any on-page SEO strategy. It is these keywords that you will apply to other techniques that I will be explaining below.
When you type a query into a search engine, you may type in a full sentence, or more likely, “keywords”. This is when only the important key words of a sentence are used.
For example, instead of “a detailed introduction to SEO for beginners”, you may write “SEO for beginners”.
Keywords is a crucial element because it is used in most of your on-page SEO implementation so it is important to choose the right ones to focus on.
When you search something on the Internet and the list of organic links appear, the title tag is the heading of this link, i.e. the blue clickable section.
This title tag is vital because it is what captures the visitors attention and helps persuade them that this is the link that will give them the answers to their query.
You should make sure that title tag is under 70 characters, as this Google’s cut-off point. This way, you will be able to fit your entire title tag in without Google having to truncate it with ellipses (…).
Every post or page on your website should have a unique title tag as well.
The meta description is the brief summary that appears below the title tag on the SERPs. Along with the title tag, the meta description is what tells the audience what the link is about.
It is important to include the keyword in the description as well because the visitors need to know that it will be relevant to their query.
Google usually shows 150-160 characters without having to truncate the sentence. Please note that the meta description and title tag will not appear in the copy once the link is clicked. It is only shown on the SERPs.
Regardless of the length of your written content, it is best to break up the information into paragraphs for easier readability.
It will help users scan the information without being confronted with large blocks of text. This can actually deter people from reading your copy, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Heading tags comes in handy in these cases.
They can help tell the readers what they can expect in each paragraph of section of the content, and so should include the focus keyword/s to show them that your copy is relevant to their query.
But remember, not all headings are created equal.
There is a heading hierarchy. The headings go from the largest <h1> to <h6>.
The most important ones should be larger, and subheadings can use the smaller heading types.
This SEO for beginners tip is intended for images. Images play a part in on-page SEO but unlike written content, images do not have descriptions so search engines are unable to pick up what they are.
This is where image alt tags come in.
You are telling search engines what they are so they can appear when relevant image searches are conducted by including alt tags in your images.
Make sure you incorporate your keyword too, for better optimisation.
A great way to keep visitors only our site for longer, and make it easier for them to navigate through it, is by including many internal links within the content of your pages when relevant.
For example, if you are really enjoying learning more about SEO but are still unsure about how to implement it yourself, check out my SEO and SEO copywriting services so I can do it for you. See what I did there?
Fast page load speed
In a world where we expect instant gratification, users will not wait if a page takes a long time to load. To get the best user experience, Google and other search engines will reward sites with fast page load speeds, so it is crucial that your site speed is up to scratch.
There are many ways to do this such as compressing images. This will help to make your page load faster without compromising on quality.
Off-page SEO refers to the strategies that take place outside your website that still drive organic traffic to it. This can refer to social media and link building such as backlinks. Your off-page SEO can tell search engines how authoritative your site is and plays a major part in determining your rank.
To help generate traffic to your website using this off-page SEO tool, write an update across all your platforms with a link leading to the new blog post that you just published, and make sure you include the URL in your “About” sections so people can access your website.
Backlinks refer to the links on other websites that lead back to yours. It is an important element because it tells search engines how authoritative your site is. The more backlinks you have, the better. However, building backlinks can be difficult to accomplish because you rely on other people and companies to help include links to your site.
You can assist in building up your backlinks by guest blogging or leaving thoughtful and insightful comments on other sites and including a link back to yours. The key here is thoughtful and insightful to show that you actually read the post, and are not just commenting solely to leave your website URL for your own benefit.
What are the advantages of SEO?
The intention of SEO is to increase your ranks to drive more traffic to your website. This means that you will have more website visitors to learn about your business and product/service to turn into sales.
Increased brand awareness
Following from the first point, the more people who see your website, the more aware people will become of your business. The higher your rank is on the SERPs, the better your reputation will be as well. It illustrates that you have more authority no the subject, instilling trust in your customers.
Because it is organic, it means that you do not need to pay to drive users to your website. It is completely free, making it one of the best cost-effective marketing strategies.
Long term results
Unlike with paid traffic where it stops once you cease running your ad campaign, SEO yields long term results. As long as your published posts are optimised, even ones published years ago, people will keep finding your website from them. This continuous flow of traffic can really help enhance brand awareness and reach.
What are the disadvantages of SEO?
Long time to see results
Because SEO relies on organic traffic, it may take a long time to see the results you want. Compared to other strategies such as paid advertising, instant gratification and immediate results is not something you will see here.
While SEO can really assist in growing your business and increase your ranks, there is no guarantee that it will make it to the first page of the SERP.
In saying this, it is important to bear in mind that any SEO expert or company that promises you first-rank pages are companies to avoid. No one can guarantee this, which leads me to the next point.
You do not have full control
As I mentioned before, no one knows the exact algorithm that Google or other search engines use to determine ranks. While you can, and should, implement these SEO tactics into your strategy, the exact method remains unknown.
Risk of being penalised
There are two types of SEO that you can implement, white hat SEO and black hat SEO. The techniques that I have listed in this SEO for beginners article are white hat SEO; they are ethical methods that are acceptable for both search engines and humans.
On the other hand, black hat SEO is used by those who want to cheat the system and disregard the stipulated guidelines. You do so by prioritising search engines over your human audience, increasing the risk of being penalised. Consequently, you will lose your rank, and hence traffic.
(If you want to learn more about white hat and black hat SEO, I will be writing an SEO for beginners article on this, so stay tuned for that!)
I hope that this detailed introduction to SEO for beginners is something has helped you learn more about organic traffic.
What other SEO topics would you like me to write about? Is there anything else you would like to find out in more detail? Leave a comment below and let me know!