SEO Made Easy: A Beginners Guide To Search Engine Optimization

SEO Made Easy: A Beginners Guide To Search Engine Optimization

Chances are, the first thing you do when you need information is turn to Google. There's a sea of online content, and search engines sift through all of it to bring you the most relevant results. This is why it's no surprise that 'just Google it' is such a commonly used phrase in day-to-day life and at work!

There's just one thing: how often do you go past the first pages of search engines? Almost never! So, if your website is not on the first page of search engine results, you're going to miss out on almost anyone looking for a solution to their problem. In this guide, we'll highlight everything you need to know about search engine optimization (SEO). We've outline all the SEO basics for you, so that you'll be able to run your blog, prep SEO for your new website, or start creating more content with an SEO focus. Every website needs an SEO strategy, and we've got you covered even if you're starting from scratch.

SEO in a Nutshell: What Is SEO, and Is It Worth It for My Business?

An image of a nutshell with SEO shown inside it

SEO is the process of increasing your business's visibility by ranking your website higher on search engine pages. It ensures that when customers Google the products or services you offer, your business appears among the top results

SEO is dynamic, not static. Think of it as a workout routine. You are either growing your online footprint, or it's in a state of decline, no matter how slow. In some cases, you may not see the results immediately, but after a while, all the hard work begins to pay off. 

Google, which also plays a critical role in SEO strategies, constantly improves its ranking algorithms to make sure online users only get the most relevant results. They recently launched a new update that is intended to help users find what they're looking for: continuous scrolling. Currently, when people get to the bottom of a search results page, they have to manually click to go to the next page. However, with the new update, the results will automatically load until the user finds what they were looking for. 

You should note that SEO is not simply about ranking #1 for your brand name. It's also about the number of keywords and associated pages that you rank for in the top results. But how many keywords should you include on a website or on a page? How do you decide which keywords to target and how to go about integrating them into your website? We will help you create a strategy that gradually brings you to the top pages for relevant keywords. 

Need additional help creating an SEO strategy that converts? Check out our blog on how to create and optimize your 2022 SEO strategy.

Basic SEO Terms You Should Know

One of the main reasons people shy away from embracing SEO is the technical jargon associated with it. In this section, we'll break key phrases down for you so that you are able to create a successful SEO strategy for your business. 

SERP Ranking 

Image of SERP being searched on Google

Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) rankings are the position that your website appears in when potential customers look up your products, services, or associated keywords. It's simply what shows up to a user when they Google something related to your business. 

You've heard that the best place to hide a body is on the second page of Google, right? This is because over 75% of online users don't go past the first page of search results! So, you should always aim to appear at the top of SERP rankings because the first pages get the most traffic.

Structure

This is the format in which search engine pages display their results. 

Ads > Snippets > Results 

The first results are always relevant ads paid for by other businesses or your own. They are often followed by a snippet, which is basically a short answer of what an online user was searching for. Finally, the rest of the search results are shown for the user to click on the one that answers their query best.

Search Intent

This is the term used to refer to the main reason an online user is performing an online search. There are 4 primary types of search intent:

Icons for the words information, commercial, naigational, and transactional
  1. Informational: This is when users conduct a search to get more details about a topic. For instance, when a user Googles "website development benefits," they're only looking to get more information and not hire a developer. 
  2. Commercial: This is where users look up products or services with the intention of making a purchase, probably in the near future. An example of a query with commercial intent is "leading website developers in X city." 
  3. Navigational: This is where people use search engines to help them visit a particular website. For instance, when someone looks up 'Facebook,' they mostly want to go to the Facebook page and not get more information on the platform. 
  4. Transactional: This is where online users search for products or services with the intention of making a purchase in the moment. These searches are usually precise because the users already know what they need and only want to make a purchase. An example of a search query with transaction intent is 'X Software free demo.'

Search intent comes in handy when you're trying to increase your domain authority. For instance, if you're trying to rank your website for informational intent, your content should have as many relevant details as possible to help you rank higher.  

How To Know Your Search Engine Rankings

Determining your search engine rankings helps you create an effective SEO strategy to get you at the top of search engine result pages. The first step is looking at your SERP listing and checking your website domain authority to see how it compares against your competitors. This helps you determine your strengths for you to capitalize on and weaknesses to improve on.

Image shows the domain rating of a website which is 34

There are various metrics that come into play when checking your SEO results: website traffic, backlinks, engagement, keyword rankings, number of index pages, etc. When it comes to SEO, a one-size-fits-all approach never works. So, it's important that you develop a set of key performance indicators (specifically tailored to your business) that will help you reach the right audience. 

Main Types of SEO

SEO is made to sound complicated due to the many ranking factors involved. The truth, however, is that even though there are multiple variables that work together to determine your final SERP rankings, not all of them are relevant to your business. You can grasp the SEO basics in no time by better understanding the main types od SEO. To avoid getting overwhelmed by the information overload regarding SEO rankings, there are 3 key pillars that you should focus on:

1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is all about ensuring your site is fully optimized for search engines. Your website is your number one SEO asset. It's the main element that determines your SERP rankings, so you should optimize it for the specific keywords that your ideal audience is using. 

Here are the main areas you should focus on:

  • Keyword research: Each page on your website should be working to rank for a particular search query. This is where keyword research comes into play. It allows you to understand the language or phrases that your customers use on search engines to look for your products or services. These phrases are referred to as short-tail keywords (short phrases such as 'digital marketers 'website developers') or long-tail keywords which are more specific (e,g digital marketers in X city'). Incorporate them naturally into a specific page on your website if you want that page to rank for a keyword or across your website. 
  • Content optimization: This involves using different variations of the keywords throughout your website copy. Make sure you use them sensibly so that they don't alter the readability of your content. Be certain that the keywords are integrated naturally, as Google can penalize you for keyword stuffing.
  • Search intent: How well does your content match up with the user's search query? The best way to make sure that your web copies align with what your ideal customers are looking for is to answer their FAQs on your blog section.
  • Freshness: Focus on creating evergreen content so it remains relevant for many years. 
  • Internal links: Connect the various pieces of content in your website using internal links. 
  • Descriptive URLs: Keep your URLs simple and ensure they highlight exactly what a particular page is communicating. 
  • User Experience: Quality content and good user experience will always trump KPIs. So, focus on making your website easy to use and navigate.

Make sure your web pages have strong calls to action and that the titles contain keywords. Most importantly, don't forget to create meta descriptions the same way you would an ad copy, as this will drive more clicks.  

2. Technical SEO 

Technical SEO focuses on aspects such as how well your site is designed, how fast it is, whether it's ADA compliant, etc. This type of SEO is often considered the most daunting, but it's all about making sure that search engines are able to explore your website with ease and read your content. 

The good news is that the content management system you use takes care of a significant chunk of technical SEO. There are also various tools you can use to crawl your website and identify any technical problems that could be hurting your rankings. 

For this type of SEO, you should pay close attention to the alt tags, h1, meta descriptions, and title tags. Other areas you should focus on include:

Icon of site crawl, ease of use, index, website technology, hierarchy, and speed
  • Site crawl: Can search engine bots go through your website?
  • Ease of use: Is your website mobile-friendly?
  • Index: Can search engine bots determine the pages they should index?
  • Website technology: Is the content management system search engine friendly?
  • Hierarchy: Is your website content well structured? Content structure optimization is one of the low-hanging fruits of SEO.
  • Speed: How fast do your website pages load?

As you can see, most elements of technical SEO are usually part of your website design. So, if your developer understands the relationship between SEO and website development, you'll end up with an optimized site. We also recommend that you also use a tool like Webflow to help you implement the necessary changes instead of using additional plugins

3. Off-Site SEO

No matter how good your technical and on-page SEO is, you'll still need off-site SEO for authority building. Think of it this way: when companies advertise their products, you'll probably have a sliver of doubt regardless of how impressive they are. If a friend recommends the same products, you're more likely to make a purchase. The same applies to off-page SEO: it's all about optimizing your brand for search engines but on other websites for more credibility. 

The main aspects of off-site SEO include:

  • Backlinks: These are links from other authoritative websites to your site.
  • Guest posts: These are blogs that you publish on other company's websites, preferably the ones in your industry, to boost your domain authority. 
  • Best of Lists: In this instance, your business appears in a 'best of something' list. For instance, your business could be number 1 in a blog titled 'best software developer in X city.'

Technical, on-page, and off-site SEO all work in harmony to enhance your visibility on search engines. One cannot work without the other, so it's essential that you find a balance between the three. 

How To Build an SEO Strategy For Your Website

Image of quality SEO which includes keywords, UX and an SEO pro!

An SEO strategy is an actionable plan to help you improve your rankings on search engines. It incorporates the most important on-page, off-site, and technical SEO elements to position your business for search engines. 

Here are the key steps to building a solid SEO strategy. 

  1. Conduct keyword research: This is the foundation of all successful SEO strategies. It allows you to step into your customers' shoes and identify the phrases that they use to look up your services. Keyword research also helps you create a content strategy for your blog.
  2. Create high-quality content: At this stage, you need to put your keyword research into action. Incorporate the keywords naturally into the content and avoid overstuffing, which will only hurt your SERP position. You should also craft highly relevant, helpful, and engaging content.
  3. Improve user experience: When users land on your website, how easy is it for them to explore it? Is your website mobile-friendly? Are the calls to action visible? User experience is one of the top-ranking elements, so make sure your website is intuitive.
  4. Hire an SEO expert: If you're having a hard time implementing your SEO strategy, get an expert to audit your site and ensure it's fully optimized. 

You have to be patient because the effects of an SEO strategy aren't instantaneous. It will take you a while for your rankings to start improving, but you must remain consistent. If you'd like to launch effective SEO strategies, we'd love to help! Contact Steel Croissant for an interactive consultation today. When we get working, we go beyond the SEO basics so you don't have to!

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