SEO is based on a few simple rules you can start applying to your website today. Here is my version of a beginners guide to SEO.
What Is SEO?
SEO is one way you help people find your website. It’s similar to how retailers put their stores in the busiest part of town so that customers frequently drive by their location. Every time you drive by a McDonald’s, there’s a chance you might stop in for a burger. Similarly, every time you see a search result from a particular organization, you might visit their site to read an article or buy an item.
The busy part of the Internet—the best place for your online location—is in the search engines listings over a billion people read every day. You can survive without Google traffic but it is much easier when you get that free traffic cream.
There are two ways to make your site appear in search engines listings: search engine optimization and advertising. Advertising is expensive, but if it works for you, you don’t need to give it up—you can combine it with SEO to increase your traffic. (For example, Amazon.com, a company with lots of Internet savvy, uses both SEO and advertising to boost their sales.)
But skipping ads altogether and using just SEO has one huge advantage: it’s practically free. All you need is to learn a few simple techniques that help search engines find your website content.
Onpage search engine optimization
On page SEO is all about optimising the content or the article on your website. For example you need to have the right keyword targeted in the first place, then you need to have the right keyword density scattered in the article, and then you need to have related keywords mentioned in the article. It is also recommended that you use the keyword in your title, your URL, your tags and descriptions. I might have missed a few steps here so please forgive me. You must know I use SEOPressor to keep me on the right track with Onpage SEO.
Off page search engine optimization
This is all about everything that leads back to your website. Of course it is all centered around the keywords that you chose in the first place. Basically search engine optimization is all about keywords and this is how we choose the anchor text that will link back to our website. This anchor text tells the search engines what our page is about. If you are putting the wrong anchor text out onto the Internet you are telling the search engines the wrong message.
SEO = Keywords
You must create content that people want to see and you must have the right words that can match what the humans are typing into the search engines. This is not easy to understand so I have a video about researching keywords.
Do I Really Need SEO?
Not in all cases—you can use other techniques to drive visitors to your website. Advertising, affiliate programs, and referrals all continue to work for numerous websites. It really depends on what type of blog or website you have. They are all individuals and require different attention. But here is the thing.. Would you be satisfied with 5 visits a day to your article or page or would you like 200? This is the difference between a post or page that has no SEO and one that has.
The best thing for you to do is to try a little SEO on your website and see how much it helps. I believe that my tips to dominate Google will increase your traffic to about 80% of its maximum level, but we all know that this is genuine hard work.
Too much optimization can also yield diminishing results, although it might be important in competitive markets. People often have no idea when to stop doing SEO. I like to do a bit and then see the results. For example to promote a page or pillar article I would start with:
- 5 incoming links (guest posts, ezine articles, free blogs)
- 3 incoming links (forums, yahoo answers)
- 5 keyword comments (on sites using Commentluv)
This is just a basic example of what you can do and everyone does this different. To tell the truth I do not use commenting too much, only probably by accident, as I am more for submitting articles.
How Much Does SEO Cost?
This is perhaps the best part about SEO—you can apply all of the most important SEO principles to any existing website for free. All you need to do is learn these SEO techniques and spend 5–10 minutes on each page of your website. Since over half of all websites on the Internet have less than 6 pages, you can probably optimize your website in less than an hour.
For bigger blogs you might need some help from a professional SEO. The SEO cost of such services varies. If you are not sure what to do then an easy way to get some SEO done is to get someone to help you submit articles.
What Software Do You Need for SEO?
You don’t need any special software, but I do highly recommend two applications. The first is a Web traffic analysis program such as Google Analytics. Traffic analysis will tell you if SEO is working.
If you apply SEO methods correctly, you should see your traffic increase during the month or two after you start using SEO. But even more important—you’ll notice if traffic decreases because something went wrong.
The other application I recommend is a keyword research tool. There are several paid research tools, but I personally use the free keyword tool from Google. Log into your Google account, sign up for AdWords (it’s free if you don’t buy ads), and launch the research tool. Type in keywords related to your website to see how popular they are.
I do use Keyword Elite occasionally and probably should do more often as it does save a lot of precious time.
SEO Basics: How Search Engines See Your Site
The most important thing to remember during SEO is that search engines aren’t people. They’re robots. They won’t rank your website higher because you have nice wallpaper or a video of cute kittens. In fact, search engine robots can’t even see wallpaper or videos. Newbies find it hard to understand how SEO works and it is only when they see direct results from their SEO actions
Search engine robots (also called spiders) deal almost exclusively with the text on your website. They look at the title of your page, its headers, its paragraph text, and its links—but they ignore almost everything else. For more details see our previous article about what search engine bots see.
Take a moment to look at your website the way robots see it. Go to your favorite page on your website and copy all the text (Ctrl-A, Ctrl-C on most Web browsers). Then open Windows Notepad and paste in all the text (Ctrl-V).
Now, looking at your page the way robots see it, can you quickly figure out what your website is about? Or is the important part of your website buried under unnecessary information and menus?
Getting The Top Spot In Search Results
Studies have shown that the majority of search engine traffic goes to the top three sites listed in a search result. That’s where you want your site to appear.
To get your site in the top results, you need to do three things:
- Choose a keyword (use the Google keyword research tool)
- Make sure the keyword appears on your page where robots will see it (use the Notepad trick)
- Make sure other people link to your website (18 link building techniques might help)
How People See Search Results
It isn’t enough to get the top spot in search results—you also need to get people to click the link to your site.
Think about how you use search results. If you’re like most people, you focus on the page titles in search results. Those titles come straight from the webpages, so now take a look at the titles of your own webpages and ask yourself, “would I click on a page with that title?”
If your titles are boring or irrelevant, getting the top spot in a search engine listing is useless because nobody will click links to your site.
Another thing people will see is the description you have used for you page. You should make this interesting and also sprinkle one or two keywords amongst it.
Can SEO Plugins Help?
To answer this question depends greatly on what WordPress theme you are using. Mostly all premium WordPress themes have the basic SEO requirements included. For example both Thesis and Elegant Themes have areas for SEO to be added.
I am using the Thesis theme so it has a spot for me to add a description, SEO title, and keywords. I am also using the free Yoast WordPress SEO plugin and SEOPressor. With this combination I see fantastic results.
Your SEO Goal
To get started with SEO, set a goal. For example, “by the end of the month, my website will appear in the top 10 listings for at least one of the 10 keywords I choose.”
Then do the following:
- Think of ten things visitors to your website will search for
- Boil those things down into keywords
- Check to see if you have the best keyword possible in Google Adwords keyword tool
- Make sure pages on your website include the keywords
- Gather high-quality links to your website (note—you can’t use links from Facebook, Twitter, and many other popular sites because they use a linking technique called “nofollow” to cut down on abuse)
- Make sure every page on your website has at least one link from another page on your website. (But try to avoid putting more than 100 links on any one page)
- Make sure every page on your site has an interesting title
- Watch your traffic stats and search for your keywords every week or two to see if your SEO is working
One final tip: I like to think of SEO as an experiment where I test out various techniques to see what works. For this, I highly recommend the scientist’s best friend—the composition book. Every time you make a change to your website, write a quick note plus how much traffic you receive—and date it. Then every week, make a quick note about whether traffic went up, down, or stayed roughly the same. From these quick, simple notes, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, so that you can advance beyond beginners’ SEO.
Beginners Guide To SEO – Where Does SEO Fit into the Picture?
SEO is just one of the many factors that make up this business. You cannot create killer content and not apply SEO to it as it would be a crime. You cannot have great content that is SEOed onpage without the offpage boxes ticked too. You cannot entice website traffic to your blog with no navigation for them to travel through your offerings. Everything hand in hand works well together.
Download a free PDF report about SEO for beginners.