SEO: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important digital marketing strategies. This beginner's guide will give you a solid introduction.

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Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a marketing technique that is used for improving online traffic via a search engine such as Google or Bing. The aim of SEO is to get as high up the search ranking results as possible.

Ideally, if you can get your website to appear on the first page of the search engine result, you’re more likely to generate traffic. Since, according to Junto, 75% of internet users never go past the first page of the search results.

And if your website is on point, SEO can play a pivotal role in generating more sales and conversion.

In this article, we will go through the fundamentals of SEO and highlight the main strategies that you need to be aware of.

What is SEO & Why It Is Important?

The implementation of a solid SEO strategy helps to increase the prominence of a website in terms of where they appear on a search engine result. And as mentioned, the higher they appear on the search engine results page, the better.

To understand what SEO is, you need to know how a user would use a search engine.

Whenever a user wants to search for something on Google or any other search engine, they would use specific search terms that are closely relevant to the type of content they are seeking.

And if you can optimise your content for those search terms, then you’re more likely to appear on the first page of the search engine result.

This is why SEO is important.

Online users usually do not go beyond the first page of a search engine result. Therefore, only the web pages that appear on the first page of a search engine gets the advantage for traffic generation and boosting sales.

Keyword Research

Keywords are search terms used by customers to search for specific content or services on a search engine.

To identify what keywords your customers are using to search for the content or service you’re providing,  you need to know your customers. This is where market research comes into play.

For some keywords, they’re relatively easy to guess. For example, if you’re a London-based hotel business, customers would normally use ‘hotels in London’, ‘best hotels in London’ or ‘cheap hotels in London’ to search for your business on Google.

For services that are not so easy to guess, you would need to conduct a keyword research using tools such as Google Planner or Keyword Tool to find appropriate keywords that are related to your business.

There are two types of keywords, there’s short tail keywords which are commonly used search terms and are extremely competitive to rank for (e.g. ‘photographer in London’) and then there are long-tail keywords which are more specific to a particular niche (e.g. ‘wedding and event photographer in London’).

It is best practice to target both.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO involves embedding your chosen keywords into your website.

However, this does not involve “stuffing” your keywords onto a page. With Google’s latest algorithm, that would not work in your favour and you risk getting your website blacklisted.

Instead, you need to ensure your keywords appear in the right areas, which are:

  • Domain/URL
  • Title tags
  • Header tags
  • Alt Text (which are used for images)
  • Meta text (the text that you on the Google search results page)
  • Body of the text (no more than 5 times)
When optimising these areas, especially the title and header tags, do your best to get the keywords to appear at the very beginning of the text.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is a practice of improving your site’s visibility by obtaining a backlink from an authoritative or high-ranking site.

Guest posting is one popular method of generating backlinks. By producing content that is going to be published on another website that doesn’t belong to you, it will help to expand your site’s reach by getting your content visible to another website’s audience.

And as you gain more backlinks, Google will recognise this and will assess the overall rank of your site.

Google’s PageRank algorithm takes into account the sources and backlinks attain from authoritative websites, and it then uses this information to assess the importance of that page.

In addition, you can also build links through getting featured on a big name online news publication such as Huffington Post, Forbes and BBC. Journalists are always on the lookout for quotes, and by signing up to HARO, you get a list of articles that journalists are looking for contributions for.

Another way of building links is through collaborating with social media influencers. By working with influencers, you can get a link back to your site via the influencer’s social media’s page.

SEO Best practices

Here are some best practices to be mindful of:

1. Write for Humans

When ranking well for a search engine, you need to make sure that you’re creating content for humans, not for machines. Forget keyword stuffing and obtaining backlinks from poorly made websites, these are considered as black hat tactics.

Instead, what you should do is create content that is of the highest quality and aims educate, entertain or inform. You also need to get into the habit of making your content as authoritative as possible. This includes using statistics and studies from well-known organisations such as Forrester, Forbes and Statistica to back up what you say.

2. Use Social Media

Also, social media plays a key role in SEO. 

You can promote your content through social media to generate traffic. But besides generating traffic, if you consistently engage with your audience, you stand a better chance of that content ranking well since Google’s algorithm will pick on that.

3. Focus on Building Relations When it Comes to Link Building

Link building is the key factor when it comes to ranking well on Google. 

To attain better, high quality backlinks, you need to start building relations with the website owner/journalist of the site/publication that you’d like to attain a backlink. You need to remember that these people get a lot of requests for backlinks on a daily basis, and most of them get ignored.

But making the effort to build a long-term relationship, firstly by providing them something that is high value, you stand a good chance of building a link.

4. Aim for Long-form Content

Google loves long-form content, which are articles that are longer than 1000 words.
According to research by Backlinko, long-form content attracts 77.2% more links than shorter articles.

Also, long-form content helps to reduce the bounce rate, which is when a web visitor clicks on your page and immediately leaves. So as long as you create engaging content, people will stay on your page for much longer – which will sit well with Google.

5. Get a SSL Certificate

The SSL certificate is a “lightweight” ranking factor for Google. But while you don’t technically need a SSL certificate, having one will immediately provide reassurance to your visitor and prevent them from clicking away from your site.

The Future of SEO

The need for high-quality content is becoming more and more prominent when it comes to SEO. What’s more, there will be more focus on integrating SEO with social media as people are discovering new content on these platforms.

In addition, the current web development trends will greatly change the dynamics of SEO. At the moment, there is a huge surge in the development of single page applications (SPA) which provide a better user experience. However, SPAs tend to have trouble getting picked up by search engines since they are made with JavaScript and search engines don’t pick up JavaScript, they pick up HTML – which is what most traditional websites use.

That said, it is envisioned that the SEO algorithm for various search engines will become more adapted and accustomed to identifying SPAs in the future.

The IIEPD provide a diverse range of CPD accredited digital marketing courses. Unlike other digital marketing training programs, IIEPD provides learners with a host of different digital marketing training resources including access to the IIEPD Influencer Affiliate Program, the IIEPD Influencer Network and subsidised digital marketing services from Pie Analysis.

For more information, get in contact with IIEPD today.

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