As we all know, SEO is a complicated and confusing topic. It can be especially daunting if you are starting up your very first website. However, if you want to be ranked top of Google it’s vital that you optimise your website from the get go. Here I will be teaching you the SEO basic steps for beginners that you should be taking when launching a new site.
What is SEO – SEO Basics & Definition
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and is defined as the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. SEO is still very young, with it only taking off in the early 2000’s when search engines were slowly becoming part of everyday life. Today SEO plays a huge role in digital marketing with 61% of marketers saying that improving their SEO and growing their organic presence is their top inbound marketing priority.
If you haven’t yet purchased a domain then think carefully about what you choose. My first advice is to make it easy. Easy to read, easy to say and easy to spell. This is great for word of mouth purposes.
For SEO purposes it’s great if you can add a keyword into the title, which is still brand relevant. However stay away from domains that might be deemed keyword rich or keyword stuffed.
Avoid using hyphens in your domain as this is usually associated with spammy behaviour and decreases memorability. If you have to use a hyphen then try to stick to using just one.
It is important that you are optimising your site for mobile devices, especially since Google have moved to mobile-first indexing. In 2018 52.2% of all worldwide traffic was generated through mobile phones, so you can understand why having a mobile friendly site is so important for SEO. A bit of advice:
- EASE is the number one thing you must remember when optimising for mobile. Easy navigation, easy search, easy conversions and easy forms
- Make your website responsive. What this means is that all the same content and information is still included on any device you view it on, however it changes the way it is displayed and arranged dependant on the screen size. This is Googles preferred configuration so is great for SEO
- Don’t make users pinch and zoom. This is annoying and will ultimately affect your bounce rate
- Increase the size of your CTA buttons. It’s easy to click on a button of any size with a mouse but trying to click a small button with your fingers can become difficult
- Compress your images. This will make load time faster which is a crucial aspect of organic ranking
Keyword research is the process of finding and researching alternative search terms that prospects enter into a search engine. This is extremely important for SEO as Google will crawl your pages, looking for relevant keywords. It will also help you understand your prospects and the types of enquiries they are searching.
You should be focussing on one keyword per page and sprinkling long tail variations throughout. However be careful not to over do it as Google will lower your rankings on the Search Engine if they think you are keyword stuffing. Try to stick to 5 different variations.
By using keyword research tools you can find popular keywords relating to your niche. Have a go at using Ubersuggest’s or Google’s keyword planner. These will tell you monthly search volumes for keywords and give you ideas for closely related search terms.
Optimising your content for different keywords is a must in ensuring you are ranking high on Search Engines and the best time to start this is when you have a brand new website! Make a plan of the pages you want and get started on researching relevant keywords before you begin to write out your content.
Your page URL, or more commonly, web address, specifies the location of your web page on the internet. They are also an important factor of SEO and user experience.
- A well crafted URL will make it easy for the user to understand what the destination page is about. For example lets look at a URL from Wired:
- When I click on the link I expect to be taken to a page that will give me a review of the Apple Macbook Air 2018. Even without a meta description or title tag I have a pretty good understanding of what is going to be on the destination page. Being this clear in your URL will also help your bounce rates
- Adding a keyword into your URL is great as the search engine will use this to help determine relevance to the search query. However, this will not have a major impact on your ranking so don’t go all out trying to add specific keywords into every URL
- Try to keep your URL’s as simple and relevant as possible so that they are easy to understand. They should also be short and concise so that the user can remember it better
Title Tags & Meta Descriptions
Your title tags and meta descriptions will help search engines understand what your pages are about and enable them to index your pages accordingly.
In most search engines your title tag and meta description will be displayed the same as the below image:
Your title tag should define your web page in a few short words and help show relevance to the users query. This will often be a key deciding factor on whether or not a user will click onto your page. Title tags are an important factor of SEO and should always contain a keyword.
Some tips to remember when creating effective title tags:
- Try to keep the maximum length to 70 characters. This enables the whole of the title tag to show on the results page and makes it easier for users to scan
- Place important keywords close to the front of your title tag. Search engines will often bold the terms users have used in their search query that are also in your title
- Only use a keyword once in the title tag to avoid keyword stuffing
- Add your brand to the end or beginning of your title tag as this is what Google recommends
Your meta description should be a more detailed summary of what is on the webpage. Google will sometimes use the summary in search results snippets if the Search Engine believes it is an accurate description of the page.
Some tips to remember when creating effective meta descriptions:
- Try keep the character limit to a maximum of 160 characters so that the whole description is visible on the search page
- Create a meta description for every page of your site. Each page should be unique anyway so this shouldn’t be to difficult
- Each meta description should target a certain keyword but again, avoid keyword stuffing. It is however OK to use the same keyword that is in the title tag for the meta description
- Try to use a call-to-action in your description to influence users to click through to your web page
Images bring your website to life and Google is becoming an expert in knowing what an image is and more importantly, what the image is of. However there are some main pointers that you should follow when using an image on your site. It’s no good just uploading an image without performing the right optimisation.
- Choose the right file name. Some images will save themselves as something like DSC4178.jpg, but this makes it virtually impossible for Search Engines to recognise what the image is of. Try to use a key phrase within your file name. For example if you have an image of a ski slope on the French Alps your file name should be ski-slope-french-alps.jpg
- Scale your image. Large image files will slow down your load time, majorly impacting your SEO rankings. If the image you want to use is being displayed as 800×800 pixels on your site but the file size is 2500×2500 pixels, the whole image will still have to be loaded. Resize your imagery to the actual size it will be displayed as on your site
- Use responsive imagery. This re scales your image on different devices and will often let you use a different image per screen width
- Include alt text. Alt text is added to an image and is descriptive text used if the image cannot be displayed to a visitor. You should describe what the image is of and use the page keyword if applicable. This helps both visitors and Search Engines work out what the image is of
Headers make your content easier and smoother for users to read your content and play a fair contribution in your SEO rankings. They break up your text, making your content scannable and that is exactly what users are after! Easy, scannable content.
- The H1 header should only be used once and should always contain your keyword! It makes it easier for Search Engines to decipher what your webpage is about. Look at your H1 in the same way you look at a title of a book
- H2 should be the headings you use to break up sections of your text, kind of similar to chapters in a book
- H3-H6 are additional sub-headings
- Make your headings interesting. Considering that users love to scan content, it will be your headings that grab their attention first before they read on any further
Link building quite simply is the process of getting other websites to link back to your site. It is perhaps the most important part of SEO and there are different ways you can achieve this. Link building can be time consuming and getting a highly authoritative page to reference your website is tough! It’s tempting to use black-hat SEO tactics or to just buy links but these processes can get your page banned from Search Engines altogether. Instead try taking advice from these tips:
- Create unique and compelling content that people are genuinely interested in and references will come naturally. Don’t be afraid to shout about your content either
- Put your content in front of influential figures within your industry. Popular bloggers or people with a high social following
- If you have a lot of contacts within your industry (friends, family, ex-colleagues) then ask them to help out by linking to your page
- Internal linking is a thing! It’s totally in your control and can help improve your rankings on the pages you want
So these are the basics for getting started in optimising your website for SEO. This is just a starting guide, but remember there is so much more to SEO than I have outlined so be sure to do some more research once your site is up and running! If you need any advice feel free to contact the Proven Concept team 🙂