New to Search Engine Optimisation? Are you looking for better rankings online and higher traffic to your website through the search engine result pages? Well, look no further than this SEO for dummies guide.
Keep reading for more.
First off, what exactly is SEO?
Play along for a moment. Let’s say that you’re looking to buy a new microwave in the near future, and you want to know what the best brands and models are.
Surely, your first instinct is to Google something like “best microwaves.” You’re then met with pages and pages of search results. Chances are, you aren’t going to scroll down through all those listings and move on to the second page. As a matter of fact, numerous studies indicate that only a minority of people bother to move to the second page of search results.
So, you’re only going to be interested in the first few listings that appear in front of you.
And this is where SEO plays a vital part. Optimising your site and content can help to drastically increase your chances of appearing in those top few results. That consequently increases the number of people who end up clicking on them and surfing your site.
SEO, short for Search Engine Optimisation, refers to the process of carefully optimising your online content so that a search engine is more likely to show your website as one of the top results when someone looks up a certain keyword.
Still, there are numerous algorithms, robots, and other considerations that play a role in how your content will appear. So, it can be a tough task to figure out exactly how to improve your site’s rankings.
Some brands and businesses hire experts to handle their website’s search engine optimisation. But what if you don’t have the budget for such a service?
Well, there are smaller steps that you can take all by yourself to properly optimise your site and improve the chances of it appearing in the top results.
SEO for Dummies – The basics
Before diving into SEO for dummies, it is important to first understand the different terms that revolve around SEO:
Firstly, and most importantly, a key (no pun intended) definition that you should be familiar with is a keyword. It’s basically the key phrase that a user enters into a search engine when looking up something.
The most popular keywords on the world wide web have hundreds of thousands of monthly searches attached to them. In other words, it can be extremely hard to position yourself at the top due to high competition.
So, at first, you should try to optimise your website for long keyword phrases, also known as long-tail keywords, because they tend to have a lower search volume, thus lower competition. In other words, it will be much easier for you to seize them all for yourself.
Search engines also rely on related keywords, also known as synonyms and variations of certain terms and phrases. You can also make use of these to strengthen your website’s presence even further.
In conclusion, you should aim to optimise your website for certain main keywords, but you also want to consider relying on less relevant ones. This will give your website a much bigger chance of being found by potential users and customers.
Domain Authority (DA)
Domain authority refers to a number from 0 to 100 that Moz (a search engine optimisation software company) created to give people an idea of how “authoritative” their websites are in the eyes of Google. You raise this number by building links to your website.
Ahrefs, another software company, has its own version of this metric called the Domain Rating (DR). The higher the number you get, the easier it is for you to rank high in search engine result pages.
Of course, these scores only provide estimations. No tool is 100% accurate, which is why you need to apply common sense when analysing them.
Robots.txt is a file you create to tell search engines which pages they can index in their search results and which to ignore.
The XML Sitemap refers to a file or page on your website that contains links to every other page on your website. It’s used to help Google to easily crawl and navigate through your website to optimise it further for search results.
The process of crawling refers to when Google use their search robots (more commonly known as “spiders”) to scan your pages and their content in order to properly index it.
This is what search engines use to crawl websites. They are basically complex pieces of code that allow Google to read then index your pages.
Indexing is very similar to a filing cabinet. Google’s precious spiders crawl through your website and index your pages into the proper “file”, in this case, search results.
When a page gets indexed, it means that Google is now displaying it in their search results. This, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that they display it on the first page.
Now that you know all the basic phrases and terms, let’s move on to the next important part of this SEO for Dummies guide, strategy.
SEO for Dummies – Strategy
An important aspect to keep in mind before you start optimising your site is a strategy. A clear-cut one, to be exact. Every page within your site should have its own clear purpose and the main keyword (or keywords) assigned to it.
For example, let’s assume you open a business as a photographer. As is the case with any young business out there, you need more leads to help with search engine optimisation. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you.
First, find relevant keywords in bulk
Semrush, for instance, allows you to enter your competitor’s URL and see and analyse every single keyword they are ranking for. Chances are you’d want to rank for those same keywords if you want to do well too.
Next, filter and pick the right keywords
Once you have all the important pieces of data, you need to filter out all the keywords that you don’t need. So, if you are a photographer that’s based in London, you won’t be interested in the keyword phrase “photographer Hampshire.” Of course, location is just one of the filters that you should use.
Make up a whole filtered list, and once it’s ready, you have to then compare it with your website. For example, if you plan on using the keyword “photography services,” then you should consider having a landing page within your website that has the following domain: website.co.uk/photography-services.
You’d also want to utilise “photographer London,” “what to look for in a photographer,” “how much does a photoshoot cost on average,” and more.
Keep in mind
There are two important things to keep in mind: you don’t want to target all the keywords and cram them up in just one landing page. And you don’t want to go after “photographer” immediately since the competition is going to be fierce and you won’t benefit from it.
You would want to go after specific, informational keywords instead, such as “photographer checklist” and such.
Just to put things in perspective, the keyword “photographer” has around 6,600 monthly searches in the UK because it’s a very broad term. “photographer London”, on the other hand, only has 720 monthly searches in the UK, meaning the competition is less fierce.
To sum it all up, here is what you need to do when you’re just starting with your website search engine optimisation:
- Do a market search (check the keywords your competition are making use of)
- Filter out all the unnecessary keywords
- Pick the right keywords
- And lastly, you need to create a landing page for every important topic
And that’s it, that’s a basic SEO for dummies strategy.
But of course, to properly achieve all of this, you need to use the right software…
SEO For Dummies – Software
The first simple SEO tool we would recommend is the Keyword Planner from Google AdWords. Check the section titled “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.” simply enter whatever keyword you have in mind and hit “Get ideas.”. This will provide you with information about both search volume and competition. It also suggests related keywords that can prove useful.
It’s a simple-to-use tool. However, it is quite basic and won’t allow you to spy on the competition. That’s why you’d need to depend on another application called Alexa. It allows you to get the keywords that your competition relies on by simply imputing their URL.
Once you access the list of main keywords used by your competitor(s), you can then start to include them yourself in your content.
Alexa isn’t exactly free, so at first, it will only show you a list of five keywords. However, they do offer a 7-day trial which is about enough time to get a full list of all the keywords that you’d need.
If you are looking to perform more advanced SEO actions, then we recommend Semrush as it allows you to closely monitor your keyword rankings in Google, analyse your competition’s websites and performance and more.
On-page optimisation refers to the practices and guidelines you can follow to make sure a certain webpage is ready to climb the SERPs ladder.
There are many checklists available for this, but we recommend the one from Backlinko.
Off-page optimisation refers to everything you do to encourage other websites to link to yours. Ahrefs has a great guide that explains link building in detail.
SEO for Dummies: Simple SEO tips
This wouldn’t really be an SEO for Dummies guide if we didn’t include a “tips and tricks” section.
Optimise for people, not search engines
The engagement that happens between people and your website is the most important one. In other words, besides making sure to include good keywords in your content, you should also have a website that is easy to explore, read, and convert.
Choose relevant keywords
Make sure to use the relevant keywords and integrate them into your content in a natural, seamless way so that they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.
Well-thought-out content is ultimately what attracts people and drives traffic.
In addition to classic SEO, you should also implement a good social media strategy. This is because it is a crucial tool that can help drive users to your website.
Learn Google Analytics.
Google Analytics can help you to measure, calculate and most importantly, control how, why, and for how long users explore your site. It is a great tool to understand how people are interacting with your site and develop better search engine optimisation techniques that work along with it.
Need a helping hand?
SEO is complicated and hard to tackle; there’s no denying that. That’s especially true today since every Tom, Dick, and Harry are trying to dominate the SERPs. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, send us a message, and we’ll help. Our SEO team will chime in to audit your site and present an SEO strategy that can take it to the top.