It’s been a while since we’ve come across a comprehensive SEO guide for beginners. This is one of the most requested blog posts by our readers. Even a few of our clients have asked us to compile a detailed SEO guide. What makes this so challenging is SEO’s constantly evolving nature.
What was an SEO best practice two years ago is obsolete now. Or at least on the verge of it. But we understand that businesses who are new to the digital marketplace need a quick reference guide for SEO. Many a time, during our discovery calls, people are confused about technical terms. While we always try our best to break it down into simple concepts, some lingo is unavoidable.
That’s why we have decided to create this SEO guide for beginners. This is a skimp-through blog post that explains the basics and key SEO concepts. At the end of this, you’ll be armed with enough SEO information to participate in a discussion with an expert.
What is SEO?
First things first, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Call it a set of techniques or guidelines if you wish. But it’s designed to increase the possibility of improving your website’s organic rankings in search engines for specific search queries. These queries are called keywords and are used by searchers to find information or products on search engines. For instance, let’s say you sell pizzas in London. A searcher within a 3-mile vicinity is having a pizza party for 50 people. He or she logs on to Google and looks up for ‘best pizza near me’.
There are two possibilities:
- Your website is SEO optimised and it turns up on page 1 of SERPs. He or she clicks on your website/calls your business and places the order. Congratulations! You just landed a massive order.
- Your website is not SEO optimised. You are not even close to page 1 of SERPs. He finds a competitor and places his order. You just lost a massive order and possibly, a repeat customer.
That’s what SEO can do for your business. Did you notice how we mentioned ‘possibility of improving rankings? That’s because even now, there are no guarantees in SEO.
All that you can do is follow Google’s guidelines and a set of best practices that have generated positive results for others. Typically, this suffices to improve your rankings. With rankings, comes traffic. With traffic, comes business. That’s the simplest explanation that we can come up with.
SEO Guide for Beginners – Why SEO is so important
Here are some reasons why SEO is so sought after today.
- SEO gives you free traffic – Getting your business website to rank for competitive keywords is generally a mountainous task. It requires years of expertise and skills to design an SEO strategy that works in 2021. That said, once your website ranks on Google, you get free traffic. The only other way in which you can get traffic is by using paid ads. There are various platforms such as Linkedin ads and Google ads. But you will be charged for every click on your ad. That’s irrespective of whether it converts or not. With SEO, you won’t pay a dime. As long as you rank, the traffic keeps coming.
- SEO in 2021 is tough as nails – No SEO guide for beginners will probably tell you this. SEO was always tough. But it’s gotten tougher over the years. Google has been obsessed with making its search engine more efficient. As a result, it has developed algorithms that reward or penalize websites. If you are following all Google guidelines, chances are that you will get rewarded with better rankings. But the margin of error is slim. Sometimes, even with the best practices, you risk being penalized and may lose your rankings.
The two distinct aspects of SEO
There are two distinct aspects of SEO which work in synergy. If you are looking to grasp this SEO Guide for beginners, it’s important that you understand both:
- On Site SEO – Google has laid out a set of best practices for on-page optimisation. There are several components to this. The primary ones are content, structure (user experience) & internal links. Content has to be original, comprehensive and provide value to the reader. It has to be structured to make it easy to read. Lastly, internal links improve navigation to other parts of your website.
- Off Site SEO – Off-Site SEO is a set of planned activities that an SEO expert performs to improve rankings and traffic. Once again, there are several components to off-site SEO. The most significant one is backlinks (see more below).
Backlinks are the most important ranking factor. Period. Google has always used backlinks to determine the authoritativeness of a website. Even after Pagerank was phased out in 2016, Google said this in a tweet. Now we know that Google is not as clear cut as they want us to believe. In addition to this, Ahrefs did a mammoth study involving 1-billion web pages.
Guess what they found? Backlinks can make or break your rankings. In the early days of SEO, there were two choices. There was White Hat Backlink building and there was Blackhat. As Google’s algorithms have gotten more powerful, Blackhat is almost non-existent.
That leaves us with only one option, Whitehat Backlink building. In other words, build links that look like they are naturally acquired. But isn’t that unnatural, you might wonder. Technically, it is. But it’s equally difficult to actually ‘acquire’ an authority backlink. You might have produced the most outstanding piece of content with research that no-one else has. But here are a few statistics.
90.63% of content gets zero traffic from Google. In addition to this, 7.5 million blog posts are published every day. For a minute, try to wrap your head around this. The only way to get visibility is to increase authority. There’s one way to do it. Build high-quality backlinks from authority websites. That’s where you need a skilled SEO team.
Be selective with Link Building
Backlinks are to be acquired naturally. Not our words. It’s what Google says. But just as we mentioned, it’s next to impossible even with the best content in the world. That’s why SEOs build links. At Rockstar Marketing, we only build a link if it matches three parameters.
- Relevancy – Every link that we build has to be relevant to our client’s business. If your business is in the pharmaceutical industry, we build links from sites in similar industries. Not from websites in the travel business. A lot of SEOs take some liberty with relevancy. But we choose to be extremely stringent. Sometimes we come across a real juicy link with extremely good metrics. But the relevancy is meh. We choose to let it go rather than take a chance.
- Authority – Every link to your website must come from an authority website. Authority websites are those which are renowned and respected. Sort of like an expert figure in an industry. Wikipedia, for instance is an Authority website. So is Web MD. These are not the only ones though. There are tonnes of industry-specific authority websites.
- Unique – By unique, we mean that it’s an exclusive link to your website. If a page has 1 or 2 outbound links to relevant websites, it’s considered natural. But if a web page has 10 or more outbound links, all to websites in different industries, it’s unnatural. We look for a unique, relevant link placed naturally in the content.
SEO Guide for beginners – Analytics
The last part in this SEO Guide for beginners is analytics. There’s an old saying that ‘what gets measured, gets improved.’ You absolutely cannot function in the online industry without analytics. Analytics are tools that measure every aspect of your marketing initiatives. In this case, it measures the impact of your SEO techniques.
Are your SEO efforts yielding results? Has organic traffic improved? Has the bounce rate reduced? What is the conversion rate? You get precise, actionable data. That’s the only way to analyse progress and correct mistakes. More importantly, analytics is free. Why not leverage the potential that this free service offers?
Quick SEO Lingo Glossary
SEOs are sometimes guilty of speaking in technical lingo. To that end, here’s a quick reference SEO guide for beginners to lingo:
- Keywords/Long Tail Keywords – Search queries that can be targeted for optimisation
- Links – Think of these like an upvote for your website
- SERPs – Search engine results pages. Mostly refers to Google’s search results pages.
- Google Bot – Google’s search crawler that automatically visits your website to scan for various parameters
- Algorithms – A set of complex calculations used by Google to measure compliance with its set of guidelines
- Link Building – Acquiring good quality links to improve SEO rankings
- Blackhat – Unethical SEO tactics
- Whitehat – Ethical SEO methods according to Google guidelines
- Organic – Free traffic that your website generates
- On-Site – A set of optimisation techniques used to improve your website’s structuring
- Content Marketing – Using content to generate traffic and in some cases, build links
To sum it up
We hope you enjoyed reading this SEO guide for beginners and found it useful. If you want to improve your search rankings in 2021, don’t take chances. Speak to us. We have over 10 years of SEO experience across various industries. Click here now to see some of our client success stories.