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How to Get Started with SEO

Can Beginners Do SEO?

Do you have your own business or website that you would like to rank higher in search engine results pages? Have you heard about other businesses getting traffic organically that eventually turns to revenue? Are you looking to pass up your competitors in your marketing efforts? All of these things are possible with proper, well-executed search engine optimization. However, most people are overwhelmed and are unsure how to get started with SEO. The reality is that even a beginner can start doing SEO for their small business or their own site and see positive improvement. The real question is: how do you get started?

Where Do I Start with SEO?

In this blog post, we aim to give you a list of everything you need to nail the fundamentals of SEO, instead of getting too far into advanced SEO and again overwhelming you. Let's dive into what you actually need to know, start to finish, to take your site and business to the next level.

1. Begin with Search Engine Fundamentals

Before getting into the changes that you need to make for search engine optimization, you need to know why search engines exist and the basics of how they work. Search engines were created originally to organize the internet's vast library of information. Along the way, there have been multiple updates and changes to how search engines understand and rank sites; however, the basic concept of organizing vast amounts of information remains the same. Search engines like Google want people to stay on their platform for obvious reasons, mainly because they want you to click on ads so advertisers will pay those search engines for increasing their brand awareness. Since search engines make money by keeping you on their platform as long as possible, they want you to have the best user experience, find valuable and engaging content, and not have any bad experiences with untrustworthy sites. As a marketer doing SEO, if you improve your site so it meets all of these criteria, you will see positive results.

Relevant Content is Prioritized

Search engines want you to find their platform useful and so they look to promote content that will be relevant to what you are looking for. If you search for "seo help" and get articles on dog toys, you will likely go to a different platform with your next search.

Authoritative Sites are Trusted

Search engines also don't want unreliable websites scamming users or taking advantage of the search traffic they get. However, because there are so many sites on the internet, it is virtually impossible for search engines to comb through and understand whether each individual site is reliable. So they rely on the count of how many websites link to your site as a general measure of authority. The full algorithm is obviously more complex than this, but generally the more sites that link to your site, the more authoritative your site will be seen as.

Traffic Goes to Sites with Great User Experience

Search engines also don't want to send traffic to sites with poor user experience, which would again cause users to leave the site or even the search engine platform. Sites that have a clean user journey, quick page load times, and a logical structure often perform best in search results.

2. Build the Technical Foundation for SEO Growth (h2 tag)

Your technical SEO strategy is the foundation of your SEO growth. In order to ensure that your site is providing users with a great experience and can be seen as reliable by search engines, you need to check that there are no errors or weak points in your technical setup.

Indexability

One part of SEO is building out your site so that it appeals to users, while the other main part is building out the site to appeal to search engines. Great SEO practitioners can do both. To appeal to search engines your site should be easily indexable (meaning easily understood by Google). This means adding noindex tags on pages you don't want Google to see, making site content easily readable, and providing search engines with a map of your site (appropriately called a sitemap).

Page Speed

Improving your page speed can benefit your site from both a user experience standpoint and a search engine standpoint. Users are generally impatient so having a lightning-quick site keeps people engaged and is a factor viewed by Google and other search engines as important in deciding rank.

Site Structure

Your site's architecture should be clean, easy to navigate, and make sense to site visitors. Are your most important pages up front in the navigation? Can users reach all pages of the site without having to go back to Google? Can users get back to the homepage from any page? These are all important questions to consider when building out your site structure.

3. Plan for SEO Success

As you might expect, SEO success is not random. The best SEO experts strategically plan out every move from the very start of their work on a site, usually beginning with detailed keyword research.

How to Pick the Right Organic Keywords

Keyword research can be overwhelming for many people. However, there are a few basic questions to ask that may help this process:
  • What are some terms related to my business offerings?
  • What are my competitors already ranking for?
  • How are people searching who may be looking for the solution my product or service provides?
For easier keyword research and to see what competitors are already ranking for, use tools like:

Ahrefs

Google Keyword Planner

SEMRush

These keyword research tools can help give you an idea of roughly how many people are looking for these terms and how competitive they are (which shows how difficult it is to rank for them). Once a list of high-volume and low-competition keywords have been found, then these can be used in your on-page content and site optimizations.

Identifying Money Pages

It is important as well in your planning stage to understand which pages of your site are most important, as these will be the pages you direct search traffic to. Usually, these are high-converting pages like product pages or solutions pages, which are often deemed "money pages." Identifying these pages is central to your planning, as you will often be optimizing these pages and building around them.

4. Optimize Your Website for SEO

After planning, you need to take your first steps toward optimizing your website for SEO. Many of these first steps will make your site more easily understood by Google and will make pages more engaging to new visitors.

Page Titles

Your page titles should accurately describe what each page is about, as these are what appear in search (see purple text in the image below) and entice users to click on your page. They also help search engines understand the content of your site better when they contain relevant keywords from your list.

Meta Descriptions

Similar to page titles, meta descriptions should include target keywords and be descriptive of the page content. They usually also include a call-to-action that encourages users to click on the page.

URLs

Though most people don't think about their URLs from an SEO point of view, making sure that they contain your primary keywords and fit the structure of the site will yield the best performance in search results.

Alt Text

All images on your site should contain image alt text. If you've never heard of it before, it is text that describes the content of an image. As with the other elements listed, including relevant keywords in the alt text for your images can help boost visibility to your site in search results.

Internal Linking

Internal links are an easy way to show Google how your site is interconnected. The number of links going to a specific page and the keywords used in the anchor text are identifiers of how important a page and what it is about. Use both of these to your advantage when optimizing for SEO success.

5. Improve Your Site's Perceived Authority

As mentioned previously, how authoritative a site is seen as is based mainly on the number and the quality of links it receives from other websites. When competing with other sites for search traffic, perceived authority and content quality are going to be your main drivers of success. When looking to improve perceived authority, you will need to first get as many quality backlinks as you can. Though there are many ways to do this, most of them involve PR efforts - reaching out to other sites and asking for links, offering to write blogs for other sites in exchange for links, reaching out to influencers, etc. Google looks at both the number of backlinks to your site and the quality of the link, in other words, whether each link came from a site that also has many backlinks. Backlink building will take time but can lead to huge results when it comes to your keyword rankings.

Become a Topical Authority

While backlinks are key in helping you to compete in search results, becoming an authority to Google takes more than just links. Your content and on page SEO strategy needs to include building around topic clusters and establishing topical authority. If you can create content around all aspects of one specific topic, Google will view you as an authority on that topic. As an example, if you create content around coffee, coffee roasters, best coffee shops, coffee beans, and other related terms, your site is more likely to be seen as an authority on coffee. Leverage both topical authority and backlink strategy to see quicker SEO success.

6. Drive Traffic with Valuable and Relevant Content

Once the foundation has been set in your technical SEO and on-page SEO optimizations, it's time to start creating valuable content. Content is arguably the main piece of SEO success, so publishing valuable and relevant content on a consistent basis can lead to some massive results in organic traffic and can help you blow through any SEO growth plateaus . It's important to build content topics around target keywords, while also looking at what is already ranking in Google search, especially among competitors.

Hitting Different Parts of the Funnel

When building out your site's content plan, it's crucial as well to include content that addresses all parts of the buying funnel, including bottom and top of funnel. Doing so will ensure that you capture the maximum number of potential customers/users through your content and subsequent organic traffic.

7. Tracking Your SEO Progress

As you may have heard, SEO can take a long time (usually from 6 months to a year) to show results. So, how can you track SEO progress in the meantime? Focusing mainly on keyword rankings through SEO tools is often the best way to monitor SEO success before seeing spikes in organic traffic. After a few months however it becomes most important to focus on organic traffic, conversions, and other relevant business-level metrics, which can be seen on free platforms.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics gives great insight into the main organic metrics, like engagement, traffic, and conversions when set up properly. As a free tool, it is a very commonly used platform that can be used as a main performance measurement tool for your site and business.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is another free platform that makes performance measurement easy. While it is used most commonly for keyword performance measurement, it can also provide insight into functionality of any page on your site and relay information about site indexability. Google Search Console and Analytics are both necessary in your tool belt as you monitor how your site performs in search engine rankings.

8. Maximize Your Traffic with SEO Help from Experts

Though we have given a simplified overview of SEO starting steps, if you want your business’ SEO in the hand of experts that can maximize the amount of leads, traffic, or purchases you get, agency SEO services are a must. Here at Unfair Advantage , our team has decades of experience working with search engines and paid media for small businesses , leading to extraordinary client results. Our expert digital marketing team can start with your current site (whether you’re starting a new venture or been around for years) and elevate it to rank for relevant keywords that actually bring revenue to your business. Sound exciting? Get in touch with us or learn more about us on our homepage.  

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