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Is the traffic through your website lacking and you want to know how to fix this?
Well, here is the answer for you — search engine optimization (SEO).
With almost 1.2 billion active websites at the start of 2021, getting your website seen can seem like an impossible task.
Unlike normal circumstances, traffic is good.
You want there to be traffic — but if the destination is too hard to find, everyone will just drive back home, or go somewhere else.
So, you need to make your website more accessible by supplying the traffic with easier and more direct routes.
In normal circumstances, an example of a solution is building a highway, so that your audience has a straight, quick path directly to your business.
In digital marketing, we call these highways search engine optimization tactics.
If used correctly, you can get your website topping the charts in no time.
Here is an article that teaches you everything you need to know about SEO, particularly all the best practices that every SEO beginner would die for!
Search engine optimization is defined as the process of getting your website to rank higher in the organic section of search results.
This is the unpaid sectionand differs from the paid section that sits on top.
70-80% of searchers ignore paid ads and skip directly to the organic results.
So, not only is focusing on organic results cheaper, but it might also end up in more traffic.
The catch with the organic section is that to be successful, you need your website to rank as high as possible.
Just on the first page, the top 5 organic results account for 67.6% of all the clicks.
So, if your page isn’t ranking high, you don’t stand much of a chance of getting a lot of traffic.
And for most businesses, more traffic equals more money.
That’s why every business needs an SEO marketing strategy.
But, don’t worry — that’s why we have SEO tactics that can dramatically improve your chances.
To understand these methods, you first need to understand how search engines work in the first place.
Before a search has even taken place, search engines send out a team of web crawlers (also called spiders) to scour the internet for relevant content whether it is text, videos, PDFs, or images.
For efficiency, crawlers find relevant links and then search those webpages for more links, following those and repeating the process.
Once they are done, web crawlers take all the URLs they have collected and add them to a search engine index.
This is a massive database of all the organized content so that the second a user presses enter on a search, the search engine knows exactly where to find the answers.
This index is then displayed on the search engine result pages (SERPs)
Search engines rank the content in the index to make sure they get the most relevant content the fastest.
By using an algorithm that is constantly improving, search engines have a set of criteria by which they rank your site.
The search engines are looking for authority, relevance, and trust.
Despite the changing algorithm, there are some set things that search engine prioritize:
The main principles of an SEO strategy surround these concepts and use them to your advantage, using the search engine algorithm as a guideline.
Next, you will learn about these strategies in much greater detail.
Keywords should show up in two places in SEO — in an internet user’s search and your content.
When a crawler is scanning through your website, it takes the keywords in the search and matches them with the words of your content.
The closer they match, the higher you rank!
But, then arises the fatal mistake of irrelevant keywords and keyword stuffing.
What would you do if you clicked on a highly ranked site, and found it had nothing to do with your search query?
Probably leave very quickly!
When sites try to manipulate the algorithm to rank higher, but it ends up hurting them more, it is known as a black-hat SEO tactic.
People assume that incorporating your keywords into each sentence so that it matches the search’s keywords results in a higher ranking.
Or worse, that using a variety of keywords that don’t match your content so that it matches more search keywords will have the same effect.
This is terribly false!
Not only does keyword stuffing ruin your user’s experience, but it is also condemned by search engines.
If you are caught doing this, you can be charged with a Google penalty that will remove your page from SERPs altogether.
So, when choosing your keywords, remember to remain intentional, honorable, and accurate.
Now that you know what not to do, here are the most effective methods of search to help determine your keywords:
Search intent is the intention of the user each time they complete a search.
There are three types of search intent:
Understanding how your business and content fit into these different search intents could significantly help you find the right phrasing of your keywords.
The next research method goes straight to the source, by analyzing the search engine result pages you are trying to rank highly on.
For instance, using SERP API is an interesting way to get the top 100 SERP results and figure out all the ways the top rankings got their spots.
Look out for the overlapping keywords in the meta titles and pay attention to the different words that make each one stand out.
Notice the length of the meta titles — 50% of search queries contain 4 words or more.
Also, run through the “people also ask”(PAA) section, or the autocomplete function of a SERP to get an idea of the other search queries relating to your keywords, further learning about your audience’s search intent.
Search volume refers to the number of searches for a particular keyword over a certain period.
If a keyword has a low search volume, no one is searching it.
If a keyword has a high search volume, every webpage will try to use it — including your toughest competition.
Striking a balance is the key here.
You need a keyword that has a high enough search volume that enough people search for it, but low and specific enough that your competition isn’t too high.
You could look at keyword difficulty which is a metric that values a keyword on a scale of 0-100.
The higher the score, the more difficult it is to rank first on that keyword.
Something to note about search volume: search volume for a keyword will also change depending on the time of year.
For example, Halloween sky-rockets towards the end of October but dips down again a couple of weeks later.
Choosing your keywords may still seem like a daunting task, but, fortunately for you, there are someamazing tools out there on the internet to help you!
Google Keyword Planner is usually the place to start because of its simplicity and accessibility.
By first getting to know a bit about your business, Google Keyword Planner offers a lot of extensive and useful information on your chosen keywords.
Understanding each bit of information and learning what to do with it can be tough, so here is a guide on how to use Google Keyword Planner to help you.
Google Trends takes a more one-dimensional approach to your keywords, by focusing on when and where keywords are used.
This can be an essential tool when scheduling your content to match the trends throughout the year.
Answer The Public is perfect for researching search queries.
Beautifully displayed, Answer The Public creates comprehensive mind-maps, separating the keyword phrases into questions, prepositions, comparisons, and letters.
Though it is one of the lesser-known keyword tools, that certainly doesn’t make it any less effective.
Scout Suggest also caters more tosearch queries, organizing them into groups as well as pairing them with other keywords, so that you can further narrow down your keyword choice.
These tools have the obvious advantage of being free but don’t let that deter you from the paid keyword tool.
Some of them are really worth the extra buck!
Here is a brief overview of Keyword Explorer’s features:
By signing up, you not only get a keyword feature but all the other services that Ahrefs offers.
The price plan offers four different options, ranging from $99 to $999 per month.
SEMRush offers not one, but four keyword research features.
Like Ahref, to get access to the keyword research tools, you need to purchase the whole package which comes with tools to support every aspect of your business.
With three different plans, SEMRush’s pricing ranges from $119.95 to $449.95 per month.
Here is an informative article comparing Ahref and SEMRushto help you get a better understanding of both.
Using these tools to better understand your keywords and how to use them will give every SEO beginner an extra edge over the rest of the competition.
As Bill Gates once said, “Content is King!”
Content has become one of the main ways to gain exposure for your business.
In fact, 72% of online marketers say that content marketing is their most effective SEO tactic.
You can see for yourself — try searching for anything in a search engine and see what pops up.
There is a high chance it will be mostly blogs, articles, reviews, journals, videos, images, lists, or infographics.
Content dominates SERPs, so you need your content to be fully optimized to be able to compete.
Cater your content only to your users, your content will never rank high enough to be seen.
Cater only to search engines, nobody will want to read it, increasing your bounce rate, and ultimately lowering your ranking.
Here is your dilemma — how do you cater to both users and search engines?
One phrase that is true for both users and search engines; “quality is key!”
Well, let’s start with the user, better known as your target audience.
Your target audience is the group of people that have the potential to purchase your offer.
You need to identify and get to know your target audience to better personalize your content.
The best way to do this is to research — learn everything you can about your current customers as well as your competition, by using keywords, SERPs, webpages, surveys, and focus groups.
You then use this information to directly target your audience by creating content specifically designed for them.
Here are some other important things to keep in mind:
Though your search engine ranking is very dependent on your user experience, there are also some technical approaches that search engines will appreciate.
Keywords, as you know by now, are something that search engines are always looking for, but let’s check out some of the other ways.
These three terms might seem like the same thing, but knowing the difference between them and knowing how to use them can make or break your SEO strategy.
One thing they do have in common is that they are all a part of the HTML code and are known as HTML tags.
There are criteria of these meta tags that search engines favor.
Here is the breakdown:
This the first thing a user sees of your webpage on a SERP.
The most effective structure of your meta title is 50-60 characters including spaces
where you place your primary keyword at the beginning.
For example, the meta title for this article is “SEO Best Practices: The Complete Guide For Beginners”.
Your H1 is the first headline found at the top of your webpage and must differ from your meta title.
It is usually a little longerand uses long-tail keywords.
This article’s H1 is “Learn the Fundamental SEO Tactics for Ranking on 1st Google”.
This is a summary of your webpage and is often displayed under the meta title on the SERP.
While keeping it between 50-160 characters, you should use your keywordsand enticing language.
The meta description of this article is: “Are you an SEO beginner learning everything you can about SEO tactics? Here is a complete guide of all the SEO best practices to get you ahead of the game!”
These are made up of your H2 and H3 headings.
H2’s are used to break up content so that it makes it easier to scan and read, emphasizing important information.
H3’s are usually sub-points within the H2 that you can quickly expand on.
For example, “content creation” is an H2, and “strengthen your meta title, H1, meta description, and headings” is an H3.
Adding images to your content isn’t just for decoration, but can create another path to your content.
First, you need to choose the right format — the common ones are JPEG, PNG, and WebP.
Next, if your image is too large, it will start slowing down your webpage which is an SEO nightmare!
You can use an image compressor tool to avoid this fatal mistake.
The filename is also very important — keep it simple with a “keyword1-keyword2-keyword3” structure.
Lastly, when writing your alt attribute or alternative text, remember that this is the only way for search engines to ‘see’ your image, and, therefore, you need to make it as accurate as possible.
Semantics is defined by the study of meanings.
In SEO terms, it means the practice of adding more meaning to your content by focusing more on topics over keywords.
The purpose of this is to extend your webpages reach and make it more relevant for searches, including all future searches.
Here are five aspects of semantics SEO:
Though keyword research is an invaluable tool for every aspect of SEO, there are some areas where focusing on keywords may be to your detriment.
Like with your content, for example.
You don’t want to create a new piece of content for every single keyword, otherwise, you will be writing about basically the same thing each time.
Let’s say you write a blog post about “how to get rid of acne” and then another on “how to get rid of whiteheads”.
The content and keywords for each of these posts will greatly overlap, and they will also most likely end up competing against each other.
This is where topical content writing comes up.
When you write topical content, you can mix these two long-tail keywords and others to create content based on a general topic rather than a specific concept.
This means that you are more likely to match with more keywords, increasing the relevance and ranking of your post.
Though internal and external links are mostly added to content to help the user find out more, they also play a subtle part in SEO tactics.
Internal links link back to web pages within your website.
These play an essential part for the web crawler, as they follow the internal links deeper and deeper into your site, increasing the number of web pages indexed on your site.
This is obviously beneficial, by ranking you higher and making it quicker for your webpage to come up after a search is complete.
External links are created when you link another website to your content.
By doing this, you improve your reliability, as the user believes you are an impartial, honest expert which gives you some extra brownie points from the search engine.
The search engines also get a better idea of what your content is about, by analyzing the content you link.
There is also the hope that someone has attached an external link to your content which does wonders to reach other audiences.
As you can see, search engine optimization is no joke.
You are probably wondering, “How on Earth am I going to get this all done?”
You are not alone.
There are invaluable benefits to creating a content team and learning how to delegate the different tasks.
Another advantage of having a content team is that you can employ content writers that are specialized in different aspects of the business.
There is also the option of collaboration, where teamwork makes the dream work, completely taking your content to the next level.
Though it can be tempting to manage your content the way you like it, it is useful having different perspectives and more eyes to stop the errors from slipping through the cracks.
Though these tips should be sending you right on your way to the top ranking spot, nothing is perfect the first time… or the second, and third, and fourth.
This is where a regular SEO audit comes in handy.
It can also keep you in check if you feel like your SEO is losing its way.
An SEO audit is a standard evaluation of your website on how visible it is to search engines, thus its ability to show up on SERPs.
There is some essential information that you will need to complete a comprehensive SEO audit, so let’s go through the step-by-step guide.
The first thing you’re going to need to complete your SEO audit are some very necessary tools:
Ahrefs has done business owners everywhere a massive favor by offering an extensive SEO audit tool: Ahrefs Webmaster Tools.
Better yet, it’s free to anyone who owns a website!
This supplies a general overviewof your SEO health:
Despite its limited overlook, it gives you deeply insightful data in the areas it works with.
Often compared with the Ahrefs tool, Google Search Console (GSC) is another free tool for you to add to your arsenal.
With the advantage of coming from the mind of a search engine, GSC’s goal is to make you visible on SERPs.
GSC specializes in:
Offering a slightly different and inside perspective, there is definitely valuable information that can be gained from Google Search Console.
Another free brainchild of Google, Pagespeed Insights hones in on your web page’s performance and provides in-depth instructions on how to improve.
Though, with all the highly-specific jargon, it can be quite difficult to understand your results, so here is a guide to understanding Pagespeed Insights.
GTmetrix’s main focus is site performance and combines data from Pagespeed Insights and another SEO audit tool, YSlow, to give you an accurate report.
GTmetrix also generously offers all sorts of tips and tricks to get your site running at optimum performance.
Unfortunately, the free version is limited to the point of non-existent, but GTmetrix does have three price plansranging from $10-$40 per month.
You can use these tools to perform an efficient and thorough SEO audit.
Like with your own body, you should check your website’s vitals regularly just to make sure everything is functioning properly.
There are three main core web vitals:
There is nothing more jarring and unprofessional than clicking on a link, excited for what you might find, and then being hit with “404 error: page not found”.
“302 errors” could be just as bad when you have made your site available under multiple URLs, but the redirections just aren’t working. You can be sure the user will be quickly redirected very far from your site.
Broken and redirected link errors not only ruin user experience but also cut off web crawlers from crawling deeper into your site, significantly affecting your ranking.
Use your SEO audit to knuckle down on these errors.
Two other important errors to look out for are 4xx and 5xx errors.
4xx errors indicate that there was an issue on the user’s side — whether the user isn’t authorized to enter the page, requesting a page that doesn’t exist, or making too many requests.
The 404 broken link error falls under this category.
5xx errors show that there is a problem at the server level that stops a request from going through.
Google Search Console actually reports on the 5xx errors.
By working through these errors, you start removing each obstacle between the user and your webpage, only benefiting your search engine ranking.
By now, the importance of internal linking should be common knowledge — it helps search engines crawl more of your webpages to add to its index.
Though this is already a successful SEO tactic, it can still be optimized further by creating aninternal linking structure, particularly a silos structure.
There are three types of structures:
The silos structure has become the most favored — especially among blogs where it can easily be divided into themes.
When performing an SEO audit, you need to map out your silos structure, investigating ways to optimize it.
When doing this, you will also be able to evaluate page depth.
Page depth is the number of clicks it takes to get from the homepage to the desired page.
Though it has been debated, it’s thought that the more clicks it takes to get to a page, the less likely it is that a search engine will crawl it.
You can also learn about orphan pages by mapping out your internal links.
These are pages that are not linked to any other section of your site, making it virtually impossible for them to get indexed.
Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your site, creating backlinks.
This means that when their website is crawled, the crawlers will find their way to your site, indexing your site and showing that your site holds relevant information, thus increasing its ranking.
Plus it has the bonus of sending more traffic to your site!
Adding internal and external links to your site is easy, but getting others to do the same to you — that’s the tricky part.
Two easy tricks will get you off your feet before we get onto the more long-term solutions — the Skyscraper Technique and HARO.
Developed by Brian Dean, the Skyscraper Technique gives you three simple steps to drastically increasing the number of backlinks to your site:
Networking and creating real relationships with other businesses in your industry is incredibly important.
When you do this, you can stop seeing them as competition and more like team members where you help each other get further in the game, particularly when it comes to backlinking.
Otherwise, it can feel like you are constantly sending traffic to other websites through external linking, without anyone returning the favor.
Building new relationships can always be daunting, so here is a useful guide to help you.
Guest posting can be a great way of expanding your network, gaining exposure, and sending more traffic to your site.
But, guest posting sits on a fine line of helping or hurting your SEO.
This is because search engines like Google have frowned upon sneaky guest posting purely for the sake of link building, so there is a risk of penalty.
To avoid this, just make sure you stick to top-quality guest posting on a site that is extremely relevant to your own without stuffing too many external links to your own website.
Resource pages are web pages where they list useful links on a specific topic.
Resource page link building is the practice of getting your links on the important resource pages and being deemed a relevant, helpful link.
This is yet another way to bring traffic and build backlinks.
To achieve this, you first need to find popular resource pages.
This is done by searching using your keyword and combing “resources” or “links” with it in your search query.
You can then narrow down your options by first looking at the top-ranking options, and then finding the most relevant ones to your content.
Lastly, reach out to them.
Some may find you the perfect fit and will be happy to help, while others may need some more convincing.
One clever trick is to search their website for broken links, and if you find any, make sure to bring it to their attention.
Grateful for the help, they will most likely be happy to repay you by adding your link to their site.
Learning the SEO best practices can be a little overwhelming due to the sheer mass of it.
But, that’s why you have this article to hold your hand through the process, guiding you past all the twists and turns.
Here is a quick recap to summarize the journey:
You should now be well on your way to becoming an SEO expert.
Just remember to remain honorable in your strategies and stick to the basics!
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