SEO for Beginners: A Step by Step Guide to Getting Started
SEO is not as hard as most people make It sound … Yes! I know… I know it’s confusing.
So many things to learn at the same time… Backlinks, link juice, robots.txt, on page SEO, onsite SEO, PBNs etc. It was confusing to me as well when I first started blogging.
I would go to youtube and watch a ton of videos, read a ton of blog posts but still unable to connect the dots. It felt like the more I watched youtube videos, the more confused I became.
You know that feeling, right? That feeling of confusion and frustration when you can’t get what you want?
I almost abandoned the nonsense when I stumbled on a video that changed my life.
I can’t remember the title of the video but it explained the whole SEO concept as though I was five. That’s when things began to make sense… and SEO became a lot easier especially when I started applying what I had learned.
Long story short, everything boils down to the basics. As with every other thing in life, I have come to the realization that when things become too complicated or confusing for me, going back to basics clears the confusion.
SEO is not hard if you go back to the basics. Understand how search engines work, what SEO is and how it works, trust me you’ll be one step closer to ranking.
You can get 95% of the effort with 5% of the work, and you absolutely do not need to hire a professional SEO to do it, except you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
I must warn you, even though SEO is not hard. It takes time and it requires patience. If you’re the type who’s not patient enough. Then stop reading this guide right now.
…but if you have ever wondered how bloggers and other content creators get their websites to rank on google and you will like to do the same
You heard a lot about the wonders of google traffic and are confused about how SEO works and how to make your site rank,
Worry no more because in this SEO for beginners guide,
I will go back to basics and share with you several techniques that you can apply to your blog or website right now to get more traffic coming from Google.
Needless to say, this SEO for dummies article will be so simple you will feel confident and motivated to dive into the SEO world like the rockstar that you are.
There are many search engines you can optimize your website to rank for. It is worth noting that I am going to focus mainly on Google in this guide because Google is the main search engine on the internet.
Google is responsible for 94% of the total organic traffic. (Web Presence Solutions, 2017).
The 3 solid reasons why you should not ignore SEO Traffic.
- Google organic traffic is free and organic search equates to 95% of all web traffic. (SimilarWeb, 2016)
- Google traffic is high-quality traffic(Highly targeted)(I’m talking about people that are really interested in the content and offers on your website).
- And the third reason is if you get more traffic coming from google, you can also make a lot more money on the internet.
So this is it! tighten up those seat belts let’s get started!
What is SEO?
It is very simple to understand. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it is everything you do to improve your website so it ranks on google.
SEO is a method you apply on your website in order to be found better on the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) and other search engines, depending on your search term or keyword.
A search term or keyword is any phrase or group of words you type in the search box of google when you are trying to find relevant websites to that topic.
Let’s take a look at this example, shall we?
Let’s say I want to bake a cake and I want to find some recipes related to that. What I will do is, I will go to google and type “Best cake recipes”.
Now, what you type in google is exactly what a search term is or you could also call it a “Keyword”.
When you hit enter you will notice a variety of websites will come up related to what you typed in and if you look below you will see several pages all related to that same topic.
And if you take a closer look at the displayed links, you will notice that they all have the keywords “cake recipes” in them.
This did not happen by chance. these websites have been optimized with keywords.
Now, let’s assume it was some other person who was trying to find something about “best cake recipes” and you are the one having a website page related to that search term.
What you would want to happen through SEO is that you would want your website page to appear on the first page of the results so that the person or similar people looking for best cake recipes to click through to your blog or content.
This so because research shows that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of google. People only click results on the first page then decide to change their keyword and start the search again
Only websites with higher rankings are found on the first page and when this is the case with your website, people will easily locate you.
How does SEO work?
There are two kinds of SEO; On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
On-page SEO includes everything you do on your website so it ranks better on the Google.
The first step to success with SEO starts with figuring out the type of Keywords(search terms) your target audience is using to search for information.
If you don’t optimize your content with keywords correctly there’s no way you’re gonna rank. Not to say you’ll not rank at all. You might rank for keywords that are completely unrelated to your content.
Here’s an article that will help you discover those keywords your target audience is already using to find information related to yours. Click here
Let’s explore how Google search engine works. I want you to understand that it’s not humans that go from one website to another analyzing all the content to see exactly where that website page needs to appear on google listing.
Robots or we could also call them crawlers are the ones that do. These are programs made by Google.
The way crawlers function, they go to a website, analyze the content and see exactly what that website talks about and all that information they gather, they know exactly where that website needs to appear on google listing.
Let’s assume you have a website; what happens is that a crawler will visit your website page, sees the keyword(s) that you have on the page and based on those keywords, they know exactly what the website talks about and where to rank it.
The next thing the crawlers do is that they follow both internal and external links in the content to index.
Indexing simply means analyzing the webpage for keywords and downloading it in their database so that when someone does a search they present the results to the person.
When you do a search on google you’re not presented with a live website, you’re actually presented with the downloaded version from Google’s database. You get the idea?
Internal links are links that go from the page being indexed to other RELEVANT pages on your website. Relevance simply means that if your content is about SEO, all internal links on that page should be closely related to SEO…
…And external links are links going from your blog to pages on other blogs or web pages.
On-page SEO has changed a lot throughout the years. In the past, all you had to do to rank on google was just to spam your keywords throughout your website several times.
Unfortunately, things have changed a lot since then and you shouldn’t do that because if you just spam your keyword everywhere on of your website, you will get penalized by Google.
Panda update that was released in February 2011 was to this effect. Panda algorithm was released to punish websites with low-quality content;
- website with thin pages
- websites with duplicate content
- websites with keywords stuffing or over optimization.
According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.
(Source: Search Engine Watch, 2016)
Note that there are over 200 ranking factors but the two most important are high-quality content and backlinks. In other words, the On-page, and off-page SEO must be topnotch. (more on Off-page SEO later…)
On-page SEO simply means making sure the right keywords are in the right places. Most of this has to do with HTML tags, which make up the structure of a webpage. If you don’t know HTML or understand how it works, take a look at the anatomy of a webpage below.
The words on a webpage are enclosed in special HTML tags. You don’t get to see these tags on the front end of a webpage.
This is how google bot sees your web page.
Notice the arrows on the left. See how the color gradually changes from red to Orange.
The arrow represents the importance Google places on keywords as you move further down the page.
keywords contained in the URL, the title tag, the meta description, and H1 tags are the most keywords that improve your ranking as compared to keywords further in the footer.
For the Page to be considered On-page optimized, you must place keywords and synonyms in strategic positions on your website. This used to be a hard thing to do for a beginner but thanks to the YOAST SEO plugin, everything is simple for WordPress users.
Note: If you use a mixture of keywords and synonyms when you’re optimizing your page with Yoast some of the lights are going to remain red.
That is okay…
If you follow the Yoast keywords suggestions to a T, you might over optimize.
A tool such as LSI Graph will give you Latent semantic keywords you can use throughout your content to avoid keyword stuffing.
Latent semantic keywords are simply keywords related to the topic your page is about. They include not only synonyms but other words that often occur when a certain topic is written about.
You place keywords in the following areas on your website.
- Title tag
- meta description
- H1 tag
- The first paragraph of your article
- The keywords or synonyms in subheading such as h2, h3 etc
- Keywords and synonyms throughout the content but keep keyword density between .5% and 2.5%
- Keywords in the image alt tag
Other things to take into consideration when doing On-page SEO
- The keyword(s) is close to the beginning of the <title> tag (ideally the first words)
- The title tag should not be more than of 65 characters
- Your page should have only one H1 tag.
- There is at least 300 words of text on the webpage
- The page contains do-follow links to other sections of your website
- There’s at least an external link(s)
- Your page or keyword is unique. No duplicate keywords.
- Every post should have at least 3 internal links.
Off-page SEO is simply everything that you do outside of your website so you can achieve better results on Google SERPs. Yeah! It is the reverse of On-page SEO.
Off-page SEO consist mostly of you getting backlinks from other websites to your own website.
A backlink is just a link inside of another website that is pointing to your own website.
Image source: Amrutservices
Many people look at links from other sites to yours as a vote.
The whole idea behind this is that a website will pass some influence from their website back to your website when they give you their vote(aka link juice)
SEO professionals describe this voting process as “link juice.” If an authoritative site, we’ll say Wikipedia for example, links to you, they’re passing you “link juice.”
But link juice doesn’t only work site to site — if your homepage is very authoritative and it links off to other pages on your site, it passes link juice as well.
…and when your website starts having multiple backlinks or links throughout the internet, it will help to boost its rankings on Google.
So much has changed as far as getting backlinks is concerned. In the past, all that really mattered was getting a huge amount of backlinks and just by doing that, you will get a good ranking on google.
It didn’t really matter how and where you got your backlinks from.
For example, people used to leave articles on multiple websites and in each article they will leave a backlink to their website. Just by doing that, you will rank on google.
Another example is they would just create private websites and in each of such websites, they will leave a backlink to their main website and just by doing that they will also get good results on Google.
Nowadays, SEO has changed, things really don’t work that way anymore and I will not advise you use such strategies especially if you don’t want your website penalized by Google.
Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to punish website were involved shady link schemes.
SEO Link Building for new bloggers
Link building is one of the most important ranking factors and where SEO really begin to matter.
Remember, it is important to create links in legitimate ways if you want to run a longterm business and stay on Google’s good site.
Shady tactics and strategies work but I can’t even count the number of times I’ve seen a number of websites taken down.
When you’re just starting out, the best kind of links you should focus on is what I call “Bean bag Links“.
What these are is a combination of Social Signals, Web 2.0, links from blog comments and links from press releases. Bean bag links help diversify your backlink profile for more aggressive link building tactics you might use later.
From the onset, you want to start building your authority. So the way to build authority and trust in Google’s eyes is to have so many authoritative diversified links.
Bean bag links should be built in the first 3 months of you getting started. As these will prepare you for more aggressive link building tactics.
What are social signals and how do you get them?
Social signals are social media metrics such as likes, shares, followers, retweets, repins etc that show the popularity of links in social media sites like facebook, twitter etc.
For example, if you share your article on Facebook, the more likes, comments, and shares you have, the more authoritative its social signals are.
There’s a lot of confusion on the web about whether social signals are a direct ranking factor. With some people arguing that correlation doesn’t mean causation. And many others doing reports and case studies to prove that it is, in fact, a ranking factor.
In 2014, Google even denied that social signals are a ranking factor. The video was published by Matt Cutts and you can access it here
That said there’s something I want you to understand…
- There’s no real brand that exists on the web without having at least one or two social media pages. Social media helps build trust.
- Social media helps in link diversity.
- Your target audience hangs out on social media. Therefore social media could bring in bucket loads of leads and customers to your brand.
Should you get social signals?
How to get social signals.
The first thing you need to do when you first get started blogging is to lock your brand on social media. What this means is that you should register for most social media sites and put up a description and your links. If you can’t do it yourself, you can hire these guys by clicking here so they do it for you
The other way you might consider doing is to buy social signals from sites like Konker or Fiverr but I don’t recommend this tactic because these shares, likes, and comments are not going to come from your target audience.
The legitimate way to do this is to be present on these social media sites and interact with your target audience. Your signals are going to grow with time.
But this method is slow and time-consuming. If you’re looking for faster results, you should definitely consider doing social media ads. This has been proven to increase social signals tremendously.
What are web 2.0 links and how do you get them?
Web 2.0 simply refers to websites that let you post stuff.
For example; Tumblr, youtube, blogger, wordpress.com. SlideShare, Reddit, Inbound.org, Hacker News, Quora etc
The list is long and I cannot list all of them here. However, you can do a google search and you’ll discover plenty.
How to get web 2.0 links
- For youtube, you should post your links in the description of a video but you have to make sure that the video actually has views.
- For Tumblr, wordpress.com, and blogger, you would need to actually create bogs on these platforms that are related to your main blog. Create content on these and promote like you’d promote your real blog of course with links pointing back to your main site.
I know this sounds like a lot of trouble but you can either outsource the activities of creating these web 2.0 properties to konker/Fiverr or figure out people who have websites already on these platforms, reach out to them and link back to your main site.
I actually recommend you buy links and social signals that point to your web 2.0s but not to your main website… These links will help improve the authority of these web2.0s.
How to get links from blog comments
Blog commenting is one of the easiest ways to build links. It is also one of the most abused forms of link building.
Some people use software autogenerate content for various comment sections. When you are dropping a comment on a blog, you have to do the following;
- Make sure that the content is relevant. Only comment on blogs that are related to yours and are of high quality.
- Contribute to the conversation. Please don’t go off topic or say something that’s completely unrelated to what’s being discussed.
- Make sure to only post your link when it’s necessary.
For better results make it a habit to comment on three high-quality blogs daily.
My blogging buddy Ryan Biddulph uses this strategy to sell his ebooks and grow his traffic. So follow him and see how he does it.
How to get links from press releases
This is my favorite hands-off link building tactic. With only a $150, you can get your get your website featured on high authority websites like Boston Globe, ABC, Fox & more!
This one of the best ways to get high-quality backlinks from authoritative sites.
Nofollow Vs Dofollow links
One very important thing you should note is that majority of bean bag links you’re going to build would be Nofollow links.
Links with the “Nofollow” tag on them do not pass on link juice. In other words, they do not impact your ranking… but before you decide to stop building Nofollow links, read this article from Brean Dean. He explains the difference between Nofollow and Dofollow links in great detail
Here’s an example of a Nofollow link
<a href=”http://www.facebook.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Facebook</a>
Whereas Dofollow links pass “link juice”. In other words, they impact ranking.
And here’s an example of a Dofollow link
Strikeout Nofollow links chrome extension can help you see Nofollow links on a page.
For advanced link building Strategies and an SEO checklist. Enter your email below and I’ll email them to you.
Other SEO terms you should know
According to robotstxt.org website owners use the /robots.txt file to give instructions about their site to web robots; this is called The Robots Exclusion Protocol.
This helps tell search engine robots which sites to crawl and which sites to ignore. Read more here.
If you don’t want Google to crawl a page (maybe it’s a login page you don’t want to be indexed, a landing page, etc.) you can just “disallow” it in your robots.txt by saying disallow: /page.
If you had written an article about a particular topic and for some reason, that article no longer exists, if somebody clicks on that link and land on your website, there will be a 404 error which is a bad thing according to Google.
The way to solve this problem is to create a 301 redirect to another similar article. This means that if that same person clicks on that broken link, he will no longer see a 404 error, he will now land on the new article.
If you use WordPress and are not tech-savvy you can use a plugin to achieve this. I use a plugin called the redirection.
If you have pages that are almost the same or the same, you can add the rel = canonical tag to the link to tell Google that it should treat it as the same. This helps solves duplicate content issues.
A rel canonical link looks like this <link rel=” canonical href=”https://www.blogtoolscorner.com/newsroom”>
It tells Google “hey, treat this page as if it were that page instead, but I don’t want to 301 redirect it.”
To Disavow is a process of removing spammy or low-quality backlinks from your site. You can achieve this using the Google disavow tool
Let’s say you pay someone to build backlinks for you. And because the person is not trustworthy, he decides to build spammy links and then google eventually penalizes your website.
You can get rid of those spammy links and recover your website using the disavow tool.
For more SEO tips and tricks; check out these blogs/pro-bloggers
Michael Pozdnev — http://iwannabeablogger.com
Enstine Muki — https://enstinemuki.com
Tim Soulo — https://ahrefs.com/blog/
Lisa Sicard — https://inspiretothrive.com/
Phewwww! That was such a long read. I’m so glad you made it to the end. You’re one step closer to reaching your ranking goals.
SEO concepts change like the weather. Never stop learning and testing the concepts yourself. This is only a beginners guide to help understand the basic principles
A more advanced SEO guide will be produced in the future, so be on the lookout.
If this looks intimidating or you simply don’t have time to do SEO yourself, consider hiring out… My rates are high and you can’t afford it.
…but if you’re like most people who choose quality over mediocrity and like to see results rather than hear noise here’s my contact form.
If you’d like to do it yourself then don’t forget to enter your email below and get the advanced link building strategy
I hope you found this piece of advice useful and I cleared your confusion at least to an extent, then don’t forget to share this with others who might need help.
… and if you have any question, please leave it in the comment section and I will be right there to answer.
Thanks for reading!
Originally published at www.blogtoolscorner.com.