Many people believe SEO is too difficult and time-consuming to be worthwhile. That is not the case. The fundamentals of SEO are actually fairly straightforward. With Google accounting for 57.8% of all web traffic, it’s definitely something worth studying if you operate a website.
Think again if you think the basics aren’t enough to get you ranked. Most website owners have a rudimentary understanding of SEO, so learning the fundamentals can help you thrive.
Let’s start with the fundamentals of SEO, such as why it’s important and how it relates to other marketing methods.
Why is SEO important?
Hundreds of signals are used by Google and other search engines to determine which pages to rank. The act of strengthening these signals in order to rank higher in organic search results is what SEO is all about.
What are the benefits of SEO?
1. SEO leads to more traffic
Because the majority of people click one of the first few search results, ranking higher in the results usually means more traffic to your website.
2. SEO leads to consistent traffic
Search engine rankings frequently result in both active and passive traffic. That isn’t always the case with platforms like social media and email marketing, which can produce traffic surges that rapidly go away. Because social media networks are meant to surface new content, this occurs. Emails are frequently tagged as read, forgotten, or redirected to the spam folder. However, because the quantity of searches made on search engines is often steady month to month, once you rank, traffic is both consistent and passive.
3. SEO leads to ‘free’ traffic
Search traffic, unlike advertising, is ‘free.’ This is significant since search engine ads can be costly. As per us developing Google-friendly content isn’t free—but it’s usually less expensive than paying for ads.
How do you get your website on Google?
You can rank higher with SEO, but you won’t be able to rank higher if Google doesn’t even know your website exists.
Although Google will eventually find your website on its own, there are a few major advantages to actively submitting it |
1. Faster discovery | Since most new websites lack backlinks from other websites, Google may take some time to discover them.
2. Improve your website | Google Search Console provides suggestions about how to improve and optimise your site.
The first step to submitting your website to Google is to find your sitemap.
Sitemaps are files that list all of the important pages on your website. You can usually find yours by typing one of these URLs into your browser:
If it’s not there, go to website.com/robots.txt where it’ll usually be listed.
If it’s not there either, you probably don’t have one. Check out our guide to creating a sitemap.
The second step is to create a free Google Search Console account and submit your sitemap.
Setting up for SEO success
You’re in the race if your website is indexed by search engines, but you’re not likely to win. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in. SEO is a continuous process that, if done correctly, will improve your chances of winning over time.
When your website is correctly set up for SEO success, it’s a lot easier to execute SEO well.
Let’s take a look at how to do that.
- Get a good domain
- Use a website platform
- Use a good web host
- Create a positive user experience
- Create a logical site structure
- Use a logical URL structure
- Install a good SEO plugin
Get a good domain
If you’ve already registered a domain, don’t worry. It’s probably fine and won’t interfere with your SEO attempts. However, if you haven’t chosen one yet, keep these two qualities of an excellent domain in mind |
1. Domain name
Firstly, don’t worry about including your keywords. Your domain doesn’t need to be reflecting your business for search engines to understand what it’s about.
Here’s are a few attributes of a good domain |
- Is the name of your business
- Has no hyphens
- Is short and memorable
TLD stands for top-level domain. It’s the part after the name like .com, .org, or .co.uk.
Google’s John Mueller says your TLD makes no difference for SEO. However, for most businesses, .com is usually best if you can get it because it’s the most recognizable and trusted.
If you’re a charity, .org or your country equivalent (e.g., .org.uk) works too.
If you only do business in one country outside the US, your ccTLD (e.g., co.uk) will be fine.
It’s probably best to stay clear of TLDs like .info and .biz that tend to be associated with low-quality websites, but it’s not the end of the world if you have one. You can still build a legitimate website that ranks.
Use a website platform
The majority of individuals do not develop their websites in HTML and CSS from the ground up. They operate on the basis of a website platform. These are programmes that allow people with little or no coding experience to construct websites, manage content, and handle tedious technical details.
There are two types of website platforms.
1. Hosted platforms
Everything is done under one roof with hosted platforms. They host your website, give ready-made designs that are simple to install and change and allow you to produce and manage content without touching code.
2. Self-hosted platforms
Self-hosted systems also allow you to manage and produce content without having to write any code. The distinction is that you must host and install them on your own.
Which kind of platform should you choose?
The majority of SEO experts advise using a self-hosted, open-source platform like WordPress because:
It’s adaptable because open-source code may be edited whatever you want, and there’s a large community of developers that know the platform thoroughly and out.
It’s extendable since there are millions of ready-made plugins, including hundreds of SEO plugins, that can extend its usefulness.
A hosted option like Wix or Squarespace, on the other hand, can be a better choice if you value ease of use and support. Most well-known hosted platforms, in fact, give more than enough SEO features for most people.
Use a good web host
Web hosts save your site on a hard disc that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
You have very little control over your hosting if you choose a hosted platform for your website. If you’re using a self-hosted platform like WordPress, though, you’ll have to locate a host yourself.
So how do you choose a good web host for SEO?
Dedicated hosting, according to most SEO guides, is preferable to shared hosting. True, but it won’t make much of an impact until your website gets a lot of visitors. Most consumers can get by with cheap hosting from any trustworthy firm; there isn’t much of a difference in performance between hosts when you’re only paying a few dollars a month.
However, there are a few things that do matter |
Security | Make sure the host gives you a free SSL/TLS certificate or supports LetsEncrypt—a nonprofit supplying free TLS certificates.
Server location | It takes time for data to travel between the server and visitor, so it’s best to choose a host with servers in the same county as most of your traffic.
Support | 24/7 support is ideal. Test how good their support is by asking the questions above before you sign up.
Create a positive user experience
Google prefers to rank pages that provide a favourable user experience. In their SEO beginner’s guide, they state as much|
Here are a few simple ways to do this |
Nothing is worse for visitors than their personal data being susceptible to hackers. Always encrypt your site with SSL/TLS.
Choose an appealing design
Nobody likes a website that appears to be from the 1990s. While it isn’t necessary to rebuild your website every six months, it should at the very least be pleasant to the eye and reflect your brand.
Make sure it’s mobile-friendly
According to Google, mobile searches are now outnumbering desktop searches, therefore it’s vital that your website is as user-friendly on mobile as it is on desktop.
Use a readable font size
People nowadays use a variety of devices to access the internet. Ensure that your material is readable on all platforms.
Avoid intrusive pop-ups and ads
Everyone despises advertisements, but they are sometimes necessary. If that’s the case, the goal is to stay away from the ones that are too obtrusive. Google gives some suggestions for what is and isn’t acceptable in this situation.
Make sure it loads fast
Page speed is a confirmed ranking factor on desktop and mobile. But this doesn’t mean your site needs to load lightning fast. Faster is better, sure, but Google says this factor only affects sites that “deliver the slowest experience to users.”
Create a logical site structure
Visitors and search engines alike must be able to traverse your site easily and intuitively, which is why a logical structure for your content is essential.
Making a mind map is the simplest way to do this.
Each branch in your mind map will become an internal link, which is a link that connects two pages on a website.
Internal links are crucial for UX and SEO for a few reasons |
They help search engines find new pages. Pages without internal links are rarely found and indexed.
They help pass PageRank around your site. PageRank is the foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm that tries to determine the “value” of a page.
They help search engines understand what your page is about. Google looks at link anchors and surrounding text for this.
Use a logical URL structure
URLs are important because they help searchers to understand the topic of a page.
Many website platforms let you choose how to structure your URLs. These are the five main options for URLs in WordPress |
- Plain | yourwebsite.com/?p=123
- Day and name | yourwebsite.com/2021/03/04/seo-basics/
- Month and name | yourwebsite.com/03/04/seo-basics/
- Numeric | yourwebsite.com/865/
- Post name | yourwebsite.com/seo-basics/
If you’re starting from scratch, it’s best to go with the most straightforward and descriptive structure possible. That’s most likely Post’s name.
It’s also bad practise to utilise dates in URLs because you might want to change the postings in the future.
Even if the URL structure isn’t perfect, it’s probably advisable not to modify it if you’re optimising an existing website. This may cause other more critical things to break, which will have a greater negative influence on your SEO.
Install a good SEO plugin
Most hosted platforms provide basic SEO features out of the box, however WordPress does not. Without an SEO plugin, even the most basic SEO recommended practises are nearly impossible to implement.
How to do SEO
SEO is an ongoing process that’s broadly divided into four facets:
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Link building
- Technical SEO
Let’s take a look at these facets.
Keyword research is the process of determining what your customers are looking for, how much traffic those terms can generate, and how difficult it will be to rank for those terms. Let’s look at the fundamentals of each of those steps.
The first stage in the keyword research process is to figure out what your potential clients are looking for. You can’t even begin to design pages that will rank in search engines and draw significant visitors unless you know this.
You can then use these as ‘seed’ keywords to find more ideas. Just plug them into a keyword research tool and check one of the keyword ideas reports. Look for keyword ideas that would be valuable for your business.
Check traffic potential
Almost every keyword research tool will display monthly search volume estimates for the keywords it discovers.
Search volume is usually a good indicator of a keyword’s relative traffic potential. Pages that target high-volume keywords will often attract more traffic to your website than pages that target low-volume keywords.
However, keyword search volume isn’t always accurate. Ranking #1 for a keyword with 1,000 monthly searches might sometimes result in more traffic than ranking #1 for a keyword with 2,000 monthly searches.
Check ranking difficulty
Even if a term appears to be related to your organisation and has a lot of traffic potential, ranking for it isn’t always easy. The amount of relevant, notable websites linking to the top-ranked pages is likely the most important factor in determining the ranking difficulty of a keyword. In their tutorial to how search works, Google mentions this |
If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality.
On-page SEO is providing the type of material that searchers want and ‘optimising’ it so that search engines can better interpret it. The majority of people believe it’s all about keyword placement. Although it is vital, it is not the most crucial feature.
Let’s look at the fundamentals of optimising a page for search engines.
Match search intent
If you don’t write the type of material that searchers want, your chances of ranking are limited to none. This is referred to as aligning your content with search intent in the industry.
The easiest way to estimate search intent is to check for commonalities across the current top-ranking pages for your target term, because Google understands what searchers are looking for better than anybody else.
Choose a descriptive URL slug
For each page or post you publish, you also need to set a descriptive slug—the part at the end of the URL. How best to do this depends on the subfolders before the URL slug.
Write a compelling title tag
The blue clickable links that appear in the search results are known as title tags. It’s one of the few weapons you have to persuade searchers to visit your site, so make it as enticing as possible. Aligning it with search intent is the simplest way to do this.
Images can help your website rank in Google Images and drive traffic to it. In the last three months, Google Images has brought us thousands of visitors.
How do you optimize your images?
Follow these three steps |
Name them well | Filenames help Google understand the image better.
Use descriptive alt text | Alt text is code that describes an image in words. It’s not visible on the page unless the visitor uses a screen reader or the image fails to load. Most website platforms have an input field for alt text when you upload an image.
Compress them | Install a plugin like Shortpixel to compress your images on the fly and improve page speed.
Links from other websites act as ‘votes,’ indicating to Google that others are endorsing your material. They’re perhaps the most essential ranking factor, yet they’re not always easy to come by.
The majority of link-building strategies include developing link-worthy material and then approaching site owners and editors with a convincing rationale to include your link on one of their pages. However, there are other options for obtaining links.
Let’s take a look at just a few link building tactics.
Guest blogging is where you write a blog post for another website. One of the easiest ways to find potential guest blogging opportunities is with Content Explorer, Here’s how:
- Search for a relevant topic.
- Choose “in title” from the dropdown
- Check the “websites” tab
The Skyscraper Technique is a link-building strategy in which you create content that is even better than what people are already connecting to.
Here’s the basic process |
- Find a relevant piece of content with lots of backlinks
- Create something better
- Ask people linking to the original content to link to yours instead
Content Explorer is arguably the quickest way to find ‘skyscraper’ opportunities. Just search for a topic, then filter for pages with plenty of referring domains (linking websites).
Look for something you can improve on, then publish something even better. You can then plug the URL into the SEO site explorer, find all its backlinks from the Backlinks report, and reach out to those people.
Pursuing competitors’ links
The best method to develop a link-building plan is to learn how your competitors get backlinks. If you can spot patterns in their link profile, you’ll be able to figure out which link-building strategies are most likely to work for your site.
To do so, go to Keywords Explorer and search for the keyword you want to target, then scroll down to the SERP overview. Look for a page with a lot of referring domains that is similar to yours (linking websites).
If we do this for “SEO basics,” we see plenty of pages with lots of backlinks.
If we then click through to the Backlinks report for one of the pages, we can look for trends among its backlinks.
The practise of assisting search engines such as Google in finding, understanding, and indexing your pages is known as technical SEO. It can get fairly sophisticated, but we won’t go any farther because we previously covered the essentials when building up a site for SEO success.
How to track SEO success
You should have a good understanding of SEO at this point. But how can you track and measure the success of your efforts? The most obvious solution is to keep track of how much traffic your website receives from organic search.
You may immediately monitor your organic traffic if you’re using Google Analytics by navigating to: Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search
If this number is going up, then you’re probably doing something right.
While keeping an eye on organic traffic and rankings isn’t a bad idea, these are considered as vanity metrics because they have little to do with your overall marketing or business objectives.
It’s far preferable to keep track of measures that have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Let’s take a look at a few of these indicators.
Monitor organic Share of Voice (SoV)
When compared to the competition, organic SoV is the visibility of your brand in search results. Because there’s a link between SoV and market share, it’s crucial.
You can track organic SoV in Rank Tracker. Just add the keywords that are important to your business and give them an appropriate tag.
From there, head to: Competitors > Overview
If you haven’t done so already, add some competitors. Then check the Visibility tab to see what percentage of all clicks for your tracked keywords land on your website compared to your competitors.
Track conversions from organic traffic
When a visitor to your website takes a desired action, this is referred to as a conversion. This could range from simply clicking a link to completing a transaction.
You can track conversions for purchases and pretty much anything else using Google Analytics. You can then filter for organic traffic conversions and compare periods to observe how your SEO efforts are affecting the important metrics.
Free SEO tools
Many professional SEO tools have a monthly fee of more than $100. Given that this is a beginner’s introduction to SEO, you may not be ready to invest that much money in advanced SEO tools just yet. But don’t be concerned. With free SEO tools, you can accomplish a lot.
Here are a few popular ones that help with each facet of SEO covered in this article.
Keyword research tools
Google Keyword Planner | Find unique keyword ideas.
Keyword Generator | Generate hundreds of keyword ideas.
SERP Checker | Check the estimated search traffic potential for the topic based on the top three results.
Keyword Difficulty Checker | Check the Keyword Difficulty (KD) score of the keyword.
On-page SEO tools
Yoast SEO | Add title tags and meta descriptions to WordPress posts and pages.
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools | Find missing title tags, meta descriptions, and alt text anywhere on your site.
Link building tools
Ahrefs’ Backlink Checker | See the top 100 backlinks to any website or web page.
HARO | Get link opportunities daily. (It’s technically more of a service than a tool)
Gmail | Send outreach emails to link prospects. No fancy outreach software needed.
Technical SEO tools
Google Search Console | Find index coverage errors, page speed issues, and more.
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools | Find 100+ SEO issues on your website, including many technical issues.
Hire Sharegroup as your SEO marketing agency to improve the traffic and numbers on your website. We start by doing a digital marketing analysis of your website and then chalk out the best SEO plan for your site to receive more traffic and a better rank. For getting started you need to get in touch with us via our website- www.shergroup.com or write to us @ [email protected]
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