Search Engine Optimisation

SEO Beginners' Guide: Your Two First Steps

January 2017
Che Stevenson

This primer will help you understand SEO and make your first steps to the top of Google.

SEO is hard. There are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ about it. It’s a hard concept to grasp and a hard aspect of digital marketing to keep on top. And to be honest, it can be hard for both amateurs and professionals alike.

But alas! Do not be disheartened. We have simplified SEO and created an easy to understand beginner’s introduction on the subject and two key tactics you can implement today!

What Is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. It is the process of improving your website and web presence so that your website is shown prominently in search engines.

Global thought leader in search engine optimisation, Moz, defines SEO as:

SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines.

Source: https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo

The idea is that good SEO will get you to the top of the list in Google, Bing, or Yahoo, and if you’re at the top of the list you will get more visitors. The whole purpose of SEO is to help people who are looking for you or what you provide, find you.

Google’s algorithm for ranking web pages is based on hundreds of factors, most of which aren’t actually known by the general public.

A 2013 survey of SEO professionals shows the huge range and complexity of factors that affect your search rankings:

Source: https://moz.com/blog/weighting-the-clusters-of-ranking-factors-in-google-analytics-whiteboard-friday

While there are differing opinions on what are the most important factors for ranking. According to the industry’s best, SEO can be broadly simplified into two key steps to great SEO.

Step one: create valuable content

Content encompasses your website, blogs and web presence in general. You have to match what people are searching for with keywords and phrases on your site. This will ensure that search engines consider your web page to be relevant to what is being searched.

But you don’t want to be just anywhere on Google do you: you want to be at the top! If that’s what you’re aiming for then you’d better get read yto work hard. In 2016 it is no longer enough to write OK content. It’s not even enough to write good content. There is already a heap of that on the Internet: the content you are offering has to be special and give something of true value to your audience.

It is only by creating unique and highly valuable content that visitors to your site will be highly satisfied with what they find, stay and read (Google knows how long people stay on your site by the way!), and share the content with their friends and colleagues.

Here are some tips for writing your click-worthy content:

Use the right keywords and phrases

This includes having keyword rich (not keyword ‘stuffed’) content and headings. And how do you know which keywords to use? Google’s Keyword Planner allows you to search for new keyword ideas, and to find search volume data and trends. These can be seamlessly woven into your blogs or website content, so you can be found in relevant Google searches.

Know your audience

While the keywords will give you an insight into what your audience is looking for, you still need a deeper understanding of your target market. Defining your target customer will give you the insight you need to create valuable content they will want to click on, read, and share. Create a ‘persona’ for your ideal customer; a fictionalised representation of who they are and what they want:

  • Demographics
  • Interests
  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Objections

Figuring this out and carefully considering your reader early on is a huge help in the long term. Creating a persona of your ideal customer will give you guidance when deciding on what to write.

Step two: attain links to your website

When a third-party web page creates a link to a web page on your site, they are in effect making a ‘vote’ for your site as a good source of information on that topic. These ‘backlinks’ or ‘inbound links’ are a key source of SEO and will give your website the authority it needs to rank highly versus competing pages.

But getting backlinks is no simple task. While having links pointing to your site from other sites online is often considered the most valuable type of SEO, it is also the hardest to attain.

Here are some tips for generating high quality backlinks:

Source quality inbound links

‘Quality’ doesn’t mean you go and get your website on a bunch of dodgy directories. It’s about getting authoritative sources to link to your site and content. We have compiled the best sources of inbound links, which can be attained from a range of places including:

  • Business partners or clients
  • Online press releases through paid release services
  • Trusted directories listings
  • Own site blog and other relevant blogs
  • Thought leadership articles

Getting backlinks is much easier said than done.

Having great content helps a lot: if people visit your page and love what they read, they are likely to share (growing your reach) or reference you when writing their own content (as we did earlier in this article, referencing Moz for their excellent definition of SEO).

But the reality is you’re probably going to have to proactively get out there and drum up these links by reaching out to your clients, thought leaders in your industry, relevant bloggers, etc. It will take time, but the pay-off is huge: many consider baclinks to account for upwards of 60% of your SEO ranking.

Monitor your links

Link building is all about getting more traffic to your site with the end goal of more customers. If that’s something you are interested in, you need to know your inbound links. There are three big reasons why you should care:

  1. Poor inbound links can hurt your reputation and get your website penalized
  2. Inbound links drive traffic
  3. And obviously, because they are crucial for SEO

Linkody.com (https://www.linkody.com/) is an excellent site to check how many inbound links you have and their quality. You can even monitor the backlinks for your competitors: gaining insights into their marketing and ideas for where your next link might come from.

Don’t hesitate, get started today!

There you have it. We’ve hopefully laid it all out in easy to digest introduction to SEO. But the key thing now is to take what you have learned and DO something with it.

SEO takes time, the work you do improving your web content and backlinks will usually take a number of weeks to months to show an appreciable affect on your SEO rankings. But if you never start, you’ll never see the result.

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