The Complete Guide: Search Engine Optimization Basics For Beginners (SEO)
Basics For Beginners (SEO)
What is search engine optimization or seo?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your site for search engines with the aim of earning a higher ranking on search results pages, and getting more organic traffic.
The most common techniques include on-page SEO (such as keyword research and targeted content creation) and off-page SEO (including link building and social media posts).
SEO is a complex and rapidly evolving field, but by following best practices and keeping up with Google’s ever-changing algorithms updates, any website can improve its ranking and get more visitors.
Google search results are divided into two parts: ads and organic results.
- Ads (as the name suggests) are results that people pay for via Google Ads.
- Free Results Free results are 100% quality based. And it doesn’t “pay for appearances”. It is the core results where optimization becomes important.
The importance of search engine optimization
Search engine optimization is indispensable, as it helps your website to have a proper website presence.
SEO is the process of optimizing a website to rank higher in search engine results.
This is important because when people search for something online, they usually start typing a keyword or phrase into a search engine.
If your website is optimized for the right keywords it will appear at the top of the results, and you will get more organic traffic.
SEO is also important because it can help you build brand awareness, and build trust and credibility between you and your target audience.
When people see your site at the top of search results, they are more likely to trust your brand.
And if they keep seeing it all the time, they’ll start to recognize and remember your brand when they’re looking for something in the future.
SEO is a great and free way to bring more traffic, customers, and revenue to your business.
81% of all Google searchers click on organic results, which means that only 19% choose to click on an ad.
In other words: You can expect about 5 times more traffic by ranking in organic versus paid advertising, even though the ads are at the top of the page.
And when your site is properly optimized and optimized for search engines, results can multiply more quickly.
For example, Amazon gets more than 386 million free visitors per month from Google alone!
You have to understand that SEO is a long and continuous process that takes work, but once your site ranks for a set of keywords, your rankings often remain stable over time.
In short, the main advantages of SEO are the following:
- Ensure that your brand is visible when potential customers search for your services.
- Direct targeted traffic from people interested in your product or service to your site.
- It leads to an increase in the rate of profits.
- It gives you a strong competitive advantage.
Search Engine Optimization Basics
There are a number of different factors that can affect SEO, from the quality of the content to the way your site is designed, the code used, and more.
However, there are some basic steps that all websites must follow, and they include the following:
- Find and use appropriate keywords throughout the site.
- Create high quality backlinks.
- Monitor the progress of your site’s ranking in search results, and make necessary changes as needed.
Search engine optimization can be divided into two main parts:
- On-page SEO
It aims to improve the content and structure of a website or web page to make it more visible and relevant to search engines, such as keyword research and targeted content creation.
2. Off page SEO
It aims to improve backlinks, and other external factors that affect the ranking of a website or web page in SERP search results.
Before we get into the specific steps you need to take to rank higher in search results, you need to know a few basic things.
First.. Check to see if your site is already indexed in Google by doing a search in the following way
It will show you whether Google has already crawled and indexed your site, and how many pages have been indexed.
If your site appears in the results, that’s great! Now you’re all set, if not, it could mean that your site is new and Google hasn’t found it yet.
It could also mean that your site has inadvertently blocked search engines from crawling it (which is common!) Either way, you want to fix this ASAP.
Second.. Connect your site to Google Search Console .. It is a free tool from Google that acts as a link between you and the search engines.
It lets you learn things like:
- How often does your site appear in search results?
- The keywords that your site is ranking for.
- How many pages on your site have been indexed
- Problems crawling, indexing, or rendering your pages.
Finally.. Create and submit a sitemap.
The sitemap looks exactly as shown in the image:
Google and other search engines use the sitemap to find all the pages on your site, which helps ensure that all important pages are crawled and indexed.
How you create a sitemap depends on the platform your site is running WordPress, Shopify, etc.
Either way, it’s worth creating a sitemap and submitting the XML file to Google via Search Console .
After learning the basics of SEO, it’s time to move on to some practical tips.
Doing keyword research in the right way will enable you to discover the best keywords to target for your site’s SEO campaigns.
To learn how to do keyword research, you can use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and semrush.com to find keywords relevant to your industry.
You can then use these keywords in your site’s content, titles and meta descriptions.
1. Search for keywords for your site
Primary keywords are the phrases customers type in when searching for exactly what you’re selling.
Primary keywords are usually competitive, which means that it will take a long time for the site to be able to top the search results for those words.
So you want to keep these long-term goals in mind in your content strategy.
How to find keywords for your site:
First , write down the different terms you expect a customer or visitor to use when searching for your business.
For example, let’s say you run an online clothing store.
For example, the main keywords for your site may be:
- Best prices for clothes.
- Men’s clothing.
- children clothes.
- Women’s clothing.
There are no right or wrong terms here, the goal is to list as many relevant keywords as possible.
After you have a list of potential keywords, head over to your keyword research tool.
Enter the keywords you have saved and click “Analyze”.
The tool displays detailed data for each keyword, including monthly search volume and the word’s difficulty percentage in terms of competition.
These statistics will help you choose the best keywords to use on your site.
Monthly search volume: The number of searches this keyword gets each month on Google.
Obviously, the higher the search volume, the more potential traffic you can get when you use this word.
On the other hand, higher search volume also means more keyword difficulty in terms of competition, denoted by KD or Keyword Difficulty
The difficulty of keywords is how difficult it is to get them to rank on the first page of search results.
The lower the word difficulty, the better.
2. Long tail keyword research
The list of primary keywords you came up with might be good.
However, it is worth creating a long-term strategy for those terms.
Long-tail keywords are longer search terms, usually with lower search volume but a good level of competition.
This means that the conversion rate is higher compared to the main keywords, in addition to lower levels of competition on the first page.
The Keyword Magic Tool will suggest long keywords based on your primary keyword.
Save the words you want to use in the keyword manager by clicking the gray + button next to each word.
The tool will prompt you to add these keywords to an existing list or create a new list.
Once you have your keywords listed in the keyword manager, you will be able to track each word’s metrics in detail.
Click on any major keyword to view the data for that keyword in the Keyword Overview tool.
You can use this tool to display each keyword’s metrics in an easy-to-follow format.
Here, there is the Keyword Variations or Synonyms section, which is perfect for getting a list of different keywords.
There is also a Questions section, and a Related Keywords section, which can help you explore more long-tailed words.
3. Choosing the right keywords
At this point, you already have a set of keywords in your Semrush word manager.
It’s time to choose the keywords that you will create new pages and articles around.
There are two main factors when deciding whether to use a keyword, the monthly search volume and the strength of the competition.
For example, you can see that the term “clothing” gets 12.1K searches per month, which is a lot.
But the word difficulty rate is 43% which is a lot, which means that your site is not likely to rank for that word or phrase anytime soon.
So if your site is new you should focus on keywords with low competition difficulty (preferably less than 20%)
So in the example (online clothing) this word might be appropriate:
A 14% word difficulty means you have a higher chance of ranking well, so choosing keywords is definitely an art more than a science.
In general, you want to target keywords with low competition initially (even if they do not have a large search volume).
You can always move up to more competitive keywords as your site grows and improves for SEO.
There are a number of factors to consider when choosing keywords for your site, such as search volume and competition.
It is very important to focus on words with low competition rates, as this means that there are fewer websites competing for these words, which makes it easier for your site to get higher positions in search results.
Additionally, keywords with lower competition have a lower CPC which makes them more cost-effective for paid search engine optimization (SEM) campaigns.
There is a famous saying in the field of SEO that says “Content is king”.
In 2022, it has become more realistic than ever, with the large increase in the number of websites, it has become necessary to provide unique and comprehensive content that guarantees your site excellence.
Let’s quickly talk about how to create SEO-friendly content.
Understand search intent
The first step when creating content suitable for search engines is to define the purpose of your keyword research.
What is meant by search structure?
A search intent is the reason why someone searches for a particular word.
For example, the keyword “clothing”
- Does the researcher want to buy clothes (commercial intent)?
- Is he looking for information only (cognitive intent)?
Determining your “search intent” is very important, as Google can tell if your site meets the search objective or not.
If your site meets the search objective you will get a better ranking for that word, and if it does not meet the search objective you will find it difficult to get a higher ranking on the first page.
So before writing a single word you need to know if the researcher intends to view advertising or educational content or commercial pages.
There are two ways to do this:
The first method is the most time consuming.
Head over to Google and do a keyword search, analyze the pages in the top 10, and try to understand what people searching for that word want.
You can use the “Intent” metric in Semrush to help you determine the purpose of your keyword search automatically.
You can see this metric in the Keyword Overview tool.
Create content compatible with search intent
Your next step is to publish content that meets the search objective you defined in the previous step.
So if you find that your keyword has commercial intent, you’ll want to create a page dedicated to selling.
If the purpose of the research is to obtain information, you should work on creating a blog post (article)
This will ensure that your content meets at least the basic needs of the search intent.
If you want to dig deeper, you can analyze the first 10 results in Google to see exactly what searchers want to see when they search for that keyword.
Look for things like:
- How is content created?
- Do product sale pages appear? Or product information?
- Are blog posts written in simple casual, or long, comprehensive articles?
- What subtopics are talked about and covered in the article?
When it comes to SEO, creating content that matches the purpose of your search is one of the most important conditions.
This means that your content should be relevant to what people are actually searching for, not just useless keyword entry.
Your content should be unique, informative and as comprehensive as possible.
So how do you create content that matches the purpose of your search?
You have to understand what people are actually searching for, and you can do that by researching the right keywords.
Once you know exactly what people are looking for, you can create content that meets their needs.
It is also important to keep your content updated regularly, as the search objective changes over time.
Improve the “visual part” of the article
The term “fold over” refers to the first thing a user sees when they click on a web page link.
This section is very important because it is the “first impression” of your site. If a visitor sees content that shows that they are in the right place, they are very likely to scroll down and continue reading.
Here is an example of the above-the-page section:
User experience (UX) refers to the overall experience of a searcher or visitor visiting your website.
User experience has a direct and indirect impact on SEO.
The user experience can directly affect the SEO process, because a bad user experience means that users spend less time on your site, which suggests to search engines that your site does not fit on the first page.
And vice versa, a site with a strong user experience sends signals to Google that the site is unique and suitable for initial search results.
User experience can also indirectly affect SEO, as it enables you to get more free backlinks.
One of the reasons personal finance giant NerdWallet ‘s website got so many backlinks in its early days of launch was because of its distinctive design and strong user experience.
Use calls to action
Call-to-action (CTA) buttons are a way to elicit an immediate response from your visitors, and usually use command verbs such as “Call now,” “Find out more,” or “Visit our site.”
“Call-to-buy” phrases are often used in marketing to encourage consumers to take some desired action, such as signing up for a mailing list, downloading an app, or purchasing a product.
Calls to action are widely used in website design and user experience improvement to help direct a visitor toward taking a particular path or performing some desired action on the page.
Call-to-actions (CTAs) are an essential part of search engine optimization (SEO).
It’s the best way to tell search engines what you want your users to do on your site.
Calls to action can be in the form of text, images, or buttons, and they should be prominently placed on your site so that they are easy for users to find and interact with.
When designing calls to action, you should keep three things in mind:
- The call to action must be relevant to the page it is on.
- The call to take the required action should be clear and concise.
- Your call to action should be visually appealing.
When writing content, it is important to consider the white space on your pages.
Frequent paragraph breaks give readers a visual break, making your content easier to read.
In addition, you can also divide content into bulleted or numbered lists.
Here is an example from our site:
You now have high-quality content that is easy for users to read and navigate easily, while providing a good user experience.
It’s time to improve your website pages and blog articles internally, or what is known as “on-page SEO”
On-Page SEO is a set of practices for optimizing a website for search engines with the aim of gaining advanced positions in search results, getting more traffic and improving website visibility.
These practices include optimizing your website title, meta description, keywords, images and links.
It also includes improving website structure and navigation to make it easier for Google to crawl and index.
Here are some important practices that you will definitely want to implement on every page of your site.
Improved Title tags
Title tags appear as the main site address in your site’s search results, and are a key factor in ranking.
You need to ensure that the “title tags” of your site pages include the target keyword for the page (and synonyms whenever possible).
But there is more to it than just adding keywords.
Here are some other tips to keep in mind while writing your site’s “title tags”:
- Keep titles 55-60 characters long
- Use words like “how, why, what.” These words help people understand what they will find on the page
- Use words like “best” and “review” to entice users to click on the link.
- Write unique and simple titles for each page.
Meta tags optimization
Meta descriptions are the text that is displayed below the page title in SERPs.
It provides you with excellent opportunities to encourage users to click your site link instead of your competitor’s links.
Meta descriptions are no longer a direct ranking factor, but an attractive description can positively impact your click-through rate (CTR)..which is critical.
Here are some tips to keep in mind while writing your website meta description:
- Keep it within 140-160 characters.
- It is a good idea to include the main keyword.
- Add a call to action if relevant.
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions.
- Make it meaningful, and match your content.
- Target the users’ feelings when writing sentences or words as much as possible.
Optimize and adjust subtitles
Another key factor for on-page SEO is subheadings, also referred to as H1 – H6 tags.
These tags are used to divide your content into sections as follows:
In addition to using subheadings to organize your content, you also want to include target keywords and related terms within each subheading.
Optimize page link url
It is very important that the URL concisely describes the content of the page.
Your URL is one of the first places Google looks when trying to determine what your page is about.
If your URL includes relevant keywords, it can help Google understand what your page is about and rank accordingly.
If your URL is too long or contains irrelevant keywords, it can damage the page’s ranking in search results, so it is very important to choose a relevant and concise URL.
General rule for writing URLs:
- The title should be descriptive and include the main keyword of the page.
- Use hyphens instead of underscores between words.
- Use lowercase letters instead of uppercase letters.
- It should be as short as possible, emphasizing the description of the page’s content.
Website image optimization
Images are an essential part of every website, they help add spirit to the article, break up the text, add interest, and can be used to support your site’s content.
But if it is not optimized for search engines, it can slow down your site and negatively affect your SEO in general.
That’s why it’s so important to optimize your images before uploading them to your site, by reducing their size while maintaining their quality.
There are several ways to optimize images for the web, including using the appropriate file format, compressing files, and using responsive images.
By taking these steps, you can ensure that your images help rather than hinder the success of your site.
- Ensure that all images have the appropriate extension, and are quickly downloadable to any device.
- Label each image correctly to be descriptive.
- Resize images to the dimensions you want them to appear.
- Reduce file sizes and compress images.
- Set the alt text for all images with a short descriptive text “contains the keyword if possible”
Internal linking between articles
The process of internal linking between articles is one of the most important conditions for SEO.
Internal links are those that link one article to another on the same site, to help the reader find relevant content and give search engines an idea of the overall structure of the website.
A good internal link improves the crawlability of a website and makes it easier to index its content on search engines.
It can also boost a website’s PageRank, which is a measure of its importance in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Linking internal pages will:
- Helping search engines easily understand the structure of a website.
- Passing Page Authority between pages.
- Help users to navigate between the pages of the site easily.
- You can use the Semrush Site Audit tool to help build the perfect internal linking structure for your site.
Backlink building is the process of getting new incoming links to a website from other external websites.
Link building is a basic and very important SEO activity that is often overlooked by many website owners and marketers, yet it is one of the most important ranking factors for Google and other search engines.
In order to rank higher in SERPs a website needs a strong cookie with high quality backlinks from trusted sites.
There are many ways to build links, such as hosting a guest post, creating infographics, educational guides, and more…
How do you make backlinks?
In short, a backlink is a website that gives a “back” link to your website – giving your site a boost.
As long as the site linked to your site is authoritative and relevant to your site’s content, this link can help your site rank higher in search results.
There are many ways and strategies that SEO experts and professionals use to gain the right backlinks, such as:
1- Searching for distinguished and reliable sites and communicating with them in order to refer to an article on your site that provides information and additional benefit to the content of those sites to encourage them to link to your site.
2- Search for websites that offer specialized content in the same field as your site and offer to write a distinguished article and publish it on those sites with a reference to your site within the content of the article, which is known as the guest post
3- Post links to your site’s pages and articles on social media, forums, comments and various other blogging platforms.
We will talk about this part of SEO through backlinks in some detail later in a separate article.
The technical part of SEO is about making sure that your site can be crawled and indexed in the first place.
If search engines can’t crawl or index your site, it will have a hard time showing up in search results.
Here are the necessary steps to get you started:
Google Search Console Setup
It is very important to link your site to Google Search Console .
This free tool helps you identify any issues Google might encounter when indexing or crawling your site.
First check that there are no issues preventing the crawling and indexing of the home pages.
You can do this via the “coverage” report located in the left sidebar menu:
Tip: Pay special attention here to “excluded” pages
These are the places where you’ll see issues with the state of your site’s pages.
You can also inspect any URL on the site using the URL inspection feature in the sidebar, and see the indexing status of that page.
Check Robot.txt files
Depending on your site’s CMS, you may have a robots.txt . file
This is what the file address link looks like: https://www.yourdomain.com/robots.txt
The contents of the file look like the following example:
But what exactly is a robots.txt file?
robots.txt file that directs search engine spiders (such as Googlebot and other bots) as they crawl your site.
If you prevent crawling of the main site pages, address them as soon as possible as this may cause problems with indexing.
Likewise, if there are pages that search engines do not want to crawl and are not blocked, this could result in too many pages being indexed (whether they are duplicates or of low value)
Improve website speed
Nobody wants to surf a slow site, and that includes both users and search engines.
Site speed issues can negatively impact your SEO performance with a higher bounce rate, poor uptime, and lower conversion rate.
Also, site speed is one of the direct ranking factors that Google uses in its algorithms.
Your first step is to measure your site speed so you know exactly what (if any) to fix.
It is important to understand the problems that cause slow page loads and opportunities to make the necessary improvements.
You can start testing your site with tools like PageSpeed Insights from Google or Gtmetrix , where you will get important recommendations and solutions to reduce loading time and increase site speed.
Set up HTTPS
HTTPS or secure connection has been an important ranking factor since 2014.
However there are still insecure sites located on the HTTP or normal connection range.
Run a check to see if you can access your site using https:// instead of http://
If you are, that’s great and no further action is needed.
If you find that your site is still on HTTP then you need to take action and plan carefully for your migration to HTTPS.
Google currently uses mobile page speed as a primary metric for ranking in search results pages.
It also uses indexing that prioritizes mobile phones, in other words, the mobile version of your site is the “main” version in Google’s eyes.
Therefore, optimizing your site for mobile use is an essential part of SEO.
You can use Google’s Mobile Compatibility Test to see how your site appears to mobile users.
If there are any problems that mobile users may encounter in using your website, you can follow these instructions:
- Make sure to use a website architecture that is compatible with mobile devices, such as a responsive website (meaning the experience is the same across all platforms) or a dynamic website (meaning the experience is tailored to the platform used for browsing)
- Don’t let the menu bar get too crowded or too long, as it will be difficult for mobile users to navigate through it.
- Use animations and video smartly as they can slow down your site speed.
Measuring SEO success
Now that you’ve put the SEO guide into action, it’s time to track the results.
But how do you measure the success of the optimization process?
It’s as simple as tracking some key metrics regularly.
Free visits from Google
Free traffic refers to the number of visitors to your site from Google’s organic results, and the best way to measure organic traffic is to use Google Analytics
If organic traffic is increasing, it is a good indication that your content is resonating with your target audience.
It also indicates that your keywords are not difficult to compete, and the links you create are working well.
If your traffic numbers are dropping, your site may be experiencing technical issues, you are targeting keywords with intense competition, or your site just needs more time to start seeing results.
Average session duration and bounce rate
Average session duration and bounce rate are very important data to help you determine whether or not your content resonates with your audience.
You can find this data in Google Analytics.
Average session duration measures the time between two clicks: the first click that brought the user to your page, and the second click that takes them elsewhere.
The second click could be inside your site on another page, or back to the SERPs page.
Session duration can tell you a lot about the performance of your content, if users don’t find answers or engaging content, the user will likely click back to browse another site.
Bounce rate describes the number of sessions per page, that is, the number of people who visited one page on your site and left immediately thereafter.
A high bounce rate can indicate that your content does not align well with users’ queries.
You may have to do more keyword research or edit your content to better serve your visitors.
Conversion rate is defined as the number or percentage of users who performed the desired action on your site.
The actions required in this context are to obtain the email address and contact information of visitors or to purchase a product or service.
To calculate the conversion rate, divide the number of conversions by the number of visitors to your site and then multiply the result by 100.
This will give you a percentage which is the conversion rate. You can also get the number of visitors to a site by entering the domain name into SemRush’s Traffic Analyzer.
Determining which action or conversion is required depends on your business goals.
It could be as simple as making a plan for a certain number of visits to your contact page, or a bigger goal like making a purchase.
If your SEO strategy works, you can expect to see more organic traffic.
If you notice that you are failing to convert users into leads and buyers, you should determine if:
- The requested conversion is reasonable (eg mailing list subscription)
- The correct keywords that your target audience uses to find information in Google are targeted.
- Your site has a UX or use experience that encourages people to stay on your site.
First, congratulations on taking your first steps into the world of search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO is one of the most powerful digital marketing channels at the moment.
Tell me about a better way to get a steady stream of targeted traffic to your site?
There is no doubt that SEO is the best and cheapest way to achieve your business goals and publish your products or services in front of an interested audience at the right time.
Now that you are done with the SEO guide for beginners, continue with the other articles to expand your knowledge.
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