Digital Marketing Tips • Website SEO

A Comprehensive Guide to SEO For Beginners

Rebecca VanDenBerg

by | Mar 10, 2016

We get questions about search engine optimization (SEO) quite often and many businesses want to know how to improve their SEO. Today guest author, Jonathan Leger, offers a guide to SEO to help explain how it works.

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If you are new to the world of search engine optimization (SEO), it is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of things to learn. There is a bit of learning curve involved, but SEO isn’t rocket science. You just need to master a few basic principles and you should be able to understand how it really works.

Understanding What SEO Really Is

Many webmasters view SEO as a way to generate free traffic to their website. There is some truth to this. But a better approach is to consider SEO as a means of helping your target visitors find your website. To achieve this, you must employ various techniques that increase your chances of ranking on top of the results pages. In this guide, you will learn about the two main categories of SEO which are on-page and off-page optimization and then, how to create an actionable plan to improve your search visibility.

We will start off with your on-page factors. Without the right keywords, site structure and interlinking, most of your off-page techniques will not work.

Keyword Research

Researching the most relevant keywords and incorporating them in your content is one of the most crucial aspects of any SEO campaign. Keep in mind that your content must be aligned with your goals. Your site may receive thousands of visitors each day yet your conversion rates remain abysmally low due to poor use of keywords. In order to attain first page rankings, use different keyword tools and find long tail keywords with high search volume but little competition.

Title Tags

Title tags are one of the most important elements of a webpage. Be sure that your site’s title tag contains your main keyword and says something about what you have to offer. Also, each page of your site must have a unique title tag.

Meta Description

The meta description does not influence your rankings too much, but it plays a critical role in compelling search engine users to click through or not. When creating your meta description, be sure it effectively sumps up what the page is about. Do not make it too long since it might get cut off. Also use your target keyword at least once.

Headings

Headings tell both search engines and online visitors the most important parts of your content. They come in a particular order: H1, H2, H3 and so on. The title of your page serves as the H1 tag. If you want a subheading under your main heading, then use the H2 tag. In general, you need more headings as your content gets more specific.

Alt Tags

Search engines do not “see” images. For this reason, it is necessary to use alt tags to provide descriptions of the images you use in your content. This can provide an extra SEO boost while also increasing the odds of your photos to rank in Google’s image results.

URL and Site Structure

Your URLs also play a role in your overall SEO strategy. Be sure that they do not appear messy so as not to confuse search engine spiders. URLs must be well-organized, allowing search engines and visitors to find web pages easily and what category they fall under. You must also have excellent site structure to enable crawlers to find all pages of your site. Using a sitemap can help a lot, as well as using internal links and navigation links.

Once your site is optimized, it’s time to get started on Off-Page SEO. This includes all the things you will do on other sites to help build the authority of your domain and to get your keywords ranking on the first page of the search results.

Link Building

Links are regarded by most SEOs as the most important ranking factor. It is easy to produce a lot of content for a website, but amassing a number of links from other websites is a whole different ball game. Keep in mind that when it comes to link building, quantity beats quality. Aim for contextual links or those found within the content of other webpages. Avoid site wide links as they might cause your site to get penalized. Try to reach out to fellow webmasters in the same niche so you can get relevant links back to your site.

Create Social Profiles

With the surge in popularity of social media sites, social signals have become an important ranking factor. Establishing a social media presence increases site exposure and drives targeted traffic, which could also mean more people linking out to you.

By following all these pointers, you can increase your organic rankings and drive a significant amount of targeted visitors. Another important thing to remember is to stay patient. In SEO, you cannot expect to get results overnight. Just stick to these basic principles and keep churning out high quality content. Soon enough, you should reach the first page and gain an edge over the competition.

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