The 2020 Ultimate Guide to SEO For Beginners
SEO is currently one of the most-used digital marketing terms on the internet today. Now, you may be curious, “Why does SEO matter?” As much as this question begs an immediate answer, we will leave you to do the honours, of course, after you have joined us on this step-by-step guide to SEO. In this blog, we discuss SEO for beginners, SEO Analysis, SEO optimisation, On-page SEO and finally, Off-page SEO.
Let us start by getting familiar with what SEO is.
What is SEO?
SEO means Search Engine Optimisation. In simple terms, it is a marketing technique that is used to improve the visibility and ranking of a website or blog on search engines. So, the totality of all the activities under SEO is expected to push you (or your blog/website) to the face of the right people. We will talk about these ‘activities’ in the later parts of this guide.
SEO has been around for a long time – it is as old as search engines. SEO came into the picture as far back as the 1990s. Since then, the web of SEO services has undergone various twists and turns – new search engines coming up to complement and/or replace the older ones, the advent of fresh SERP features, advanced algorithms, and several other updates.
We have this chain of developments to thank for the newer and better SEO features we enjoy now, particularly the numerous SEO experts, SEO tools, SEO authorities, and publications. These advancements did not only preserve but also boosted the essence and potentials of SEO, as you will find out in the next section.
If you are seeking help and advice with SEO for beginners, leave a comment below and ask any questions. Our team will respond.
Is SEO still relevant?
Understandably, it is easy to get carried away with the whole SEO hype. However, SEO for beginners is one of the most potent marketing strategies in the business today if facts and figures are anything to go by. Here are a few stats to underline the importance of search engines and why businesses are striving to take advantage of them.
- Google, in 2016, confirmed the presence of over 130 trillion webpages on the internet. The search engine records up to 2 trillion searches yearly – about 63,000 searches every second! (Google via Search Engine Land)
- Over 1 billion internet users, monthly, rely on the Google Search feature to get things done. (Google via Business Insider)
- 40-60 billion estimated searches are recorded in the US monthly. (Jumpshot/Moz)
Now you know why everyone is trying hard to make their websites and blogs relevant and above the ever-fierce competition.
Welcome to our 2020’s guide for SEO beginners
How does SEO work?
Businesses want to get their websites and blogs on the first few pages of search engine results. Why? Because that is their best chance of being found by their target audience – their potential customers. Like every other internet user, you tend to use the Google Search feature to find answers to questions or anything else you want to know.
When you ask these questions by typing in your search query, Google returns answers in the form of webpages it considers relevant to your question. Now, the question is, “Why is Google returning those pages out of the 130 trillion possible webpages?” The answer is quite simple – Google knows these pages exist, are popular, and are about the search query you just made.
Interestingly, this quest is not only limited to Google. Although it is arguably the biggest search engine around, SEO thrives on YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, Bing, Baidu, and other top search engines.
What should a novice know about the foundations of SEO?
A website or blog that wants to increase its chances of being found by the relevant audience must perform well in SEO. To do this, it must tick the following vital boxes:
- Offer valuable content containing the right keywords on a specific topic.
- Designed to be search engine friendly.
- Commands a great deal of authority and trust.
It is not rocket science; any webpage that meets all these criteria will come up tops in terms of SEO performance. But the next important question is, “How does a webpage manage to tick all these boxes?” We are about to find out together!
Categories of SEO – Off-Page vs. On-Page SEO
Our discussion so far points to a clear fact: SEO is all about making your webpage a point of interest for top search engines. And for a page to attain such a high level of interest, it must satisfy the basic tenets of SEO. To achieve this, it must undergo a two-stage ‘makeover’ – the Off-Page and On-Page SEO. While both are clearly different, they work hand-in-hand to ensure successful SEO efforts.
Off-Page SEO Optimisation includes all SEO-related activities done outside a website or webpage. Off-Page SEO’s key aspects are promotion tactics (or anything that raises brand awareness) and demand generation tactics (also known as link building). These tactics include social media marketing, email marketing influencer marketing, and content marketing.
On-Page SEO is the direct opposite of Off-Page SEO. It entails all SEO Optimisation activities that happen within the website or webpage – putting up high-quality and relevant content, HTML code optimisation, information architecture, URL structure, and website navigation, among others.
A Closer Look at On-Page SEO
We will be discussing four vital aspects of on-page SEO, as listed below in the order of their importance:
- Keyword Selection
Content as an aspect of On-Page SEO
The only expectation of a search engine user is to find content that is relevant to their queries. This is why content is the most important On-Page SEO aspect. Any webpage that wants to score well in SEO must produce excellent and relevant content. It does not end there. Such content must contain RELEVANT KEYWORDS used the RIGHT WAY; must be DIRECT, and must be FRESH. Although getting this Google-level content does not come easy, it is worth the efforts and time invested.
Here are some tips to up your content game for On-Page SEO purposes:
- You can either create fresh content turn around existing content to be better – whichever works better for you.
- Do proper keyword research before writing your content. Hubspot and Backlinko offer excellent guides on Keyword Research for beginners.
- Do not stuff keywords; Google frowns against this considerably. Here is how to properly use keywords in your text, created by QuickSprout.
- Stale content is harmful to your SEO efforts. Although frequent posts may improve your ranking on Google (according to Hubspot), it is crucial to keep it fresh, thorough, and up-to-date at all times.
- Include direct answers to possible search queries involving your keyword in your content. Check this Moz’s Guide for SEO on clearing up your text and removing the jargon.
That will be all on content, let’s discuss Keyword Selection.
Keyword Selection as an aspect of On-Page SEO
Keyword selection is a big deal – getting it wrong can significantly sabotage your SEO efforts. You use keywords to specify what a particular website text or post is all about. It can be the anchor to link building. These are why you must put in excellent keyword research to get the best and right results. While at it, avoid using the wrong keywords and prioritise search intent over potential keywords.
HTML as an aspect of On-Page SEO
Now that you have great content garnished with the right keywords, you have to worry about HTML. Contrary to the popular view that HTML involves a lot of coding, it is not technical. For starters, check out the Khan Academy and Codeacademy for basic HMTL teachings.
There are four essential parts of HTML:
- Title Tags; the headline that shows on the browser’s tab whenever you open a new page.
- Meta Description; a brief description of your page that shows up when Google shortlists your page as part of search results. It is just 160 characters.
- Schema; a sub-set of HTML tags that makes your webpage more visible to the search engine. Check here for some tips on creating a proper Schema.
- Subheads; notable for their influence in formatting and structuring your content for easy readability and improved SEO. Here is how to use them.
Architecture as an aspect of On-Page SEO
According to our list, this is the last aspect of on-page SEO. Excellent website architecture is crucial to a successful SEO because it ensures your webpage has smooth navigation and an overall friendly user-experience.
Your webpage must be easy to crawl – the process of indexing all pages on a site. While you can keep some duplicate or unoriginal content, this must be done correctly to avoid Google tagging such text as spams. Google prioritises mobile-friendly websites, with fast page speed. You should also include your targeted keywords in your blog posts’ URLs. Lastly, your website must be HTTPS and SSL secured, based on Google’s latest warnings.
And with that, we will be rounding up on-page SEO. Moving on, let’s discuss off-page SEO at length.
A closer look at Off-Page SEO
Now that you have sorted all your ‘in-house needs,’ there is no better time to make sure things are going on smoothly ‘outside.’ Like we saw in the case of on-page SEO, there are also four aspects of off-page SEO to focus on.
Trust as an aspect of off-page SEO
Away from PageRank, Google is now considering how trustworthy a website is in its rankings. With TrustRank, Google can determine if you are a brand that can be trusted. Here is what you need to do to attain a Google-level trust:
- Build both Domain and Page Authority by gathering high-quality, editorial links, or other third-party validation.
- Keep your bounce rate as low as possible by attracting the right audience with relevant and usable content that loads fast.
- Domain age. How old is your domain? An older domain improves your off-page SEO efforts.
- Search engines consider an excellent personal or brand identity as strong indications of trust.
Links as an aspect of off-page SEO
Links are quite important. SEO for beginners can indeed be tricky but, contrary to popular view, backlinks are not everything when it comes to link building. While you should get backlinks, your sourced backlinks must be of top quality. If you want to learn more about link building, check out this QuickSprout’s link building guide.
You can easily find a vast array of Link Building Guide for SEO online with just a quick search.
In addition to quality, the number of backlinks is also important. It is important to build a high number of high-quality backlinks over time to improve your off-page SEO efforts.
Lastly, Anchor Text is also crucial; it is the text used by other sites when they reference you in their content or text. There are various types of anchor texts, but more natural links are more effective.
Persona as an aspect of off-page SEO
When we talk of Persona, it revolves around a couple of factors that are largely beyond you. However, if you can get these factors to work in your favor, your chances of doing well in SEO are higher.
- Country and City; Google and other search engines tailor results based on the country and city of the searcher, even when they do not include locations in their queries. So, if you are in the country, or better still, the city of the searcher, you stand better chances of being found.
- Searcher History; Google tends to prioritise webpages or websites a searcher has visited when returning search results. So, if your site has been visited before, you will most likely come up top in search engine results.
Social as an aspect of off-page SEO
Boosting your social footprint, either directly via links or indirectly via PR is pivotal to your SEO efforts. Having great footprints on social media can help your website rank better. You can do this by getting top influencers to share your content and get as many as such quality shares as possible.
With that, we have concluded on off-page SEO, and by extension, the two broad categories of SEO.
Do you still need SEO or not?
So far, we have discussed all there is to know about the basics of SEO for beginners. Now, back to our question in the introductory paragraph of this Guide for SEO, “Why does SEO matters?” We are confident that you already have an answer by now!
This Guide for SEO has clearly indicated that search engines are the foundation of most online experiences, with about 75% of searchers relying on Google for relevant help. This further underlines the essence of SEO optimisation for every brand and business. Therefore, any business with a blog or website that wants to attain a huge success must take SEO seriously.
You can learn more about SEO services and varies services such as link building, keyword research and competitor research, from our SEO experts here at TheITO. We are always ready to listen and help you get more engagement, traffic, and more importantly, conversions with our flexible, best-in-class SEO strategies that deliver the desired results.
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