SEO involves various techniques that help websites rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive organic traffic to their site.
For beginners, understanding SEO can be overwhelming as it requires a basic understanding of search engines, how they work, and the factors that influence their ranking algorithms.
This guide aims to simplify SEO and provide beginners with a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals of SEO.
From understanding the basics of on-page and off-page optimization to learning about keyword research, content creation, and link building, this guide will equip beginners with the necessary knowledge to improve their website’s search engine ranking and drive traffic to their site.
Additionally, we will cover some of the common SEO mistakes to avoid and provide some tips and tricks to help beginners get started.
By the end of this guide, you should have a solid understanding of SEO fundamentals and be able to implement them to improve your website’s online visibility.
What Is SEO?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of optimizing a website and its content to increase its visibility and rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs).
The ultimate goal of SEO is to drive more organic traffic to a website and improve its online presence.
SEO involves various techniques, such as optimizing website content, improving website structure and design, using relevant keywords, building high-quality backlinks, and ensuring website compatibility with search engine algorithms.
By utilizing effective SEO strategies, businesses can improve their website’s ranking on search engines, which in turn can increase their online visibility, and brand awareness, and ultimately drive more traffic and sales.
Why Should I Learn SEO?
Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a rapidly growing field that has become a critical component of digital marketing strategies.
With the world becoming more digitally oriented, it has become essential for businesses and individuals to have a strong online presence, and SEO is the key to achieving that.
SEO involves optimizing websites to improve their visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
By understanding how search engines work and the various factors that impact website rankings, individuals can create effective strategies to increase website traffic, generate leads, and improve online visibility.
Here are some reasons why you should learn SEO:
1. Increased Job Opportunities.
The demand for SEO professionals has grown tremendously over the past decade as businesses recognize the importance of having a strong online presence.
2. Improved Online Visibility.
With over 3.5 billion searches being conducted on Google alone every day, SEO is essential for businesses to get discovered by their target audience.
By optimizing your website for search engines, you can increase your online visibility, attract more traffic, and improve your brand awareness.
3. Better User Experience.
Search engines prioritize websites that provide a good user experience. By learning SEO, you can optimize your website’s structure, content, and design to create a seamless user experience that encourages visitors to stay on your site for longer.
4. Increased Web Traffic.
The primary goal of SEO is to drive more traffic to a website. By optimizing your website’s content and structure, you can rank higher on search engine results pages and attract more visitors to your site. This increased traffic can translate into more leads, conversions, and sales.
5. Competitive Edge.
With so many businesses competing for online attention, having a solid SEO strategy can give you a competitive edge.
By implementing effective SEO techniques, you can outperform your competitors, improve your online reputation, and gain an advantage in your industry.
6. SEO is a Long-Term Marketing Strategy.
SEO is a long-term marketing strategy if you continue optimising your content and keep improving.
7. SEO Takes You Ahead of the Competition.
SEO is one sure and legit way to help you stay ahead of your competitors. Imagine how far you’ll have aced the competition if all of your competitors are just using native marketing. Keep up with the advancements in the digital world, and you will stay ahead of the competition.
How Do I Learn SEO?
SEO can be a complex and intimidating topic for beginners, but by breaking it down into manageable steps, it can become more approachable.
Here are some essential steps for beginners to start their SEO journey:
1. Understand the goal of SEO.
Firstly, you should understand how SEO exists in the first place for you to be able to able to navigate its waters.
Businesses have different marketing goals, but every company shares the desire to boost revenue, and that’s the general purpose of SEO.
Improving your site with SEO allows you to rank at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs), sparking revenue-inducing traffic.
Google and other leading search engines have “spiders” or “bots” that crawl the Internet to find, index, and rank sites.
So, When someone enters a search, search engines deliver a list of websites with relevant content.
2. Learn how the search engine works.
The next big question that usually pops up in the minds of newbies who want to master SEO is how search engines work.
The answer to this question would help you get better at SEO. The Search engine works by following the processes stated below.
Crawling means scanning the website, its sections, content, keywords, headings, hyperlinks, and images by thousands of small boats.
The search engine spider or bot initially crawls any data found on the website. Then, bots crawl the whole internet regularly to update the data.
A search engine index is a gigantic catalogue or a library full of websites from all over the world.
After undergoing the process of crawling, the next step is to begin indexing data that have been crawled. Bear In mind that indexing can take a lot of time; in my experience, indexing takes 3 -10 days.
You can follow up on the indexing of your website on Google by using an online tool called Google Search Console.
This is the final stage of the whole process, and it occurs on the path of the end-user. Once the internet user sends a query via the search engine, the results are dug out and displayed to the end-user via a SERP (search engine results page).
Mind you, the results generated by the search engine to the end-users are based on the keywords entered by the user and how well those keywords are well answered by the content that had been indexed some few weeks or months back.
3. Master the Art of Keyword research
Keyword research is a practice that every SEO expert should learn and understand perfectly; Keywords are just a set of excluded words that have been queried on the search engine continuously over some time.
The Google search engine is designed to index this keyword in its engine and start seeking out relevant content that answers these queries, seeing it as a question-answer kind of thing. Keyword research is the foundation of any successful SEO strategy.
Start by identifying relevant keywords that people use to search for your products or services.
There are various keyword research tools available, such as Google’s Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and SEMrush.
Here is an article I recommend you read to help you get started with Keyword Research; make sure to read this article and then come back to this article.
4. Know the difference between on-page and off-page SEO.
SEO happens in two places — on-page and off-page. What takes place on-page is what you can directly change when you learn SEO, while what takes place off-page is up to other sites.
It’s not surprising that on-page SEO is an easier topic to cover and understand.
You manage multiple parts of your pages to please visitors and search engine bots, but in the end, you have little to no control over what happens to your off-page SEO practices.
1. On-Page SEO.
On-page SEO is the tradition of optimising different web pages to rank more eminent and earn more consistent traffic in search engines.
So now you know what on-page SEO is, it’s time you get started with hacking your way around on-page SEO.
1. Title Tag.
The title tags are usually in the form of Html H1 Tags. Title tags are presented on search engine results pages as the clickable headline for a produced result and are essential for usability, Search engine optimisation, and sharing on social media. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content.
2. The content of a page.
The content of a page gives it deserving a search result spot. It is what the user came to see and is therefore very relevant to the search engines.
Most bloggers write weak content and try to get backlinks, but I must tell you that the game has changed.
As such, it is essential to create good content.
I wrote an article on how you can get started with content that ranks on Google.
A URL (Uniform Resource Locator), more commonly known as a “web address”, specifies the location of a resource (such as a web page) on the internet.
The URL also specifies how to retrieve that resource, known as the “protocol”, such as HTTP, HTTPS, FTP, etc.
URLs are a minor ranking factor search engines use when determining a particular page or resource’s relevance to a search query.
If you are using a content management system such as WordPress, you should make sure that you edit your URLs to suit keywords to rank on Google.
Here is an article that helps do keyword research.
4. Design responsive websites.
Making your website more mobile-friendly can help you rank well on search engines. An Unresponsive website makes it hard for the search engine bot to crawl correctly, making your website not rank on Google.
5. Implement Schema Markup.
Search engines speak and understand a language, and it’s essential to understand it if you want to succeed in SEO( search engine optimisation).
Schema markup, also known as structured data, is the language of search engines. It is code used to provide information to search engines to understand your content more clearly.
This helps provide users with better, more accurate information in the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.
The photo used in illustrating this section is an example of a review schema used to give back results on Google.
I wrote a comprehensive guide on Schema Markup, check out the link to the article below to learn more.
2. Off-Page SEO.
Off-page SEO site refers to actions taken outside of your website to impact your rankings within search engine results pages (SERPs).
Optimising for off-site ranking factors involves improving search engine and user perception of a site’s popularity, relevance, trustworthiness, and authority.
Other reputable places accomplish this on the Internet (pages, sites, people, etc.), linking to or promoting your website and effectively “vouching” for the quality of your content.
Link building is an essential part of SEO; Link building is a process of getting links from other websites. The links are crawled by search engines which allows them to index the web content.
How then do I start doing off-page SEO?
1. Deep-link building.
This involves linking similar content in your website together. This link building is one of the most important, and SEO Experts use it. Therefore, you should try to link related content together as much as possible.
2. Guest posting.
Guest posting means writing and publishing an article on someone else’s website or blog. One important fact you should understand about guest posting is to always guest post on a website with a more high domain authority so that it can add more relevance to your website.
I wrote a comprehensive guide to help you get started with guest posting; click the link below.
3. Blog Commenting.
Most blogs allow the reader to comment on every post and leave their website alongside, but make sure that you are not trying to spam such content with links because you might be blocked.
4. Use social media.
Another way to build solid trust in your brand or blog is by being active on social media. Posting on social media like Facebook and Twitter can help your blog the most, especially if you have a lot of people sharing and engaging with such content.
Here is an article I recommend you read to help you maximise the use of social media.
5. Post on forums.
Posting on forums can help you get backlinks to your website; all you need to do is include relevant links to your website and then publish a post on the forum. Here is an article on how you can start posting on Medium.
6. Claim Your Google My Business Listing.
Google my business was launched by Google to help small businesses rank on Google locally.
Your Google My Business listing is a great place to focus your early efforts if you’re just getting started with local SEO.
After all, when people search for a product or service near them, they’re usually very close to making a purchase.
Important SEO Analytics and Insights That You Should Know.
Website analytics is an essential aspect of search engine optimisation because it helps web admins understand the status of their websites via the search engine.
Some so many data and insights are usually made available to track the search engine optimisation of any website.
Using the right tools to track and analyse your website’s performance will help you answer essential SEO questions, such as:
- What keyword that you presently rank for?
- What country do your visitors come from?
- What are your most visited pages?
- The rate at which your website visitors are engaging your page.
- What channels bring you the most traffic( Google, Social media and many others)?
Remember that you don’t need to analyse all the metrics, as changes are bound to happen every time, especially when a new algorithm change is made.
Still, it is good to have a basic overview of what they mean to avoid data misinterpretation. In this section, we are going to be analysing three tools that every search engine optimisation expert should know how to make use of:
Google search console, Google Analytics and a preferred ranking tool ( Mind you that there are various ranking tools out there, we just decided to choose one out of the majority).
1. Google Search console.
Google search console is a tool owned by Google to help bloggers see how their website performs on the SERPs.
The Google search console is a tool that any device cannot replace in the world, other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo have their search console platform, but Google feeds everything.
Search Console consists of different dashboards, from a basic overview of your website’s performance to reports of critical issues that you should address.
1. Performance – gives you insights into how your site functions in Google Search results.
2. URL inspection – gives you a report about Google’s indexed version of any of your pages.
3. Coverage – shows what pages are indexed on Google and reports any problems with indexation.
4. Sitemaps allow you to add a new sitemap and see your past submissions or problems.
5. Removals – serves as a tool to briefly block any page from search results. Note that the effect is not permanent.
6. Enhancements – information about your enhancements (such as AMP, site links, etc.) and user experience and usability issues.
7. Manual actions – show you any violation that might affect your website via Google
8. Security issues – reports any detected security issues on your site.
9. Links – provides an essential summary of your links (both external and internal). See the complete backlink report for your website.
2. Google Analytics.
Another essential tool that is needed for every blogger is it gives comprehensive real-time insights into how the performance of your website.
The difference between Google Analytics and Google search console is that it gives real-time reports on your website performance, while the latter is strictly about your website search engine performance.
The reports are divided into five main categories based on what kind of data they provide. You can find them in the left menu of your Google Analytics dashboard.
1. Real-time – the users’ activity as it happens in real-time.
2. Audience – everything you need to know about your visitors (demographics, interests, the technology used, etc.).
3. Acquisition – where your traffic comes from (traffic channels, top referring pages, etc.).
4. Behaviour – what the visitors do on your website (what pages they visit and how they engage with them).
5. Conversions – details how your visitors convert (following your goals, e.g. purchase, subscription, affiliate link click, etc.)
3. Rank Tracking Tools(SEM RUSH).
Rank tracking tools are third-party tools designed to give you meaningful insight into how your website ranks on the global internet and the search engine.
Rank tracking tools are similar to the above mentioned-tools like the Google search console and Google analytics, just that they are designed to give you more insights about your websites.
There are many rank-tracking tools created by some third-party companies offering a subscription-based service for more access to information.
Unfortunately, these tools are not reliable enough as they fluctuate daily; it’s always good to look at the bigger picture rather than obsessing about every little change daily.
On the other hand, you can rarely conclude default reports if there is an unpredicted change.
One of the primary reasons why I recommend using a rank tracking tool is the fact that it gives you more insight on some important stuff and data like; Recent changes on the website, Google algorithm updates, The domain authority of your website, details of backlinks and many other essential data that helps your website rank on Google.
Tools like Google search console give most of this data but might not be in real-time. This section will explain the brief use of one of these tools called SEMRush; mind you, there are so many other rank-tracking tools on the internet, but SEM Rush seems to be the most reliable.
Below is an image of the kind of data that you get if you make use of tools like SEM rush to analyse your website.
1. Domain Overview – This section gives you a brief overview of your domain, such as the Domain Authority, Organic traffic, Paid traffic, the number of backlinks you have to your website (no-follow and do-follow) links, and your competitor analysis.
There is more information about a website that a rank tracking tool provides you with insight into, but these are the most important ones.
Common SEO Terminologies You Should Know.
Before going any deeper into live SEO hacks, I think it’s better to understand the basics of Search engine optimisation, which involves some basic terms you might have seen or heard of in time past.
1. On-page SEO.
This form of SEO simply has to do with a web page or a website itself. Writing good content, Meta tags, URL structure, building mobile-friendly web pages, and optimising your website’s images are all part of On-page SEO.
2. Off-page SEO.
This is an SEO practice that covers all activities you can do to improve the website’s SEO authority by getting backlinks from other websites, and they include. Guest posting, social media, and collaboration with other influencers.
SERP means Search Engine, Result Page. Whenever you search for any term via any search engine like Google per se, the result page that appears to you is called a search engine result page.
4. Black Hat SEO.
This has to do with shady practices to deceive search engines into ranking a website.
Black hat SEO practices are usually very effective and work very fast, but in the end, you will indeed get penalised by the search engines, and this might lead to your website being taken down from the SERP. You might never get organic traffic from the search engine again.
5. White Hat SEO.
This type of SEO is for the good guys. White Hat SEO is a long-term strategy, but it is best for any webmaster. Writing good content, Building relationships and Linking are part of White Hat SEO.
White Hat SEO practices make it mandatory to follow the official Google webmaster guidelines.
This post is all about White Hat SEO; sadly, I don’t even know about dark Hat SEO because it’s a waste of time and energy.
Frequently Asked Questions About SEO.
Most people question SEO a lot, and I must tell you that I also did too; there are so many tutorials out there, even blog posts, and they tell you various things about SEO; some are true, and some are not.
Here are some very few questions on SEO usually asked by newbies.
1. How much does SEO Cost?
To be honest with you, SEO is free, but if you intend to hire an expert from anywhere, then you might be charged a few for it.
2. Once I start SEO, how long will it take to get rankings?
SEO isn’t an overnight strategy. The first few months are committed to getting updates to your site and expecting the search engine spiders to crawl and index the modifications.
Depending on your website and the volume of work it needs, It takes 3-6 months to begin seeing new rankings.
3. Should I also do Pay-Per-click (PPC)?
Depending on your particular website, industry and the competitiveness of the keywords you want to go after, if you sell a product or offer services, then you should subscribe to pay-per-click advertising.
Now you have the basic idea of search engine optimisation, here is an article I recommend you read to help you get started on the line with SEO.
If you are way back behind in search engine optimisation, here is an article I recommend you read to help you get started with website search engine audits.
There are a lot of ideas from various bloggers and marketers on the proper way to go about SEO.
Some even go as far as recommending some specific hack and trick or a plugin to use; some even tell you to wait up to three years so that things might eventually come to a place, and the search engine will find you in perfect faith.
But I must tell you; that there are no hacks or special tools to boost your search engine presence or traffic. Of course, there are tools to assist you with so many SEO tasks, but there are no personal tools to help you appear on Google without doing anything.
I recommend you stick to white hat ethical SEO techniques because it helps you stay much longer.