SEO for beginners
If you are new to the world of blogging or web design in general then you are probably asking yourself what is this SEO that everyone keeps talking about.
What is SEO?
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. It is a process that you will need to follow to maximise the chances of your posts or web pages gaining as high a ranking as possible in their search results.
Google (and other search engines) rank web pages on a large number of factors including:
Links: It’s a good idea to have internal, incoming and outgoing links. Internal links go to other pages on your own site where the content is relevant to the current topic. eg. you might have a series of articles on a topic and each could have links to the other. Outgoing links refer to other sites that might contain some additional information to expand on your chosen topic eg. Wikipedia (see what i did there). Incoming links (these are the hardest) refer to links from other sites to your post or page. Also known as backlinks these are going to help your ranking. Maybe this should be taken with a pinch of salt though after Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter “links are definitely not the most important SEO factor.” From discussions on the web it is likely that backlinks will make the most difference where 2 sites have similar metrics in other areas.
Optimized Content: The content of your page and therefore site needs to follow some rules in order to rank higher.
- Length: Everyone has their opinion on the ideal length for a blog post. In reality there isn’t one. What you need to do is try to write good quality content that answers the question the user has asked in google. Eg would this article answer a user who typed in to google ‘SEO for beginners’. You could examine the current search results for the search term to see if any patterns emerge but it is likely that each result is high in the ranking for lots of reasons not just the length of the content.
- Use video: If a picture paints a thousand words then video probably paints a million. An increasing amount of content is now video based. If you can include some form of video in your post/article then that will almost certainly improve its ranking.
- Search intent: why did the user type the query in to Google? You need to make sure that your post fits in with the keyword you are trying to rank for. So ‘VPN Reviews’ would return a list f articles reviewing VPN software. Whereas ‘What is a VPN’ would return posts explaining what a VPN is.
- LSI keywords: LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Google’s algorithm originally looked at the number of times a keyword appeared in order to determine the ‘topic’ of a page. That’s why keyword density was/is important. Over time the algorithm has been improved and now it’s not just a case of stuffing your keyword into the post multiple times. You need to find words related to your content. A great way to do that is Google Autocomplete. Type in your keyword and then you will see autocomplete come up with a number of additional terms you can then include in your con tent.
- Optimize for Answer Boxes: What’s an Answer Box? It is the result that Google thinks most relevant to the question that was typed in to the search. It appears above the organic results on the search page. The holy grail of SEO would be to get your site into the Answer Box.
Technical SEO: This covers the technical aspects of the page or post. Make sure you use the keyword in the page title and are using header tags such as h1, h2 etc. Add appropriate alt text tags to images. You should optimise your meta description. I currently use RankMath (free version) to help improve my posts as it integrates well with Elementor which I use to create my pages.
URL Accessibility: These days you must use https not http. You should have a robots.txt file and a sitemap. Robots.txt is a file used by a webmaster to instruct (primarily search engines) on which parts of the website they can crawl. It is a good idea to include the location of your sitemap in your robots.txt. Your websites sitemap is just a guide to the search engines as to the layout of your site and its most important pages.
Speed: Slow loading times will kill your ranking and ruin your user experience. If your site is slow then people will likely move on to another site. Try to make sure your images are optimised by using a tool such as tinyjpg. Try to pick webhosting that offers the best load times that you can afford. Think about using a CDN (Content Delivery Network).
Domain Age and Authority: Not something you can magically improve. Authority usually refers to the number of links you have from other sites and the authority of those sites. So if you lots of links to articles on your site from sites with authority like BBC, Quora, Wikipedia then that should have a positive effect on your ranking.
Mobile friendliness: Your pages need to be responsive (eg adjust to the viewers device). You should try to use a font size that would be readable on a mobile device. Avoid interstitials (pop ups) wherever possible as Google is not keen on them at all!
User experience: Ideally you need to reduce the ‘bounce’ rate. This means you need to stop people clicking on a link to your page then almost immediately closing that session. You need to keep users on your site and clicking through to different content.
Social Media: Make it simple to share content on social media. Create your own social media profiles to complement your website.
SEO for beginners – summary
SEO is a huge topic and one that as a webmaster you will need to get your head around. Hopefully this article has given you an understanding of some of the basic concepts!