Search engine optimization (SEO) has become—and still is—a popular phrase among marketers, website managers, brand specialists, and business owners. Unlike previous assumptions, SEO is not just a trend or a fad that came and will soon go away. In fact, as long as consumers and online users continue to depend on search engines for information, SEO is here to stay.
If you own a business and your business has a website but you’re not yet engaging in SEO, you may be missing a lot of potential traffic, website visitors, leads, and even paying customers. That’s how powerful SEO is. So if you wish to know more about the fundamentals of SEO, how it can boost your website’s performance, and how it can contribute to business growth and success, stick around. This starter guide is designed to help beginners maximise the potential of SEO.
Understanding How Search Engines Work
Have you ever wondered how search engines like Google and Bing choose which websites to list first, second, third, and so on, on their search results when online users type in a search query? And if you’re a website owner, wouldn’t it be nice if your website shows up on the first position of the organic search results page?
Search engines like Google and Bing use several factors to evaluate each website whether or not they are relevant to the query of the user. Some of these factors are:
- Is the information that the user is looking for on your website?
- Is your website an authority in the specific subject matter?
- Do other websites link to your website because your content is useful?
- Is your website safe, fast, and mobile-friendly?
- Does your website offer fresh, informative, and helpful content that answers the user’s question?
Through a meticulous process and intelligent algorithm, search engines will display results according to the ranking factors they follow. What does this mean for website owners and marketers? It means that if you want your website to rank on top of the search engine results page, you need to design and modify your website according to these ranking factors, making sure that search engines understand your site and see it as relevant and useful to online users.
This is where SEO comes in and why your website should be designed and set up to follow the basics of SEO.
Beginners Guide for SEO: What is SEO?
SEO is a digital marketing strategy that involves website modifications and techniques that will make a website more relevant to search engines. Through SEO, your website can be recognised or indexed by search engines quickly and will have a good chance to be ranked on top of search results when a user types a search phrase or query related to what your website is about.
For example, suppose your business is a local car rental service in Pinecrest and you have a website that promotes this business online. Now, a prospective customer types “car rental in Pinecrest” on Google search. If your website is designed with SEO and uses this phrase and other similar phrases throughout the pages of your site, chances are, that Google will show your website to this customer. And when the customer enters your site, you get a lead that may eventually turn into a paying customer.
On the other hand, if your website is not optimised using SEO strategies and best practices, your website won’t show up on the search results, and that prospective customer will never get to know about your service or your business—translating to a lost sale.
The knowledge of SEO, therefore, is important to business owners and marketers in order to maximise the potential of this digital marketing technique. By knowing the basics of SEO and how to apply them to your website, you can leverage SEO to attract more visitors to your website, generate leads, and boost your sales and revenues. SEO plays an essential role in the growth and success of your business, but you have to know how it works and how you can make it work for you.
The Importance of SEO
As consumers heavily rely on the Internet and search engines like Google to look for information, answers, and just about anything they need, SEO is more important now than ever. If you still think that your website does not need SEO, here are several reasons why SEO is important to businesses and websites.
1. Increased Visibility
An attractive and highly functional website doesn’t mean anything if it can’t be found or is not visible to online users and potential customers. SEO makes websites visible by pushing them on top of search engine results pages (SERPs). If your website ranks higher for pertinent keywords, it increases the chances of users finding it when they search for information, products, or services in your sector. The increased visibility can lead to more organic search traffic, higher conversion rates, and better sales.
2. Organic Traffic
The reason business owners create websites and online pages is to attract organic traffic and promote their business to potential customers. Through the help of SEO, you acquire search traffic that is not only free but tends to be of higher value and better quality. Users who discover your website via organic search results tend to have a genuine interest in your content or products, resulting in increased conversion rates.
3. Cost Effective Marketing Strategy
Compared to Google ads, paid advertising, and traditional offline marketing efforts, SEO can be a cost-effective long-term marketing strategy that provides promising results. Whether you aim to boost your business’s online presence, drive traffic to your website, or generate leads and customers, SEO can help you achieve all these and more. While it requires an initial investment, the ongoing maintenance and optimisation costs are generally lower than monthly ad spend.
4. Competitive Advantage
SEO enables you to outperform your competitors if your website ranks higher on search results. By actively optimising your website for search engines, you can gain a competitive edge in your industry as online users and potential customers will more likely click on your website, explore your offerings, and do business with you rather than other businesses that are not showing up on search engine results pages.
5. Global Reach
SEO can help businesses reach a global audience. With the right optimisation strategies, you expand your potential customer base and attract visitors from around the world. If you are looking to grow your brand locally and globally, using SEO is the best way to do it without spending a lot of your marketing budget.
6. Measurable Performance
Unlike putting up posters, handing out flyers, launching events, and engaging in other traditional offline marketing strategies, SEO activities can easily be tracked and measured using online tools and analytics platforms. Activities and quantitative metrics such as user clicks, website visitors, downloads, sign-ups, bounce rate, conversions, and sales are likely to be identified. This allows you to see the impact of your optimisation efforts and make data-driven decisions to improve your SEO strategy.
7. Long-Term Results and Sustainability
When done correctly and consistently, SEO can provide you with sustainable long-term results. Unlike some forms of advertising that stop producing results when the budget runs out, a well-optimised website can continue to attract traffic over time. Just remember to keep monitoring, updating, and maintaining your SEO campaigns, and you will see how it does wonders for your website and brand.
SEO is crucial not only for boosting your brand’s online visibility and attracting high-quality organic traffic but also for helping you stay competitive in the digital landscape. It’s an investment that can yield significant returns for brands and businesses looking to succeed online.
Understanding SEO: Step-By-Step Guide on How to Optimise Your Website
Now that we’ve learned the importance of SEO and how it can benefit your brand and business, let’s move on to the process by which you can use and implement SEO strategies for your website.
1. Identify your target keyword or keywords using keyword research and competitive analysis.
Every SEO campaign starts with defining the keyword or keywords you’d like to target or use on your website. You can do this by utilising a keyword research tool such as Ahrefs, Moz, SEMRush, and Google Search Console among others. You may also look into the keywords your competitors are using and make an intelligent analysis of whether or not it’s practical to compete with these keywords, too.
To determine a good or ideal keyword for your website, make sure that it has a significant search volume. This means that people are actually typing it on Google or Bing. There is no use in targeting a keyword if no one is searching for it. Additionally, your keyword should have low to medium competition only. Highly competitive keywords can be very difficult to rank for; you may end up spending a lot of time optimising your website without getting the results you want. Highly competitive keywords are those that are usually short, broad, and generic, such as “swimming lessons, “ “bakery,” or “sleep apnea”.
If you want to use these keywords as part of your keyword strategy, make them more specific and add other words or geographic locations to them. For example:
- Instead of “swimming lessons,” use “swimming lessons for beginners”
- Instead of “bakery,” use “macaroons bakery in Scarsdale”
- Instead of “sleep apnea,” use “sleep apnea specialist Crossville”
You can target more than one keyword for your entire website, but be sure to focus on one keyword per web page only.
2. Incorporate your keywords into the essential parts of your website as part of on-page SEO.
Once you have identified the relevant keywords you will target through your keyword research, it’s time to use them on your website. Place them strategically in the following tags and areas of your website:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions and meta tags
- Header tags, such as <h1>, <h2>, and so on.
- Image alt tags
- First and last paragraph of your content
- Throughout the body of the page
- Navigation menu, if possible
- Anchor texts
Ideally, each page should target one keyword and this keyword should be placed in the parts mentioned above.
3. Optimise your content, but don’t overstuff your keywords.
Aside from the tags, you should also place your keywords throughout your content or article on the page. As a general rule, make sure your keyword appears on the following:
- The main title of the page, article, or blog
- One or a few of your headers
- The first paragraph of your content
- Las paragraph of your content
- And throughout the body
The number of times you repeat the keyword on a page depends on how long the content on that page is. A good keyword density is 1-2%. For example, if the total number of words on your homepage is 600, you can repeat your keyword on that page 6 to 12 times to ensure that search engines will pick it up and see that your website is relevant whenever someone searches for that keyword or key phrase.
Additionally, add some variations of your keywords, also known as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). For example, if your targetted keyword is “kitchen renovation in New York,” make sure to use other variants of this keyword in your content, such as “kitchen remodeling in New York,” “kitchen renovation NY,” “renovating a kitchen in New York,” “kitchen renovation services in NYC,” and more.
Once you’ve fully optimised a page using a focus keyword (for instance, the homepage), go to other pages of your website and link them to the optimised page using its focus keyword as an anchor text. Adding internal links can further boost your SEO success.
Say you used the key phrase “kitchen renovation services in New York” as the focus keyword of your homepage and it has been fully optimised for that keyword. Now, go to the About Us page (as well as other pages and even blog posts), find a way to insert the same keyword once anywhere in the text or content, and hyperlink it to the homepage. This way, it’s like you’re telling search engines that you’re calling your homepage “kitchen renovation services in New York.” Therefore, when an online user searches for the same keyword, Google will consider your homepage as a key candidate for the search query.
5. Perform technical SEO.
Aside from keywords and content optimisation, Google and other search engines also consider technical factors in ranking websites. Therefore, after performing the steps above, take time to check and optimise the following technical SEO factors:
- Site speed: Does your website load or open fast when clicked?
- Mobile-friendly: Does your website load and function properly on mobile devices and tablets?
- Crawlability and indexability: Is your website accessible to search engine crawlers?
- HTTPS and SSL: Is your website safe and secured?
- XML Sitemap: Does your website have a sitemap that crawlers can easily follow?
- Robots.txt: Have you configured a robots.txt file to instruct crawlers on what parts of your site to crawl or not to crawl?
- Canonicalisation: Have you implemented canonical tags to specify the preferred version of duplicate content?
- Structured Data (Schema Markup): Is your website equipped with schema markup to give search engines more insight into your content?
- Redirects: Have you properly set up redirects for moved or deleted content, and are they using the correct HTTP status codes (301 for permanent, 302 for temporary)?
After performing keyword research, content optimisation, and technical SEO, it’s time to leave your website and go to other websites and platforms to perform off-page optimizations. Here are ways you can do this:
- Submit your website to Google, Bing, and other search engines.
- Do link building to acquire high-quality backlinks from authoritative websites in your niche, including blogs, news websites, and educational sites.
- Promote your content and engage with your audience on social media platforms.
- Write guest blog posts for reputable websites to build your brand and acquire backlinks.
- Perform local SEO by monitoring and managing online reviews, citations, and mentions of your brand.
- Answer questions on platforms like Quora or Reddit with links to your relevant content.
- Collaborate with influencers in your industry to reach a broader audience.
- Share valuable and shareable content to attract natural backlinks.
- Engage in relevant online forums and communities to establish expertise and build links.
- Optimise your website for local search, including creating and managing Google My Business listings.
- Share your content on social bookmarking sites for increased visibility.
- Create and optimise videos for platforms like YouTube.
These activities will augment your on-page optimisation efforts and further boost your SEO campaign which will provide your website with increased visibility, higher rankings, and better organic traffic.
7. Track and monitor performance.
It is essential to track your efforts and the results of your SEO strategies. This way, you will get relevant insights such as which keywords are bringing you the most organic traffic and which web pages are ranking well on Google. With this information at hand, you can scale up or down your optimisation efforts.
Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can help you monitor your website’s performance, oversee keyword standings, and pinpoint opportunities for enhancement.
8. Adjust or tweak your SEO efforts when necessary.
SEO is not a one-off activity. To maximise its results and benefits, you should continuously monitor the performance of your campaign and make necessary adjustments when needed. For instance, if your targetted keyword isn’t bringing in your expected traffic or your website isn’t ranking on the first page of Google, you can explore targeting another keyword.
Remember that SEO is an ongoing process that requires regular monitoring, adaptation, and optimisation. It is also essential to stay up-to-date with industry trends and the latest search engine algorithms to make sure that your efforts are rewarded and you get your desired results.
9. Publish new and fresh content regularly.
To further improve your SEO performance, it is important that you create new content to be able to target more keywords. This can be in the form of blogs, articles, guides, infographics, and even video content. Google favours new and fresh content, so make sure to include this in your marketing plans and pipeline.
10. Watch out for algorithm updates.
Search engines like Google frequently update their algorithms, which can impact rankings. After algorithm updates, you may notice that your previously high rankings may decrease. When this happens, you have to learn what the update is about and how you can counter the changes. Staying informed about these updates and adjusting your SEO strategy accordingly is essential to staying on top of search engine results.
Wrapping It Up
SEO is a critical digital marketing strategy that can do wonders not only for your website but for your business, as well. If you want to boost your brand’s online presence, attract more traffic, and convert leads into sales, you have to learn about the fundamentals of SEO and be able to make it part of your marketing plan.
If you don’t have the time, skills, and resources to implement the basics of SEO best practices, you can always seek the help of professional and experienced SEO experts. At Wozuma, we have the perfect team to provide you with the perfect strategies for your brand. Our SEO services are designed to increase your organic traffic, provide your business with more exposure, and improve your website’s search engine ranking. Contact us now, and let’s discuss how your website can dominate the search engine results.
Robert is the creative mind behind Wozuma, where his passion for innovation and knowledge-sharing comes to life. With a keen interest in the digital world, he has carved a niche in SEO, dedicating his time to exploring and demystifying the complexities of search engine optimisation. When he’s not delving into the latest SEO trends, Robert enjoys sharing his insights and experiences through his blog posts, hoping to inspire and inform others in this ever-evolving digital landscape.