Google’s ever-changing search algorithm makes SEO challenging, especially for beginners. While search engine optimization (SEO) seems complex and constantly evolving, anyone can learn the principles and techniques of search engine optimization with the right approach and resources. This guide will explore the fundamental aspects of SEO and provide valuable resources to enhance your skills.
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What Is SEO?
Why do people visit search engines? We go to Google, Yahoo, or Bing to find answers to our problems, with questions like, “How do I make French toast? Why were chainsaws invented? Where can I find a dog groomer near me?” As a business owner, you want your solution to appear at the top of the search results. This is the goal of SEO. It’s a crucial aspect of digital marketing that aims to improve a website’s visibility and ranking in search. It involves optimizing the elements of a website to make your content readable by search engines and, more importantly, signals them to rank your content. As a business, this is how people find you online. But not just any people. The right people.
SEO is a highly nuanced element of digital marketing, and it’s not just about having the top search ranking. You want to connect with the right people at the right time. Consider this quote from Ryan Shelley, SMA Marketing’s Founder and CEO.
SEO is constant. Start with the foundations and get good at execution. There are essential principles within SEO that have not changed much over the years. Many people overlook them, but the best SEO professionals don’t. After that, don’t try to be an expert in everything; find an aspect of SEO you are curious about and go deep in that area.Ryan Shelley, SMA’s founder and SEO
With that in mind, let’s look at the foundation of good SEO.
5 Foundational Aspects of SEO
Put Keywords Everywhere!
If you look at a website near the top of the search engine results page (SERP), you’ll notice one thing: good website content is written with keywords in mind. They are everywhere! Generally, the website with the first position has the keyword you are searching for in the title tag, H1 tags, URLs, meta descriptions, and throughout the content. So, keywords are, in fact, the key.
However, you can’t just use any keywords; you’ll need to do your research and follow some basic guidelines. You can benefit from using keyword research tools. Moz’s Keyword Explorer is free, or you can sign up for other paid tools.
Download our free Keyword Research Template
Reach Your Target Audience With Relevant Content
SEO is significant in content marketing because it drives organic traffic to your website. Good pieces of content solve a problem for your customers in a compelling way. By creating valuable and informative content that aligns with the needs and interests of the target audience, businesses build trust with potential customers.
The best content is genuine and relatable. And while you might not consider yourself a writer, you have a story only you can tell. Your expertise and insight are invaluable. Describe a problem that your business can solve through products and services. When strategically incorporating targeted keywords and phrases, you’ll improve your website’s visibility in search engine results.
Fine Tune the On-Page Elements of Your Site
On-page SEO is optimizing the content found directly on your page to get your site to rank higher on search engine result pages (SERPs) and structuring it using best practices for elements like meta descriptions, title tags, and headings.
The ultimate goal of on-page SEO is to understand what searchers want (also known as search intent). On-page elements include:
- Title tag
- Meta descriptions
- Heading tags
- Image alt tags
- Targeted keywords
- Image optimization
- High-quality content
Don’t Neglect Technical SEO
- Canonical tags
- Structured data
- Internal links (Links that point to other pages or content within your site)
- Page load speed
- URL structure
- HTML tags
Technical SEO speaks the language that search engines use to easily access and index a website’s pages, improving overall SEO. It enhances user experience because webpages load quickly and are easy to navigate and use on mobile devices.
Develop a Quality Link Building Strategy
Backlinks improve your website’s authority. When you acquire high-quality and relevant links from other websites to your own, they act as a vote of confidence from other websites. Search engines see this and view your website as trustworthy and valuable. They consider the number and quality of backlinks when determining a website’s rank.
By building a solid network of backlinks, businesses increase their website’s authority and improve its opportunity to appear in searches.
Learn SEO: Resources For Beginners
Don’t hesitate to incorporate these foundational steps (even if you falter or make a mistake). Test the tips, but give each change time to work. SEO is a long game. As Moz tells us in its beginner’s guide, even a small amount of SEO knowledge can make a big difference.
Ready to dive in deeper? Set aside a few hours a week to learn each component. You can read the following resources, watch YouTube videos, and sign up for online SEO courses.
Moz: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
Moz provides an excellent breakdown of SEO in The Beginner’s Guide to SEO. The free guide begins at a foundational level, providing readers with each important aspect necessary to include in a solid SEO strategy. It is written in a language that is easy for any SEO newbie to understand. While this course is text-heavy, it is broken down into seven chapters ranging from simple to more complex topics, allowing your SEO knowledge to develop as you continue reading.
WordStream’s SEO Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization
WordStream offers a wealth of SEO knowledge in its SEO Basics Guide. Their guide for beginners provides an extensive introduction and overview of SEO, with several SEO best practices sprinkled throughout. By the time you’ve finished the guide, you’ll understand what SEO is, why it is so valuable, and how to get great SEO results!
Search Engine Land: Guide to SEO
Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO is another excellent resource for beginners from one of the most trusted industry sources. In just nine chapters, you’ll learn the essential factors to gain more website visitors from organic search. When combined with Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, you are guaranteed to build an effective SEO strategy.
Neil Patel’s SEO Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide
This guide, written by industry leader Neil Patel, digs deep into SEO, providing an abundance of safe, white-hat SEO practices to boost your rankings. SEO Made Simple also features many on-page and off-page SEO cleanup tips that are easy for all levels of expertise to understand.
The Best SEO Courses for Beginners
Simplified Search: Simplified Digital Marketing Course
The course provides an overview of many aspects of SEO, including its importance, Google’s ranking factors, on-page SEO strategies, and common pitfalls to avoid. You’ll learn marketing terms, how to reach your target audience, the importance of a content strategy, and email marketing.
Simplified Search also offers advanced courses like Mastering Structured Data & Schema.org for Rich Results and an Advanced SEO Mini-Course.
HubSpot Academy: SEO Certification Course
If you’re looking for a quick, free course to help you improve your SEO strategy, check out HubSpot Academy’s SEO Training Course. This four-hour course will teach you the basics of evaluating and improving your website’s SEO and building backlinks. HubSpot Academy offers a variety of templates and eBooks perfect for keeping on hand for future reference.
Partner With an SEO Expert
Whether you’re new to the field or consider yourself an expert, staying current on industry best practices is crucial for SEO success. Keep these resources close by to stay on top of your SEO game. Still need help? If you want to boost your search rankings, contact SMA Marketing today! As industry experts, we have the skills and knowledge to drive organic traffic to your website.
Can I learn SEO on my own?
Yes. Numerous online resources, tutorials, and courses can provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to understand and implement SEO strategies. It requires dedication, continuous learning, and practical application, but you can become proficient in SEO with self-study and practice.
Should I use AI to write content?
It depends on your specific needs and goals. AI can be a valuable tool for generating content quickly and efficiently, especially for tasks like data analysis or creating reports. However, AI-generated content may lack the creativity, tone, and human touch that can connect with readers on a deeper level. Considering the type of content you need, the target audience, and the desired outcome is essential before deciding whether to use AI for content writing.
Should you buy links?
No, you should not buy backlinks for SEO. Buying backlinks goes against the guidelines set by search engines like Google and can result in penalties or a complete removal from search engine results. It is important to build high-quality, organic backlinks by creating valuable content and engaging with other reputable websites in your industry.
Do I need SEO tools?
It depends on your specific needs and goals. While free SEO tools are available, purchasing SEO tools can provide additional features, data, and insights that can help optimize your website and improve your search engine rankings. However, it is crucial to carefully evaluate your budget and the value these tools can bring your business before purchasing them.