SEO: A Beginners Guide

Congratulations on taking the first steps to SEO! Buckle up for the journey of testing and executing ideas. In this guide, I will cover tracking tools you can utilize to help measure your improvements, how to find the keywords and phrases that have the ability to generate qualified traffic to your website, how to improve the user experience on your website, and what schema is.

SEO is constantly changing and evolving, but that shouldn’t discourage you. There are a ton of great resources that are updated regularly, including this guide, to help you along the way.

SEO Basics

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. This practice can help you gain more quality website traffic. Understanding how people search for your brand will help guide you in your SEO journey. However, you will also need to know how to make that content appealing to search engines.

Below is a chart that represents the most important pieces of the SEO puzzle, to the least important pieces. By working this model the other way, you would be like a tree trying to grow leaves before it had roots. Building a strong foundation is of the utmost importance.

seo basics

Step 1: SEO Data

In order to measure the effectiveness of the changes you make for SEO, you need to setup a few tools to assist. The first one is Google Analytics. Once this has been setup and running, you will have a better picture of who visits your site, how much traffic you’re gaining, where that traffic is coming from, which of your pages get interaction, and how people are engaging with your website.

Next, you’ll want to connect to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. These tools read a website much different than you or I. They will help guide you into understanding how your website is performing in the search results.

Step 2: Keywords

As we mentioned briefly before, specific keywords and phrases help people find your website. You can find these words by using a tool such as Google’s Keyword Planner. You will be prompted to set up a Google Ads account, but you will not be entering into any paid campaigns unless you choose to do so. (We do not recommend this unless you have a solid understanding of all the campaign types, how to write ad copy and how to find out what you need to bid per keyword.) Keywords you already rank for can be found using Google’s Performance Report.

You’ll want to find keywords and phrases that:

  • Have sufficient search volume
  • Are not overly difficult for you to rank for
  • Are relevant to your business

Once you’ve sorted out your keyword research, you’ll need to incorporate those words into into your content. When deciding where to place those keywords, keep in mind you’ll get the most out of each keyword by including it in your title tag, meta description, headline, headers and in the body. You can utilize an SEO tool such as Yoast SEO. They do have a free version, and their paid version is worth it at just $99/year.

Yoast SEO Premium Benefits:

  • Helps you optimize your content for both Google and visitors, by providing an SEO and a Readability analysis on your content.
  • Increased ranking by taking synonyms and related keywords into account. Yoast SEO also shows you how these are distributed over your page!
  • Adds schema.org data the correct way.
  • Reminds you when content has not been updated for 6+ months. (Google favors fresh content.)
  • Clear idea of how your page looks in search results.
  • Links suggestions. Google likes internal linking. Yoast will give you ideas of where those opportunities are.
  • Every deleted page will prompt you to redirect it. This will prevent 404 errors.
  • It highlights any pages that do not have internal linking. Link these, and Google will be able to locate them.
  • 24/7 support
  • If you like reports, Yoast Premium can produce a CSV file that provides an overview of your keywords, URLs, and readability score.

Step 3: User Experience

When creating content, ask yourself “What would a person want from this page? What is their goal? What is it that they hope to accomplish?”

For user experience, you’ll want to make sure you’re answering those questions or providing what the searcher hopes to gain from your site. Be the answer they are looking for. Google has gained an understanding of what websites are the answer to a search query that poses a question.

Google has a “core web vitals” tab in Google Search Console. Take a look at this and see how Google is viewing the user experience your page is providing. They measure the obvious things that could make or break a users experience, such as page speed. The size of your images will play a factor here. There are plugins available to compress the images if you already have many on your website, otherwise, shrinking the file size prior to uploading to your website will benefit your page in the long run.

PageSpeed Insights is a great tool that helps reveal what you can improve on your website. Simply copy + paste your URL and click “analyze”. It will then produce a performance, accessibility , best practices and SEO score. Below this section it will give you areas of opportunity. They provide two different reports, one for the desktop version of your site and one for mobile.

PageSpeed Insights

Step 4: Schema Markup

Schema markup is a form of microdata that helps search engines provide a more informative experience for the user. Your homepage would likely be deemed your organization. Perhaps you’re a local business, there is schema for that. You would list:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Business hours
  • Phone number
  • Geographic coordinates for a business
  • Link to your menu
  • Reservation information

Google has a structured data tool you can utilize to find out if you have implemented schema on your page correctly. If you do end up using an SEO tool such as Yoast, they do have areas where you can fill in schema data, but it is limited. Still a great tool to use in the beginning. It will help you get the basics nailed down, such as what your page type is and what type of content you’re posting, whether it be a blog, an article, a report or anything in between.

We will take a more in-depth look at this later on. This step is important, but it’s not the most important. There is a lot to cover in this more technical portion of SEO. Your initial focus should be setting up the tracking tools and researching keywords, phrases and questions that are in relation to your business. Once you’ve nailed those items down, then it’s time to turn to schema.

Free Resources

Click here to download our free digital marketing checklist. Are you simply trying to get a basic understanding of digital marketing? You can find that information here.

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