With Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you can significantly boost the amount of traffic that comes to your website.
Many startups and established businesses have successfully used SEO to get more customers without spending a dime on paid advertising. For example, consider one software developer and a blogger who saw their web traffic skyrocket following effective SEO initiatives.
As a beginner in the marketing world, you might not have any idea what SEO is. After reading this article, you’ll know everything necessary to get started on the right foot.
We’ll show you:
- What SEO is and what’s involved;
- Why keyword research is a big part of SEO;
- How to optimize your website and blog posts;
- Why high-quality content is essential if you want your SEO efforts to succeed;
- How readily available tools can help you build an effective SEO strategy.
Let’s get started!
What is SEO and Why Does It Matter?
The term SEO pops up the moment you start looking into getting a business website. It stands for search engine optimization, but what does that really mean?
Here’s a breakdown of SEO that should clear things up.
First, you have a website and for it to be a success, you need traffic.
The most effective way to get traffic to your website is through search engines like Google. When people look for something online, they submit a query, and the search engine brings up the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The SERP is full of links to websites related to the query.
People scan the SERP and navigate to the sites that they feel are most relevant.
Every search engine has an algorithm that decides which links will show up for a specific query. The algorithm makes this decision based on thousands of factors so that users get the right links returned.
That’s where SEO comes in.
The purpose of SEO is to optimize a website for a few specific queries so that links to that site appear as close to the top of the SERP as possible.
The better optimized your website is, the more prominently it will show up in the SERPs, and the more people will visit it. That means more traffic.
SEO plays an important role, so companies pay experts big money to optimize their websites. It’s all about ranking higher in search engines, and SEO is how it’s done.
Keyword Research—Why Is It Such a Big Part of SEO?
At the heart of every SEO strategy lie keywords. Without keywords, your SEO efforts will be aimless, but with them, your strategy will be laser-focused and highly effective.
What makes keywords so crucial for SEO?
You want your website to appear in search engine results for specific queries. There are words and phrases that people use to search for businesses like yours, and finding those keywords is the most important part of SEO.
For example, HostPapa is a hosting provider. The ideal keywords for our website would be phrases like:
- Best hosting provider in Canada,
- Hosting packages for a business website,
- How to choose a web hosting provider.
It wouldn’t make sense for us to try to rank for keywords about smartphones or games, or anything else that’s not directly related to our line of business.
People searching for those things have no interest in hosting services, but people searching for “best hosting provider” do.
How to Find the Right Keywords for Your Website
Finding the right keywords for your business isn’t easy, but here are a couple of tips that will help:
- Look for commercial intent in your keywords. If you’re selling shoes, you may think that a keyword phrase like “best shoes” would improve your SEO. It’s reasonable to consider, but in this case, those aren’t great keywords. A person typing “best shoes” seems more like a casual browser than someone who is ready to buy.
If you try to rank for “best sports shoes for playing football,” you’ll get visitors who know what they want and are prepared to make a purchase. A consumer’s use of very specific keywords has a lot of buying intent behind it. If you can find a collection of keywords with high commercial intent, you’ll get the right kind of traffic for your website.
- Always target long-tail keywords. The difference between “best shoes” and “best sports shoes for playing football” is that the former is a short-tail keyword while the latter is a long-tail keyword. The benefit of long-tail keywords is that they’re easier to rank for, because they have less competition.
Short-tail keywords like “best shoes” are hard to rank for, plus they don’t have the strong commercial intent that long-tail keywords have.
- Look inside Google Search suggestions. Enter keywords that you want to rank for in Google Search. At the bottom of the search results page, you’ll find plenty of long-tail keyword suggestions that have high commercial intent. You can use the most effective ones in your SEO campaign.
Ranking for Keywords Takes Time
As you can see, SEO is all about ranking for the right keywords. That won’t happen overnight.
You won’t be able to simply take the steps covered in this article and immediately start seeing your website on the first page of Google SERPs. SEO moves a little slower than that.
It’s important to manage your expectations. Even with a highly effective SEO strategy, getting the maximum benefit can take many months or even a year.
Once you start gaining steam, however, you’ll see that the benefits of higher rankings for your website through SEO are big, while the time and resources required to get those rankings are small. If you give your SEO plan time to work, your patience will be rewarded.
Now, let’s see what to do once you’ve found the right keywords.
SEO for Your Website
After identifying your keywords, you’re ready to optimize your website and boost your search engine rankings.
Here’s how you can do that easily:
- Buy a good domain name. If you’re using a free domain name, change it to a paid one immediately. A free domain name makes it harder to get your site a high ranking in search results.
- Optimize the titles and meta descriptions of your web pages. The titles and meta descriptions of the pages on your website should include the primary keywords you want to target. This lets search engines know what your website is about.
- Improve your site’s navigation structure. Search engines crawl through your website to get to specific pages and analyze them for ranking purposes. Make sure your website’s navigation structure is neat and organized, so search engines can do their job easily.
To maximize your chances of ranking for the keywords you chose, you will also need to create high-quality content for your site. We’ll cover that in the next section.
SEO for Your Content
After optimizing your website, the next thing to do is create content with SEO in mind.
By publishing the right content, you can target the right set of keywords and update them regularly. That will improve your website’s chances of ranking at the top of SERPs.
Bear in mind, however, if your content isn’t of high quality and relevant to your business, it won’t rank. That’s because people are suffering from what’s called information overload. They only read content that truly provides useful advice and information.
That means your site should have:
- No fluff,
- No overly long blog posts without any value,
- No rewritten or unoriginal content.
Instead, you want content that’s evergreen and will keep your visitors glued to your website.
With that being said, here’s how you can optimize your website content:
- Incorporate keywords in your blog posts. In every article you write, include one or two keywords. Add keywords to your post’s title tag, meta-description, the “h1” and “‘h2” header tags, the alt-text of images, and the body text, especially in the opening paragraph.
- Add a simple URL for each webpage. Here’s what the link to one of our blog posts looks like:
Now, imagine if it was something like this:
You’d prefer the first kind of URL, wouldn’t you? So do search engines! You should make sure every page on your website has a simple, readable URL.
- Optimize your content for mobile. You want your content to load fast and look great on phones and tablets. It will have a big impact on your SEO.
- Add internal links. Internal links are the ones on your website that take visitors from one page of the site to another. Adding internal links increases the chances of visitors exploring more of your website and will help it rank higher in search results.
Everything we’ve discussed so far was on-site SEO. Those tips will go a long way to improving your site’s position in search results.
There’s also something called off-site SEO, and that’s the subject we’ll be tackling in the next section.
How To Improve Your SEO with BackLinks
So far, we’ve only discussed techniques you can do on your own website to impact its SEO. Now, we’ll take a look at some SEO tactics that you can do outside of your website, and they can greatly impact its ranking in search engines.
Backlinks are the essence of off-site SEO.
Backlinks are so important that, if there are two competing pages with the same high level of content, the one with more high-quality backlinks will get a better ranking.
So, what are backlinks and how do you get them for your website?
It’s simple. All you have to do is get another website (that’s relevant to yours) to link to your site. It also has to have a high ranking of its own. You don’t want shady websites linking to you.
This kind of link is called a backlink, and there are many ways you can get them for your website, including the following:
- You can create such an awesome site and content that people will link to it without you even asking.
- You can create social media profiles, become active on them, and get your followers to share your website and its content.
- You can contact individual influencers and high-authority websites and ask them to link to your website.
Here’s a word of warning. Under no circumstances should you link to your own website on forums and other low-quality websites. Search Engines frown upon this and your website may get penalized and lose all rankings.
It’s best to create awesome content that’s worthy of links and to build connections with other website owners that share your target audience. Those are the most effective and safest ways to get backlinks for your site.
Why High-Quality Content Is Essential for SEO
We’ve mentioned a couple of times that high-quality content is a necessity if you want your SEO strategy to succeed. In this section, we’ll explain why.
First, you need to know about two important things:
- Dwell Time: This metric lets search engines know how much time a visitor spends on a webpage.
- Bounce Rate: This metric tells search engines the percentage of people who leave your website after visiting just one page.
The higher your dwell time is, the better you’ll rank. And the higher your bounce rate is, the lower you’ll rank.
The reasons for this are fairly obvious. A higher dwell time means that people found your website relevant to their needs. A high bounce rate means that people were unimpressed with your website and didn’t explore it.
So, the ideal situation for your website is to have a high dwell time and a low bounce rate. The key to achieving that is high-quality content.
If you have truly useful, engaging, and meaningful content on your website, your visitors will be more motivated to spend time on it. This will indicate to search engines that people find your website releant, and, as a result, your site will rank higher.
The lesson here is, an investment in your website’s content is really an investment in your SEO.
With Tools and Knowledge, Your SEO Strategy Will Take Off!
By now, you know quite a bit about what SEO is and how it works. We’ll end this article with a look at some tools that can help provide the data you need to drive your SEO initiative.
Here they are in no particular order:
- SEMRush: This is an all-in-one SEO tool that will help you do keyword research. It will give you insight into your competition’s SEO strategies and will analyze your site to suggest SEO improvements.
- Google Keyword Planner: Google provides this tool to give people insight into a keyword’s competition, showing useful information like the number of searches made for a given keyword, its price-per-click in ads, and more.
- UberSuggest: If you’re looking for a free SEO tool to give you keyword ideas, this is a good one. Created by the marketing industry guru Neil Patel, it’s a great tool to get started with if you’re looking to dip your toes into SEO.
- Moz Pro: This is a really great tool that gives you live analysis on domains in SERPs, shows you link building opportunities, audits your site for SEO fixes, and more.
- Ahrefs: This tool has a big presence in the SEO world and is used by top SEO marketers. Like Moz and SEMRush, it is a complete, all-in-one SEO tool that can be used for keyword research, backlink analysis, content research, and more.
We hope this list of tools and all the strategies we covered will help you get started in the challenging but profitable world of SEO.
What kind of SEO techniques are you implementing for your website?