We all know why SEO is beneficial and what sort of success we can achieve when it is done correctly. However we also understand that the world of SEO can be very overwhelming. With Google changing its algorithm and top ranking criteria on a regular basis, it’s no wonder some SMEs feel completely lost in the sea of keywords, metadata and algorithm updates. But have no fear, we’re here to throw you a life raft in the form of an ultimate SEO guide for beginners.
Understand the basics
The only way to get really good at SEO is to understand it. SEO stands for search engine optimisation. In short this means making your website easier for search engines to understand, therefore rank higher for the relevant terms in search results. How search engines determine where your website ranks depends on an array of elements, some of which we will explain later on. However before it can even give your website a ranking for a key term it must first “crawl” it. Search engines cannot see websites, they can only see the code that makes them up. Therefore to better understand your website search engines scan through all of the code that makes up your website. This includes metadata, page copy and URLs to name but a few. So, in order for your website to rank well you need to know how to implement SEO strategies in order to show search engines what your website and business are about.
Know your audience
Knowing your audience and their online behaviour is key to implementing a solid SEO strategy. After all, the whole point of SEO is to appear in more searches and get more people within your target audience to land on your website. To get relevant visitors, you must first know what they’re searching for online. For example, if you’re a restaurant in Wimbledon, you’ll want to target people who live in or around that area. So you need to know what sort of keywords they’d type in to Google to find somewhere to eat. It could be something like “restaurants near me” or “restaurants in SW19”. The next step is to find out what sort of listings they click on. Do they go straight to the top results, use business listings or look for review sites like Yelp? It’s probably a good idea to do some research into what search engines your target audience use most too. Then you can cater your SEO strategy more to this particular search engine.
Once you’ve started to understand who your audience are and how they behave online, the next step is to find out the exact keywords they type in to search engines to find businesses like yours. A great way to do this is to use the Google Keyword Planner or Google’s Search Console in Webmaster tools. Here you can see what search terms you currently rank for, what people type in to Google when they land on your website and ideas for keywords you could include in your SEO strategy. It’s important when researching these keywords to focus on two aspects of the keyword – how many monthly searches contain this keyword and how many other businesses are trying to rank for this keyword. Ideally, you want to use keywords that are searched at least 100 times a month and have a low to medium competition. This way you have a better chance of ranking highly and getting high quality website traffic.
Get comfortable with metadata
You’ve probably noticed we have mentioned “metadata” quite a few times already in this post. Basically, what metadata is, is the data search engines crawl to determine where you’ll rank in search results. Therefore it’s important that your metadata reflects what your business does, your services and/or products and why people should choose you. The basic metadata fields beginners should focus on are meta titles and meta descriptions. These are the big blue titles and small paragraphs that appear when you perform a search. It is important to change this data to a few sentences and phrases that are within the set search engine character limits, target your keywords and make sense when read. When this is done, it’ll make it a lot easier to rank higher up in results.