Seo starter guide: the basics

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Increase your site"s visibility & rankings with tìm kiếm engine optimization, nội dung marketing, and link building.

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What is the first thing you bởi vì when you need new kinh doanh ideas? What about when you decide it’s time khổng lồ find a new accounting software? Or even when you notice a flat tire in the car?

My guess is you turn khổng lồ Google.

Impact Plus reported that 61% of marketers named SEO as a top kinh doanh priority in 2021. And so, it’s a cold, harsh truth that without at least some presence on Google, your business faces a digital uphill battle. In this guide, you’ll discover a strategy lớn build your online presence — search Engine Optimization (SEO). You’ll learn what SEO is, how it works, và what you must bởi vì to position your site in tìm kiếm engine results.

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But before we begin, I want lớn reassure you of something.

So many resources make SEO complex. They scare readers with technical jargon, advanced elements, and rarely explain anything beyond theory.

I promise you, this guide isn’t like that.

I’m going to lớn break SEO into its most basic parts & show you how to use all its elements khổng lồ construct a successful SEO strategy. (And to stay up-to-date on SEO strategy and trends, check out nhatroso.com"s Skill Up podcast.)

Keep on reading khổng lồ understand SEO, or jump ahead to lớn the section that interests you most.


When asked to explain what SEO is, I often choose to điện thoại tư vấn it a strategy lớn ensure that when someone Googles your product or service category, they find your website.

But this simplifies the discipline a bit.

There are a ton of ways lớn improve the SEO of your site pages. Tìm kiếm engines look for elements including title tags, keywords, image tags, internal link structure, & inbound links (also known as backlinks). Search engines also look at site structure & design, visitor behavior, và other external, off-site factors to lớn determine how highly ranked your site should be in their SERPs.

With all of these factors taken into account, SEO primarily drives two things — rankings và visibility.


How Does SEO Work?


SEO works by optimizing a website"s content, conducting từ khóa research, và earning inbound liên kết to increase that content’s ranking and the website’s visibility. While you can generally see results take effect on the SERP once the webpage has been crawled and indexed by a search engine, SEO efforts can take months lớn fully materialize.


Rankings

This is what tìm kiếm engines use lớn determine where lớn place a particular web page in the SERP. Rankings start at position number zero through the final number of tìm kiếm engine results for the query, and a website page can rank for one position at a time. As time passes, a website page’s ranking might change due to age, competition in the SERP, or algorithm changes by the tìm kiếm engine itself.

Visibility

This term describes how prominent a particular tên miền is in the tìm kiếm engine results. Lower tìm kiếm visibility occurs when a domain isn’t visible for many relevant search queries whereas with higher tìm kiếm visibility, the opposite is true.

Both are responsible for delivering the main SEO objectives – traffic & domain authority.

What"s the importance of SEO?

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There is one more important reason why you should be using SEO: The strategy virtually helps you position your brand throughout the entire buying journey.

In turn, SEO can ensure that your sale strategies match the new buying behavior.

Because, as Google admitted, customer behavior has changed for good.

As of June 2021, 92% of internet searches happen on a Google property.

What"s more, they prefer going through the majority of the buying process on their own.

For example, Ststista found that 60% of people research a brand online before making a purchase. What’s more, this process has never been more complicated.

Finally, DemandGen’s 2022 B2B Buyer’s Survey found that 67% of B2B buyers start the buying process with a broad website search.

But how vì they use search engines during the process?

Early in the process, they use Google to lớn find information about their problem. Some also inquire about potential solutions.

Then, they evaluate available alternatives based on review or social truyền thông hype before inquiring with a company. But this happens after they’ve exhausted all information sources.

And so, the only chance for customers khổng lồ notice and consider you is by showing up in their tìm kiếm results.

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How does Google know how lớn rank a page?

Search engines have a single goal only. They aim to provide users with the most relevant answers or information.

Every time you use them, their algorithms choose pages that are the most relevant to your query. Và then, rank them, displaying the most authoritative or popular ones first.

To deliver the right information khổng lồ users, search engines analyze two factors:

Relevancy between the tìm kiếm query & the nội dung on a page. Tìm kiếm engines assess it by various factors like topic or keywords.Authority, which is measured by a website’s popularity on the Internet. Google assumes that the more popular a page or resource is, the more valuable its nội dung is to lớn readers.

And lớn analyze all this information they use complex equations called search algorithms.

Search engines keep their algorithms secret. But over time, SEOs have identified some of the factors they consider when ranking a page. We refer to them as ranking factors, và they are the focus of an SEO strategy.

When determining relevance & authority, following the E-A-T framework can help tremendously. E-A-T in SEO stands for "expertise", authoritativeness", và "trustworthiness". & although these are not direct ranking factors, they can improve your SEO nội dung which can impact direct ranking factors.

As you’ll shortly see, adding more content, optimizing image filenames, or improving internal liên kết can affect your rankings and search visibility. & that’s because each of those actions improves a ranking factor.


An SEO kinh doanh strategy is a comprehensive plan to get more visitors lớn your website through tìm kiếm engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies, which use intent-based keywords; and off-page strategies, which earn inbound links from other websites.


What is SEO strategy?

An SEO kinh doanh strategy is a comprehensive plan khổng lồ get more visitors to your website through tìm kiếm engines. Successful SEO includes on-page strategies, which use intent-based keywords; and off-page strategies, which earn inbound liên kết from other websites.


Three vi xử lý core Components of a Strong SEO Strategy

To optimize a site, you need to lớn improve ranking factors in three areas — technical website setup, content, và links. So, let’s go through them in turn.

1. Technical Setup

For your website khổng lồ rank, three things must happen:

First, a search engine needs to find your pages on the web.

Then, it must scan them khổng lồ understand their topics & identify their keywords.

And finally, it needs to địa chỉ them to its index — a database of all the content it has found on the web. This way, its algorithm can consider displaying your website for relevant queries.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Certainly, nothing lớn worry about. After all, since you can visit your site without any problem, so should Google, right?

Unfortunately, there is a catch. A website page looks different for you and the tìm kiếm engine. You see it as a collection of graphics, colors, text with its formatting, and links.

To a tìm kiếm engine, it’s nothing but text.

As a result, any elements it cannot render this way remain invisible khổng lồ the search engine. & so, in spite of your trang web looking fine lớn you, Google might find its nội dung inaccessible.

Let me show you an example. Here’s how a typical tìm kiếm engine sees one of our articles. It’s this one, by the way, if you want to compare it with the original.

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Notice some things about it:

The page is just text. Although we carefully designed it, the only elements a search engine sees are text và links.As a result, it cannot see an image on the page (note the element marked with an arrow.) It only recognizes its name. If that image contained an important keywords we’d want the page lớn rank for, it would be invisible to the tìm kiếm engine.

That’s where technical setup, also called on-site optimization, comes in. It ensures that your website & pages allow Google to lớn scan and index them without any problems. The most important factors affecting it include:

Website navigation & links

Search engines crawl sites just like you would. They follow links. Search engine crawlers land on a page & use liên kết to find other content to analyze. But as you’ve seen above, they cannot see images. So, set the navigation and liên kết as text-only.

Simple URL structure

Search engines don’t lượt thích reading lengthy strings of words with complex structure. So, if possible, keep your URLs short. Mix them up to include as little beyond the main từ khóa for which you want to optimize the page, as possible.

Page speed

Search engines use the load time — the time it takes for a user to lớn be able khổng lồ read the page — as an indicator of quality. Many website elements can affect it. Image size, for example. Use Google’s Page tốc độ Insights Tool for suggestions on how khổng lồ improve your pages.


Dead link or broken redirects

A dead links sends a visitor to lớn a nonexistent page. A broken redirect points khổng lồ a resource that might no longer be there. Both provide poor user experience but also, prevent tìm kiếm engines from indexing your content.

Sitemap and Robots.txt files

A sitemap is a simple file that lists all URLs on your site. Tìm kiếm engines use it to lớn identify what pages to lớn crawl and index. A robots.txt file, on the other hand, tells search engines what nội dung not lớn index (for example, specific policy pages you don’t want lớn appear in search.) Create both to speed up crawling and indexing of your content.

Duplicate content

Pages containing identical or quite similar nội dung confuse search engines. They often find it khổng lồ be nearly impossible to display any of those pages at all. If tìm kiếm engines vày find them, your trang web can be penalized. For that reason, search engines consider duplicate nội dung as a negative factor.

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2. Content

Every time you use a tìm kiếm engine, you’re looking for nội dung — information on a particular issue or problem, for example.

True, this nội dung might come in different formats. It could be text, lượt thích a nhatroso.com post or a website page. But it could also be a video, product recommendation, & even a business listing.

It’s all content.

And for SEO, it’s what helps gain greater search visibility.

Here are two reasons why:

First, content is what customers want when searching. Regardless of what they’re looking for, it’s nội dung that provides it. And the more of it you publish, the higher your chance for greater tìm kiếm visibility.Also, search engines use content to determine how lớn rank a page. It’s the idea of relevance between a page & a person’s search query that we talked about earlier.

While crawling a page, they determine its topic. Analyzing elements lượt thích page length or its structure helps them assess its quality. Based on this information, search algorithms can match a person’s query with pages they consider the most relevant to it.

The process of optimizing content begins with keyword research.

Keyword Research

SEO is not about getting any visitors to the site. You want lớn attract people who need what you sell và can become leads, và later, customers.

However, that’s possible only if it ranks for the từ khoá those people would use when searching. Otherwise, there’s no chance they’d ever find you. And that’s even if your website appeared at the vị trí cao nhất of the tìm kiếm results.

That’s why SEO work starts with discovering what phrases potential buyers enter into tìm kiếm engines.

The process typically involves identifying terms & topics relevant khổng lồ your business. Then, converting them into initial keywords. & finally, conducting extensive research to lớn uncover related terms your audience would use.

We’ve published a thorough guide to từ khoá research for beginners. It lays out the từ khoá research process in detail. Use it to identify tìm kiếm terms you should be targeting.

With a các mục of keywords at hand, the next step is to lớn optimize your content. SEOs refer lớn this process as on-page optimization.

On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization, also called on-page SEO, ensures that tìm kiếm engines a.) understand a page’s topic and keywords, and b.) can match it lớn relevant searches.

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Note, I said “page” not content. That’s because, although the bulk of on-page SEO work focuses on the words you use, it extends khổng lồ optimizing some elements in the code.

You may have heard about some of them — meta-tags lượt thích title or mô tả tìm kiếm are two most popular ones. But there are more. So, here’s a danh mục of the most crucial on-page optimization actions khổng lồ take.

Note: Since nhatroso.com nội dung prevails on most websites, when speaking of those factors, I’ll focus on nhatroso.com SEO — optimizing nhatroso.com posts for relevant keywords. However, all this advice is equally valid for other page types too.

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a) keywords Optimization

First, ensure that Google understands what keyword you want this page to lớn rank. To lớn achieve that, make sure you include at least the main từ khóa in the following:

The alternative text tag, on the other hand, is text browsers display instead of an image (for visually impaired visitors.) However, since alt tag resides in the image code, tìm kiếm engines use it as a relevancy signal as well.

Also, địa chỉ semantic keywords — variations or synonyms of your keyword. Google và other tìm kiếm engines use them lớn determine a page’s relevancy better.

Let me illustrate this with a quick example. Let’s pretend that your main từ khoá is “Apple.” But vì you mean the fruit or the tech giant behind the iPhone?

Now, imagine what happens when Google finds terms like sugar, orchard, or cider in the copy? The choice of what queries to lớn rank it for would immediately become obvious, right?

That’s what semantic từ khóa do. Add them lớn ensure that your page doesn’t start showing up for irrelevant searches.

b) Non-Keyword-Related On-Page Optimization Factors

On-page SEO is not just about sprinkling keywords across the page. The factors below help confirm a page’s credibility & authority too:

External links: Linking out to other, relevant pages on the topic helps Google determine its topic further. Plus, it provides a good user experience. How? By positioning your content as a valuable resource.Multimedia: Although not a requirement, multimedia elements lượt thích videos, diagrams, audio players can signal a page’s quality. It keeps readers on a page for longer just lượt thích longer nội dung does. And in turn, it signals that they find the content valuable và worth pursuing.

3. Links

From what you’ve read in this guide so far, you know that no page will rank without two factors — relevance & authority.

In their quest khổng lồ provide users with the most accurate answers, Google & other tìm kiếm engines prioritize pages they consider the most relevant khổng lồ their queries but also, popular.

The first two areas — technical thiết lập and nội dung — focused on increasing relevance (though I admit, some of their elements can also help highlight the authority.)

Links, however, are responsible for popularity.

But before we talk more about how they work, here’s what SEOs mean when talking about links.

What is a backlink?

Links, also called backlinks, are references lớn your content on other websites. Every time another website mentions and points their readers lớn your content, you gain a link to your site.

For example, this article in Entrepreneur.co mentions our Not Another State of sale Report page. It also links to it allowing their readers lớn see other stats than the one quoted.

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Google uses the quantity and quality of links lượt thích this as a signal of a website’s authority. Its xúc tích và ngắn gọn behind it is that webmasters would reference a popular and high-quality website more often than a mediocre one.

But cảnh báo that I mentioned link unique as well. That’s because not all link are the same. Some — low-quality ones — can impact your rankings negatively.

Links unique Factors

Low quality or suspicious liên kết — for example, ones that Google would consider as built deliberately lớn make it consider a site as more authoritative — might reduce your rankings.

That’s why, when building links, SEOs focus not on building any links. They aim to generate the highest quality references possible.

Naturally, just like with the search algorithm, we don’t know what factors determine a link’s quality, specifically. However, over time, SEOs discovered some of them:

The popularity of a linking site: Any liên kết from a domain that search engines consider an authority will naturally have high quality. In other words, link from websites that have good unique links pointing to them will yield better results.Topic relevance: links from domains on a topic similar to lớn yours will carry more authority than those from random websites.Trust in a domain: Just like with popularity, search engines also assess a website’s trust. Links from more trustworthy sites will always impact rankings better.Link Building

In SEO, we refer to lớn the process of acquiring new link as link building. Và as many practitioners admit, it can be a challenging activity.

Link building, if you want to bởi it well, requires creativity, strategic thinking, and patience. Khổng lồ generate unique links, you need khổng lồ come up with a link building strategy. & that’s no small feat.

Remember, your liên kết must pass various unique criteria. Plus, it can’t be obvious to search engines that you’ve built them deliberately.

Here are some strategies to vị it:

Editorial, organic links: These backlinks come from websites that reference your nội dung on their own.Outreach: In this strategy, you liên hệ other websites for links. This can happen in many ways. You could create an amazing piece of content, and e-mail them to tell them about it. In turn, if they find it valuable, they’ll reference it. You can also suggest where they could liên kết to it.Guest posting: Guest posts are nhatroso.com articles that you publish on third-party websites. In turn, those companies often allow including one or two liên kết to your site in the content and tác giả bio.Profile links: Finally, many websites offer an opportunity to lớn create a link. Online profiles are a good example. Often, when setting up such a profile, you can also danh mục your website there as well. Not all such liên kết carry strong authority, but some might. & given the ease of creating them, they’re worth pursuing.Competitive analysis: Finally, many SEOs regularly analyze their competitors’ backlinks to identify those they could recreate for their sites too.

Now, if you’re still here with me, then you’ve just discovered what’s responsible for your site’s success in search.

The next step, then, is figuring out whether your efforts are working.

How lớn Monitor và Track SEO Results

Technical setup, content, and liên kết are critical to lớn getting a website into the search results. Monitoring your efforts helps improve your strategy further.

Measuring SEO success means tracking data about traffic, engagement, and links. Và though, most companies develop their own sets of SEO KPIs (key performance indicators), here are the most common ones:

Organic traffic growthKeyword rankings (split into branded và non-branded terms)Conversions from organic trafficAverage time on page và the tỷ lệ thoát rateTop landing pages attracting organic trafficNumber of indexed pagesLinks growth (including new và lost links)

Local SEO

Up until now, we focused on getting a site rank in tìm kiếm results in general. If you run a local business, however, Google also lets you position it in front of potential customers in your area, specifically. But for that, you use local SEO.

And it’s well worth it.

46% of Google searches are for local businesses. They look for vendor suggestions, & even specific business addresses.

What’s more, they act on this information: 72% of searchers visit a local store or company’s premises within 24 hours of the search.

But hold on, is local SEO different from what we’ve been talking about all along?

Yes & no.

Search engines follow similar principles for both local và global rankings. But given that they position a site for specific, location-based results, they need lớn analyze some other ranking factors too.

Even local tìm kiếm results look different:

They appear only for searches with a local intent (for example, “restaurant near me” or when a person clearly defined the location.)They contain results specific khổng lồ a relevant location.They concentrate on delivering specific information lớn users that they don’t need to lớn go anywhere else khổng lồ find.They target điện thoại thông minh users primarily as local searches occur more often on thiết bị di động devices.

For example, a localpack, the most prominent element of local results, includes almost all information a person would need to lớn choose a business. Here are local results Google displays for the phrase “best restaurant in Boston.”

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Note that these results contain no liên kết to any content. Instead, they include a menu of restaurants in the area, a maps to show their locations, và additional information about each:

Business nameDescriptionImageOpening hoursStar ReviewsAddress

Often, they also include a company’s phone number or trang web address.

All this information combined helps customers choose which business khổng lồ engage. But it also allows Google khổng lồ determine how to rank it.

Local tìm kiếm Ranking Factors

When analyzing local websites, Google looks at the proximity lớn a searcher’s location. With the rise of local searches containing the phrase, "near me," it’s only fair that Google will try lớn present the closest businesses first.

Keywords are essential for local SEO too. However, one additional element of on-page optimization is the presence of a company’s name, address, và phone number of a page. In local SEO, we refer lớn it as the NAP.

Again, it makes sense, as the search engine needs a way to lớn assess the company’s location.

Google assesses authority in local search not just by links. Reviews and citations (references of a business’s address or a phone number online) highlight its authority too.

Finally, the information a business includes in Google My Business — the search engine’s platform for managing local business listings — plays a huge part in its rankings.

The above is just the tip of the iceberg. But they are the ones lớn get right first if you want your business to rank well in local search.

What is black hat SEO?

The final aspect of SEO I want khổng lồ highlight to you is something I also hope you’ll never get tempted to lớn use. I mean it.

Because, although it might have its lure, using black hat SEO typically ends in a penalty from search listings.

Black hat practices aim at manipulating search engine algorithms using strategies against search engine guidelines. The most common đen hat techniques include keywords stuffing, cloaking (hiding keyword in code so that users don’t see them, but tìm kiếm engines do), và buying links.

So, why would someone use đen hat SEO? For one, because, often, ranking a site following Google’s guidelines takes time. Long time, in fact.

Black hat strategies let you cut down the complexity of links building, for example. Keyword stuffing helps users lớn rank one page for many keywords, without having to lớn create more content.

But as said, getting caught often results in a site being completely wiped out from search listings.

And the reason I mention it here is that I want you khổng lồ realize that there are no shortcuts in SEO. And be aware of anyone suggesting strategies that might seem too good khổng lồ be true.


Whether you work on SEO yourself, delegate it lớn another team member, or outsource it completely, you’ll want to make this decision with as much knowledge as possible.


Doing SEO Yourself

Be honest with yourself — are you interested in learning SEO? bởi you have time to learn the basics? do you have the resources to lớn bring in help if you redesign your website và accidentally deindex several pages? If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you might not want khổng lồ take on the responsibility of SEO yourself. SEO is a long term play, and just like a muscle, you have to lớn work at it consistently to see results. That can take a substantial amount of commitment. If you have any doubts, try the next best thing — delegating the work.

Delegate SEO lớn a Team Member

If you’re not quite sure about taking on SEO yourself, consider delegating the work lớn a team member. If you have a person who’s interested in growth marketing, development, or even web design, this would be a valuable skill khổng lồ help grow their career. You could also hire a full-time tìm kiếm engine optimization specialist if you have the budget.

The person in this role can report lớn the sale team, development team, or even design team. Because SEO touches nearly every function of a business while maintaining a chất lượng set of skill requirements, this position won’t be subject to frequent changes if departments need khổng lồ be restructured later on. The person you delegate khổng lồ this job will contribute cross functionally more often than not, so you’ll have some liberty with managing them.

Outsource SEO khổng lồ an Agency

You don’t have the interest in SEO, your team’s at full capacity, & you can’t spare the budget lớn fill a full time SEO role. Now what? The best bang for your buck is to lớn outsource SEO khổng lồ a reputable consultant. Why? First, a well-respected SEO consultant is highly skilled in bringing organic traffic, leads, và conversions khổng lồ businesses. They do this day in & day out, so they won’t need the ramp up time that you or a thành viên of your team would need in order to lớn learn the basics.

Second, a consultant can be less expensive than hiring someone full-time for the role because they don’t require insurance benefits, payroll taxes, etc. But how much exactly would you be looking at for outsourcing your SEO?

SEO can cost between $100 and $500 per month if you vị it yourself with a keywords research tool. It can cost between $75 và $150 per hour for a consultant, và up to lớn $10,000 per month if you hire a full-service marketing agency. Small businesses generally spend less on SEO than big brands, so be sure to lớn take that into account.

Incurring SEO costs can mean one of two things: the investment in your organic tìm kiếm strategy, or how much you pay for paid tìm kiếm engine marketing (SEM) services lượt thích Google Ads. If you"re paying for a tool, consultant, or sale agency to lớn help you optimize your web content, your bill can vary wildly with the depth of the services you"re receiving.

SEO Resources và Training

This guide is just a starting point for discovering SEO. But there’s much more to learn.

Here are online training resources to try next if your or someone on your team wants to take on this skill:

You can also pick SEO knowledge from industry experts and their nhatroso.coms. Here are some worth reading:

Over to You

Without actively positioning its content in search results, no business can survive long.

By increasing your tìm kiếm visibility, you can bring more visitors, và in turn, conversions & sales. Và that"s well worth the time spent becoming an expert in SEO.

Editor"s note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.