Why SEO is Crucial in 2023? 100+ SEO Tips for Beginners
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) sounds a bit like rocket science if you don’t know a lot about the subject. As website owners, we have to know why SEO is important to the website and what makes the website rank better on Google.
SEO is a marketing practice focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO bounds both the technical and creative elements needed to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many facets to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
Why do we need SEO?
You need to show up when consumers search for your product or service on Google, when you are spoken about on social media, or when you receive a review or a comment.
Why? Because showing up equals cash:
- 80 percent of consumers search for a product/service before purchasing it
- 70 percent read online reviews before making purchase decisions
- 68 percent of consumers begin their decision-making while searching for a keyword
- Websites that blog regularly receive 55 percent more traffic and over 80 percent more leads compared to websites that don’t
- Over 70 percent of search clicks are organic
We all turn to Google, social media, review blogs, and other places on the Web when we make most decisions in life in 2015, including purchase decisions. It’s a fact. Yet, many brands still miss out on the vast opportunities search engines, blogs, and social media have to offer. They fail to show up when consumers search for or talk about them.
Are your sales falling despite skyrocketing investments in ads? Less than 1 percent of people click on banner ads today. So the ad industry counts and charges for ‘impressions’, a third of which are not even seen by humans. About 86 percent skip TV ads, and 44 percent of direct mail never gets opened. The list goes on.
There is just too much going over the Internet for consumers to ever enjoy being interrupted. Marketing is not about interrupting consumers when they enjoy the content. It is about ‘being’ that content.
Do a quick test, right now and right here on your mobile phone. Search a couple of keywords that best describe your product or service. Not your brand keywords, but more generic terms.
If they can’t find you, you don’t exist. If you don’t talk to them, you are not relevant. Without great content, you are nowhere.
What can I do to get a better ranking?
Optimise for mobile search
Nearly 50 percent of all traffic is mobile. Your mobile site, now more than ever, needs to be equal in presence, content and searchability as your desktop site. Plus, having a mobile-friendly site boosts your ranking slightly.
Focus on a variety of keywords
SEO has evolved over the years to consider more than just singular keywords. Take the yesteryear approach to applicable words and add in the user’s intent behind the search. Ranking the appropriate keywords can be the dealbreaker for the top of search placement.
Search your company on a variety of browsers in a variety of locations. Note if your active social media pages – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – come up. Maintaining and growing a social media presence can envelop the main page nicely in rank.
Keep content fresh
When people conduct research, they want up-to-date, accurate information. That’s why it’s important to keep content updated. Recency is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm and for good reason—your audiences don’t want to waste time reading dated content.
“Link building” is a term that SEO practitioners use to describe the process of building credibility. The idea is simple: people link to your website when they perceive your brand as a source of authority. One tactic that has not shifted in the wide world of SEO is inbound links back to your site. This aids in creating the golden twins of referral traffic and increases SEO.
To acquire these priceless links from top-quality sources you need to be bold. Actively pitch your products and services to journalists who write about your industry. Keep it simple and explain the value of why people need to know about your brand.
Don’t just ask for links, earn them. Produce valuable content related to your industry with keywords used appropriately and tagged efficiently on your webpage to establish the brand as an expert in the field.
As a beginner in search engine optimisation (SEO) you need to understand that there is no magic way to rank your web site in the first page of Google, Bing or Yahoo. Search engines are governed by complex algorithms and it takes a lot of effort to convince them that your website or page deserves one of the top spots.
Here is a list of pointers to help you understand how you can get better search engine results:
- No SEO means no visitors from search engines. If you don’t do it then search engines can’t categorize and rank your site for keywords relevant to your business.
- Start doing SEO now. The longer you leave it to start, the further ahead your competitors will be, and the harder it becomes to rank higher than them.
- Know your competition. Find out what the sites ranking on the 1st page for the keywords that you want to rank for have done, on-site and off-site, to get there.
- No two websites are the same. An SEO strategy that worked for someone else’s site isn’t guaranteed to work for yours because there are so many variables.
- SEO doesn’t have to be expensive. You can get big results on a small budget if you invest time in creating good content and building online relationships.
- SEO results aren’t instant. The results of SEO work done today might not become apparent, and might not be credited by search engines, for weeks, or even months.
- The newer your website is, the more patient you will need to be. It takes time to build authority and trust, and until you’ve developed both, you shouldn’t expect to outrank older, more established sites.
- Never consider your website to be finished. If you want your site to continue to rank higher, attract more visitors and make more sales, then you should always be adding to and improving it.
- Adapt to algorithm updates. To attain and retain good rankings you need to adapt your SEO strategy as search engines evolve.
- Get advice directly from Google. Via their Webmaster Guidelines and Webmaster Help Videos.
- Don’t risk Google penalties. As they have a significant share of the search market, a penalty from them results in a significant, and often long-term, loss of visitors to your site.
- You’re ultimately responsible for all of the SEO work done on your website. Search engines won’t remove a penalty on the basis that you didn’t do, and didn’t know the specifics of, the SEO work on your site.
- Set up and use Google Webmaster Tools. To find out, among other things, what keywords your site is ranking for and which other sites are linking to yours.
- Set up and use Google Analytics. To find out, among other things, how many visitors your site gets, the keywords they use to find it, and what pages they visit.
- Set up a Google My Business page for your business. Doing so builds trust with Google and improves rankings for localized keywords.
- Diversify your traffic sources. Google is a great source of traffic but being 100% reliant on them for visitors puts you in a vulnerable position.
- Use Pay Per Click in addition to SEO. If you can afford to do both, then do both, as although PPC can be costly, you can get visitors to your site straight away for any keywords that you want.
- Low quality equals high risk. Low-quality backlinks and/or low-quality on-site content can easily result in your site being penalized by search engines.
- Create content primarily for people, not search engines. There’s no point in creating content that ranks well if it doesn’t help people, interest them, or convince them to buy from you.
- Remove, merge or add to pages with little content on them. Having lots of content-light pages, with short page view times, can result in search engines downgrading all of your site’s keyword rankings.
- Claim authorship of your content. Linking your Google Business account to your content improves both rankings and click-through-rate.
- Ensure your content is good enough to be on the 1st page. If your content isn’t better than the content already on the 1st page for a keyword then your site doesn’t deserve to rank there.
- Make your content engaging for visitors. The more engaging it is, the longer people will stay on your site, and high viewing times signal to search engines that your site deserves good rankings.
- Create videos. They increase the amount of time that people spend on your site and also allow you to get links from video-sharing sites.
- Create stats/charts/graphs/infographics. People are more likely to share and link to these types of content than plainly written content.
- More content equals more rankings, more visitors, and more sales. Search engines reward and visitors trust more, sites that are filled with lots of pages of good quality content.
- Add a blog to your website. Doing so makes it quick and simple to add new pages of content to your site.
- Create content to post on other websites and blogs. People are much more likely to link to you if you provide them with content to use on their site.
- Write a unique, descriptive title for every page. Within 55 characters you need to make the topic of a page clear to both humans and search engines.
- Write a unique, descriptive meta description for every page. Within 160 characters you need to describe the topic of a page in a way that persuades people to click on your site instead of the other sites listed in the search results.
- Research keywords before optimising for them. If you choose the wrong keywords, regardless of what you do for on-site and off-site SEO, you’ll get very few visitors and/or visitors who don’t convert into sales.
- Use Google’s Keyword Tool. It provides a good list of words and phrases related to the keyword ideas that you enter into it.
- Get keyword ideas from other people. They (customers, suppliers, partners, friends, etc.) see your business differently from you and may associate different words and phrases with it.
- Target relevant keywords. The more relevant your keywords are, the easier and quicker it is to rank for them, and the higher the percentage of visitors who will become buyers.
- Target keywords with commercial intent. You want visitors who are ready to spend money rather than those who are just looking for information.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. You’re much more likely to be penalized than credited if you use a keyword phrase repeatedly on a page.
- Backlinks affect rankings more than anything else. The number and quality of links pointing to your site will largely determine in what position your site ranks.
- Don’t set backlink targets. Link building should be a steady, consistent, ongoing process, that doesn’t stop when you reach a certain number.
- Get backlinks from relevant sources. Search engines want to display relevant results for each keyword, and links from relevant pages/sites are a strong signal to them that your site is relevant.
- Get backlinks from trusted sources. Links from trustworthy sites signal to search engines that your site is trustworthy too.
- Be prepared to work for high-quality backlinks. Generally, the more easily you can acquire a link, the less value it will likely have.
- Be wary of paying people to link to your website. Buying backlinks can, and does work, however, there’s a definite risk involved if you buy cheap ones and/or from people who openly sell them.
- Don’t get involved in reciprocal link networks. The benefit of getting links from networks is low, whereas the risk of being penalized and losing rankings is high.
- Diversify your backlink profile. Get different types of links from a wide range of IP addresses.
- Build backlinks to every page of your website that you want to rank. Get people to link to the inner pages of your site – the ones you want to rank for specific keywords – as well as to the homepage.
- Existing relationships are an instant source of backlinks. Some of your suppliers, partners, and customers will link to your site if you ask them to do so.
- Get the good backlinks that your competition already has. If someone has already linked to one of your competitors then there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll link to you also if you give them a good reason to.
- Get some backlinks with your target keywords as the link anchor text. This type of link is important but should make up less than 25% of your backlink profile.
- Know who’s linking to you. Within Google Webmaster Tools, go to ‘Traffic’ and then ‘Links’ to check how many sites are linking to yours and which sites they are.
- Sign up for Ahrefs, Majestic SEO or Open Site Explorer. Doing so gives you access to extensive backlink data for your site and also your competitors’ sites.
- Every page of your website should be linked to at least one other page. Search engines don’t include pages in their results that aren’t linked to either internally (from another page of the same site) or externally (from another site).
- Have direct links from your homepage to your most important pages. Doing so passes authority from the homepage to your important pages and improves the rankings of those pages.
- Add in-content links to other relevant pages on your website. Whilst not as valuable as external links, internal links do still pass authority and signal to search engines what pages to rank for which keywords.
- Remove unnecessary outbound links. Only link to pages on other sites that you think visitors to your site would find helpful and/or interesting.
- Link out to relevant websites and blogs. People generally notice if you link to them, and if you link to them, there’s a reasonable chance that they’ll link back to you if you have a good site.
- Leave comments on relevant websites and blogs. Doing so builds trust and relationships with people – both the site owners and visitors to those sites.
- Interact with bloggers in your industry. The better people with relevant blogs know you (through social sites, forums, email, etc.) the more likely they’ll be to link to your site and to share your content.
- Contact small businesses with relevant websites. A good relationship, in which you help promote each others’ sites, makes SEO simpler and cheaper for you and them.
- Write press releases/guest posts to share news and opinions. This is a good way to get content, and links from, sites outside of your industry and circle of connections.
- Phone people to develop online relationships. Emails can easily be ignored or forgotten, but phone calls are not so much.
- Use your website to build trust and relationships. The more relationships you have, and the more people trust you, the more people will talk about you, link to you, and, ultimately, buy from you.
- Add your address and phone number to every page of your website. This builds trust and improves rankings if you’re targeting keyword phrases that contain your town/city name.
- Get listed in industry and local directories. Most business directories are worthless, however, there should be at least 10 that are relevant to your area or industry. Check out our list of Top 10 Free Business Directories in South Africa
- Ask customers to leave reviews on your Google listing and local directories. Positive reviews improve your rankings in Google’s local listings and can be accessed directly from the search results.
- Be personal in a way that big businesses can’t be. Putting your individuality and personality across throughout the off-site SEO process (outreach emails, guest posts, Tweets, etc.) makes others more likely to engage with you.
- Use social websites to promote other people’s content as well as your own. People generally know if you’ve taken action on social sites to help them, and if they see that you’ve helped them, the chances of them helping you out in return are much higher.
- Add social sharing buttons to your website. The easier you make it for people to share your content, the more likely they will be to do so.
- Search engines rank webpages, not websites. Whether or not a page ranks for a particular keyword depends largely on the quality of that individual page and not the quality of your site as a whole.
- Small businesses can rank higher than big businesses. It’s not uncommon for a page on a small business’s site to rank higher than a page on the site of a big, national company.
- Know where you’re ranking. Within Google Webmaster Tools, go to ‘Traffic’ and then ‘Search Queries’ to check where your site is ranking for keywords.
- Aim to be in the top 3, not just the top 10. If your site isn’t ranked in the top 3 positions for a keyword then you’ll only get a small percentage (less than 10%) of the traffic from searches for that keyword.
- Rankings can be misleading. The number of 1st-page rankings you have is irrelevant if those rankings don’t convert to visitor numbers and, ultimately, sales.
- Improve your Domain Authority (DA). Generally, the higher the DA you have, the better your content will rank.
- Adopt a flat website architecture. Any page of your site should be accessible within 3 clicks from your homepage.
- Use a simple, clear URL structure. People should be able to guess the topic of a page by looking only at its URL.
- Use header tags. Include variations of your target keyword phrases in a page’s H1 and H2 tags.
- Use rich snippets. They provide additional data about your site to search engines and can improve the appearance of your site’s listing in search results.
- Use 301 redirects. If you change the URL of a page on your site but don’t redirect the old URL to the new one, any links pointing to the old one will be wasted.
- Set up a useful 404 error page. Linking to your best content from your 404 page means that visitors who see it are less likely to leave your site.
- Optimise your images. Include a page’s target keyword phrase, or variations of it, in the file names and img alt tags of the images on that page.
- Check browser and screen resolution compatibility. Your site needs to render correctly in every web browser (Chrome, IE, Safari, etc.) and screen resolution (1366×768, 1024×768, 800×600, etc.).
- Maximize your website’s loading speed. Use Google’s site speed tool and implement the recommendations that they give you.
- Use a reliable web hosting company. Your site’s keyword rankings will be downgraded if your site is regularly inaccessible.
- Regularly backup your website. If you lose your site data then you lose your rankings too, as search engines quickly remove sites that won’t load from their results.
- Keep up-to-date with SEO news and trends. Read sites such as Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, and SEOmoz.
- If you don’t know, ask someone. If you have a question, ask it in an online SEO forum or contact an SEO consultant.
- Ask SEO consultants lots of questions. If you’re going to hire someone, you’ll be taking less of a risk if you know a lot about them and their strategies.
- Engage with your SEO consultant. The more you know about SEO, and the more a consultant knows about your business, the better the results will be.
The biggest challenge with SEO is that its ambiguous territory—but you shouldn’t let the uncertainty get the best of you. Understand that almost every marketer is exactly where you are now. Everyone’s trying to figure out SEO’s ‘hidden secrets’ with little direction.
Lead the competition and become the go-to source in your industry by optimising mobile search, utilizing a variety of keywords, and building relationships through social media. Create valuable, up-to-date content and earn high-quality inbound links for long-term success. Don’t get left behind in the ever-changing world of SEO, start implementing these proven tactics now.