SEO Tips for Beginners

As a beginner to search engine optimization (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 web site or page deserves one of the top spots.

Here is a list of pointers to help you understand how you can get a better search engine result:

  • No SEO means no visitors from search engines. If you don’t do it then search engines can’t categorise 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 over time.
  • 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 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+ page for your business. Doing so builds trust with Google and improves rankings for localised 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 penalised by search engines.
  • Create content primarily for people, not search engines. There’s no point creating content that ranks well if it doesn’t help people, interest them, or persuade them to buy from you.
  • Remove duplicate content. You can be penalised for having the same, or very similar, content on multiple pages of your site.
  • 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+ 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 plain 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 to 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 penalised 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, on-going 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 link networks. The benefit of getting links from networks is low, whereas the risk of being penalised 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 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 from 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 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 for them.
  • Write press releases to share news and opinions. This is a good way to get content on, 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 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 Google+ 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 ranks 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.
  • Don’t worry about PageRank. Sites with a low PR can, and often do, outrank sites with a high PR.
  • 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.).
  • Maximise 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 WatchSearch 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.

 

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  • REPAYMENT PLAN

    How does the repayment plan work?

    Upon acceptance of the quotation, we require a 50% deposit payment before the start of the project. The balance or outstanding amount has to be paid after we have completed the project.

    With the repayment plan, you are able to repay us the balance or outstanding amount over 3 months. However, failure to make payments will result in immediate suspension of your account.

  • WEBSITE HOSTING

    What is Web Hosting?

    When you design a website and want other people to see it, you will need to publish (or upload) it with a web hosting service.

    Web hosting services work by storing your website files in high-powered computers (web servers) connected to a very fast network. When someone types in your web address (such as www.advertisingsolutions.co.za), the Internet connects to the web server holding your website files and then transfers your website information back to their computer. From there they can surf and view the pages of your website.

  • DOMAIN NAME

    What is a Domain Name?

    A domain name (www.yourcompanyname.co.za) is essentially your company’s Internet address; the same way your company’s street address is used to find your offices, a domain name is used to find your website. Consider this: Pick a domain name that’s memorable and relevant!

  • NUMBER OF STOCK PHOTOS

    Stock photos are professionally taken photographs that we can buy online to use commercially, without having to stress over copy-right issues. It can be used to enhance your website or in marketing material.

    Stock photos can save you quite a bit of time and money, as you do not have to hire a photographer just to have some quality images for your website. While stock images cover a broad range of applications, it can be difficult to acquire pictures for a certain niche, or a specific product.

     

  • NUMBER OF SLIDES

    What is a slider?

    A banner slider is comprised of images and text on multiple slides, allowing you to rotate content on a single space on your website. It’s most commonly the first thing you see (apart from the logo and menu) on a website’s home page. The purpose of the slider is to catch the attention of the viewer while being visually appealing and easy to read. It can be used to display selected information, such as promotions or highlighting specific products or services, and can also be used to easily navigate your site.

    How many should I use?

    This is dependable on the amount of content you have on your website. Small websites that do not have much information 1-2 sliders will be enough. Websites with more pages and content to market will require more sliders to make the navigation of the site easily digestible for the viewer, while promoting certain products or content. We do not recommend more than 5 slides, as we find that most viewers spend a few minutes on your home page before moving on to another page and won’t view more than 5 slides.

  • WEBSITE TYPE

    Standard Website Design

    This design is for the general purpose of getting your company’s information out on the internet and reaching potential customers. This does not include an online store/eCommerce, directories or custom development. As we use WordPress, you will also have the option of logging in to your website and doing some small changes yourself if you choose.

    Online Store/eCommerce

    This design option is for selling your products online, as well as having your information online and reaching potential customers. This includes payment gateway integration such as Payfast and EFT and also includes up to 50 individual products. If you have more products you can simply load them in yourself by logging into the backend of your website, where you can also manage your inventory and take stock. If you have a large selection and would prefer us to do it, we can assist you with loading all your products for an additional fee.

  • NUMBER OF PAGES

    Most websites are comprised of 4 pages, eg: Home, About, Services/Products and Contact.

    Your Home page welcomes the viewer, with a general summary of your company and what you have to offer. It also helps the viewer easily navigate your site. Your About page may list company history, your mission and vision, team members, company values or any information regarding your company.

    Your Products or Services page is where you expand on the products or services you have. Your Contact page lists all your contact details, such as your physical address, contact number and email address. It is also good to have an enquiry form so potential clients can easily get in contact with you.

    These are just the most common pages used, the amount of pages will depend on the amount of information you have.

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