SEO For Beginners

SEO For Beginners

SEO is ‘Search Engine Optimization’ and this basically means that you’re trying to get your website to show up in search results. Of course, you’re not going to be able to show up high in every search result and so this is where keywords and targeting come in.

A keyword is essentially a word or a phrase that people are going to search in order to find your site. When people go shopping online, they will almost always start with Google. And when they start with Google, they will begin by searching for the thing they want. Very often, this will mean that they search for something like ‘Buy Hats Online’.

If you can target that precise phrase so that your page is the top result, then you will not only be able to reach the right demographic– but you’ll be able to target them at the precise moment that they’re actually planning on buying something!

The same thing happens when someone looks for information– they might search for ‘How to Lose Weight After Christmas’ or they might search for ‘Fitness Articles’.

Again, you can bring more people to your site and that way hopefully create more loyal followers, simply by making sure that your pages come up as top results for those terms.

SEO has the huge advantage of being highly targeted and allowing you to reach anyone rather than just people who are your followers or who are part of the same network as your followers.

The only problem is that SEO is also arguably more complicated than the other forms of marketing we’ve looked at so far. That and it is never guaranteed. That is to say that you can spend years doing SEO or pay the very biggest SEO service in the world and still not see any improvements.

Let’s take a look at why that is and how to give yourself the best chance of success …

How SEO Works

In order to get to the top of Google, the aim is to try and understand how Google works, how Google decides which sites are worthwhile and then how you can manipulate those factors in order to move your site to the top.

Google works using ‘spiders’ or ‘robots’. These are small programs that search the web by following from one link to the next. Each time they find a new website, they then add that website to a giant index and will assess the subject matter and the quality of that site by looking at who is linking to the page, how the page is laid out and what the subject of the content appears to be.

If we knew precisely how Google’s algorithm worked, then we could get to the top of the search results with guaranteed certainty. As we don’t know this though, all we can do is make educated guesses and hope that those get us to the top of Google.

SEO: Then and Now

When Google first became the dominant search engine, the algorithm was fairly straightforward and was generally quite well understood by marketers. Back then, we knew that:

  • Google finds sites by looking following links on sites already in the index
  • Google thinks of a link as a testimony. The more people linking to your site, the better your site must be.
  • Google attempts to match search terms with the content on your pages. If you repeat the same phrase often enough, then you will stand a better chance of ranking for that term.

Back then, it was easy enough to manipulate Google into doing your bidding. All you had to do was to create a website with lots and lots of content, repeat the same keywords over and over again and get lots of other sites to link to you.

It was literally a matter of whoever worked the fastest could get to the top of Google the quickest.

Though, this also led to some very bad practices. People would ‘stuff’ keywords into their text, repeating the same few phrases over and over again. People would pay for links. People would steal content and ‘spin it’ (swap words for synonyms) and generally, Google’s results started to become dominated by spam.

Google clamped down and introduced some smarter rules and algorithms. These updates to its system were known as ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ and they really shook up the internet marketing community.

The new Google is much smarter when it comes to looking for content and now values quality over quantity to a large degree.

A few examples of the changes:

  • Google will now penalize websites for ‘keyword stuffing’. A density of 1-2% is generally recommended.
  • Google now prefers long-form content and will reward it thusly
  • Google will penalize sites that associate with spam sites
  • Low-quality links are worthless
  • Links from established authorities mean much more. A single link from Harvard is worth a million links from spam sites.
  • Google now understands synonyms and related terms and will look for you to have written around a subject.
  • Google penalizes links that are from sites that aren’t related to yours.
  • Google clamps down hard on paid links.
  • Google clamps down hard on stolen or re-worked content.
  • Google can now monitor how long people spend on a website or page. If your visitors are only staying for a second before leaving, the Google will take this to mean that your site doesn’t offer any real value and you will be penalized.

This sudden change resulted in a lot of sites being removed from Google altogether, which badly hurt many businesses. As you can imagine, this caused quite a lot of outcry!

What’s important to remember is that website owners are not the customers that Google is catering to. Google is catering to users who want to use Google in order to find high-quality content.

Thus, Google’s main and only objective is to ensure that the content it shares is relevant and interesting to the people searching for it.

What is the best way to handle good SEO? Simple: make sure that you are providing great, relevant content. When you do this, you are aligning yourself with Google’ goals. Every change that Google makes will ultimately help more people to find your site.

The sites that try to ‘spam’ Google or trick it, will only be damaged each time that Google has an update.

Modern SEO Best Practices.

With all that said, how do you go about carrying out SEO for your site in this day and age?

The first thing to do is to fill your site with as much relevant content as possible. Notice how SEO and content marketing naturally go hand in hand already?

Ideally, this content should be long-form (at least occasionally) and should contain links to other sites. Again, the same things that make your content high quality for your readers are the things that Google wants to see.

Do some keyword research to find what it is that people are searching for and what you should try to target to get the ideal traffic to your site. You can find the volume of people searching for specific terms by using the free keyword tool Jaaxy (Check out here my review).

Try to make sure that the terms you search for aren’t too competitive, however, as otherwise, you can end up going against too many other sites and giving yourself an impossible task.

As mentioned though, Google doesn’t just like you to keep repeating the same keyphrase over and over.

Instead, the objective is to lace it into the content a few times as naturally as possible while also including synonyms and related terminology. This should happen naturally and it should never distract the reader.

From here, you can then go about building links from high quality, relevant sites. There are certain sites that Google already trusts and you can spot these by looking at which ones are already at the top of Google and which ones are featured in Google News. Google also likes big, recognized brands and it domains.

While it might be hard to get links from those sites, you can think of this a bit like ‘degrees of separation’.

In other words, if you can’t get a link from Harvard, look for a site that does have a link from Harvard and see if you can get a link from them!

One of the best strategies you can use to build links is something called ‘Guest Posting’. Here, you are essentially going to contact big blogs and offer to write content for them for free.

This content needs to be relevant and high quality so that they are tempted to go ahead and publish it. Rather than charging for your writing, you then make the deal that you will get to link back to your website, within the body of the text.

Local SEO

One way to avoid going head-to-head with the biggest players in your niche is to focus on local SEO. Local SEO is simply SEO that places local keywords front and. If you live in Santa Monica and you run a hairdresser, then you would try to rank for ‘Santa Monica Hairdresser’ and you would build links from other local companies.

It’s much easier to become number one for a specific search term like this and even if you are running an international business it can be a good idea to start local and then branch out once you have built local momentum.

Final Words

Avoid anything that looks spammy or manipulative. Try to avoid patterns and encourage your visitors to share your links online. That’s what Google really wants to see: sites with lots of links on the strength of their quality.

One way to do this is to write link bait. This is content that is so useful, so interesting or so shocking, that other people want to link to it and include it in their debates or share it with friends.

When creating your links, avoid trying to use only your keywords in the anchor text. Sometimes the best anchor is just ‘Click Here’ or ‘This Article’. Again, this looks more organic and natural and this means Google won’t think you’re paying for your links.

Don’t try and trick Google. Just create high-quality content for your readers, while keeping Google’s algorithms in the back of your mind.

About the Author Fabi

While I was in college I was not amused to become a 9-5 worker. So I searched for other ways. And I found online marketing. After many failures, I finally succeeded and I was able to escape the 9-5 and live the life I always wanted. I believe that if you want something you can achieve it. And if you want to build a successful online business I can help you achieve your goal!

Leave a Comment: