Basic SEO Tips for Beginners
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is the practice of making your website easier to understand for search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Most people optimize for Google, which is currently the most used search engine. The goal of most SEOs is to rank a web page in the #1 spot in a search engine for its relevant keywords, done by maximizing and perfecting specific variables. Although IMO very logical, SEO can be quite technical at some points, but there are some simple tips which are easy to follow, even for beginners!
1. Links Still Matter
Links may be slowly decreasing as a metric search engines use to qualify a site, but there is no doubt that link building is still vital to a website ranking in 2016. Consider links like a vote. The more votes you have, the more trusted you appear as a relevant resource for the subject matter. Not all links are equal, though. Links from ‘relevant’ sites within your industry, as well as links from established and trusted sites, hold more value than links from low quality and irrelevant sites.
2. Content with Keywords Matter Too
Search engines like Google, rank websites based on hundreds of factors, but users search with Keywords and Keyword Phrases. A search engine’s job is to match the user’s intent with a website that best matches. Content is one of the main components of how a site is matched to relevance. If a web page doesn’t have relevant content and keywords to create an association, a web page may be passed up for a site that matches the user’s intent more directly. Be careful not to keep repeating the keywords in your content in hopes of ranking better. A practice like this is considered Keyword Stuffing and is usually bad for the users experience, as well as the search engines perception. Rand Fishkin does an excellent job of explaining how to discover and prioritize keywords here.
3. Set the ‘Meta’ Details
In most website builders you can choose what to put for the ‘meta-tags’. The Title, Description, and Keyword Meta Tags are considered the most common.
The title tag is a short 50-60 character summary of what that page is about, and is also what displays as the title in Googles rankings. Title tags are weighted from the left to the right, so keywords closer to the left side are deemed more important. The title tag IMO is where the ‘art’ of SEO comes into play. This is because it also serves as the introduction to the page in the search results. The title should include your most valued keyword for the page as well as entice the user to click through to your listing
The description tag is an elaboration of the title tag. It is a 150-160 character expansion of what that page is about, and is also what displays below the title in most search results. Description tags offer you an opportunity to add a few more relevant keywords and validate to the user that this page will satisfy their needs
The keyword tag is depreciated by most search engines, and often can be ‘scraped’ by your competition, which allows them the ability to shortcut their research investment by piggybacking of yours. Due to most search engines not using this meta tag it is considered best practice to leave the keyword meta tag empty.
3. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
You may have heard about the recent ‘Mobilegeddon’ that Google caused through the release of an update for their search engine. Google now ranks websites on how accessible they are for mobile users, which is rather important given that there are 2 billion of them! Most website builders will have a mobile view or offer ‘responsive’ abilities, which you can use to make it as functional as the desktop version.
4. Social Media Can Help
Social media offers you a direct opportunity to connect with people that are looking for material your site may offer. Social media isn’t considered a direct ranking signal, but as another source to validate your site’s value to readers. The more followers that like you, the more likely a search engine will trust you as a relevant resource. It is also easier to share your content with the readers that are important to your business. If the content is interesting to the reader, it increases the chance that it will get shared. If the content is truly valuable, it will likely increase the possibility that a website will naturally link to your page as a resource.
The tips we covered here are basic tips, but they’re the foundation to understanding what goes into SEO. Although it gets much deeper than this, SEO is nothing to be afraid of. If you take the time to read up on industry best practices and use common sense, you’ll be well on your way to having a site that’s prime for search engines. Most website builders we compare have SEO tools and support to make the process much easier for you.