Why do you need a beginner’s guide to SEO? Picture this: you’ve just launched your website, filled with passion and excitement for your business. But alas, there’s one tiny hiccup: you don’t appear anywhere on Google’s search results.

Hey there! I’m Jarod Thornton, your friendly neighborhood web expert. I’m here to guide you through the basics of SEO. Buckle up because we’re about to embark on a guide to transform your online presence from a hidden gem into a shining beacon on the internet.  

So, let’s start with the basics. 

What Is SEO? 

SEO is about tweaking your website and posts to achieve higher rankings on web search results for relevant keywords. 

Think of search engines as the wise old sages of the internet. They constantly scour the digital wilderness to match users with the most relevant web pages. SEO is the magic that influences these sages to recommend your website over others. 

But let’s be real: The internet is crowded and competitive, and SEO is not magic, either. It’s a set of strategies and techniques that require time, effort, and patience to master. It involves optimizing your website’s content, structure, and technical aspects so search engines serve it to web users. 

Why SEO Matters for Websites

You might think, “I have a fantastic website with high-quality content. Why do I even need SEO?” 

Well, think of it this way: if your website is a billboard on the side of a deserted road, how many people will see it? Probably close to none. 

But if your website is strategically placed in the middle of Times Square, imagine the thousands of people who will see it and be drawn to it. 

That’s what SEO does for your website; it brings in organic (non-paid) traffic, increasing your chances of conversion and growth. You don’t have to pay for a billboard because the site is yours. 

Secondly, almost everyone who finds your site via SEO explicitly searches for a product, service, or information related to your website, making them highly targeted leads. In contrast, billboards display your copywriting to everyone passing by, regardless of their interests or needs. 

Moreover, SEO allows you to measure the effectiveness and success of your strategies through analytics tools, making it easier to optimize and improve. 

The Key Components of SEO

We cover this topic more exhaustively in this post: SEO for Small Businesses: What You Need to Know. But let’s quickly go over the key components of SEO:

  • On-page SEO involves optimizing your website’s content, metadata (titles, descriptions), and HTML tags to make it more attractive to search engines.
  • Off-page SEO builds external links and creates a solid online presence through social media shares, guest blogging, and influencer collaborations.
  • Technical SEO hinges on your web design and development quality, particularly site speed, mobile responsiveness, site map, and structured data.

Setting the Foundation for Your SEO Strategy

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of each component, you’ll first need a solid foundation for your SEO strategy. Here are some key elements to consider:

1. Keyword Research

Use popular phrases in your niche and include them in your content and metadata. Keywords, in title and alt tags, meta descriptions, and URLs, significantly improve your website’s rankings.

2. User Experience

I always tell my clients to ensure their websites are straightforward to use. Avoid complicating it with unnecessary menu options or flashy designs that can slow down the site’s loading time. 

Prioritize navigation, site speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall usability.

3. Mobile Responsiveness

Not everyone has a PC, while some that access PCs only do it at their jobs. In contrast, smartphones are cheaper and almost becoming a basic necessity for surviving in these modern times.  

So, a mobile-responsive website is no longer an option—it’s a necessity. 

Google even prioritizes mobile-friendly sites in its search rankings. Please optimize your site for mobile to avoid a significant drop in traffic and conversions.

4. Content Strategy

People want useful and engaging answers to their online queries, and you should aim to answer users’ questions in the most informative and entertaining way. 

You can’t compromise on the quality of content you post; it has to be relevant to your target audience. Incorporate keywords organically and regularly update your content to stay relevant.

5. Competitive Analysis

Study your competitors’ SEO strategies to understand what works for them and where you can improve. Pay attention to their keywords, backlink profiles, and online presence.

Navigating On-Page SEO

Once you have a solid foundation for your SEO strategy, it’s time to focus on the individual components that make up on-page optimization. These include:

1. Site Speed 

As I mentioned earlier, site speed is crucial for user experience and search engine rankings. To improve site speed, optimize images, minimize HTTP requests, and leverage browser caching.

I always use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to analyze my site’s speed and identify areas for improvement.

2. Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

These HTML elements help search engines understand your page’s content. They also appear as blue clickable links and short descriptions in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Always make your title tags concise and descriptive, with relevant keywords. Meta descriptions should be 150-160 characters and enticing enough for users to visit your website. 

3. Header Tags

Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) help structure and organize content on a web page. They also help search engines understand the page’s information hierarchy.

When using header tags, make them clear and relevant to the content of that particular section. Avoid stuffing keywords in header tags: search engines may interpret it as spamming.

4. URL Structure

A clear and organized URL structure is beneficial for search engines and users, too. It descriptively tells both parties what a page is about. Avoid using long, complicated URLs with numbers and special characters.

5. Image Optimization

Optimizing images helps in two ways: it improves site speed and also makes your content more visually appealing. Use descriptive file names and alt tags. As for image size, I prefer free tools like tiny.PNG to compress images without compromising quality. 

6. Internal Linking

Since most of your posts are related in some way, using internal links helps search engines understand the connections between your pages. Internal links are also a great way to retain your readers after they’ve finished reading a particular post or page. 

For example, my favorite article unpacks the entire concept of UX design. In that article, I linked to other articles, like one on hiring a UX designer. 

It helps to keep users engaged and on your website for longer.

Exploring Off-Page SEO

Did you know that you can improve your site’s SEO without touching anything on your site? That’s the magic of off-page SEO, which involves activities outside of your website. Here are some techniques that can help improve your off-page SEO:

1. Backlinking

Have you ever heard about guest blogging? Why do you think influencers and marketers make any effort to appear on platforms they don’t own?

Anytime some other publication links their content to your site, it indicates those publishers trust your brand. 

Backlinking involves increasing the odds of popular brands relevant to your niche posting links to your content on their site. You can do it through:

  • Guest blogging.
  • Getting reviewed.
  • Collaborating with influencers.
  • Hiring publicists. 
  • Publishing highly shareable content.

So, what amount of backlinks is considered good in SEO?

2. Social Media and Its Impact on SEO

Social media is big, but did you know it can also impact your SEO in a big way? Here’s how:

  • Social media shares can increase your website’s visibility and increase traffic.
  • Search engines consider social signals (likes, shares, etc.) as a form of validation for your content, improving your website’s authority and ranking.
  • Growing a robust social media following also boosts your brand awareness, indirectly impacting your SEO efforts. 

Final Thoughts on Beginner’s SEO

My best advice to anyone in any kind of business is to learn about SEO and not be intimidated by it. Backlinks & social media are the best ways to promote your site’s content, but there are more strategies to explore! 

Learn what local SEO is and why it’s important. Then, keep learning and experimenting with different techniques to see what works best for your website and audience. But if you ever wonder if it’s worth it, here are some thoughts; “Is SEO Really Necessary for a Website’s Success?”

If you would like help with SEO, including blog post writing, web design, and various SEO on and off-site tweaks, I’d love to hear from you! To schedule a FREE consultation, click here

Jarod Thornton

Author Jarod Thornton

I love working on WordPress development!

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