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5 basics of search engine optimization: The beginner’s guide

Search Engine Optimization basics

Search engine optimization rapidly evolves each year. What works as a great SEO strategy today might not be what makes you popular in search engines tomorrow. It’s nonetheless extremely important to have and update your SEO strategy constantly since 68% of online experiences will start with a search engine search. Not only that but SEO is 1000% more effective in driving traffic to your website than social media.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is the idea of accumulating free traffic from a search engine to your website so you rank higher in the search results. When done correctly, SEO helps web pages achieve a higher ranking for the keywords relevant to your business. That ultimately creates visibility, traffic to your website and helps with customer conversions.

You’re likely aware that driving traffic to your website is one of the most challenging things your marketing team aims to achieve (if you have one, otherwise it’s a major focus of your time). A great SEO strategy can help you make that task a little bit less daunting.

1. How to start to improve your ranking

To improve your ranking on search engine result pages (SERP), you first have to create an exceptional user experience and flawless technical execution on your website. A great user interface, customer journey, and well-designed pages should be your priority.

In addition to the visual aspect, Google and other search engines closely monitor several metrics to determine how well your website will rank in search engines.  Let’s review them:

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is your starting point. To even appear in the results of search engines, you have to meet their requirements. Elements of technical SEO you need to go over include crawling, indexing, rendering, and webpage architecture.

Site speed

Site speed determines how quickly your pages load and how fast users can interact with your content. It goes without saying – the faster the better.  In fact, you have only 3 seconds to capture visitors’ attention, go slower than that and you’ll lose precious visitors quickly.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate determines the percentage of visitors who leave your website. That happens either because it didn’t load on time or because it didn’t provide valuable and relevant information. High bounce rates negatively affect your ranking, so you need to pay extra attention and optimize content to better serve your target audience.

URL structure

The Uniform Resource Locator, commonly known simply as URL, is the web address of a resource or, in this case, a web page.  To improve rankings, your website’s URL has to follow established guidelines, such as character limits and format.

SEO audit

An SEO audit helps you analyze how well your website is performing compared to best practices. It’s meant to identify potential basic issues affecting search performance so you know where to start improving.

2. Keyword research matters, and here’s why

For your SEO efforts to be successful, you’ll have to pay attention to your keywords and phrases too. Begin by establishing keywords that are relative to your business.

If you offer beauty products, for example, you would want to focus your optimization efforts on ranking better for keywords like blush, eyeliner, lipstick, cruelty-free cosmetics, etc. In other words, any words and phrases describing your brand.

Once you establish the keywords you want to rank for, check your site’s analytics. They will give you insight into how well you’re doing with the choice words and also what your visitors look for when searching for your services or product.

Don’t forget to analyze the performance of your competitors and what they rank for as well. That will give you an idea of what more you can do to improve SEO as part of growing your organization online.

3. What is link building? Why is it important?

Link building is the process of obtaining links from a third-party website. When another page cites information coming from your website, it helps your SEO because search engines use links to crawl the web (browse the web for the purposes of indexing).

Links are organizational and navigational tools that improve SEO performance – the more links your website gets, the more authority it builds with search engines and users consequently.

They’re important indicators that you provide users with useful, quality content and thus are very important for your SEO strategy.

It’s important, however, to note that link building needs to follow ethical practices. That means that you have to actually provide useful information with your links NOT spam.

Readers are picky with the content they invest their time in, so you have to always be relevant and make sure to do contextual link building at all times to provide value to your target audience.

Not to mention, search engine algorithms (especially Google’s) constantly change. They also incorporate AI and machine learning to improve search results for extra relevancy. Spammy and misleading content not only doesn’t rank well but gets penalized instead.

4. Provide value to users within your SEO approach

Link building should be part of your SEO strategy. However, it shouldn’t be your main focus. Content is what drives engagement with users and results in better search engine rankings.

Unique, educational, and entertaining content brings value, so you should invest in creating relevant topics for your audiences. Visual content in particular is the most effective way to attract and retain web visitors’ attention.

Graphics, infographics, videos, and animations are the most immersive type of content your brand can use to present information of value to users. Supported by a regularly updated blog page and other written content, you’ll have the best chances of ranking higher in results.

5. Analyze, analyze, analyze

Once you implement an SEO strategy that is based on best practices and works for your brand, you have to start monitoring and analyzing your performance regularly.

Google Analytics and  Google Search Console will provide the insights you need to follow your progress. Use these tools to see where to improve and find errors or penalties on your website.

A few important metrics to pay attention to are, error rate, the above-mentioned page speed, bounce rate, load time, peak response time (longest response time for all requests coming through the server), DNS lookup time (the time it takes for a domain name system to translate a domain name into an IP address).

In conclusion

SEO is not only important – it’s foundational for brands looking to succeed in a digitally-driven world. It’s the tool that helps you get in front of users, build brand awareness, trust, and ultimately convert customers.

No marketing efforts in 2021 are profitable without a working SEO strategy. Start turning your brand into a well-recognized and profitable business with these five fundamental SEO tactics.

About today’s writer

Terry Tateossian, Founding Partner of Socialfix Media is a fourth-generation entrepreneur who is recognized as an Inc. 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies, Forbes’ Top Women in Business, Fastest Growing Women Presidents by WPO, and 40 Under 40 Business Leaders by NJBIZ. Terry has been featured for outstanding leadership and career accomplishments in numerous industry publications as an engineer, a thought-leader in technology, and an innovator in the field of marketing. But her favorite and toughest earned title is being “Mom” to her 2 children.

2 thoughts on “5 basics of search engine optimization: The beginner’s guide”

  1. petespringerauthor

    Thanks to Terry for explaining this all in layman’s terms. This is great information, Christy!

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