SEO Fundamentals For The Beginner

Why doesn’t my website come up on search results when I type in the keywords I targeted? How do I make it come up? What am I doing wrong? Is there something else I need to do?

If you are a website owner, then you have probably asked yourself or other people these questions once (and maybe not just once) before. It is understandable for every website owner to want his site to rank first or at least be on the first page of search results whenever a search related to their business is conducted. After all, most searchers only check the first 5 to 6 results before clicking on one. A higher ranking therefore means a higher possibility for more visitors, and since more visitors means a higher possibility for sales, it is definitely something you want for your site.

If the keywords or terms you’re targeting aren’t very competitive, then it can be pretty easy to get good rankings. All you need to do is include the keyword/term in the title tag and in one more area of the web page you’re optimizing. However, if the keyword or term you’re targeting is competitive, then you definitely have your work cut out for you. You have to make sure your website is worthy of top ranking and you have to convince search engines of its worth.

The Key to SEO

The key to successfully optimizing your web pages is to know what factors can help them rank well and what you need to do for every single page on your website to ensure it is properly optimized. Remember it is no longer viable to try to trick search engines into giving you top rankings. Updates to their algorithms have been put in place to ensure only the best results for specific searches come up. Trust me, it’ll be a lot easier for you to work on making your site worthy of top ranking rather than trying whatever tricks you have up your sleeve.

SEO is The Key

Since Google is still the biggest and most popular search engine in the world, it is only logical for you to take note of the changes they have made in their algorithms. This is especially important because the most recent algorithm updates Google has implemented have a huge impact on search rankings. Search engines, especially Google, are becoming smarter in providing results; so should you in optimizing your web pages.

How Search Engines Operate

To truly be effective in optimizing your web pages, you first need to understand exactly how search engines work. Generally speaking, search engines have two major functions – that of crawling and indexing, and that of providing answers/results.

To understand the “crawling and indexing” function of a search engine, it helps to think of the Internet as a subway with a huge network of stops. The stops may be likened to unique documents (web pages, PDF, other files). The search engines need the ability to travel through the entire subway and identify all the stops. The most obvious tool that allows them to do this is the various links available in the worldwide web.

Once the search engine finds a stop, it deciphers the code on that document and stores it in a hard drive, ready for retrieval whenever necessary. When an online query is conducted, the search engine scours through all its stored data to find the most relevant answers. These answers are then served up to the searcher in the form of results. The relevance and importance of particular documents to a query is calculated by the search engine’s carefully-crafted algorithms, which are typically comprised of hundreds of ranking factors.

In the case of Google, a series of algorithm updates have been made in recent years to achieve their purpose of providing the best quality of results to their users. While webmasters aim to get their sites to the top of results for the keywords/terms they want to rank for, Google aims to give users the best answer to the query they type in. To succeed in today’s SEO, therefore, you need to make your website a provider of the best answers for the queries you are trying to rank for.

Giving the Wrong Answer

To succeed in today’s SEO, you have to work on making your website a provider of the best answers to the queries you want to rank for.

Key Tips for SEO

Okay, now that you have a better understanding of how search engines work, perhaps you’d appreciate a few tips on how to improve your SEO performance. Bear in mind that Google and other search engines are always on the lookout for websites that are regularly updated; regular updates mean a site is active. It therefore pays for you to regularly post fresh content and add new pages to your site. And when you do, you’d do well to focus on the following:

1. Writing for your audience

If a user clicks on your link and then hits the Back button after just a few seconds, search engines take this to mean the user wasn’t satisfied with the information you have to offer. If you want search engines to deem your site useful to their users, therefore, you have to provide content a user will appreciate. This is why you need to create content with the audience – not the search engine – in mind. Remember, in the SEO of today, you get good rankings not by focusing on the ranking, but by focusing on the quality of your site. And quality content is one of the best indicators of a quality site.

2. Keyword research

In search, everything starts with the words a user types into the search box. You will need to work on ranking for the right terms in order to attain success for your site. Now, how can you rank for the right terms if you don’t even know what those terms are? This is why you need to do your research. Find out what words and phrases your target audience typically uses when they conduct online searches related to your business. Tools such as Google Correlate, MOZ, and SEMrush can be of great help.

3. Writing titles for search engines

As mentioned above, your content should be created with the audience in mind. But that doesn’t mean you can completely take the search engines for granted. You also need to optimize your content for their bots, of course. The best way to do this is to make sure that while your titles are catchy and attractive to your target audience, they are also attractive to search engine bots. This means you need to include your keywords/phrases in your titles, preferably within the first few words.

4. Using keywords and phrases

Just as it is important to incorporate your keywords/phrases within the first few words of your title, it also helps a lot to use keywords/phrases within the first few sentences of the body of the content. In most cases, it is advisable to use keywords/phrases only once or twice in an article, so as not to be penalized for keyword stuffing. So if you have to use your keywords/phrases only once in a blog post, it’s best to make it part of the introductory paragraph.

5. Keywords in Meta descriptions

You’ve included the keywords/phrases in your introductory paragraph and title. Is there any other place on your web page where it should be found? Definitely! Keywords/phrases are of much help when included in the Meta description, preferably in the form of a question. For example, if you are trying to rank for the term “Italian pizza”, you could write the Meta description as, “Craving delicious Italian pizza? Look no farther than…”

Note that search results show the article title, the Meta description, and the page URL. The keyword/phrase match is also shown in bold, so including it in the Meta description definitely helps bring the user’s focus to your link. The question form is preferable because it encourages users to click through in order to learn more.

6. Customized web page URL

As mentioned above, search results include the page URL, so it only makes sense to customize your URLs such that they include the keywords/phrases you want to rank for. Note that search engines normally skip pronouns and articles, so when you customize your URLs, you can leave out “a”, “an”, “the”, “of”, etc. Just make sure your main keywords/phrases are there.

7. Article sub-headers

One of the most important things you need to understand when creating content for your site is the general behavior of Internet users. Among the things you need to note is the fact that most of those who consume information online don’t really read through the entire content; they simply skim through. This is why it is important for you to break your content down into sections that are easy to skim. Sub-headers are very helpful in this case; they even help search engines understand what your post is all about, and that is very important for SEO.

Beginner SEO

If you’re serious about improving your SEO performance, then you should keep the above tips in mind. Note that Search Engine Optimization is ever-changing and you may have to make a few adjustments along the way, but the tips given above should help you take care of the basics, which have remained constant since SEO first came to be.

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