SEO can sound like a big and intimidating concept if you haven’t dabbled in it yet. Still, today, every blogger and every company (especially companies, bound by marketing goals) feels the pressure to start doing some SEO work. There’s no way to remain relevant (or become relevant) otherwise. To make the journey easier if you don’t know where to start, I’ve put together this simple list of SEO tips for beginners, to lay the grounds. Don’t fuss and just take it one step at a time.
The basic ingredients of SEO, all melting together to create the perfect balance. Source:www.torquemag.io.
#1-10. The Basic Technicalities:
#1. SEO means that you explain things better to search engines, so they can ‘read’ your content.
#2. For example, never upload images without alt title attributes and descriptions; this mandatory step is called ‘image optimization’.
#3. While we’re on the topic of images, always add some to your content.
#4. Compress your images using free tools like TinyJPG.com, so they don’t have a negative impact on the page loading speed.
#5. If you’re just starting blogging, use WordPress over BlogSpot (the first platform is more SEO-friendly).
#6. Take advantage of the built-in SEO plugin that comes with any WordPress-based website theme: fill out the fields for meta-description and keywords.
#7. Keep your titles short (7-9 words) and on-point.
#8. Use formatting (available in Microsoft Word), but just one H1 tag per post, and as many H2 and H3 tags as you’d like (and as many as make sense, of course).
#9. If linking to other posts and pages around the internet, always select the ‘open link in new tab’ option when editing your link (it will reduce your bounce rate).
#10. Continue to learn a bit about SEO every day: just a 10-minute article or new trick, to better yourself. (Plenty of inspiration out there, browse around or even reach out and ask me directly.)
Perhaps the most important SEO tip, no matter how contradictory it may sound, is understanding what the user wants so you can deliver it to them, exactly the way they want it. Source: www.beewits.com.
#11-20. Understanding Your Reader / User
#11. Even with SEO rigor in mind, your purpose is not to please search engines, but to satisfy your user; this should be your new content creation mantra.
#12. Stay on topic and always ask yourself this question before hitting the publish button: ‘Does the user find the answer to the question that got them here?’
#13. Stand out from the crowd and also ask yourself: “How am I different from the other blog posts on this topic?’
#14. Engage your audience directly towards the end of your posts: don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback, or for communicating what they want.
#15. Tailor your users’ suggestions into future posts or content; if you remember the user who suggested the piece you can even give them a shout-out upon release (publish).
#16. As often as possible, include useful things in your posts, to help the user get value out of them: a resource, letting them know about a mini-tool related to the topic, an infographic explaining a complicated topic in a simpler way, etc.
#17. Don’t stray too much from user intent: enrich your content with things your reader would find useful, not with things you like yourself.
#18. Try to figure out two things: who your main audience currently is (the demographics of it) and who would you like it to be.
#19. Afterwards, create content that would engage and satisfy both sides of your audience: the one you want (to attract them) and the one you already have (no point in losing them).
#20. Continue nurturing a relationship with your audience, it’s the only way to build trust (and an aura of expertize) on the long run; if your users will be happy, Google will be happy.
Create your own content quality checklist based on your niche, but don’t forget to put your user first and to fulfil SEO technical requirements as well. Source:www.contentmarketinginstitute.com.
#21-30. The Content Quality: Pay Attention to These Factors
#21. Proofreading, proofreading, proofreading, until every turn of phrase is at its best; any mistake will signal to both search engines and your readers that you’re not top-notch.
#22. Content freshness: if you’re able to publish something that won’t become outdated anytime soon (evergreen content), that’s great, but if not, make sure you update the post as often as necessary.
#23. Publishing frequency: write blog posts consistently, regularly and frequently (at least every 2-3 days).
#24. Choice of pictures: these should be broad-spectrum and relatable enough, but also focused on the topic; otherwise, your visuals will be off or even confusing the reader and crawlers.
#25. Copyright-free pictures: don’t use pictures for which you have no permission; there are plenty of online outlets for images issued under creative commons and so on, so just choose images from there or use your own.
#26. Expertize: don’t make statements about the state of affairs in any niche, unless backed by official data; when you can, link to expert reports or scientific studies to add more value and reliability to the information you present.
#27. Tone of authorship: keep your tone in an overall professional zone, even if your style does become more human, personal or funny every now and then.
#28. Helpfulness: never forget that your user’s main purpose is to find something informative and helpful, therefore your awesome content should always ultimately be about your readers, not about you.
#29. Writing structure and style: choose short sentences and short paragraphs, break up anything that isn’t part of a single item into several chunks of text, and don’t shy away from tools like Grammarly – it may save you a lot of editing time.
#30. Originality: before publishing, make sure that your piece brings something more than re-sliced ideas which are already out there in the top search results for your topic.
This is how you create a social media bomb (aka viral content). Source:www.dreamgrow.com.
#31-40. Content Promotion & Marketing
#31. Social media should be used to promote your content at least minimally, it’s fun, easy to use and won’t swallow too much of your time (if you don’t let it).
#32. The trick is to decide and choose which social media platform would work best for your niche and content: Pinterest favors unique and engaging visuals, Twitter is good for building an influencer status if you deliver expertize, while Facebook is awesome for multi-purpose content.
#33. Use paid social media promotion only for some posts, as an experiment; discover what type of ad work is best suited for you, through trial and error.
#34. If you can afford it, designate a social media representative (or a team of several), to promote your posts cross-platforms and at the ideal times throughout the day.
#35. If you use affiliate marketing, don’t allow your posts to become too promotional; neither users nor the search engines will like it.
#36. If you accept sponsorship for some of your posts, make sure you’re transparent and honest about it.
#37. Don’t promote products, ideas or people you don’t believe in just for the sake of marketing, the bad karma will catch up sooner than you think (meaning that you will develop a negative reputation of being a sell-out, or of endorsing bad quality).
#38. For bloggers: don’t become an outlet for products within a certain niche, but don’t become a news outlet for very different niches either (the users should still be able to associate you with a particular domain).
#39. An ideal ratio for bloggers is to post around 25-30% posts with promotional content (like product reviews or articles with affiliate links), and the rest should be non-promotional.
#40. For companies: even if your business page is rather formal, sober and on-point, trust me that you still need a blog section for your website; use it for posting short updates, company events or newsworthy developments in your field.
Ranking on page one isn’t everything; always ask yourself what really works for your website. Source: www.mainpath.com.
#41-50. Keywords and Keyword Research
#41. Identifying the proper keyword(s) you want to use is crucial for increasing your chances of ranking in search results, and thus of driving organic traffic to your website; search engines are still the top traffic source and influencer.
#42. It’s easy to find keywords with a decent demand even if you don’t have the time, budget or know-how for sophisticated tools: start with Google’s AdWords or simply start typing words and phrases related to your niche in Google’s search bar and see what it suggests (those are keywords based on what other users are looking for).
#43. Of course, if you want more accuracy (and to convert your use of keywords to cash via AdSense), then you need to use tools which also report on how valuable a keyword is, how fierce is the competition for it and so on.
#44. After you get accustomed with the sandbox of keyword planning (AdWords or the Google search bar suggestions), move on to more professional tools like Semrush; with any of the more advanced tools, you get plenty of bonus advantages and most are also easy enough to use.
#45. Once you have your keyword plans, be careful how you dose them: too much and search engines might issue a penalty for you because of keyword stuffing (spamming), too little and you may not produce a significant effect.
#46. The main strategy of keyword use (pretty unimaginative, but tried and tested) is to put the main keyword in the title of the post, in the first and last paragraphs (once) and once more for every 100 words, throughout the rest of text.
#47. Within the title, a keyword is more effective if inserted as close to the beginning as possible.
#48. Think of the user intent associated with the keywords you use (no tool can tell you this explicitly, but you must use your intuition instead) and then make sure your post responds to this user intent in a satisfying way.
#49. Pro-tip: try to use your main keyword in one of your alt tile attributes for images within that post, but only if it’s truly relevant to describe the picture (otherwise it’s spammy).
#50. If a related keyword (to your main one) would provide extra value to your users when approached in detail, but getting into both keywords would take too much space, just create a sub-post in addition to your main one and have both posts link each other.
It’s all about that link juice, ‘cause links are kind of a big deal. Source: memegenerator.net.
#51-60. Links, External Links, Interlinking
#51. Links are one of your main SEO pillars: the more referrals you get in the form of links, the more trustworthy your website will be in the eyes of search engines (and the higher it will rank).
#52. Still, the area of links is still one which witnesses a lot of abuse and attempts to manipulate search engines for ranking purposes; this type of black hat SEO is highly frowned upon, so you need to be very careful with your linking strategy in order to have everything done right.
#53. There are two main types of linking: interlinking (which means some of your posts link to others which are relevant for the topic) and external linking (receiving external links to your posts is more valuable SEO-wise, but you also need to pay more attention to it to make sure everything is white hat only).
#54. The quality and authority of the domains which link to you will reflect directly upon your own website, in the ‘eyes’ of search engines and their crawlers
#55. Anchors texts (the words on which a hyperlink is inserted) are important: the closer they are to the topic developed in that link, the better it is for the website they link to, and therefore it’s really useful to get backlinks to your website using the keywords you want to rank for as anchors.
#56. Still, this is used as a permanent strategy by many grey and black hat link-builders, so don’t abuse it: be careful not to have anyone link to you using keyword-rich anchors unless it is indeed relevant and descriptive for your content.
#57. Never link to a page using your main keyword (for that post within which you insert the link) as the anchor text; this would only confuse search engine crawlers and end up flagging your own content as not that relevant for the keyword (topic).
#58. Don’t engage in link exchanges with internet buddies (you link to them and they link to you): while not completely forbidden, the practice is still frowned upon by search engines.
#59. The value of a link to you (how much credit they give to you in the eyes of search engines) is called link juice; a link from a relevant site (in the same niche with you) carries more link juice than links from irrelevant websites.
#60. If you’re serious about traffic and ad revenue growth, you can hire a team of experts for creating and implementing a link-building project for your website (like broken link building and so on); this can be highly fruitful if done right (organically), but you need to make sure there’s no black (or even grey) hat SEO involved.
Sitemapping ain’t easy at first, but mandatory if you want search engines to see you. Source: www.stonetemple.com.
#61-70. Preventing and Correcting Errors
#62. Your website should also come with a correct sitemap, which can be accessed by users as well; the sitemap (either of the XML type or the HTML type) should be verified for errors and updated every 2-3 months.
#63. Submit your sitemap to the major search engines (Bing and Google’s Webmaster Central) once you finish it, to make sure your future content gets indexed properly.
#64. Install Google’s Webmaster Tools on your blog or website; this will allow you to create the sitemap, monitor errors and to communicate with Google in case there’s something wrong.
#65. If Google’s crawlers will detect errors on your website (or black hat strategies like spammy content), your website might get a penalty and stop indexing, you should take measures to prevent that, and the Webmaster’s Tools will help.
#66. Make sure you choose the right settings for your website’s categories and sub-categories; you may end up being flagged for duplicate content accidentally (because of some meta-description snippets repeating in two or more category pages etc.).
#67. Make sure you don’t have multiple posts on the same topic (with the same main keyword or almost identical ones) or linking to the same link; this may be considered a spammy practice even if you had the best intentions.
#68. Don’t spam any kind of content (too many images with too little text etc.), and don’t aggregate content that isn’t yours, even if you do link to the proper sources.
#69. If you ever have the feeling that your website has received a penalty following a major Google update, check your Webmaster’s Tools inbox for details or simply have a team of experts perform a website audit (this will protect you against future risks as well).
#70. Some WordPress themes get indexed better (faster) than others and are also prone to create less code errors; do you research before choosing a theme for your website and don’t decide only based on its visuals.
You’ll get much more than simple traffic reports with Google Analytics, we have it on good authority (Morpheus). Source: memecreator.org.
#71-80. Monitoring Your Traffic and Rankings
#71. Create a Google Analytics account for your website, the very detailed reports you’ll get are also surprisingly easy to follow, even for beginners.
#72. You can also use Semrush to check rankings (and as already suggested above, the tool will be more than useful for other things as well, like finding the right keywords and so on).
#73. You should also create an account with Moz, especially if your website is used for marketing as well, no matter the type (e-commerce, affiliate marketing or AdSense revenue).
#74. Any sort of progress in rankings is good and brings more potential for the future, but the harsh truth is that only ranking in the first page of search results really matters and brings significant traffic.
#75. On this note, here is the most well-known SEO joke (and also a plainly spoken tip): the best place to hide a body is in the second page of Google’s search results, because no one ever goes there.
#76. Don’ fret about the little differences in rankings, since slight fluctuations are normal on the time scale of a few days and even weeks; just make sure the overall trend is upwards at the end of each month.
#77. It’s normal to obtain slightly different measurement facts from the different tools you use; no need to be worried about it, just take the best advice (or conclusion) reflected by each of these reports.
#78. It’s also useful to check details like where do your users come from and where they go to after visiting one of your posts, how long they stay on page and so on; the major measurement tools can inform you on these facts and more.
#79. Conduct experiments with the help of your monitoring tools: implement a small change on your website and see how it affects rankings, traffic and so on.
#80. By taking away such lessons from your SEO reports, as long as you keep watching the reports constantly, you can tweak your approach for the best and for the ultimate goal: continuous significant growth.
It may get lonely at the top, but the view is beautiful; just be very mindful to what search engines want. Source: https://twitter.com/georgeltp4.
#81-90. For When You Get to the Big(ger) League
#81. Don’t fall into the trap of using too many tools for SEO: some will just waste time or produce errors, while some are downright spammy and defeat your purpose.
#82. Instead, it’s better to ask yourself what content cools and plug-ins you can live without; it will make your life much easier.
#83. Start implementing the new SEO things you learn, after devising a proper implementation plan.
#84. Stick to your SEO plans and follow up with measurement metrics, so you can tweak the plans constantly based on the results you obtain.
#85. You can also entrust your SEO activity and website development plans to experts, in order to save time and get better results, but make sure you choose a reliable team, since black hat SEO can get your website penalized or worse.
#86. Don’t limit your website growth strategy to SEO; even if most traffic will come to you from search engines (and the other big chunk from social media), you should still conceive a more diversified approach.
#87. Be careful when constructing your web presence and footprints, some of your approaches may hurt, SEO-wise (such harmful details may include: links in your email signatures, forum posts which may lead to duplicate content, or simply being associated with the wrong partner sites and so on).
#88. Have a web developer regularly check your website for code errors (once every 3 months): even if everything seems to be performing well, little glitches may form in time and slow your page speed etc.
#89. Things that used to work well for you, strategy-wise, may suddenly stop working well and get your website de-indexed; this is due to unexpected changes in Google algorithms (major updates) and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it but keep learning SEO, so you can adapt well to this.
#90. If your website isn’t performing as well as it used to, just call the experts; never underestimate the healing power of a good website audit.
We can’t revive dead websites or perform internet miracles, but we can help you build better websites in the future even if some current projects are too damaged for any realistic hopes of revival. Image source: niftylaw.com
#91-100. Take-Away Tips to Remember
#91. Have patience: SEO is a fun and grown-up game with high stakes and rewards, but even if you apply every bit of advice given here, it may still be a few months before you achieve significant traffic growth.
#92. Don’t jump to implementation every time you read about a new SEO actionable tip or technique; some things can hurt your website more than they can help it, so further research is required always.
#93. Remember to keep your sitemap fresh and regularly updated, in order to keep search engines in the loop with what you’re doing.
#94. Once your website grows too big to manage manually (especially if you’re not creating all of your content yourself), you can use various tools to check if all is in order with the alt-tags, meta-descriptions and so on.
#95. Pages and posts which have too thin content (less than, say, 500 words) should be updated (enriched), or deleted, or merged with others.
#96. Test your website on other browsers than the one you’re currently using, and other types of devices as well, in order to check if its paging is displayed right, if it’s mobile-friendly and mobile-responsive and so on.
#97. If your end goal is to monetize your website traffic, so you’re in it for the big bucks, then hiring an SEO team to manage it is what you’ll need to do sooner or later; just make sure the people you hire are truly professional and stay away from potential black-hatters.
#98. Unlike classic SEO actions and planning which require time to reflect into stable results, social media activity is worth your time only if it converts into significant traffic boosts sooner and faster.
#99. Be helpful and engaging with your users if they post comments or feedback, following this rate: if you have under 5 new comments per day, respond to all, for under 20 comments per day, respond to 5, and over 100 comments per day, respond to about 10.
#100. Remember to always have fun when creating your content and fine-tuning it for SEO purposes; both your audience and the crawlers will be able to pick up on that!