Navigating the world of SEO can be extremely difficult. There’s tons of information out there, but it is often confusing for those who are new to SEO. As detailed as some guides can be, they still leave questions unanswered. The SEO “Gurus” often get too caught up in their “Expertise” that they forget who the reader is.
We are going to go over 5 SEO tips for beginners in this quick article. If you have never put any SEO tactics to use before, this guide is for you. More specifically, we are going to focus on the most important part of search engine optimization, which is building a solid foundation. Without a solid website, more advanced tactics such as building backlinks, anchor text, and utilizing schema markup will not be as effective. Let’s get right to it.
- 1 1. Optimize your website for the user
- 2 2. Create an abundance of useful content
- 3 3. Permalink structure
- 4 4. Internal links
- 5 5. Focus on your user base from the start
- 6 Conclusion
1. Optimize your website for the user
This is extremely important. My biggest tip is to always remember that while you are working towards optimizing your website for the search engines, it is ultimately a Human that is reading and clicking a link to visit your website. If their actual experience is poor, you won’t get very many visitors and you’ll quickly see a high bounce rate.
Use a premium theme
This applies if you are using WordPress, as that is all that I really have experience with. While there are many of great free themes out there, using a premium paid theme is an inexpensive way to make things run smoother. They usually have nice layouts, cleaner code, and have some more features than their free counterparts. Premium themes usually receive much better customer support and updates from their creators as well.
You can get a premium WordPress theme for as low as $20 in some cases, though most are right around the $60 range. The most popular WordPress theme is the Genesis Framework by StudioPress. The basic Genesis Framework starts at $60, though child themes push this price up to $100. It’s well worth it though. The Genesis Framework is the industry standard. If you plan on scaling your website or blog, spending $100 is well worth it.
Have a clean interface
This goes along with using a good premium theme. Adjust color settings so they are easy on the eyes, and keep a common look across the website. When starting out, use a free graphic design tool such as Canva to create a simple logo that contains your website name and maybe a small graphic. Later on, you can spend some cash on something nicer. This will help give your website a more polished and finished look to new readers.
You should also take it easy on the banner ads at first. You won’t really generate any cash until you build up a steady stream of traffic anyway, so it’s not really worth it. It’s easy to go overboard at first, which will frustrate your readers. Less is more at first.
About & Contact pages
You should absolutely create an “About” and a “Contact” page. Write a short bio about yourself and your website. Including your name and a small picture of yourself will easily earn user trust. A contact page should just simply have a form for users to submit questions or queries.
Page speed matters
It’s proven that a site will perform better if pages load fast. This is also a large ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. You can use a tool such as PageSpeed Insights to run a test and see where you nee to improve. There are a number of free WordPress plugins available, such as W3 Total Cache that will help you correct these errors. Be warned, they are difficult to understand if you don’t know what you are doing. I recommend installing the plugin and testing your page again with the default settings active. If you see a noticeable improvement, you are probably OK for now. If your results are worse or still poor, I’d recommend seeking the help of someone who knows what they are doing. I’ve hired a freelancer to tweak the settings on one of my sites for $20 before. It’s money well spent.
2. Create an abundance of useful content
You’ll keep hearing this over and over. “Content is Key”. If you post useful content, your chances of succeeding are much higher. You should also have an abundance of content posted before you begin any major SEO efforts. There’s no guidelines or set minimums, as it varies on a case by case basis. But I try to post at least 15-20 articles on a blog before beginning any serious SEO efforts
Long form content
It’s been proven that long form content ranks higher than short form. What is long form? Everyone’s version is different, but I’d say that an article over 1500 words is long form. Ideally, aim for 2000+ words if you can. But don’t just ramble on an on to try and increase your word count. If it takes less than that to get your point across, there’s really nothing you can do.
You should also include at least one image in each post. Be sure that you aren’t stealing an image from someone as it can be a costly mistake. Give proper attributes if necessary. You can also use Canva to create a nice little graphic with a background and your blog post title.
Titles and meta description
Your titles should include your keyword, and they should be interested and spark curiosity. Meta descriptions are the short excerpts displayed under your result in the search engines. They are limited to 160 characters, so they should be to the point and end with a call to action.
You should change your permalink structure as soon as you create your website. This will prevent any headaches down the line. They should be as short and simple as possible. The preferred stucture is something like:
A poor example would be something like:
You should include internal links throughout your site. These are basically links that you include in a blog post that lead to another page or blog post on your website. So for example let’s say that you are writing about the best compact cars of 2016. Number one on your list is the Honda Civic. Maybe you have another article on your website that is an depth review of the Honda Civic. You should like to that article as it will be useful for the reader. It will also help them navigate your site better.
You should use natural anchor text in context. It may look something like this:
- “Number one on our list is the 2016 Honda Civic. It is the most popular choice for those seeking the best compact car that money can buy.”
The bolded text will be your anchor text that links to the review you’ve written about the Honda Civic.
5. Focus on your user base from the start
You should have the tools to build a strong following in place from the start. What if a post goes viral and gets 500,000 page views in a week? If you don’t have an email subscribe option, or social media buttons in place, you just missed out on hundreds or thousands of potential repeat visitors.
Include share buttons on every blog post, and make sure you have links to your pages in the sidebar as well. Building up a strong social media following is a great way to build traffic to your new website. It can be difficult to manage when you start posting more content, but there are plugins that can help out. You can also schedule content to be shared multiple times per day or at any set interval.
You should start an email list as it is an extremely powerful way to get repeat traffic. An opt-in box in the sidebar is a good choice, but popups are becoming more and more popular and useful. Many plug-ins provide some interesting tools and features to choose from.
While SEO can be extremely difficult to understand and implement if you have no experience, following these five tips will give you a solid base to build off of. If they aren’t implemented properly, more advanced SEO tactics may not be as useful as they can be.