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SEO basics

Welcome back, everyone! Today we’re going to take a look at SEO for absolute beginners. 

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.
“But writer man! SEO is just for IT people!”
That’s where we’ll have to disagree, dear reader.
SEO is vital for any online business. In fact, it’s vital for any site on the internet.

Why is SEO vital?

Well, it’s vital because SEO is what determines how many people see your site on Google (or Bing. There’s no judgement here).
And a search engine, like any other engine, must receive the correct fuel. Otherwise, it doesn’t work the way that it should.
In this instance, the fuel consists of keywords, UX, speed performance, and quality content.
If you put the right fuel in, you’ll get the best mileage and cruise through the rankings all the way to the top of the search engine results. (see what I did there?)

So, how do you ensure you have the best fuel? Let’s have a look.

But First
We’ll need to know some pretty important SEO terms, so I’ve compiled a little list for your convenience.

List of Basic SEO Terms:

Black hat: These are big SEO no-nos. The term refers to SEO practices that increase rankings by playing dirty. If you try to use them, you could be hit with some hefty penalties from the search engine.
Crawling: Crawling is how search engines track your site and collect information.
Googlebot/Bingbot: The systems that crawl your site.
Index/De-index: The act of storing or removing content that was found while crawling.
Keywords: Keywords are the words or phrases which people commonly pop into the search bar when looking for something.
Ranking: Where your site is placed on the Google (Or Bing) results pages.
Site Performance: Your SP is determined by things like how quickly your site loads, how well it’s put together, and what kind of quality your content is.
UX: User Experience (UX) is the process that creates an enjoyable, relevant, and meaningful experience for the user.

With that, we’re ready to get going.

The Basics of SEO for Absolute Beginners

It Starts With A Question

Whether it’s cats, cars or cool social media content, people want information, and we have to give them that information, which is why websites exist.
Any good website will provide the answers to your questions or supply you with the relevant information in some way, shape, or form.
For that site to be found (and considered good or bad), it must be crawled. Think spiders but digital and not creepy.
Google (or Bing) deploys these spiders to crawl around your site and figure out how relevant your content is to a particular topic.

 Crawling Correctly

The Googlebot (or Bingbot) will only crawl pages you tell it to crawl.
“What do you mean, writer man?”
What I mean, dear reader is that you can tell the Googlebot what you want it to look at.
“Why does that matter?”

It matters because it heavily influences how well your site performs in terms of relevance, which will impact your ranking.

For example, if you have some sort of employee-only portal on your website, you’d optimise your content in such a way that the Googlebot knows not to crawl that page. Because, as far as the user is concerned, it’s not relevant to them.

Pro-Tip

If you have irrelevant portals or pages that don’t apply to anybody, it’s best to remove them altogether. It saves you time, and it’s much less hassle from a technical SEO perspective.

Keywords

Keywords make up one of the core pillars of site ranking.
If your page is dedicated to telling people about the history of hula hoops, it’s not a good idea to pop in keywords about dogs or snails if you don’t mention those things somewhere on the site. Adding the same keywords unnecessarily or putting in completely irrelevant keywords will influence how Google ranks your site. That’s an example of a black hat tactic, and that’s an SEO no-no.

If You Want The Googlebot To Like Your Site,

Make sure you stick to the right keywords, as well as relevant similar keywords or key terms.
If you’re talking about hula hoops, keywords like “hula hoop” work. But remember that users might be looking for the history of hula hoops or what they’re made of.
Keep those things in mind when you’re including keywords in your content. It’ll optimise your relevance by broadening the possible links to what you’re talking about.
Keywords are vital, but they’re not very impactful if your UX isn’t great.

Xoxo UX

When it comes to indexing, your UX can make or break your site.

Keep It Clean

A simple, minimalistic design that requires little to no work has been proven to give you the best results.
People want convenience, and you need to show the Googlebot that your page makes people do as little work as possible to get what they want to find.
Having buttons labelled correctly and put in the right place will help to simplify how your site operates for people on desktops and mobiles.

A Sidenote

Keep in mind that SEO for desktops and SEO for mobiles are two different things. Whether you’re marketing a service or just offering information, you’ll need to understand that mobile users experience sites differently than desktop users – and you can’t discount either party. It’s worth the time to invest in mobile-first SEO instead of placing all the weight on SEO in general.
Negative mobile-first SEO will influence the Googlebot’s ranking since mobiles account for most of the internet’s traffic.

Site Performance

Your SP is determined by all of the points I mentioned above, as well as something else – loading speeds.
People are less likely to navigate your site if the pages or images take too long to load. On average, people expect to wait a maximum of 2 seconds.

Are You Content With Your Content?

The ultimate thing to focus on when understanding search engine optimisation for beginners is the quality of your content.

You Could Have

  • The best keywords
  • The most amazing UX
  • And the best mobile-first SEO performance

But
It’s not going to help if your site’s content isn’t good quality.
People like convenience, yes.
But they’re searching for something, and they want the answer to what they’ve queried.
If your site’s content is good, it can mitigate some of the impact poor UX, or slow loading speeds would have.

SEO Is A Bit Of An Anomaly.

The whole point is to work hard to make a robot happy enough to show it to people.
With every update, Google (and Bing) start to shift their algorithm focus towards relevance and integrating human errors.
Understanding relevance, phrasing and alternative wording are all vital in the world of SEO basics.

If You Want To Do Well
Keep in mind how to optimise your site’s UX, SP and keywords, but remember.

Your Biggest Asset Is Being Human
You can put yourself in the mind of your consumer and think the way they’d think.
You can determine what they’d want to say and how they’d want to say it and use that to adjust your SEO strategy accordingly.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re trying to do it by yourself or using an external agency’s expertise, you’ll find that there’s a slight offset when it comes to ranking. Having a site that Googlebot likes is important. But understanding how people think and that they may not think the way Google does is more important.

But when it comes to SEO for absolute beginners:

Keep it relevant.
Keep it high-quality.
Keep it real.

And be patient. SEO is a long-term, ongoing effort. You won’t rank #1 overnight. But if you’re dedicated, it’ll build your reputation, which will keep your site ranking high, and keep people coming back.

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