The Complete Guide To SEO Basics

In the first instalment of our SEO blog posts, I’ll be going over the basics of SEO and why you should be implementing SEO techniques into your blog or website.

What Is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) & Why You Should Be Using It

In a nutshell, SEO revolves around optimising your site for search engines. It’s highly important in gaining traffic to your site. After all, the end goal is to have your site appear in the first page of Google when someone searches for something relevant to your business.

Think about it; how many times do you actually go past page one of Google’s results? If someone doesn’t find what they’re looking for in page one of the results, they’ll most likely edit their search term rather than trekking through the series of next pages.

All the SEO techniques we’ll be covering can be applied to other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo, however due to the sheer popularity of Google, I’ll be focusing on that particular service.

Get In Google’s Mind-Frame Of What It’s Looking For When Delivering Results To It’s Users

The first step in quality SEO is to know exactly what Google is looking for. Essentially, Google is providing a service.

It provides people using the search engine with as relevant results as possible, to the extent nowadays that when when someone types in a question, Google will deliver an excerpt of an answer from a website:

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So with this in mind, we need our website to deliver exactly what it promises so that Google sees it as ‘the expert’ in your field.

Google crawls through internet pages and identifies the topic of that particular page through the copy. Therefore, make sure your content is relevant and unique. Obviously check your grammar and spelling and once you’ve completed these steps, we’ll go over the next step – keywords.

How To Use Keywords Effectively To Rank Well

Ok, so you may have read that including keywords in your post will gain you points. Whilst this is correct at the very basic level, they need to be used effectively and that’s what you’ll be focusing upon.

Once upon a time in the early days of SEO, you could put together a post with a particular keyword stuffed in as many times as possible. Google would see that and essentially compute Ok, this post must be about that keyword, in turn displaying it as highly rated.

However, as the algorithms have got more complex, the search engine is now able to sift through keyword overuse while penalising sites that are obviously trying to rank for that keyword. Part of the problem with this was that articles would read terribly through keyword stuffing anyway!

So how do you use keywords effectively?

Firstly, I recommend building a list of keywords that you know you stand a pretty good chance of ranking for. For example, here at Digital Media Edge we’re all about social media marketing.

If we were to try and rank for the keyword ‘Social media marketing agency’, we’d probably find it almost impossible to get to the top of Google’s results as there’s a lot of social media marketing agencies that are more widely known and have been operating longer than we have.

So the key is to try and find a keyword that you could rank for, otherwise known as a long-tail keyword. For example, rather than ‘Social media marketing agency’, we could try ‘social media marketing agency in Lincoln’.

Now to actually implement a keyword in the post.

As I mentioned previously; using the exact same keyword in a post multiple times isn’t a great way to approach keywords as it doesn’t read correctly and Google will penalise your site because of it. Instead, we want to employ a ‘focus keyword’ and then variations of that particular keyword.

So using the example above, if our main keyword is ‘Social Media Marketing in Lincoln’, a variation on this used in a paragraph further down the page could be ‘Lincoln marketing for Social Media’.

The most important thing is that your content reads well. If it doesn’t read well because you’re trying to cram a keyword somewhere where it doesn’t fit, don’t use it there.

Google will also learn what your post is about through your heading tags so make sure you use keywords in your H2 and H3 tags as well as in your paragraphs. Your headings (h1, h2, h3 tags) outline the subjects of your blog posts, so adding in your keywords into your headings will help Google understand what your blog post is about.

DME Power Tip: Use headings to make it easier for your readers to quickly see what your page is about, plus use keywords to help Google learn what you page is about!

Changing Your Permalink To Match Your Keyword

A permalink is the part of the URL which matches your post. This post’s permalink is
/the-complete-guide-to-seo-basics/

Include your keyword in the permalink to help visitors know what the link is about. Please don’t leave this as the default permalink setting in WordPress!

If you’re not sure how to change this, go to ‘Settings’ – ‘Permalink Settings’ and then change from ‘Default’ to one of the other options. We use ‘Month and name’ however ‘Post name’ works well, as would a custom structure which could include the category that your post is featured in.

Using Images In Your Blog Posts

Adding images is a great way to add interest to your posts plus will help with SEO, but Google doesn’t know what your image is – so how do you tell it?

We use Alt tags. If you’re using WordPress, you’ll probably have already seen this. When you add an image to WordPress, it gives you the option to add various attributes, such as a title, caption, alt text and description. The alt text is what we need to focus on. Because search engines can’t “see” an image the alt text is what lets us tell the search engines what the image is. This then helps when someone does an image search in google to display the most relevant image results. Whilst it won’t necessarily help with SEO, it’s also good to add in a title. You know that little yellow box that appears when you hover over an image? That’s the title of the image. So make sure your title is relevant to the image so that if anyone hovers their cursor over the image, it tells them what it is.

Using A;t Text For SEO

SEO Friendly Titles & Meta-Descriptions

In my last blog post I talked about The Top 10 WordPress Plugins You Need To Be Using and one of those was Yoast SEO. What I really like about Yoast SEO is that it gives you the option to edit your post’s title and meta description. Why is this important? Well it gives you the opportunity to write a really cool catchy meta description, and a targeted title to grip people into clicking your link. As you can see in the image below, using keywords in your titles and meta-descriptions makes the result more appealing, because if you were to search for “Complete Guide To SEO” the result in Google would be bold (as in the image below). Often people searching on Google glance at the results. If their search term isn’t in the meta-description or title, they’ll simply ignore it.

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As mentioned before, Yoast SEO let’s you edit your title and meta-description. What’s also really cool is it notifies you if your title or meta is too long, resulting in the cut off of the text and the 3 dots in Google’s results.Char limit

 

Changing Your Site Design To Help Your SEO

An area you could be overlooking in SEO is your site design. Simply put if your site isn’t responsive (mobile optimised) you’re putting a lot of people off. Think about how many times you browse the internet on your phone, people are more often than not browsing the internet on their mobiles than they are on Desktops. Especially if people see a link on Facebook or Twitter as they’re most likely going to be looking at Facebook or Twitter on their mobile!
It’s important, because what will help your SEO is keeping people on your site. If Google sees that people are staying on your site for a good amount of time, and are browsing your site by clicking internal links, it tells Google that people are finding your site interesting and relevant to what they have searched, giving you a higher ranking. This is also known as the bounce rate. If you use analytics you might have come across this. Speaking of which, it’s a good idea to track your site on Google analytics if you don’t already as there’s some useful stats which will in a lot of areas of marketing online. We’ll no doubt be covering analytics in a future blog post!

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Social Media To Give Your Site A Boost

Make sure your business is on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube). All these platforms have useful ways of linking to your site, gaining you extra traffic to your site. Make sure you also have social links on your website, so that people browsing your site can quickly connect with you on social.

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Backlinks

There isn’t really an easy way to go about getting backlinks, but I still think it’s important to mention in this article so you’re aware of it. Backlinks are when another site links to your site. They’re valuable because if many sites link to your site, it boosts your authority as your basically telling Google people like what’s on your website, enough to be linking to it.

Don’t forget, if you’ve got any comments or questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below!

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