The idea of doing search engine optimization (SEO) can feel overwhelming for beginners. After all, you’re inundated with so many techniques and tools that it sounds and looks complicated.
If you need guidance, work with an expert digital marketing agency specializing in this field. But it also helps to understand SEO better, so that you make smarter marketing decisions and collaborate effectively with your chosen firm or in-house team.
2022 Beginner’s Guide to SEO
This article breaks down SEO into an understandable, easy-to-follow concept and offers the top three strategies to get you started in no time. Let’s begin.
What Is SEO?
At its simplest, SEO is the process of making your site more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs). You do this by improving the ranking signals search engines look for when a search engine is looking at your website pages to see if they respond to a user’s query.
Although it should be part of a broader Internet marketing effort, SEO is different from other well-known strategies:
- SEO is not search engine marketing (SEM). This is a paid ad placement strategy that entails buying ads on SERPs.
- It is also not social media marketing (SMM), which is promotion of your brand or product on social media platforms.
- SEO is also not limited to content marketing. It covers a wide range of elements, including link building, website design, and user experience.
People also do SEO for various reasons:
- It helps raise brand awareness or build a reputation.
- SEO increases traffic to your site and, as a result, sales or leads.
- It positions you as an authority in your industry.
But the primary goal is to appear on the first page of SERPs for relevant queries. Many studies have already shown that this position receives the most number of clicks from Internet users. Plus, metrics like web traffic and click-through rate (CTR) decrease the deeper your website gets buried among the pages.
Simply put, first-page position = traffic = more leads = higher sales and conversion.
Types of SEO
Marina Turea of Digital Authority Partners shares that to increase your chances of ranking higher on SERPs, you should create three types of SEO:
- On-Page SEO. This is SEO implemented on your website. It often pertains to activities and elements you can control. It includes your website’s title, headings, images, and other content. These factors influence your site’s visibility and relevance to search engines.
- Off-Page SEO. This SEO deals with factors not on your website but that still affect your ranking. The most common is link building or earning links from other websites. Other examples include social signals, such as shares and likes, and online reviews.
- Technical SEO. This is SEO that focuses on improving your website’s infrastructure and making it easier for search engine crawlers to access and index your site. Technical SEO can be a bit complex, so it’s best to consult with an expert if you’re not familiar with the technical aspects of website design and development.
Changes in consumer behavior also introduce another SEO type called local SEO. This one optimizes your online presence to attract more customers from local search results. For example, if you’re selling donuts in Los Angeles, you want to appear on the first page of SERPs when people look for “donut shops near me.”
Three Essential SEO Strategies for Beginners
The Internet has dozens of recommendations on how to do SEO. But some might already be outdated, while others are too technical for beginners. If you do only three things to improve your SEO campaign, we highly suggest these.
1. Include User Experience in the Plan
A decade ago, you could get away with stuffing an article with a single keyword or linking to any site regardless of its quality. But times have changed, and so have search engine algorithms. They now consider the overall user experience.
This isn’t surprising. After all, search engines like Google and Bing want users to keep coming back. But users won’t if they feel dissatisfied with the results they see on SERPs or their website visit.
You can include user experience into your SEO campaigns in different ways:
- Diversify your keywords, content types, and visuals.
- Use natural language in your content.
- Optimize your website for mobile devices.
- Focus on quality instead of quantity when it comes to link building.
- Ensure that your website loads quickly.
- Offer something unique that will make users want to come back for more.
- Fix broken links and other website errors.
2. Do Not Cheat with Black Hat SEO
Contrary to popular belief, black hat SEO is not illegal. But it is often unethical since the goal is to game the search engines and achieve a higher ranking in SERPs using questionable means. This approach is also unsustainable in the long run. Because using black hat SEO violates webmaster guidelines, your site could get penalized.
What black hat SEO techniques should you avoid? Here are some:
- Keyword stuffing or filling your content with too many keywords in an attempt to manipulate SERPs
- Cloaking or showing one version of a page to users and another to search engines
- Creating doorway or gateway pages that contain little original content but are packed with external links.
- Generating fake reviews or paying for positive online reviews
- Hiding texts or links on a webpage by making them the same color as the background
3. Strengthen Your Content Marketing Strategy
If you must focus on either link building or content marketing, pick the latter, especially in the beginning stages of SEO. Without compelling content, you cannot drive traffic, rank well on your chosen keywords, or encourage people to link to you.
In fact, in one study, over 60% of successful B2B companies had a well-documented content marketing strategy in 2020.
You can dramatically improve your content marketing campaign with these ideas:
- Diversify your content type. Blogs still work, but so do others, such as podcasts, webinars, and videos. Remember, your market now consumes content in ways different from just reading text on a website.
- Combine long- and short-form content. Use long-form for your power pages or those you want to rank for specific keywords. Create shorter pieces for social media or when you need “snackable” articles, like listicles. They are easier to skim, so they’re friendly to busy audiences.
- Republish old content. This strategy helps you reach a new audience. It allows you to update your content and ensure it’s still accurate and relevant. Republishing can also demonstrate your expertise and authority on a topic.
SEO does come with a learning curve, particularly for beginners. But it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you believe. This guide helps you better understand it and offers ways to improve your online visibility.
As you get better at it, you’ll find that SEO can be an enjoyable and creative process. You’ll also realize that a solid SEO foundation is essential to any digital marketing campaign, whether you’re just starting or have been at it for years.