SEO for Beginners: In Plain English!
SEO For Beginners Will Teach You:
- How to Improve Your Website’s Performance In Google Search Results
- How to Speed Up Your Website’s Loading Time
- How to Get Backlinks to Your Website … and more!
Introduction to Search Engine Optimization
SEO for Beginners: In Plain English, will do just that – lay out the basics of search engine optimization in the simplest terms that anyone can understand.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, boils down to one thing: will you get found on page 1 of a Google search for the keyword you chose – or will you end up somewhere in the Timbuktu?
Whether you end up on page 1 or page 20 depends on a lot of different factors, and since Google will not divulge what these factors are, the rest of the world is left guessing.
This is where your skilled SEO specialist comes in: someone who has run the SEO Gauntlet and come out on the other side. Be that as it may, SEO for Beginners can start to show you simple things to look for in SEO, even if it’s just to see if the “expert” you hired is holding their own – or just your money!
SEO: Some Basics For New Search Engine Optimists!
No, it wasn’t a typo. People that do SEO are both optimizers and optimists. It’s just the nature of the game.
SEO, in one sense, is designing your website’s content and structure so that search engines will put it close to, or on page 1 of a search.
Some other factors ( and there are many) that play a role in search engine optimization are the performance of your website, for example; how long it takes to load, if it has broken links, can the search engines readily access it, to name a few.
And let’s not forget popularity. If Google sees a website is getting a lot of traffic, it will most likely move it up in the ranks.
This probably doesn’t need to be said, but one of the main reasons why people come to your site in the first place is its content. Valuable content = traffic!
What Makes Content Valuable?
Or, to put it like everybody else in the business does, why is content “king”?
Content is valuable when it satisfies the reason the person searched for something in the first place: to find an answer to their question or one that satisfies their needs.
People searching for topics on the web are really looking for answers, plain and simple.
An example of this would be if you were trying to learn SEO and you found this article in a search. Maybe you typed in “SEO for beginners”.
If you want to look at this from the searcher’s point of view –try turning common search terms into questions the searcher might ask; like ‘How do I do SEO?’ or ‘What are some basic steps I can take to do SEO?’
You are here because you want to learn how to do SEO, plain and simple. You’re not looking for a steakhouse or to adopt a kitten–you want to know how to do SEO.
If this content delivers that information to your satisfaction, you are likely to share it on social media or even link back to it, if I’m lucky!
And getting your content shared on social media and acquiring backlinks sends a message to the search engines that the article you’ve written provides value.
The search engines’ natural response to this information is to move your article up in the search results. So think of your content as a gift – of knowledge.
And while we’re giving, let’s give you some info. about another hot SEO booster: backlinks.
What Are Backlinks?
Backlinks are when another website likes your content enough to actually put a live link from their site back to yours. It’s a beautiful thing!
People can click on the link and visit your website. Google puts backlinks at the top of their appreciation list for SEO, because they assume that if someone liked your content enough to link to it, it must have some value.
The name of the game with backlinks is to get them from high domain authority websites, rather than “spammy” ones. Having a high domain score means, essentially, that Google trusts and finds value in your site.
If you want to check a website’s domain authority, just go to Open Site Explorer to check for free. And Google knows the difference between a good backlink and a bad one, believe me.
Ok, So WHERE Do You Get These Coveted High Domain Authority Backlinks From?
You get them from sites with a high trust rating from Google. The sites with the highest trust rating are government websites (.gov), school websites (.edu) and charitable organizations (.org).
Just to be clear though -it’s nearly impossible to get a backlink from a government website unless you’re doing contract work for them. Short of that, go for the others!
Getting backlinks from these sources can really help your website jump closer to page 1, or higher up on it if you’re already there.
I should also point out that there are a lot of high domain authority websites that are not .edu, .org, .gov., so those aren’t the only game in town.
It’s important to keep in mind though, that a backlink from a “spammy”, low-quality website can damage your website’s SEO.
And yes, it was worth repeating, because there are a lot of unscrupulous “SEO specialists” out there that buy cheap backlinks for sites they work on, getting those sites an artificial, and temporary, boost.
But Google may eventually find out, and your site can get hammered in the search results. Once that happens, it’s a long climb back up again. You want to get your backlinks the old fashioned way – by earning them.
So HOW Do You Get These Wunderbar Links?
Brian Dean, one of the “big boys” of backlinking, came up with an innovative way to get backlinks: it’s called The Skyscraper Technique.
I know, what the heck does that mean, right? The Skyscraper Technique, in the simplest terms, is finding content in your niche with a high domain authority, creating more detailed and engaging content, then reaching out to the people who backlinked to the original content and asking them if they’d be interested in linking to yours as well.
Now you’re asking yourself, “How do I create more detailed and engaging content than what’s already at the top of the search results?
Well, it won’t be easy, that’s for sure. This is where finesse comes in, and lot’s of hard work, meaning research.
Research Is The Key To Good Optimization
You can start off by typing your keyword into a Google search. Whatever shows up on the first page is your starting point.
You research the heck out of that content, reading up on as much as you can, all the while keeping the thought in mind, “How can I add my personal touch and make this content even better?”
Maybe your way of creating better content will be to add killer visuals like video. Or maybe it’s your eloquent elocution that will set you apart.
Whichever the case may be, you’ll still have to research the competition’s work to see what’s out there, and how you can beat it.
Now when I say research, I literally mean, research. You know, like back when you were in school and had to do a term paper. You read the content that’s at the top of the search results, then you read the citations.
Where did the authors get their ideas and information from? Maybe when you go to those sources, you will find something the others overlooked and Bingo! Now you have something different to throw into the pot.
To find prospects you may want backlinks from, take the same sites you’ve already researched, the ones from the top of the search results, and run them through the phenomenal SEO tool, AHREFS.
AHREFS will tell you which websites are backlinking to the articles you found on page one.
Once you are satisfied that your content is up to par, it’s time for outreach. But how, you ask?
The same way you’d reach out to anyone else, I guess; you write an email to the author complimenting them on their great article. Then you show the author your terrific content and politely ask, that if they like it, would they be so kind as to give you a backlink.
It’s really a numbers game. Most people won’t give you the time of day, and some may give you a backlink. You’ll only find out by trying!
What is Loading Time?
Loading time, in plain English, is how long it takes for your website to appear on the screen after someone clicks on the link to it.
Yes, there are more technical explanations, like “time to first byte” etc., but for now, this one will suffice. Google takes loading time into account when considering user experience.
This is because they know people don’t like waiting around for things. Hey, it’s a fast food society, right?! Loading time is actually measured in milliseconds.
According to some of the pros, your website should load in 2 seconds or less. A great free tool to test your loading time is Pingdom.
How Can I Improve My Website’s Loading Time And Performance?
First and foremost –you should always optimize the images on your website. Images taken from the web usually have huge file sizes and this means it takes them longer to load.
You need to compress the image files so that your site loads quicker. You can do this off-site with imageoptimizer.net, or you can do it with plugins if your site is made on WordPress.
Smushit is a popular WordPress plugin for people who want to shrink image file size. You also want to minify the code of your website; java script, css, and html . If you want to see how Google scores your website’s performance, go to Google Pagespeed Insights. This will tell you what needs to be fixed.
Yikes! Did He Say Minify The Code On My Website??
Yes, he did –and there are some great plugins to help you do it- without knowing anything about code! W3total Cache, Autoptimize and WP Fastest Cache are 3 of the best plugins out there for minifying the code on your WordPress website.
You can download these for free at WordPress.org. A word of warning though – configuring a plugin like W3total Cache takes some experience, and doing it wrong can screw up your site.
Keep in mind that the same plugin can react differently to different websites, depending on the way the template is coded. Getting it right may take some tweaking.
The upside…if you click on something that blows up your site, 99% of the time unclicking it restores your site. I will go into details of how to configure w3total cache in an upcoming article, and what to do if you accidentally mess something up.
By now you’re wondering about how to improve your onsite SEO even more, right? Is there a magic plugin for this action?
What Is The Best SEO Plugin For Your WordPress Website Or Blog?
Yoast is definitely one of the most popular SEO plugins –and fairly easy to use. It has sections that help you properly format your titles and meta descriptions, as well as content to match your chosen keywords.
The nice thing about Yoast is that it gives you a “green light”, actually a dot, that lets you know when you’ve got something right.
What About Compressing Video So My Site Loads Quicker?
Do you have video directly embedded in your site, not hosted on Youtube? Did your web designer actually take the time to compress the file size of the video so it won’t slow down your site?
Hey- you can check it yourself on Pingdom. This will tell you the actual size of the files, so if you see something huge, like 50 megabytes, you’d better get your designer on the phone, asap!!
You can compress large video file sizes for video that is hosted directly on your website, or you can host your video on Youtube and embed it on your site from there. It’s 6 of one, half a dozen of the other.
When the video is on Youtube, your site isn’t carrying any of the load, so you don’t have to worry about file size. If you are hosting the video on your website, you should “shrink” it first.
Handbrake.fr is a tool for optimizing and shrinking video file size so your site can load quicker – and it’s free. This is the only game in town, for optimizing video embedded in your site, in my opinion.
There’s A New SEO Game in Town: Structured Data Mark-Up, and It’s a Biggie!
We will talk about Structured Data Mark-Up in a future article, but for now, keep an eye on this one…
The Desired Effect
The bottom line for improving your website’s SEO is to make your site more visible in the search results, so more people can buy your products or services.
The easier it is to find your website, the easier it is to do this. Just keep in mind a few simple rules when selling your services; always over deliver on your promise, return messages promptly, and provide a value that is unique to your business.
Oh, and one last thing –make sure all your ducks are in order with Google!
List of Tools Mentioned In This Article;
- Moz Open Site Explorer
- Google Pagespeed Insights
- Wordpress Plugins –W3Total Cache, Smushit
- Yoast Plugin
If you need help with any of the techniques in this article, such as SEO or redesigning your website, please contact us. Our rates are reasonable and our customer service is superb. Thank you for your time!
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