The Beginner’s SEO Basics Guide To Must-Know Terms
If you have an online business, you’ve probably heard the term “SEO” more times than you can count, and you may be wondering what it’s all about. At Search Marketing Experts, we don’t expect business owners to be experts in digital marketing – that’s our job! If you’re finding it all a bit daunting, we’re here to help you out with all the SEO basics.
First thing’s first, what is SEO exactly? SEO (search engine optimisation) is an organic way to get your website to rank higher on Google. This is done by improving your website’s content, including relevant search terms in your writing, and making Google see value in your site. Google prioritises its searchers above all else. It only wants to show them the very best websites, and with the vast amount of web pages at Google’s disposal, it can absolutely afford to be picky.
This means that getting your website to rank higher can take time and effort. There’s a lot to learn, and fully understanding SEO can feel like falling down a rabbit hole; once you’ve wrapped your head around one aspect, you immediately have to start researching another. As you find yourself bopping around from site to site, you may start to wonder if you’ll ever learn everything you need to know.
While SEO can seem overwhelming, it is also an incredibly valuable marketing tool that can be a major asset for your business. The team at Search Marketing Experts want to see your business thrive online. So, we’ve put together an SEO guide to help you make sense of everything. We have simplified things for you, defining the key components and giving you a step-by-step guide on SEO basics for your business. Learn about the SEO basics all in one place with our list of must-know terms.
Keyword research is the first thing you’ll want to familiarise yourself with. It’s the process of researching all of the topics relevant to your website to gain insight into your target audience’s most popular search terms. Once you know what people are looking for, you’ll be able to tailor your content to include popular keywords. This will allow Google to better understand what products/services your business offers. This way, it can include your website in relevant search results.
So how do you conduct keyword research? There are a bunch of free online resources that can help you gain insight into which of your topics are the most popular. Google Trends and Ahrefs Keyword Generator are pretty good places to start. These free tools are a great starting point and can serve you well when you begin your journey into SEO.
Now you know about keyword research and how to start it for free, it’s time to discuss the value of SEO experts. It can be possible to bump your website’s rankings yourself through basic keyword research. However, it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot of businesses out there working to appear on the first page of results. To make your website shine, you’ll need help, and an SEO expert is basically the digital equivalent of the world’s best wingman. They’ll go above and beyond to make your website look appealing to search engines, increasing your rankings and generating more traffic for your business.
With so many businesses aiming for the top spot, and most searchers not looking beyond the first page of results, the knowledge that SEO experts possess can be invaluable. Researching relevant search terms for your business is just the first of many steps for an SEO expert. They will also analyse trends, ensure your content follows all the best practices, and develop intricate, personalised strategies to optimise your website for search engines. When you hire an SEO expert, you’re giving your website the best chance possible of appearing at the top of the list.
Local SEO vs Global SEO
Small to medium-sized businesses will almost always benefit more from local SEO than global SEO. Local SEO uses keywords specific to the area you service. This is intentional and helps your website appear on the results page of potential clients in your area. Search engines are smart. They’ll crawl websites for local SEO to connect searchers to nearby businesses that provide a desired service. To help your business appear among local search results, you’ll need to utilise local SEO.
The best way to do this is to narrow down your keywords and include your location at the end. For example, a cake maker in Brisbane can change the keyword “handmade cakes” into a much more specific keyword such as “handmade cakes in Brisbane”. Sure, “handmade cakes” is going to have a higher search interest globally, but in this case, any data from outside the cake maker’s city is irrelevant. The same can be said for most other small to medium-sized businesses.
Global SEO is really only important for businesses with a worldwide target audience. When your services are all local, it’s best to not get caught up in the glitz and glamour of globally high-ranking keywords. Local SEO is easier to master, can help you achieve higher rankings, and reduces the competition. Ultimately, it will serve your business much better.
Much like local SEO, long-tail keywords are easier to rank for, show fewer competitors on the results page, and target people who are likely looking for the exact service you provide. These keywords are more specific low-volume search queries that are designed to attract the most relevant customers to your website. They generate less traffic but also often lead to a higher percentage of conversions than high-volume generic keywords.
The more descriptive your keyword is, the more specific your audience will be. If you’re wondering how to change a popular keyword into a long-tail version, it’s a pretty straightforward process. Simply compile a list of your popular keywords and string them together. For instance, our Brisbane cake maker from above could string together popular keywords like “cake” and “birthday” to create long-tail keywords. Keywords such as:
- custom birthday cake
- 21st birthday cake for girls
- Kids chocolate birthday cake
- Best birthday cake shop in Brisbane
As technology has progressed, our phones have become the default way to search the web, scroll websites, and engage in business. Consequently, Google now predominantly crawls through the mobile sites when deciding how to rank and index them. If your site isn’t mobile compatible or mobile-friendly, your business will appear much lower in search results.
To prevent this from happening, an increasing number of businesses have chosen to optimise their websites for mobile AND computers. Not only does it create a more user-friendly experience, but it also further optimises your website for search engines. Thankfully, most search engines have tools to help you test how mobile-friendly your site is, such as Google’s Test My Site. These tools will let you know how well your website performs for mobile users. It will also offer numerous suggestions to help you optimise your site for mobile.
Black Hat SEO
Now that we’ve gone over the most important SEO basics to familiarise yourself with, let’s talk about the biggest thing to avoid: black hat SEO. Like anything else, there are rules to follow when it comes to search engine optimisation. Black hat SEO covers all the tactics and strategies that break these rules, resulting in potential penalties for your website.
After learning how to do SEO successfully, it may seem like the guidelines are easy to manipulate to get your webpage ranking among the first results. While this may have been the case in the early days of SEO, technology has advanced significantly since then. Either the algorithm will move the offending page to a lower-ranking position. Alternatively, a manual action will be taken to remove it from the search results altogether.
Unfortunately, there are many ways people try to manipulate the rules. If we listed every single one, we could be here a while. But, some are definitely less obvious violations than others. We’re going to define three of the most common violations so you can successfully avoid them on your website.
- Keyword Stuffing: Cramming a long list of high-ranking keywords onto a webpage in an attempt to manipulate search engines into ranking a site higher. Often used in place of high-quality content. Avoid keyword stuffing by placing keywords into your content in a way that makes it sound organic and not repetitive.
- Poorly Written Content: This refers to content that is unoriginal, unpleasant to read, or irrelevant to your keywords. Examples can include keyword stuffing as well as plagiarism, low-effort writing, poorly researched content, and more. We’d suggest hiring a professional content writer to create content that reads well and encourages visitors to stay on your site.
- Paying for Links: This refers to paying other website owners to include a link to your site on one of their web pages. Purchasing these backlinks is very different from clearly stated paid advertisements and can result in heavy penalties from search engines. Instead, we’d recommend focusing on creating a high-quality website that others want to share voluntarily.
Become an SEO Pro with Search Marketing Experts
Now you’ve got all the SEO basics covered, you’re well on your way to becoming a real pro! We hope this SEO guide has cleared things up enough to pull you out of the rabbit hole and make search engines seem less intimidating. Ready to increase your SEO knowledge even further? Contact the team at Search Marketing Experts today for even more insight into the wide world of SEO! We’ll be there to help you increase your website rankings and achieve online success for your business.