- 3 Basic SEO Steps for Beginners when you want to learn SEO
- Meet the Search Engines during self teaching
- 1. Know Your Keywords – I want to learn SEO
- 2. Read Between the Lines to learn SEO
- 3. Measure Your SEO Success to master your SEO skills
3 Basic SEO Steps for Beginners when you want to learn SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to the process of utilizing search engine guidelines and analytics to lead traffic to websites via search engine results. Following best SEO practices allows search engines (like Google, Bing, and Yahoo) to find and categorize your web content, making it readily available to the millions of people searching online daily. Implementing best SEO practices on your website allows search engines to deliver your content to the appropriate audiences, generating exposure, traffic, and engagement.
In this article, we will discuss three basic SEO techniques frequently utilized to reach target audiences. After applying these tactics to your online content, you can expect an upward trend in site traffic that will only progress with time.
Meet the Search Engines during self teaching
Today, three major search engines are being used all over the world. With 63 percent of the market, Google is the clear frontrunner. Yahoo and Bing follow with 21 percent and 8.5 percent market share, respectively. The goal of a search engine is to quickly, and accurately, provide the most relevant web content to match search queries (the words typed into the search bar). As the world of online content expands, search engines have their work cut out for them.
In the beginning, search engines relied solely on keywords to identify content, but as the keyword results grew into more massive proportions, the search engines became responsible for prioritizing content based on popularity and validity, as well. Now, it is the responsibility of the content creators to ensure their product is strong enough to fight its way to the top of the results. In the endeavor to make your content easier for search engines to digest, we’re going to learn to speak their language.
These search engines pride themselves in finding the most relevant search results for each inquiry, and to that end, they employ all manner of tech magic to comb through content, find keywords, determine validity, explore affiliated links, etc. While search engine operation differs slightly from one to the next, the same essential tools are at the core of each, so the steps to appeasing these traffic lords are mostly the same across the board. Let’s get started!
1. Know Your Keywords – I want to learn SEO
The first and simplest step to ensuring your site speaks search engine is to provide your relevant keywords are up to snuff. Begin by creating a list of terms or phrases one may use to locate your services through a search engine. It’s important to brainstorm this for a while because the answer may not be as simple as it seems.
Find the Right Keywords
Finding the right keywords requires a little bit of creativity. Let’s use an online shoe store as our example. If you are selling shoes online, “shoes” would be an obvious keyword. However, a potential customer is more likely to search for more than merely “shoes.” “Best online shoe store” or “extra-wide shoes” could also be used. If someone searches for a more specific request, will your online content still come up in the search? It is prudent to ensure your keywords are used in a wide variety of phrases and many different contexts so no matter who is looking, they will end up on your site.
Once you’ve narrowed down which keywords will best serve your site, insert them into your online content. Be sure these keywords make their way into your URL, titles, subtitles, navigation bar, metadata, as well as in the body of your content. If you place keywords in your titles but not in the body of material in your site, these clever search engines may prioritize your content as having “low relativity” because the keywords did not appear enough.
Word to the wise, however, keywords are wonderful but the days of keyword stuffing are over. Today our search engines are too bright to be fooled. If your keywords are excessive, misleading, or inaccurate, your site could be penalized or even banned from search engines altogether. In a marketplace as vast as the world wide web, this would be similar to being wiped off the map. So be sure your keywords are helping the search engines find they answer they seek, and not fooling them into providing inaccurate information, as they do not take kindly to being misled.
2. Read Between the Lines to learn SEO
Keywords are an essential marker of online content and, as such, play a vital role in SEO tactics. However, there is a lot more to communicating with your search engines than mere text. Engines have now learned to read between the lines by measuring not only content, but links, organization, and imagery, as well. Let’s discuss other site content as it impacts SEO.
Would Ya’ Link at That
Links provide much more than a simple shortcut to another page. In the eyes of a search engine, a link is a vote of trust for your site. The more links leading traffic to your page, the more trustworthy the search engine finds your site. Think of it as a referral system, a link from another site says “I vouch for this site.” The reverse is true as well; when you link to a page outside of your domain (known as external linking), you are casting a vote for another site. It is good practice for most of your links to connect to other sources within your site to prevent guiding traffic away but used in moderation; external links are a great way of endorsing other domains and networking with other online professionals.
A site map, or navigation menu, is a common element of nearly all domains. As such, search engines have learned to skim these menus and maps as an indicator of the type of content your domain will feature. If your navigation system does not headline every feature of your site, the search engine may overlook critical elements of your content, and it will not appear in search results.
For example, let’s head back to our shoe store. Let’s say GreatShoes.com has just added a new department to their online storefront offering a new and exciting line of cowboy boots. If the website designer fails to add a new page in the navigation bar headlining the new inventory, the search engine may pick up on the few “cowboy boot” keywords around the content, but it will fail to notice that you have an entire selection of boots for customers to peruse. That would lead to a lower prioritization, so when someone enters the query “cowboy boot” into a search bar, other sites that perhaps specialize in cowboy boots are going to populate first, while your content falls to the bottom of the list.
Get the Picture?
If you’re asking a search engine, the answer is no. As clever as these search engines are, they are still limited to binary code. That means it cannot always accurately “read” an image because it must first reduce it to binary, then attempt to label the image based on the information it has. That isn’t a big problem unless you are using imagery to navigate, title, or in place of keywords.
For example, it became a trend for a while for websites to include a navigation menu constructed entirely of images. While it is aesthetically pleasing, this eliminated SEO tactics for their domain as the search engines could no longer tell what type of content they provided and their sites fell to the bottom of the search result lists. Images are an excellent addition to text, but if you want to ensure best SEO practices, it is best not to use them as a replacement.
3. Measure Your SEO Success to master your SEO skills
The popular search engines work hard to keep their algorithms as transparent as possible for content creators. After all, answering queries quickly and accurately is their goal, and they can’t do this without online content. To this end, Google, Yahoo!, and Bing post their rules and recommendations online, so everyone has the opportunity to translate their content into SEO-friendly terms.
These online tools (Google Webmaster Tools, Yahoo! Site Explorer, and Bing Webmaster Tools) allow creators to submit their website and receive feedback on which keywords register from your site. That is an excellent way to test yourself on step one, to see if any of the keywords you have added appear in the results. Think of this as asking the search engine to repeat your message back to you. As you read through these results, keep in mind that these results are how this search engine sees your site. Take note of any content it hasn’t recognized, and change your site’s keywords accordingly.
Running your site through these tools will also reveal any websites that link to yours, broken links in your content, HTML errors, and a lot of other incredibly helpful tips. That is a significant step to take after introducing new keywords or functions to your site to ensure the search engines are up-to-speed on what services and information your site is now offering.
When it comes to SEO tactics, the data and statistics are there to make this endeavor as detailed and thorough as anyone would like. However, these three simple steps will get you well on your way to seeing your domain traffic increase over time. If there is ever a lull in traffic growth, it’s best to repeat these steps as necessary until you see the desired results again.