Beginner’s Guide to SEO
Not sure where to start with SEO? We’re here to make it simple! We’ll let you into a secret: although search engine optimisation might sound highly technical, the basic SEO principles are easy to grasp if you have a basic level of computer literacy. And the benefits can be huge, making a massive difference to how many people you can reach through Google.
Our guide to SEO for beginners starts with a basic question:
What is SEO and why is it important?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s all about making the content of your website stand out in search engines, so that people looking for the information or services that you provide can find you easily online.
A well-optimised website can:
- bring in new customers, who find you first when they type a keyword into Google
- raise brand awareness through extra visibility in search results
But I don’t know anything about computers…
In reality, SEO is only partly about the technical stuff. Yes, there are some things you’ll need to do with code to help search bots crawl your site and see what it’s all about – and as part of Wagada’s SEO services we can help you with that if you need. But importantly, a large proportion of the legwork in SEO is actually about people:
- Understanding who’s searching
- Knowing which search terms they’re using
- Giving them relevant content that answers their questions and meets their needs
If you can do all of these things – which will fit in neatly with your wider business strategy – you’ll be well on the way to search engine success. That said, a basic understanding of the way search engines find their results can help you make good decisions about your website.
How search engines work
If you’ve ever done a Google search, you’ll know that people using search engines are looking for answers. It’s the search engine’s job to trawl the vast array of data out there on the web, and come back with the web content that best matches the searcher’s query. These days, they do it so well that we nearly always find what we’re looking for easily.
But have you ever wondered how a search engine works? It’s a simple process:
- Robots (sometimes called spiders) from the search engines ‘crawl’ through the code on your website to ‘read’ what’s up there
- With the information they find, they index your site – making it available to be displayed in search results
- Using an algorithm to decide which sites best meet user needs, the search engine displays search results in order of priority, with the most relevant first
What makes a high-ranking website?
To rank highly in a search engine results page (SERP) you need a few basic ingredients:
- Accessibility to bots. This is all about whether robots can read your site – if they can’t, your site is invisible to search engines! You might need a few technical tweaks to sort this out.
- Great content. Once you can be found by search engines, you need to show them that your content is better – more useful, relevant and readable – than anyone else’s, for the searches you are focusing on.
- Sites that load fast and that are easy to use will be prioritised in SERPs, because users are more likely to engage with them.
- Authority and shareability. Did you know that a big part of SEO is about things that happen outside of your website? By getting a lot of links and social media shares, you can show search engines that others are ‘recommending’ your content.
- Titles, URLs and meta descriptions. These are the bits of information shown on search results pages, which help users to decide whether or not to click. By putting in the right code, if you’re lucky you might even get a ‘featured snippet’ on Google – a large chunk of information pulled from your site – which will gain you more exposure and ultimately, more clicks.
Keyword research and optimisation
We’ve seen that great content is one of the best ways to rank well in search results. To optimise your content, keyword research is a good place to start.
Keywords are the things that people type into Google when they do a search. Sometimes they’ll be a single word, but more usually they’ll be a longer phrase – something like “pizza delivery in St Albans” or “how to fix a puncture”.
With your website analytics programme, you can find out which are the most popular searches that are leading people to your site. There are also tools that can help you discover which other, relevant searches you’re not currently ranking for – so you can build content that’s geared around those queries, designed to meet your searchers’ needs.
Useful tools for SEO beginners
If you’re confident to update your own website, you can achieve a lot of the SEO basics with some excellent tools that are easy to use. Here’s where to start:
- Google’s Keyword Planner is a keyword research tool that helps you explore and analyse keywords, particularly for Google Ads. There are other tools such as KWFinder that we use in house, which are a more advanced option if you are willing to pay for them.
- Moz has a number of fantastic free SEO research tools that can help you identify keywords and analyse your site performance.
- Yoast is an essential SEO plug-in for WordPress sites. With a free version available, it lets you add keywords, carry out on-page optimisation and strip out any duplicate content (which search engines hate).
- SEMRush is a professional SEO tool that we at Wagada use for our clients. It provides detailed analytics on your SEO performance and helps you get strategic about your SEO.
- GT Metrix lets you test your site speed to make sure it’s functioning well for SEO.
Most of these tools can be used by you, in-house – or for subscription-based, industry-level tools, you can outsource your SEO to an agency like Wagada, who will use them for you.
Ask the experts
Wagada will be holding an SEO workshop at STANTA on 24 April 2019. Pitched at beginners, this will cover what you need to know in order to rank better in search engines. The workshop is totally free to Herts Start Up Programme clients and £50 to others. It’s sure to be a popular event, so book now to secure your place. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch for more advice or to discuss your SEO needs.
For more information, contact Wagada Digital Marketing