I was just like you once – a beginner looking for SEO advice.
And just like you, I made a good choice.
Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is becoming an increasingly potent channel for businesses to generate organic traffic (without having to break the bank on advertising).
It’s no surprise that SEO has consistently been talked about more than other digital marketing disciplines.
The first piece of good news is that SEO will likely continue to dominate within digital marketing trends.
The second piece of good news is that you’ve just stumbled across arguably the most important article you’ll read about getting into SEO.
I’ve compiled 10 of the most crucial SEO tips for beginners that will save you time, as well as the stress of hopelessly trying random SEO techniques without seeing results.
1. Understand your user’s intent
Users are fundamental to any SEO strategy because it’s their interests that you need to tap into.
Whenever you are thinking about how to drive organic traffic to a website, you need to have a solid understanding of how the user journey works.
Knowing which pages a user is likely to navigate through on a website will put you in a strong position to knowing which pages you should optimise.
Intent will likely be different from one website to another, so you need to holistically plan out what the ideal user/prospective customer will want to achieve from the website.
2. Analyse your competitors
One of the first things you should do when tasked with optimising a website is take a look at the competition.
Which websites are ranking #1 for the keyword phrases you’re targeting?
You see, the websites at the top of page 1 are clearly being rewarded by Google for something.
It’s your job to investigate what exactly they are being rewarded for, and then try to emulate and better this on your own website.
You can sometimes find quick wins to easily implement on your website – and these can lead to better results.
Of course, there are SEO tools such as Semrush that can help you with this, but nothing beats a good ol’ manual competitor analysis.
Some of the key things to look for when studying your organic competition are:
- How many pages do they have on their website that reference the topic and/or keyword phrase they are ranking for?
- Are they using internal links to other relevant pages on their website?
- Does the page you landed on provide a good user experience and match the user’s intent for that page?
These sort of questions help engage your brain into better understanding the reasons behind SEO success.
It’s a way of differentiating average SEOs from great SEOs.
3. Prioritise your optimisations
If you need to do SEO for a website with hundreds or thousands of URLs, you may be thinking to yourself:
“How am I possibly going to optimise all of these pages?”
The good news is that, in most cases, you don’t.
For instance, you don’t need to add a meta description to every single page of the website, but rather only to the most important ones.
Of course, this will vary each time, but a good rule of thumb is to prioritise optimising the pages of the website that will lead to new business.
These are often called money pages.
Essentially, all of the pages on the website that can directly contribute to a lead or sale should be optimised first.
Think back to the user journey. Optimising all of the pages that will get them to the bottom of the funnel should be on the top of your to-do list.
4. Use SEO tools for automation
SEO tools can be incredibly powerful as they automate various SEO processes.
For instance, you can use some tools to perform keyword research, audits, content gap analysis, and competitor analysis.
It’s important to note that different tools will give slightly different data, so always use them in conjunction with manual efforts and/or other tools to get a holistic idea of the data you are gathering.
SEO tools are generally split up into three categories: free, freemium, and paid.
When you’re starting out, it’s perfectly fine to opt for using free SEO tools, but you’ll quickly come to realise that they can be very limited in their offering.
Paid tools are the way to go if you’re looking to have access to a wider toolkit, as well as being able to scale your SEO processes.
5. Make your content mobile-friendly
Google is moving towards a mobile-first index, meaning that any content you want people to access should be available on a mobile device.
More people are using their mobile phones to search online, so it’s crucial that you’re able to display and optimise your content for mobile.
Many website owners still forget to check if their website is mobile friendly, as well as seeing how it looks on mobile.
With the Core Web Vitals initiative by Google that aims to improve the overall page/user experience, it’s critical that you understand what this means and optimise your websites accordingly.
6. Create linkable content
You’ll have likely read about the terms off-page SEO or backlinks. Essentially, links are used to cite other webpages and can often imply authoritativeness of the particular topic.
When creating content on your website, think of writing about topics that are actually interesting for people to read, as well as cite on their own websites.
Oftentimes, case studies and/or survey data can be good types of content to create that entice people to link back to it.
The way to approach this is to think of a study you can do that nobody has done yet, whether the study takes on a different angle than other studies, or is simply more up-to-date.
When you create linkable content, you’ll have an easier time acquiring backlinks than if your content is simply regurgitated information that many other people have already written about.
If you’re unsure about what kind of content to create on your website, it’s sometimes worth getting an SEO audit done by an SEO expert – as this will identify which direction your content should go to maximise your organic visibility.
7. Don’t forget long-tail keywords
Long-tail keywords are phrases containing three or more words that people type into search engines.
They are often very specific towards a topic and there is a much stronger intent behind them.
Many beginner SEOs choose to avoid these keywords as their search volumes are low, therefore, they don’t think there is enough interest in the keyword phrase.
However, you are far more likely to convert if you are matching a user’s specific search query.
Even if you use SEO tools to perform keyword research and find search volumes of 0-10, you should still try to optimise for them.
The decreased competition will mean it’s easier to rank for (especially for a new website), and you may end up generating far better leads because the user already knows what they want.
Check out my new eBook if you want to learn more about using keywords for SEO.
8. Experiment for yourself
There’s a high chance that you’ll come across conflicting information regarding SEO when you’re digging online.
How do you know what/who to trust?
Well, it’s fine to take in as much information as you can, but never take everything at face value.
The best thing you can do is use what someone has said and try to apply it to your own website to see if it provides better results.
Don’t be afraid to challenge what people are saying, and in some cases, do the exact opposite!
Once you start experimenting for yourself with different SEO techniques and tactics, you’ll develop your own formula of what works and what doesn’t.
9. Engage with the community
The SEO community is filled with bright individuals – many of which share useful content and can help you along your SEO journey.
Don’t be afraid to engage with people on social media, especially on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
You can also check out online forums such as Reddit, as there are specific subreddits around SEO, including r/SEO, r/bigseo, and r/learnseo.
Engaging with the community has helped me massively, as it led me to appear on various different industry webinars and articles.
The connections you build over time can prove vital to your career development, so always remember that your network is your net worth!
10. Enjoy the journey
Every SEO will have experiences some ups and downs on their journey.
You might have to wait several months before seeing changes to your rankings.
The most important thing is to be patient and consistent.
SEO takes time, and many people often forget that.
No matter where you are on your journey, enjoy the ride and stick at it.
Plus, if you ever have doubts or need advice, don’t hesitate to speak to an SEO consultant.