For beginners, SEO can seem scary. A virtual vortex, swirling with head-spinning jargon and tech-savvy know-how always seemingly just out of your scope of knowledge. (Full disclosure: even seasoned SEOs sometimes feel this way, what with the never-ending mystery that is Google and its algorithms.) There’s no point turning away from it though. You must face into the winds of search: SEO and Google are inseparable and if you want your website, and business, to feature at all, you must allow yourself to get sucked into the Swirl, embrace the Eddy, open yourself up to the Opportunities.
Besides, thanks to our SEO for Beginners guide, you will see that, actually, SEO needn’t be something to fear. First, we’ll tell you exactly what it is, because we know that it’s in the ‘not-knowing’ that the bulk of fear lies. Once you have that knowledge at hand, and at risk of going all geek on you, we’ll go so far as to say that you will find SEO, especially the basics outlined in our top 9 SEO tips for 2021, fulfilling. Fun even. Se(o)riously.
What is SEO?
SEO, an acronym for Search Engine Optimization, is
On-page vs. off-page SEO
Without getting too technical, the SEO processes you perform can be further divided into two categories: on-page (on-site) SEO and off-page (off-site) SEO.
On-page SEO means everything you can do on your website itself, from content optimization through technical aspects like:
Off-page SEO covers all the processes and activities you can do to improve your website’s authority, relevance and reliability off your own website. This can include things like:
Why is SEO Important?
Here are three reasons why should you care about SEO:
SEO 2021: 9 Top Tips for Beginners
If you’re just getting started with search engine optimization it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by information overload. So many technical terms, so many tactics, so much, too much. (Mommy help me.) In truth, though, there are quite a few simple things you can do to start you on a highly effective SEO journey that won’t have you fleeing for the hills, screaming for your mama. Here, we outline 9 of the best, and easiest, SEO tips which are as valid and valuable as ever for 2021, whether you’re a beginner or just revisiting the basics.
1. Learn the most important ranking factors for 2021
Knowledge is power. Knowing overpowers fear. Start there.
Start by doing some reading on the key factors assigned by Google as being important to how your site performs in search and where you rank on search results pages (also known as SERPs).
A great place to start is with Brian Dean at Backlinko’s complete overview of Google’s entire list of more than 200 ranking signals or factors in its algorithm, which can be sorted into the following categories:
As of April 2021 this list has over 1,000 comments – check them out to see how people are responding.
If the Backlinko’s list feels like too screaming-for-Mommy territory, Search Engine Watch has distilled that to 14 of the most important ranking signals (in their opinion).
If you’re a visual person, check out the current On-Page SEO Ranking Factors in 2021 by Moz.com:
Be sure to update your knowledge every couple of months or so by Googling (what else) the topic for the latest research.
2. Optimize for Mobile
At 1st on the List we’ve been consulting with our clients on mobile optimization and mobile friendly websites since 2013 and it’s more important than ever to be on board with mobile!
It’s no secret that we live in a world where everybody has their eyes glued to a mobile phone. Every. Body. What’s more, Google wants your site, and every site, to be mobile-friendly.
At first, Google’s initial plan was to enable mobile-first indexing for all websites in September 2020. However, due to COVID-19 and what Google deemed “uncertain times” they extended the timeframe to March 2021.
What this means is that Google will crawl the mobile version of your site first, before your desktop version, and there will come a day when Google won’t index your site at all if it isn’t mobile friendly.
How do you optimize for mobile?
If you still need to get your website mobile friendly please contact us for help!
3. Create great content – then optimize it!
Write the kind of content you’d like to read – interesting, funny, useful, engaging; then optimize that content for search engines.
Don’t start by picking your keywords and massaging content to match; start by writing about what you know and care about – and what your customer needs to know or will find fascinating, useful, relevant to their search query. Once you’re done, you’ll more than likely find that your keywords are already a natural, organic part of your content.
That said, there’s no point ignoring keywords and optimization of your content altogether. After all, what good is great content if nobody is reading it? The goal is to pick keywords that your users might be using in their quest to find your engaging, useful, relevant content. But the key still remains compelling, helpful content.
And remember: content covers everything from each page of written content on your site:
Top tip: If you can’t create that content yourself, get somebody else to do it for you.
Finally, once your content is in place, don’t forget to optimize it using things like:
Want to learn more about what makes great SEO content in 2021? Check out these trusted sources:
4. Understand your users/audience
Think about how your users might be searching to find your website. What is their search intent? What are they really looking for?
Understanding search intent, the reasoning behind every search, can help inform your site content and SEO approach.
To do this, you can use a tool like Google Search Console to analyse your current search traffic – where are users first landing on your site and how are they getting there; find your best performing pages; and discover the keywords your site visitors are using to get to you. Use that knowledge to inform future content and SEO decisions.
5. Focus on a great user experience (UX) – and speedy page load times!
If your site is ugly, slow to load, difficult to navigate, buries important information, or makes it tricky to find things, you can say goodbye to your visitors faster than you can say ‘user experience’.
Key to this is page speed. We’ll say that again because it bears repeating: KEY TO THIS IS PAGE SPEED.
By improving your user experience you will notice a significant improvement in conversion rates.
It won’t matter how fascinating or useful your content is, if it loads too slowly the user will get bored of waiting and hit the back button. Guaranteed. And by too slowly, we mean anything slower than 2 seconds.
Studies across teh board show it’s important to take page load time seriously:
6. Listen to the voices
Understanding voice search – and getting your site ready for it – is going to be key for 2021 and beyond.
Things to keep in mind for voice search:
Wanting to learn more about voice search in 2021? Check out Backlinko.com’s 45 Fascinating Voice Search Statistics (2021).
7. Don’t be shy – get social
Social media continues to be a big part of daily life, and even if it isn’t an official ranking signal for SEO purposes, Google has definitely started recognizing social search results as being of value. Moreover, social networks are increasingly being used as search engines themselves, with more and more users turning to these channels to find answers to their questions.
Social media channels also offer a key area to get real-life reviews and interaction and engagement with your customers and audience – all of which inform other potential customers, and Google, of your legitimacy and trust-worthiness. Think of social as the 21st century version of word of mouth, a tool which has always had power.
Remember this – social media is very important to brand engagement and interacting with customers yet SEO still drives 1000% more traffic than organic social media (BrightEdge). Social Media shouldn’t replace SEO, or vise versa. Each serve their own purpose and will gain great synergies when used together.
8. Embrace video
Even if you have a face for radio, find a way to include video – personalized, engaging, helpful, relevant video in your online content and in your SEO efforts.
Studies have shown that 6 out of 10 people would rather watch online videos than television (Google).
And by 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic (Cisco).
Whether your video is pure entertainment or wonderfully informational, today’s internet users increasingly prefer their content in this format. Lazy? Maybe. But there it is.
Based on the results of Bitable’s survey of 694 marketers and small businesses we can see consumers’ preference for video:
Remember to optimize your video for search by using relevant keywords in the description and headline of your video that match user intent. Ask us about how we can help with video optimization!
9. Go secure with SSL
You don’t leave your doors unlocked. You don’t leave your keys in your car’s ignition. Why would you do the equivalent thereof to your website?
More than your own safety, this is important for your customers’ safety. Plus, 84% of users say they will abandon a purchase if data was sent over an insecure connection (GlobalSign).
Meanwhile, 82% of people won’t even browse an unsecured (HTTP) website (Blue Corona).
Going secure is good for your customer, it’s good for you, plus, in terms of your SEO, Google insists on it. Google has officially acknowledged HTTPS as a ranking factor. More than this, Google Chrome has been flagging all HTTP sites as “not secure” since July 2018. Which means your customers can see it right there in glaring red and will abandon your site at alarming rates.
How do you go secure? To lock your online content up, store the keys somewhere safe, and boost your trustworthiness and SEO, you need to make sure your site has been converted from HTTP to HTTPS. Yes, it’s technical. But it’s important. And there are plenty of people very well-qualified to walk you through it or just do it for you.
Top 5 SEO Hacks for Beginners
Once you understand the main beginner strategies it’s time for you to move on to some actionable SEO hacks that you can use for growing your online visibility.
Editors Note: This post was originally published in November 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
This content was originally published here.