SEO BASICS FOR NEWBIES IN 2018

Getting information to the world has become more extensive than just putting it on the internet and waiting for someone to see it. There’s more content than ever and it’s really hard to keep up.

The bottom line is, not everything on the internet is useful or necessary. We’re all just adding photos of our coffee and videos of our cats that will live in a database long past the day it’s relevant. Those little things start to crowd search engines and they’re making it necessary for those search engines to be smarter. They have to put all of the information that’s out there through a series of strategic tests in order to make sure they are giving the right information to the people seeking it.

As a blogger or person who wants to be found on the internet, you may be penalized for things you don’t even know are factors. You may have valuable information that’s just not getting through the door. This is where SEO comes in.

WHAT IS SEO?

SEO, Search Engine Optimization, was once known as a strategic use of keywords but is now so much more than that. It’s a long term action plan to get your site onto primary spots on search engines.

By understanding what search engines are looking for when presenting search results, you can shape your site to be optimized for high ranking spots on relevant searches.

WHY IS SEO IMPORTANT?

SEO strategies are the most direct way to get viewers for your site. People use search engines for almost everything these days and those search engines have tools that scan the internet to get the most relevant and helpful results for those users. SEO is your way of telling the search engines that you provide relevant and high quality material for certain searches.

If your SEO is on check, your site views will rise in numbers. You’ll be able to reach more people that are specifically looking for people like you.

SEO BASICS

USER EXPERIENCE

A positive user experience is not just good for being found on search engines. It’s also how you will get users to stick around. Once you’re found in search results, you want to give users a reason to stay and read what you have to say. Maybe even to come back for more. User experience is one of the best ways to ensure high ranking search results and longterm readers.

GREAT CONTENT

Of course we all want to provide great content, but it’s easy to focus so heavily on being found that you forget what you want people to see when they find you. It’s important to make sure you write good content first and worry about SEO second.

To make sure you have high quality content, get a clear idea of what you are writing and why. We’re all trying to add some kind of value so make sure you are making your content the best for your desired subject.

USER INTENT

This is a new thing search engines are learning. For every topic people search, search engines are anticipating the information surrounding that topic that they are looking for.

If you make sure to cover all of the key points surrounding your main focus, you’ll be able to ensure you are providing all the information the user may be looking for.

LOADING SPEED

The number one thing that will kill your search engine ranking is a slow loading page. Search engines can test this in the time it takes to load search results. If your page loads to slow, search engines won’t suggest you to users.

To make sure you have fast loading pages, make sure your photos aren’t too large and try to limit the amount of content you try to fit on one page. (e.i. instead of a full blog feed for your home page, maybe just have a few featured posts with “read more” links)

READABILITY

Information is absorbed quickly these days. The phrase tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) exists for content that is poorly formatted. This is why it’s important to format your site in a way where key points are prominently displayed.

Making sure your pages show clear intent and key topics will help search engines to understand what information you are sharing. It will also captivate readers and convince them to stick around and read what you have to say.

KEYWORDS

Yes, you still need keywords for SEO. You can think of keywords as the main focus and sub-focuses of your content. They are the words that will initially catch the attention of search engines, while everything else is what determines if they will display your site in the results.

Using up to five keywords (but no more than that) will help search engines to find your site based on what the searcher typed into the search field. You can use keywords by simply typing them into your content. Make sure you display your keywords prominently within your content to help not just readers, but search engines see what you’re writing about.

HEADINGS

Headings are a great way to display your main topics and highlight keywords. Most sites include built in headings that you can choose from. H1 and H2 are the most popular headings, but there are many options so you can properly format your pages.

When you include one H1 and a few H2 headings, especially headings that include keywords, you’re letting search engines know the gist of what you’re writing. Using headings as a way to display the bullet points of your content and to help your site to appear on more searches.

SUBSTANCE

It’s important that you have a lot of material to choose from. Blogs with less than 100 posts and sites with a small amount of content don’t appeal to search engines as much. They can appear as inactive and search engines do not display inactive sites.

Much like the users that are searching, search engines like to rely on established, dependable sources when displaying their search results. Make sure you’re not getting discouraged before you have the substance to appeal to search engines. Just find ways to add substantial content to your site to help it look more reliable to search engines.

BACK END

While each part of SEO is important to remember, the back end is the easiest to forget. It’s the nitty gritty that users don’t see so creators often leave it untouched. When we forget about all the back end material, we’re missing out on prime SEO opportunities. After all, search engines live in the back end. It’s all they really know. It’s important to make sure that every possible inch of SEO potential is being reached in order to make your site as easy to find as possible.

METADATA

Metadata is the official term for “back end.” It’s what puts our content in a language computers can read. It helps us control where our images are found, the descriptions that come up for our content, what search engines think our site and our pages are for, etc.

When you’re filling out something for your site, it’s important to pay attention to these areas:

  1. IMAGES
    titles, alt text, description – use keywords.
  2. URLS
    permalink and slug – make it short, direct, and to the point.
  3. META DESCRIPTION
    make it enticing because this is what users will see in search engines.

These are all the little details we love to forget but it really will hurt us in the long run.

Tip: Yoast for WordPress is an awesome meta tool for SEO. It’s not an end game, but it’s a great start and gives you access to all the key points you need to reach.

CONSISTENCY

It’s important that your content is consistent. From the topics you write about to the images you use, everything should be cohesive.

Content should be fairly consistent in order to show search engines you’re a good source for over all user intent in searches. After all, a baker writing about fixing a car is less reliable than a DIY mechanic blog. That’s not to say you can’t write whatever you want. Just know that if you stick to one topic or area of expertise you are more likely to be found for that topic in searches.

UPDATE

Always create. Always update. Updating and freshening up your content will show you are active. Active sites are more likely to be used in search results.This means every page. Every post. Anything that is on your site that can be updated, should be updated. At least, anything you want to see in search results.

Another plus to updating, you're constantly creating content for your followers and making old content more valuable. It will always be easier to give more to your current readers than attracting new ones. Update and create for the sake of your site, your SEO, and most importantly; your supporters. 

Have any SEO tips? Have questions about SEO? Leave them in the comments!

Photo by Jessica Arends

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