If you’re reading this guide, you probably know that SEO is important. But why? How does it work? And what do you need to do to improve your search engine ranking? Well, welcome to the world of SEO for beginners! We’ll walk you through some of the most common questions about search engines, how they work and how you can use them to improve your website’s performance in organic search results.

What is SEO and why is it important?

SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, is the process of optimising your website to rank higher in search results. This means that you’re making sure that your website appears at the top (and sometimes even at the very beginning) of search results when certain words or phrases are entered into a search engine like Google. It’s important to understand why SEO is so crucial:

  • SEO helps you reach your target audience. The more people who can find you via a simple keyword search on Google, the better!
  • SEO helps you get more traffic to your website. The more traffic coming through those front doors means there’s an increased chance they’ll convert into paying customers!
  • And lastly, but certainly not least important: SEO helps increase conversion rates because it allows potential customers to easily find exactly what they’re looking for without having to wade through millions of other sites just hoping one might have what they need!

How do search engines work?

Search engines use algorithms to determine which websites are the most relevant to a given search query. How do they do this?

Crawling

Search engines send out a team of robots (which are actually called spiders… hence the crawling) to scour the internet for new content. They look through a wide variety of content – text, video, imagery, even PDFs, but they find the links associated with this content. They then crawl these URLs to find new links. They save all these URLs in a database where they can be retrieved when someone is searching for a relevant term to these links.

Indexing

This is how search engines process and store the information found during the crawling process. A huge database is created of all the URLs and then these are displayed as search results to the relevant queries.

Ranking

When someone searches for a particular term, the search engine spews out a list of results from the aforementioned database. The order in which the pages are displayed are thought to be from the most relevant down to the least relevant. This is known as the search engine ranking.

The process of SEO is to make your way to the top of those search engine results and deemed as most relevant.

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the first step to doing SEO and it’s one of the most important things you can do. Keyword research helps you find relevant keywords that are easy to rank for, but it also allows you to define your content around those keywords.

Once you’ve found your target audience and what they want, then it’s time to get into keyword research. You’ll want to use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or Moz because these tools provide metrics on competition, search volume, and more.

For example: if we were selling an app called “Hot Dogs” (which we’re not), we could type in “hot dogs” as our main keyword phrase and see whether anyone else has ranked highly for this term before me (hint: they haven’t). This would give us an idea of how competitive our niche is without even having written anything yet!

On-page SEO

This is one of the areas that takes the most time when it comes to SEO, as it includes all of the content, plus some technical SEO, which we cover below.

This section is worth an entire article of its own, so here’s an overview of what it includes for now:

  • Keyword density: The percentage of times a keyword (or phrase) is found on a web page. This is where you’ll put the keyword research you did to good use.
  • Header tags: HTML headings that start at <h1> for the most important header and then <h2> to <h6> for all the sub-headings.
  • Title tags: The text in your website’s title bar.
  • Meta description: This is the short description of your website that appears in search engine results pages (SERPs). It should be between 150-160 characters long so it can fit nicely into the SERP snippet box. It also allows you to add some context and messaging around what your website offers or does well, which can help attract visitors who are looking for something specific. Your meta description should include keywords relevant to the content on your site—so if someone searches for “online testing,” it’s helpful to include those keywords in both the title tag and meta description so they’re more likely to appear as part of the SERP snippet box next time someone searches for those same terms!
  • Internal Links: This is when you link to another page on your own website. There’s a lot of focus on backlinks (also covered below), but an internal link strategy is also important for SEO.
  • Permalinks: The structure of how you label your URLs affects your SEO. There should be clear page naming and organisation and good use of keywords within the permalinks.
  • Image optimisation: Images can affect SEO in so many ways! But the most common is the fact that people often have super large images on their website which really slows them down. Therefore, making your images as small as possible before uploading them to your website is good for your SEO strategy too. Then, you can use the alt text to describe your images and include your keywords here too!

Technical SEO

Without getting into huge, complicated details about what this all entails (because unless you’re a developer, you may find this quite boring), technical SEO is all about how to increase your site’s visibility by ensuring search engines are enable to crawl and index your site.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Clean up your code. Make sure that all of the links on your site work correctly, that there aren’t any broken pages, and that all images contain alt text (a description of the image).
  • Create a sitemap for Google. A sitemap is basically a list of all of the URLs on your website—it helps Google know which pages should be crawled by their bots or spiders. To create one using WordPress, go to Settings > XML-Sitemaps and click “Create Sitemap.” You can also use Yoast SEO Premium for this purpose; it will automatically generate an XML sitemap when you install it on WordPress sites.
  • If applicable, create a robots file with appropriate directives in order to prevent specific pages from being crawled or indexed by search engines like Bing/Google/Yahoo/Baidu (China).

Quite often, technical SEO is referred to the bits that developers need to do. For example, marketers usually concentrate on the written content, but they don’t touch the code. So, even things like implementing <h1> and <h2> tags will fall under SEO.

If you have a WordPress website, then tools like Yoast are incredible for SEO as you can do all the on-page SEO yourself. However, when in doubt, do reach out to an SEO professional.

Link building

Link building is a vital part of search engine optimization.

Why? Well, links are one of the biggest factors used by Google to determine which sites should rank in the top results for certain search queries. In other words, if a website has a lot of high-quality links from other sites, it’s likely that those other websites have high-quality content as well. That means Google will give them a higher ranking than their competitors with fewer or no links.

What does link building look like?

In its simplest form, link building involves reaching out to fellow bloggers who share similar content and asking them if they would be willing to swap links (either on their blog or yours). Beyond that though, there are many different strategies you can use depending on your budget and goals:

  • Ask an industry expert who has published work that relates directly back to your site’s subject matter if they would recommend an article written by someone else who is publishing similar material (and make sure this article covers what your own was missing).
  • Offer free guest posts on another writer’s blog (or vice versa).
  • Write guest posts yourself at sites related specifically within your niche area but not necessarily as direct competitors for traffic/rankings/etc…

However, we highlighted “high-quality links” earlier, because this is most important. There are lots of services out there which offer cheap banklinks and they guarantee you hundreds of backlinks for almost no money. So many people take on this service thinking that it helps their SEO.

These backlinks are simply created by bots and have absolutely no authority whatsoever, so they can actually be harmful to your ranking. This is what we call black hat SEO.

Content creation and strategy

Content creation and strategy is the heart of SEO. You can have the best website in the world, but if it’s not optimised for search engines, you won’t see any traffic coming from search.

Content marketing is a powerful way to attract new customers by building trust and authority around your brand. It’s also a great way to build your brand because it shows people that what you have to say matters; they’ll listen when you talk about your products or services because they’ve already learned through your blog posts (or videos) that what you’re saying is trustworthy and helpful.

Creating an effective content marketing strategy, however, is not easy. A lot of research needs to go into what your audience are looking for.

Analytics and reporting

Analytics and reporting are a key part of improving your SEO. Without tracking the performance of your site, you’re going to be flying blind when it comes to improving it.

Analytics tools like Google Analytics and Crazy Egg can help you track traffic sources, conversions and other important metrics that will help you optimise your site for better rankings in search engines.

Understanding this data isn’t that easy, so don’t be alarmed when you first log into an analytics dashboard. But if you get a digital marketing expert to help, they will use this data to help you create an effective content marketing strategy that talks to your target audience and turns them into paying customers.

Local SEO

Local SEO is the process of optimising your website to appear in local search results. The majority of consumers look for products and services on Google, which means optimising your site will help increase its visibility when they search for those terms in your area. In addition to creating local content like testimonials, reviews and case studies specific to your area, here are a few other ways you can improve your local SEO:

  • Include a map on your site with directions from point A to point B. This will make it easier for people searching in their own neighbourhood or city to find you.
  • Add complete addresses when referring to locations within your business (e.g., “Located at 123 Downing Street”).
  • Use geographic keywords throughout the copy on each page of your website (e.g., “London locksmith” vs “locksmith Shoreditch”).

International SEO

The world is a big place, and if you want to be successful with SEO, you need to understand the importance of international SEO. The truth is that in the online age we live in, customers don’t just come from one country or language—they come from all over the globe! And no matter how good your website is in terms of search engine optimisation (SEO), it’s only going to reach a fraction of its potential audience if it doesn’t rank well internationally.

To get started on an international SEO strategy:

  • Find out which foreign countries are relevant for your business
  • Check their local marketplaces
  • Choose the best country-specific keyword targets

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of information in this guide, and it can be overwhelming. But don’t worry—we understand that you don’t need to remember every detail of each step. Just remember the basics: think about your content, use keywords wisely, make sure your site is technically sound, build links (but not too many), engage with users on social media and email lists, and track results so that you can improve over time!