SEO for beginners: What you really need to know
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Alright, let’s talk SEO. I know this is a very overwhelming topic for most people who aren’t web designers, and I get it. There’s lots of information, how-tos, guides etc...out there and it’s hard to sift through what is actually useful information and what’s just fluff.
Well I’m hoping to provide you a little bit of clarity and who you SEO isn’t something you need to be afraid of.
In fact, I hope to convince you SEO is something to prioritize, because with a little bit of knowledge + some practical implementation, you can start getting your website in front of more of your ideal clients 🙌🙌🙌
So first things first...
WHAT IS SEO?
According to moz.com (aka the SEO experts),
“SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”
But what does that actually mean?
In other words, SEO is the system that allows your content to be readable by search engines so they can display the most relevant content to users based on their search terms.
Basically, Google wants to show its users the most relevant content that satisfies their search.
For example, if you’re a health coach who serves women in their pregnancy journey, you want your website to show up as close to the top of page 1 of Google as possible if someone searches for “health coach for pregnant women”, or some variation of that keyword (we’ll go over keywords more in a bit).
So how do you push your site up the ranks in Google?
Google doesn’t explicitly state how it ranks websites, as the algorithm is always changing. But they’ve referenced a few things over the years that can play a big role in your Google ranking.
It’s really easy to get bogged down in all the SEO jargon and overwhelmed with all the things you’re “supposed” to do. But focus on these 3 things and you’ll be off to a great start!
Content is king (or queen!). The biggest thing you can do to improve your SEO is to consistently post high-quality content related to your business. This most often looks like a blog.
Notice I highlighted consistently and high-quality.
Blogging will be most effective if you’re posting consistently (ie. pick a day and time of the week or month to post your content and stick to it!) Ideally you’re posting minimum once per week to see the best results, but pick a schedule you can realistically maintain.
The second main point about blogging is it has to be high-quality. Don’t post something just for the sake of posting. Your goal needs to be helping your reader with their problem. Quality over quantity is important. You’re better off posting 1 great post per week than 2 “okay” posts.
If you don’t know what your ideal client’s problems are, it’s time to start talking to them! There’s no better way to increase your sales than to develop products or services that solve their real problems.
Build your content around answering their questions, addressing their hesitations and fears, educating them about your business/product, and showing off your knowledge.
The second part of creating content is to also make sure you’re working in your keywords.
So where do you put your keywords?
One main keyword needs to go in your blog and page titles. Then sprinkle different variations of your keywords throughout the rest of your content.
The goal here is to sound as natural as possible. Don’t keyword stuff just for the sake of putting keywords on your page.
Remember, you want to write for human beings, not Google. Google has gotten really smart these past few years and they penalize people whose content is not high-quality and full of useless keywords.
So how do you pick your keywords?
Let’s keep is simple, people.
The easiest way to find your keywords is to think about “what would a potential client type in the Google search bar to find my business (or solve their problem)?”
Start typing your ideas into Google and see if the results that pop up are similar to your own business. If they are, then you’re probably on the right track.
Another strategy is to scroll to the bottom of Google and look at the “Related Searches.” Google shows other search terms that can be also great keywords.
This method works pretty well for most businesses, and is probably all you’ll need if you’re posting high-quality content consistently. But if you want a step up from this method, you can always use Google’s Keyword Planner which is an awesome tool in helping you choose your keywords.
You can find many tutorials online on how to use it effectively!
Backlinks are the second thing you want to focus on when it comes to your SEO strategy.
Backlinks are when another website links to your own. So say you post an article on mindbodygreen and your website is linked in that post, that’s a backlink. And a pretty dang good one!
Mindbodygreen is a huge and well-respected website in the wellness space, so having them link to your site is a major SEO boost! (But even smaller websites and blogs are great too! Don’t underestimate the power of getting backlinks from any website in your niche.)
This is important because Google’s thought process is, “I know mindbodygreen posts high-quality content in the wellness niche, so if they link to this other website as a resource, it must be good too!”
So now that we know what backlinks are, how do you get them?
You build connections! That’s right...it’s time to flex your relationship-building muscles! Connect with others in your niche on Facebook or Instagram, submit your work to other online publishers, host a giveaway with someone...all of these things are great ways to establish relationships and lead to some great SEO boosts via backlinks.
There used to be a thing where you could “buy” backlinks from people. (ie. “I’ll link to your site for x number of dollars.”) That’s a big no-no.
Generate backlinks the genuine way. By building relationships with other people in your niche so you can support each other by sharing content that would be helpful for your respective readers.
The final major pillar of SEO is ensuring a positive user experience when someone lands on your site.
In a nutshell, you want to make sure when someone lands on your site, they stay there for as long as possible.
If a visitor lands on your site then hits the back button within a few seconds, that will increase your bounce rate and negatively impact your SEO.
So make sure your site is easy to use and looks nice. You’ll also want to do a lot of internal linking on your site to keep them there longer (ie. at the bottom of your blog posts, link them to other related blog posts)
Some tips for building a user-friendly site:
Clear and minimal navigation
Calls to Action on every page
Clean design with lots of white space
Write in small chunks of text, not long paragraphs
Make sure your images are high-quality and not blurry or pixelated
Consistently post content that’s valuable to your website visitors
Well that’s it! That wasn’t so bad, right?!
Focus on these SEO building blocks, and you’ll be off to a great start!
Stay tuned for next week’s post as I’ll be going over the basic SEO settings you need to take care of inside Squarespace! Woot woot!