SEO guide for beginners
So many people wonder why their websites are not ranked very high in Google or are actually not found at all by Google. And I get so many questions about it. Many customers just assume only because they have a website it will automatically be found by Google and other search engines. However it is not enough to just have a website. It is actually a very complex topic and there are experts who only work on search engine ranking for websites.
When I design a website I get these questions asked very often: “Why can I not find my website on Google?” or “Why does my website not rank high in Google?” When people hire a webdesigner they just assume that the whole topic of SEO is also included in the design process. However webdesign and SEO are actually two different things.
With this blog post I am going to try and explain a little bit how Google works, what SEO is and I will touch the topic of getting good search results.
I am really not an expert at all but I have learnt a lot over the past year and would like to share my learnings with you.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of getting visibility of a website in the unpaid, so called “organic”, “natural”, “free” or “earned”, search engine result. The higher a website ranks the better is its visibility. And when people search for something they mostly don't even go to the second page of Google's search results anymore. So of course everyone wants to be ranked on the first page of Google.
Organic search result means, everything that comes up when you type in a search word in Google and does not have the little AD sign in front of it.
SEO can not be done quickly and over night by just optimizing your website and you are done. But instead it is a long term process of consistency.
How does Google work?
When you type in a search word in Google, it will look in its big index to see which website are the most relevant to this search.
Google is constantly crawling the web to discover new and updated pages. It notes down new and updated sites but also sites where nothing is happening.
That means you have to first have to make sure that Google can crawl and index your website and knows about it.. And then you need to optimize your website's content and build in keywords so that Google can find them. Google says: "Crawling is the process by which Googlebot discovers new and updated pages to be added to the Google index."
You need to have good content on your website. First and foremost you need to think of your customers – real people - and what they would like to find on your website. In Google's Webmaster guidelines it says “Give visitors the information they're looking for.”
Only secondly you need to concentrate on Google so that your customers will find your site.
In Google's starter guide to SEO it says:
“you should base your optimization decisions first and foremost on what's best for the visitors of your site. They're the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to and your work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in the organic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results. Search engine optimization is about putting your site's best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.”
You need to determine which keywords will be used by your target customers to find the products or services they are looking for. Then you need to implement them into each page. Use them for the URL of that page, tags, headers, in the text and to name pictures. Make sure you are using different keywords for each page so they are not competing with each other internally.
For the pictures there is the option to add an alt text in addition to the name of the picture and this alt text should contain the relevant keyword for that specific page.
A quick tip is you should always include the service you offer and the location you offer it in.
Secondly you need to make sure you website is having inbound and outbound links. That means you need to find other website that have links to your site. This can be that someone is recommending you or transferring to you for a service. Depending on your business you should also find websites like for example Yelp where you can register your business and get so called backlinks.
Also think about which websites you can recommend to your customers and link to them.
Plus you need to have internal links on your website as well, for example link to your contact page from several different other pages. This is not only good for Google but also makes it easy for customers to contact you. Google also mentions that in their Webmaster guidelines“Make your site easily accessible”.
Register your business with Google
You can actually register your business or website with Google so that it is indexed by Google and will be crawled. Here is a guide and things that can be done from Google: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6259634
You can also add your business to Google maps if you have for example a shop which is actually a very good and easy thing to do.
Once you have registered your business with Google ask your customers to give you reviews. Good ones of course ;-) Google will notice that as well.
Sign into Google Webmaster Tools
When you have a google email account you automatically have access to google webmaster tools. This does not help you with your ranking but if you use it for your website it can give you great insight into how Google views your website and you can monitor your site's performance in Google search results.
Here is the link to what Google says about this: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/4559176?hl=en
And last but not least show Google that you are updating your site regularly. This can easily be done by writing a blog. This generates traffic to your website and fresh content is constantly added.
Have a look what your competitors are doing. There are some website like for example: www.spyfu.com or www.semrush.com where you can check for which keywords a website is ranked highly. This information can help you when you define your keywords and you can use it to be better than your competition.
I hope that this gave you a little insight of what SEO is, what you can do and why it is not done quickly and overnight.
So when you are preparing your website have the above information in mind when writing your content. May be you even want to define keywords for each page so that your webdesigner knows about it and can define headers and name the pages and pictures accordingly. Also think about internal and external links to and from your website.
For wordpress there is a good plugin for the keywords called Yoast SEO. I will write a separate blog post next week on how to use this plugin.
Also if you want to learn more about SEO rankings and how to master them, I did a good online course with How Design University which gave me a much better understanding of how to get a website ranked higher. It is a great course for people who want to attempt to get high rankings for their website themselves. I followed this course for a website I designed and it got us better results. However I also decided that it is such a complex topic that I will not offer this as one of my services for my business but leave it up to a specialist ;-)
Have a good day and let me know if you have any questions in the comments!
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