We've come to an essential section of the training, which is SEO. It's called on-page SEO for beginners. I am sure you've already seen how SEO works by typing a keyword into Google or Youtube to access specific content.
In this lecture, I will give you the best tips and some advanced SEO techniques so that you can implement them immediately in your business and optimize your whole online presence. Search engine optimization can often be complicated and in some cases outranking your competitors is not easy at all.
That's why you should study this comprehensive SEO guide to be able to implement each trick in your business and add value to it.
To be really successful online, having a solid knowledge of the core concepts of SEO is a vital step. So pay close attention to the following guide.
For easy navigation use the links below:
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization and it is a combination of strategies for ranking your online content high in search engines. Nowadays, showing up high in search engines, especially in Google is very beneficial for any business.
If you have content about something, you want it to show up at the top of the search result pages when somebody searches for that particular phrase.
The better optimized your website and its individual pages, the more organic traffic it will get. (By following Google SEO guidelines) Of course, more organic traffic means more conversion and more money in your pocket.
Optimizing your website for free rankings in the search is very lucrative but the results may take time to come. Only paid searches can bring you immediate results, which you can do in the meantime. While there are only ten positions on the first page, companies will always compete with each other for this all important visibility. And the best thing is SEO is free. 🙂
Focus on SEO from the beginning but you shouldn't rely on it on its own . Lots of other traffic generation methods can be used to grow your business. On the other hand, SEO is constantly changing and more and more companies are competing with each other.
According to some studies the first position in Google gets 33% of the traffic, the second position gets 18% and so on. The first page receives more than 90% of all the search traffic and the second receives only about 5%. As you can see now, there is a huge difference between the first and the second page. You get an idea now why higher rankings and being in the first few results are so important.
When ranking and categorizing websites, Google takes into account more than 200 ranking factors. The majority of them are not public but some SEO experts determined them well over time with conducting lots of experiments. Some factors are out of your control but you can influence and improve most of them.
You need to develop things like content, links, structure, etc. so that they are optimized well in the eyes of the search engines. Social media also plays a significant role in establishing rankings and this is something that should not be ignored.
What is the difference between white hat and black hat SEO?
Keep in mind though that while doing SEO you need to consider user experience first and optimization for search engines only comes after that. You don't want to use black hat techniques that rely on spammy links, design and content which usually gets banned fast.
If you plan long term, developing content that is user-friendly and provides value is essential. This type of strategy is called white hat SEO and this is the key to building a successful online business.
What are the most popular search engines?
So which are the major search engines?
They are Google, Bing and Yahoo.
(source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected])
Did you know that Facebook and Youtube are the most visited sites in the world after Google?
And of course, there are other social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Instagram that attract a bunch of visitors and you also have the chance to get referral traffic to your websites.
How do search engines work
Search engines work by crawling and indexing all the information they find on the internet. These bots are often called spiders.
Information includes all kinds of data like pages, pictures, videos, documents and more.
When somebody performs a search, the engines answer the query by listing all the pages related to that search phrase. Ranking order is decided upon popularity and relevance but in reality it works with very complicated algorithms.
Search engine collected information is stored in many different data centers worldwide so that it can be provided instantly for users when needed.
What is the difference between on-page and off-page SEO?
Search engine optimization can be categorized in two ways: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
Everything you do directly on your website is on-page SEO. It involves your design, content, HTML elements, structure, images, videos, etc.
Off-page SEO includes all strategies outside of your website like link building, social signals, domain authority and so on. Both are essential to success and you need to understand the differences between them.
Focus your efforts on on-page SEO first because it all happens on your website where your content and keywords are and this is the foundation of the whole process. In this lecture, we're going to focus on on-page SEO (and even some advanced on-page seo stuff). It covers a lot of details, so let's jump right in.
What are SEO keywords and how to use them
Google wants people to find what they’re looking for. This means that your job is to show Google that your site provides lots of useful and relevant information.
By providing unique and valuable content Google will see you as a trusted source and will reward you with boosted rankings.
Eventually, your content and keywords decide what you're ranked for in search engines. So researching keywords is the first thing to do when starting SEO. Of course, you must be aware of the keywords related to your niche and the intentions behind it. I suggest you do this before creating any content but if you already have a website, you can still optimize it by using the correct keywords.
Every keyword has a different value depending on its search volume, competition and some other factors. Your job is to decide which ones to choose.
For example, if you want your page to rank for "women's fashion" in the search results, make sure to include word "women's fashion" in your title and content.
Furthermore, creating content with synonyms is also vital because this is how search engines determine the relevance of a particular page. The expression "women's fashion" is a broad term with a lot of competition. You do not want to compete with multi-million companies, right?
That's why you need to use a more specific keyword in your content like "women's fashion in London".
By using a long tail keyword and creating content around it, ranking on the first page is much easier. Obviously, much fewer people type this keyword into the search engines but you get much more targeted leads and more conversions.
One of the best keyword research tools I recommend is LongTailPro. You can also use it to search for available domain names, check keyword rankings on Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and check keyword competition.
Apart from this, ranking on the first page of Google without backlinks is almost impossible.
Now, I'd like to mention the two best SEO plugins for WordPress that are eventually competitors: Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack. Both are very popular plugins, so I recommend you to try them out and choose your favorite.
How to create high-quality content
Now, let's see what you need to pay attention to from an SEO perspective when creating your content.
Focus on your target market
Have you already heard the quote "content is king"? Google's priority is to provide users with top quality content and with the best relevant information available on the web.
So the first question is:
What kind of content should you create?
Of course, it depends on what you have to offer to your target audience.
Identify their pain and problems your products could solve and how you could change their lives.
For example, you might demonstrate your expertise in a particular area with informational articles. Or you might publish "how to guides" about your products that convince uncertain visitors to purchase and use them.
Providing product reviews, case studies and testimonials in the form of articles, images and videos are other excellent options.
If you want to learn how to write compelling copy and convince your audience to buy, check out my copywriting lecture.
What is long-form content?
Length is also important, so try to make your content very valuable and at least 1500-2000 words. Blog posts that don't have a lot of words don't typically perform well on search engines.
It's always better to be overly informative rather than not providing enough information.
I suggest you check other sites for your target keywords and see how many words they have.
Publish and update content regularly
Publish articles on a regular basis or update the old ones to keep your website fresh. By continually updating your site with fresh content, your brand will be shown as more relevant to search engines and you're more likely to rank high for your keywords.
It takes a few months or longer to see if the optimized content is working so SEO shouldn't be the only marketing strategy you employ. Each page should be about one unique topic with clear navigation. Use short sentences and paragraphs to make your content easy to read.
Make it easy to read and scan
By breaking up your text with bullet points and subheadings, readers will be able to digest and scan it easily.
Including relevant images makes your content interesting and retains attention as most people are visual learners. Your content shouldn’t just be text but it should also include videos, pictures and infographics because Google loves them, and they also enhance the user experience and make your content easily digestible for your audience.
Tips for writing attention-grabbing headlines
Use a headline as an H1 tag and make it attention-grabbing because this is the first thing visitors see after landing on your site and you want to make a great first impression.
You should use your H1 to describe what your content is about and try to include your primary keyword in this. Use only one H1 tag per page and make it big and bold, if possible.
For subheadlines, use H2 or H3 tags with secondary keyword phrases and variations.
How to use keywords in your content
Place your primary and secondary keywords in a few places in the body of your content along with synonyms that are relevant. Try to apply it in the first paragraph, too.
It might happen that you don't rank high for the main keyword but you do for the variations of it because Google knows synonyms well. Due to this fact, including keywords in the content is not as important anymore as it was several years ago.
I've seen many pages ranking on the first page of Google not using the search phrase neither in the content nor the headline.
Write unique content and avoid plagiarism
Avoid keywords stuffing. Your content should be natural to the readers. Aim for unique and valuable content so that readers keep coming back to your site and share it with their friends.
Publishing new content on a regular basis can also encourage your readers to visit your site again and again. It will also make your brand memorable.
Why keyword research shouldn't be your primary focus
Nowadays, search engines have evolved to the extent that researching keywords and using them in your content alone don't have such a significant impact on ranking anymore. Hence, it shouldn't be your primary focus.
Many bloggers choose the topics based on the keywords they find with different keyword research tools.
Don't make the same mistake. Don't let keywords and eventually Google control your content marketing strategy. This way, you won't be able to show your true expertise to your audience because you will create content only according to the long tail keywords you find with low competition.
Instead, write in-depth articles about the topics you have the most experience with.
I'm not saying keyword research doesn't matter anymore. I just want you to take your primary focus on creating high-quality content. It means you should create content for your readers and not for the search engines.
Imagine, this in-depth blog post would have never been created in the first place if my main strategy was creating content based on researching the right keywords.
Remember, Google understands synonyms well. And when it comes to driving traffic to your blog posts, you have a wide range of other options, too.
For more information, make sure to study the beginner blogging mistakes.
How to optimize images for web and performance
How to name images for SEO - descriptive file names
When it comes to SEO, optimizing your images is essential to rank well on search engines. Therefore, before uploading them to your website, make sure to give them keyword-rich and descriptive file names so that search engines can easily find them.
Image alt text best practices
In addition, apply appropriate alt tags to your images on your website, such as keyword phrases or other useful description related to your images and content.
They are beneficial because they describe what your images are about and help search engines understand them. If used the right way, they can have a positive impact on your SEO, too. It also helps a lot in driving traffic from image searches.
Apart from SEO benefits, alt tags are shown in case images on your site can't be displayed. So they are also helpful for blind and visually impaired people.
Image title best practices
Image title is another attribute for images that is shown when you hover over an image with your mouse. It doesn't have any SEO benefit but provides additional information when hovering.
Most website owners don't use this function, so it's your choice if you disable it or you don't.
Why are external and internal links important for SEO?
Place links in your content to related sites in your niche. Those links should satisfy the curiosity of your readers if they want to know more about a specific subject.
This is also great for link building because other sites might link back to you.
Make sure your site's internal linking is also complete. It means one link points to another link on the same domain. This way, you can connect your related posts and products together. Therefore, readers get additional value and better user experience and at the same time they stay much longer on your page. It will also help to pass page rank to other pages of your site.
The importance of user-friendliness and appealing design
The layout of your website and being user-friendly
is another thing you need to take care of.
Who would want to stay on a website or visit again if they had a bad experience on a poorly designed layout that is not user-friendly? For an excellent user experience, using an eye-catching design with appealing colors that match your brand is critical nowadays.
Use a color scheme that increases visual comfort. You want your brand to reflect professionalism.
By building everything as clean and user-friendly as possible, your readers are more likely to spend more time on your pages and even engage with your content.
What is bounce rate?
Google uses bounce rate as a ranking factor.
Bounce rate is a percentage of how many people leave your page without visiting another page on your website and therefore, it has an indirect influence on your SEO.
If people click the back button to the search results after the first impression, that means they probably haven’t found what they were looking for. So in the eyes of Google, your page might not be relevant enough for the keyword the visitor has searched for.
Hence monitoring bounce rate with Google Analytics is so important to take note of and it can help you determine what and how to improve on your site.
Mobile-friendly and responsive design
As you know, more and more people visit websites using mobile phones. Therefore, search engines use responsiveness as a ranking factor.
Nowadays it isn't enough to just make your website mobile responsive. You need to give mobile users a unique experience. Easy navigation is key.
You have to think about the fact that mobile users usually engage with your content only for a shorter period of time. That's why you need to create a simplified version of your desktop website and avoid too much info such as animations.
Remove items which might slow the mobile load time down and update your layout so that it offers a smooth and speedy mobile experience. If your bounce rate on mobiles is significantly higher than on desktops, this can indicate that your mobile site isn't mobile-friendly enough.
There are different online tools where you can test your site on mobiles. For example, Google speed test, mobiReady or MobileTest.me.
Run some tests, check the performance and see how you can optimize it.
Furthermore, take a look at the following illustration:
How to improve your website load time and performance
Website speed is another ranking factor next to mobile responsiveness and it also has an impact on your conversion. Loading at lighting speed increases customer satisfaction, visitor engagement and retention rate.
Use the right hosting, elements and plugins
According to statistics, there is a significant
chance that visitors leave a website if it takes more than 4-5 seconds to load. So it's essential to choose the right hosting and optimize your pages.
Don't include more elements on your pages than necessary. Too many plugins, widgets, ads and other external services can drastically degrade website performance.
Some good hosting providers I recommend:
Compress images and specify dimensions
Note that large images take more time to download, so you need to optimize them by resizing and compressing. In most cases, slow loading time is due to unnecessarily high-resolution images and it's a waste of resources. The larger the dimensions of your image, the larger the file size.
For example, Gtmetrix shows on the following picture that optimizing one of the images could save almost 100Kb:
It's highly recommended to resize them to the required dimensions.
In my opinion, Shortpixel is the best one because it has a better compression rate and more features.
Lazy load comments, images and videos
Lazy loading feature means that some content only starts loading when a visitor scrolls to that point. Therefore, delaying content loading is a nice optimization trick you can benefit from to speed up your site and even save bandwidth.
There are more lazy load plugins for WordPress and other platforms each with their different benefits and features.
In most cases, it's a useful feature but testing different plugins is highly recommended before integrating it into your production site.
How does WordPress caching work?
WordPress websites usually consist of a lot of dynamic content which needs to be fetched every time. Caching means creating static versions of your content and serving that to your audience.
Using a caching plugin is one of the most effective ways to boost the performance of your WordPress website. The most popular plugins are W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache and WP Super Cache.
Check them out, do some tests and choose the best one that fits your needs. Their free plan is usually enough for most users. Wp Rocket has only paid plans.
What are Content delivery networks (CDNs)?
Now a few words about content delivery networks or so-called CDN's.
One of the most popular CDN's is Cloudflare. For most users, the free plan is appropriate to speed up their websites and add some security features.
The other ones I would recommend are Maxcdn, KeyCDN and Amazon CloudFront. Please note Maxcdn is now integrated into the StackPath platform.
Some experts say that for security purposes, Cloudflare is the better choice but for speed and performance, Maxcdn and KeyCDN are more powerful and now with the StackPath integration, Maxcdn became a more robust and advanced platform.
With regards to Amazon CloudFront I don't have any solid opinions. I suggest you measure your website's performance with and without a CDN. Try out more CDN companies to see the differences and use the one that performs the best.
Here you can see the home page of Cloudflare:
Whichever is your hosting provider, you can connect your site with almost any CDN companies.
How to test your website speed for performance
Once you've built a website, checking the speed performance of your individual pages is a critical step to get ideas about possible improvements.
A lot of people make the mistake of only checking the main page of their site.
Pingdom and Gtmetrix are the most popular website speed and performance optimization tools. They give you valuable insights into website performance including total load time, total page size, the size of your images, the number of requests and suggestions to improve the whole.
How to write meta titles and meta descriptions for SEO
The title and description of your pages are shown in search results and these tags are called meta title and meta description.
Although Google doesn't consider meta description for page ranks, you should always fill in this information properly because it serves as a "mini-ad" when your page is displayed in the various search results. Also, other search engines might consider this for ranking.
Each page and blog post should have a unique and relevant meta description. This is how you convince people to click on your page and how you can communicate what they can expect by visiting it. If this text isn't compelling, unique and descriptive, then your click-through rate will suffer.
The blue clickable text in the search results is the title, and its length can be 70 characters at most. The title specifies the title of a page. It's crucial for SEO and social sharing.
You should try to use the targeted keyword phrase close to the beginning of your title tag. If that's not possible, make sure it's at least somewhere in the title. Don't repeat the same keyword more than once in the title tag because it can hurt your ranking.
Under the title in the search results, the meta description is shown which should be between 50 and 300 characters long. Be careful, longer titles and descriptions might not be fully displayed in search results, and will seem unprofessional to viewers.
A short sentence about meta keywords: Google has made it clear that they don't care about meta keywords, I still suggest you fill them in because some other search engines might use them.
The purpose of meta robot tags
Meta robot tags are special HTML tags to describe how to handle the content of the individual pages.
It's a simple HTML code in the head section of your pages.
By properly specifying these tags you can tell the search engines what pages to index and what pages to follow. An example:
<meta name="robots" content="index, follow">
Index or noindex means whether the page should be indexed or not.
Follow or nofollow specifies whether the outbound links on the page should be followed or not.
This tag can be attached to individual links, too. For example:
While linking out to external sites, you should link to trusted websites only. If you have doubts about the authority of a site, you can use a nofollow tag to avoid passing your link juice to a potentially bad site. This way, pagerank will not be passed over.
So where are nofollow tags usually used? People typically attach them to forums, blog comments, social media sites and so on.
What is robots.txt?
Robots.txt file is used to prevent robots from accessing specific pages on a site.
When search engines find a site, they will look for robots.txt first to read its content. This text file is public for anyone, you can check it by visiting anydomain.com/robots.txt.
If you want to block from indexing a whole section of a site, use robots.txt. If you want to block single pages, use meta robot tags. For safety, some people use both of them.
When should you use canonical tag vs. 301 redirect
Now let's talk about the canonical tag and 301 redirect.
There are some cases when you create duplicate versions of your website that use different URLs or different domains. Therefore, search engines don't know which one is the original version to show in search results.
This can lead to duplicate content penalty resulting in lower rankings. By using the canonical tag on single URL's you can tell the search engines which is the original one. This way, the ranking signal and popularity of that URL will also be passed to the original one.
It means, we merge two URL's into one without redirecting the user. Canonical tags can also be used across different domains. Let's say I have the same content on www.mydomain.com/mypage and www.mydomain.com/myotherpage.
My original content is on mypage. Now, I need to add the canonical tag to the "head" section of myotherpage. It would look like this:
<link rel="canonical" href="www.mydomain.com/mypage">
On the other hand, 301 redirect is a little bit different.
When you click on an URL, it actually redirects you to the other page. From SEO perspectives, these two URLs will be handled like one, and domain authority will also be passed to the new one.
The most common usage of 301 redirect when you use it on the "non-www" version of your domain to redirect to the "www" version. As a result, it doesn't matter which version visitors type into the browser, they will be redirected to the "www" version.
Another common usage of this is when a company changes its website name and wants to redirect people to the new domain.
Lastly, a comic image about duplicate content:
How to create SEO friendly URLs
Both Google and people like easy to read URL's.
If someone sees the URL to one of your pages on social media and the URL tells them what your page is about, then they are more likely to click on it.
Whenever it is possible, include your main keyword phrases into the URLs and cut off other unnecessary parameters. Avoid using special characters, brackets, symbols, commas, etc. within the URL's. Use dashes to differentiate the strings in your URL structure. An example:
Many platforms including WordPress offer the option to generate URL's based on page titles. When it comes to Google, it can also give you a small SEO boost.
The URL's to blog posts are called permalinks, and once they're created, they should never be changed because you might lose your backlinks.
Advanced SEO techniques: what is schema markup?
Did you notice when searching for something on Google, it provides you with the answer right away? Displaying a rich answer is known as schema markup or structured data markup.
Let's say you want to find out how old Barack Obama is. By typing "Barack Obama age" into Google you instantly get the answer and other related information. It's a powerful way to make your content more eye-catching and it also provides a better user experience.
Sites with scheme markup tend to rank much better than those without it. They can be:
You can easily add that code to your website. Just go to Google's Structured Data Markup Helper and follow the step-by-step instructions.
Marking up content with your mouse is not difficult, right? Google even offers a Structured Data Testing Tool where you can check to see if your markup is appropriately implemented.
Submit your site to Google, Bing and Yandex
Why is this important
Although websites are usually discovered automatically by the search engines, sometimes it doesn't happen as quickly as you would like it to, so manually submitting them is still highly recommended.
Plus, you can access additional data regarding your website. You will get a detailed overview of how your site is performing, mobile usability metrics, index coverage, how many pages have been crawled, indexed and any critical issues that need to be addressed.
Create an account for Google, Bing and Yandex
There is a high chance you already have a Google account, so head over to the Google Search Console and log in. Then add your website and verify it. I won't go into the details now, just follow the simple steps.
For Bing, you can create a Microsoft account, then go to Bing Webmaster Tools. Luckily, social login has been recently introduced for Bing Webmaster Tools. It means you don't have to create a Microsoft account anymore, just simply log in using your Google or Facebook account.
Yandex is a Russian search engine. I only recommend you to submit your site to Yandex if you have global traffic otherwise it doesn't make any sense.
In case of each of these search engines the steps are very similar: add your website, verify it, then submit your sitemap.
Create your sitemap file
Sitemap files are usually in XML format and they describe the structure and hierarchy of all the pages and posts on your domain. Search engines discover and index your pages even without it, but by submitting a sitemap file you make this process faster and also get some additional reporting data.
Most website builder platforms including WordPress with SEO plugin automatically generate a sitemap for you. You can check it if it's actually generated by visiting the URL: https://yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
Once it's created you are ready to submit it to the search engines mentioned above. To do that, just log in to the webmaster tools and follow the simple steps.
Check the webmaster tools for SEO related errors
It's very likely that Google Search Console will be the one you'll use the most. Check it for crawl errors, duplicate content issues, and other SEO problems. You'll also get different data about your site's status, performance, search appearance, etc.
Based on that information, you'll know exactly what steps to take to improve your whole search visibility.
Check if your site is indexed by Google
There is a small step you need to take if you want to find out whether your website is listed in Google or not. Just type the following search phrase into Google: site:yourdomain.com. If your search didn't match any results, it means your site is not indexed.
How to secure your website with HTTPS
Google wants everything on the web to be traveling over a secure channel. Additionally, the new versions of the popular browsers mark unencrypted websites as insecure regardless of their content.
You don't want to drive users away, right? Plus, using HTTPS also has a little SEO benefit you want to take advantage of.
The good news is that this is a pretty easy fix. It only takes a few hours to get an SSL certificate and get everything up and running on your site.
The easiest way to implement this is to connect your website to a CDN like CloudFlare. By the way, CloudFlare free plan also includes an SSL certificate. The whole process is automatic, so you don't have to install anything on your server.
Just make sure SSL status is active on your CloudFlare dashboard.
In case you're not using a CDN and want another free solution, I recommend you to set up HTTPS on your website using Let’s Encrypt which is a free, automated and open certificate authority. Besides, some quality hosting providers can also secure your site with HTTPS without having to do any additional tasks.
On-page SEO for beginners: conclusion
By taking the effort to understand this guide, it will help your site gain higher engagement, click-through rates and of course, rankings. I hope you realize now that search engine optimization isn’t optional anymore if you want to build a proper online presence.
So that was my on-page SEO for beginners guide.
How about you? What was the result of your on-page SEO efforts? Let me know your opinions! Furthermore, should you want to talk to me in private just connect with me on Facebook.
Though we even discussed some advanced SEO techniques, we haven't talked about link building strategies yet or how to do keyword research the right way and what SEO tools to use to achieve success more efficiently.
We'll continue it. Have a good one!