SEO for beginners
Organic search is in many cases the biggest traffic driver for your website. Today's users are Googling on mobile, tablet and desktop, to find information, contact details, products, services and answers to their questions. In this guide, we will go through the basics of search engine optimization hoping to give you the foundation to get started.
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is about optimizing content (text, images, etc.) for search engines. The aim is to rank as high as possible in search results through relevant content, to generate traffic to your website. There are different signals that search engines pick up to analyse which page best matches the user's searches. Therefore, you need to ensure that your website contains the phrases and keywords that users use.
Search engines are used by almost every internet user and count for 93% of all traffic. We mainly use Google, but most search engines work in the same way. The benefits of being visible in high search results are several, including increasing the chances that the customer will choose your product or service, over your competitors. Other benefits include:
- Increased traffic to your website
- Increased sales
- Increased brand awareness
- User-friendly website
- Increased credibility
What's the difference between SEO and SEM?
SEO and SEM have their similarities, both methods are used to top search results. But while SEO drives organic traffic, you pay for your visibility through SEM, search engine marketing. SEM is a strategy that increases the number of visitors to your website, through paid ads.
You can create ads in several search engines, most commonly through Google Ads. This allows you to be visible at the top of the search results, when users type in keywords related to your business and content. The methods can be combined for increased visibility.
While SEO helps you build long-term trust with the search engines, SEM helps you be visible in the here and now. Think of it as a long-term and a short-term strategy. SEM gives you an immediate impact in search results as long as you keep paying for the ads, while SEO usually takes longer to build up but creates long-term value.
On-page SEO is about optimizing various elements of the website that can help search engines read the content and understand the context. This can include H1s, subheadings, image alt tags and meta tag optimization.
Google's number one ranking factor is precisely the content of a web page. This includes the structure of your information, the use of keywords and phrases and the quality of your content. A lot of it is about producing quality, relevant text that reflects the purpose of the web page in a well-written and clear way.
In the past, it was the amount of relevant keywords that was most important, which often led to the overuse of certain words resulting in low quality text. Today, search engines are more clever and reward high quality text over quantity.
To get a better idea of which key words and phrases you should highlight in your content, we recommend that you carry out a keyword analysis. Use the Google Keywords Tool to see how many people are searching for a specific keyword.
If you click through to Keywords Ideas, you'll also be able to find related keywords that may also be worth using in your content, which can further boost rankings for your primary keywords. Another tip is to do your keyword analysis manually in Google search. Which web pages come up under the terms you plan to use yourself? This will give you a clear picture of what your competitors are already doing - or not doing.
Looking at the technical side of SEO, we are referring to website speed, mobile-friendliness, security, indexing and the structure of data. This form of optimization will help you give users a better experience on your website, increasing the likelihood that they will have a better image of your brand, that they will click through to the site and convert into customers.
Live chat can affect several technical SEO parameters that improve your ranking. To learn more about these parameters, click here.
Off-page SEO is about link building, authority building, referrals and being visible on other external sites where your website or brand is found through linking. Search engines pay attention to and prioritize off-page SEO, which will show up in your rankings.
Search engines use links for two purposes: to find new web pages and to rank them. You can work with links in two ways, internal and external. Internal links are used to boost specific pages on your website with selected keywords. This also improves user-friendliness and makes the site easier to navigate.
Looking at external links, they reinforce the authority of your site. External linking can be a challenge to control, as it is up to other players to mention your site. By having relevant and interesting content on the site, the chances of other platforms noticing and recommending your content, through linking, increases.
You can motivate this through share buttons in articles and blog posts for example. You can also guest blog on other relevant platforms in the industry, in exchange for a link. This is a form of collaboration that can make a big difference to your relevance with search engines in the future.
Test and optimise
Once you've gotten started with your content production and website structure, it's important to monitor and analyse the results. This is so you can make the right decisions going forward and put resources into the elements that generate results. Plus, it makes the job more fun. Today, most things can be measured, and there are a variety of tools you can use:
Google Analytics provides you with information about users' behaviour on the website. Which pages they visit, how long they stay, how they found you and demographics. This gives you better insight into how user-friendly your website is and the opportunity to get to know your visitors and potential customers better.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console gives you information about what happens before users click through to your site. What keywords are they using, how high do you rank and how visible are you in Google's feed? This will help you hone your SEO and highlight relevant keywords and phrases that users typically use when searching for the products or services your brand offers.
Google Optimize helps you A/B test your website. You can work in parallel with different versions of your website, to see which version produces the best results. This could be about the placement of a button or headline. Often it's small adjustments that make a big difference to the results.
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager helps you set up tags to track specific targets on your website. This could be a specific service, product or page that is important to you and that you want to track.
SEO is a long-term effort. It often takes time to get all the elements of your website right, and the search engines are constantly changing. That's why the work never ends. It is important to work actively on your optimisation, monitor the results and make adjustments as you go along. The more you work with the tool, the easier it will become.
Hopefully, this guide has given you an idea of what SEO is really about and the key factors you should focus on first. If you want to read more about how to work with the method in practice, read our article here.