This tutorial is called “SEO for beginners” because even if you haven’t got the slightest clue of what SEO is, you’ll have very clear and easy action items that you can implement into your website right away.
So we’ll be covering the most important things that you should know to ensure to optimize your website for search engines.
Let’s get started.
Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes. What would they be looking for and what would help them solve their query?
When you’re picking topics, try and stick with ones that provide value to your business.
So as a photographer, I would want to almost always showcase my work because I would be judged by my portfolio.
As a software company, we show how our tools can help people’s SEO process because people will buy our tools if they see how it benefits them.
As a coffee roastery, you might show them how to make the perfect cup of coffee or an article on how to roast beans.
I cannot emphasize enough, how much a blog can help boost your SEO efforts.
It’s a great way to get ahead of your competitors who have been in the game for longer than you, but they’ve been targeting only these ‘obvious’ keywords.
From here, you can just rinse and repeat the keyword research process, the on-page optimization tips, and continually build links to your content and articles and start climbing the Google search rankings.
Seriously, no matter what you do, people are looking for your products and services on Google;
Cell phone repair shop: 1,700 monthly searches.
iPhone charger: 34,000 monthly searches.
And these search volumes are only for US based searches.
But here’s the thing:
Even though there are billions of searches every single day, our recent study shows that 91% of content gets no traffic from Google.
So how do you join the other 9% of web pages and start getting free, consistent, and passive traffic from Google?
If you’re a beginner to SEO, then you’re going to want to watch this whole tutorial because I’m going to show you how to start attracting customers from the world’s largest search engine.
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
It’s the process of optimizing your website and web pages to get free organic traffic from search engines like Google.
Think of Google like a filing system in a library. The library has billions of books with hundreds of thousands of pages.
So let’s say that you want to find something on, “global warming.”
Then Google would search through these books and extract pages that contain your keywords or closely related words.
But as I’m sure you know, search results aren’t returned in any random order. Google tries to return the most relevant results first by using sophisticated algorithms. And they’re so good at this, that most of us never have to click through to page 2 of the search results.
Nobody knows exactly how these algorithms work or the exact factors it looks at to rank a webpage, but we do know a lot of the so-called “Google ranking factors” so we are able to make some optimizations.
So your job is going to be two-fold:
We need to make sure that it’s easy for search engines to understand what your page is about and create that content that matches what we call, “the searcher’s intent.”
Let’s say that I’m a new and budding photographer and I live in Toronto, Canada.
I’m starting my new wedding photography business called “Sam’s Photography.”
I’m pretty awesome…but I don’t have any friends, so referrals are out of the question.
Find keywords that people are searching for and see how these search queries fit into your business.
The easiest way to start finding relevant keywords is to put yourself in the shoes of a potential customer.
So I would think that a bride or groom looking for some magical wedding photos would search for “wedding photographer in Toronto.” So I’ll go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool, which is one of our SEO tools that provides rich data on Google searches, and I’ll enter in that search query there.
I’ll also change the country to Canada since people in other countries probably aren’t looking for a Toronto based photographer as often.
Alright, now that we have a list of keywords, it’s time to optimize your pages. In the world of search engine optimization, this is called “on-page SEO.”
Since we know the keywords that people are searching for in Google, it gives us clues about the language we should use to let both Google and potential customers know what our page is about.
For example, knowing that “Toronto wedding photographer” is a more popular search query than “wedding photographer in Toronto”, that will help us make smarter copywriting decisions.
You don’t have to use your exact match keyword since Google has gotten pretty smart at understanding what your page is about. It’s very important to note that you shouldn’t try to trick Google by using keywords where they don’t belong.
Your first priority should be to optimize for people because the last time I checked, robots aren’t going to pay you for your services.
When you look at the Google’s search results, you’ll see this part in blue and the text below.
The top part is called your title tag and the other part is the meta description.
The purpose of these is to entice someone to click through to your page.
If people are actually clicking through to your page, then that’s telling Google that your page is likely relevant to the reason why they had searched for the query in the first place, right?
And you can see that Google actually even bolds these keywords and similar keywords within the search results making them stand out.
Then for the meta description, you can explain in a couple brief sentences what the page is about.
Without over complicating things, you’ll likely want to use your primary keyword phrase in the main headline, often referred to as an H1 tag.
Remember, your job is to help Google best identify your page as being relevant to the user’s search query.
By this point, we’ve optimized our main pages for our different services, and we’ve covered the basics of on-page SEO.
And if you’ve done this for all of your key pages, then I can assure you that you are miles ahead of a lot of your competitors.
The next part and arguably the most important part of ranking high on Google is:
Off-page SEO often refers to link building.
And link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your web pages.
Basically, links act as votes or other people vouching for your website saying:
“Hey, these people are really good at what they do and I trust them enough that I would send my visitors to their website.”
It works similarly to how you would refer your friend to buy a product from a store because you’ve tried it, used it, and loved it. In general, the more quality backlinks you can get from relevant pages, the higher you’ll rank in Google.
Now I’m putting emphasis here on the word “quality,” because there are a lot of different types of links, you can get such as forums, directories, and editorial links to name a few.
If you think about it, a place like a forum where virtually anyone can place a link will likely hold less value than a link from someone else’s blog.
But to be clear, other types of links will still hold some kind of value, but probably not as much as links like editorials would.
So if you’re focusing on quality, then you’ll probably want to prioritize editorial links. The main way to get links from other people’s blogs is through something that SEO often refer to as “outreach.”
Outreach is exactly the way it sounds. You’re contacting people and asking them for a link. But you can’t just email someone and be like, “yo! I need a link. Hook me up.”
It doesn’t work that way.
You need people who are actually interested in the stuff that you do.
You need a good reason to contact them.
Let’s go through a few examples, shall we?
First, we need to identify people who are interested in what you are doing.
The most commonsensical one in the context of link building are websites that have already linked to your competitors.
You can find these pages by going to Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and entering in a domain or URL.
As a general rule of thumb, the better the ‘excuse’ you can come up with to contact the author, the better your chance will be to get the link.
Blog owners are always on the hunt for new content and since your site is new, you’ll be getting in front of someone else’s audience in exchange for some of your time and content where you could easily use some watermarked photos that you’ve taken.
With guest posting, your reason to contact them is pretty reasonable and you’ll be providing value, which is free content (that should be good), that benefits them and/or their website.
The next outreach prospect you can find are businesses in a lateral non-competing niche. So as a wedding photographer, you might want to contact other local flower shops, reception halls, and wedding planners.
Your businesses go hand-in-hand and you can pass on referrals to each other, you can link back to each other as a ‘preferred vendor’ or link to others’ content in guest posts where it’s relevant.
And this isn’t limited to just local businesses. This applies to everyone.
So, find some solid partners who are on that same journey as you in a lateral niche and help each other out.
Now on to the last SEO tip that I see a lot of beginner’s avoiding.
If you have something to sell, setting up your homepage and product/services pages is probably the first thing that you’ll do or did and for good reason.
These are the pages that will directly generate leads and revenue for your business. But here’s the Final Tip:
Now, I’m not telling you to write about how you changed your storefront sign from red to green.
By blogging, I’m referring to providing practical content that can and will help your prospective customers solve problems. In Dr. Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious: “Why Things Catch On,” he shares his research on why content gains popularity and even goes viral. Content that provides “practical value” was one of the key factors to success.
People don’t just share funny cat videos or emotional stories. They share things that help others. The same goes for gaining links.
People are more likely to link to your content if it’s helpful, actionable, and solves a problem.
Look at what we do for the Ahrefs blog.
We have numerous SEO tools, but we tackle different big topics like keyword research and link building. And even if you don’t use our tools, you can gain a ton of value through these monstrous posts. You’ll see that we include shortcuts or hacks where our tool can make doing SEO a whole lot easier.
To further prove my point, if you look at the “top pages” report inside Site Explorer, you’ll see that the pages that generate the most search traffic for us, mostly come from our blog articles.
Blogging lets you reach larger audiences.
In this case, Popupsmart’s Conversion Optimization & Digital Marketing Blog offers detailed, practical and useful tactics about digital marketing appropriate for every level. If you’re new to your digital marketing efforts, have a look at our Introduction Guides for Beginners. If you’ve already dealt with these topics for a while, you can also find useful articles to improve your skills.
I’d be glad to hear your thoughts and experiences. Also, if you have any questions please ask me in the comments below.
Thank you for your time!