SEO 101: Killer Tips for Beginners
Written by Ivan Spasojevic
30 August 2016
Search engine optimization will always be fundamental for any website’s success, and there’s no argument about it. SEO is a hot topic, so it is only natural that there are a lot of conflicting opinions about it. The ever-changing rules and an influx of self-proclaimed Internet gurus can make a beginner’s head spin from the amount of facts, information and tactics that are either shady or impossible to achieve if you are just starting your business.
For someone who is just starting an online business or making a website, SEO often seems too complicated or not that important. This is a common mistake that a lot of people still make. Just ask a few bloggers what they wish they'd known when they were starting their blog. I bet that most of the answers would be SEO related.
Of course, we aren’t going to explain to you the basic SEO principles, because you’ve read about that everywhere else, so we are not going to try to recycle what has already been said. That’s common knowledge by now. Instead, we made this compilation of search engine optimization tips and simple hacks that actually help real people to achieve better search engine rankings.
We asked for experience-proven website optimization techniques that are easily applicable to the majority of industries, and we got answers from different business owners, marketing experts, bloggers and all-around kind people. They offered their experience and actionable advice with a purpose of sharing their knowledge so that others can learn and become successful. So, read carefully, I’m sure that you’ll find valuable SEO tactics that you can apply to your business.
SEO tips for beginners:
Rachel Stephens - Increase CTR with good Page Title and Meta DescriptionMy best SEO hack to boost online visibility involves being aware of where you are ranking, and adjusting strategy based on results. Use Google Search Console or perform your own searches to find where you are appearing in the search results page. Be sure to search in incognito mode, or your results may be catered to your search history. If you are not appearing on the first page of results, take a look at what the results around you look like. Then, adjust your Page Title and Meta Description to stand out from these results. You don't necessarily want to mimic the first page results; if a searcher didn't find what they were looking for on the first page, you need to be offering something different than those results. Try a unique call to action or identify special features in your page title. The business I work for produces custom printed products. We have had great rankings for our line of custom stadium cups, however, one of our newer products were struggling for organic traffic with results on page 3 from Google. To adjust, I added a strong call to action in the Page Title, specifically to stand out from the results around it. We saw an increased click-through rate for this page and soon moved up in the results. With increased clicks, the search engine sees this result as a good answer to the searcher's query and will generally move the result up. Always remember that the Search Engine wants to provide the best experience for the searcher; if you want to rank, be the best possible answer to the search.
Author Bio: Rachel Stephens works in the Marketing Department at Totally Promotional, an online business specializing in custom promotional products and branded signage. Rachel manages company’s SEO strategy and internal site search.
Gunhee Park - Utilize niche keywords and write quality contentMy best advice for SEO is to have patience. There are a lot of resources online that offer a hack such as “Ten easy ways to get backlinks”, but I’d advise not to fall into these tricks. Google’s algorithms are getting better and better, and the worst thing you could do is get penalized, which would essentially make your site disappear from the search engine. What helped me the most is focusing on creating really good content for the first month or two. Brainstorm a list of keywords that you want to target and start creating quality content pages or blog posts for each of those keywords. When brainstorming these keywords, don’t try to go for the most popular terms in your industry, as it’ll be hard to make any difference there. But, if you focus on long-tail keywords, you could climb the ranks pretty easily. For example, I targeted “Things to consider when buying hemp seeds”, and now am ranked #1. That’s a very niche keyword, but that keyword alone brings a couple hundred visitors to my site every month.
In parallel, with the quality content you’ve developed, focus on reaching out to other bloggers or news reporters to see if you can contribute to their site. By focusing on providing value to those writers (rather than being spammy), you’ll be able to find writers who’d be happy to cite you or reference your site. This approach is very manual and time-intensive, but even if you can get a couple backlinks this way, it’s so much more effective than any “easy hacks”. Lastly, if you’re trying to improve your site visibility organically, I would say maintaining a blog is a huge advantage. I try to update my blog at least once a week with a post that’s 1000-2000 words. If you write interesting content and share them on social media or platforms like Reddit, that can also be a reliable source of getting visitors as well.
Author Bio: Gunhee Park is the founder of Ministry of Hemp, a leading hemp e-commerce brand aimed at popularizing non-psychoactive hemp products among the mainstream. Prior to his hemp startup, he worked as a senior analyst at Dell. Gunhee received his Bachelor’s degree in supply chain management and computer information systems at Arizona State University.
Sergey Alakov - Position for emerging trends and keywordsMy first job as an SEO included working on a totally fresh domain with no authority and no traffic whatsoever. The business’s target market was outside of its location, so local SEO strategies (that can usually bring the quickest results for local businesses) would not help us grow digitally, and most importantly would not bring new leads. In 4 months, the site ranked for some pretty sweet head keywords, and was bringing lots of qualified leads.
How did that happen? Well, the keywords the site started ranking for initially had almost no search volume. They were all related to a new legislation which directly affected our target market. We had expertise and knowledge around the topic, and started producing content around the legislation before people started searching for it, and our competition (direct and indirect) started writing about it. We started ranking, well, because there was almost no alternative at first. And we managed to get pretty good backlinks for that same reason. By the time the law was officially changed and people started searching for it, we had already established topical authority and were happy to provide visitors information they were looking for. Main takeaways? Make sure you know what is going on in your industry, and you will be able to find new opportunities before anyone else.
Author Bio: Sergey Alakov is Toronto-based SEO consultant, who currently works for the Humberview Group – one of the largest auto dealership groups in Canada.
Lysa Miller - Target long-tail keywords and post client testimonialsWith constant changes in Google's Algorithms, most company's SEO tactics have had to expand beyond the old methods of keyword spamming and mass backlinking, which now actually downgrade your SEO ranking.
Tactics we now use depend on the client and the nature of the business. Many online experts and SEO experts use blogging as a crucial part of their SEO which is a great idea, but at some point a plumber or moving company's content runs stagnant and new content ideas need to happen.One idea that has worked for our clients is building interest on your portfolio or recent jobs page. For example, a plumber does a specific job in a specific town (let's not include toilet problems here). But, installing new piping or new systems, that specific portfolio can target the specific service offered, the town in which it's located and provide quality content about the job. A testimonial can also be included from the client.
Not only does this make for great content, but you are also targeting the type of clients you want in a specific region or location. SEO experts call this long-tail keyword targeting. In this post you can also add photos, name them appropriately and add the proper meta-data so that not only does your potential customer read about the job but can also see photos, also indexed in Google Images. The same might go for any company that provides services or products. Taking each case and transforming it into content on your website can help drive long-tail keyword searches and also increase the validity of online leads.
Author Bio: Lysa Miller is the Founder of Ladybugz Interactive Agency in Hudson, Massachusetts. Lysa specializes in UI/UX design, front-end design, SEO and online marketing. She is a regular guest blogger for MassVacation.com as well as BigStock.com. She has a passion for SEO and growth hacking and loves to work her magic on small and medium sized locally owned businesses.
David Vallance - Utilize The Skyscraper TechniqueIn the early days of Digital Impact, we used the Skyscraper Technique to help push our content ahead of our competitors and get it seen by our target market.
The Skyscraper Technique is absurdly simple and can be broken down into three simple steps.
Step one: Identify existing link-worthy content.
Step two: Make it better.
Step three: Pitch your improved content to the existing linkers.
Our biggest and best success came with one of our first articles called The Ultimate List of Free Stock Photography Sites. Here’s how we built a blog that has attracted tens of thousands of readers over the past year.
After a bit of research, we recognized that top ranked articles for free stock photos were all high-performing link magnets, attracting tens or hundreds of links from really decent websites. However, they were all fairly short articles, featuring no more than 20 or so entries.
We knew we could do better.
Working through all the top articles, we selected the best existing photo sites and complemented that list with research of our own. After two solid days, we had a list of over 40 websites, double that of any article on the first page.
Next, we ran backlink checks for all the highest ranked articles, giving several hundred potential links for our article.
Finally, using a CRM we sent out personalized emails to each of those potential linkers, pitching our content as an improved alternative to what they were already linking to.
The result? High-quality links to our new blog, helping boost its visibility and bring new users to our website.
Author Bio: A digital copywriter and content creator, David is the backbone of Digital Impact’s marketing campaigns. With over five years’ experience writing for clients across a myriad of industries, he has developed the necessary skills to craft effective copy and content for any client.
Damon Burton - Repurpose your content and create infographicsA not common SEO strategy that works well is to repurpose content. And by content, I mean your own content.
Almost everyone nowadays knows that blogging on your site is important. But you can go beyond that without much more effort.
After your blog is posted, repurpose your content into something like an infographic. Now you have a more diverse blog post and can also distribute that infographic to third party sites for social shares, backlinks, etc.
Why stop there? You can even repurpose your infographic into a video. How? Do a screencast that scrolls down the infographic as you narrate the content. Now you have a video that discusses the content from your blog post while having the visual stimulation of the infographic.
Author Bio: Damon Burton is the President of SEO National, a search engine optimization company, with experience in website development and optimization dating back to 1999. He manages industry leading campaigns in SEO and regularly increases website traffic and conversions by thousands of percent for clients.
Marcus Kay - Wikipedia Backlink Building HackThis hack is an off-page SEO technique. It focuses on building links from Wikipedia articles to your website.
Step 1: Go back to Wikipedia and search for a keyword relevant to your niche. Look for those Wikipedia pages that have dead links (you can easily find the broken links on any page. Just use the nifty Check My Links Chrome extension. This is your opportunity to replace that link with your own.
Step 2: Grab the URL of one of the dead links in the Wikipedia entry and jump on over to Internet Archive. If you don't know already, you can use Internet Archive to check out a webpage's snapshots over the past years - and you can do this for the dead link(s) you've found in the Wikipedia entry.
Step 3: Using the snapshot from Internet Archive, you can rewrite a better and more up-to-date article so that it covers all of the same points but also brings additional value.
Step 4: Publish the rewritten content on your website and have an experienced Wikipedia editor edit/update the citation within Wikipedia. You're much more likely to get the edit accepted because you're following a proven and trusted piece of content as a guide. However, Wikipedia editors are very strict. The way to give yourself the best possible chance of success is to work with an experienced Wikipedia editor. You can find them on websites such as UpWork or People Per Hour - there are a few there.
Step 5: You can also plug each of the dead links into Majestic, Ahrefs or Open Site Explorer to find out if any other websites are linking to them. Once you have found the sites, reach out using the template below:
Hi (site owner name),
I was just browsing around your resources page today, and among the lists of great resources, was a broken link.
Here’s the link:
And while you're updating your page, I wondered if you'd be open to replacing that resource with the link below. This article is being used by Wikipedia to replace the same broken link. It is written by my team :-)
Updated link: URL title
Either way, I hope this helps and keep up the good work!
Since your article has been cited in Wikipedia, you should get a pretty good response from this. The more backlinks you build from high authority sites, the better your SEO results.
Happy backlink building!
Author Bio: Marcus is the founder of Meatti. He helps mobile app developers and marketers with app marketing and app store optimization services.
Will Coombe - Create an online tool for your industryMake a quick (less than 1 minute) video introduction of your business/website, and add that video, via a YouTube embed, ‘above the fold’ on your main ranking page. Since Google owns YouTube, it holds in high esteem any site that embeds YouTube videos. In SEO terms, this means your site will get a boost in the search engine! Also, a short video engages your users, lowering your website bounce rate which leads to increased Google rankings.
If that wasn’t enough, if your video is sincere, and explains your product/service succinctly, the conversion rate of your website is likely to increase too. All in all, the addition of a short video embedded into a website via YouTube is a great 3-pronged attack on SEO.
One of the most effective methods of getting natural links to your website is to create an online tool people in your industry will rave about. It doesn’t need to have complicated functionality at all, but it must be useful. An example would be one page on a plumber’s website that has a unit conversion tool for water pressure, pipe sizes, pipe length, and output pressure.
This would be a surprisingly simple online tool to create, and yet would have people linking to it whilst you sleep! The work and money involved has a non-stop payoff for your SEO. Getting something like this built could cost less than £100 if you use a reputable freelancing website like ‘UpWork’. Once built, it would take minimal outreach to get it viral – because tools always perform better for links than written content.
Author Bio: Will is the co-founder of Sharpe Digital, a top London based SEO agency. He has spent the last 5 years specialising in search marketing and loves helping businesses get the edge over their competitors with tried and tested SEO practices.
Austin Iuliano - Use H.A.R.O. to get quality backlinksThe first step to SEO hacking is finding the right keywords to pursue. For instance, if you want to list number one in a highly competitive keyword like ‘goal setting’, you will pretty much fail. It is almost impossible to make it anywhere close because major authority sites like entreprenur.com, huffingtonpost.com and many more have already covered it. Instead, you have to find keywords that are not heavily fought over.
With Snapchat on the rise in popularity I knew that the need for consulting would be massive. Early on, I wanted to set myself up as an authority and after building a kick-butt website, I used a little-known tool: H.A.R.O (Help a Reporter Out)
H.A.R.O helps generate high-quality backlinks from various authority sites. The key to landing links from your Haro efforts is to focus on providing really high-quality info on the requests, actionable strategies and resources. I spend roughly 10-20 minutes a day answering questions and I generate 1-5 backlinks from authority sites a week. Not a bad tactic to hack your SEO.
Author Bio: Austin Iuliano is a Snapchat storyteller, Consultant, and Strategist. Austin is the author of the world's only Snapchat training course for small business. Austin also has a passion for longboarding, coffee and pushing social boundaries to make others laugh.
Nathan Barber - Create internal links and Sitemap PageHere are some good tips for increasing your online visibility for a new website:
1) Create a Link Building Campaign
While on-site SEO and great content is vitally important, off-site link building is what is going to get your website over the edge to the first and second page of the search results quicker. Links are still important because Google still sees them as a system of trust of the sites authority giving meaning and proof to the content. The system of link building goes like this - the higher quality and quantity of links equal a stronger brand authority, leading to higher domain authority, which spills into higher rankings on the search engine visibility results, resulting in the ultimate rise in traffic to your website.
2) Create Internal Links on Your Content
Google is able to crawl through and understand your website better if you are creating internal links in your content to other pages on your website. This helps create a network on your website and shows how your content is related to the keyword that you wish to rank for. Internal linking helps users navigate through your website establishing an informative hierarchy and structure. This will help spread the link juice among your website and increase your overall domain authority.
3) Create a Sitemap Page
A sitemap page is essentially a page on your website where it shows every possible page on your website categorized and structured. This is important because each page on your website is its own unique identity, and having a sitemap will make it easier for Google to understand that it belongs to your website, for the category and niche that you are in. This helps search engines in its task in being able to easily navigate through every one of your pages with ease. In the beginning, it will not matter as much for Google, because your website will have a relatively small number of pages, but you want to be proactive and get this ranking factor completed as soon as possible before it gets too big.
Author Bio: When he isn’t increasing LingPerfect’s SEO visibility, Nathan enjoys reminiscing about his past professional soccer career aspirations by playing in the adult men’s over 30 league.
Lindsay Kavanagh - Post job listingsThere are always technical SEO strategies like title tags and meta descriptions, alt tags, backlink profiles, content, etc., but there are a couple of SEO ‘hacks’ that I have used in the past to solve problems in rankings. When rankings are dropping and you don’t know how to fix it – sometimes these simple tasks can help.
If traffic is low to your website – it is going to be difficult to be number one. You need quality traffic with a low bounce rate – but how can you get that using white-hat tactics? Well, Google Adwords is a great first step and strategy. Users who click your ad will hopefully spend some time on your site and if you are lucky, will also turn into a conversion.
Another strategy is to post a job listing online. This ensures that good quality traffic comes to your website and spends some time there as, typically, potential prospects want to learn about your company before being hired. Though this tactic would be best used if you had an actual job to offer – it is a way of getting a good quality traffic spike.
Influencer marketing, though not always cheap, can also drive good traffic to your site and potential conversions. Though this can cost more – it increases the brand recognition and the reach of your business. This can be through social media or blogs using sites like Famebit or Tomoson.
Finally, ‘round up’ blogs are great and easy ways to get potential backlinks and traffic. Using other influencers or content creators seems silly, when in reality is a win-win for both parties. When you have a roundup blog – you allow for a high influx of guest authors to share your blog online – which will hopefully drive traffic to your site. Using resources like HARO are key to get quality influencers and curate the content needed for a quality post. The other upside to this is that you encourage Google to crawl your site and hopefully offer something valuable for visitors to read.
Author Bio: Lindsay works as an SEO Specialist for a Digital Agency called seoplus+ in Ottawa, Canada.
Steffen Ploeger - Use giveaways to get free linksWhen I first started my SEO career in 2009, many strategies worked to help our clients achieve success. This included guest posts, forum links, side wide links, over-optimization of keywords, paid links. I'm afraid I even saw other webmasters / SEOs use shady methods, such as cloaking.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloaking)
Over time, Google introduced algorithm updates and made my job a bit tougher, but also gave us SEOs more opportunity to shine in the hard work we do.
In the past, I pushed a lot of content to outrank the competition, and this included updating Meta Titles, as well as descriptions on a regular basis, to name a few. This strategy alone helped me to move a few spots up the ladder.
A very good tactic was also giveaways, as this enabled and encouraged webmasters to participate to get free links.
Another way, which still works today, was to get clients into Google News. This way, even if your rankings aren't that great, a client's website may still get a lot of traffic; you can outrank your competition and increase traffic enormously.
Author Bio: Steffen is bilingual (German/English) and currently working as an SEO specialist at 9thCO Inc. in Toronto. His ambition is to inspire readers to share their own opinions and experiences. Furthermore, he enjoys sharing his thoughts online through blogging and social media.
Heidi Hecht - Be user-friendly not just search engine friendlyMy favorite SEO tip might sound a little counterintuitive: Put down the SEO rulebook and just create the neat, clean, user-friendly website you would have created if Google didn't exist. Create one that loads fast even when somebody's Internet is slow, have a mobile-friendly version, and make the content easy for the average member of your target audience to comprehend. Sprinkle keywords into the titles and headers when you can, but don't worry too much about keyword density or even getting your exact keyword into the text because Google will ignore irrelevant words. Top hotels in Berlin does as well as Top hotels Berlin because Google can ignore the “in”. I say this because the bounce rate (the percentage of visitors who click away in less than 30 seconds) is now one of Google's indicators, and you don't want to lose your good ranking on Google because you were using an outdated rulebook. Now, Google wants you to create a website that's friendly to the real people who find your website, and that means you'll do better if the layout looks good regardless of the device that people use to view it and the content is interesting, well-written and (most importantly) free of grammar errors. You'll do better with Google if your content looks professionally done to a human audience.
Author Bio: Heidi Hecht is a content writer and blogger who believes in the power of the written word to educate and entertain at the same time. She lives in Florida with a tuxedo cat who will give you a high five for a treat.
Joe Robison - Benchmark against competitorsOne of the best hacks for early SEO strategy is the concept of benchmarking. Not all principles of SEO apply to every website. You must look specifically at your industry to understand what works and what doesn't. Benchmarking against competitors or aspirational businesses is a fundamental business concept, but doesn't get talked about in SEO enough. It works like this: Choose 2-3 top companies in your industry or closely related industries that are earning tons of organic traffic. Note all of their metrics and how they compare to yours: number of linking domains, number of keywords they're ranking for, volume of organic traffic, value of traffic (using SEMrush), and a few other KPIs.
The key is not to overcomplicate things and keep the metrics focused on the most important. Then, on a monthly basis you'll want to fill out a spreadsheet marking their growth and numbers against yours. You'll have inspiration and an indication of how much further you have to go. As long as you're gaining traction at a faster rate than they are, when compared to company size, you'll know you're on the right path.
Author Bio: Joe Robison is the founder of Green Flag Digital, an ecommerce SEO consultancy. He loves diving into hard SEO migrations, integrating design and Conversion Rate Optimization, and becoming a t-shaped marketer.
So how to improve SEO of your website:
- Go an extra mile and really think about your Page Title and Meta Description. Keep it relevant for the users and craft a strong and creative Call to Action to stand out in the search results. If you do this right, you’ll increase the Click Through Rate and get more traffic, which will result in better position in the search results.
- Do your best to write quality content. Take a look at what your competition is doing and try to figure out what you can do better. Find some users’ pain points and offer a new solution. Whatever you do, don’t let good content go to waste. Repurpose your content and create infographics or short videos.
- Utilize long-tail and niche keywords. Don’t skip your research – find those specific keywords that maybe lack volume but will bring you quality leads. Be on top of all the changes and innovations in your niche, and be the first to cover those emerging trends. This way, you’ll establish yourself as a go-to source for those topics before anybody else does.
- Be creative and resourceful when it comes to link building. Don’t just leave spammy links wherever you can, find other meaningful ways to get a link for your website.
- Whatever you do, remember to be patient. SEO takes time and your success won’t come overnight. It takes work and dedication, but it pays off when the traffic boost kicks in.
Now it’s your turn to create your SEO story and make Google love you. Start applying these tips today or use them as an inspiration for your own strategy. If you already have a successful story, go ahead and share it with us in our comment section.
If you still haven’t had a chance to set your online business in motion and exercise your SEO knowledge, but you have awesome ideas – then my friend you are in the right place. Create your website today and begin your success story with us. Our goal is to make your life easier - all our templates are SEO friendly and come with a tool that will speed up your website optimization process. We can talk about benefits all day, but don’t you think it is much better to see them for yourself?