Learn How To Get On Page 1 Of Google

Beginner's Guide to SEO

Getting ranked on the first page of Google (and other search engines) is the holy grail of an online marketing plan and it’s what most businesses strive for.

If you’re lucky enough to achieve that top spot, then you can pretty much guarantee your website will get more traffic and click-throughs.

This means more leads and potential sales.

In this Beginner’s Guide to SEO, you’ll learn:

- The nuts and bolts of SEO

- How search engines work

- Tips to make your website copy SEO-friendly

What is SEO? (and what it’s not)

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to improve your ranking in the search results of Google and other search engines.

Using key SEO strategies, you can boost your site’s authority and increase your chances of appearing high up in the search results (preferably on page one).

One way to do this is through the use of keywords (which I’ll cover shortly). So if you sell non-toxic candles (your keyword), you’ll want to appear at the top of the search results when someone types in “non-toxic candles” in the search bar.

SEO is not:

  • Pay Per Click (PPC) or Google adwords – This is Search Engine Marketing (SEM), a service you pay for. These are the ads that appear at the top of the search results.
  • Buying links from companies who say they can guarantee getting you on page 1 of Google. These are not quality links and Google can penalize you for it.
  • Something that’ll happen overnight. SEO can take time and you'll need patience. You’ve got to be in it for the long-term and continually work at your SEO.


Why is SEO important?

SEO is essential if you want your business to appear on the first few pages of the search results.

The higher you rank for your chosen keywords, the more exposure your brand will receive. You'll get more click-throughs to your website which means more potential sales.

When users search for something online, they generally don’t look past page one of Google (75% in fact) so it’s important your business is on the first page.

Websites that appear at position 1 or 2 in the search results attract up to 20% more click-throughs than those websites ranked underneath them.

You’ll always be competing against other businesses for the top spot and you can only achieve this if you continually work to improve your SEO.


How do Search Engines work?

Google wants to deliver the best user experience possible and in order to do so, it has a very sophisticated process to ensure people get what they’re looking for.

To deliver relevant content to the user, search engines consist of 3 important parts: a crawler, an index, and an algorithm.

Crawling the web for relevant content enables the search engine to build an index which in turn, provides a ranked list of content.

An algorithm is a highly complicated piece of code which helps search engines determine where websites should rank. Nobody knows exactly what the algorithm is - it’s one of Google’s best-kept secrets!

There are around 200 factors which affect the algorithm and it’s impossible to guess what all these things are. What we do know though is keywords and the content you provide on your site are key factors in your ranking.


How can you improve your SEO?

Ranking organically (through quality content) is always the best way to go as people are more likely to click on your business than they are on a Pay-Per-Click ad.

Putting up random, irrelevant content with a mass of keywords no longer works as Google uses software that can determine whether or not the content makes sense. If you do this, Google will actually penalize you for it and rank you lower in the search!

Relevancy is key. You need to add value to the customer’s experience - good blog posts, videos and e-books are all great examples of this.

You can improve your SEO by:

  • Making sure your site is technically sound – does it load quickly enough? Are there any broken links? Do you have a site map?
  • Ensuring your content is optimized for keywords and is focused on the user’s intent – does your website provide what people are looking for? This must include the copy, the images, videos and headers.
  • Link building – getting links back to your website from other websites is important. The links must be genuine and from reputable websites. Do not pay for dodgy links! Doing a guest blog post or affiliate links are good ways to do this.
  • Traffic from social media indirectly helps with your ranking. Having a social media presence and driving traffic to your website via Facebook/ Instagram posts and ads is recommended.


What are keywords?

Keywords are the specific words that users are typing into the search bar of Google.

In order for Google to bring up relevant content to match what someone is looking for, it needs to trawl through thousands of websites online to find pages that provide the specific content to meet their needs.

It does this by searching for these keywords and evaluating how many times you’ve used them in your content. So the closer the words on your web page match what the person is searching for, the higher you'll rank in the search.

There are two types of keywords: short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.

Short-tail keywords are generic words that people use to search for something and they generally comprise of three words or less. So for example, if someone is looking for dance classes in Birmingham they might start using the search term “dance classes Birmingham”.

Long-tail keywords are much more targeted and they’re longer in length, normally three words or more (so essentially they’re a phrase). Using the same example as above, a long-tail keyword might be “hip hop dance classes for teenagers in Birmingham”.


How can you find out what keywords to use?

Firstly, I suggest brainstorming all the possible keywords related to your product or service.

When you’ve done this, a quick way to do keyword research is simply type the phrase or keyword into the search bar e.g. child-friendly cafes Solihull. By doing this, you’ll see what comes up and other examples of what people are searching for.

There are keyword tools you can use but many of them are paid services. Google adwords has a keyword planner but you now need to set up an ad to use it.

Try Ubersuggest and Wordtracker – these are free keyword tools.


How to write SEO-friendly copy

Write content that people want - Google is very good at recognizing user intent from what they are typing into the search bar.

For example, if they type in “how to bake a chocolate cake”, they're looking for recipes or guides on baking chocolate cakes, not a shop selling ready-made chocolate cakes.

In order to rank for specific keywords and phrases, I advise structuring your webpage or blog post in a way that responds to what users might be looking for. You can help Google work out the focus of your article by having a clear theme and structure.

Here are some tips

  • Use your keywords and phrases throughout your web page or post (be careful not to overuse them as Google will pick up on this and penalize you for it).
  • Ensure your keyword is used in your page title, headline (H1), URL, image file, image alt tag and in the first paragraph of the content.
  • Use synonyms/ alternative search phrases (for your main keyword) throughout the content (in sub-headers and the rest of the copy). E.g. healthy cafes Solihull would have synonyms such as healthy food Solihull, gluten-free food Solihull.


What steps can you take to improve your SEO?

  • Fix any technical issues with your site: the load-time, broken links etc.
  • Ensure your chosen keywords and phrases appear in your metadata: the URL, description, headlines, images and links.
  • Update your site with regular content: blog posts, videos, news – encourage customers to come back to your site.
  • Give people a reason to stay on your site – is your content good enough to keep them there?
  • Add value to the user’s experience – understanding you ICA (Ideal Customer Avatar) is important. Read more tips on writing for your ICA.


How long will it take to rank higher in Google?

This, unfortunately, is the million dollar question!

I can’t give you a definitive answer, however, I can tell you that it’ll depend on the following things:

  • How well your website is currently ranking and what page you’re on now.
  • The keywords you want to rank for (as some words will be more competitive than others).
  • How competitive your keywords are and what your competitors are doing.

For some websites, it can be as quick 3 months and for others, it'll be around the 12-month mark (or possibly longer).  On average though, it’s about 6 months.

It’s certainly not an overnight thing but if you continue to work at your SEO, you’ll definitely start reaping the benefits.


Start optimizing your website today and put your business ahead of the competition!

If you’d like to know more about how to develop an SEO strategy that gets results, please get in touch.

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