SEO for beginners: Easy steps you should know

How to help your website get discovered online.

There’s no getting around it. Your business needs an online presence. But having a website doesn't mean you'll automatically get in front of the right audience. So, it’s important to be easily discoverable online.

People use search for various reasons, and it’s had a big impact on the way we find information. While in the past we used to rely on libraries and encyclopedias, today we have the world’s information at our fingertips.

So, what's the key to getting noticed online? How can you make the content on your website stand out?

The answer is SEO. While you may have heard of the term, you won’t be alone if you aren’t entirely sure how it works. Let’s go back to basics to define what SEO is and see why it's important for your business to get right.

What is SEO and how does it work?

Search engine optimisation, better known as SEO, helps improve the visibility of your website on search engines, such as Google and Bing, so your audience is more likely to come across your business. It’s a little technical, but here’s how it works...

Search engines use things called bots – let’s think of them as little web spider. These spiders crawl your website to gather information, collect data and store it in an index. Imagine that the index is a library, where you can pull a book on any topic and read it. The same applies to the index – when you enter a search query, the search engine uses complex algorithms to highlight what it believes to be the most relevant links from the index library. Then, these links appear on the search engine results page – also known as SERP.

Think of SEO as a personal guide, on a mission to point each person towards the best information. And it’s vital in a digital space, as online users rarely scroll through pages of results, often opting to only explore the first 1-2 webpages.

So, to increase the chance of your website being clicked, you want it to appear as high up the search list as possible. That’s where a solid SEO strategy comes in. Getting your approach to SEO right means a higher ranking – and, in turn, means your business isn’t only getting in front of your audience, but it’s getting there before competitors.

So, what are the other key advantages of having a good SEO strategy?

SEO improves website usability

Creating a fast, robust and user-friendly website is great for customers and your search engine ranking too. A well-structured, informative and easy-to-use website compels users to stay for longer and explore the content. Not only does this decrease the percentage of visitors who navigate away after viewing a single page – known as the bounce rate – but when they discover beneficial content, it keeps them engaged.

SEO brings more relevant customers to your site

Having a website helps you expand the presence of your business and stand out from the competition, all to increase your customer base. SEO helps do just this, by bringing more relevant customers to your site it ultimately increases conversions and generates sales. After all, the more high-quality visitors you attract to your site, the more likely you are to see an increase in valuable conversions.

SEO builds brand awareness

Major search engines are trusted by many, so when your website appears among the top results on the SERP, users are more likely to click on it and trust the content and, ultimately, your brand. So, if you’re focused on building brand awareness of your business online, investing in SEO is a good place to start.

Improve your website's SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) combines art and science. But creating the perfect mix can seem daunting if you don’t have a marketing background.

Recent research found that 68% of online experiences start with a search engine, with Google holding over 90% of the market. So, making sure you understand and can implement good SEO practice is key to your business’ online success.

One of the most important things to get right in SEO is understanding what your target audience are searching for and that your website meets that desire. You can identify this through the words that your audience are searching with (keywords) and making sure that your website includes the same keywords and matches that intent.

Then if you appear at the top of the search results (your ranking) for those keywords, you will have matched intent and improve quantity and quality of traffic to your website.

Want to know more? Read on to discover how to how to improve your website's SEO.

Tips to improve your website's SEO

Make sure you're visible

SEO is one of the best ways to give your business a higher chance of being seen online and getting heard above the noise. Customers and clients need to be able to find you easily, so, first up, make sure your website can be found by search engines. You can check how many of your webpages are discoverable easily. Type site: followed by your website into a search engine and it will list all your results. For example, entering site: has shown that more than 16,000 webpages are indexed.

Perfect your keywords

When it comes to knowing what your audience is looking for, keywords are incredibly helpful. Using the right phrases and words will give your site a better chance of getting that all-important first-page ranking. Consider when your product or service is being searched for online; what words are your customers most likely to use and how are they searching? 27% of the global online population is now using voice search, for example, which impacts their search behaviour. However, no matter how they’re conducting the search, people generally want to find what they're looking for quickly – meaning they’ll use short phrases and colloquial language.

Show your authority

You know what you're talking about when it comes to your business. So, once you've got your website and keywords perfected, think about how you can expand your influence. Did you know building links from other sites (backlinks) can help your website climb the search rankings?

Could you be quoted in an online article for a well-known website? Or perhaps you have connections with those running local blogs and could be featured there?Whatever route you take, remember that these methods don’t need to be expensive or time-consuming. The important thing is that you get started.

Keep track of how you're doing and what you can improve

It's one thing to have an SEO plan, but you also need to know what's working and what needs to change. So, make sure you factor in time to review the impact you’re having on your website and business. One way to do this is through backlink trackers, which will do most of the hard work for you

But, arguably, the most important way to see how your website is doing is through an analytics dashboard, like Google Analytics. This has everything you need to know in one place. You can review what keywords people are actually using, how long visitors are on your site, which pages are most popular and so much more. That way, you can continue to adjust your plans in line with what's really happening – all backed up with data.

Continuing to check performance over time is key, as audience search behaviour and keywords can change and may need to be added to. Having a part of your website which is easily updated and current – such as a news or blog section is a great opportunity for you to continually use the latest keywords and ensure there’s always fresh content to appeal to your audience.

The SEO jargon worth knowing

Technical jargon and vocabulary surrounding SEO can make it difficult to understand, let alone implement well. To help you get a better handle on things, we’ve put together this SEO glossary with simplified definitions and helpful advice. Curious to know where you stand with your knowledge? Take our SEO Quiz.

Duplicate content

When the same content is available on more than one page on the internet, it’s known as duplicate content. Search engines, like Google or Bing, don’t like duplicate content because when there are multiple pages showing the exact same or very similar content, it’s not clear which page to list higher in the search results. Because this causes confusion, it can work against you as they might end up ranking these pages lower and give preference to other web pages instead.

The easiest way to make sure you’re avoiding duplicate content is by making sure yours is unique and original on each page. If for whatever reason you do need to use the same content on more than one page, a good tip is to use a canonical tag which will flag up the preferred, original page to search engines.

Broken links

Broken links describe links on a website that don’t work. These links can be frustrating for users because their online journey suddenly comes to a stop, either because they can’t access the information they need or can’t go any further with a process to get to a particular destination. This could put them off your business or you might lose their interest completely.

They also cause issues for search engines because they use links to discover new pages. If your website is featuring broken links, they’re unlikely to view it favourably.

The good news is that you can avoid this problem by checking your website regularly yourself, or by using a broken link checker tool like Google Search Console to help you identify them so you can get them fixed quickly.

Google penalties

If you receive a Google penalty, it means you’ve broken one or more of its marketing rules. Google officially refers to these as ‘manual actions and algorithmic actions’ rather than penalties. Manual actions are made by a human reviewing your site and algorithmic actions come from a Google update demoting your website.

Depending on the nature of the breach, penalties can include having your website ranking lowered or even being removed altogether from search results, so this is worth knowing about.

Anything that Google considers to be cheating, tricking, or manipulating the search engine in order to get you better results can send a penalty your way. Tactics such as stuffing keywords into your content, buying links or using spammy techniques can lead to consequences like losing traffic and revenue.

If you make a mistake that results in a penalty, don’t panic as you can take steps to fix it. But the best way to avoid being penalised by Google in the first place is to follow their guidelines and focus on creating great content for your audience.

Index website

For your business to be searchable on the internet your website needs to be indexed. Indexing means it’s been added to the internet database so people can find it when they’re looking for information that’s related to your content. Otherwise, your website would be ‘invisible’.

Search engines are constantly crawling the internet - using ‘bots’ or ‘spiders’ - to find new websites for adding to the search results database. Crawl rate is a page ranking factor. Making sure your website is ‘crawlable’ means that search engines can easily navigate through it and find your pages for indexing. You can also submit your website to search engines directly to let them know it exists. The easiest way to request your website be indexed is through Google Search Console.

To keep your website visible once it's been indexed, be sure to continually optimise your site for search engines and create high quality content.

Descriptive links

Unlike generic links such as ‘click here’ descriptive links tell the user exactly where they’ll go and what to expect if they click through. As a clear, quick description of the content of the linked page they provide a helpful cue to the user without the need for clicking through.

Some examples of descriptive links would be: ‘learn how to make a sponge cake’ or ‘read more about places to visit in Paris’. The user can then make up their own mind as to where they want to navigate next.

Descriptive links save users both time and frustration when browsing and are particularly helpful for those with accessibility needs who use screen readers to navigate the internet.

Understanding these commonly used SEO terms can help you implement an effective strategy to achieve your business goals.

Interested in beginning your SEO journey? Be sure to speak to our V-Hub Digital Advisers to help you get to grips with SEO.

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