Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Your SEO journey starts today!

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the most powerful tool in marketing today. Better than adverts or commercials and more important than marketing campaigns – poor SEO can sink a business. Yet, it’s also probably the most underappreciated tool by companies. After painstakingly producing a website, they completely neglect SEO marketing. That’s the how and why of ranking in the top search engines.

Fail to get ranked, and you’ll fail to get noticed.

It’s the modern equivalent of not being listed in the phone book. Or having a shop on a back alley off the main street. It’s the death knell of a digital business.

But it doesn’t have to be this way

You can rank higher on Google, Bing, even DuckDuckGo with a few simple tweaks to a website. Alone these changes seem almost insignificant. Together, they can radically improve the user experience and draw more and more traffic to your site as you rise up the rankings.

To help boost your site and content, we’ve compiled this beginner’s guide to SEO in marketing. We’ll break down the alphabet soup of acronyms, explain what SEO is, how it works, and how you can benefit.

What does SEO mean?

SEO AKA search engine optimization is the miraculous art of ranking a website higher in search engines. That’s all there is to it.

Sounds simple, right?

Except, everyone else is trying to do the same thing. And the search engines are trying to deliver relevant results. That created a battleground of keywords and crawlers, indexing and bots to determine just who should be at the top for any search term.

Nor do the results stay the same. Without constant work, a website soon slips down the rankings. That’s why a gradual and consistent SEO strategy always works the best.

What is SEO, and how does it work?

What’s the biggest duck to ever live? How do I make Spaghetti Carbonara? What is SEO?

We ask dozens – even hundreds – of similar questions every single day. Where do we go for answers? Search engines, of course. Whatever you search for online, you expect to find a solution.

But how does that work?

How does Google filter through the entire internet and deliver you the exact answer you wanted in seconds? Well, that’s where the legendary Google algorithm comes in. Nobody outside of Google truly knows precisely how it works. Indeed, it’s known to change and evolve constantly.

Essentially, Google uses automated crawlers to explore the internet, searching for new sites. These pieces of software crawl billions of web pages, cataloging them in an index. The index describes the site’s content and location.

Google indexes almost every site online.

Then, when a person types in a search term, the Google algorithm sifts through the index information to rank sites in order of importance. That’s what SEO experts are trying to crack – how are sites ranked.

After years of using Google, SEO experts have deduced what the search engine is looking for. They then use this information to boost a website. The higher a site rises in the results, the more clicks they’re likely to get. That then means more potential customers to spend money on their site.

After all, no one can spend money on a business they don’t know about.

How is SEO done?

Ranking high on Google has never been more challenging. To handle the demand and competition, Google’s algorithm changes at an unprecedented rate. Ranking factors – the Holy Grail of SEO marketing – constantly change too. Reportedly, there are over 200 factors in the algorithm.

That figure goes back to 2009 and a statement by Google’s Matt Cutts. But things have changed beyond belief since then.

So, what are the modern ranking factors? How do SEO marketing experts rank a site?

  1. Keyword research

People type a search term into Google – it makes sense that sites with that search term rank higher. But how do you know what people are searching for?

That’s where keyword research comes in.

SEO marketing experts sift through search engine results data to identify which terms are most popular. Not only that, but they’re also looking for low competition. That’s particularly true for smaller businesses, who’ll struggle to rank for more common terms.

For instance, a sports shoe company might target “off-road running shoes” rather than the more competitive “running shoes.”

With their keywords ready, they’ll then sprinkle the phrase throughout the content. The best places are in titles and headings (H1 and H2). Notice how the phrase “SEO” is found in every heading in this article. Even the title contains the phrase twice.

But that’s not the only keyword we’re targeting here. We’re also going for “SEO marketing” and “SEO in marketing.” We’re lowering the number of potential searches by adding specificity but increasing the likelihood that those searching will click on us.

If you’re reading this, it worked!

  1. Link building

Wouldn’t you rank recommended sites higher? That’s what link building is. It’s all about finding reputable, high-quality sites and adding a link back to your own site.

If you’re linked to a trusted, high-quality site, Google presumes you must also be trusted and high-quality. That bumps you up the rankings.

Building links is a tiresome process. You can write guest posts for a popular blog. You could offer a free sample to a prominent influencer, so they’ll link back to your site. Or you can bother and badger strangers to add your link to their content.

It’s time-intensive – but link building never fails.

  1. Engaging content

Webpage rankings can rise and fall like the tide. Because you ranked high today doesn’t mean it’ll stay that way. For that, you need engaging content: people need to stick around.

Too often do people overstuff their content with keywords. They want their SEO and SEO marketing strategy to be the best strategy for SEO in marketing (see what I did there). The result is bland, turgid writing; no one wants to read.

Do the opposite.

Write to inform, educate, engage, excite. Write with flair. And then sprinkle the keywords throughout. That’s great SEO marketing.

It’ll also increase the chance your content is shared on social media. You’re serving a useful purpose – and that always brings more and more people in.

  1. Optimize your site

Now and then, you stumble on an ancient site – some relic from the early 2000s. It’s poorly designed, hard to navigate, and the content is lackluster.

This is called on-page SEO.

It might have all the keywords in the world sprinkled through the content, but if the site is poor, it won’t rank.

Key factors important for on-page SEO:

  • Simple, easy-to-load code: A site that takes minutes to load isn’t going to have any visitors. People will just give up.
  • Flawless user experience: Easy to navigate and understand. Attractive and engaging.
  • Varied content: Don’t just write the keyword a hundred times. Add pictures, videos, lists, and more. People want content that engages. So, keep it varied.

What is an SEO example?

Now you’ve got the basics down, let’s put it into practice. Here are some examples of how SEO can inspire your marketing and site.

  1. Long-tail keywords

Don’t go for short, snappy keywords. These are high volume, high competition. If you’re lucky, you may end up on the second page – but then, you may as well be last.

Instead, choose long-tail keywords – i.e., keywords that are several words long. These tend to have greater meaning and more relevance to your business. Oh, and they’re also less competitive.

Specificity is your friend. Just don’t be overly specific.

For example, maybe you add a header with “what is SEO and how is it done?” It’s a common question, but it’s more likely to get hits than just “SEO” alone.

  1. Write a title tag and meta description

A sharp, well-written title tag and meta-description can hook people in. They should make clear what your business is about and why you need to click. Even better, add in a compelling call to action.

  1. Fast page speed

The quicker your site loads, the more people stick around. In fact, 83% of users expect pages to load in three seconds or less. That’s rapid.

Fail to do so, and they’ll quickly bounce over to another site.

The bottom line

Ultimately SEO marketing is the solution to all your marketing problems. Rank high, and your business will take off. But neglect SEO, and you’ll never see the success you deserve.

Here at Burnesseo, we’ve got extensive experience with SEO in marketing. We boost traffic, increase sales, and overall rescue struggling businesses.

Whether you need local, on-page, off-page, or technical SEO – we’ve got the expertise to help. We’ll help you implement all the SEO tactics described above.

To boost your site, contact 0729850426 or info@bwproductions.co.za today!

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