Whether you are a budding marketing professional or entrepreneur looking for business growth, learning digital marketing is not optional.
But you see, digital marketing covers a wide range of activities including several organic and paid methods that can amplify your growth. We would suggest you go the organic way first because it will build the foundation of your website, and help you sustain the competition from the get-go. Not to forget, you will need to invest a lot less in paid strategies if you get your organic marketing right.
We hear you thinking — that’s all great. But where do I start? Don’t worry, we got you.
Of course, you have the option of approaching a digital agency with stellar credentials. Or you can hire a freelancer, who can work with your team. Or, how about learning SEO and taking your organic marketing matters into your own hands?
If you are wondering how do I learn SEO and do it all by myself? We are here to tell you again — we got you.
We will guide you through the entire process step-by-step and ensure that by the end of this guide, you are adept with all that SEO entails. But remember, if you need an SEO agency to aid you with that extra growth, we are here to help.
But for now, let us start by understanding why you should learn SEO in the first place.
In 2022, where digital dominates everything else, the reasons to learn and understand SEO are plenty. It is a growing field that impacts the growth and success of almost all types of businesses. So, it is no surprise that learning SEO can be a good thing for the success of your business or career:
However, some of the primary reasons for doing so are:
- To ensure that your brand is discovered online
- To stand out from the rest of your competitors
- To save money that you may otherwise need to spend on ads
- To generate leads organically with minimal investment
Moreover, SEO acts as a catalyst in increasing the business value of your blog visit by 429%.
As the field of digital marketing continues to gather heat, the demand for SEOs is growing. One of the primary reasons for it is the growing need among businesses to get maximum reach and visibility organically. After all, organic search does drive more than 50% of all web traffic. This is reflected in the fact that the demand for SEO professionals increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, while the job market had hit a record-slump.
Now that you know about the many benefits that you stand to achieve by learning SEO, here is how you get started.
As is the case with any process, let us start from the basics.
The most basic thing that you should know when it comes to optimising your website for success is understanding what search engines are looking for. There are three functions that they carry out — Crawling, Indexing and Ranking.
First and foremost, let us talk about crawling. Search engines use bots to crawl your website periodically and find fresh content. Regardless of the content format, if it is on your website, it is going to be discovered by the search engines with the help of links.
This brings us to the next point of discussion — indexing. The discovered URLs then get added into a database, retrieved when the content in the pages match search queries. This process of storing discovered content to help searchers is known as indexing. Now, remember that not all the content that is crawled gets indexed. This is where SEO comes in.
The effectiveness of the crawling and indexing of your website then determines its ranking. The ranking is the order in which the indexed results in Google are displayed on the SERPs for any search query. Your ranking is also the result of crawling and indexing. This means that your SERP rankings depend on how your web pages have been indexed.
Once you have wrapped your head around these three processes, you can figure out the working of Google Search much more effectively. The next step to doing so is understanding more about keywords.
So, you are a local bakery in Adelaide looking to scale operations through your website. You have embarked on the right journey, but remember, there are thousands like you. One of the best things you can do to ensure that your potential customers can find you is to integrate the right keywords. So, what are your customers searching for that you may be able to provide? Answering this question is the first step to effective keyword research.
Keywords are terms or phrases based on users’ search queries that are relevant to the product or service that you offer. So in this case, you are looking at terms like, “designer cakes in adelaide”, “best bakery in adelaide”. When you integrate these keywords into your website content, you have better chances of getting indexed for them. Basically, the next time someone searches for these terms on Google, your website might get displayed on the SERPs.
Higher your rank for these keywords, the better the odds of a customer clicking on your website. After all, over 90% of websites do not get any search traffic from Google. So, you have weaved high-performing keywords into your content, you should start generating traffic now, right? Well, it is not that simple.
When you have a website, having the right link strategy is as important as having the right information. Enter: Backlinks. These are inbound links from other websites’ traffic leading to yours.
Backlinks are a way to assure Google that your website content is credible and useful. So, the greater the number of your backlinks, the better your organic search traffic. Then, of course, there is the fact that links are among the top three ranking factors for Google.
Now that we have discussed the very basics such as keywords and backlinks, it is time to look at the importance content holds in the world of SEO.
The fact is, SEO-friendly content can help you achieve better visibility on search engines. The right content can also convert a website visitor into a paying customer. More importantly, without content, your website will just not have enough information for search engines to crawl and index.
Plus, more than 50% of marketing professionals deem on-page content to be one of the most effective SEO tactics. Remember, well-written website content not only offers a wealth of information about your product or service but also clearly defines elements such as keywords and links for better SEO performance.
As someone who is just getting started with SEO, having a working knowledge of Google algorithms is just as important as anything else. Google algorithm is a system used by the search engine to constantly improve the quality of search results, and experience delivered to the users.
To be fair, it takes a little bit of time for people to start tracking algorithms effectively. Plus, if you start now, you will need to catch up with the earlier algorithms, but better late than never, right?
Let us start by quickly looking at the important algorithms that you should know about. The Google Panda algorithm was released in 2011, and affirmed the need for websites to achieve a “quality score”. The next algorithm update that you should know about is Penguin, released in 2012. This update targeted the elimination of the spammy and unethical link-building tactics that were so prevalent back in the day.
However, more important than any of these updates is the recent Core Web Vitals update. This update bases the website's performance on the experience from the users’ perspective.
The three primary parameters that are considered for the measurement of these vitals include:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This metric measures the loading performance of your website. To be exact, it measures the timeframe within which the largest element on your webpage loads. Ideally, it should take less than 2.5 seconds.
- First Input Delay (FID): This metric measures how well your webpage facilitates interactivity. It measures how long the user is allowed to make the first input or interaction with your webpage. Ideally, it should take less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Every instance of an element on your web page shifting from its rendered frame to another position is a layout shift. CLS measures the visual stability of your webpage based on these shifts. Ideally, it should be less than 0.1.
Measuring page performance is important because if your page loading time increases from 1 to seconds, your bounce rate could potentially increase by 32%.
Staying updated with algorithm updates can seem like a gargantuan task at first, but if you stay abreast of the recent trends, it can be quite simple. All you have to do is find the right resources to subscribe to, and keep yourself updated.
Top Ranking Factors
Danny Sullivan from Google even shared that slowly but surely, the Page Experience update will become a dominant factor in ranking web pages. With that, it is now time to look at the most important ranking factors, as they are considered to be crucial SEO fundamentals.
- Website Security: Ensuring the security of websites has always been an important ranking factor for Google. The search engine encourages websites to use HTTPS encryption as they utilise SSL certificates to secure connections between websites and their users. This extra layer of security ensures that Google redirects users to the most trustworthy websites.
- Mobile-Friendliness: In this day and age, ensuring mobile-friendliness of websites is not at all optional. Mobile-friendliness is all about how a website performs on a mobile device. Google gives a lot of importance to this aspect since more than 50% of website traffic comes from mobile devices.
- Links: Links weave the web that connects everyone digitally. So, it is not surprising that inbound and outbound links play a crucial role in determining website ranking. Inbound links denote that your website is indeed credible and authoritative, and outbound links build the authority and quality of your content. Finally, use internal linking to ensure that the authoritative pages on your website pass it on to other pages.
- Content: Having high-quality content that is optimised for SEO-friendliness is quite crucial for websites today. Content defines your user experience right from engaging them to building visibility on SERPs. Hence, it is considered to be one of the most crucial ranking factors.
- Website and Page Speed: Users have limited attention spans when they are browsing a website. So any delay in loading your website or webpage can result in direct loss of customers who may otherwise end up transacting. The user experience is also negatively impacted if the website and page speeds are not optimised.
Apart from these ranking factors, the aspects that have been discussed earlier such as integrating high-performing keywords, and Core Web Vitals also affect your SERP rankings.
Now that you have a comprehensive knowledge of key concepts that you should know about when you learn SEO, the next step is knowing where to start. Like every successful process, the creation of an effective SEO strategy starts with a goal-setting process.
First and foremost, when you set out to create goals for your SEO strategy, ensure that they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound). Doing so will eliminate potential goals that might become roadblocks for your strategy in the future.
Additionally, rather than chasing a highly ambitious goal, break it down into achievable performance milestones. This way, you will have more room to integrate any course corrections that you deem necessary. Along with defining goals, you should also set out to establish SEO benchmarks that can help you achieve quality results in the long haul.
Set targets for your SEO personnel so that they have a specified direction to follow while creating and managing your strategy. More importantly, take into account that you may face quite a few issues initially, so set the timelines accordingly.
Now that you know all about the basics and have them sorted, we will go deeper into what carrying out an SEO strategy entails. Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to learn SEO is to keep practising the concepts on your website.
SEO strategy requires you to conduct a lot of research, apply SEO fundamentals effectively and then track and test your website performance consistently. With that in mind, when you are conducting research, the two most important activities that you will be carrying out are — Keyword research and Competitor analysis.
Keyword research is the process of finding search queries that are most likely to bring traffic to your website or boost the performance of your marketing campaigns. When done correctly, keyword research can offer you insights into the most popular search queries relevant to you. Plus, it will also shed light on the search volume and the competition you are likely to face while trying to rank for it.
With that, it is understandable that keyword research and analysis of competitors do start together. The best way to find keywords that would work for you is to figure out the ones that are working for your competitors. Following up on our previous example, if you have a bakery in Adelaide that sells customised cakes, a good starting point to figure out your competitors would be to google “best wedding cakes in adelaide”. Here’s what came up when we tried doing that:
The top results will let you know the bakeries that you would be competing with. To make this process more fruitful, try using a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer, to narrow down the top pages that rank for the chosen keyword. Using such a tool, you would also be able to find other keywords that are performing well for your competitors.
Of course, there are many ways to go about keyword research and you can choose the path that you resonate with the most. However, using a keyword research tool is often a great idea to standardise the process, especially if you are likely to work on a lot of content. Other popular tools that you can explore when you learn SEO basics include SEMrush, Ubersuggest, and Google Keyword Planner.
Any discussion about conducting searches would be amiss without the mention of Google Search Operators. There are simple Google searches and then there are advanced Google searches. With search operators, you can extend the capabilities of basic Google searches and scrape data more easily. In most cases, search operators would just require the addition of a few special characters or strings to refine your search results.
These search operators can especially be a boon in disguise when you are conducting a competitor analysis. After all, to create an effective SEO strategy for your business, you need to start with understanding your competitors’ SEO efforts — successful and unsuccessful. If you are wondering how to learn SEO competitive analysis, let us tell you, it sounds more complicated than it actually is.
Competitive analysis for SEOs includes auditing the keywords, content and other SEO elements that your competitors are using so that you can reverse engineer the strategies used by them. You can then integrate the most successful tactics seamlessly into your own SEO strategy.
And yes, the ability to make Google search work exactly as you want, and to effectively conduct keyword research and competitor analysis does not come naturally to anyone. SEOs train and practice these processes for years. But it is one of those fields where you learn more by actually carrying out these activities rather than relying on just fundamentals. Consider having a blog or project on the side that you can practice your SEO fundamentals on.
Additionally, following popular SEO experts online, and keeping up with their work in the field is always a great way to stay updated with the latest trends. If you want to take it a step further, you can also attend local SEO meetups and seminars that can help you ace in this constantly evolving field. The key to succeeding in SEO is, after all, to constantly learn, adapt and evolve.
Having said that, it is important to be patient when you have just started to learn about SEO. It might take a little bit of time to actually be good at it, but with consistent practice and learning, you can definitely expect to make great progress.
Lastly, remember that SEO is not a one-time process contrary to what a lot of uninitiated people believe. It is a consistent process that requires you to commit and keep testing. No wonder, SEO testing is given as much importance as audits or implementing actual SEO activities. Testing out your website for SEO periodically will help you identify gaps early in the process, and even make course corrective steps wherever required.
Once you learn SEO basics and start practising them on your projects, you can level up your attained skills using killer techniques. This is where your journey of learning SEO gets quite interesting.
When we say techniques, we mean the prerequisites that you should understand and implement for your website to succeed. Starting here, you can build your SEO strategy and start establishing a strong presence and visibility on the SERPs — one day at a time.
Let us get you started with learning on-page SEO and the importance it holds in your overall SEO strategy and business performance.
On-Page SEO Activities and their impact on business
On-Page SEO is the process of optimising your website and all your web pages to improve your visibility on SERPs and increase your organic traffic. And yes, like every other SEO activity that you are ever going to carry out, keywords have a lot to do with it. Remember, that you carry out on-page SEO for your customers/users as much as for search engines.
Why is this important, you ask? Well, more than 57% of marketers believe that on-page SEO is their most effective SEO tactic. So, let us now talk about what you need to do.
Title Tag Optimisation
The first and foremost step that you take towards your on-page SEO should be optimising your title tags. What you set as the title tag will let the search engines know what your web page is about. Of course, it is significant for users as well since it is featured on the SERPs as the clickable link that will lead to your web page.
For instance, if your customers in Adelaide are looking to order a cake for their special event, they would probably be searching for “best bakeries in adelaide”. So it is no surprise that a lot of titles on the top SERP results for this query look like this.
However, a lot of companies go overboard and stuff their web pages with keywords in a futile attempt to rank higher. But now that you are aware of Google algorithm updates, you already know that this does not work.
While composing a good Title, you must ensure to include the most important keyword, and search intent in it. Moreover, maintaining uniqueness in your titles, and using action words have been known to generate better results. Remember, long titles do not work for practical reasons. Search engines will display only the first 50-60 characters, so staying within that limit will help you present your idea better on SERPs.
Page Performance Optimization
Did you know that more than 68% of online experiences are initiated through search engines?
So, the web pages ranking on the first page of SERPs will be your potential customer’s gateway to your website. This is the precise reason why delivering a consistently stellar page performance is important.
Ensuring that your page performs well starts from optimising the page speed. Page speed refers to how fast your web pages load when a user lands on them. We already know that Google puts a lot of emphasis on site speed, and even bases your ranking on it.
However, page speed is more specific to individual web pages and can be measured using the Page Load Speed or Time to First Byte (TTFB). You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to get insights into how your page is performing in terms of loading speed and responsiveness.
Apart from its importance for search engines, Page Speed heavily impacts the user experience. Keep in mind that for a delay of every second, you are losing out on 16% of customer satisfaction. This is reflected in the fact that pages with longer load times often experience higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates.
Some of the ways you can increase your page speed include:
- Lowering the number of redirects for all your web pages
- Enabling compression for the files, images and videos on your web pages
- Leveraging the power of caching for your website
- Utilising Content Distribution Networks (CDNs), so that you can distribute the load of content delivery across multiple geographical data centres
Apart from this, you should strive to constantly improve your UX, by keeping it as simple and user-friendly as possible. Yes, aesthetics are important but not at the cost of increasing complexity.
Together, a well-designed UX and optimised page speeds can work wonders for the page performance that you want to deliver.
To be honest, we can talk endlessly about the importance of links and still not be able to highlight how important it is to get them in order.
Apart from sorting out your external links, and backlinks, pay attention to your internal linking structure. A well-defined internal linking structure helps search engines identify important pages on your website, and help customers navigate more easily.
Pages that contain a higher number of internal links are considered more important than others by search engines. By internal links, we don’t just mean links from the home page or menu to other pages, but also contextual links between different content pieces on your website. Doing so tells search engines that some of your web pages are talking about a similar subject.
What’s more, the link value of a page is also distributed to other links on the page, so it helps you build the authority of multiple web pages at the same time. It is important to understand this concept because it will help you come up with an effective internal linking strategy.
Your internal linking strategy should be based on the value of the links, their relevance and their relationship with each other. An effective internal linking strategy will also help you come up with the right site structure for your website.
Content Optimization for Keywords
Your on-page SEO efforts would not yield the desired results unless you are willing to go through the effort of optimising all the content on your website. We are sure that you would be considering the primary SEO parameters while curating your website content. But when you are taking your on-page SEO efforts to the next level, content optimisation is equally important.
Keywords are, of course, a major consideration when we talk about optimising content. Analyse each piece of content for who the target audience is, and which stage of the funnel they are likely to fall into. Basically, figuring out the search intent of your users. This would give you a better idea of which keywords to choose. Just 0.16% of all popular keywords drive more than 60% of searches.
The next step would be to ensure the right density of keywords within your content. Adding too many keywords will lead to stuffing, which is heavily penalised by Google. Rather focus on integrating high-performing keywords, but in limited numbers.
As the way people search on Google keeps evolving, certain keywords that were relevant a few years ago, may not be that valuable anymore. In the process of content optimisation, ensure to replace such keywords with new ones that can bring qualified traffic to your website.
Remember, this process should be carried out across all pages — landing pages, blogs, product/services pages, etc.
SEO novices often make the mistake of not treating media such as images and videos as content. Remember, these elements in your website are not just there for the aesthetic appeal — they play a pivotal role in defining your SEO performance.
Sure, you might already be aware that images should be optimised so that they appear in Google Images. But did you know that images can potentially impact your ranking on the SERPs? Plus, images often get featured on the search results, and can even help you guide your customers to land on your website.
Say, if you have a car dealership that sells luxury cars in Perth. Now, a person looking to buy a Porsche is likely to search “buy porsche car perth” in Google. Take a look at the top results that pop up when someone searches for this.
There is little doubt that users are more likely to click on the first two results, simply because it would interest them more, and establish immediate credibility. This is what Image SEO can do for you.
Now that we have talked about how it can benefit you in attracting customers, let us look at what it can do for search engines. Adding HTML attributes to images ensures that search engines can identify and index your images. This is important because 30% of total searches on Google happen through Image Search.
Moreover, to optimise your images for SEO, you should define a filename that describes the image as well as includes a keyword. You should also define the Alt-Text attribute, which is basically a descriptive text of the image that will be displayed if the image fails to load on slow connections. It is also useful for users who are relying on text readers to browse websites.
The use of figcaption is also highly recommended for users who want to add an extra caption under the image. Lastly, you should ensure that your images are not too large in size as they can be cumbersome for your website to load. Use tools such as Compressor.io or Tiny PNG to compress your images and optimise them for your website.
Fresh Content Creation
Above all, a sure shot way to keep your on-page SEO performance consistent and powerful is to keep producing fresh content. Many websites opt to post content when they are created and then stop producing fresh content. This can be quite detrimental to your SEO performance.
Instead, keep producing content in the form of blogs or videos so that you stay visible on the search engines. What’s more, this would also allow you to integrate new keywords that are likely to drive performance for your website.
Content marketing is quite beneficial when combined with the power of SEO, but only if you devote focus to it and do it consistently.
Off-Page SEO Activities and their impact on business
Now that you have learned on-page SEO activities that can generate results for your business website, let us look at the off-page SEO activities that can help. As the name suggests, Off-Page SEO refers to activities that you should conduct outside of your website, that are likely to help your SEO performance.
Perhaps the most popular strategy in off-page SEO — it is impossible to make a dent in your search engine presence and visibility without the help of link building.
Link building is the process of generating links to your website from other websites on the Internet. As discussed before, links are important because search engines use them to crawl websites. Many credible brands are able to build links naturally without the help of SEOs or marketers. But for growing businesses and brands, link building is an essential part of your Off-Page SEO strategy.
In many cases, link building may require you to outreach to other blogs or webmasters in your industry. Doing this effectively can also help you build long-term relationships with influencers which will help you earn a link easily in the future. When you are building links, ensure to find websites that have a high domain rating, and authority to earn valuable links.
We recommend reading Google Webmaster Guidelines thoroughly to have a better understanding of the best practices and foul play in the process.
This process can be quite extensive and requires you to be patient. It is also important to draft a good email to increase the odds of a positive outcome in your link building campaign. A lot of companies build entire email marketing campaigns to generate awareness, build credibility for their brand.
Broken link building
In a world wide web filled with links, more often than not, links expire or fail to deliver value. This can happen due to a wide range of reasons. Maybe the URL does not exist anymore, or maybe the link points to a web page that has moved to a new one.
Regardless of the reason, it leads to a broken link and clicking on it can hamper the user’s experience. Broken link building can convert these 404s into valuable opportunities for you. In this process, you identify broken links on websites, and reach out to the webmasters with a relevant, working link that they can replace.
While the traditional approach to link building can often end in rejections, broken link building offers a higher success rate. You can easily earn a link to your blog or web page, while the webmaster gets to fix a broken link. Truly a win-win situation.
Businesses thrive on referrals, and in the age of the Internet, referrals happen digitally. These are especially crucial for local businesses that want to target clientele in their geographical vicinity.
Regardless of your niche, if your business has a physical location, you can benefit from local SEO. More than 76% of people who search for a nearby result, end up visiting a business within a single day.
Say, you have a store that sells electronic gadgets in Perth. Your success would depend on the number of customers who buy from your store. Naturally, you will need to promote the business offline as well as online. Start by creating a Google Business Profile for your store, and completing the listing by including all the NAP details.
With 46% of searches indicating a local intent, your store needs to feature on the Google search results. At this point, you should know that Google uses a definitive set of factors for ranking websites as per Local SEO:
These ranking factors are:
- NAP citations
- The geographical location of the user
- Online reviews
- Social media shares
- Google Business Profile listing
- Presence on Google Maps
These factors help Google tailor local recommendations for users who search for queries that portray a local intent. So, when a user searches for “electronics shop in Perth”, here are the top results that show up.
Ideally, you want to feature in this list and have your location displayed on the map, so that potential customers can easily find and reach you. You might be wondering about the top results that display for this search query apart from the snippets that Google features. Let us take a look at that, shall we?
You can see that the top five organic search results are from popular online directories. Remember that such websites have a high inflow of organic traffic and hold a major domain rating. Thus, registering your business and adding details on such directors will help you increase your visibility even further on the SERPs.
With these steps, you can effectively maximise the impact of your business on local search results and ensure that local customers start walking in that door.
Technical SEO Activities and their impact on business
When all is said and done, there is quite a bit of technical arc to SEO that you should understand when you learn how to do SEO yourself. You can ace your on-page and off-page SEO efforts, but it would not measure up to the dent that you can make by improving your technical SEO.
But do not worry, it is not that complicated if you learn SEO basics, and understand how these technical aspects fit in the bigger picture. So, let us get right into it.
Since we have talked so extensively about crawling, we are sure that you are wondering whether you have any control over that process. Well, the truth is that you do not.
However, you can give search engines directions on which parts of the website should be crawled and which should be excluded using robots.txt. Robots.txt, also known as Robot Exclusion Protocol, is a file that you should place at the root of your domain detailing the URLs that the bots are allowed to crawl.
For any reason, if you have web pages that you do not want the search engines to crawl, robots.txt can help you exclude them. What’s more, this is the one text file that every search engine and other systems can read, and is recognised as a standard protocol by major search engines.
How do you find a specific place in a location that you have never visited before? You whip out your phone and let GPS do its thing, right?
Sitemaps do something very similar and more for search engines. They help them discover and find pages on your website. The more updated your sitemap is, the better the probability of Google being able to find new pages and identify updates to old ones.
A typical sitemap serves multiple purposes on your website:
- Acting as a roadmap for search engines to navigate your website
- Guiding search engines to discover alternate language versions of your website
- Allowing search engines to crawl and index new web pages
- Allowing search engines to identify updates to the old web pages on your website
There are two types of sitemap formats that you should know about:
- HTML Sitemaps: these are the sitemaps that you add for users to see. These guide and help them navigate through your website.
- XML Sitemaps: these are the sitemaps that guide search engines in crawling and indexing your website.
While internal linking does take care of the part that HTML sitemaps will play in your website, XML sitemaps are essential for SEO.
While creating a sitemap for your website, keep the following checklist in mind:
- Determine the pages that should be crawled, and create a canonical version of these pages
- Analyse the number of sitemaps that you will need
- Create a sitemap index in case of multiple sitemaps
The process of creating and submitting your sitemap to Google may undoubtedly seem daunting to a beginner. You can take the help of sitemap generators such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider, for this purpose.
Moreover, you can easily submit your sitemap using Google Search Console. We shall delve deeper into what this tool can accomplish for you in a bit. To submit a sitemap, create an account in Google Search Console, and click on ‘Sitemap’ on your dashboard. Now type in your sitemap URL and click ‘Submit’.
Remember, while you need to create a sitemap only once, you should conduct regular maintenance and checks on your sitemaps to keep the search engines updated on your website.
Security is not a term that is used lightly these days. Users today are increasingly wary of how their privacy and security is being treated by websites.
For that reason, and the fact that security attacks are getting more sophisticated and effortless by the day, site security should be at the forefront of your website strategy. Ironically, 1 in every 10 malicious sites is housed on non-malicious domains. Not to forget, several commercial websites unknowingly have malicious URLs on them.
For this, one must start with having a comprehensive website security solution in place. Never take this part for granted, as every website is attacked an estimated 90 times in a day. If your website deals with a lot of sensitive customer information, this part especially becomes important for you.
Two of the most common web-based attack modes that you should protect your site against is malware and phishing. Something as simple as giving adequate training to your employees can go a long way in this journey. Also, remember to protect your website by regularly eliminating any vulnerabilities.
Apart from this, some of the best practices that you should consider for ensuring site security include:
- Safeguarding your usernames and passwords, by creating strong ones and periodically changing them
- Choosing a web hosting provider that offers increased security
- Getting an SSL certificate for your website
- Having a robust security policy that encourages regular backups and security checks
Optimising for Core Web Vitals
A detailed discussion of Technical SEO would be incomplete without a deeper dive into Core Web Vitals. As we saw before, Core Web Vitals are crucial for your website’s SEO performance, even if they are not ranking factors.
Google places a lot of emphasis on user experience, so websites are expected to deliver the same on their web pages. Core Web Vitals are metrics that Google introduced in their Page Experience update. These metrics determine how users perceive their experience on your website.
You already know what the three metrics — Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), measure. To understand how your web pages are performing in this regard, you can use PageSpeed Insights.
Each metric requires you to follow a specific set of best practices. However, all three metrics can be improved and optimised using a few activities such as:
- Using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to distribute the load to servers
- Minimising the third-party requests, and the volume of requested files
- Implementing a browser caching mechanism for your website to reduce pressure on servers
- Optimising images and enabling a preload mechanism if necessary
Ensuring that your Core Web Vitals are optimised according to the prescribed limit, can ensure that you up the ante on the overall user experience of your website.
You would notice that throughout this guide, we have encouraged you to use many tools to aid your process of carrying out SEO. It is important to know that these tools are in fact crucial to monitoring and optimising your website for SEO consistently. Moreover, they can also aid you in your journey to learn how to do SEO yourself.
While there are hundreds of tools that you can use for specific functions, here are a few that will help you take your SEO performance to the next level from the very beginning.
No surprises here!
Google Search Console has already been featured multiple times in this guide, and for good reason. It is a free platform that SEOs use extensively to monitor and optimise their presence and performance on SERPs.
The first step is, of course, to get your website linked with Google Search Console. Here is a simple step-by-step process to go about it.
Step 1: Sign up for an account on Google Search Console using your business account.
Step 2: You can now add your website as a property in GSC. You can either add the domain or the URL prefix.
Step 3: Pick a website verification method. Remember, Google Search Console gives you complete control over how your website will be crawled and ranked on SERPs. So, the verification is extensive to ensure that you are the actual owner of your website. There are multiple methods that you can choose for verification. Ensure to choose the one that is most feasible for you.
Once your website is verified, there are a plethora of activities that you can accomplish using GSC. You can monitor your website performance on mobile devices, referring domains as well as rich search results — all from the same platform.
If used correctly, Google Analytics can be the lifeblood of your website’s SEO performance management. At the outset, we would suggest you be prepared to experience a steep learning curve. Google Analytics is notorious for having a complicated interface.
If you have a small or medium-sized business, you are likely to get all the features you need from the free version of Google Analytics. This analytics tool can offer you detailed insights on your website and app performance and integrates seamlessly with all the other marketing and advertising tools by Google.
Just like GSC, you will need to link your Google business account to Google Analytics. Start by setting up your account, and start tracking the necessary metrics to monitor the SEO performance of your website.
You can set up your Google Analytics account in a few easy steps:
Step 1: Sign in to your Google Analytics dashboard with your business account
Step 2: Add basic details such as the name of your business, the industry you operate in, and your website URL
Step 3: Link a Property that you would like to track using your GA account
Step 4: Add views to each property in your website account
Step 5: Add the GA tracking code following the head tag on your website
Step 6: Check if the code is working and monitor your performance from your GA dashboard.
Once your Google Analytics account is set up, you can start tracking the performance of your website, as well as social media channels seamlessly from your dashboard.
Now that you have started on your SEO journey, be prepared to hear about Ahrefs a lot more often. Ahrefs offers a complete suite of tools including those made to facilitate link building, rank tracking, keyword research and even keeping track of your competitors’ SEO performance.
Ahrefs has become such a popular SEO tool as it offers features for businesses of all types and all sizes. Even small and medium-size businesses that can not afford one of the advanced plans can achieve a lot of success, through one of their most basic plans. Moreover, SEO teams can also choose to use specific tools that Ahrefs offers. Plus, the user-friendly interface makes it easier for budding SEO professionals to learn and use them effectively.
However, Ahrefs is most commonly used for analysing backlink profiles of domains and maximising their performance.
We know how daunting the process of finding the right SEO tools from the sea of tools can be. Even if you are just starting to learn SEO, you are likely to end up using Screaming Frog for some of the most crucial aspects of your strategy.
It is a website crawler that crawls your URLs and generates valuable insights about your technical and on-page SEO performance. Remember, Screaming Frog SEO can be downloaded for free and used seamlessly if you have a small website with limited web pages. However, if you have a detailed website with a large number of web pages, it is better to go with a paid plan.
The paid version of the software costs about £149 annually. The tool is trusted and used by some of the top companies in the world including Google, Amazon, Disney and Apple. The tool gives you a detailed overview of your SEO performance and is an ideal tool for conducting SEO audits.
SEMrush is an analytics tool that is very similar to Ahrefs. In fact, if you ask any experienced SEO, they would tell you that it always boils down to these two tools when it comes to getting the complete suite of SEO functions.
SEMrush has modules that can help you conduct keyword research, competitor analysis and aid you in optimising your Google ad campaigns. More importantly, you can monitor the ranking keywords, and the organic traffic for any website right on top of your dashboard. One of the most useful features with this tool is that you can track your traffic sources, so you know where to focus that investment going forward.
While many prefer SEMrush for monitoring and driving their SEO campaigns, it can be a very useful tool for keeping a track of your PPC campaigns just as much.
Now that you know how to learn SEO and all that it entails, it is time to talk about reporting. Because let’s face it: reporting is one of the most crucial parts of an SEO professional’s job. Whether it is for your own website, or for your client, the reports you generate will determine how the spending in SEO will be distributed.
When created effectively, SEO reports will also detail what is working for your website, and what is failing. This will allow you to tweak your SEO strategy, and steer it in the right direction.
But just as we discussed before, it all begins with setting goals the right way.
Setting objectives before beginning the process of optimization
When you begin analysing your website and optimising it for high performance, you need to know what is the end goal. Without that, you would just be implementing strategy after strategy without a definitive purpose.
For any website that you are doing SEO for, find out what are the goals that you are pursuing. Are you targeting higher ranking on the SERPs? Do you expect a rise in organic traffic? Do you want your website to start converting visitors effectively?
Once you set the goals and a timeframe, you would then be able to figure out the activities that are most likely to work in your favour.
Before you go ahead with the strategy, conduct a comprehensive website audit to gauge your current performance and how much more work will be required.
SEO Forecasting: SEO forecasting happens and should happen during every reporting cycle. It is the process of looking at the past SEO trends and performance data pertaining to your website. On the basis of that, you would then come up with the forecast for the future. This will give you a better idea of which activities should be repeated for continued gains and the ones to be changed for more growth.
SEO Audit: The next step to conducting a well-defined website audit is to carry out an SEO audit. Here, you will compare your SEO strategy with best practices in the industry. The goal of conducting such an audit is to identify issues that prevent your website from achieving the ideal results.
Content Audit: The next audit that you would need to conduct is for your content. This process entails analysing all the content on your website and assessing its performance. Nearly 51% of marketers consider repurposing content to be a highly effective content marketing tactic. A content audit will also determine such opportunities and contribute to your SEO strategy.
Backlink Audit: As the name suggests, it is an audit of all the links pointing to your website. Essentially, you would be tracking down the good and the bad ones, and then come up with effective strategies to deal with them in the best way possible. It is important to take the right approach to backlink audits so that you can generate the desired results.
Tracking keyword movements
Well, even with all those audits, you will still need to keep track of your keywords and how they are performing for your website.
By now, you pretty much know how search engines work, right? You integrate keywords in your content, and when a user enters that as a search query, you want to rank for that keyword. At least, that is the ideal scenario. In reality, even if you rank #1 for a keyword today, you can gain or lose your position over time.
To ensure that you always hold that high spot, keep tracking keyword movements and refresh your content with fresh keywords if the old ones are just not generating results anymore.
With the steps that we have seen so far, you would be able to successfully create an effective SEO strategy, implement it and measure the results. But remember, the field of SEO is constantly evolving and the search algorithms are constantly advancing.
With that in mind, you should always stay abreast of the latest advancements in the field and in the algorithms by reading about them
If you follow any trend religiously, you have probably subscribed to a newsletter about it. Do the same for SEO.
There are many accomplished influencers and companies operating in the field of SEO that you should stay updated with. Many of them have newsletters that cover industry news, technical updates and opinions on recent trends. Subscribing to such newsletters will give you rich and detailed insights on the trends that you should be including in your SEO strategy.
Another great way to stay on top of the recent trends in the SEO industry is to follow podcasts. There are some amazing podcasts out there that bring in highly valuable guests to speak about SEO. Pick the ones that feature SEO experts and entrepreneurs to learn from their experiences and mistakes.
Not to mention, podcasts are great mediums when you want to get some passive studying done. You can listen to them while you are commuting or doing your chores, and get valuable information on the go.
Needless to say, if you want to take your SEO learning a notch higher, you would want to rely on conferences. Conferences are some of the richest sources of recent information about any industry as they usually have experts who have great insights to share.
It is also a great way to get some networking done and meet learners like yourself, and seasoned professionals that you can learn from. Now that the world is slowly opening up, you can even attend some of these conferences in person. But till then, there are plenty of virtual summits and conferences that you can register for.
Can I learn SEO on my own?
Yes, you can definitely learn SEO on your own. In fact, most SEO professionals today are either self-taught or learn the necessary skills through online courses.
Should I learn SEO by doing or through courses?
Even if you choose to learn SEO through a course, the majority of your skillset will develop through practice. You will need to apply those concepts on projects to be able to hone practical and effective SEO skills.
Is SEO hard to learn?
The journey of starting to learn about SEO can definitely seem quite daunting for beginners. But once you know the basics, you learn pretty quickly. The advanced SEO techniques however need to be learned through ensuring real-time application on projects and constant practice.
How can I learn SEO for free?
Learning SEO can be easily done by sifting through the knowledge that is already shared online by yourself. Needless to say, doing so is absolutely free.
However, to get additional insights and delve deeper into SEO, you can opt for SEO courses by reputed SEO companies and influencers. Such courses are available at nominal prices and are highly affordable.
How do I start learning SEO?
The best way to learn SEO is to make yourself familiar with the basic SEO concepts and build your skills from there. Remember, most of the learning that you will do in this regard will be effective if you apply the concepts to real projects. Start an online practice blog or take up a freelancing project on your own to hone your SEO skills slowly.
Additionally, you can also get knowledge from reputed blogs on the subject, and courses offered by seasoned SEO professionals and experts.
How do beginners do SEO?
Beginners or not, when you embark on the journey to learn SEO, you learn the theoretical concepts but benefit greatly by applying them to real projects. Doing so will enlighten you on possible challenges in the process and how to overcome them effectively. Be prepared to get a few things wrong, however, use such opportunities to figure out your personal approach to SEO.
What do you do on-page SEO?
If you want to learn on-page SEO, nothing will work better than finding a website project that you can practice on. On-page SEO is all about optimising websites for better performance on search engines after all. But remember, it is as much about delivering the ideal experience to your users.
On-page SEO can start from something as basic as keyword research, and go all the way to optimising internal linking structures and page performance. Conduct a website SEO audit, to begin with, identify the prominent gaps in your strategy and take it forward from there.
Why is on-page SEO important in 2022?
Most marketers today consider on-page SEO to be one of the most effective SEO tactics working for their digital presence. Moreover, an ideal SEO strategy does start from optimising the elements on your website for SEO, which is fairly easier to do. Without an effective on-page SEO strategy in place, your off-page and technical SEO tactics may not work or yield the desired results.
Another way to look at this is the increasing number of people who now access websites on their mobile devices. You need to optimise your website for such users, as you would otherwise be losing out on potential customers.
After battling a worldwide pandemic, one thing is certain for businesses today — you can not afford to take your digital presence for granted. That said, if you are just beginning to see the merit of your digital marketing and want to learn about SEO, it is never too late. Start with learning the SEO fundamentals, and keep practising on a project to ensure that your skills are put to good use. With the growing demand for SEOs across the globe, learning SEO will only open a gateway of opportunities for you.
If you are confused about where to start, we do have a plethora of articles on our blog to guide you through this journey. Feel free to reach out to us, if you need help with taking the SEO performance of your website to the next level.
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