Table of Contents
There are lots of blog posts out there featuring long lists of effective SEO tactics. If you blindly execute them, you’ll probably see a boost in search engine ranking.
But it’s like the “give a man a fish, teach a man to fish” saying. Using the tips is one thing, but it’s understanding them that will give you the foundation you need to be successful with SEO beyond a single tip or tactic.
You should optimize meta tags, but why?
You should control for duplicate content, but what does that mean?
Today we cover 7 foundations that will help you apply SEO to all your digital marketing activities.
Basic SEO principles for better rankings
Understanding the principles behind popular SEO tactics will allow you to manage your website more effectively. You won’t just be blindly executing tactics — you’ll know why you’re doing them, and be able to extend those principles beyond the single tactic you’re using. Here are some that every beginner should know.
1. Google makes the rules
The vast majority of search traffic goes through Google — over 85%. The closest competitor is Bing, which claims around 6%.
Since most people use Google, you’re going to be optimizing your website mainly for Google’s algorithm. That’s not to say you shouldn’t also have an SEO strategy for Bing and Yahoo, but there’s a good chance that most of your customers are using the internet’s most popular search engine.
That means you should be playing by Google’s rules. Read recommended best practices and learn what can get your site penalized. Google has an entire guide dedicated to SEO for beginners. Take advantage of it.
2. If they can’t crawl it, they can’t rank it
In SEO there are some activities that improve your search rankings, and then there are some you can’t rank without. A crawlable website is one of the second types.
In order for Google and other search engines to rank your website, they have to be able to process it (aka crawl it).
To make your pages easy to crawl, you should…
- Use a robots.txt file to direct Google which pages to crawl and which to ignore.
- Create a simple, keyword-rich URL structure.
- Submit a sitemap to Google. This gives crawlers a road map to your pages, which boosts crawling efficiency.
- Structure your site in a way that makes information easy to find. Start with broad category pages and then create subcategories for more specific topics and subtopics.
- Use schema markup to structure your data in a way that’s accessible to readers and crawlers. Schema can also help you appear on SERPs with rich snippets (bigger, more comprehensive search results).
- Use internal linking to connect all your pages. Google’s crawlers use internal links to hop from page to page on your website.
If your pages aren’t easy to find and structured well, it won’t just mean poor rankings — it could mean your pages get left out of Google search results altogether. Making sure your site is crawlable should be a high priority.
3. You can’t rank without high-quality content
When you look at search engine results pages (SERPs), you’re seeing the ranking of content in the order that the search engine believes is most to least relevant. The key word here is content. All of these listings represent web pages online that contain some kind of content that is useful to a user’s search.
For you to rank in a search engine, you have to create useful and high-quality content for searchers. What does this entail?
- Content: Blog post, video, article, infographic, etc. which is made for the purpose of entertaining, informing, or serving users.
- High-quality: High-quality content is original and it gives the searcher what they were looking for. It emphasizes both comprehensiveness and readability.
Content marketing is a strategy that brings together your important keywords, buyer personas, purchase funnel, and marketing channels, to use high-quality content to draw in organic traffic and turn that traffic to customers. If you want a chance at ranking highly on SERPs, you need a content marketing strategy.
4. The user experience comes first
SEO tactics aim to satisfy search engines, and search engines want to satisfy users. So don’t just focus on optimizing for Google. Your primary goal should be providing the best possible experience for the searcher. By doing this, you’ll likely satisfy many of Google’s ranking factors in the process. Some signs of a good user experience:
- Fast page load speeds. Users won’t wait for pages that take longer than a few moments to load. See how fast your pages are using Google’s Pagespeed insights.
- A responsive website. Users access the internet more from mobile devices than desktop. And Google has committed to using mobile-first indexing, so it will rank the mobile version of your website before desktop. That means your content needs to work well across smartphones, tablets, and mobile devices of all screen sizes.
- Simple site design. It doesn’t just benefit crawlers to have a straightforward site design. Users also benefit from broad category pages that link to pages with more specific information. This creates a trail that leads them to the information they want to know as quickly as possible.
Content that satisfies search intent. The search queries “ties” and “how to tie a tie” are going to drive you to two very different search engine results pages. The first search is likely transactional, meaning somebody searching “ties” probably wants to buy a tie. Top results for this search will be product pages. The second search is informational, meaning that the person searching this wants to learn how to tie a tie. Top results on this SERP will likely be instructional videos. Consider the best type, angle, and format for the content you’re creating to deliver exactly what the searcher wants.
Intent SEO is a new kind of SEO that takes all these factors into account by reframing SEO around the searcher experience. Learn more about it by claiming the free guide on our homepage.
5. Keywords are important but they’re not everything
In the early days of search engines, Google’s algorithm relied much more on keywords to rank content than it does now. People took advantage of it by keyword stuffing (using the keyword as many times on a page as possible) until Google began monitoring the density of words used on the page. If the keyword was mentioned too many times compared to the number of total words on the page, Google would know it was spam.
Now Google’s algorithm is much more advanced. While you should still use keywords to boost the chance you rank for a particular short- or long-tail phrase, you don’t need to rely on them as much as you used to. Today Google is better at understanding the overall context of your page. As in, it can tell if your page is good for searchers based on synonyms and related phrases, images, and even the response of users on your page. So don’t overthink it. Write naturally and don’t hesitate to turn to plugins for help.
Keyword tools like Clearscope can help you determine what terms the top-ranking pages have used to rank well. Yoast is another popular plugin for WordPress sites. You can also do your own keyword research on Google SERPs. The best way to find out which content you should create to rank at the top of Google is by going to the first page of Google and clicking on search results. Where do you see keywords? How is the content structured? These are helpful clues for content creation.
6. Backlinks talk
You’ve heard the phrase “money talks.” Well, in SEO, backlinks talk. These are links from other sites to your website, and they come as a result of high-quality content creation, link-building strategies, social media marketing, and sometimes even guest blogging (even though links from guest blogs are often devalued with the nofollow attribute, Google has said nofollow links may be used to determine search ranking).
Google’s Pagerank algorithm still considers backlinks to be a highly important ranking factor. In fact, among off-page ranking factors, backlinks are second to none. The best backlinks are:
- Natural: If Google can tell that you’re paying for links, or you’re involved in some kind of link scheme where you’re partnering with other sites to trade links, you’ll be penalized in search results. Aim to generate natural links that come from honest marketing initiatives, not “black hat” SEO tactics.
- Abundant: The more backlinks you have, the better.
- Quality: The best backlinks are from trustworthy and authoritative websites. A link from the Washington Post is going to be more valuable than one from lesser-known independent bloggers or a local online small business directory, for example.
- Relevant: If you’re a healthcare provider, getting a backlink from the Mayo Clinic or WebMD is going to be more valuable than getting one from the Granwehr SEO blog. That’s because our business, content, etc, isn’t as relevant to the healthcare field.
Google looks at backlinks like upvotes. If someone sends you a backlink, they’re vouching for you. They like and trust your content enough to send their users to it. The more times this happens, the more trustworthy and authoritative you appear to Google.
7. Little SEO tactics can add up to a big boost in rankings
Within the category of search engine optimization, there are lots of little SEO tips that can give you an edge. Looking at each tip in isolation, they don’t seem very important to your search engine rankings. Add them all together though, and they can make a big overall difference in the way you rank in organic search. Some tactics you should implement:
Write a compelling meta description and title tag
Lots of webmasters don’t bother to create keyword optimized meta tags. But this is the content Google pulls from your pages for SERPs. While they’re not official ranking factors, they can improve the click-through rate of your page, which can lead to higher rankings.
Optimize anchor text
Anchor text helps Google’s crawlers and your website visitors determine what a linked page is about. The anchor text in the previous sentence, “anchor text,” tells you that the page you’ll click through to will teach you more about anchor text. The best anchor text is short, simple, and descriptive.
Create descriptive image alt tags
An image alt tag is a description of an image on a web page. Though it’s primarily for software that can read the description aloud to someone with a vision impairment, Google also uses it to determine what an image is about. Writing descriptive alt tags that include your keyword can strengthen your page’s SEO, and also result in search impressions through Google image search.
Control for duplicate content
Google sees www.example.com and https://www.example.com as the same URL. This is a problem, because they will both lead the visitor to the same home page, but Google will only index one of them. So you have to use the canonical tag to let Google know which is the one you want showing up in search engine results pages. Otherwise, your page’s search authority may be split into multiple URLs, or it may not show up in search engines at all.
Boost your search rankings with these SEO principles
These basic SEO principles form the foundation for many of the tactics you’ll use in on-page, technical, and off-page SEO. Understanding how they fit into the bigger digital marketing picture will help you apply them even outside SEO.
Want to see how you’re doing with SEO? Get an instant SEO audit below, for free. Or, schedule a free consultation to see how intent SEO can boost traffic revenue by 700%.
How to learn SEO step by step for beginners? ›
- Step 1: Find keywords.
- Step 2: Put keywords in the page title.
- Step 3: Put keywords in the page URL.
- Step 4: Put keywords in your meta description.
- Step 5: Put keywords in your H1 text.
- Step 6: Use keywords in the page's content.
- Step 7: Build links to your website.
- Step 8: Monitor your rank.
- TikTok SEO is here to stay. ...
- Always utilize structured data. ...
- AI in Marketing is here to stay. ...
- Know thy user. ...
- Content is still king. ...
- SERPs have changed—and become more intelligent. ...
- Analytics are imperative. ...
- Optimize Content for Voice Search.
One of the most important parts of an SEO checklist is adding title tags, meta descriptions, and image tags to your pages. These tags provide information about your page to search engines and can help them rank higher.What are 3 main areas of SEO? ›
- On-page SEO – Anything on your web pages – Blogs, product copy, web copy.
- Off-page SEO – Anything which happens away from your website that helps with your SEO Strategy- Backlinks.
- Technical SEO – Anything technical undertaken to improve Search Rankings – site indexing to help bot crawling.
- Take an SEO course (or several SEO courses)
- Learn SEO by optimizing their own website.
- Work at a marketing agency.
- Take on SEO clients.
- Get an online SEO certification or degree.
- Work as an “in house” SEO professional.
It is a fact of learning that all education is self-education. Although others can facilitate learning, nobody can teach you anything--they can only inspire you to teach yourself. That means if you want to learn search engine optimization (SEO), you'll have to take matters into your own hands.How can I get SEO with no experience? ›
Register for a freelancer account on sites like Upwork, Fiverr, and PeoplePerHour. On a daily basis, these portals publish hundreds of SEO jobs. Sort through the requests and apply for SEO tasks that you can do with your present skills and experience. To secure a few contracts, keep your prices cheap.How do I master SEO skills? ›
- Step 1: Master The Basics. ...
- Step 2: Dive Deeper Into The Technical Side. ...
- Step 3: Create An SEO Process. ...
- Step 4: Optimize Your Content. ...
- Step 5: Build Your Backlinks. ...
- Step 6: Don't Forget About Humans. ...
- Step 7: Never Stop Learning.
Each component builds on and complements the others. The stronger the connections between each of the 4 SEO components—technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and content-—the better the results. Being aware of the connections will help us to better understand how to best utilize them effectively.Can you learn SEO in 3 months? ›
Average Time it Takes to Learn SEO
Experts say it usually takes one to three months to learn the foundations of SEO and a year or more to master the practice fully. The length of time it takes to learn the basics of SEO depends upon several factors.
How long does it take to complete SEO? ›
The short answer is between 4-12 months. The longer answer has to do with all those factors we discussed that tie into your SEO strategy. If you target low-competition keywords, you can start to see results within 4-6 months.Where can I learn SEO from scratch? ›
- SEO 101.
- Search Engine Watch.
- Webmaster World.
- Search Engine Journal.
- Search Engine Land.
Before you start any active SEO efforts, it's important to make sure your website has content that engages and helps its users. Data shows that pages with 2,000+ words of content typically rank higher in Google search than pages with short, light content.What are the 12 things to know about SEO? ›
- Target Relevant Primary and Secondary Keywords. ...
- Write Quality Original Content. ...
- Format Your Content for Search Engines & Target Featured Snippets. ...
- Optimize Your Page Title and Meta Description. ...
- Use Short, Descriptive URLs.
- Publish Relevant, Authoritative Content. ...
- Update Your Content Regularly. ...
- Metadata. ...
- Have a link-worthy site. ...
- Use alt tags.
Well-written content engages the reader, increases search engine rankings and traffic, and increases the likelihood of quality links from other sites.What is the most difficult part of SEO? ›
One of the serious SEO challenges is keyword cannibalization, where you're using the same keyword on several pages.
SEO is divided in two parts: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to all techniques that can be implemented on your website to improve your ranking in SERP (search engine results pages), whereas off-page SEO refers to everything that can be done outside of your website to improve its visibility on the web.How can I learn SEO at home for free? ›
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialization (Coursera)
Search Engine Optimization Fundamentals. Optimizing a website for Search. Advanced Content and Social Tactics to Optimize SEO. Advanced Search Engine Optimization Strategies.
The simple answer is that SEO can be a great way to make a decent living, and provided you have the skills to scale an SEO practice, the sky's the limit. Nowadays, there are a lot of ways to make money online: from building an ecommerce website to creating a blog to promote products and services.
How much does a beginner SEO make? ›
Average starting Salary for SEO in India is around ₹0.2 Lakh per year (₹1.7k per month).Is SEO a high paying job? ›
In the Digital Marketing domain, Along with the Digital Marketing salary, the salary in an SEO career is among the highest. This is because SEO-skilled professionals are in high demand across the globe. As per Glassdoor, the average salary of SEO Analysts is approximately US$69k per annum.Can I be a SEO without a degree? ›
The answer is YES. You can become an SEO without a degree.Do I need coding for SEO? ›
The short answer is: no, SEO typically doesn't require much (or any) hands-on coding. You can absolutely do a fine job of SEO without touching code. But the longer answer is that yes, a good sense of how programming works, or even an ability to do a bit of coding yourself, is always a useful skill to have.How do I get paid with SEO? ›
- Selling productized SEO services. Selling productized SEO services or, in other words, creating standardized versions of services sold as products is a great way to make money with SEO. ...
- Content writing. ...
- Start a niche site. ...
- Create an e-commerce or dropshipping site. ...
- Website flipping. ...
- SEO training. ...
- SEO consulting.
- Test new keywords. Keywords are pillars of both SEO and PPC strategies — they both fall under the search engine marketing (SEM) umbrella. ...
- Retarget visitors. ...
- Cross-analyze data. ...
- Dominate the SERP. ...
- See faster results. ...
- Enhance SEO content through PPC ad copy. ...
- Learn more about your target audience. ...
- Optimize your budget.
SEO mostly revolves around two strategies: Optimizing site architecture (the actual coding and design of a website) Optimizing site content (the text of sales pages, blog posts, product descriptions, etc.)Can I learn SEO in one month? ›
While it's a career-long journey, you can indeed learn SEO in about a month — enough to make a huge impact on your website and thus your business as a whole.Is SEO a hard skill? ›
At the top of the list of important hard skills is search engine optimization. Data from the study is based on a LinkedIn poll conducted by Microsoft with 600 global senior marketer participants.Is doing SEO difficult? ›
SEO is not that hard to learn, but it can be confusing and overwhelming to get started. Learning SEO means learning about a long list of individual digital marketing strategies, which can feel a bit like adding new weapons to your arsenal as you learn how to wield them.
How do you write SEO in 4 easy steps? ›
- Create a search engine friendly title. Include 1-2 keywords related to your topic. ...
- Optimize your abstract. Place essential findings and keywords in the first two sentences of your abstract. ...
- Use keywords throughout your article. ...
- Be consistent. ...
- Build links.
The #1 Google Ranking Factor
At WebTek, we say the most important parts of SEO and the most important Google ranking factors are the webpage titles and heading tags. Titles represent the prime real estate of any website – they are your best chance to tell Google exactly what your website or webpage is all about.
No, it's not rocket science, but you will also not learn how to do it overnight, or even in a year. If you start getting into doing your own SEO, you will most likely hurt your rankings and end up in a worse position than before.Will SEO exist in 5 years? ›
SEO will continue to exist for a long time because social media and search engines will more than likely merge. In fact, Facebook has already begun to do this, with an average of over 1.5 billion searches every day, while Twitter has joined in partnership with Google.How many hours per week does SEO take? ›
On-Site Optimization: Ongoing Monitoring and Troubleshooting
These things don't take much time, unless a problem emerges that you'll need to solve. Estimated Time: About three to 12 hours a week, depending on the size of your site and whether any problems arise.
But with the right strategy in place, 6 to 12 months is a long enough period to be able to see the impact of SEO efforts and to be able to justify ongoing investment into growth.Do you need to do SEO every month? ›
SEO is an ongoing process that needs to be continually monitored and tweaked to be effective. Search engine algorithms are constantly changing, so you need to adjust your SEO strategies regularly to keep up. If you don't do SEO every month, your competitors will outrank you in the search engine results pages (SERPs).How fast can you rank in SEO? ›
According to seo.co, it can take anywhere from three to six months to rank on the first page of Google, assuming that you're writing good content and optimizing your website for search engines. If there's high competition or you haven't optimized your website, it may take six to 12 months to see results.How much do SEO freelancers make? ›
How much does a SEO Freelancer make? As of Mar 2, 2023, the average annual pay for a SEO Freelancer in the United States is $63,930 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $30.74 an hour. This is the equivalent of $1,229/week or $5,327/month.What is one tip for learning SEO? ›
Complete Keyword Research
All of your website pages, blogs, and even social media posts should use keywords to help rank for those terms and appear higher on search engine results pages. While researching keywords, look for ones that have a high search volume but low ranking difficulty.
What are the 4 important stages in SEO? ›
- Get your technicals right.
- Find a keyword to target.
- Create an optimized page.
- Build links to it.
- Keywords. Keywords are words and phrases used throughout website content that makes it possible for searchers to find your site via search engine. ...
- Link Building. ...
- Blog & Social. ...
Defining the relevant keywords is the first step in creating a search engine optimized website content. By using the keywords and building your themes around them will create content that gives answers to Google searches.What is the best strategy for SEO? ›
- Write for humans first and search engines second. ...
- Use targeted keywords in all the right places. ...
- Focus on user experience (UX) ...
- Focus on building relevant links. ...
- Format content for Featured Snippets. ...
- Remove anything that slows down your site.
- Learn from your competitors.
- Prioritize low-difficulty topics.
- Update old content.
- Fill content gaps.
- Create content hubs.
- Get more backlinks.
- Optimize internal links.
- Fix broken links.