When hearing the word SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, I am sure many people would feel it’s too complicated. And they are right. SEO can be complicated. That’s why I am tempted to write this article. My goal is not to teach you how to do SEO. Instead, I want to create a guiding framework as a starting point for people who want to learn SEO.
Many people heard the word SEO and want to know more. However, there are a lot of SEO resources. If you don’t believe me, try to google the word SEO, and you will get thousands of results. If you are like many people, the first question popping up in your head would be – where should I start? Trust me, I was there. That’s my motivation for this article. I am targeting the people who never work in the SEO area before. If you are an expert and read this article, I value your opinions. Please make comments in the below section if I miss anything.
I assume that you know what SEO is (but may not know how it works). Suppose you don’t, according to Moz, SEO is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.” SEO is important because it’s a long term, sustainable strategy to drive business to your website.
This guiding framework consists of 5 elements:
- SEO Myths – there are a number of misunderstandings. We will clear those out first.
- SEO pre-work – this is the step we plan and strategise before we actually take action.
- On-page SEO – this is the practice of optimising webpages to rank higher on search results.
- Off-page SEO – this is the activities you do outside your website to raise the search results’ ranking.
- Technical SEO – this is the technical stuff that you should understand so you can tell the IT guy to do it for you.
Let’s start with some SEO myths for fun. You might have heard some of all of the below myths. It’s a good idea to get them out of the way. Agree?
- SEO is a one-time thing. Nope. SEO is an on-going process. It’s not that you set up a website, put keywords in and off you go. SEO requires constant monitoring and adjusting your website.
- SEO is quick. No it is not. SEO is not a quick process. If someone promises you to put you on the first search result page within a week, please treat that promise as a red flag.
- Content is king. Content is important but is not king. While content is very important, content needs links. Just like links need content. Add technical to this duo, and you have the triad that is the basis of all good core SEO.
- You can trick Google with keyword density. Not anymore. Google puts more focus on the user’s search intent now. Therefore, placing a keyword multiple times on a page no longer works. You better create relevant content (with relevant links) to answer user’s questions.
- You must submit your site. No you don’t. Google is far more advanced with its search crawler now. However, if you want the search engine to come back to your site to do things like pick up a new piece of content or reevaluate a page, you can submit those URLs. But, you don’t have to submit your site.
- Duplicate content is a penalty. There is no duplicate content penalty. Google does have a duplicate content filter. If it sees the same content multiple times, it will pick up only one. Too much duplicate content can affect your site, though.
- Social media can help you rank. No, at least not directly. Social media is about visibility. It could help people share your content, which could generate links back to your site. But social media post by itself doesn’t improve your SEO.
- Buying Google Ads help with SEO. Sorry but no. Investing in Google Ads does not boost your organic search rankings.
OK. Enough for the myths. We will get into the juicy stuff now. I create a guiding framework with 3 components, namely, SEO pre-work, On-page SEO, and Technical-SEO. In each component, I will mention some key terms that you will need to know. I will not list all the SEO terms here because it will take me a week to finish this article.
Before I proceed, there is one basic term that you need to know: SERP. It stands for Search Engine Result Page. The whole reason why we are doing this SEO thing is that we want our site to rank well on SERP.
Believe it or not, doing SEO requires a strategy! This work aims to set up the right direction, which means having the right expectation.
When you develop an SEO strategy, you have to address the following questions:
- Who is your target audience? Without a clear understanding of who you want to target (to visit your site), it’s close to impossible to come up with a working list of keywords and content.
- What are their problems? Ultimately, your product has to solve someone’s problem, correct? Use this logic to figure out the questions that your audience is likely to ask. It will help you with keyword research and content creation.
- What are your goals and KPIs in doing SEO? Having a clear goal and a clear set of KPIs will definitely help manage everyone’s expectations. The KPIs can be one of the following:
- Bounce rate – it is a metric that measures the percent of sessions where the user loads the page and immediately exits without performing any action.
- Page load time
- Average session duration
Next, you have to work on keyword research. Think about the time you go to Google to search for something. Sometimes, you put only a few words in the search box e.g., “best coffee”. Other times, you ask Google a question such as “where should I buy coffee?”.
As a website owner, you have a different role now. You want people to find your site and your content. Therefore, you have to think about what keywords or questions people search so you can put your site up as a search result.
There are many resources that talk about keyword research and how to do it (which could be overwhelming). I am going to suggest one article that you can start with. It’s written by Neil Patel. I use his service, which is Ubersuggest.
I want to summarise the steps of how to do the keyword research for you. It’s a good starting point. You can make it more complicated as you go. But the gist of it is that we do the following:
- Think about what keywords your audience would do the search. It’s about understanding their problems, as I mentioned earlier. You then list all of those keywords.
- Use Ubersuggest to get the search volume. It’s a free tool with a limit. Once you hit that limit of the day, you have to wait until the next day.
- If you have the websites that offer something similar to your service, you can enter their URLs to Ubersuggest. The tool will spit out their keywords to give you an idea.
- Ubersuggest can also give you keyword suggestions with search volume.
Here you go. This is the first part of the SEO guiding framework. It should give you a good idea of how to start learning SEO. I will cover the rest in the second part.
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