The Beginner’s Guide to SEO: Part 1

11 min read
SEO

You’ve decided to start a website to get your business seen. Well done for taking the first exciting step to getting your brand out there! If you’re creating your own website, you know there’s lots to learn. And you’re having fun while you’re doing it. But are you one of those website builders who’s gone blank with SEO? 

You could always turn to a website builder like Boxmode to help you. Not only will we guide you through the process of SEO settings. But we have numerous digital marketing guides for beginners like you. 

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Read this beginner’s guide to get you away from staring at a blank wall and back to creating a website with optimal SEO. 

What is SEO? Why You Need to Understand the Basics

How did you start building your website? Assuming you’re a novice to website building, you would have started from the beginning. You would’ve read everything you could get your hands on about website builders. The more information you read, the more you got a grip on the basics of website building. 

Understanding the basics or background of anything new takes away the element of the unknown. And this applies to SEO as well. The mind boggles when you see the word “SEO” and you prefer to ignore it. After all, is SEO really essential for a website?

SEO really essential for a website

What does SEO do for your brand? Also known as search engine optimization, SEO is the key to getting an audience to your website. With over 1.5 billion websites, how do you expect people to find your website on the Internet? By using SEO, you’ll increase the traffic to your website. SEO will instantly bring numbers to your website. And, it’ll bring the right audience, local or international or both. 

Traffic to your site exposes your brand (of course!). SEO does this through “organic” or non-paid search engine results. What you’ve got to understand from this point is that SEO will not do this automatically for you. As clever as website tools and software designs are, they still rely on the people operating them to get optimal results.

Let’s look at your own business. If you’re selling your life coaching services, would you want people searching for washing machines landing on your page? Not necessarily, unless they want life coaching! So, how do you draw the right traffic to your website with SEO?

If you understand what people are searching for online and the answers they’re seeking, you’re one step ahead. By understanding the words they’re using to find this content means you’re two steps ahead of them. This knowledge will help you connect with the right people online and draw them to your website.

What You Need to Know About Search Engines

The jargon of using SEO is what makes a lot of website owners ignore SEO. If reading about search engines makes you hesitate, then kudos for reading on!

Search engines

Search engines are responsible for maximum visibility on the Internet. Of the billions of websites mentioned above on the Internet, 130 trillion pages worldwide are indexed by the Google search engine. And, they’re in the business of delivering high-quality content to online browsers. In other words, you want Google to like your pages if you want to be seen.

Search engines search relentlessly through millions and billions of content pieces. They assess every piece of information using many factors. When someone types in words to search for something on the Internet, the search engine results will direct them to where they want to be. Search engines can do this because they’ve evaluated the available content information and connected it with the search query. 

Search engines evaluate web pages, articles (like this one), blogs, PDFs, videos, images, and more by “crawling” through the contents online. The next step of this evaluation process is “indexing,” and the final step is “ranking.” The ranking step indicates how well the content matches an online query or search and how popular it is.

To start at the beginning with SEO, your website needs to have good crawling accessibility. The search engines can then index and rank the content of your website. To remind you why you need SEO, it optimizes the number of visitors to your website by ensuring your site continuously appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine. 

How Are Your Customers Searching Online?

But how are you going to optimize the number of visitors to your website using SEO? At the beginning of this article, we spoke about you having a good understanding of what your ideal customer is searching for online. You could talk to people and get ideas from them, or you could do some searching on the Internet.

what your ideal customer is searching for online

What are people in your niche talking about? Find out what problems they’re dealing with and what solutions they’re searching for. You need to understand the language they’re using when talking about your niche interest. 

Use the following places to help you get a sense of how people are talking about your niche:

  • Quora and Reddit: These sites are full of questions and answers from people just like you and me. Personal opinions and facts are shared. With over 300 million users visiting Quora every month in 2019, you won’t struggle to find out what people are saying about your niche. 
  • Facebook: People love to create groups on Facebook. And, just about every subject is covered by a group. Search through these groups, and you’ll find out quickly enough which are the most popular keywords being used in your niche.
  • Internet Forums: These online discussion forums are used for people to hold discussions around anything that matters to them. They’re also known as message boards. As an entrepreneur starting your own business and setting up your own website, you’ll benefit from other aspiring entrepreneurs’ stories. And, you’ll learn what people are talking about if you’re searching for keywords for SEO purposes. 

Another effective way of understanding your potential customer is by putting yourself in their shoes. What words would YOU use to take YOU to your website? Using the example of life coaching services, let’s list the possible words or phrases a potential customer browsing online would use:

  • Life coach 
  • Life coaching programs
  • Life coaching online
  • Life coaching services
  • Life coaching in New York (or whichever location they’re searching in)
  • What is life coaching
  • Help me find a life coach in New York

Type any of these words or phrases into Google. The top search results will indicate the top words or phrases being used. These will be your keywords. In this example, the words “life coach,” “life coaching,” and “coaching services” ranked in the top search results. This tells you the search engines are crawling through content and indexing factors such as these main keywords. 

keywords

A quick tip: Use Google’s autocomplete results to show you other words or phrases your potential customer would use to get your site. Start typing in the search words, and before hitting “Enter,” check out the drop-down list of words or phrases already used by browsers. This list includes the most popular words or phrases being used when a particular product or service is being searched online.

Keywords are just one of the ways to use SEO. When a keyword or word is picked up by the search engine, a page comes up with the search engine results. By analyzing this page, you’ll see, at a glance, what the most common words or phrases being used by an online browser are. Which brings us to SERP – another acronym likely to get you shaking your head in bewilderment!

What You Need to Know About SERP

SERP refers to the search engine result page. Online marketers know the SERP is key to a successful marketing program. This is the page you see after you’ve typed in your query. It highlights all the search results produced by the search engine based on the keywords used for the query. 

Search engine result pages have advanced to include not only organic search results but also advertising search results. Simply put, organic search results are based on optimal web content and websites which have not been paid for. Paid results are based on displays being paid for by advertisers. SEO will rank optimal search results high on the SERP.

SERP

Both paid results and organic results formats on search engine result pages are referred to as SERP features. These can be any of the following:

  • People Also Asked boxes
  • Answer boxes
  • Image-based adverts
  • Knowledge panels
  • Video carousels
  • Top stories
  • Tweets
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Featured snippets

The SERP features are links to the content the search engine thinks will answer your query. They can also be your quick answer to a keyword you typed in. The SERP will give you the top ten results of your search. If this page doesn’t give you the answer you’re looking for, you can click to the next page with ten more features. Or, you can refine your search by using another keyword. 

Search engine providers such as Google are constantly changing the SERP appearance. This is because they want to optimize the user’s browsing experience. The more responsive the page is, the better the result for the browser. Today’s SERP has changed drastically from SERPs a few years back. And the transformation is being driven by what and how people are seeking on the Internet. 

Let’s take a look at how a SERP feature would look today. You’re planning a picnic with your family in the local park. You want to know what the weather is going to be like for the day. You type in “weather New York.” Immediately you’ll see the weather for New York in the SERP without being directed to another site. How convenient is that? With a few words (the keyword) and one click, you know you can picnic without worrying about a storm heading your way!

By now, you should realize the value of the SERP and why online marketers place so much emphasis on it. With effective SEO, your website could be in the top ten results of the SERP. If it isn’t, then you need to change the way you’re using SEO.

Why Search Engine Optimization is Important to You

You’ve got this far because your website is up on the Internet and you want to improve the traffic to it. You could go the advertising route or use social media to drive your audience to the services you’re offering. Other online platforms could help you too. But when you understand the bulk of online traffic is achieved through search engines, you should work on improving your SEO. 

This brings you back to organic search results. Online browsers prefer organic search results purely because they’re more plausible than any advertising that’s been paid for. What’s the first thing you want your potential customer to feel when they engage with your brand? Trust. High-quality content is a sure-fire way to build trust with anyone online. 

High-quality content is a sure-fire way to build trust with anyone online

SEO includes content that’s valuable, up-to-date, and worthwhile information for the reader. It’s also how you get other high-quality sites to link with your site. Now, you’re adding credibility to your website and improving your SEO with these links.

By ensuring your content is high-quality and with SEO, you’ll get more clicks. Search engines like this and recognize your content is worth taking note of. The organic search results rank high, which means for clicks for your site. Organic search results are key to building trust. 

When used properly, SEO is the online marketing channel that keeps paying you back with increasing online traffic to your website. SEO with organic search results can be found by all search engine providers. So, you’re not limited only to Google. Bing and Yahoo will also find you. 

When a search engine ranks you high on their results, you’re on the way to building your brand into one that’s recognized and respected. Other people in your niche will know your webpage is worthy of content and will link to it. Online browsers searching for your niche will trust your brand, and you’ll be recognized as an authority in your particular niche. 

By ensuring your content is optimized, you can be sure the search engines will index and rank it appropriately in the search results. That’s the power of SEO and why it’s so important to you. 

How Can I Optimize Search Engine Results on my Website?

You have a few options available when looking to improve SEO on your website. Most website builders will include a guide on how to optimize SEO on your website. While this information should be straightforward, it can be confusing if you’re new to SEO. 

Depending on how much time and effort you’re willing to put into learning about SEO, you can do it yourself. Or you can call in the professionals. If done properly, expert help will get all your SEO requirements covered without you stressing about it. So, the key here is to make sure you get the right person to help you.

With so many companies offering SEO support, you need to make sure they’re using the correct techniques. Do your research and ask around for references before asking an SEO expert to handle your SEO needs. 

Let’s take a look at Boxmode’s Help Center and how we can help you with SEO settings. We can optimize your online presence with project-related SEO settings and page-related settings. We make use of SEO tools such as Robots.txt and Sitemap.xml for project-related SEO settings. For page-related SEO settings, we can help you control settings on specific pages. 

Create a SEO-friendly website

Believe it or not, search engines want you to be seen as long as your content is of high-quality. Let’s take Google as an example. Their beginner’s guide to SEO is designed to help anyone using Google Search. Using this guide doesn’t automatically place you at the top of their search results. (Sorry, there’s no easy way around this!) But, it’ll show you the best practices to get search engines crawling and indexing your content in the easiest way possible. 

A Final Word on SEO

What you’ve read here today is only the basics of SEO. Grasping the concept of SEO and understanding why it’s essential is the first step to optimal search engine results. With the very basics, you should be able to get started with SEO on your own website. 

Taking the first step into SEO creation is always a good place to start! From there, you’ll grow your knowledge and increase your audience at the same time.