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What’s SEO All About? A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Are you up on your SEO game? What does it all mean? You’ve probably heard people talking about it. But how does SEO (or lack of it) affect your website? In this article, we’re going to quickly run you through the basics of SEO including:

  • What is SEO?
  • What you should’ve started doing yesterday
  • What SEO mistakes to avoid

What is SEO?

Summary: SEO can be described as theories and practices meant to “optimize” or otherwise improve web pages for search engine (e.g., Google) results.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It helps your website get discovered. Search engines like Google crawl the web, save links to various pages, and sort these links into search engine results pages (SERPs). These results are sorted by whatever criteria the search engine thinks will be best for the user based on their request (and, now, many other factors). But, basically, when someone Googles something, Google does their best to get them the most relevant result. Your goal in doing SEO on your site is to optimize your web page content to “rank” well in the SERPs. SEO is a vast topic covering multiple areas of web development and design. It requires constant effort and updates, but there are a few guidelines everyone should follow by default.

What You Needed to Start Doing Yesterday

Much of SEO will be an ongoing effort, checking in regularly, making updates, etc. But there are a few key points you should have already covered. If you haven’t done these, the good news is you can start right now.

Keyword Strategy

Summary: Make sure to have a keyword strategy in mind, otherwise your SEO efforts are wasted.

The content of your site must reflect a keyword strategy: the words or phrases that best describe what you do or who you are. Part of your strategy involves targeting these keywords you’ve selected. But what are keywords anyway and how do you know which ones you should target? Think of it this way: if you wanted to find an Italian restaurant in a city you’ve never been to, you’d probably do a Google search for Italian restaurants nearby. So, if you were the owner of the Italian restaurant, and you were selecting keywords to target on your website, you’d want to go for italian restaurant and the name of your city.

Ranking well based on competitive keywords (like “italian restaurant”, for example) can be tricky. Tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you in this effort. Once you’ve selected your keywords, you can use tools like the BoldGrid SEO plugin to make sure that your various pages are reflecting these keywords.

SEO Plugin for WordPress

Summary: The BoldGrid SEO plugin helps you in your SEO efforts.
There are already lots of great SEO plugins for WordPress, but we made one of our own and built it right into BoldGrid. The fewer plugins you have the better. The BoldGrid SEO plugin for WordPress gives you control over your page’s SEO content: title, description, and keywords. This helps you visualize what your search result will look like as displayed in search engine results pages. It’s important to follow these procedures on every page and post.

SEO Mistakes to Avoid

There are a few SEO issues you should have a plan for. We’re going to cover these issues in the following section.

Bad Links (404 errors)

You’re probably familiar with the classic “404: Page Not Found” error. This means that the requested URL is turning up bupkes. Remember that Google saves search results and links in their database. If someone stumbles upon your search result link, clicks on it, and nothings comes up…then you have a serious problem. This is why it’s incredibly important to do a “301 redirect” if you change a page URL or if you intend to redirect users elsewhere on your site. This means that the Google search result won’t be sending your visitors to dead pages. Google will take notice and may drop you lower in the search results pages.

Lack of Internal Links

If you have poor internal linking then you’re not even entering the SEO game at all. Don’t watch from the sidelines. Your pages should be connecting to each other. Even better, they should be pointing to the pages that best represent what your site is about. For example, if you’re a chef and you have a cooking blog, your pages might link like this: Blog post about lentils -> Recipe using lentils -> Contact Page (Hire you for an event)

Don’t Hide Your Site Away – Share it With the World

Is your site being crawled? Are they are any blockers that are causing the search crawlers from “indexing” your site? If your site isn’t being indexed then your entire SEO game is useless. Is there a way to find out? One of the best tools the Search Engine Optimizer has at their disposal is Google Search Console (formerly known as “Google Webmaster Tools”). Search Console monitors your site for anomalies and lets you know if everything is normal. There are many other features included in this software package, so you should start learning how to use it right away. And it’s free! All you need is a Google account.

Targeting Highly Competitive Keywords

At first, if you want to rank for “best restaurant”…good luck. Those keywords are incredibly competitive and the chances are someone who’s been in the game longer has got you beat there. But, if you start slowly and target keywords more strategically (and your restaurant and website actually is better than the competition), you will eventually get ahead in the game.

Putting it All Together

Learning about SEO is going to be an ongoing process. New information comes out all the time. Here a few great information sources you can check in with from time to time:

Most importantly, start slowly. The SEO game has been around for a long time and isn’t going anywhere. And it’s not going to change much in the next few minutes. Try to tackle a new issue each week. Before long, you’ll be moving along at a good pace. And, if you get stuck or frustrated, you can always reach out to a local SEO specialist. You know where to find one: just go to Google and search local SEO. If they know their stuff, you’ll find them in no time.

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