This guide is the indepth knowledge needed to Search Engine Optimize effectively and achieve your full ranking potential - you won't need any technical knowledge for most of it, just a determination to learn.
If you are an absolute, absolute beginner you might find it more helpful to do the Webmaxing course first. Its also created by me but the videos and interactive pages make it a much easier way to get familiar with SEO fundamentals.
Need to know
Before we get going if you have missed the two pages below give them a read now.
- What SEO is - this explains the basic jargon you'll need to use this guide.
- How search engines rank pages - understand the decision making process of search engines and everything in this guide will click together much faster.
Without this background overview you'll simply be carrying out actions like a blinkered horse and with that approach your SEO work just won't have the same impact.
I'll be covering each of these tools as we go along but if you want to get ahead then use the following steps to get set up:
- Make sure the platform your website is built on (e.g. WordPress, XCart, etc.) allows you to edit the page titles, URLs and meta descriptions - I'll cover what these actually are in the main guide, for now just check you can change them yourself. If you've heard the meta description doesn't matter anymore you've heard wrong! In WordPress you can edit your titles and URLs (known as permalinks) but for meta descriptions you'll need a plugin like Yoast.
- Get Google Analytics
- This free service will allow you to monitor how many visitors are coming to your website, where from and a whole lot more.
- Sign up for a Google Analytics account - here's where to do it
- Make sure Google Analytics is installed on your website - here's the WordPress tutorial, do a Google search for how to install analytics on other platforms.
- Learn how to use analytics effectively and correctly with the free course at Google Analytics Academy. Don't skip this bit or you'll end up making big mistakes understanding what Analytics is telling you!.
- Sit Module 11 of Webmaxing - Monitoring Your Progress to learn how to interpret the data you get from tools like Analytics.
- Sign up for a Google Search Console account - here's where to get started - this will tell you what keywords you are ranking for and if you are improving over time.
- Connect your Analytics and Google Search Consoles together - here's how to do it - this will make your Analytics data better.
- Choose you keyword tools - these will tell you what internet users search for so you can target the right keywords and phrases to rank for. There are a lot out there, free and paid:
Get the right mindset
SEO is about helping search engines understand your content and giving people an excellent experience. If you look at Search Engine Optimization any other way, such as "How can I fool the search engines" you are on a road to nowhere long term.
We'll approach SEO as two steps.
- Choosing keywords - what words or phrases do you want to rank for, how realistic are they and are there others your missing?
- Domains and hosting - could your domain name be more effective and are you hosting your website in a place that will handicap your SEO efforts?
- On-page SEO - what changes can you make to your own website that will help it rank higher?
- Off-page SEO - what actions can you take on the wider web to improve your rankings and bring more visitors to your website.