A Complete Step-By-Step SEO Guide

Have you ever wanted to know all there is about SEO? Before I show you how you how it works and how to use it, let me first tell you what SEO even is.

SEO is essential in gaining organic growth and failure to do it is likely going to result in low growth.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO or search engine optimisation is the process of improving aspects of your sites to improve your ranking on search engines.

You could make the comparison with paid advertising. The difference is that in paid advertising you can pay to promote your content at the top of search rankings, whereas in an SEO optimised site this happens by itself or "organically". So what SEO does is make your content more attractive to search engines like Google so that they promote it higher up in search rankings.

It can involve anything from keywords, link building, and content creation. But there are probably hundreds of factors that contribute an effect.

Unless you're going the advertising route, chances are organic growth is what you're looking for. With this strategy you're in it for the long game, if you want organic growth you need to improve the reputation of your site over time. You need people to read your content and share.

Put simply a backlink is a link from someone else's website to yours. So lets say someone writes about your content and then writes a link to your website, that's a backlink.

What about site factors? Check them out here.

How Do Search Engines Work?

You might think that search engines are pretty simple on the face of it. Have a list of websites and type in what you want see if it's in the list. Right?

Well kind of.

Search engines have a giant list (index) of websites that they use use to store websites. Simply put, search engines use web crawlers to discover new websites or new content on existing websites, when they find a link not indexed it's added to the index.

When you search for something your search criteria are matched with data search engines have about that particular topic and serve content relating to your search query.

When people create a link back to your site (backlinks) then search engines can discover your link.

Alternatively Google can discover pages on your website from a sitemap. Most sites have these and it's incredibly easy to submit to Google.

How Do You Get To The Top Of Search Results?

There are a lot of factors that affect how search engines will rank your website.

Every search engine has their own unique set of criteria that affect a websites' search rankings. Most search engines have literally hundreds of criteria it would be impossible to name them all but I will go through the main ones here.

There are these things called Ranking Factors which determine your ranking on search enginge check them out here.

What things can impact your search rankings:

  • Backlinks - Backlinks are simply links on other website that lead to your own. There are two types of these. "dofollow" and "nofollow". No follow means the Google and other crawlers won't see these and thus won't impact your score. What we need is "dofollow" links. Whether we have these "dofollow" links Google will crawl your site and suggests that your website is a credible source. Check your websites' backlinks at ahrefs. This graph from ahrefs perfectly shows the importance of backlinks to your blog.

  • Domain Authority - Your domain authority, how much of a credible source you are, can significantly dictate how you rank on search engines. The higher your score the better, and in general as people share your content and your blog grows your domain authority should increase.

  • Content Quality - The quality of your content plays a big role in how well your blog does. This applies to the length of your posts too. Making sure you write in good English, contain relevant keywords, link to other content on your blog and on the internet, and making sure your content is detailed.

  • Page Speed - A massive factor on how well your site ranks. Google does not like slow sites, if your site is slow you significantly increase the chances someone will click off your content. Similarly making sure your site works well on mobile is crucial as over 50% of the worlds internet traffic comes from mobile devices.

Once you've optimised your site by doing the above you'll be in a much better position than most blogs at your stage of growth.

SEO Basics

Before we figure out how to improve your SEO we need to know what SEO actually is.

I've gone into what SEO actally is above but here's a more in depth explantation.

SEO is important because most of your traffic will likely come from search engines organically. In order to improve your search rankings you'll need to ensure that your site is well optimised and folowing all best practices. It might not seem like a whole lot, but even a single place higher in search results can result in massive gains in traffic.

If you've read our blog post on Googles' Ranking Factors, you'll understand the importance of good SEO and ensuring your site is friendly to search engines.

I keep banging on about it but SEO is the key.

First thing's first.

How Do You Actually Appear On Google?

You need to appear on Google for obvious reasons. You don't really need to do anything to get your site on Google, but there's no telling how quickly Google will find your site.

But did you know there's actually a way to submit your site yourself.

The first thing you need to do is submit you site to Google Search Console. To do this head over to the website and create an account.

Once you have an account you'll want to "add a property" to your account. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Once you've added a property (your website). Head over to the sitemap tab using the menu on the left hand side. If there's a sitemap already there then you're all set, if not you'll need to add it.

Normally your sitemap will be either:

  • YourWebsite.com/sitemap.xml or

  • YourWebsite.com/sitemap_index.xml

Enter one of these into the field provided and click "Submit".

Everything You Need To Boost Your Sites SEO

Now we've come to the fun part. This is the time to actually optimise your site. At this point you should have your blog, a few blog posts, and not recveiving many blog views. So here are the things you need to be doing.

If you don't yet have a blog check out our Ultimate Blogging Guide.

1. Optimising Your Sites Performance

Optimising your blogs performance for SEO is one of the most important steps you can take to increase the number of visitors and build a strong online presence.

Usually, when someone visits your blog, the first thing they see is the 'blog home' page. This is the page where you display your most recent posts in a grid, with links to other pages on your site.

If your blog page is slow to load, the first thing your readers will think is that your site isn’t very well designed or maintained. This will negatively affect your readers’ experience and may even convince them to leave your site.

The first step to improving your page speed is to get a page speed test. Pingdom is one of the most widely-used page speed testing tools, and it will show you the overall performance of your page.

You can also use other tools like GT Metrix and Pingdom's older sister, Ping+. These tools will test the speed of your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are the three primary components of your page.

Google PageSpeed Insights can achieve much of the same results.

Another really useful tool is through Google's Core Web Vitals. These tools allow you to see how fast your pages are loading, and how much of a performance impact that has on your overall site performance.

I like using these to get a quick overview of how my site is doing in terms of page speed, and then digging into the specific areas that are causing the slowdowns.

Let's dive a little deeper into the Core Web Vitals.

  • LCP: This measures how fast your site loads. In Googles' eyes the faster the better but needs to be faster than 2.5 seconds. Too slow and people will click away and this is bad for your rankings. This is very easy to improve in reality, this could be installing performance optimisation plugins, reducing image file sizes, or reducing the number of complex elements on the screen.

  • FID: It's expected that users are able to interact with your site as fast as possible. It's expected that when a user first interacts with something. You'll want to make sure your website is up to date to make sure your site performs.

  • CLS: No one likes it when the site has loaded and suddenly a popup shifts the whole page or clicked on a link and suddenly the page moves and you click another link. Well that's what CLS measures.

2. Building Links

When other websites link to your website, it’s referred to as a backlink. Backlinks are an important part of SEO because they influence how high your website appears in the rankings.

Backlinks are also an important part of ranking factors, because they affect which websites appear in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), therefore increasing organic traffic.

Some of the most common types of backlinks are blog links, forum comments, social shares, and other website links.

You can see what websites link to you from the ahrefs website.

The link building process is a fundamental part of SEO that is often overlooked by both beginners and professionals. It is the process of earning hyperlinks to your website and increasing the visibility of your links by increasing the number of backlinks. It also provides a way to measure the success of your link building campaign and to constantly improve your link building strategy.

How to get backlinks? This is the most asked question by new bloggers. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as it may seem.

Create Amazing Content

One of the main factors here is the quality of your content and it should come as no surprise that creating awesome content is the key to getting people to read your content. Content should be detailed, in legible English, and well structured.

There's nothing worse than content that doesn't go into enough detail and it's something I think everyone has done before. You shouldn't rush articles to keep to a schedule if it means releasing poor quality content, at the same time it's important to release regularly and predictably to keep readers on your site.

Many people think that blog posts are too hard to write. But I've been writing blog posts for years and couldn't be more proud of the writing I've been producing. Below, I've provided some tips to help you write better blog posts.

  1. Use legible English.

  2. Make sure to use visual assets to help the reader and break up content.

  3. Use correct heading structure. h1 for main, then h2 etc.

  4. Make sure to use keywords in your writing.

  5. Go into detail.

Does Post Length Matter?

As you might have realised, Google prefers longer posts. The indexing system of Google is based on posts that are more detailed and relevant, so if you want to rank higher, you need to create detailed posts. By creating a lot of content, your blog posts will be ranked higher on the search engines.

Blogs with more words do tend to rank higher in search engines. This is a good way to promote a blog.

Although, there is one caveat. The more words a blog has, the more difficult it is to get it to rank high.

So short answer is, yes, length does matter.

3. Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the branch of SEO which tackles the technical or operational side of optimizing a website. It includes things like on-site optimization, off-site optimization, and website structure.

Technical SEO is a complex area, and it’s difficult to know what works (or doesn’t work) and why. This doesn’t mean that technical SEO is a black art, or that you can’t get results (or that you will).

However, there are a lot of factors that influence the results you will get, so it’s important to understand what you can affect, and what you can’t.

There are actually many different types of technical SEO and it would be impossible to go into all of them here. Some of the main ones are on-page seo and off-page seo.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO includes SEO to do with pages and posts.

Because it's specific to the page you'll want to make sure every page is optimised. The more optimised it being the higher it ranks.

Some tips for improving your on-page SEO.

  1. Good page titles. Titles should be descriptive and contain information as to what your sites about.

  2. Correct heading structure. Headings have a hierarchy. h1 being your main title, h2 being section titles etc. It's important to follow the correct structure to make sure Google bots can crawl your website easily.

  3. Images formatted correctly. Images should be a reasonable size, have a descriptive title, and alt text.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to marketing and any promotion you do. So anything that involves the techniques you use to promote your site to more people.

This includes backlink building. Backlinks are the cornerstone of your blogs' success and it forms part of the off-page SEO too. The more backlinks you have the more "trustworthy" your site is and the better your site is ranked.

Other parts of this include brand marketing, promotions, advertising. It's all picked up by Google and factored in to your Ranking Factors.

4. How Accessible Your Website Is

It is important to make the website accessible to all users. The website should also be easy to navigate and have a great user interface.

A key challenge for search engines is to achieve the optimal balance between quality of content and performance. Search engines are designed to provide users with the best results for their queries.

To achieve the best results, the design of the website must be firstly assessed, and the design of the website must be optimised for both the user experience and the content itself.

While aesthetics can vary from site to site, the ultimate goal is to ensure that users are attracted to the website. The purpose of this is to make the site more attractive to users.

Simply put, when your content looks good and is easily accessible to people then you're much more likely to retain users.

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