Are you looking to boost your website's visibility and attract more organic traffic? Search engine optimization (SEO) is the key.
In this beginner's guide to SEO, we'll explore the SEO basics and how, with some basic SEO knowledge, you can skyrocket your e-commerce company’s online presence. Learn how SEO works, from designing a content strategy to attracting inbound links and measuring results. Unlock the potential of SEO and watch your website climb the search engine rankings.
What is SEO?
SEO is the practice of optimizing a website to improve its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). In simpler terms, it's making your website more attractive to search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo so they can better understand your content and show it to users who are searching for relevant information. SEO is an important part of any growth marketing strategy.
Understanding search engine algorithms is crucial for SEO success, so let’s take a look at how SEO works.
How does SEO work?
Search engines use complex algorithms to analyze and rank websites based on various factors. These algorithms consider factors like keyword relevance, website authority, user experience, and many others to determine the most relevant and valuable results for a given search query.
Effective SEO involves optimizing both on-page and off-page elements. On-page SEO focuses on optimizing the website's content, including:
- Incorporating target keywords, which are the words and phrases that users are typing into the search engine. You want your keywords to match what your target audience is searching for.
- Optimizing the meta description, which is a concise summary or snippet of text that appears in search engine results below the page title, providing a brief description of the webpage's content.
- Ensuring a good user experience by making sure your site is mobile-friendly, easy to read, and fast-loading.
- Constructing headings so they include keywords and are organized logically, which makes it easier for search engines to understand the blog post’s structure and main topics.
Off-page SEO involves things like link building from other reputable websites. A link from another reputable website to yours is like a vote that your website is trustworthy.
E-E-A-T — which stands for experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness — combines on-page and off-page SEO. It’s an important factor Google considers in ranking your site.
Experience and expertise mean that someone with experience in the topic produced your content and that person has expertise like knowledge or qualifications. Authoritativeness means your site is reliable on a topic and provides value. Trustworthiness comes from things like being clear about who wrote your content, fact-checking your content, and citing reliable sources.
3 things to consider before starting an SEO program
Before diving into an SEO program, you should consider three key aspects that can significantly affect your success. By addressing these factors up front, you can lay a solid foundation for your SEO efforts and increase the likelihood of achieving your desired results.
1. How you will design your SEO content strategy
It can be easy to go down a rabbit hole and spend weeks reading about content strategy, but getting started is more important than getting it perfect. Follow these essential “SEO for beginners” steps:
- Make a list of topics you want to cover.
- Find keywords to target based on those topics.
- Set up a blog.
- Commit to a consistent blogging schedule.
- Make a link-building plan.
- Publish your first piece of content.
- Measure and track your SEO results.
2. How you will attract inbound links
Inbound links, also known as backlinks, play a vital role in SEO. These are links coming from other sites to your site. They signal to search engines that your website is reputable and authoritative. Developing a strategy to attract high-quality inbound links is essential for improving your website's visibility and search engine rankings.
Create link-worthy content that provides unique insights, presents original research, or solves common problems in your industry. Reach out to influencers, industry experts, and relevant websites to showcase your content and encourage them to link back to your website. Building relationships and networking within your industry can also lead to valuable link-building opportunities.
3. How you will maintain your content development process and measure results
Consistency is key in SEO. Establishing a sustainable content development process ensures that you consistently produce high-quality, optimized content. Determine how often you will create new content, and allocate resources accordingly. Develop an editorial calendar to plan and organize your content creation efforts, ensuring a consistent flow of fresh content.
Additionally, measuring the results of your SEO efforts is crucial for understanding what works and what needs improvement. Use analytics tools to track key metrics such as organic traffic, keyword rankings, and conversion rates. This data will provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of your SEO strategies, enabling you to make informed decisions and refine your approach.
Setting your expectations for SEO results
SEO doesn’t generate instant results, especially if you’re starting from scratch. A Morningscore study involving 75 SEO experts found that SEO strategies took one to two years to show results. Instead of setting results-based expectations for your new SEO program, set process-based expectations. For example, “We’ll post two new articles a week and spend five hours a week on link building. After one year, we’ll assess our traffic and readjust as needed.”
How to properly build an SEO program
When building an SEO program, there are several key components that beginners should focus on to ensure success. By implementing the right strategies and marketing tools, you can improve your website's visibility and rankings in organic search results. Let's explore these essential steps in more detail.
Use keyword research tools to find your target keywords
Keyword research is the foundation of any effective SEO strategy. By identifying relevant keywords, you can optimize your content to align with what your target audience is searching for. Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, or Moz Keyword Explorer can help you discover relevant keywords and provide valuable insights such as search volume and competition levels.
Consider both short-tail and long-tail keywords when conducting your research. Short-tail keywords are brief and more generic, while long-tail keywords are longer and more specific. Targeting a mix of both can help you reach a broader audience while also catching more niche searches.
Scale up your content development for your blog
Content is a crucial factor in SEO success. Once you have identified your target keywords, create high-quality and engaging content around those topics. Publish regular blog posts that provide value to your audience, answer their questions, or offer insights and advice. Aim to develop a content calendar to maintain a consistent posting schedule.
To optimize your blog posts for SEO, incorporate your target keywords naturally throughout the content, including in headings, subheadings, and meta descriptions. Avoid keyword stuffing, as it can harm your rankings. Keyword stuffing refers to overusing keywords to artificially increase keyword density to "game" the search engine. Search engines don't like it because it worsens readability and user experience.
Focus on creating informative, well-structured, and easy-to-read content that resonates with your audience and encourages engagement.
Don't forget about the importance of technical audits
Technical SEO refers to optimizing your website's technical aspects to make it easier for search engines to find. Technical SEO can significantly affect your website's performance in search engine rankings. Do regular technical audits, starting with analyzing your website's loading speed, mobile-friendliness, and URL structure.
Consider using tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to gather valuable data about your website's performance. These tools provide insights into how users are finding and interacting with your website. Use this information to identify and fix issues like:
- Broken links, which are links on a website that don’t work anymore. They lead to pages that don’t exist or display an error message when clicked.
- Duplicate content, which is text or entire web pages that show up in more than one location on the internet. This causes redundancy and potential issues with search engine rankings.
- Indexing errors, which occur when search engines have trouble browsing and discovering web pages and including them in the SERPs. This results in pages not showing in users’ search results.
Track SEO performance
Tracking and analyzing your SEO efforts is essential to measure progress and make data-driven decisions. Regularly monitor key metrics like organic search traffic, keyword rankings, and conversion rates.
In addition to the steps mentioned above, it's important to pay attention to internal linking within your website. An internal link is a link from one page on your site to another page on your site. Internal links help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your content.
Get help with your SEO strategy and watch your organic traffic soar
By understanding the key elements of SEO, conducting thorough keyword research, optimizing your website's content and technical aspects, and consistently tracking your performance, you can enhance your organic traffic and improve your search engine rankings.
But navigating the complexities of SEO can be challenging, especially for beginners. At Cart.com, we offer professional SEO and marketing services tailored to your business needs, helping you develop a robust SEO strategy and achieve sustainable growth. Contact us to take your SEO strategy to new heights.