Beginners Guide to SEO: Simple Planning, Real Expectations.

10 Simple SEO Best Practices to get your website ranked on google

In this Beginners Guide to SEO, I cover the top 10 SEO Best Practices, as well as the importance of coming up with a simple plan.  I share a personal story of how I failed, and then succeeded with that same knowledge, and I spell out 2 bad habits to avoid!

Basically everything in SEO can be broken down to:  Is it beneficial for the user?  So as you are reading over this section, keep that in mind.  If you are doing something beneficial for the reader, you are most likely going to be rewarded in SEO.  

Before reading, are you looking for more of an introduction to WordPress SEO?  If so, read that first, we cover it in our article, a brief rundown of WordPress SEO.

#1. Use actual research to find competitive keywords that you will rank for

Most beginners do not do enough of this, and it’s not their fault.  As a beginner, I did not understand how to do keyword research, I didn’t even know how to begin.  There is a lot of SEO advice on the internet, all kinds of Search Engine Optimization Guides written, but nobody ever really breaks it down further than “Do Keyword Research”.

The danger here, is that many beginners choose keywords that they THINK are great, when instead they should have used data to tell them which keywords were great.

To keep it simple, keywords should not be chosen based on what you think sounds great.  They should be chosen based on data that points to high conversion rates, and opportunities for you to rank highly (an example is when the keyword isn’t even in the title of the top 3 Google Results).

Most of this will be learned by trial and error, research of case studies, etc.  For the purpose of getting started as a beginner, the ONLY important factor you need to know is that you need research tools to find great keywords.

Need Free Tools to Research Keywords? Start with this list here

To help you out, I have listed several Keyword Research Tools for you to use, for free.

Just to name a few, they are; 

  1. Answerthepublic.com,
  2. WooRank Extension for Chrome or Firefox,
  3. Can I Rank,
  4. Exploding Topics,
  5. Ubersuggest,
  6. Yoast,
  7. KWFinder,
  8. Reddit Keyword Research Tool.
  9. Google Trends
  10. Google Search Console
  11. Google.com by typing out Keyword, and not searching yet.

#2. Create Meaningful Title Tags

Title tags are the exo-skeleton of a websites content.  It is one of the most important factors when being indexed by Google.  In this section, we cover what Title Tags are, and how you can use them to get indexed by Google.

Title tags are essential to Google, as they allow Google to map out your website.  Remember that Google has the huge task of crawling the entire internet, and indexing all of the pages that want to be found.  While it is crawling your site, it maps out all of your information you have displayed, using the title tags.  You can think of these just like a ‘table of contents’.

Remember, SEO is all about the user / readers experience, so the more organized a page is, and the less confusing, the higher you will rank. 

Google focuses on the keywords in the title tags when indexing.

It is important to input your exact keyword within the first 6 words of your title (h1 tag).

Why?

The tail end of the title gets cut off because Google typically only allows for 57 characters of the title to show in search results. If the keyword doesn’t show in Search Results, your click-through rate suffers, and your ranking falls.

Subheadings are for Readability, and help Google organize your content.

The Subheadings are not as important as your title, but are still important to your ranking, as they help Google map out your site, to ensure the right people find it. 

To help Google accomplish this, and get rewarded for doing so, the H2 titles should accurately describe the upcoming section, with enough detail for someone to know what comes next just by reading the title. 

How can my on-page SEO get negatively impacted?

The big issues will be found in Google Search Console.  I highly recommend you use Google Search Console, and set up an account, in order to track issues, results, upload sitemaps and more.  

#3. To help both SEO Rankings and Readability, find a hook! Place it in your 'Meta Description'.

A hook is the piece of material or content, that people will be clicking on your link to get to.  This could be a Case Study, a secret success story that you will only share with readers, something the reader will find useful and specific to the keyword phrase you have chosen.  

While titles are capped at 57 characters, allowing us to take advantage of the limited real estate in just the first 6 words, the meta descriptions are automatically truncated when longer than 156 characters. 

It is wise to use this area to write something enticing about your keyword, content that is so alluring that the user cannot help but to click on it.  This is where your hook will go.  

Pro Tip for creating an enticing hook inside your Meta Description:

Google automatically truncates descriptions that are beyond 156 characters. Searchers are used to seeing the (…) at the end of a truncated description. You can use this to your advantage by creating a truncated sentence that teases the key points of the article as your meta description.

Newspapers and blogs have been using this technique for years by using shortened excerpts that appear right beneath the title. It gets people to start reading and then abruptly cuts them off. There is a strong human instinct that drives us to complete these sentences, and it compels us to click on the title to see the rest of the sentence.

A very effective trick when increasing readability and click through rates.

#4. Use descriptive permalinks, these can make or break your sites rankings.

It is essential you get the right format down for Permalinks.  In WordPress, there are 5 different options to choose from, and the wrong ones will affect your rankings negatively.  The preferred permalink structure for better SEO in WordPress is ‘post_name’.

Wordpress permalink structures, including the best one for SEO which is post_name

This will display your post with the full post name, which is descriptive.  This looks much better than the alternative, which does not show much data to the user.

A good permalink structure would look like this..

https://digitallythrive.comsimple-beginners-guide-to-seo

A bad permalink structure would look something like this..

https://digitallythrive.com?p=36101

You can see that the above permalink does not describe to anyone (other than the decypher inside the structure of the website) what the link does.  The first example not only tells us we are on the right page, but it allows your keywords to be added to the URL.  

#5. place your keywords at beginning and at the end of the article

This is an older technique, but still very useful today.  There are studies that show that placing your keywords near the beginning, and again in one of the ending paragraphs, has a very positive effect on your SEO.  

You never want to stuff your articles full of keywords!  Again, we go back to the rule, that SEO is just like UX design, in the fact that the user comes first.  If you make a better experience for your readers, you will get rewarded by Google.  

So, the rule is to include your exact keyword phrase in a sentence near the beginning of your article, and again include your exact keyword phrase near the end of the article.  You will find this works much more effectively than adding your exact keyword phrase 20 time throughout your article.  

#6. More SEO rewards are given to those with longer articles

It may come as a surprise to some, but Google rewards articles that have more words than others.  This demonstrates an in-depth article that talks about all aspects of the subject.  So think back, when you first started SEO, you most likely were not writing 2000 word articles.    

When checking the top ranked articles for the keyword “Best Smart Garden System”, the positions had the following numbers of words.

  • #1 Position:  1710 words
  • #2 Position:  1693 words
  • #3 Position:   2958 words
  • #4 Position:    749 words
  • #5 Position:   2466 words
  • #6 Position:  1769 words
  • #7 Position:  3327 words
  • #8 Position:  1074 words
  • #9 Position:  1174 words
  • #10 Position: 2439 words
  • Average Word Count for Google Rankings 1-10:  1936 Words.

The other part of this

#7. Do not stuff keywords over and over into your article! Instead, start using synonyms and related words. These LSI words will greatly improve your rank!

In the past, you were supposed to input your keyword phrase 6-8 times throughout your article.  Now, this will just get you penalized in your rankings.  Instead, you need to use synonyms of the target keyword phrase and related words. If you are writing a 2000 plus word post, then you are most likely going to naturally mention synonyms and related words.

The goal here is to cover as many related key points as possible in your post. For example, one of my posts is about “Best Indoor Smart Gardens.” Within this article I covered many related topics like; Best Smart Garden Systems, Smart Planters, Indoor AI Vegetable Garden, etc. Google’s algorithm will recognize that my post is covering a large group of related terms that it deems as positive association with “Best Indoor Smart Garden.” As a result, the post gets a high LSI grade and is bumped up a little higher in the search results.

#8. Readability is key: Your headings, subheadings and first couple sentences matter a lot.

When someone gets to your page from Google search they will either start reading the first sentence or scan the headings of your article. That is why it is important to have a great opening paragraph and to hit each of your key points with a bolded heading.

I personally use a bold header 3 for my main points and a bold header 5 for the sub points. I turn each of my main points into a descriptive title that entices the scanner to become a reader.

Each main header point is essentially the title that drives people to read that section. This not only will turn scanners into readers, but it will also drive the readers deeper into the article.

Google’s algorithm also will give you a small bump for having keyword phrases in headings. If you are writing an in depth article, then you will have naturally occurring keyword phrases throughout your headers. I recommend against stuffing your main point headings with keyword phrases. This is a gray hat technique that could harm your rankings down the road.

#9. Ensure your images have proper Alt text, name them with descriptive rich keywords

Charts, graphs, and infographics have been found to be more effective in SEO. These types of images tend to get shared up to ten times more because they cover interesting stats that are visually appealing.

For each of these images, you will want to optimize them for a specific descriptive keyword rich phrase. This will impact your rankings for standard Google search, and it will help each image get its own independent ranking in Google image search.

Image search is less competitive than standard search because most websites do not take the time to optimize each of their images for specific keyword phrases. There are basically two things that you will need to do to optimize an image.

Image Name

Once you identify the keyword phrase for the image, then you will save it as that phrase and use hyphens to separate the words. If I were to optimize an image for “best smart garden system,” then the image name would look like this…best-smart-garden-system.png

Alt and Title Text

For the alt and title text, I would use the same keyword phrase and capitalize the first letters of each word so that it looks better when it shows up in Google image search.

best smart garden system

In WordPress, you will be able to add the alt and title text when you add an image to your post.

In addition to getting top rankings on Google Images, Moz found that blog posts that used images and videos in a list format ending up receiving over 550% more inbound links.

#10. Bonus: Use INTERNAL Linking to link to other blog articles on your site. Use a couple high quality Outbound links within your post.

Both actions will have great impact on your SEO.  When you set up an Internal Linking system, with links to directly related material, you will see an increase in reading time, as the user is driven deeper within your site.

Google values websites that link out to high value sites with high domain authority.  If you use a infographic, just make sure its from a widely recognized expert in that area, and you will link to them when quoting them.

And that’s all for the 10 Simple Best SEO Practices to rank your website on Google!  Keep this list with you, bookmark it!  If you are consistent, you will see success.  

I want to explain the way I see SEO now, having both failed and later succeeded, to give you an idea of what to expect.  My plan is to help keep it simple, and by teaching you what I found out the hard way, to help you succeed!  

Enjoy!

SEO: A simple plan with realistic expectations

Before getting into our Beginners Guide to SEO, I want to share my personal experience of ‘learning SEO’, that I think you will find valuable. 

About 4 years ago, I set out with an intention to learn SEO, and drive more traffic to my website, to get it ranked.  

Business man in work suit throwing up hands, confused about SEO and Blogging.

I read every tutorial I could find on “SEO for Beginners”, and “How to Learn Search Engine Optimization”.  

Without Proper expectations, it feels like you aren't getting anywhere.

I put my keywords in, I created good content, I built up a few links..  I started to get frustrated.  I put in a lot of work over 6 months, with almost no results. 

I was at the point where I was about to give up.

Why wasn't I ranking?

The truth is simple, the reason I was not ranking well was for 2 reasons; 

I did not set proper expectations, and I overcomplicated SEO.  This happens across the industry.

We are often misled to believe that we can reach the first page of Google, or even the #1 rank on Google within 3-4 months.  Although there are some cases where someone could reach their full SEO potential in 4-6 months, this will not always be the case.  

For the majority of people out there, we found this extremely misleading.  

How long does SEO really take to see great results?

The amount of time it takes for links to fully mature can be longer than 12 months.

It is important to note, that although I felt like quitting, I didn’t.  Within 12 months I saw my links hitting the first page of Google. 

Had we set proper expectations from the start, and known that our work will pay off, we just need 12 months or longer in some cases, many people would stick around and see it through.

Setting Proper expectations is the #1 difference maker, when learning SEO as a Beginner.

The amount of time it takes for links to fully mature can be longer than 12 months.

It is important to note that although we felt like quitting, we didn’t.  Within 12 months we saw our links hitting the first page of Google! 

Had we set proper expectations from the start, and known that our work will pay off, we just need 12 months or longer in some cases, many people would stick around and see it through.

What this means to you:

If you follow the steps we outline below, and set proper expectations about how long this can actually take, then you WILL be successful!

Keep SEO Simple

We just identified the #1 reason why people reading SEO for Beginners articles are not succeeding or advancing their SEO techniques.  It’s not because they are doing it wrong every time, but for the most part – because they did not set proper expectations.

SEO should not be complicated

Another reason why beginners struggle to learn Search Engine Optimization and drive more traffic to their websites, is because they overcomplicate it.  There is no way for someone new to the industry of SEO, to learn every single bit of it.  

Nobody has to learn every bit of SEO to be successful.  In fact, if you view SEO this way, you will get overwhelmed or burnt out, and that leads to a high failure rate.  

I am not saying don’t keep learning, you should always advance your learning.  

But as a Beginner, instead of focusing on everything at once, and thinking “I don’t know enough, how can I possibly learn it”, start focusing on the larger, more effective methods.  

We will go over our simplified list, and show you how Beginners can learn SEO and succeed.  

SEO is exactly what you believe it to be.

Now that we know SEO should not be complicated, let’s make sure we focus on keeping it simple.  Sometimes, our perception makes a big difference as to if we are successful or not.

So please understand that the only way that SEO is complicated, is in the sense that you are learning a new skill,  Just like everything else.  

You can tell yourself Search Engine Optimization is super easy, or you can tell yourself it’s so hard that you’ll never learn it. If you aren’t setting proper expectations, you just wont succeed.

The truth is, it is going to seem pretty overwhelming at first.  You will need to work at it.  So understand that, prepare for that, and move on.  You MUST set proper expectations to be successful, as I just went over in the previous section.  

When I started learning SEO, it seemed like some impossible puzzle.  It seemed like I couldn’t do it right.  However, the only errors I was making were creating this conflict (thinking SEO was impossible) in my mind, and not giving enough credit to TIME.  

Time is one of the most important factors of Search Engine Optimization, and you cannot try to rush it, or take shortcuts as a beginner. 

I hope you found this content helpful and enlightening!  Feel free to check out my new article, about the 5 priorities of Do It Yourself SEO.