Search Engine Optimisation: The first steps to follow19 min read

Start your SEO journey even as a beginner

You must have heard the term “Search Engine Optimisation” before even if you don’t have an online blog or business on the internet.

Because the internet these days is all about SEO.

So, what is it?

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is the process of improving the visibility of a website in the search engine.

You use SEO to rank your website at the top level of Search Engine Results Pages or SERPs.

This gives you an upper hand over your rivals by attracting more users to your site. Thus, you generate more revenue by converting those users into customers using SEO.

It begins with searching keywords your users are looking out for. Then, get backlinks from authoritative and relevant websites for yourself or your business. After that, analyse your competitors to outperform them.

In simple words, you use Search Engine Optimisation to get found on the web with ease.

Let’s begin with some of the questions that you might be having as a beginner in Search Engine Optimisation.

SEO

Do I need Search Engine Optimisation?

The answer is: who doesn’t? Anyone who is on the web needs SEO.

Whether you have a business, a blog or you want to establish a personal brand, SEO is your go-to place.

In simple words. YES. You need SEO. Why? Let me give you some reasons why you need Search Engine Optimisation if you are online.

Reason #1: Improve your online presence

Being online these days is all about having exposure to opportunities. And the web is full of it. Using Search Engine Optimisation you can have a better online presence.

So, you get access to the digital world. And this cannot only your online sales but also your physical evidence.

So, SEO is your golden ticket to long-term success.

Reason #2: Become more credible and trustworthy

Every time your potential user searches for a term related to you. They see you on the top of the results.

This establishes a sense of credibility and fosters trust among your users and customers.

So, that’s another reason why you need Search Engine Optimisation.

Reason #3: Increase your sales

Online business is all about sales.

Let me ask you a question. Why is your business or blog on the Internet?

Your answer for sure will be to drive more sales if you have a business or reach more users if you are a blogger. Isn’t it?

Here, you need SEO to get more exposure on the Internet. Convert those leads into sales and generate more revenue.

However, if you are a blogger, you still need SEO to reach your targeted audience.

Learn the best blogging tips as a beginner

Reason #4: Know your customers

You can use Search Engine Optimisation to understand what your customers are seeking.

SEO tools like Ahrefs and Semrush provide you with core insights into the preferences and requirements of your customers.

Use Search Engine Optimisation to drive traffic to your website. Then, use different tools to understand their behaviour with your product/website.

Reason #5: Rise above your competitors

Industries around the globe are experiencing a high threat of entry. Leveraging Search Engine Optimisation can aid you in overcoming your rivals.

SEO grants you a deeper knowledge of your competitor’s tactics. You come to know what keywords your competitors are ranking for.

What websites are linking to them and what websites they are linking to?

Thus, you will be able to design Search Engine Optimisation strategies to overpower them and lead the market.

Reason #6: Sustainable Return on Investment (ROI)

Investing in Search Engine Optimisation provides you with valuable ROI.

A study by Search Engine Land mentions, that investing in SEO can offer you a ROI of 5% to 10%. But, if you want to extract more from it you need to invest more.

Recurring investment in Search Engine Optimisation can help you build a sustainable form of Return on Investment.

This can help you grow your business or your social identity.

Reason #7: Connect with a larger audience

The online world is diverse. There’s a lot more going on than you can think.

People on the internet are looking for valuable products and services which has been made accessible to them through SEO.

Adopting good SEO practices can fill the gap between you and your customers.

As per DemandSage, Google itself accounts for 5.94 million searches every minute. That’s 356.4 million searches every hour and 8.55 in a day. That’s a huge number.

You can reach those customers and offer your product or services.

And the list goes on…

These reasons are only the tip of the iceberg. There is a hoard of benefits for why you need to invest in SEO.

Is Search Engine Optimisation easy?

“Search Engine Optimisation” as a term sounds very technical, especially for beginners. Yet, individuals with ample knowledge and a keen interest have been able to excel.

The fact is that SEO encompasses both easy as well as difficult parts. There are three key aspects to SEO. On-page, Off-page and Technical.

Allow me to explain these in brief. So that you can have a clearer picture of what aspects are easy and difficult for beginners.

On-page SEO

On-page Search Engine Optimisation is its easiest aspect. It is also referred to as On-site SEO. You begin your SEO journey with On-page SEO.

Here, you optimise the web pages of your site and the content for the users and the search engines.

Some key techniques in On-page Search Engine Optimisation includes are as follows:

Structuring site contents

Your site needs to have a friendly structure. Consider your website like a house. When you enter through the main door you get access to the whole house.

The same goes for your website. Your home page is the main door. Make sure that your home page is tidy. So your users and customers can navigate smoothly.

Pro tip: It is considered good practice to have a navigation bar on the top of your home page. Having a menu bar also eases navigation on your website.

Performing keyword research

A good keyword research is essential. Dive deeper into your subject. Look for related terms that can add value to your content.

Leave no stone unturned behind. Let me show you how.

Let’s say we are looking out for the “best pizza in London”.

Scrolling down to the bottom. There’s the hidden treasure. You can include these keywords in your content. As Google has noted users are also looking out for these as well.

Narrow down your search and land on useful keywords. Instead of doing this, you can also check out keyword research tools. Semrush, Ahrefs and Moz Keyword Explorer are some of the prominent ones that you can look for.

Pro tip: Look out for more keywords at the bottom of the results page.

Title tags

The title of your posts or pages on your website is the face. We all have heard that “first impression is the last impression” the same applies here as well.

Design an informative title. Let your users know about your webpage.

Your title must be attractive and enticing to your users.

The title of your page is what converts visitors and users into loyal customers.

Pro tip: Make sure to include your seed (targeted) keyword in your page title.

Meta-description

Meta-description is equally important. Create a compelling and informative meta-description for your site.

It lies below your page title on the SERPs.

Before clicking, users look at the title. Then jump to the meta-description to gain an idea of what can be inside the page.

Thus, it can have a significant impact on CTR (Click through rate).

Both the title and meta description need to be simple.

Pro tip: Maintain between 150 to 160 characters for the title. Also, make sure the meta-description is not more than 60 characters.

Internal linking

We all love to build a network to have a successful career. Networking is important for your website as well to achieve success in your business.

So how do you do that?

Build your content pillars. Let’s say you made a post/page “The importance of time management”. Link it with other relevant posts on your site such as “10 tools that can help you manage time ”.

Every time your users land on the first page, they are more likely to check out the linked one.

Pro tip: Focus on one topic and then build content around it. Keep on linking the pages to develop authority.

Using images in blog posts

Study shows that we humans love visuals. Fill your pages with informative images. Don’t have plain text on your page.

Add relevant images also.

Next time you make a list on something make sure it is visual.

Pro tip: Use tools like Canva to design alluring graphics.

Why is On-page SEO important?

On-page Search Engine Optimisation is important. Because it helps search engines understand your site’s contents.

Poor On-page SEO will make your website undiscovered by the search engines which you don’t want to happen.

Whereas, good On-page SEO will ensure that your site is relevant to the searcher’s query.

Off-page SEO

Off-page Search Engine Optimisation is a set of activities taken outside of the website to enhance its ranking on the web.

It includes backlink building, sharing posts on social media or social bookmarking and guest posting.

These need a bit of expertise to excel.

Yet, Off-page SEO is a significant part of achieving success. The below techniques are important for successful Off-page Search Engine Optimisation:

Link building

Building links draws authority to your website. It is the base for fruitful Search Engine Optimisation.

Link other sites to your posts, blogs and articles. Also, get linked to them. For this, you need to create quality content which resolves the queries of your users.

Guest posting is a notable strategy to build links to your site.

Hit that compose button and reach out to authors who have relevant pages to you. Ask them to collaborate on their website.

Write a post on their website and link your site to theirs.

Collecting positive reviews

Deliver useful information to your users. Something that adds value.

Make sure that they have a quality time reading your blog post.

This can assist you in establishing authority. Also, collecting positive feedback or reviews boosts traffic to your site.

Marketing your content

It’s not only you who is looking out for users. The users also demand quality content.

After you have curated quality content what should you do?

Share your content on social media. Social media platforms hoard a high number of users that can be potential users of your site.

Also, design your social media handles on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and others.

Conducting Local SEO

If you are a business then Local SEO is crucial for you.

Local SEO is a Search Engine Optimisation technique that aids your business in enhancing visibility in your local search results.

Performing Local SEO can improve your chances of local sales. It can help you attract more local customers and expand your business from the base.

Attending real events

Attend conferences, meetings and real events that are relevant to your business. This can help you improve networking. 

Being part of real events can assist you link with industry leaders. So, you will ultimately have more traffic coming into your website. 

Why Off-page SEO is important?

Imagine Off-page SEO as a means to improve your website’s reputation.

The more reputed you are on the internet the more higher you will rank.

Because search engines consider such sites as having more Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (EAT Principle).

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is the most difficult of all. Because it includes assuring that the website lands on the technical requirements of search engines.

The difficulty is not all about dealing with the technical aspects of the website.

Such as checking whether the pages are indexed, rendered and architectured or not.

But it also includes optimising areas that can improve user experience.

Some common tasks that are important in Technical Search Engine Optimisation include:

SEO-friendly structure of the site

As I have already mentioned the importance of having an understandable structure to the site. But, it is also important to make sure that your site is SEO-proof/SEO-friendly. 

Make sure that pages or posts on your site are easily understandable.

For example, use headings and subheadings on your posts to let the users scan through the text.

Let them easily flow by designing a structure which has immense readability.

The below image will give you a rough idea of how to structure your posts. 

Responsive website

Let’s accept it. We all are in a hurry always. It is the most beautiful feeling when your demands and wishes are fulfilled in an instant.

Your users are also human. They want information as soon as possible. Nobody will wait for your website while it is loading. 

Make sure that your website is responsive. Otherwise, the bounce rate (the rate at which your users leave your site) will hurt you badly.

Use Google’s Lighthouse tool to asses your site’s speed or PageSpeed Insights.

Make sure that your website responds within 2 seconds of clicking. Anything more than that can have your user leaving your site.

Mobile-friendliness

A study by Statista mentions that there are around 15 billion mobile devices worldwide. On paper, this number can be perceived as small.

But, it has been projected that this number will reach 18.22 billion by 2025

When compared to the total number of laptops and desktops which accounts only for 2 billion

Now you can have an idea of how dominant mobile phones are in the current era.

Thus, you need to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.

First design your website for mobile and then for PCs, laptops and tablets.

Avoiding content duplication

Content duplication is a big mess for bloggers, writers and marketers. You don’t want your content to be copied neither you would like to copy from others.

Maintain originality. Yet, sometimes we develop content that are same as the previous one.

This makes things blurry for the audience. Loss of interest is borne in their mind which is harmful for your website. 

Avoid content duplication at all costs and levels.

Try to be unique always. 

Generating and submitting sitemap

Sitemaps help search engines understand your website structure. Without a sitemap search engines cannot properly understand your site. 

Generate and submit your sitemap using Google Search Console. 

Why technical SEO is important?

Technical SEO is important to enrich a website’s performance.

If your website is inaccessible to search engines. Then, for sure you won’t be even discovered on the internet — regardless of the quality of the content you produce.

You don’t want this. This can lead to a fall in website traffic costing you a loss in revenue.

So you need to get the technicals at the right place to rank higher on the search engines.

How does Search Engine Optimisation work?

The working principle of SEO can be a bit technical for newcomers. As I already said Search Engine Optimisation requires in-depth knowledge about how search engines work.

But, the following are some key steps that every search engine goes through.

First step: Crawling

Search engines begin with crawling your website.

There are certain programs called “crawlers” or “spiders”. They discover pages and store information in the database of the search engine.

Search engines also look out for links within your site. So, you need to have a strong internal linking to speed up the process of crawling.

The more your website is crawled the more chances of it appearing on the SERPs.

Second step: Indexing

Indexing is the process of deciding whether to store the crawled information or not. If the indexed page is worthy, then the search engine indexes it or stores it in the databases.

Considering your website has valuable and unique content, the chances of it being indexed are quite high.

Your page won’t be indexed due to the following reasons:

  • Copied or duplicate content
  • Low value
  • Lack of internal and external linking

Third step: Ranking

The third and final step is ranking. This is the most significant step. 

To be ranked on a search engine you need to have your site crawled and indexed. For quicker ranking, consider the checklist below.

  • Seed keyword in the title tag and meta-description.
  • Quick loading speed and mobile-friendliness.
  • Domain authority and online reputation.

Apart from these, there are almost 200 ranking signals which you can tweak to improve your website ranking. 

What Search Engine Optimisation tools do I need?

The list of tools for Search Engine Optimisation is almost endless. If I try to list them all you might get confused. 

So, I have collected a handful of SEO tools which are versatile, effective and offer diverse options to improve your ranking on the web.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console ranks in the first place in the list of Search Engine Optimisation tools. Because it is the Swiss army knife for marketers and bloggers.

You can add your sitemap, monitor your website performance, visits, clicks, conversion rate and much more.

Google Search Console also suggests you for keywords that you can rank for better web visibility. 

Above all, Google Search Console is free to use.

Ahrefs

Search Engine Optimisation and Ahrefs go hand in hand. Ahrefs is a tool that every marketer and blogger must have. Why?

From auditing your site for SEO-related issues to identifying keywords your competitors are ranking for, Ahrefs covers it all.

I love the Free Keyword Generator of Ahrefs. The tool allows you to search for keywords on different search engines including Google, Bing and Yahoo.

The said tool also offers you keyword suggestions on e-commerce sites such as Amazon and social media platforms like YouTube.

Keep in mind that Ahrefs is a freemium tool

Semrush

Semrush offers a complete solution to your website’s Search Engine Optimisation needs. 

Keyword research? Semrush has your back.

Compeititon analysis? Semrush is here to save your day.

Backling building and analytics? Semrush has got it for you.

You name it and you have it using Semrush. Apart from these, I am in deep love with Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant tool. 

How do you use it? Let me explain.

You have just written an article or blog. You have put in all your efforts into it and you have faith that it will educate your users. 

But how can you be sure? You need to have good readability. Also, your text needs to meet the Search Engine Optimisation or SEO requirements. 

Here you use the tool.

Add your focus keywords to the tool and copy-paste your text into the block.

It will offer you a score and a set of recommendations to improve readability and SEO-friendliness. 

Check out how you can use Semrush to improve your website’s SEO performance.

How can I start Search Engine Optimisation as a beginner?

Search Engine Optimisation for beginners is the need of the time. Starting SEO as a beginner sometimes can be overwhelming as there are a ton of areas that you need to cover. 

But, starting with the basics and then climbing the ladder at a steady pace can help you have a fruitful career. 

I guess by now you must have honed the basics of Search Engine Optimisation. You know what is Search Engine Optimisation, why it is needed, what are different forms of SEO as well as some tools to get started on.

Still, you can consider some courses on the web.

Check out the following online courses on SEO to get started:

Paid courses:

Free courses with certificates:

Also, do check Semrush’s Digital Marketing Courses. These are currently free with certification. So get your hands on it.

Wrap up!

Overall, if you are on the web then you need to learn Search Engine Optimisation. The bars of competition are being raised high each day and you need to upgrade yourself. Investing in SEO can be a means to sustain yourself or your business in the long run.

But, you need to have patience as SEO is not an overnight miracle or a fairytale. Be patient and give your best. You will surely reap the results. 

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Shahzeb Arshad
Shahzeb Arshad

Curiosity is my fuel. I have an immense love for technology, which makes me leave no stone unturned behind. Apart from being a blogger and writer, I demystify technical stuff for others clearly and engagingly.

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