10 Essential Starter SEO Tips

Hello, hello, hello!

Since moving into SEO more heavily I’ve found that the basics seem to get lost as people race to the most complex ‘solution’. So I wanted to put together a list of 10 essential starter SEO tips.

This is meant for anyone that might not even know what SEO is…

But don’t get discouraged, SEO is a great way to get more clicks and ultimately grow your business.

Before we start, I’ve also written this post on Medium and Facebook!

Introduction

SEO can quickly become a confusing and highly complex set of tools and rules. Often stopping businesses from fully utilising SEO as it’s ‘too complex‘ and ‘doesn’t make a difference‘.

What I want to do today is show you 10 quick and easy ways that anyone can use to boost their SEO.

Definitions

10 Essential Starter SEO Tips

Keyword Research

Let’s put the horse before the cart, eh?

10 Essential Starter SEO Tips - keyword research

How on Earth are you going to hit a bullseye if you don’t even know what you’re aiming for?

It’s essential for anyone wanting to build their SEO up, to take the first step and research what keywords they could rank for and how easy it would be to rank for them.

I’ve touched on this in previous posts, but trying to rank on Google for ‘VPN’ or ‘Money’ is pretty much impossible for the average person. You’d need a lot of resources behind you to even make it onto the 5th page results.

Luckily, there are a bunch of tools out there to find keywords. You could use AHrefs, SEMrush and Ubersuggest just to name a few. Personally, I use AHrefs has it provides a free keyword checker whereas the other tools are paid for products.

I also use the AHref site scanner and audit features so sticking to one platform just makes life easier.

To research which keywords you want and can rank for, head over to one of the sites mentioned above and search for terms relevant to you. If you’re a brick layer, search for ‘bricklaying‘, ‘master bricklayers‘, ‘local bricklayers‘, ‘London bricklayers‘, ‘best bricklayers‘, ‘commercial bricklayers’, ‘expert brick laying services‘… The list could go on for a while.

Once you’ve done through everything you can think of, use ChatGPT to help think of other bricklaying niches.

Now, you should have a list of the keywords, the difficulty and the traffic level. I’d aim to not compete for keywords with a difficulty over 20 if you are using a new website. You also want to find a balance between the keyword traffic and difficulty. Little point ranking #1 for a keyword that gets 1 search a month.

On-Page Optimisation

Now that we’ve covered the most basic research side of SEO, lets jump into the actual website pages that visitors will see.

This section revolves entirely around how your web pages are structured, the content and meta information.

On-Page Optimisation

First, how your web pages are Structured. Using relevant titles, H1/H2/H3 headings and layout is vital for two reasons. It looks better for the search engine bots that will crawl through your website and it will obviously read easier for the visitors.

I always aim for using the title in a H2 heading, as this seems to reinforce to search engines that your post is relevant and on point. Search engines try to recommend and rank web pages that are best suited to the search that was made and will also discourage websites that are poorly structured.

So if your post is missing a title, has no H2 headers or the entire content is built using H3 headers with no paragraphs, this will all work against you.

Second, the content on your web pages need to be focused, useful and fairly unique. Search engines can also tell when content is created by AI, so that’s no longer feasible anymore.

What you write and put onto each post or web page needs to carry a purpose. Having a title about flowers but the content be about cars will confuse search engines bots, preventing you from even getting visitors.

You also need to include useful content. The best way to do this is to make it personal. Search engines love personal content as it’s often unique, has a good perspective and gets people to read for the longest amount of time.

Thirdly, Meta Information. The meta information, such as the meta title and meta description help search engines define and categorise your website. If these aren’t good, then you would be picked up and ranked by search engines.

It’s a bit of a black box, but having your meta description around 110 characters seems to be a good fit between detail and spam. Too long and it’ll overflow, too short and search engines won’t be able to gather enough information to recommend your content.

Quality Content Creation

I touched on this in the previous section, but this covers so much more than just the text.

On top of making sure the text content is unique, useful and easy to read you also need to ensure the same for images and other content on the site.

Quality Content Creation

If you have an amazingly written, personal blog but there are 100 stock images being used then search engines might see it as spam. It wouldn’t be very personal either which means visitors might not stay on your site very long.

It’s important to try and creation most of the content yourself. This might mean quickly taking a photo, finding a photo in your gallery or editing a photo to make it your own.

Just make sure that if you chose to edit an existing photo, that you have permission to do so.

Website Speed

Ever been really excited about visiting a website, then had to wait 10 seconds for nothing to load up? This is bad. And it can be frustrating if there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe your website hosting provider is having technical issues.

Research from Google shows that the average user expects a website to load in around 3 seconds or less. And up to 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

I hope you can see how important the speed of your website is now!

Not only does this provide a better experience for your visitors, but it also allows search engine crawlers to audit your website faster and also rank it higher as it’s more reliable.

In order to achieve the best times possible, I would suggest using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This tool will scan your website for free and give you helpful recommendations to improve your website. Plus, it scans for desktop and mobile devices!

Whilst this metric is important, it’s also important to not get bogged down too much. Almost no website achieves a good or perfect score and there is always something to fix.

Personally, my website (https://mharwood.uk) scores 91% for desktop. Mainly being dragged down by my website looking good and having high quality animations. The price you pay I guess!

Website Speed -me

I even score better than the BBC News website which has a rather disappointing score of 24%. They’re IT department must still be busy clearing emails and texts from Prince Andrew’s phone…

Website Speed -bbc news

Mobile Optimisation

Roughly 70% of all internet traffic comes from mobile devices. So catering for mobile is an absolutely must.

Gone are the days where you could expect a mobile phone user to pinch and zoom in on your website, it just doesn’t work. Each website needs to be sculpted to not only cater for mobile devices but also optimise for them.

If 70% of your customers required a wheel chair ramp to your shop or they wouldn’t buy from you, you’d get a ramp built pretty darn quick!

Mobile Optimisation

It’s exactly the same with websites. Making sure that mobile phone users can navigate and use your website seamlessly is also noted by search engines. Responsive design is often unfortunately missed when building a website and left as an after thought. Then the business wonders why the website is a liability instead of an asset.

If a business can’t be bothered to make their website work on mobile; then how can customers expect the same business to work hard for them?

Technical SEO

Building from the structure, content and meta information on a website, the technical side of SEO is also important. It’s not seen by the end user which is why it’s often forgotten by novice website builders.

Technical SEO includes actions points like: Crawlability; URL Structure; Sitemap and Internal Linking. Lets cover those items here:

  • Crawlability: This measures how easy it is for search engine robots to crawl through your website, which ultimately needs to happen for your website to be recommend for search results. It follows the links and structure of each page so that crawlers get a better understand of your website.
  • URL Structure: This is set for every single page and post you make on a website. Say you have a post for ‘top 10 shoes‘ but the URL is a default ‘https://website.com/01/02/03/post01‘. This is awful as the URL doesn’t match the post at all. This is a turn off for web crawlers and also makes the link hard to understand for humans. Imagine getting that link above on an email, would you click it?
  • Sitemap: The sitemap for a website is usually a .xml file that lists all the URLs on your website. It’s primary goal is to hold a copy of all the valid URLs so that your website can be crawled easier and index for search results faster.
  • Internal Linking: This method involves linking to other posts or pages on your website, which has two main benefits: crawlers can find content easier; and visitors get better information. If you have a blog post for ‘top 10 shoes’ and a post for ‘top 10 running shoes‘, you could easily link between them.

Backlinks

Backlinks are simple: What other websites are pointing back to you?

This is a super useful metric for search engines to ascertain how much reputation your website has. The more backlinks, the more established and trustworthy your website is.

Over the last couple months, I’ve been working to increase the amount of backlinks I have for my website. Most of them are still organic but some have been created by myself. For example, if you use online forums you could answer a questions and also link to your own website. This would count as a backlink.

It’s important to remember that backlinks should be sought from other reputable websites. I’ll leave some ways to gain backlinks below:

You can also buy backlinks, but that feels a bit dodgy to me and could easily go wrong. Plus most reputable websites won’t take bribes to backlink to a small website without a good reason.

Backlinks

Some of the sources for my backlinks include: other blogs; Stack Exchange; GitHub and Facebook.

Local SEO

If you’re running a small local business, then come to this item first. It’s all well and good trying to rank for keywords, but somethings niching down to a specific location could be more beneficial.

Here’s an example:

If you’re an electrician working in London, you might want to rank for ‘electrician’ or ‘London Electrician‘ but sometimes it’s better to reduce your scope to get better results. So instead, you decide to compete for ‘Hackney Electrician‘ and ‘London Hackney Electrician‘. That way, when people super local to you search for an electrician, you might just appear first.

From this, you can also create and curate your Google Business Profile so that you only show up for the areas that you cover. It’s also useful to add the most up to date information here, the amount of businesses that have a missing phone number or an old email is kinda crazy.

I live in Thurnscoe and I build and maintain professional business websites for businesses that don’t have the time to manage it themselves. Sounds fair, right? Wouldn’t hire a swimmer to do an electricians job, so get a professional in for the website too. But this also meant that I use keywords that are for areas around me.

Since I work in digital services, I can cast a wider net but the same principal applies.

Monitor And Update

Google and other search engines are constantly changing the way they crawl websites and how they rank them accordingly. Making sure to regularly scan your website, fix any issues and test the changes will give you the best change of success.

Everyone is happy when a new road is built, but if it isn’t maintained then pot holes form and nobody enjoys driving there.

This can be done using the tools I mentioned in the Keyword Research section. And is also a good point for me to shamelessly plug my services again. I don’t just build you a website and leave you to it, I will be there with you in a partnership to make sure your website is an asset instead of a liability.

Stay Updated

Build from the previous section – you should also keep up to date with Google news. They often announce search engine changes prior to actually making them.

This gives you a chance to fix anything before being booted off the results page. The last large update was focused on removing AI generated content from search results. With the introduction of ChatGPT, many people abused this and created thousands of AI articles to quickly force their way onto search results.

This has now changed as search engines can detect AI in the vast majority of cases.

You can read more about this on Googles website!

What More Do You Want?

I’ve done enough in this article for you to have a good grasp of the SEO fundamentals.

Comment below or reach out if you have any questions.

Enjoy! 🎉

1 thought on “10 Essential Starter SEO Tips”

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