Your beginners guide to effective SEO

While SEO and email marketing don’t exactly go hand-in-hand, understanding how SEO works is so important for any digital marketer. Email marketers especially should acknowledge SEO basics and have a deeper understanding of how websites are found on popular search engines, and what this means for them. 

For this reason, Emma is here to provide a beginners guide full of helpful tips for practicing effective SEO. At the end of this guide, you will know what SEO is, why it’s valuable to digital marketing, and how you can develop effective results. 

What is SEO?

First things first, let’s look at what SEO is fundamentally. If you’ve ever used the internet, you know more about SEO than you might think you do. Think of it like this—you type something in the search engine and a long list of websites populate with answers. You then decide to pick on the website that catches your eye, or you believe to be the most useful.

That, in essence, is SEO at work.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the strategy of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through brand awareness and organic search results. 

While SEO widely involves search engines, like Google or Bing, it’s also about how people interact with the internet and your website. You need to understand what people are searching for, the content they desire, and what makes them actually click on your website once found.

Why is SEO important?

There are many ways to drive traffic to your website—advertising, social media, email, etc.—however, online traffic is still primarily run through search engines. 

People everywhere use the internet every day to find the answers to their problems. If your website is optimized correctly, with the right content and keywords, more people are likely to click on your information. Once they’re on your website, you have a much more likelihood of converting that person into a customer.

What affects a search?

When a person types a question into a search box, the search engine starts working (very quickly) to find results. In fact, Google alone takes into account more than 200 different factors to help populate relevant data for users.

You heard that right—200 factors. While it’s almost impossible to fully integrate all 200 in your SEO strategy, you can follow guidelines on how to become more optimized. Let’s take a look at a few factors that affect a search result:

  • Your question: Have you ever noticed that Google tries to answer your question before you do? Search engines try everything they can to understand exactly what you’re looking for.

  • Your location: Search engines use your geographic location to deliver relevant data near you. Utilizing tools like Google Places and Google My Business are particularly useful for businesses optimizing local SEO.

  • Your device: Content displays differently on a mobile device or desktop, for example, long-form content is better viewed on a desktop. Whereas quick price comparisons are best viewed on a mobile device.

With that said, search engines also consider technical SEO elements on the website itself, such as:

  • Site speed

  • Mobile-friendly design

  • Redirects

  • Domain authority

  • XML sitemap

  • Duplicate content and more

All of these factors mean that search engine results vary among individual people. Two people, asking the same question, may have very different results. While SEO strategy may seem impossible to master, that’s simply not the case, which is why we’re here to help. 

How to implement SEO best practices

The truth is, SEO best practices vary. While they all share a similar goal of trying to find a website, there are many approaches that digital marketers can take to get there.

As a start, let’s look at three critical SEO best practices that you can implement to build a more effective search strategy.

Keyword research

Keywords are the words or phrases that are entered into the search engine to answer a question. For example, a pizza company may want to optimize phrases like “pizza”, “slice”, “pepperoni”, or even specific brand words like “Dominoes” or “Pizza Hut.” By identifying keywords that people would relate to your brand, you’re closer to understanding what they will search for.

local SERPs result

Source: Buffer

While it may sound easy, you still have to take into account a few factors to determine which keywords you need to target.

  • Search volume: While you might think a keyword is fantastic, it doesn’t mean it’s actually being searched for. The more people are searching for a keyword, the larger audience you have the opportunity to reach—and vice versa.

  • Relevance: You need to ensure the keywords, and audience, you choose are actually relevant to your products or services. Imagine searching “pizza near me,” but ending up on a pet supply website. That’s an incorrect answer to your question and creates a poor user experience.

  • Competition: With millions of websites on the internet, you’ll run into keyword competition. You need to research competitors to understand which keywords they are ranking for, and optimize your website to beat them.

To create a better keyword strategy, you need to have a deeper understanding of what your prospective customers want. Ask yourself what they’re interested in, what problems they have, and who are they buying other products from. These answers should give you an initial “seed list” of keywords that you can utilize throughout your website.

If you’re ready to discover keywords and learn how competitive they are, quite a few tools exist that you can use to help take out the guesswork:

On-site optimization

Once you have acquired your list of keywords, it’s time to start implementing them into your content. Each page needs to have a focus keyword, followed by complimentary phrases. You will need to understand a few basic, but critical on-page features that need to be optimized to drive traffic.

  • Title tags: The title tag is not the page’s headline, but rather the title you see at the top of the browser and is sourced through a meta tag. Typically 55-50 characters, this should include your focus keyword.

  • Meta descriptions: Viewed as your site’s description, this is displayed directly in the search results. The description is essentially your site’s first impression and needs to be impactful to capture a click.

  • Body content: Of course, the actual page’s content is vital in SEO. You need to be creating unique content that website visitors digest and engage with regularly. This could mean sharing the page on social media, clicking CTAs, and staying on your page for a period of time.

  • Alt attributes: An alt attribute is an element that provides additional information about an image if the user can’t view it. Helpful for usability, alt attributes are crawled to help tell search engines what your website is about.

perfectly seo optimized page

Source: Moz

For more on-site optimization strategies, check out this helpful visual guide from our friends at Moz.

Link building

Search engine’s algorithms are still largely built on the number of quality referral links that are driving traffic to your website. You can include all the high-ranking keywords you want, but if links aren’t referring your website, you won’t appear in any search results.

While there used to be loopholes around link building, search engines are cracking down on these practices. You now need to rely on creative ways to promote your content in order to earn links and social shares. The more you can acquire over time, the higher that search engines will rank you.

  • Understand who is most likely to link and share your content by using tools like Buzzsumo. Tools will help you identify industry influencers and help determine what they’re interested in.

  • Create content that you can promote across digital channels that will be shared by these influencers. You need to consider how your content will solve their problems and work your way into that niche to be noticed.

  • Implement keywords into every content piece you create so you will continue receiving links and shares from a larger audience.

Measure and prioritizing SEO

Once your SEO is in motion, you need to determine if it’s actually working and driving traffic back to your website. After all, you wouldn’t want to spend hours diving into your SEO strategy, only to find little to no improvements.

In general, you can monitor a few key performance indicators to measure your SEO performance through tools like Google Analytics.

  • Keyword rankings

  • Organic traffic

  • Organic source

  • Organic lead conversions

These metrics will help you get a better understanding of how your website is performing and where you can improve your efforts. 

Wrap up

If you’ve made it through this comprehensive SEO beginner guide, you’re one step closer to positioning your site higher in search results. While there is a lot of considerations when building an SEO strategy, start in smaller chunks and work your way up. 

For example, if you’re already creating awesome content and promoting it on social media, take a look at which keywords you can improve on. If you have a larger website, dig into your technical SEO. Likewise, if you’re a local small business, work on building local SEO efforts with geo-specific keywords.

Overall, remember the main point of SEO is to drive traffic from the search engine to your business website. So, focus on SEO efforts that help your business turn potential leads into loyal customers. Now that you have a basic understanding of SEO, take a look at how you can utilize keyword research to improve your targeted email marketing strategy. 

About the Author

Emma Email

Emma is an email marketing platform that gives you all the tools you need to send campaigns that really connect with your subscribers. With our​​ powerful automation and personalization features, you can create and send email campaigns that reach the right customer at just the right time. It's email marketing that works for you.

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