The Beginners Guide to SEO in 2021

SEO can be a pretty complex subject.

Try sticking ‘SEO’ into Google and you get back almost half a billion results. Even if you’re the world’s fastest reader… ain’t nobody got time for that!

To make matters worse, a lot of the SEO information on the web is outdated, confusing or just plain bad advice. That makes learning SEO a bit of a minefield for entrepreneurs who are just getting started.

But the truth is the basics of SEO aren’t actually that complex. And since most business owners have a very limited understanding of SEO, the basics are often all you need to get ahead of the competition.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you get your first SEO wins. By the end, you’ll know how to rank your website higher in Google, attract more high-quality traffic and grow your business with organic search.

Sounds good? Then let’s dive in!

What is SEO & Why is it Important?

Whenever most of us have a problem nowadays where’s the first place we look?

Yup, that’s right… The internet.

And If you’ve ever searched for something online, chances are that you already know more about SEO than you think.

Usually, it goes like this: you type a word or phrase or question into a search engine (most likely Google) that describes what you’re looking for.

Then you pick the search result that that seems most relevant from a page like this:

And then, you’ll probably end up clicking one of the top 5 results. That’s because the first five organic results soak up a whopping 67.60% of all clicks.

But have you ever stopped to consider how Google determines which websites are the best ones to show you?

Well, Google uses an algorithm that considers more than 200 factors when ranking websites.

And the way to get your website to appear at the top of those search results is through this mystical, magic process we call SEO.

SEO is about using a variety of techniques to ensure that customers searching for services or products like yours can find you.

Why does it matter? Because good SEO can bring you buckets of new web visitors and customers on auto-pilot.

On the other hand, if people can’t find you in a web search, you’re missing opportunities to acquire new customers. And worse, potentially letting your competition snap up their patronage instead.

With that in mind, let’s root around the scenes behind Google’s algorithm and find out what affects where you appear in Google’s rankings.

What Factors Affect a Search?

Google’s goal is simple: provide users with the best experience so that they’ll keep coming back.

So, Google ‘crawls’ (or reads) websites looking for pages that contain high-quality, relevant information about a searcher’s query.

Their complex algorithm determines the quality of your website by assessing things such as:

  • How many other high-quality trusted websites are linking to your website
  • How visitors engage with your site (do they hang around or leave right away?)
  • How fast your site loads & your site’s security credentials
  • How relevant and unique your on-page content is

There are literally hundreds of factors that Google uses to provide searchers with the most helpful results. What’s more they’re constantly updating their algorithm.

Just for fun, here’s a diagram from First Page Sage outlining all of the factors that Google uses to appraise websites. Don’t worry if it looks like gibberish right now:

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into it. If you’re interested to know more about how search engines function, check out Google’s own interactive guide.

Otherwise, jump aboard the search engine express because we’re about to take a trip to top-rank city! (No it’s not just you, my friends think I’m cringy too).

How to Rank Better in Google

So now that you understand more about what SEO is and why it matters, let’s jump into 4 proven ways you can improve your search engine ranking and capture more search traffic.

The four key factors we’re going to cover are:

  1. Carrying out an SEO Audit of your website
  2. Doing simple keyword research
  3. Implementing no-frills on-page optimisation
  4. Undertaking basic link building

1. Carrying out an SEO Audit

The first step towards SEO-heaven is establishing where you’re currently at.

Why? Well, because without a baseline, we can’t assess the impact of your SEO efforts.

Furthermore knowing our strengths and weaknesses provides guidance in determining what aspects of our SEO strategy need the most attention.

Looking above, you can see the way that Google judges your site can be a bit technical for an SEO novice.

Indeed, the technical aspect of SEO is significant, and you won’t make much headway up the rankings if your site’s carrying any serious technical faults.

That’s why your first port of call should be an SEO audit. Luckily, we’ve created a free tool that’ll give you a full SEO report in just a matter of seconds.

Yes, it’s actually 100% free. No, we’re not joking.

So, before we move on, go ahead and input your site now to see where you’re starting from (fingers crossed it’s a good place!)

2. Doing Simple Keyword Research

Keywords are an essential part of any SEO strategy. A keyword is a term that lets Google’s crawlers know what your page is about.

When looking for keywords the best place to start is to think about what your customers might be searching for when they want to find your business.

For most small businesses, a combination of what you do and where you’re based is usually pretty helpful. For example ‘Window cleaner Sydney’ or ‘Locksmith Adelaide

Here are 3 quick strategies to identify more keywords to include in your site:

Brainstorm Potential Keywords

The most basic method of keyword generation. Simply sit down with a piece of paper, your favourite pen plus a good cup of coffee. Then write out all of the services you offer and the locations you offer them in.

Add in anything else relevant that your customers might be looking for and try not to get distracted by Instagram (easier said than done).

Use Google’s Search Suggestions

Next, begin typing your keywords into Google and you’ll be treated to a list of suggestions that pop down from the search bar. It looks like this:

Add any relevant suggestions to your keyword list. Then put them into the search bar to discover more potential keywords for your site.

Use a Keyword Research Tool

There’s a number of both free and paid research tools out there that can help you identify useful keywords.

Two of the best are Ubersuggest and Soolve. Google Ads also has a powerful keyword research tool as part of their PPC platform. Just simply input your business terms and you’ll get a bunch of valuable keywords to show Google exactly what you’re about.

Once you’ve collected a decent bunch, put your keywords into a spreadsheet. If you have the data available rank them according to search volume too.

3. On Page Optimisation

Now that you have a solid list of keywords it’s time to actually implement them on your website. Let’s examine a few essential on-page elements and how to incorporate your keywords to shoot up the rankings.

Include Keywords in Your Title Tags

A title tag is an HTML element that plays a major role in helping search engines understand what your page is about. Title tags are also displayed in search engine results pages (SERPs). You’ve seen them before they look like this:

You want to work your core keywords into your title tags in a natural way. Because they’re one of the most important ranking factors when it comes to Google – the following formula is useful when creating SEO friendly tags:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

Craft Enticing Meta-Descriptions

Meta-descriptions are another HTML element that appears beneath your title tags – include a compelling description of your page here to convince searchers to click on your website.

Although including keywords in your meta description isn’t a ranking factor anymore, crafting your meta-descriptions to perfection can encourage people to click on your website over a competitor.

Optimise Your Body Content

The meat and potatoes of your website pages will be made up of body content. Different pages will have different functions. But you want to make sure that you include your core keyword in the first 100 words of every page.

In the past, people used to awkwardly stuff their content with keyword. But the only form of acceptable stuffing nowadays is that which accompanies a roast dinner. Because Google is actively penalizing sites that favour key-word stuffing over quality content.

One place you absolutely should add your keywords to is your headings (H1) and sub-headings (H2). Also using keyword-rich image filenames and alt-text is a wise move.

Also, liberally use keyword synonyms and related terms throughout your text. For example, let’s say your keyword is ‘barbell training’, use variations like ‘barbell movements’, ‘resistance exercise’ and ‘strength training’ for maximum effectiveness.

Lastly, adding internal links to other pages on your site can also help Google locate, crawl and index more of your site. Using keyword-rich anchor text in your internal links earns you extra credit.

4. Building Backlinks

Building links that point back to your site is probably the hardest part of any SEO strategy. However, if you don’t have backlinks, it’s going to be very hard to rank well.

There are a million and one ways to try and get backlinks to your site but for this guide, we’ll keep it simple with 3 easy techniques:

Partner with other businesses

Reaching out to other businesses to guest post on their blog or be featured in their directory of suppliers is a fantastic way to get easy backlinks. Find businesses or influencers in your industry and drop them an email to see how you can collaborate.

Use the Skyscraper Technique

The skyscraper technique involves taking the content that’s working for others and improving upon it in your own way. It involves 3 steps:

  1. Locate the top-performing content in your industry (use a tool like BuzzSumo)
  2. Build upon the idea to create something better (Include more detail, add a case study, delivery more value, etc)
  3. Promote the new and improved content by reaching out to relevant websites via email. Hint: contact the websites who were already linking to the previous content.

Create Compelling Visual Assets

There are few things other businesses can resist sharing like a stunning infographic, diagram, chart or other bits of eye-catching visual content.

That’s why it’s worth investing in creating visually appealing pieces of content around hot topics in your industry. You don’t even need a huge budget – free design tools like Canva make it easy for even the most creatively-averse among us to whip up impressive graphics.

Not only will you be building brand authority and credibility – but every time your content gets shared on another website, you’ll be building valuable links to your own site.

In Summary

Search engine optimisation is not the easiest process in the world. At times it can be ferociously competitive and brain-meltingly confusing.

But it’s still the most effective way known to man to drive sustainable traffic to your website and grow your business.

In this post we covered:

  • What is SEO and why it matters
  • The importance of carrying out an audit on your website
  • How to find and optimise your site for keywords
  • How to build basic backlinks to your site

Using these methods will help you build up the authority of your site and rank for competitive keywords with large search volumes.

Remember: effective SEO is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. But it’s certainly a marathon worth running – the digital blood, sweat, and tears you put into SEO multiply and compound over time with consistency.

The results? More traffic, more business and more profits.

If you think we missed anything, or if you have any questions, tips or tricks of your own, drop them in the comments below and we’ll get back to you!

Get in Touch With The SEO Experts Today!

As a business owner, working out the details of your search marketing strategy can be stressful. 

And since no two businesses are the same, it’s often a real challenge to work out the exact approach that’s right for you.

If you’d like to figure out how you can get the best results for your business…

Contact us here!

At TocToc we take care of your marketing so you can spend less time following up and more time getting things done.

Get Started Today!

Get in touch with us with your ideas and needs. We will come up with a web copywriting strategy that works for you.
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