Search Engine Optimization, or SEO as it is more commonly known, is an important buzzword thrown around by many industry professionals and is essential if you want to create good content for the web. However, it's not as simple as just creating content that you think is "good." Even if you spent hours and hours on a blog post about a subject you're passionate and knowledgeable about, if it doesn't rank well on a SERP, or Search Engine Results Page, no one is going to see it.
While that might sound harsh, it's the truth. Before talking about tips relating to SEO, it's important to understand what the term means. SEO is the process of improving your site/content to increase its visibility when people search for related products or services. It's important because it allows search engines, like Google or Bing, to find and index your content to show to your target audiences. Now that we understand what SEO is and why it's important, here are a few beginner-friendly SEO tips to help you create better content and optimize your website.
Headings and Other Formatting
When Google's bots are reading your site, or crawling as it's more commonly known in the SEO world, it does so at an incredibly fast speed. Because it's crawling so quickly, it's important to break up content into easily-digestible chunks. This is important for both the Google bot and for your human readers. This can be done by making sure that you have only one H1 title on your page. This is the main title of the entire piece of content. Then, you want to break up the content into further subheadings using H2's, H3's, and H4's. Other ways you can increase readability is to add in things like numbered lists or bullet points. The end goal is to make the content as easy as possible to read and understand for the user. If you accomplish this, it will also be easier for the Google bot to crawl your page.
Complete Keyword Research
Keywords are essential when creating web content that you want to be picked up by SERPs. Keywords are certain words or phrases that a searcher inputs into the search bar to find relevant content and pages. The good news is that your website probably already ranks for some! The bad news is, however, that your website might not rank highly for the terms you want. I can't cover everything related to keyword research in this blog post, but there are plenty of great tools to help you do this research. Ahrefs and Semrush are both industry-standard tool used by almost everyone. Google Keyword Planner is also a great free resource. When looking for keywords to target, it's important to target keywords with high search volume but low ranking difficulty. While it would be nice to rank on the first page for "basketball shoes," that's going to be almost impossible for anyone not named Nike or Adidas. So, a better use of your time and resources is targeting what are called long-tail keywords. These are keywords that are still useful and relevant to your content, but maybe a bit more niche with a lower search volume. An example of a long-tail keyword might be "white basketball shoes size 13."
Create High-Quality, Unique, and Original Content
While it may be easy to steal content from other websites to get your website or blog off the ground, this is going to end up hurting you in the long run. Google values high-quality original content more than anything else. If your content is well-researched, without grammatical errors, properly formatted, and full of useful information, Google will take note and you will rank well. A good rule of thumb when creating content you want to rank well is to create content that's ten times better than the content ranking well for that specific keyword. Longer-form content is also usually considered to be higher quality, so don't be afraid to write a few thousand words for your next article. If you go into content creation with the idea to provide long-term value to your readers, you'll rank better than if you're just trying to keyword stuff and recycle content.
Only The Beginning
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO. There is so much to learn and so much to implement that it might seem daunting at first. There are so many great guides put together by extremely smart people that can give you all the info you need to be an SEO professional. Companies like Moz have put together comprehensive guides to SEO that even a total beginner can understand. Google themselves have also created free guides. SEO is important and it's not going anywhere, so why not start learning about it today?