Beginner’s Guide for SEO in 2018 – How to Rank Your Website in Google
If you’re a startup website or blog trying to boost your SEO, I’m your guy. I’m going to show you how to optimize your website’s keywords, copy, and content marketing strategy.
Understanding the importance of search engine optimization, what are some actionable SEO tactics you can implement today?
I’m going to share the exact SEO techniques and tools we use at iGrowthHacker to rank our website on major search engines like Google and Bing.
Furthermore, I’ll also show you how to increase your click through rate.
I know SEO can be somewhat technical for beginners but I’m going to break it down as simple as possible in complete DIY fashion.
All website owners, blog writers, e-commerce businesses, and digital marketers should implement a smart SEO strategy and follow all of the current best practices.
Let’s talk about how you can optimize your website’s SEO for free or less than you’d pay for an outsourced agency.
DIY SEO With 5 Simple Steps
You’ve come up with a great idea, and are either in the process or have already launched your website. Great! You’ve won half the battle. Now it’s time to get your content in front of your audience to get discovered. How do we do that?
Search engine optimization!
If you’ve gotten as far as creating your own website, I promise you are more than capable of conducting your own search engine optimization.
Keep reading to reveal my stupidly simple 5 step process to SEO-proof your WordPress website…
All right. Let’s dive right in!
Know Your Target Audience
Find out who your target audience is, what their biggest pain points and problems are, how you can help solve them, and where they hang out online. This will not only give you direction in your SEO strategy but it may also inspire some highly relevant content ideas.
Understanding that, you’ll also have a better understanding of how to most effectively deliver your content to that audience. You can create the best piece of content and it may never even be seen if you fail to properly distribute.
Chances are, a great portion of your target audience uses search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, etc. Optimizing and increasing your search engine presence can drive direct traffic and sales to your website essentially for free. It only costs the time to set everything in place.
Because of that, SEO is a solid strategy for startups who don’t have the big bucks to invest in paid advertising. Additionally, roughly 70% of consumers use search engines when looking into products or services.
Start by figuring out who is searching for you and what they are searching for. Then you must master the art of problem solving to attract visitors and close the deal once they’re on your site.
Now you may be wondering: How do I identify my target audience?
Let’s go over some basic audience research tips to learn more about your target. The goal is to get as close to that bullseye as possible.
Start with what you already know about your website visitors, social media followers, e-mail subscribers, people who are generally in your niche, etc.
Map out a general persona of your ideal target.
Then conduct a competitive analysis to spy on some of your competitors’ audiences. Check out their website, Google results, social media profiles, etc.
Skim through your competitor’s followers and their comments to gain as much knowledge about the group as a whole. Now ask yourself: Does my product or service resonate with this audience and what I find them talking about online?
If yes, then you’re at the right place. Now you just need to find a way to fit in and bring some type of value proposition.
Now that you’ve pinpointed your target audience. Let’s use that persona you created to discover a few core keywords. Ask yourself the folllowing questions:
- What are some problems I can solve within this niche?
- What value do you bring to the table and why would anyone be interested in your stuff?
- What sets you apart and makes you different from your competitors?
Before you move any further, I’d suggest to sit back and reflect on the above three questions. I want you to be able to answer them with confidence. Think it over…
You can also use search engines such as Google, Bing, YouTube, Amazon, etc. Start by going to any one of those sites and typing a keyword into the search box. You will see automatically generated long-tail keyword suggestions. These are solid keywords based on popular search terms.
Long-tail keywords are your low hanging fruit and can be a great way to attract an audience when more competitive broad term keywords seem too competitive and out of reach.
Your relevancy score and click through rates will increase the more specific you can get with your targeted keywords.
Also try to add some power words that can come before of after your keywords such as “BEST cell phone case” where the word BEST amplifies your message. This will further increase actual click through rates.
Remember: Google considers click through rates as one of the many direct ranking factors. So you want your meta titles and descriptions to be catchy when showing up on search results.
Keep in mind there may be hundreds, thousands, or millions of competitors for those exact keywords so you need to stand out!
Also do not keyword-stuff your content. For one, Google will penalize you for it. But most importantly, you want your words to flow naturally in the eyes of the reader to make them want to click.
Have fun with your SEO, make it interesting!
I’ll give you an example:
For the sake of this example let’s say I own an online shop that sells phone cases. Unless you are a well established brand, no one is going to search for your name directly. Instead, they’re most likely searching for something along the lines of :“cell phone cases” or “best cases for my phone”.
Off the top of your head, brainstorm 5-10 keywords or long-tail phrases that your audience might use when searching for a product or piece of content you want to promote.
Think of some broad keywords that sum it up overall, but also pay close attention to more natural, long-tail keywords. Try to think like a searcher, what keywords would you type into the search box if you were looking for a service similar to yours?
You can spy on your competitors with tools like SEM Rush and SpyFu that let you tap into the exact keywords and search engine ranking data of sites that are already established in your niche. You can model from successful websites similar to yours.
During this process, think what you can takeaway from the data in front of you. What keywords are driving the most traffic? What keywords are being targeted? What is the context that the keywords are used?
And most importantly: How can I implement some of these SEO tactics into my own website? Or better yet, how can I beat them at their own game?
They provide not only keyword research but also give you the latest trends, deep SEO metrics, SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) comparisons, backlink trackers, and more!
A healthy mix of keywords would include a few general short-tail keywords that sum up your niche and some long-tail keywords “under” each one to back it up.
Let’s return to my previous example about the hypothetical online phone cases store. A few keywords we can use are:
- “Phone cases”
- “Smartphone cases”
- “Android cases”
- “Phone covers”
- “Cheap cell phone cases”
- “Best smartphone cases”
- “Durable phone cases”
- “Best Samsung Galaxy S9+ cases”
- “Most durable iPhone X cases”
- “Google Pixel XL slim phone case black”
These are just a few examples off the top of my head, but you get the point.
In addition to that, here are a few modifier words you can add. Some may not apply to you:
- Price: cheap, discount, save
- Location: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
- Quality: High quality, premium, best
- Brand specific: Apple, Samsung, Google
- Action words: Shop, buy, compare
Don’t forget to add your own brand’s name into your SEO title tags, descriptions, and throughout on-page content. Even though no one may be searching for you now, it’s never to soon to start raising some brand awareness because someday people will search by your name once they become better acquainted.
Now that you have identified some of your main target keywords, let’s talk about how to actually plug them into your website.
For WordPress SEO, I like to use Yoast. It’s a plugin that can help you configure the SEO for your entire WordPress website. Yoast lets you add meta titles, descriptions, and more. You get so many awesome features in the free version. The paid version of Yoast will unlock even more advanced features.
They also provide a sitemap of your website that your can submit to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. This helps to index your website on search engines and makes it easies for their platforms to discover your content faster.
Follow my simple process to optimize the SEO for every page on your site:
- Check each page’s URL. make sure it’s short (1-3 words) and includes relevant keywords.
- Check the meta title. Make it catchy and add 1-2 of your main targeted keywords.
- Check the meta description. Write a description that sums up the information on that page. Be sure to make it interesting to entice your audience and include at least 2-3 important keywords.
One cool thing I like about Yoast for WordPress is that it will tell you if your meta titles/descriptions are too short or too long. You want to stay in the green area. This ensures you provide a solid amount of content without going overboard. It’s a really handy feature to guide you.
This is essentially a preview of how you want your website to look in Google search results.
If you want your website to be SEO-proof, you better do this for every single page, one by one until it’s done. Trust me, it will pay off later!
Hang on, you’re not off the hook just yet! You’re going to need to add these same keywords into your on-page titles and body text, alt image tags, navigation, links, and anywhere else you can stick them. Plug as many as you seem fit without coming off as spammy. You don’t want that!
Content is King
Let’s dive into how you can optimize your website SEO using a blog. Having a solid content marketing strategy is a crucial aspect to gaining traction online. Produce killer content to attract and convert fresh leads leads, and attain a loyal follower base.
Creating unique, interesting, and valuable content can have a tremendous impact of your website’s SEO. Content can include blog posts, ebooks, podcasts, online courses, infographics, and more.
If your blog resonates well with your audience and becomes a hit, you will be able to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. Blog articles, e-mail newsletters, and tutorials that provide value also prove your knowledge and will genuinely help people in your industry.
That is one of the best ways to build trust and awareness for your brand.
A great piece of content also generates quality backlinks. Naturally, people will share your content on their own websites or social media channels which increases traffic to your site by leveraging their audience. These backlinks are also a critical aspect of your SEO. Google has publicly stated backlinks are one of the main ranking factors.
Create content people will want to share.
If you want to rank high on Google, starting a blog and cranking out high quality content is the #1 way to get there.
For your actual on-page blog content, be sure to include the following:
- Page title
- At least 2-3 paragraphs for your intro
- At least 3-5 more paragraphs for the body
- A conclusion
- Be sure to present images to break up your text
- Include links to other relevant pages in and out of your site
- Be sure to include your targeted and relevant keywords
- Don’t forget your image file names and alt tags should also include SEO keywords
The easiest way to SEO your blog posts is to just be mindful of SEO while you’re creating content, but don’t get hung up on it during the creative process. You want your creativity to flow naturally, you can always go back to add in some of your targeted keywords and apply some finishing touches during the editing phase.
The placement of theses keywords throughout your posts will help optimize the on-page SEO and increase the chances of being discovered in search results for those particular terms. You will also gain many other keywords naturally.
You can track which keywords your site is currently ranking for with Google Search Console’s search analytics data.
Click the link to read our guide on how to build your own affiliate marketing blog and generate passive income online.
Don’t Be Anti-Social
Sharing your content on social media can be one of the most effective ways for connecting with your audience in a down to earth kinda way. If you have not yet established a social presence for your website, I suggest you get on that ASAP.
Your social media efforts will also contribute to the overall search engine optimization for your website.
Of course, the platforms you choose may vary depending on your niche but I personally like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. There’s also YouTube, Pinterest, and Google Plus that come to mind. Don’t spread yourself too thin and start with just 1-2 platforms and go all in!
Social media also gives your audience a variety of unique ways they can engage with your content. They can follow, like, comment, share, and participate in surveys and giveaways. There are all types of interactions you can come up with to keep your fans hooked.
You may be thinking, OK great but how does that affect my website’s SEO?
Your website is directly linked to your social media profiles. As you collect more views, engagements, and shares on those channels, each one counts as a social signal that’s picked up by the search engines. And as your following grows, Google sees you as an authoritative figure and gives your site a slight bump.
Social media is also a great way to drive return traffic from loyal fans. Return visitors are already familiar with your brand and are more likely to take a desirable action. This is especially important if you are monetizing your site or have some sort of call to action (which you should).
The social media crowd loves to share high quality blog posts, which in turn gets more eyeballs in front of your content and also generates backlinks. This is a fantastic way to attract some new blood to your blog.
Equip some tools to help
Internet technology evolves fast. There are countless tools and resources available to us today that I wish we has 10 years ago. And for the most part, they’re actually affordable!
You can save a lot of time and effort by adding some of these handy tools to your arsenal. Here are a few website tools I personally use to do SEO for my own website, iGrowthHacker:
Google has more than 200 ranking factors that directly impact your page rank. Google has made it very clear that website and page loading speeds are one of their main considerations.
That makes sense because Google wants its users to have the best experience possible. So you better make sure you have a fast WordPress hosting provider.
We use SiteGround to host iGrowthHacker and I would recommend SiteGround as the best WordPress hosting company if you’re on a budget. Their plans start at only $3.95/month and come with free SSL certificates through LetsEncrypt, SuperFast caching, and Cloudflare CDN.
That’s a major bang for your buck! You would pay a lot more for those kind of features if you were to go elsewhere. On top of that, SiteGround has one of the best customer support staffs in the industry. I kid you not, when I call SiteGround support, I’m on the phone with a friendly, helpful, and knowledgable WordPress expert in seconds, not minutes.
Click the following link to read our in-depth SiteGround Review for 2018.
Alternatively, you can check out WP Engine if you want the absolute best premium WordPress hosting. Do keep in mind it’s a bit pricier at $35/month but if you are serious about web hosting, and want the fastest web host on the market, WP Engine is like having WordPress supercharged.
You get access to WP Engine’s lightning-fast VIP servers, free SSL, caching, and fantastic customer service. It’s no surprise WP Engine is one of the most popular and highly-rated choices for WordPress users, especially in the United States.
Click the link to read our full WP Engine Review for 2018.
Google Analytics and Search Console
After you’ve actually launched your website (designed, added content, optimized SEO), your first step should be submitting your website to Google Search Console for faster and more efficient indexing.
DO NOT wait around for Google to index your site themselves. Odds are, they will take much longer and miss some of your content. You need to manually submit your site if you want to see faster results.
Make sure to create and submit an XML sitemap to Search Console. This is essentially a neatly organized file structure of your entire site’s pages, posts, media, etc. A sitemap makes it easier for the search engine’s “spiders” to discover and better understand your website content.
Yoast WordPress plugin generates an XML sitemap for you at the click of a button.
My favorite part about Google Search Console is that I can actually see the exact keywords my site is ranking for, how many impressions I am receiving, and my avg. search results page rank for any given keyword.
As soon as you’ve submit your site for indexing, be sure to implement the Google Analytics tracking code into the header of your website. This will let you monitor your website traffic. You’ll see how many visitors you get to your site by real-time, daily, weekly, monthly, and beyond.
Another reason to use Google Analytics is because you will be able to gain insights to other key audience metrics such as where visitors are being referred from, what devices they’re using, their location, your most popular pages, bounce rates, avg. time spent on page, and more.
Best of all, both Google Analytics and Search Console are FREE so why not?!
I’m going to share some of my favorite keyword research tools that I use. There may or may not be better options out there, but these are a few that come to mind that I use on a regular basis:
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that let’s you check keywords to see how many times they are being actively searched each month on Google. It may not be 100% accurate but gives you an idea of whether or not a keyword you may be considering actually has demand.
It’s important to know because if your targeted keywords are not actually being searched for you may be wasting your SEO time and effort. Be sure to cross check and validate your keyword ideas with Keyword Planner before implementing them on your site.
Using Google’s free tool, you might also discover other long-tail variations of your keywords you may not have thought of before. You can also see paid ad competition levels (low, medium, high) and suggested cost per click which is useful if you plan on running Google Adwords campaigns.
Another keyword research tool that I like is Moz Keyword Explorer and WordStream Keyword Tool. Both of which are freemium software. This means you can access some really handy and helpful features for free and have the option to upgrade to a paid membership to unlock additional resources.
Better yet, why not model a bit from an already successful competitor in your niche? You can do this easier than you think with some pretty ninja tools such as SEM Rush and SpyFu. Simply type in any URL of a website and SEM Rush or SpyFu will dig up everything they have on those sites.
Their tests reveal an incredible amount of valuable data such as website traffic numbers, advertising campaigns, most successful keywords, referring backlinks, and so much more! See what’s actually working for your competitors right now.
All of the tools mentioned above are definitely worth checking out. When using these tools alongside some of the strategies I mentioned in this article, you will provide a massive boost for your website’s SEO.
But remember, this guide and all the powerful tools I mentioned are useless, if you do not APPLY the work it takes on your part to implement. So take action.
Sit down with a nice hot cup of coffee in front of your laptop and get into your zone cause it’s time to do some SEO. No sweat, you got this!
Thanks for reading our Beginner’s Guide to SEO in 2018. We hope you gained some value from it. Do you have any questions related to SEO that we can help you with?
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