The 12 Best Basic SEO Tips To Get Started

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The 12 Best Basic SEO Tips To Get Started

Harry Bartlett

Countless websites explain complex search engine optimization (SEO) tips that either requires a developer to install or provide tips but not actionable tasks. This is where I differ. There are numerous places to gain information, learn new skills, and find ways to better your website. Today will not add more clutter to your internet learning; it will be an efficient beginners tutorial that gets to the point with basic SEO tips.

Below you will find 12 tips that are simple, easy to implement, and actionable. I will not gloss over a topic but rather explain each tip's importance and implementation. We will also look at how to review data and where to find it.

So, buckle up and get ready because these great actionable SEO tips will start your website on the journey to reaching your customers.

12 Actionable Basic SEO Tips For Your Website

  1. Keyword List Development Will Guide Your Content Strategy

Your keyword list should be the first thing you create. Start with keywords, short and long tail, that you think customers use to reach your website. Then search for more keywords using tools like Wordtracker.

You can perform a couple searches to get a short list of opportunities but I suggest to buy a month's worth. For most users, the Silver package is ideal at $69 per month (bronze requires a 3-month commitment for a total of $81). This allows you to view search volume and difficulty to rank for keywords you developed as well as give ideas for similar keywords. 

Pay for one month of Wordtracker to develop and refine your keyword list and then cancel the subscription. If the one-time price is too expensive, try Moz's 30-day free trial for the Keyword Explorer tool and rankings report to grow your list. The advantage is you will be able to see how you currently rank on a national or city/local level for your keywords. The disadvantage is that Moz is not able to provide a robust breakdown of search volume and competition/difficulty for the keywords. 

I do however recommend purchasing a Moz account to keep track of keyword rankings as well as other metrics. Choose the right account for your budget but be mindful of how many keywords each account allows you to track.

  1. Meta Tag Optimization is a Basic and Common SEO Action

Meta tags include page title and meta description. Both are areas to optimize using keywords to help search engines and users understand your website. Page titles need to be within 55 characters (cheat with an online counting tool).

The typical structure is Keyword1 | Keyword2, using the top keywords to explain what that page is about. Here is another way to write them using this blog post as an example: 12 Basic SEO Tips | Beginners SEO Tips.

Meta descriptions are not crawled by search engines but users read them before deciding to click. Keep these to 150 characters or less and be descriptive; entice users to click. If you are unsure where to add meta tags, try the page's edit version (see below for typical locations on WordPress Yoast SEO and Drupal).

How to access Meta Tag menu in WordPress

How to access Meta Tag menu in Drupal

  1. Google My Business / Google + Increase Search Engine Results Page Visibility

Since Google rules the online world, connecting your website to their social media account only helps you. Use Google My Business to find, claim, and start updating your business. Be prepared to verify that you are the owner of the business either by phone or postcard code to the businesses address. Once the account has been completed and verified you can post and engage here like any social media account.

  1. Internal Linking Builds Connections on your Website

This means linking your content to other pages on your own website. Create links that make sense. For example, link a page that discusses services to individual service pages - "We design, develop, and optimize websites." Optimize would link to a page on SEO.

  • They need to make sense within the content
  • Use keyword rich anchor text(text that is linked)
  • Implement them strategically (don't link every word on a page)
  1. XML Sitemap is Used to Make Crawling your Website Easy

This will need developer's help and is usually part of the website build. If it was not that's okay. It can typically be implemented in an hour. Your sitemap will be used to submit your website on Google Search Console.

  1. Image Description Optimization is Another Common SEO Action

The image filename and Alt text are similar to meta tags; you can write customized text to include keywords. Before uploading images make sure the filename is unique and uses keywords that describe it. For example, in the image below I used the file name: alt-text-optimization-WordPress for the WordPress image. Next, alt text, here you want to describe the image as best as you can while incorporating keywords. Using the same image example: WordPress Image Optimization Feature.

how to create alt-text in WordPress

How to Create alt-text in Drupal

  1. External Linking Builds Connections With High-Quality Websites

Again similar to internal linking, you want to use keyword rich anchor text, relevant links, and not link too many words. The difference is we are linking to other websites. Look for settings that open the external link in a new tab/window.

  1. Headline Text Builds Ranking Importance Into Titles

Most websites are built so that the title of a page is considered an H1 tag. This tells search engines this is a title and important to the page. Remember to include keywords relevant to your business. Within the body of your text, change sub-headline text styles to H2 tag or Headline 2. The default style is paragraph or normal, click on the drop down after highlighting the text and choose Headline 2.

  1. Link Building is One of the Top 3 Most Important Ranking Factors

There are a lot of Black Hat link building techniques that will harm your website. Be wary of anyone suggesting to buy backlinks, this will harm (not help!) your performance. Simple ways to increase external links are to submit your website to relevant directories like DMOZ, Google, and Bing.

Use Google Alerts to find when your company is mentioned in the news, press release or other opportunities for backlinks.

  1. Unique and Fresh Content is Another Small Ranking Factor

Make sure pages on your website are unique. If the majority of content is the same or similar to another page it can harm performance since it's considered duplicate content (frowned upon by search engines). Update and post new content regularly to increase your website rankings. This is where blogging comes into play.

  1. Call-To-Actions (CTA) Increase Click Through Rate, Time On Website, and Decrease Bounce Rates

CTAs could be in the form of more info buttons or a link that explains where a user can contact you. Make sure each page has a call-to-action to help guide the user. Too many CTAs can distract the user, or provide too many options, rendering them immobile.

  1. Structured Data Provides More Visibility on Search Pages Increasing Click Through Rates

This might need a developer. However, you are able to do most of the work yourself. Structured data is a recent trend in SEO that illustrates to search engines a better way to understand websites. You can add more information to search results including links, additional text, product reviews, addresses and more. First, go to Google's Structured Data Markup Helper and follow the steps for the type of page you are looking to mark up. Once done create the HTML and send off to a developer to add to your website. Remember just because it has been added does not mean it will show up in search results, that is up to search engines to decide its relevance to the search query.

Finally, review performance. If you choose to tackle these tips, note the time to see if one or more of the SEO tips increased traffic and rankings. Google Analytics Annotations is a great tool to input notes on a specific date allowing you to compare later.

Let us know if you have any difficulty in implementing our basic SEO tips and we would be happy to walk you through it.

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About the author

Harry started BI in 1998 and focuses on integrating best practices in branding, user experience design, Internet marketing, and technology to increase the value of an online presence.
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