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SEO for Beginners [Updated SEO Guide 2021]

This post is full of free SEO tips for beginners, which are super easy to understand! Follow this SEO beginner’s guide to start getting organic page views.

One of the biggest mistake starting out as a blogger is not learning SEO for beginners. I thought it was an advanced blogging technique so I put it off until my third year of blogging, and wow, my page views got much better once I started.

Check out these numbers! This is my third year of blogging compared to my second year. Look how much a difference SEO made.

I was really shooting in the dark my first two years of blogging without much strategy and wished that I had dived into SEO right away even if it was just finding out basic SEO tips for beginners.

2017 vs 2018

Avoid the mistake that I made! Learn search engine optimization from the start.

Here’s my SEO beginner’s guide that will guide you into getting consistent, organic page views, which can result in more ad revenue, affiliate income and sponsorships!

Please note that this is a reader-supported site.
Purchases made through genuinely recommended links may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


The Basics of SEO for Beginners

seo for beginners

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. This is basically the process of improving the quality and quantity of your website traffic with FREE, organic traffic from search engines. The better your site is search engine optimized, the better that people will be able to find your site via search engines.

Learning SEO should be on the top of your marketing efforts because even though you can pay for ads or market your blog on social media, most people who end up on websites and blogs come directly from search engines!

In fact, various studies show that between 60-75% of traffic to sites comes from search engines. You don’t want to miss out on that.

Good to Know: You don’t need to hire an SEO expert. You can learn this on your own! SEO for beginners might feel daunting but once you understand how search engines work and what you can do to work with them, you’ll wonder why you didn’t learn SEO sooner. Speaking from experience, I wish I learned SEO on day one of blogging!


The Best SEO Tips for Beginners

The best SEO tips for beginners includes:

  • learning how ranking in search engines work and
  • what the most important elements of SEO are.

How Ranking in Search Engines Work

Before we learn the basics of search engine optimization, let’s talk about how ranking in search engines work.

First off, when we talk about search engines, in the SEO community, we really only care about Google. That’s because Google accounts for 90% of all searches done on the internet (including Maps, Images and YouTube). As a result, Google’s algorithm is what we care about.

Knowing that, Google’s algorithm does three things: crawl, index and rank.

It sends out bots to “crawl” the internet looking for every website out there. They then put all the websites in an index as if they were filing them. Inside the index, they take into account different factors to rank them.

The algorithm’s only goal is to rank these sites properly to give the searcher looking for information the most relevant, helpful information possible.

You not only want to know how to get bots to crawl to your site easily but also crawl through your site easily. Learn how the Google algorithm works in my SEO course in Module 1: How SEO Works.


Most Important Elements of Search Engine Optimization for Beginners

The most important elements of search engine optimization are keyword optimized content and backlinks.

No matter how much you optimized elements of your site for SEO, you won’t be able to rank in Google without content.

Then if you do have content, you won’t be able to rank (as easily) without backlinks.

A backlink is when Blog A links out to Blog B. Blog B got that backlink from Blog A.

This is viewed as a “vote of confidence” by Google. It basically says, “I trust Blog B’s blog post enough to link out to it and provide it as a resource for my readers.”

Once you get enough high-quality backlinks, your domain authority, a measurement of how well your blog will do in search engine result pages (SERPs), will increase allowing your content to rank higher in SERPs.


Other Key Elements of SEO

Keywords and backlinks play the biggest parts in SEO but here are some other elements that go into search engine optimizations that beginners should be aware of. They are:

  • How secure and accessible your site is
  • How fast your site is (on desktop and mobile)
  • If your site is mobile friendly (because most people now access the internet through their mobile devices)
  • How old your site is and what the domain authority of your site is
  • If your content is optimized
  • What a user’s experience on your site is like

To ensure that your entire site is SEO-friendly, here are some tips to go hand-in-hand with some of the key elements above.

search engine optimization for beginners
– tap once to Pin; a Pinterest graphic will appear –

To make your site secure, get an SSL certificate through your hosting company. Most companies like Bluehost give this for free now.

Getting an SSL certificate adds an extra layer of security when accessing your site but from our end, the difference is that your site begins with https:// (vs. http:// without the s).

To make your site mobile-friendly, get a theme that is mobile-responsive. This means your blog will automatically adjust itself depending on what device someone is on (desktop, tablet or mobile).

Self-hosting and a premium mobile-responsive theme are the only two things that you MUST buy when you first start out blogging based on experience. After failing with free themes and a mediocre one, I recommend 17th Avenue Design and Pipdig.

tap once to pin later

To optimize your content, one of many ways to do this is to make sure your permalinks are set up properly.

A permalink is the URL of your blog post that someone sees or types in. For example, the blog post URL you’re at right now is ‘https://www.sarahchetrit.com/seo-for-beginners’/

Sometimes WordPress automatically defaults your permalink to be set up as ‘https://www.sarahchetrit.com/2020/09/16/seo-for-beginners/’, which we DO not want.

WARNING: If you are already blog posts up and you change your permalinks, then you will need to redirect all your old permalinks to your new ones. This is so that if someone goes to your ‘www.yourblog.com/2020/09/16/sample-post’, they will be automatically redirected to ‘www.yourblog.com/sample-post’ instead of being led to a 404 page aka a page that doesn’t exist.

In my SEO course, you’ll learn how a secure site impacts SEO, why a mobile-optimized site is a must without all the technical jargon, how to set up your permalinks correctly and how to do 301 redirects properly. Get $30 off in the month of July 2021 with code JULY30.

For on-page content optimization and user experience, head to the next section!


Best Practices on On-Page SEO

In my first year of blogging, I accidentally ranked in the top 10 search results for a New York City travel post. I didn’t have any SEO knowledge at all yet because of how helpful this article was, it ranked on the first page of Google and I got 5,000 page views a month from this one blog post alone.

Even though this was an absolute fluke, there’s one thing we can learn from this– quality of the content matters.

No matter what you’re writing about, you always want to keep the user/reader in mind first. Always write for users, not search engines because this impacts user experience!

The better a user’s experience is on your site, the better your site can do. Yes, Google can tell how helpful your content is by how a user interacts with it!

Additionally, before you write a blog post, you’ll want to research keywords that you can rank for, then place them strategically in your blog post as you write aka on-page SEO. The next section covers which tool I use to research keywords.

Make sure to place these research keywords in the

  • title,
  • the URL,
  • a subheading
  • and in the article text a couple of times!

Of course, placement of keywords get a little more precise than this but this is a really good start for beginners.

Plus by following the above, you actually avoid over-saturating keywords in a post and getting an over-optimization penalty from Google!


Hands-on SEO Tutorial for Beginners: Tools to Use

These SEO tools I use are great for beginners because of the value. You get so much data and help for free or little-to-nothing.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the industry standard tool for keeping track of your blog’s data. This includes but is not limited to how many people come to your site, where they’re coming from, what device they use, what pages they’re reading the most and even how long they’re staying on your site.

Best thing about Google Analytics is that it’s FREE.

If you’re planning on having an SEO site or even working with brands for sponsorships, you need to install Google Analytics on day one of blogging (or five… but really get it as soon as possible).

It’s great for SEO because you can see what people are searching for to get to your blog, what search engines they’re coming from and if your blog posts are ranking in search engines. These are vital stats to improving your current SEO strategy.

Get a step-by-step guide to sign up the right way and specific settings to adjust in Module 1: Action 1.1: Learn about and install Google Analytics (the right way) of my SEO course. Get $30 off in the month of July 2021 with code JULY30.


Keysearch

Keysearch is a keyword research tool that helps you find keywords to place in your posts for on-page SEO, which helps you rank in search engines for organic page views. Even better, it also has other tools such as competition analysis and guest post blogging opportunities (to help you build backlinks).

seo for beginners 2020 guide
2017 without SEO vs 2018 with SEO

I chose Keysearch over other keyword research tools because of the price. It’s the most affordable keyword research tool I could find, but don’t be fooled by the much cheaper pricing. There is a free option after this section but please read this section in full.

It is a powerful tool with a ton of features that helped me start ranking in search engines and getting organic page views! See screenshot above.

if you're learning seo for beginners, it's a good idea to use keysearch for keyword research
searching for “poodle training” in Keysearch

I’ve been using the cheapest Keysearch Starter Plan now for three years and will continue with it because of the results I’ve been getting with it. You do not need more than the cheapest plan, which is normally $17/month but you can get 20% off with the code KSDISC making it $13.70/month.

If you choose to get Keysearch , you can get my PDF guide on how to get the most out of it like me. This guide shows you:

  • how to use Keysearch effectively to find keywords,
  • how to see what keywords your competitors are ranking for
  • and even how to use it to find guest post blogging opportunities!

I go into detail on how to use this tool for both on-page and off-page SEO in my SEO course for bloggers. You won’t believe how many features it has to get your posts to rank in Google!


Keywords Everywhere

Keysearch is a paid tool that I highly recommend since I didn’t get the page views I wanted from search engines until I started doing proper research with it. But if you’re a new blogger and on a serious budget, then I’d much rather have you spend that on hosting and a theme for now. I explain why on day one and two of my free blogging course.

Until you’re ready to get Keysearch, at the very least, install the Keywords Everywhere browser extension for Google Chrome, follow the instructions for the API Key and find keywords by searching in Google keywords that you’re targeting.

This tool is not precise as it won’t tell you who’s ranking for the keywords and if you can rank for it. It will be highly improbable that you’ll start ranking in Google with this free tool but it can be a guideline.

Plugins

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a FREE plugin that helps you with on-page SEO. It tells you precisely if your blog post is optimized enough with the keywords you’re targeting and what else you need to do with your post for it to be SEO-friendly.

To get it, go to WP-Admin Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New -> search for Yoast SEO.

To use it, you simply get your keywords from Keysearch and input it into the plugin’s tool box located under your blog post. It details out what you need to do for your blog to be SEO-friendly and even gives you a red, yellow or green smiley face telling you if your blog post is good to go or if you need to edit it more.

LUCKYWP Table of Contents

Both users and Google love a Table of Contents inside your blog post. A user can skip to the content they need whereas Google may show a specific portion of your content in its featured snippets section. In both cases, it helps with usability of your blog post by easily breaking it down.

After trying a few Table of Contents plugins, my favorite one is LuckyWP Table of Contents because it functions well on both desktop and mobile. It is also easy to customize to each blog post.

To get it, go to WP-Admin Dashboard -> Plugins -> Add New -> search for LuckyWP Table of Contents.

To use it, you can edit settings to have it automatically add to any blog post that has X number of headings or more, but I personally like to add it manually to a blog post needs it.


More SEO Tips for Beginners

If you can believe it, this beginner’s guide to SEO only SCRAPES THE SURFACE meaning we can get into it sooo much deeper.

I want to teach you even more so you can make the blog income that you want.

Learn how all these pieces connect with each other, then join my SEO course for bloggers. I titled my course, Not Your Average SEO Course, because of the information written specifically for bloggers.

Here what it includes:

  • a deep understanding of how SEO works specifically for bloggers without the technical jargon,
  • guidance on how to make an SEO content strategy that’ll keep you motivated and consistent with blogging,
  • hands-on help with doing keyword research specific to your blog’s domain authority,
  • insight on how to get backlinks to increase your domain authority,
  • and tons of tools to help you develop a strategy custom to YOUR blog.

There are even two bonus modules that’ll help you with keyword research for affiliate marketing and how to get into premium ad networks.

Yup, the two bonus modules are all about making money! I mean, isn’t that why we got into SEO and blogging in the first place?

Start getting your blog seen on Google with SEO today. Sign up here.
Get $30 off in the month of July 2021 with code JULY30.

Looking forward to meeting you! ~Sarah


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