In digital marketing, SEO refers to strategies to improve a website or web page’s appearance and positioning in organic search results. And in this step-by-step guide, let’s unveil its actual meaning, importance, how it works, and more.
To be precise, you’ll learn the following:
- What Exactly is SEO
- Why SEO is Important
- Types of SEO
- Common SEO Mistakes
- Free SEO Tools
- Complete SEO Checklist
Without wasting any time, let’s dive in, shall we?
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links, we may earn a commission, but the price on your end remains the same.
What’s SEO Marketing?
SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is a multiple-elements process to help a website or web content rank higher on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
A good SEO strategy should increase your visibility online and help you reap the fruits of it. For instance, organic search traffic, brand recognition, sales, and free backlinks.
It differs from paid advertising since it targets ‘organic’ ranking, meaning you don’t have to spend a penny to be in that space. Not unless you’re considering hiring a marketing expert to do the hard work for you. Though, you’ll be paying for the services and not rank high on the search results.
Look at it this way, if you have written an article about ‘how to write a blog‘, you’d like to optimize it to appear on the top searches when someone is looking for materials or guides on how to start blogging, right? But remember, tons of other websites have already covered the topic, and you’ll need to outrank them to increase your chances of getting more clicks.
So, that’s what SEO marketing is all about – finding a target keyword (search query) that people are seeking to answer for, writing a compelling article that addresses all their concerns, and taking measures to outrank those already ranking for it.
To better understand how you can rank your content higher in the search engines, you need to understand how search works – and this article has everything you need to know.
Before classifying SEO into 6 types, let’s understand why it is essential for business success.
Is SEO Important for Business?
Despite being a ‘complicated’ process, though manageable, SEO is very important for your business’s success. First, it enables you to answer potential customers’ questions, create authority and increase traffic to your website.
And in marketing, authority translates to brand loyalty and thus positively impacts brand awareness and growth. In addition to saving you money, as the strategies are completely free, SEO marketing increases your site navigation and helps you remain competitive.
It opens the door for business growth and success. Simply put, SEO gives you more organic traffic to your site, and the visitors can buy your products and services. For instance, you can promote your ebooks and online courses to your readers and make a lot of money online.
And if you have monetized your website or blog using Google Adsense, your pages will record more page views. This means you get to earn more from ad impressions, and higher are possibilities that some audiences may click on some of the ads and make you even more money.
Again, if you have affiliate links on your blog, more traffic means more affiliate link clicks and more income opportunities for you. So, you see, optimizing your web pages for search engine visibility is very crucial.
Types of SEO & their Elements
SEO is a multi-element process that can be further clarified into the following elements (types):
1. On-Page SEO Marketing
On-page search engine optimization (or internal SEO) is optimizing web pages to improve rankings and user experience. Simply put, it is the things that you can do within your site to make it friendlier to search engines and users.
Therefore, optimising your website at the page level is important – that’s where ranking is performed. Here’s a quick yet complete, on-page SEO checklist (guidelines):
Set Target (Focus) Keyword
Before writing any web page, understand your target keyword or search term. To do this, master keyword research. You should also understand what audience you desire to target, their search intent, and behaviors. Gather as much information about the target audience as possible.
Then you can find some related keywords or synonyms and their long-tail versions and include them in your page content systematically (rather than annoying way) and headings.
Optimize your Page Title
Title (H1 heading) is a very important SEO factor. A good title should have the target keyword and give search engines and users a clue about the page content. Check out these pages ranking for the keyword ‘SEO Marketing.’
The title clearly stated that these pages are extensive guides on SEO, right?
So, place a target keyword in the title, and be creative about it. Or you can use free title generators online or even install a plugin called MonsterInsights if you’re a WordPress user.
Optimize your Headings
You should use H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 headings while writing your blogs; it helps search engine bots to understand your content. They also allows you to use more related keywords in your posts.
Not forgetting that, for long content, subtopics help users navigate tough content more easily. So, make sure you mention the target keywords in your headings, of course, in a natural way.
Optimize your Page Url
Make sure your links contain the target keyword or its synonym. For instance, if your article is about ‘stock trading’, you can format the URL to Example.com/what-is-stock-trading/. Also, try to make your page URLs as short as possible.
If you’re a WordPress user, install a Yoast SEO plugin to help you customize your page slug.
Keywords in Meta Description
As seen above, Yoast SEO also helps you set a meta description for your page – which is a sentence explaining what the page is about.
The description should contain the focus keyword. For instance, the following pages have ‘start (create) a blog‘ in both the page title and meta description.
And while search engines pick page descriptions based on the user’s searches, it won’t take long to fix it. So, why not?
Optimize Images for SEO
At least 90% of information transmitted to the human brain is visual, which explains why image searches have increased. So, you should optimize all your images properly. Otherwise, search engines like Google won’t understand their meaning.
And you can do so by including the target keyword in ALT text and customizing your file name, format, and size. For instance, you can convert your images to WEPB format using Convertio.
So, when users search for ‘on-page SEO and click the image option, your images rank high.
Content is King
Don’t be obsessed with SEO, and forget to give more attention to the quality and originality of your content. Focus on publishing amazing content that will entice search engines and amaze your users and turn them into active followers or email subscribers.
But quality content alone is not enough to maximize organic traffic. So, do this:
Start your content creation process with extensive keyword research to identify content gap, search intent, volumes, and competitiveness. Then, look for long-tail and LSI keywords, and include them in your page titles, headings, and content.
Publish enough content that meets the users’ intent. Check out what other pages ranking for the same keyword are doing to understand your audience and market better.
Link to other pages and high-quality external sites to signal search engines that your content is authoritative and well referenced from reputable sources.
The next step is to get started with off-page optimization.
2. Off-Page SEO Marketing
While on-page SEO focus on making the pages more friendly to users and search engines, off-page SEO refers to practices you do outside your site to market it online. The most essential off-page optimization includes:
In addition to having authoritative content that is optimized for SEO, you should also create backlinks (links from external links directing to your site) to boost your rankings.
So, what are backlinks, and why are they important?
Think of backlinks as votes of confidence – the more you can get from authoritative websites, the more your web page appears reliable and credible to search engine bots. And don’t forget to build links at the page level.
My favorite link-building strategy (especially for newbies) is conducting competitive analysis and ‘stealing’ links from your competitors. I call it the link-stealing method, and this is how it works.
You can earn, buy or create backlinks, though earning can take time, and buying can cause trouble. But with my method, I created 6,278 within 6 months, and you can get even more.
All you have is to understand how backlinks work and how to insert them, and then conduct a backlink opportunity analysis to find what websites are ranking to the competitors that are not linking to you. Then reach out to them for a link insertion campaign.
Google My Business Profile
Start and optimize your business through Google My Business Page, including your website, services, locations, and other necessary details.
And then, when people search for ‘travel in Dubai‘ or maybe ‘digital marketing agencies,’ your company will appear like this:
Guest Articles & Sponsored Posts
You can also reach out to other websites to allow you to publish content on their website in exchange for backlinks. But don’t accept link exchange, where you’d link to my site for me to link back to yours.
You can even promote your business by paying for sponsored content on other authoritative websites.
Social Media Signals
While links from social media are marked as ‘no-follow’, which generally tells the search engines to ignore them, they are still important if obtained from highly ranked websites. So, consider marketing your web pages on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube.
3. Technical SEO
As the name suggests, this type of SEO focuses on fixing the technical issues hindering your site’s visibility on search engines.
So, it aims to make your web pages crawlable by search engine bots, enabling them to understand your content and recommend it to the relevant users.
To get started with technical SEO:
Optimize your robots.txt file to help search engines access your website. Then add your website to Google Search Console, verify, and submit your sitemap. And then, check the coverage report and fix the errors, if any.
Likewise, submit your sitemap to Bing webmaster and other major search engines. You’ll also have to fix your Url structure and page loading speed for mobile and desktop devices.
4. Local SEO
This SEO strategy focuses on optimizing local businesses. Local SEO is best suited for you if you have a physical location where people can visit you. In addition to the strategies discussed above, you should add a local business schema to your homepage.
Local business schema is a type of structured data markup code you can add to your business’s website to make it easier for search engines to identify what type of organization you are and what you do. This is a helpful way to help optimize your website for local SEO, as it’s a major ranking factor.
You should also create and optimize your Google my Business Account. Then register your business with directories like Yahoo small business and Foursquare. Or even promote your business in local newspapers or directories.
5. Video SEO Marketing
The most common one is YouTube SEO marketing, which refers to practices aimed at improving the position of your videos on YouTube search.
And YouTube being the most powerful search engine after Google, optimizing your videos to rank on this platform is worth optimising.
For instance, when some search for ‘link building trick (without buying)’ on YouTube, our video appears on top, followed by Brian Dean and Neil Patel’s.
Alternatively, search engines allow video search:
Now that you understand why video SEO marketing is important, this is how to get started the right way:
- Conduct keyword research
- Use the target keyword while naming your video file
- Add the target keyword in your video title
- Include the keyword (and synonyms) in the video description
- Mention the target keyword while creating your video
- Create amazing thumbnails – for instance, with Canva
- Focus on creating longer (where relevant) and quality videos
6. WordPress SEO Tactics
As of 2021, there were over 455 million websites that used WordPress. And keeping in mind that there are roughly 1.3 billion websites, that’s an outstanding number, right?
That’s the reason behind the emergence of this category of SEO, which is specifically tailored for WordPress users. And as long as you want more organic traffic to your site, which I have no doubt you do, you must pay attention to best SEO practices.
For instance, by not discouraging search engines from indexing your site.
Also, make sure:
- You use the correct plugins – like Yoast SEO and MonsterInsights.
- Use a well-optimized WordPress theme.
- Remove unused themes and plugins
- Solve crawling errors
Common SEO Mistakes to Avoid
One limitation of SEO marketing is that it can take time to yield results. And you can be tempted to take shortcuts, which can adversely impact your returns. Here’re some of the15 most common mistakes you should avoid at all costs:
- Sacrificing quality for quantity
- Ignoring Keyword research
- Not understanding the target audience before writing content
- Failing to edit or delete poor-quality content – Google loves fresh content
- Not optimizing your content for the target keyword
- Not targeting any keyword at all
- Overoptimixing your content (keyword stuffing)
- Writing what you want instead of what your audience wants
- Using multiple H1 headings – you should only use one
- Overusing tags
- Not checking or fixing crawling errors
- Poorly formated Page Url
- Not fixing broken internal and outbound
- Buying backlinks
- Not giving attention to SEO at all
Top 10 Free SEO Tools + their Use
There are unlimited SEO tools on the web, some focusing on keyword research and technical SEO analysis, while others give you content ideas and backlink reports.
The most common ones that I often use include the following:
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free SEO tool by Google that helps you with the following:
- Submitting your website for indexing by Google
- Checking how your website performance on Google
- Monitoring your click-through rate (CTR)
- Checking your most performing pages and keywords (queries)
- Solving crawling errors and many more uses.
2. Bing Webmaster Tools
Like Google Search Console, Bing webmaster tools help you monitor your website performance on Bing and Yahoo search engines. But unlike Search Console, it has a free keyword research tool:
3. Google Analytics
This tool helps you understand your website users, including:
- Realtime visitors’ check
- Total number of users and sessions
- The bounce rate
- Session duration
- Location, age, and gender of your audience
- The navigation behavior of your users and many more uses.
4. Ubersuggest – Keywords & Backlinks
Ubersuggest is an amazing SEO tool (free and paid), that helps you with:
- Keyword research and suggestion
- Check domain and page authority
- Site audit and rank tracking
- Competitive audit – know what keywords your competitors are ranking for
- Backlink report and link building opportunities
- Monitoring your top keywords and pages, and many more uses.
There’s also a free chrome extension. Check it out.
5. Semrush: Rankings & Site Audit
Semrush is an amazing tool when it comes to SEO marketing, as it helps you with:
- Checking website authority score
- Site full SEO audit
- Backlinks report – referring domains and total backlinks
- Monthly traffic report and total ranking keywords
- Backlink audit
- Keyword and backlink gap
- Domain overview and traffic analytics, and many more uses.
6. Ahref Free SEO Tools
Ahref is another must-use SEO website that helps you with the following:
- Domain Authority checking – get the latest backlinks reports and authority score
- It helps you discover link building opportunities
- Check whether your SEO strategies are yielding results
- The broken link checker helps you make your site up to date
- Keyword research and traffic overview
- Competitive analysis
7. Moz SEO
Moz is a powerful SEO website (tool) that helps you with the following:
- Monitoring your website’s domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA)
- Checking which websites are linking to you
- Check your anchor text
- Review your top pages
- Keyword research and link research
- Competitive research and analysis
- Monitoring your spam score
- Link intersect, and many other uses
8. Keyword.io – Free Research Tool
Keyword.io is another resourceful keyword research tool that helps you find a long-trail version of your target keyword. And it can help you get trending searches on Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Fiverr, and the likes.
For instance, for the keyword ‘content writing‘, you can get more long-tail versions like ‘academic content writing‘ or ‘AI content writing tools.’
Answer the Public website helps you find relevant questions that people are asking surrounding your target keyword on the web. And then, you can use some of these questions in your headings or the main body of your content.
Title-Generator.com is another amazing tool that helps you craft clickable headlines for your blog or email. Great headlines can boost your CTR.
Let me know your favorite SEO tool and why in the comment section.
The Ultimate SEO Checklist
At the beginning of this article, I told you that SEO is a complicated process, but is it? I don’t think so. Here’s the quickest and most complete checklist to get better SEO results:
- List several keywords that you want to target
- Analyze the page ranking for the keywords – observe the style, formatting, and content gap
- Write amazing content with search intent and the content gap in mind
- Work on On-page SEO
- Proceed with off-page and technical SEO
- Optimize your content or search intent
- Add images and other visuals
- Solve technical errors through technical SEO
- Audit your site to see what is working and what is not
- Get social and interact with your audience
- Make good use of the above SEO tools
SEO Marketing is not dying and will not die anytime soon. However, it’s changing, and you need to change with it. Remember, Google changes its ranking algorithm 500 to 600 times yearly.
Before, keyword stuffing was a norm, and webmasters used it to attract massive traffic from searches. But with time, search engine bots have become more intelligent in recommending content to users.
Congratulations, you just learnt:
- What Exactly is SEO
- Why SEO is Important
- Types of SEO
- Common SEO Mistakes
- Free SEO Tools
- Complete SEO Checklist
Let me know if you have any questions or additional tips on how to get better with SEO.