Learn SEO at Home: Teach Yourself Search Engine Optimization
SEO is increasingly important in today’s digital world. In the internet space, 68% of all online experience begins with a search engine. This means that most people’s first interaction with the World Wide Web likely begins with a Google Search since Google accounts for 93% of global traffic.
Content creators and businesses are adopting digital marketing as part of their strategies to reach more consumers. To gain awareness among internet users, they must employ SEO consultants or specialists to grow their business. This makes learning how to optimize web pages a highly sought-after skill in the market today.
There are many resources online that can teach you how to learn SEO for free. SEO is a fairly complex subject, but with the right resources, guidance, and practice, you can master the basics quickly. Depending on the course content, you can learn SEO between a few weeks or a few months at your own pace.
In this article, we will take you through a complete guide on the fundamentals of SEO and some useful resources for your learning journey as outlined below:
- SEO Key Components
- Step 1: Study the Fundamentals
- Step 2: Start Practicing
- Step 3: Consider Courses and Certifications
- Step 4: Explore the Technical side
- Step 5: Keep Up with the Latest News
Understanding The Basics
To fully grasp the core aspects of SEO, you need to familiarize yourself with the building blocks.
What Is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of online traffic to a website through organic search engine results (SERPs) instead of paid ads. SEO requires quality content creation (mainly writing, videos and pictures) to be optimized for search engines so that users can discover content easily. Basically, SEO is the combination of steps you take to make your content more visible to your users.
There are two main SEO categories used to optimize websites for organic traffic and search marketing;
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
How Do Search Engines Work?
Think of the internet as a city. In the city, there are houses called websites. Each room inside the house is like a different webpage. The living room is the Homepage. The hallways and stairs connecting the rooms are internal links. They are links to pages within the same website.
Connecting different houses on each street are roads, which are the external links. External links connect different websites. When you ask Google a question, i.e., when you enter a search query or create content for the internet; Google is able to find, sort, and place your content in three main steps;
- Crawling: Google scans webpages, specifically the hyperlinks (internal, external and backlinks) for the code and content
- Indexing: Google stores and organizes the information it finds from crawling
- Ranking: Google provides the pieces of content that best matches a person’s search query
To direct more organic traffic to your website, you have to follow SEO best practices which are;
- Build discovery
- Relevance by creating lots of high-quality content
- Build authority by getting lots of high-quality links to your website (backlinks)
SEO Key Components
SEO optimization is like making a bowl of soup. Just as soup needs specific ingredients and timing to get the best taste, so is doing SEO to achieve organic traffic for digital marketing.
The most important ingredients of a good SEO soup are;
- Keyword Research
- Content Optimization
- Link Building
- Technical SEO and
- SEO Analytics
Keywords are the words and phrases that people type into search engines. Keyword research is the process of finding and analyzing search terms that people enter into search engines with the goal of using that data for a specific purpose.
As an SEO consultant or specialist, maybe you want to boost the organic traffic for a client’s business. First, you need to know what the customers need by researching their most pressing questions.
Keyword research helps you understand;
- What are people searching for?
- How many people are searching for it?
- What format do they want to receive the information?
- How difficult would it be to rank for that search query?
If you are not using the right keywords, Google will not rank your content high.
Some of the best practices for keyword research include:
- Understand Your Customers And Their Goals
What are your target customers searching for online? What words and phrases do they use? You can use related searches and auto suggestions on Google to get started on keyword research.
- Decide What Topics You Want To Be Known For
What topics do people search for that are related to your business? You cannot jam every single keyword into your content, so prioritize only the most important ones. Be careful not to ‘game’ the search engines, when customers discover your content looks spammy, it increases your website’s bounce rate.
- Note Search Volume And Competition
Using your keyword research tool, take note of the monthly search volume and competition for each keyword you want to target. See what kind of content is currently ranking for these keywords. Check for trending keywords using the Google Trends tool and see how the search volume for your keyword is trending.
- Competitive/Content Analysis
You can also scale your keyword search by finding out which keywords your competitors are ranking for that you aren’t. Do this by entering the keywords into an incognito browser mode.
MORE KEYWORD RESEARCH TOOLS
As an SEO “soup maker”. How can you make Google know that your soup is better than billions out there?
It must have these 3 ingredients;
- E – Expertise,
- A – Authoritativeness and
- T – Trustworthiness
Essentially, your content must be good enough to EAT. Constantly.
Your content must be;
- Talked about often
- Referred to often
- Cited in other works
Content discovery, relevance and authority are dependent on each other, as are most SEO principles. If your content isn’t relevant (poor keyword research) it has little chance of ranking, no matter how authoritative it is. Also, if your content isn’t authoritative (no or little backlinks), it has little chance of ranking no matter how relevant it is.
On-page, off-page and technical SEO are the two main processes used to optimize content. On-page SEO is the process of optimizing various front-end and back-end components of your website so that it generates a lot of organic traffic and ranks well on search engines. On-page SEO is usually visible. Its elements are composed of;
- Heading tags
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- External links
Off-page and technical SEO elements are not always visible.
For Google, it doesn’t matter how good (you think) your content is. The only thing that matters is how good other people think it is (does it have authority)? This is why link building is vital to organic traffic and digital marketing. Backlinks are the main way Google ranks your website.
Backlinks are the links other sites add to their webpages that leads to your webpage. They are also called inbound links. Backlinks are an endorsement of your website by other websites. They signal to Google that your site is a high-quality resource that people want to reference.
More Backlinks + Higher Quality Backlinks = Higher Ranking in Google Search
Effective Link Building = Great Content + Manually Building Links (internal + external links)
To build effective links;
- Run the URLs for your top keyword results through a link checking tool like Moz Keyword Explorer
- Calculate the average number of root domains linking to these sites
- Check the common themes and elements of the websites and emulate them
- Run a backlink analysis using tools like, Majestic, Ahrefs, Moz, Semrush.
Technical SEO allows search engines to easily crawl and index your content. Your site should be optimized for technical SEO so that it appears higher in organic search results. Every website has SEO ranking factors for both the user experience and the technical requirements.
If a page takes too long to load, for example, that is considered a poor user experience, and Google may rank your content lower in the search engine as a result. Also, if your site has keyword stuffing or 301 and 302 redirect errors, Google can't be sure which content to effectively index in its search engine for specific queries. That also means your content will be less visible in organic search results.
This is the process of collecting and analyzing data to better understand the organic performance of your website. Tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console can be used to understand SEO analytics and SEO reporting
Types of SEO Analytics;
- SEO Content Audit
- Site Audit
- Off-page SEO
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
You can analyze your SEO data by reviewing the following;
- Is your page speed optimal? Analytics Tool: PageSpeed Insights
- How visible is your content on Google Search? Analytics Tools: Searchmetrics and Google Rank Checker.
- Are your images properly audited? Analytics Tools: youcompress and watermarkly
- Are your URLs well-structured using best practices? Use Google’s free inspection tool
- Have you properly analyzed your website’s content? Use Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool
5 Steps To Master SEO
Learning SEO is an ongoing and cumulative process as trends, algorithms and best practices require constant attention. For SEO to yield results, you must see it as a long-term strategy.
Below are 5 steps that can help you master SEO;
Study the Fundamentals
SEO principles are inter-related and inter-dependent. Understanding the SEO Key Components, utilizing the resources provided in earlier sections gives you a solid foundation.
If you run a blog, you can practice your SEO knowledge there to gain confidence until you’re ready to take on clients. Search for SEO jobs through freelancing platforms, LinkedIn, etc., and learn/practice the skills in the job requirements. This helps you build your portfolio.
Following SEO best practices may not yield immediate results. Rely on SEO Analytics tools to check the effectiveness of your strategy.
You can also study case studies from brands we’ve worked with;
Consider Courses And Certifications
SEO courses and certifications help you provide a structured environment for learning. There are many free and paid courses online to help you develop from beginner to expert. As someone starting out on their SEO journey, it is advisable to utilize free courses. If you decide to specialize in specific areas, you can then pay for certification.
Explore The Technical Side
Technical SEO helps you rank higher for your target keywords when you optimize all the technical features of your web pages. Technical SEO includes learning skills like crawling, indexing, website architecture, page speed, broken links, mobile-friendly design, HTTPS, duplicate content, URL structure, 301 redirects, 404 errors, robots.txt file, XML sitemap optimization, etc.
Keep Up With The Latest News
A good SEO specialist should always be in tune with new trends. Having access to information early can be the difference between you and others.
Stay up-to-date by;
- Searching Keywords on social media – in the search bar, type in keywords that are SEO related, and follow profiles consistent and notable for SEO content. You can follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for reliable information.
- Subscribing to our SEO Blog – at UADV Blog you can get the latest in marketing topics written and curated by the UADV team.
- Using Google Search Central Blog – also known as Google Webmaster Blog, provides information on the most recent developments in Google Tools such as Google Search Console.
High-Level Option: Let The SEO Experts Handle It
Learning SEO can be tricky, even with all the fantastic knowledge and resources provided in this article and sometimes you need a little help. UADV has a dedicated team to help you better implement the SEO Key Components and other aspects of digital marketing. Our core services include;
- Search Engine Optimization – including SEO for CBD
- Paid Ads
- Web Design
- Marketing Agency for Schools
- Consulting – we are present in 9 locations, including Miami in the United States.
We can give guidance on anything from client communication to advertising campaigns. To get a consultation, contact us immediately.