SEO techniques for beginners

This article is for you if:

  • You have a website
  • You (more or less) regularly update it
  • You want to get known with something other than advertisement or Adwords links (we also thought of that, so here’s a short guide to spend less)
  • Google results magically appear because Google knows everything

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation: it means optimising your website on defined keywords so that search engines’ robots can see you, which will result in increasing your natural referral. It can also be translated by “do everything you can to be first in the Google search results”.
But not everybody is an expert in SEO nor has the means to pay for that expert, so we decided to help you a little by listing the basics of SEO techniques.

Prerequisite

First thing you need to know about natural referral (your rank in search results) is that you need to publish content. That’s why SEO is often involved in a content marketing strategy.
It is very important that you are active, but it has to be done a certain way. The semantic of your website is certainly one of the key elements. As a professional, your website is likely to already be structured, with products presentation, contact and FAQ pages, etc. You have categories for your products or services or if we’re talking about a blog “theme A”, “theme B”, etc.

Content

Text

In order to be well referenced, the content you produce in the text format must match several criteria:

  • Be logical: don’t create fake pages just for the sake of it or pages/content that have nothing to do with your actual activity
  • Have a minimum length: it’s usually considered to be 300 words minimum per article or page
  • Be structured: every page should have at least a title and a couple of subtitles. You can even add “sub-subtitles” if relevant
  • Be optimised on a keyword: a keyword is not necessarily a word; it can also be a short sentence. Let’s take the example of the keyword “online lead generation”:
    • Have a title like: “How to increase online lead generation” and a subtitle like “1. Online lead generation forms” – but be careful! Don’t overdo it either. Once (or twice if your text is long) is enough for mentioning the keyword in the subtitle
    • Write “online lead generation” several times at some point in your text
    • Put it in your webpage URL: example.com/article/how-to-increase-online-lead-generation/

Be careful! One page = one keyword. It’s not always easy, but that’s how it is. If all your pages are optimised for the same keyword, you’re almost sure of being punished by Google.

Image

Here image means illustration. Good SEO will use diversity of content: text, pictures, info graphics, videos, GIF… If your content is relevant to your audience, don’t hesitate to vary the formats. At the very least, images are non-negotiable and videos are becoming more and more important. To optimise your page, you can put your keyword in the meta tag of your illustrations.

Links

Last but not least, the links. Two types exist:

  • Internal links: when you write a product page or an article, you can redirect your audience to related products or articles. It’s useful in structuring your website.
  • External links:
    • Same as for the internal links, you can mention something from outside your website on your page (preferably something recent). It will reinforce your referral and your “seriousness” – it shows the robots that you are active and aware and that you’re not abandoning your website.
    • The links from an external website (of trust) to yours (called “backlinks”) reinforce your referral by showing the same benefits as mentioned above. It’s not always easy to get those links though – you can start with social media. Also you should note that if you work in finance, don’t try to create backlinks from a website selling shoes just because your friend owns it and agreed to discreetly put it on their website – it has to be logical.

Mistakes to avoid

A person in charge of SEO who doesn’t respect Google’s guidelines is called a “Black Hat” and is punishable for it.
Here are a couple of mistakes that could make you go from page 1 to page 14 over a night in the search results because Google sanctioned you.

Over-optimisation

Its name speaks for itself: you overdo it: put your keywords too many times in your text, too many images with your keyword in the meta tag, you repeat the same things over and over again… Google’s robots are always improving on the detection of this kind of fraud.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content may come from your own website or another one. If Google is detecting an abnormal percentage of duplicate content, you’re considered not very reliable and thus you might later be penalised for it.

Anchors

Anchors are the words on which a link is put – and they matter. If you have a link on the words “B2B conferences in December”, you should logically direct to a page giving information on these conferences. If not, you are illogical and thus not very reliable which might lead to a sanction.
What’s more anchors should incite your audience to click. Anchors such as “Click here” or “Read more” have no use in SEO although they’re not a cause for sanction.
Penguin, Google’s update about SEO, was recently put up-to-date with anchors problems coming from abusive behaviours. Some websites over-optimised similar anchors from fictive pages all pointing to a precise website in order to improve referral. Even if it’s not your intention to do so, the robots are rather sensitive so you should keep that in mind.

So here you have the main things a beginner in SEO should know about. Optimising a website to improve its ranking takes a lot of time and if the keywords are highly competitive, an expert might be needed for it. But by respecting the guidelines above, you should be able to start improving your natural referral without having problems. If you really want to work on your SEO, you should also consider subscribing to Google’s blog, which will keep you updated on the changes of SEO rules (and there’s a lot of them).

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