This post was most recently updated on December 27, 2019
Here’s a step by step SEO tutorial for beginners with the latest and best practices for SEO in 2020.
Not just another SEO guide, it is a comprehensive tutorial with actionable steps that will help you increase website traffic and get you results.
In this guide, we are following that popular 80/20 rule where 80% of result comes by 20% of the effort.
Let’s get started
- How do Search Engines like Google work?
- What is SEO?
- Keyword Research
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO
- Bonus: SEO Tools
How do Search Engines like Google work?
Search Engine giants like Google are equipped with advanced bots that crawl all the websites on the Internet! Imagine the size and speed of that operation. Those bots after searching, store that data and display it to searchers who are looking for that anything on the search engine.
So we understand that there are 3 parts of search engines- they are Crawling, Indexing and Returning Query.
Let’s understand all three of them
At stage one, Google bots crawl one website page published on the Internet. It detects other links on the web page and follows that trail to crawl other web pages. Once again, the bots discover new links on those webpages and go on to crawl them and find more links, crawl them and so on.
These crawlers are a computer program designed by Google to find web pages and links. They are also called spiders because they crawl the Internet web.
The process of SEO on your website makes it easier for these spiders to crawl your web page easily and rank you for specific search queries related to your business.
Once the spiders or crawlers find your webpages, they store or Index them on the Google database. From here on, whenever a user searches for something about your business on Google’s search engine, Google can display your data from their database.
Understand this, spiders understand your website code and store the data in terms of Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Keywords, Content, etc. Check out your website’s source code and you will see what the Google crawlers see on your web page.
Returning Queries is the part where your SEO efforts pay off. Once your target audience searches for any query in the search engine, Google can now simply search its database for the most relevant results for the query and display it in the Search Engine Result Page (SERP).
It’s Google’s top-secret algorithm that determines the relevancy of the search results. The exact determiners of this algorithm are unknown but Google does drop hints about it and the experts of the SEO industry interpret it to form the SEO best practices.
What is SEO?
Starting with the basics, Search Engine Optimization A.K.A SEO is the art of using various optimization approaches to increase website traffic.
Understanding SEO is essential to build any type of business, even a small amount of SEO knowledge can significantly improve your marketing strategy. You’ll surely have an added advantage if you can use this SEO tutorial and apply it practically.
Why is SEO important?
SEO fetches you organic (free) website traffic based on your content and other efforts that connect with your audience and increases the chances of conversion.
The search engine giant Google has the highest market share of search engine audience, beating competitors like Bing, Duck Duck Go, Yahoo and more.
Understanding the workings of SEO for beginners will help you improve your ranking on these search engines with fewer efforts and lesser cost.
Google offers 2 distinct ways of representing search results.
- Organic Results
- Paid Results
The paid ads are mostly the first four results on the first Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Thereafter are the organic search results.
The organic results are based on the intricate and complex Google algorithms while the paid results follow rules of Google Ads like PPC (Pay Per Click), Pay Per Impression, relevance and more.
One of the key methods to increase organic traffic is to create web page content that is engaging and relevant to your target audience.
Remember, Google prioritises content relevance and User Experience above anything and pushes web pages on top of the search results based on that.
Finding the right keywords for your website/ blog is the focal point of SEO strategies that will help you get more traffic.
We are going to go through the process of finding your target keyword.
But first, let’s talk about Long Tail Keywords.
As the name suggests, a Long tail keyword is a search term containing four or more words. This type of search query has fewer searches than a head term. Additionally, it can contain 2-3 keywords in it and are easier to rank for.
So, it’s always good to find a few long tail keywords and use it in your web page to get more traffic.
So how to find your target keyword?
For this, you first need to identify your target audience- people you want to find your webpage. Based on that and your business domain, you can think of a few possible search terms that your audience is more likely to search.
Once you have a list of search terms, you can use tools like Google Keyword Planner and Ubersuggest to find the perfect keyword for you
Let’s take an example with Ubersuggest.
Go to Ubbersuggest and plug the search term into the search box and click search.
You can see the search volume for your keyword, SEO difficulty, Paid search difficulty and CPC (Cost Per Click) value.
Select the keywords with an adequate monthly search volume and a lower CPC value. This will increase your chances of getting more quality traffic to your webpage.
Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is a great tool for keyword finding and has other great functionalities as well.
Keeping the search volume and your audience in mind, you can select your target keyword.
Use that keyword in your webpage to boost your ranking.
Read the complete Keyword Research Guide here.
On-page SEO is the practical optimization strategies which helps you rank higher in search engines like Google and get more relevant traffic.
Let’s go through step by step points.
Meta Tags on your web page
Meta Title is the main title of your webpage and has maximum impact on SEO.
It is advisable to insert your keyword at the beginning of your title tag. Don’t worry if you are not able to do that, keep it as close to the beginning of the title. Search engines will give more weight to such pages.
Don’t forget to add the same keyword to your meta description tag as well. It is also advisable to add related keywords or words to your meta description tag to add more relevance to the description
You should also add your selected keyword in the image alt tag. Google can’t understand the image so it relies on alt tag and if you use proper alt tag, your image will rank in Google image search.
Using your Keyword effectively in your content
Every webpage will have a title or headline and it is recommended to add your targeted keyword in the H1 tag.
It is important to follow the headline tag structure in your webpage. Use the H1 tag for the heading of the page, H2 for the subheading and so on till H6. However, it’s not necessary to use all the tags.
Most CMS(Content Management System) like WordPress will have the H1 tag for a website or blog heading. However, I would suggest you check your webpage source code once to confirm.
Another important thing to remember is to use the target keyword in your web content organically. DON’T stuff too many keywords, Google doesn’t take keyword stuffing lightly.
Most importantly, your content should be relevant and meaningful to your readers- as I said before user experience is everything!
Additionally, if you used the target keyword in the first 100 words, you make it easier for Google to find your content- increasing your chances of getting a higher ranking. Thus, use the keyword at least once in the first paragraph.
Internal and external links
Adding a link on your webpage is a way to tell Google what your webpage’s about. The external link which is very relevant to your content will signal Google to understand that topic.
You can even link your other articles or page to each other. The interlinking of content will enable search engines to understand your overall website topic. It will add significant value to those pages.
Additionally, if any of your pages are not ranking well, an internal link from the better ranking page will help another page rank better.
So if you use the right strategy to link internal and external pages, it will boost your SEO.
Optimize your web page URL
Your page URL is the first thing that Google learns about your website and is one of the ranking factors for the search engine. Adding a target keyword in your URL will raise your visibility in the search results.
Additionally, you should keep your URL short as clear and concise URLs are easier to remember and are more likely to be clicked than complicated ones. They also give a boost to your SEO.
Complicated URL Structure:
Right URL Structure:
Comprehensive and in-depth content is the ultimate answer to effective SEO.
While creating content, focus on the quality of content from the reader’s perspective. It is essential that your content is relevant, engaging and informative.
So how will you create such content?
Make your articles detailed with accurate information and at least 2000 words.
According to a study by backlinko.com, longer content always wins in SEO with the average word per post to be 1890
Think long term while creating the content. Make sure that your content is appropriate even after a few years of publishing.
Another important website ranking factor on Google search engine is the website speed.
Your visitor is most likely to lose interest if your website takes too long to load- the average time is 3 seconds
You can optimize your images with tools like lazyload to decrease your loading time. You can even use CDN (Content Delivery Network).
CDN will load your website from your visitor’s region. It saves your webpage at multiple locations and loads it from the nearby region allowing your website to load faster.
For mobile website speed optimization, you can use AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) by Google which helps creating mobile-friendly websites that load quickly on mobile devices.
Here’s how you can improve your website speed.
Responsive design is simply the approach of designing a website in a way that it adapts to any screen-size, devices, and orientation.
So, why you should care about responsive design?
The answer is Mobile-first indexing
In 2018, the search engine kingpin-Google officially rolled out the mobile-first indexing.
That means that the mobile version of your website will be considered first by Google as an SEO ranking factor.
This is why Responsive Design is very important.
You can do this by using media queries in CSS and by using a responsive theme on WordPress which is supported on all the devices.
Test your website on mobile, tablet and desktop view before you publish it and make sure it works well across all the devices.
Off-Page SEO is the activities that you (or others) do outside of your website to improve the ranking of a web-page in search engines.
It’s not all about backlinks but it’s the main part of off-page SEO.
Let’s have a look at all the basics to perform off-page SEO.
Backlinks (Link Building)
Backlinks are extremely important for your website’s SEO.
They signal Google that if reputed sites are linking to your website it means that your content is worth linking.
So the more the relevant backlinks, the better the website reputation and thus, higher in search rankings.
Google determines the value of your web page based on backlinks.
Make sure that you get the backlinks from relevant websites. It is essential that the content is relevant when you get the backlink from other websites.
Backlinks from irrelevant websites will not only be useless but can also have a negative impact on your SEO efforts.
Backlinks are always attached to specific anchor text. The anchor text will tell Google what the attached link is about. It also adds weight as a ranking factor.
Even though the number of links is important, the number of domains linked to your site is even more important than the number of links
Thus the 3 important factors of backlinks are
- Quality links
- The number of links
- Anchor text
How to get these backlinks on your website?”
Let me tell you a few basic things that you can work upon to get relevant backlinks for your website.
- Answer questions related to your business on sites like Quora and Reddit
- Add insightful comments on relevant blogs
- Post content on various forums
- Guest post
Be active on Social platforms
Social media does not directly affect your SEO.
However, Google sees how active you are on social media, how people are reacting to your content on social media. One way or the other it does affect rankings.
So being active on social media will help you in SEO indirectly.
Consider the below 2 factors for SEO.
- Total number of shares
- Who shares your article.
If your post is shared by an influencer, it will be considered as a good piece of content with a high value. Thus, you are most likely to get more views and shares if an influencer validates it with likes and shares.
Bonus: SEO Tools
There are different kinds of tools available for SEO that will help you get your desired results.
I have already mentioned a few tools for keyword research earlier in this article. Here are some tracking tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console, Competitor analysis tools like SEMRush, Ahrefs and more.
This tool will help you learn more about your visitors and monitor your traffic from different channels like Organic Search, Paid Search, Direct, Email, Social etc.
It also helps you in tracking the behaviour of your visitors. It shows how many pages your visitors are visiting and what is the average time they are spending on your website and more.
This tool will help analyse your visitors and based on the insights, you can make decisions to further your optimization strategy.
As we go further in our journey, I will write a more detailed article to help you understand how Google Analytics works.
Google Search Console
This tool from Google will provide you with the keywords that people are searching for. You will be able to see how many impressions you are getting for your web pages and how many people are clicking on it.
You can also see the CTR (Click Through Rate) and position of your web page in SERP. This is the ultimate SEO tool offers you behavioural data that helps you improve your website SEO and increase your traffic.
Learn more on how you can use Google Search Console effectively.
Start with the above tools to measure your SEO performance. Here is the complete list of Free SEO Tools that will help you with your website SEO.
How can you get started?
SEO is not a one-time optimization process. It is an on-going process and something that you will have to constantly work on as your SEO strategy. You have already studied how to conduct SEO and now the question is how can you get started?
Getting started with your first SEO strategy is simple. However, don’t take them all up at once.
Here’s what you need to do to get started.
- Create quality content relevant to your target audience. Remember User Experience is the key to success.
- Update your content frequently.
- Optimize your content for SEO as shown in the above steps.
- Monitor your keyword rankings and plan the future strategy.
- Perform SEO audits every few months.
As I mentioned earlier, don’t take up everything at once. Start small with what is most suitable for you and slowly learn more and then undertake other aspects of SEO strategies.
It’s not rocket science. These are all acquirable skills that you can easily learn and perform SEO step by step as shown in the above tutorial.
Keywords are terms that your ideal customer searches for in Google. It takes extensive research, and business understanding to come up with the right keywords for your business. Keyword research is the first step in SEO.
Here’s a full guide on keyword research.
This is the most important SEO tactic that helps you rank higher in search engine. On-page SEO is website optimization technique by adding keywords in the web page code at various places like meta title, description, heading tags, content, and more.
It also includes criteria like website performance, content quality, website speed, website structure, and more.
Link building is a tactic of getting links from high authority third party websites. The link must be from relevant websites or from your industry websites to ensure that Google understands your domain well.
Links from any non-relevant websites won’t help or might even be considered negatively for SEO. There are many tactics to get links such as reaching out to people, guest posting, blog commenting, and more.
Local SEO is a process of optimizing your website for local search queries in your region. For example, if you run a restaurant, someone may search for “Restaurants near me”.
I help you rank for such localized queries. I can also help you optimize Google
Business listing with this. It’s mostly helpful for brick, and mortar business.
Read the full Local SEO guide here.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a process of improving your website’s search engine
ranking via organic(unpaid) methods such as website updates, link building, keyword research, and more.
Search engine marketing (SEM) is the process of optimizing the paid marketing campaigns via platforms like Google Ads. It is also called as PPC (Pay per click).
SEO is not rocket science. It can be very easy to perform if you know the basics.
You don’t need to invest in a lot of paid tools to begin. Instead, use the tools and tactics from the tutorial for basic SEO on your website.
Start with all the above methods shown in SEO tutorial step by step and you will be able to gradually increase your website traffic.
However, be patient.
You won’t get the results overnight.
SEO is a long process and takes time. Once you apply these tactics, give it a good 3 months and you will slowly see the growth in traffic.
The key is to be persistence with your website. Post regular and meaningful content that will help your visitors.
Next, you can read this comprehensive SEO checklist to improve your rankings.
So, Did you find this article helpful? Did you like this SEO tutorial?
If you have any more tips to share, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.