Using SEO: For Beginners

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Search Engine Optimization. Otherwise known as SEO. I can’t tell you how many creatives and entrepreneurs I’ve talked to who groan anytime SEO is mentioned. I promise, it’s not as scary as some people make it out to be and there are some major benefits you can reap by implementing a few simple strategies. So, let’s break it down.

SEO is essentially the process of maximizing the number of visitors to your site by making sure that your website appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine (let’s face it, that’s typically Google at this point). Diving into SEO in detail can get a bit complicated, so for now I just want to talk about SEO at its most basic level so you can start implementing strategy. Even the smallest tasks can make a big difference if you implement them with consistency. You can’t just assume that people will find you just because you have a website!

Keywords

Keywords are the words your intended audience will be searching for that will bring them to your site. You are probably already using keywords on some level. It’s rare that anyone ever really starts from square one, here.

Don’t overthink keywords. Start with 4 or 5 ‘buckets’ or categories of topics that you write about on your blog and create a Google Sheet with your categories as columns. Next, brainstorm a list of as many keywords and phrases that you can think of for each category. Don’t forget to include hashtags you like to use or that make sense for the topic. Then, expand your keyword list by searching for them via Google, Pinterest, YouTube, or even Amazon. I always suggest these 4 sites to my clients because they are recognized as the top 4 “search engines” on the internet. All of them also implement a suggested search feature so this is an easy and free way to grow your keyword list.

You should have a pretty good list at this point. Finally, look at where your ideal audience interacts. What are they talking about? What questions are they asking? Pull keywords from these places. Now, you have a solid keyword list! Keep this list easily accessible as a reference. You’ll want to include as many of these keywords as you can, naturally, into your site. Each page will also need a “Focus keyphrase”, which is the main phrase you want the page to rank for – or the main topic that page or post is about.

URL Slug

This is the term for what the last part of the URL looks like. For example, you are currently reading this via the URL https://copybykatie.co/seo-beginners/. That last part of the URL, /seo-beginners/, is the URL slug. The slug should be direct and uncomplicated, and contain your focus keyphrase if possible.

Meta Description

This is the snippet of copy that shows up under a website that shows up in search results. When you Google something, you see the blue site titles along with a line or two of writing underneath to help you decide if that content is relevant to you. That bit of copy is the meta description. If you don’t write designated meta descriptions, Google will simply pull the first few lines of writing from your page. This is an underrated form of SEO. Funny enough, even some of the big name online marketing experts don’t utilize meta descriptions consistently. Here’s your chance to write a click-worthy catch! Here’s where you convince people to click through to your content!

Alt Text or Image Alt Attributes

This is the text that’s associated with an image. It should simply explain what the image contains. It also helps Google figure out what your page is about and counts toward that page’s word count. If you use Pinterest, this text carries over when someone Pins your image, so it helps you maintain creative control as well as have a form of automatic content credit, if you will.

Yoast SEO

If you’re a WordPress user, I highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin. Once installed, you’ll see an area at the bottom of pages and posts that says “Yoast SEO” and here you can easily enter a focus keyphrase, slug, SEO title, meta description, and more. The plugin will also grade your page or post from “Needs improvement” to “Good” and offer improvements and make suggestions as to what you can do better. It also gives you props for what you do right. It is such an amazing way to learn SEO best practices and get started immediately.

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