SEO fundamentals: From rookie to professional in five steps

If your business relies on people finding you online, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) needs to be at the top of your list. However, getting results can take time. Explore what SEO is, why it’s important and how to build a long-term plan that can help your website flourish.

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Cobiro's Content Team

This is the first in our series looking at the principles of SEO. Check out our other posts on writing compelling content, creating a link building strategy and understanding Google’s algorithm.   

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization. It’s the process of making changes to your website and content so it performs better in search results, meaning the quantity and quality of traffic to your website goes up. SEO targets unpaid (organic) traffic only, which can come from a variety of sources including image, voice and video search.

Learn more about the difference between unpaid and paid traffic in this short article

How do search engines work?


If we take Google as an example, it wants to provide the best possible service for its users. This is done by compiling search results that deliver on what the searcher is looking for. When someone searches for a particular word or term, Google’s complex algorithms get to work on scanning websites that meet certain factors (such as relevancy, quality and location), before selecting the ones it deems most worthy of being ranked in the search results. 

Why do you need to prioritize SEO?


By 2023 there will be 5.3 billion internet users in the world, up from 3.9 billion in 2018. If you want to be successful online, you’ll need to invest the time and energy for SEO. The good news is that doing so forces you to hone in on what it is you’re trying to achieve, how you’re doing it and to whom you're speaking, which can pay dividends in the long run.

How to set up your website for SEO

SEO can be divided into two parts: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO is made up of the factors that you can control, such as content, speed and imagery, whereas off-page SEO involves activities that drive awareness and traffic to your website, such as link building and social media.

We’ve taken elements of both and curated them into a high-level list of actionable areas. 

1. Get the basics right

It’s worth doing an SEO audit of your website to find out where the on-page SEO gaps are. This includes making sure that your page titles, meta and image descriptions, page length and URLs are all on point and contain the right information. 

These elements are the pillar of a successful SEO strategy, so it’s important to get them right from the start. Focus on making your title and descriptions as captivating as possible, as these are what draw people to your website from search results.

Cobiro’s free SEO app scans your whole website and provides a report on the areas for improvement, with explanations and suggestions for each. Create an account to get started.

2. Create compelling content


Although you’ll need to include the keywords that people are searching for in your copy, they shouldn’t come at the expense of providing quality content. Google is more likely to rank your website if its content is relevant, original, and has a specific purpose; which is presented in a format that’s clear and logical.

An effective SEO content strategy should always be audience-first. Once you know who you’re writing for and why, creating your content will become easier. Our blog on how to write great content provides useful tips for creating impactful, SEO-optimized articles.

3. Build high-quality backlinks

Backlinks are where other websites contain hyperlinks to your website. They’re key in building domain authority - a website’s ability to rank in search engine results pages. They signal to search engines that your site is trusted by other sources, improving its chances of getting ranked. 

Link building is an SEO strategy in itself. You can have an amazing website that people can find and use, but it doesn't mean you’ll outrank your competitors. To do that, you need to build authority. We explain how in our link building blog.

4. Make sure your website is fast

Speed is everything, especially when it comes to SEO. Google prioritizes it for ranking, and fast sites are easier for it to crawl - the discovery process in which its robots find new and updated content. Speed is also a considerable factor in driving website conversions, cutting page load times in half helped one retailer increase sales by up to 13%.

Cobiro’s website builder is built using JAMstack principles and distributed via a content delivery network (CDN). This means that content is delivered at lightning speed with pages typically loading in under one second. Get started now.

5. Simplify your user experience


In most cases, you’ll want your website visitor to complete a particular action, such as making a purchase or providing their contact details. Getting them to this stage needs to be as seamless as possible. 

Aim for no more than four to five tabs on your navigation bar and add links to other pages within your content, so users can continue their journey easily. There’s nothing worse than having a website that’s difficult to navigate and has out of date content buried on sub-pages.

Google recently announced that it will start evaluating the page experience for users as part of its ranking algorithms. The idea is to make the web experience more pleasurable and mobile-ready, so it’s worth making this a key area of focus. 

Conclusion

As you’ve probably gathered, there’s an overlap between the above areas. A great user experience is significantly helped by having a fast website, and getting more backlinks relies on quality content, for instance. SEO is a continuous process with lots of moving parts, but tackling each one individually while keeping an eye on the overall picture can help the process to become more manageable.

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