SEO Guide for Beginners
With all of the changes happening every day, SEO is more important than ever, and SEO for beginners even more so. Most people aren’t aware of the full SEO mess I created for myself when I switched my niche back in 2016. This is why I put together this SEO Guide for Beginners!
As a musical theater coach, I had amazing SEO! Search “Tap Dance Terminology,” and there I am! But when I switched to showing business owners how to perform on camera, it was a big old mess. So basically – I’m where many of you may be… starting at the foundations.
There are a lot of conflicting opinions out there about what works and what doesn’t work in SEO. For example: some people say that backlinks are still the most important factor in ranking your site. Others will tell you that content is king and links don’t matter as much anymore because Google has changed its algorithm so many times over the years. And then there are those who insist on building up social media followers before doing anything else. But how does any of this help if no one can find your site?
I’ve hired soooo many people over the years, but I decided I was no longer going to play around. I wanted to go right to the source to get it cleaned up so I decided to hire Neil Patel’s team to give me a complete refresh. It has been AMAZING!
I’m so thrilled to have a few secret members from the team join us to give some guidance on SEO for beginners. They will share the best steps for putting the foundations for success into place along with few tips that will bring results at an accelerated pace!
Introduction to Neil Patel’s SEO Team!
Let’s start with Mark Elkington, the first person I met from this team. Mark is one of Neil’s senior account executives and strategists. He works with clients in the beginning phases. His job is understanding client challenges and figuring out how those overlap with what Neil and his team can provide. He has been in the digital marketing space off and on for 12 years. I just have to add that Mark is the first person who ever really understood me and the complications I created for myself.
Moving onto Olivia! When I first met Mark, I told him that I didn’t want to partner with someone who was uptight or couldn’t handle my zany personality or made me feel stupid, and joked, “we only had uptight people here.” While he was kidding, he immediately thought of Olivia as the perfect fit to be my account manager. Olivia kindly said I am one of her favorite clients because I really want to learn and understand how to run my business more effectively, which is a great SEO strategy.
Olivia has been working in marketing for a while, focusing on social media, paid management, and SEO. She’s enjoyed the challenge of phasing out my old rankings and bringing a new strategy to the table to effectively grow my correct audience.
And lastly, Connor! He is in charge of the partner program, and I’m happily one of the partners over there now, which is part of the reason why we are doing this joint session together today. More than helping us with SEO, Connor has helped me have more fun with my kids!
Are You Ready for SEO?
They often speak with people who don’t know if they need SEO right at this moment. Often with SEO or other types of marketing, you are trying to capture opportunities that you aren’t currently capturing. If you are a dentist in Portland and are not showing up when people are searching for dentists in Portland on Google, that is probably the first thing you’d look at in terms of a need. You’re not ranking where you should be. Being able to iterate that need is key.
In order to determine how you’re ranking, Google your name or your descriptors, what you want to be found for. Do you only show up for your name rather than what you do? That’s worth noting. We recommend UberSuggest as a great initial tool to help you determine your current traffic, how your traffic has looked over time, keywords that you’re ranking for, etc. NPAccel will do that research for you, but it’s a great initial tool to help you figure out your problems and opportunities. It’s a great temperature check tool. We use it to help us with our titles and descriptions for our videos.
One of the first things they do when they bring on a client, is to identify their full strategy in terms of the website. There are some technical audits Neil’s team can run to determine more complexly if you’re ready, but they try to focus on three pillars of SEO for beginners that creates a holistic strategy.
Pillar 1: Technical SEO
The basis of that is this first pillar, Technical SEO, the technical side of SEO. There are some things that need to happen to ensure your website is visible to Google, it’s ranking, and you can get some traffic.
- A live site and stable domain
You want to make sure that your site is live with a stable domain. If the domain changes, the work attached to it will go away.
You want your business to be prepared to handle an influx of leads or buyers, etc. Do you have the bandwidth to take on more business?
- Site Speed
All of us know that our attention spans are super short, so if you click on a site and are waiting for several seconds too long, you are highly likely to click out of it. Thus, site speed can technically affect your SEO.
Pillar 2: On-Site Search Engine Optimization
If you are a very small team, the second pillar called On-Site should be your priority. This is all about keyword strategies. When you’re searching, look for not only if you are ranking at your desired keywords, but look at who your competitors are. They may not be who you think your actual competitors in business are. UberSuggest actually does a great job of telling you who your SEO competitors are.
Mark initially does a discovery call with a new client. He will ask questions about the team, their bandwidth, their challenges, and if they have a website developer, content creators, and more. This allows them to start formulating a strategy so they can understand a client’s landscape, part of which is the client’s competition.
After the discovery call, Mark will then do his own research. If they decide to work with you on an SEO campaign, they will then go deeper into competitive analysis.
Olivia’s team will take over and go even deeper into competitive analysis and implementation of strategy. It’s all about determining the competition’s sophistication when it comes to their own SEO strategy. If their content is terrible, you don’t need much. If their content is great, then you have to put more effort into your SEO work. That is accounted for right from the start, before the engagement begins. This way when they get started, they’re not just using random “good ideas,” but they are implementing things specifically based on your industry and your competitive landscape.
Once Olivia and her team come in, they are able to determine, based on the competitive analysis, what sliver of market share makes sense for them to take advantage of. Olivia is a tad competitive herself, which is great for her clients.
Keywords and page ranking
With keyword strategy, what you want to do is take note that Google values sites that are ranked efficiently by not duplicating content or keyword strategies or competing against themselves.
If you have five pages on your website you are trying to work keyword strategy into for the same thing, Google will walk away. So you want to identify the purpose of each page on your website and what you want to rank each page for. Of course, it will all be similar in terms of your industry, but each page does need to rank for something different. We’re here on this live video. I’m going to repurpose this video as content for my site. If anyone searches “how to do a live video” or “how to use social media for SEO,” Olivia is going to make sure I show up for these terms.
NPAccel looks at a website the same way Google looks at a website. Which means your homepage is like a Welcome mat. Your About page, your Blog page, your Products/Services pages, etc. are all like rooms of your house. Then your supporting content is like components of the room. Think of your website that way. (I love to shove everything everywhere, so that was one thing we had to work on on our website.)
Google has no personal preference
Google is a machine that tries to be logical. They don’t have a preference on which site will rank better other than how it values a site. It just wants to give us the best results every time we search for anything so they can dominate the search engine space continually. There is always a reason to why one would interlink or backlink, and why content matters. It’s all about showcasing the relevancy and authoritativeness of your website to Google. It’s all a means to an end. This is like how at the end of one of your YouTube videos, if you can recommend a similar video on your channel, thus keeping people on your channel longer, that is key.
Once someone lands on your website, you want them to stay as long as possible because the longer people stay, that is a signal to Google that you are an authority in your industry and you have a site worth reading.
Internal Linking to Increase your SEO Juice
How you create opportunities for people to stay on your website is what is called internal linking. Think of it as moving people around your house. It’s giving viewers opportunities to read related content. That’s part of the reason why we create these show notes.
Landing pages are a great idea. The only caveat is that if you want to build long-term SEO growth, all of your pages should be on the domain. Authority from Google will grow on your overall root domain. It’s okay if you have a sub-page that is ranked higher than your homepage. One of those pages can be a landing page. As long as it’s ranking on the same domain and everything is on one specific main domain, that authority will translate across your entire site.
If someone clicks on something, and their browser is opening a new tab and not staying within the same tab, it’s potentially an indication of how it may not be all nested under the same domain. When you’re within your website and are building out your pages, you can tell your website that if someone clicks on a certain button, they will open up a new window or tab. If it stays on the same domain, that’s good. Changing the domain when a new page is opened is a sign that you are no longer on the same website, and the SEO will be aware of this.
Pillar 3: OffSite SEO Optimization (Backlinks)
The third pillar of SEO is the OffSite Optimization side. This pillar has ties to PR in a sense. When you have a lot of websites linking to your site, that also creates a sense of authority for Google. It doesn’t make sense ( at least anymore) for me to have a ton of tap dancing sites that link back to The Prepared Performer because it’s now not the same industry. So when we talk about backlinking, it’s an opportunity for other websites within your industry to link back to yours and signal to Google that you are an authority in your space.
Quality vs. Quantity
When they work on my backlinks, we want those links to be oriented around content strategy and utilizing live video. You want your backlinks to come from quality sites similar to yours within your industry. Quality is key. You should not be finding random sites to do this. The Google algorithm is constantly changing and improving. 10 or 12 years ago, Google cared about the number of sites backlinking to you; now, Google cares about the quality of those sites. Are those sites relevant to what you are trying to rank for? Are they also considered authoritative for that same topic?
Here’s a helpful analogy:
Let’s say Mark is trying to convince everyone he is a really good baseball player, but y’all haven’t even seen him stand up before let alone play baseball, so how would you know? So he lines up 100 Little Leaguers, some of his sons’ friends. How about 1,000? How about 10,000? They all say Mark is good at baseball. Does that move the needle for you? But what if he got current Division 1 college players? What about five pro players? What about the MVP? Which one moved the needle for you the most to believe Mark is a good baseball player?
For most if not all of you, it was likely the MVP? He’s just one person versus 10,000 Little Leaguers. So, why? In baseball, the MVP is an authority figure. His expertise is the most relevant. So when you are link building, it’s all about finding other good hotshot sites that Google values. They’re the MVP in your space. Linking to your site is like recommending your site. That’s what moves the needle. You don’t need a lot of them; you just need the right ones.
- Fun fact: My great-aunt was a baseball player during the war, so she was part of the crew from A League of Their Own. Isn’t that cool? On her 90th birthday, she threw the opening pitch for the Astros.
Choose the right tools
Be careful about which tools you use for this. There are tools out there that capitalize on a shady misunderstanding of link-building and a realization that to do it the right way is really hard. A lot of NPAccel’s clients are other SEO agencies who outsource their link-building to them. A perk of working with a company like NPAccel, is they have the structure built in of relationships with other quality sites; you don’t have to do that kind of personal pitching yourself.
Of course not everyone has the infrastructure to be able to work with Neil’s team. Thus, backlinking is an opportunity for you to create relationships within your industry. If you really value the opinion of someone within your industry, it’s a great opportunity for you to write a great piece of content, link your site within it, and share it with them for them to post to their website. A Power Partner, which we value in our strategy.
No Follow links
It’s worth noting that backlinks from social media don’t count, as they are no-follow links. True follow links are links that say you should pass along the SEO juice from this website to that website. Social media links are automatically no-follow links. But you should still leverage your social media.
There ya have it, our guide to SEO for beginners. Whether you are able to work with an incredible team like those at NPAccel, or if you are taking on the SEO game on your own, you CAN optimize your SEO the right way! SEO for beginners can be intimidating and it does take some work, but I promise your business will absolutely see the results.
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