SEO Basics – a Guide for Beginners

So, you’ve finally built a website (or had a website design company build one for you) and now you’re ready to start climbing up in the search results. In this post, we’ll cover all of the SEO basics that any website owner needs to know.


SEO Basics

Metadata is “data about data” – it tells search engines and users what your website is all about.

Title Tags

Title tags appear in the search results as a clickable header leading to a page on your website. The title tag gives a brief explanation of the contents of the page.

With that in mind, there are a few things you will want in a title tag:

  • Title tags should be brief, to-the-point, and informative.
  • Title tags need to give users quick information that will make them want to click.
  • Title tags should include a focus keyword – a search term that users will type into the search bar in order to find your website. For instance, if the page is about off-road parts that you install at your shop, include something like “The Best Off-Road Parts in [INSERT YOUR CITY]”.

Generally speaking, your title tag should look like this:

Title of Page – Focus Keyword – Name of Your Company or Website

Meta Descriptions

A meta description appears in the search results under the title tag. It provides further information about what’s on your page.

Meta descriptions should be written in a way that compels users to click into your website. Let them know the page contains the information they’re searching for, but also leave them hanging just a bit so they’re tempted to click and see what’s on your page. For example:

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about the stages of tooth decay, with some information you probably didn’t expect!

When writing your meta description, remember to include the focus keyword found in the title tag. In this example, “the stages of tooth decay” may be your focus keyword.

Image Alt-Text

Also referred to as an “alt tag” or an “alt description”, and alt-text is a keyword that serves to describe the content of an image. It shows up in place of the image if the image is broken or fails to load. 

Many people actually have image loading disabled (the visually impaired, for instance). Alt-text keywords help screen-reading and indexing tools describe images to these users. 

Alt-texts for images are a great way of improving your SEO by allowing search engines to better crawl and rank your site for the search terms users will be using to find you.

While this is a relatively minor aspect of an overall SEO campaign, it’s still not one to be ignored.

To optimize an image with an alt-text keyword, simply:

  • Locate the image in the backend of your website (this is usually in the tool or process used to insert the image in the first place). In WordPress, it can be found in the Media section which contains all of your images.
  • Click on the image and in the field titled Alt-Text, briefly describe the content of the image in a way that works in a keyword relevant to your website. For instance, if you own a website on dentistry and the image shows a woman having her teeth worked on, write, “Woman Receiving Dental Services”. Here, the keyword would be Dental Services.

Link Building

SEO Basics

Backlinks do more than simply provide avenues for people to get to your website. They’re seen as endorsements of your site as well. A good backlink profile will improve the overall domain authority of your website.

So, what is domain authority? As the name implies, this is the level of authority (or success) attributed to your domain. It’s ranked on a scale of 1 to 100. This scale is also logarithmic; it’s exponentially harder to go from 50-100 than it is to go from 0-50.

When one website links to another website, it passes on some of its domain authority. 

Within the realm of domain authority there is also something called page authority – simply put, this is the level of authority on any given page. So when a website links to another website’s page, that page will get a boost in page authority, which in turn raises the overall domain authority of the website.

Google and other search engines like to see a good backlink profile. That is to say, they want it to be:

  • Organic
  • Varied
  • Relevant (it wants to see links from websites that are related to your own)

Generally speaking, you want links from a wide variety of websites with varying levels of domain authority. You want these websites to be relevant to the field or industry your website identifies with. You want these links to look organic.

Link building is one of the most difficult forms of SEO, and there are a lot of link building schemes that Google doesn’t like. These should be avoided as much as possible. You can read up on them here.

Keyword Optimization

SEO Basics

This is one of the most important factors in SEO – ensuring that your website contains all of the keywords that a user would put into a search engine in order to find your website.

First, you’ll want to do some keyword research. You can find many keyword research tools here. Find the highest volume keywords (keywords with the highest search volume per month) that are relevant to your website. Now, make sure to include these keywords, where appropriate, on your landing pages. 

If you have a new website that’s something of a content desert, one of the best things you can do is write some interesting, compelling content for your landing pages that includes these keywords and their synonyms.

So, what happens when all of your landing pages have just the right amount of content, complete with plenty of relevant keywords? Is the job of keyword optimization now complete?

Not by a long shot. There are always new opportunities to add more keywords to your website. On the one hand, you may find as time goes on that you need to rewrite content on certain landing pages, or add more content when necessary. 

Beyond that, there is always blogging that can be done. Blogging is a great way of not only giving users interesting information that will drive them to your website, but it will also serve as a “keyword delivery system” – when you write a new blog post, include plenty of keywords for which you’d like your website to rank better.