Best Beginner SEO Strategies for Ranking Higher in 2022
SEO is a tricky beast that is full of nuances and unknowns. But, with the right tools and understanding of how to make SEO work for you, it can be an extremely valuable tool for your business.
Free PDF Download
Don’t have time to read the entire article now? Download the free pdf.Click Here to Download the Free PDF Version
Learning SEO strategies and the basics of what search engine optimization is, can be a crucial channel for increasing organic traffic to your website or business, and ultimately, building sales. The best way to start is by learning about the basic principles of SEO. You must understand that SEO is an ongoing process that should be revisited regularly in order to keep your site’s ranking improving continuously.
While there is no way to learn everything about SEO and how it works in one sitting, we will attempt to carefully break down what you need to know about ranking high on Google. And as stated earlier, SEO is a process that is always building on itself, therefore, it needs to be attended to daily and weekly in order to keep your ranking high. So, without any further adieu, let’s get into the basics of SEO, and what you need to know.
Table of Contents
- What Are the Basics of SEO?
- How Does SEO Work?
- Good SEO is Important
- Difference Between White Hat and Black Hat SEO
- How Do Search Engines Rank Results in 2022?
- What Are the Three Pillars of SEO?
- First Steps for SEO in 2022
- Optimizing Your Website for SEO
- Writing Content for SEO
- Planning a Keyword Strategy
- Keyword Research for SEO
- What are SEO Keywords?
- How Many Keywords Should I Use for SEO?
- Running A Keyword Audit
- Reinforcing Keywords You Currently Rank For
- Strategies for Keyword Ranking
- High Volume Keywords
- Low Volume Keywords
- Why Links Are Important in SEO
- How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank?
- How Do I Get More Backlinks?
- 12 Quick and Easy Strategies for Getting Backlinks
- Why Content is Crucial for Good SEO
- How To Write Good Content for SEO
- Picking an SEO Agency
What are the Basics of SEO
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the practice of improving the ranking of a website on search engines. The higher the ranking, the more likely people are to find the site. While the process has changed substantially over the years, the principles of ranking highly online remain the same.
Most people will tell you that SEO is an extremely complicated process that involves years of experience. However, there are plenty of steps that you can take today to enhance your website’s online presence. And that in itself is the essence of SEO and why it is so important.
When we talk about SEO, we are referring to the growth of organic traffic. Rather than paying for visitors or customers, SEO allows you to rank highly for the different keywords and topics that align with your business. This brings visitors to your site for free and hopefully turns them into customers.
There are a number of different factors that go into this type of online marketing, including content creation, social media publishing, website optimization, and much more.
And keep in mind, in general, it takes around 3-6 months on average to see results from an SEO campaign to begin to show results. While 3 months is the minimum, after that point, it will likely continue to get better into the 6-12 month period and beyond. Remember that SEO is a marathon, not a race. Ultimately, it is the combination of all these factors that will determine how successful your efforts are.
How Does SEO Work?
Well, SEO is the process of optimizing a website for Google search with the goal of earning higher web traffic levels and improving the visibility of the site. The ultimate goal is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a site from Google’s organic search results.
To do this, individuals or SEO agencies will use a variety of techniques, including on-page optimization (i.e., making sure your website’s code and content are optimized for Google’s algorithm), as well as off-page SEO tactics like link building and content marketing. If done correctly, these activities can help your site rank higher in Google’s search results, which could lead to more people finding and visiting your site.
Of course, SEO is not an exact science, and there is no guarantee that you will rank higher on Google simply by implementing some or all of the techniques we’ve mentioned. However, by following best practices and keeping up with the latest changes to Google’s algorithm, you can certainly improve your ranking.
Good SEO is Important
When we talk about SEO, we are always referring to what is known as White Hat SEO. White Hat SEO is a term used to describe proper and by the books methods for ranking on Google. Alternatively, we have Black Hat SEO. These are strategies that may have worked at one point in Google’s history, but now, they will get you heavily penalized.
Difference Between White Hat and Black Hat SEO
Black Hat SEO: Black Hat SEO refers to techniques used to increase the rank of a website or page in search engines that go against the search engine’s terms of service. The word “black hat” originally came from western movies to differentiate “bad guys” from “good guys”. It’s been used more recently to represent hackers, virus writers, and those who attempt to cheat their way around proper SEO techniques.
For Example: posting duplicate content, using hidden links or text, reporting a competitor, and keyword stuffing–to name a few.
White Hat SEO: White hat SEO refers to using methods that align with Google’s standards to enhance a website’s search engine results page (SERP).
For Example: offering quality, well-written content and services, fast page loads and mobile-friendliness, using keyword-rich and descriptive meta tags, easy navigation around your website, etc.
How Do Search Engines Rank Results in 2022?
Search engines are constantly evolving and updating their algorithms to provide the best possible results to users. As a result, SEO tactics and strategies also need to be updated on a regular basis to ensure that your website is ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs).
While the answer to how search engines rank results in 2022 is complicated, we can break it down into a few key points that you should consider. Typically, there are three pillars when it comes to search engine ranking results.
Those three pillars are discovery, relevance, and authority. Aside from this, websites need to be high quality and be the best source of information for a search result. Think of search engines as question answering machines.
When you ask a question, Google uses its algorithm to deduce which website has the best answer to that question. It will then rank those answers in order from most authoritativeness on a subject to least. To understand this better, let’s take a closer look at the three pillars of SEO.
What Are the Three Pillars of SEO?
If you want to rank number one for any topic on Google, you need to be able to be discovered by search engines, to begin with. This involves the process of generating off-page discovery such as backlinks, which will create a web of links that point to your site.
While we will go into backlinks even more in this article, for discovery purposes, ensure that your backlinks are coming from high-quality sites. And, your site needs to be optimized for certain keywords as well, which will allow Google to discover your site for whatever you wish to rank for.
The next pillar of SEO is relevance. Relevance is a crucial step as it will tell Google whether your content and website are relevant in SERPs. Being relevant in the SEO sense is all about building backlinks that align with your site, and having a better overall strategy than your competitors.
In addition, Google will give credit for sites that are well designed, and keep users on the page for longer. So, make sure that your website is user-friendly, and is a store of relevant information for whatever you are attempting to be discovered for.
The last pillar of SEO is authority. Authority is a measure of how trustworthy a site is. The higher your site’s authority, the more likely it is to rank high in search results. Authority is determined by two things: age and popularity. Age is pretty self-explanatory – the longer your site has been around, the more authoritative it will be.
Popularity is more difficult to quantify but is based on factors like the number of backlinks, social shares, and traffic that your site receives. This requires a combination of quality content such as blogs, and SEO best practices such as off-page SEO and technical site optimization.
First Steps for SEO in 2022
The first step in any SEO campaign is to understand your business, what you are trying to rank for, and what the competition is. Once this is done, we can get into the more technical side of things.
This includes running an SEO audit, optimizing your website for SEO, writing content, and planning a keyword strategy. All of this will ensure that your site is ready to compete with those trying to outrank you and that it is in the best position to be found by your ideal customer.
Running an SEO Audit
Running an SEO audit is an essential part of any search engine optimization campaign done by either an individual or a digital marketing agency. With SEO audits, you can begin to identify areas of improvement within your website and digital marketing strategies. This will, in turn, you to optimize your site for SEO and achieve better search rankings.
An SEO audit is comprised of several different steps and techniques, including keyword research, site structure analysis, SEO copywriting and content optimization, technical SEO audits, competitor analysis, and more.
Whether you are working with an SEO agency or doing the work yourself, it is important to have a clear understanding of each step in order to get the most out of your SEO audit and improve your website’s SEO.
Optimizing Your Website for SEO
Optimizing your website for SEO is critical if you want to rank higher in search engine results and attract more visitors. While publishing good content, and planning a linking strategy are major positives, these efforts will be in vain without an optimized website.
Think of it this way: when your website is not optimized, Google cannot read it. However, when it is, Google will be able to understand what you are trying to rank for and it will know where to rank you higher.
So, what do you need to do to make sure your website is optimized for SEO? Some tips for optimizing your website include using keyword-rich titles and descriptions, making use of header tags, and much more.
And while we will get into it in greater depth, later on, it’s important to do your research and understand what keywords you want to target. Use tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner and Google Trends to find out which keywords are the most popular and which are the best to target for your website.
Writing content is another crucial step in any SEO plan. Not only does this content need to be well written and informative, but it also needs to be keyword rich. The right keywords will help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs), making it more likely that potential customers will find your site.
Many times, business owners will write what they think is best for their business and their customers. And while this is a major part of writing content, blogs and journals need to be informed by statistical analysis and proper keyword research. In addition, there are a variety of ways that content for SEO needs to be written.
This includes shorter sentences, easy readability, and so on. While there is no one size fits all approach, the best rule of thumb is to write content like you are speaking directly to your customer. And, keep it informed with technical analysis.
Planning a Keyword Strategy
When it comes time to plan a keyword strategy for SEO, you’ll need to take a look at your existing content and determine which keywords you’re already ranking for, which ones you could be ranking for, and which new keywords would be most valuable for your site. Chances are, you’re already ranking for a few of the big ones. But if you’re not, there’s no reason you can’t be. And if you are, there’s always room for improvement.
To start, take a look at your Google Analytics account and pull up a list of the keywords that are currently driving traffic to your site. If you don’t have Google Analytics set up yet, now is the time to do it! This will give you a good idea of which keywords are working for you and which ones aren’t.
You’ll need to have a decent amount of data before it becomes really useful, but having even just a month or two can tell you a lot about the kinds of terms that people use when they’re searching for your products or services.
If any of those keywords jump out at you as being particularly valuable, make a note of them. These are the terms that you definitely want to be ranking for. But don’t stop there. Take a look at the keywords that you’re not currently ranking for but could be. These are the ones that you’ll want to focus your SEO efforts on. In addition, make sure you understand the competition and what terms they are ranking for.
Keyword Research for SEO
Proper keyword research for SEO cannot be done on a whim. Rather, it requires a great deal of research, planning, and analysis. There are several factors that go into keyword research for SEO. This includes competition, market niche, and online visibility.
The first factor is competition. When choosing keywords for your site or content to rank for in search engines like Google, a good place to start is by understanding which keywords are low competition.
Certain tools like SEMRush and AHRefs will allow you to see keyword difficulty (how difficult a keyword is to rank for). In addition to this, it’s important to pay attention to the volume that a keyword gets. If it is only getting around 20-50 visitors per month, it may not be worth focusing all of your attention on.
However, low volume keywords (under 500), can be a great strategy to target if done in mass. When it comes to larger keywords, it can be a great idea to focus more energy. Pick just a few of the largest keywords you are trying to rank for and target them thoroughly. If you are able to rank for these larger keywords, you can be rewarded with a high amount of traffic.
What are SEO Keywords?
As mentioned numerous times so far, keywords are the backbone of any SEO plan. To understand this, we have to take a look at how Google ranks pages. When a user types in a query, Google looks at all of the pages on the internet and tries to find the best match for what the user is asking.
It looks at things like content, title tags, meta descriptions, etc. If you want your page to rank for a certain keyword, then you need to make sure that keyword is present in all of these places. Not only do these keywords need to be present across your website, but your website also has to be an authoritative and informative source for the topic.
Using Keywords Properly
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to keywords is that you should never try to stuff them into your content. Keyword stuffing is as simple as it sounds: the overuse and inappropriate use of too many keywords in order to rank higher.
While this may have worked 10-15 years ago, gone are the days of black hat SEO. Keyword stuffing will not only make your content look unnatural, but it will also likely get you penalized by Google. Instead, you should focus on using them organically and only using them when they make sense.
When it comes to your website, there are a few different places where you can use keywords to improve your SEO. The first is in your title tags. Your title tag is the piece of text that appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable link to your website. It should be clear, informative, and contain your target keyword.
The second place you can use keywords is in your meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are the brief snippet of text that appears underneath your title tag on the SERPs. While they don’t have a direct impact on your rankings, they are important for two reasons: first, they give users an idea of what to expect when they click through to your website, and second, when used correctly, they can entice the user to click on your site.
Finally, you should include keywords in the body content of your website. You should use them organically, but it is also important that you don’t go overboard. When you are writing your content, try to incorporate them naturally into the text and make sure that they flow smoothly and don’t feel forced. Keywords can give your site a boost in search rankings, but only if you use them effectively.
How Many Keywords Should I Use for SEO?
The amount of keywords that you should be using on your website varies. While some sites may only need a handful, others may need thousands. It all depends on what your company does and your short and long-term goals. Small e-commerce sites might focus on 20-100 keywords, while large brands with geo-specific markets may have upwards of 50,000 unique keywords. It all depends on your company, your customers, and the size of your reach.
To talk about keywords, we have to talk about the difference between short-tail phrases and long-tail phrases. Short tail phrases are search terms that are very general and typically have a higher rate of competition.
For example, let’s say you own an e-commerce business that sells clothing. A short-tail keyword would be something like “clothing.” While this is a well-known phrase, it is also quite competitive because of its length. However, short-tail keywords do not always have to be highly competitive. But, they will always be a short, one or two-word phrase.
Long-tail phrases, on the other hand, are longer search terms. These keywords can be used for both specific searches and broad searches. For example, if you owned an e-commerce site that sold clothing, a long-tail keyword would be something like “best vintage women’s clothing to buy.”
This is still quite broad as far as your products go, but it can drive a very large amount of content. Long-tail keywords often answer a searcher’s question directly, which can increase the click-through rate. The best way to find these keywords is to use a keyword research tool and understand what your user would search for. This will help to understand how many keywords you need to focus on for your website.
Running A Keyword Audit
When it comes to running a keyword audit, platforms like AHRefs or SEMRush will be your best friend. A keyword audit is as simple as it sounds: understanding what keywords you are ranking for, and which keywords you could be ranking for. These two categories are both crucial to understand. And, if we go a level deeper, we can look at the difference between high and low-volume keywords.
Reinforcing Keywords You Currently Rank For
If you have a website that is established or has recently started out, you likely have keywords that you are already ranking for. These could be hyper-specific to your brand, or they could be completely irrelevant. But, understanding which keywords you are ranking for is crucial to climbing the ranks.
To reinforce keywords that you already rank for, the best course of action is to become the authoritative voice. If you sell linen bedding, for example, you would want to become the go-to website for anything pertaining to the keyword ‘linen bedding’. This means writing lengthy articles and gaining backlinks from similar and credible sources for that keyword.
In addition, ensuring your pages are optimized for that phrase is crucial. This is the same process as ranking for new keywords, but, it can be more straightforward.
Strategies for Keyword Ranking
When we look at strategies for keyword ranking, there are usually two schools of thought. And, both of these strategies should be used in tandem with one another. These include ranking for high-volume and low-volume keywords.
High Volume Keywords
High-volume keywords are keywords with a large amount of search volume. This is typically above 1000 visitors per month, but it could be hundreds of thousands at the high end. While these keywords will likely be the most valuable for your business, they also will be incredibly difficult to rank for. On platforms like AHRefs and SEMRush, we see a metric known as keyword difficulty or KD.
The higher the search volume, the higher the competition and therefore, the greater the KD. Focusing your efforts on this can be rewarding in terms of money and visibility, but, it will likely take months to see your website become #1 on Google. So, these are great long-term objectives, rather than something you would want to throw all of your efforts on.
Low Volume Keywords
On the other hand, we have low-volume keywords. These are keywords that have less than 1,000 in monthly traffic. While these keywords usually have less KD, they can be extremely valuable for your business. Think about it this way; if you rank #1 for a 1,000 volume search term (High-volume), you might be able to get 10% of the visitors for that keyword (100 visitors). This will likely take months and a sizable amount of time.
Alternatively, if you rank #1 for 10 low-volume keywords (100 visitors each), you can capture the same amount of traffic. And arguably, this traffic could also be more specific to your niche. So, we see that it is crucial to have a good balance that engages both of these strategies.
Why Links Are Important in SEO
Having backlinks or links from other websites and links within your website are an essential part of SEO. There is a straightforward relationship between the quality/number of links pointing to your website and your website’s search traffic.
When Google first started, its method of ranking websites was primarily based on the number of links a webpage had. The fundamental idea was that the more links a website had, the more likely it would be to have helpful, useful, and authoritative content. Now, there are hundreds of different factors that go into your ranking on Google, but, links remain a crucial part of any SEO strategy.
How Many Backlinks Do I Need to Rank?
The number of backlinks you require for your website is a direct correlation to what you want to achieve. Certain keywords will require a certain (not set) amount of backlinks to rank #1 for. And, as a website, the more backlinks you have, the better your website will rank for any given topic.
You can potentially rank your business website with only a few backlinks, but that may only work for low-competition, low-volume keywords with small search quantities. So, while there is no direct answer to this, a good place to start for small websites would be around 50-200 backlinks. However, to begin ranking competitively, it may take upwards of 500 backlinks. But truly, it all depends on your unique and individual needs.
How Do I Get More Backlinks?
Understanding how to get backlinks can help you to build your brand with no upfront investment. In the old days, it was as simple as finding an error on a website, sending a message to the website owner, and in exchange, they may provide you with a backlink. Now, however, it is a much more nuanced and at times, complicated process.
12 Quick and Easy Strategies for Getting Backlinks
For some inspiration, here are 12 quick and easy strategies for getting backlinks.
- Use outbound links to form partnerships.
- Write relevant and high-quality content.
- Use Google Search Console reports to identify areas to gain backlinks.
- Fix broken and maintain current backlinks.
- Create competitive-focused content that can be used by other brands/businesses
- Become the authority on a given topic
- Make high-quality infographics to gain links from similar sites
- Write testimonials
- Allow guest blogs/posts
- Make guest appearances on podcasts and collaborate with other businesses
- List your site on resource pages.
- Use social media and other social bookmarking platforms.
Why Content is Crucial for Good SEO
Content is a key part of any SEO campaign. While it may seem easy to write blogs for SEO, it’s can be quite difficult. There are a number of things to consider, including audience, keyword density, tone, and what Google needs to rank content. Content is key for a number of reasons.
It helps Google understand what a page is about, and it can also help to build trust with potential customers. Quality content is also more likely to be shared, which can help to build links and increase traffic. The need for content is also nuanced as it can work in a variety of ways. But, at the end of the day, content is a crucial pillar for any SEO strategy.
How To Write Good Content for SEO
When writing content for an SEO campaign, it’s important to keep the audience in mind. The content should be written in a way that appeals to the target market. It should be informative and interesting, and, it should be authoritative in any given subject.
Keyword density is also important when it comes to SEO content. The keywords should be used in a way that makes sense, and they shouldn’t be overused. A good rule of thumb is to use as 2-5% of the entire body of work. And, these keywords should be in line with the other information discussed in this piece.
Tone is another important consideration. The content shouldn’t sound like an advertisement, rather, it should flow naturally. Within the piece, the overall tone should be positive, and the content should be engaging.
While it should be written heavily with SEO as the main focus, it should also be written with your target audience in mind and what will engage them. Google will not simply rank content because it exists. Rather, content needs to be informative, concise, and authoritative. While there is no one strategy for writing good content for SEO, these pieces of advice should help you to get started.
Picking an SEO Agency
At the end of the day, SEO can be and is challenging for many. While it can be learned with thorough research online, many business owners and individuals will go to an SEO agency to complete this work for them. This is completely understandable as it can be difficult to maintain a good ranking on SERPs, let alone improve your rank if you are currently struggling.
Hiring an agency will take this stress away from you and allow you to focus on other areas of your business while an SEO agency handles your online presence. And, because the internet is constantly evolving, SEO is something that needs to be monitored on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. So, while SEO is achievable for everyone, sometimes, utilizing an SEO agency may just be the best way to go.