16/05/2024 • Search Engine Optimisation

How to do SEO for Beginners

SEO is the process of making improvements to your website with the aim of improving your search ranking. Follow our simple guide to get started.

SEO is the process of making improvements to your website with the aim of improving your search ranking. There are many aspects to search engine optimisation. Some of these require specialist knowledge. But there are also many SEO tasks which can be undertaken by most website owners. In this summary of SEO for beginners, we’ll take a look at many of these simpler tasks. We hope you’ll find this a useful guide as you take your first steps into SEO.

Research Keywords

SEO is built around keywords. These are generally the words you want your website to rank for. Before beginning any SEO work it’s important to identify the keywords you want to target.

Keywords might be single words, or very short phrases. For Hello Technology, our target keywords include things like:

  • Website design

  • Website development

  • WordPress development

  • SEO

You may already have a good understanding of what keywords to target, based on your industry sector. However, it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time considering what search words your potential customers might use.

One helpful tool is ahrefs Free Keyword Generator. It generates lists of associated keywords, giving an indication of how difficult they might be to target, and what the search volume is.

It is likely that there will be lots of competition for the keywords you choose. That’s OK. Identifying keywords is just the beginning of the process. It’s good to aim high, but also to be realistic. This is where long-tail keywords come in.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are search phrases which are longer and more specific. These queries will have a much lower search volume, but are much easier to rank for.

For example, it would be incredibly difficult for Hello Technology to rank for these queries:

  • Website design

  • SEO

  • WordPress developing

  • Website hosting

But by targeting more specific long-tail keywords the potential of ranking well increases. If you offer services in a particular geographic area this can be a good place to start. For example, appropriate long-tail keywords for Hello Technology could be:

  • Website design Whitby

  • SEO North Yorkshire

  • WordPress development Yorkshire

These long-tail keywords will be much easier to rank for. Although they target a much smaller search volume, our ability to rank for these terms increases dramatically.

Note that these long-tail phrases also include our primary keywords. By developing our SEO strategy around these kinds of phrases we’re likely to rank well for our long-tail phrases quite quickly, whilst still building towards our primary keywords in the longer term.

Page Titles

Page titles are really important for search engine ranking. Once you’ve determined your keyword strategy, spend some time optimising your page titles.

Our article on writing better page titles for SEO is a great place to start. In short, titles should be:

  • Concise (50 – 60 characters in length)

  • Specific

  • Keyword-rich

Page titles provide important information for search engines as well as your potential visitors. Google and other search engines will also use your website’s page titles within search results pages (SERPs). Well-written page titles will improve your search ranking and also attract more clicks.

Meta Descriptions

Every web page contains meta data. This information is not visible on the page. It provides additional details to help search engines know how to rank your website. The meta description is the most important meta tag.

Like the page title, the meta description should be concise and descriptive, containing relevant keywords. Meta descriptions should be written in sentences, rather than lists of keywords. Always remember that your primary audience is a human, not a search engine crawler!

Google provides some helpful information on how to write good meta descriptions.

Most website content management systems enable non-technical users to add and edit meta descriptions. Within WordPress we recommend using the Yoast plugin, which makes it really straightforward.

Page Content

Bill Gates once wrote an essay entitled ‘Content is King’. It’s a sentiment which is just as true today as it was back in 1996. However, with the proliferation of websites it has become harder to rank well. These days creating good content (rather than any content) has become a vital part of SEO strategy.

While there are no hard and fast rules about what constitutes as ‘good’, there are some helpful guidelines.

Content should be written for humans first. Google has long had the capacity to understand written language. It’s algorithms are far more advanced than they once were. Years ago it was possible to rank well by ‘stuffing’ a page full of keywords. This led to very low quality content and resulted in Google developing new ways to interpret information. Always remember that your primary audience is your potential customer. Write for them.

You also need to write enough to make it clear what your focus is. This focus of your page should be evident from the page title, meta description and the content itself. Each of these should amplify the others. If you’re targeting long-tail keywords it may be possible to rank well with a small amount of content. We recommend trying to aim for several hundred words of copy on any particular page.

Within a single page try and keep your focus on a particular topic or theme. This helps keep the focus narrow, which in turn makes it easier for Google to know how to rank your page.

A really helpful tool for writing website copy is It provides valuable feedback on the quality and readability of your content.

Keyword Density

Within your web page content you should reference your target keywords several times within headings and paragraphs. This emphasis helps Google understand your particular focus by making it clear what your page is all about.

There are no specific rules about keyword density. A helpful guide is to aim for 1-2%. This means that you’ll mention your keyword once or twice in every 100 words of content. This may not sound like much but it is enough.

Remember, you’re writing for humans first. Stuffing too many keywords into your copy can make it difficult to read.

Internal Link Building

Websites are constructed from a combination of individual pages, linked together. Almost all websites have a navigation bar, perhaps at the top or down the side. This is helpful as it offers a convenient way to switch between pages and get an overview of the entire structure of a website in one place.

As your visitors are navigating your website it can be helpful to provide internal links, connecting pages together at different points. This internal link building creates a web of links which helps your visitors. It also helps Google understand the connections between different pages or articles.

A good tip is to link from phrases containing keywords, rather than the more traditional ‘click here’ kind of links. For example, consider these two examples:

While the second option is a clearer instruction, most people are now familiar with ‘in-context’ links. Google will also associate the keywords in the first link (seo, seo problems) with the page which is being linked to. It’s a win win.

In-Bound Link Building

This is much harder than internal link building. In-bound links are links from other websites. These can sometimes be obtained by registering your website with free business directories. You also might have friends who have websites, this can be a good place to start. If not, consider offering to write blog posts for other people’s websites, or swap links with complimentary businesses.

For example, accommodation providers might link to local attractions or places of interest. If these organisations also have websites they might be happy to return the favour.

If you belong to a local business network, why not see if anyone else is interested in swapping links?

A great tip is to aim for deep links. Deep links are links to specific pages or articles on your website, rather than generic ones like the home page or contact page. Deep links are more valuable as they identify specific content which is likely to be more helpful to your visitor. Links between blog posts on different websites is a good example of how this might work.

Website Speed Optimisation

Another important area of SEO for beginners is website speed. While this will often require specialist knowledge, there are some simple rules to follow which can help.

One of the primary causes of slow websites is large images. With the arrival of broadband internet using large images became less of an issue. But the result has been that many websites use unnecessarily large images without considering their impact. If you’re able try to resize your images before uploading them to your website, and use a compression tool to reduce the file size. A helpful tool is ImageOptim.

If you’d like to perform a speed audit on your website, try Google Pagespeed Insights. Alternatively, install the Google Lighthouse plugin in Chrome browser on your computer. Our article about scoring 100% in Lighthouse is a good place to start.

Website Accessibility Optimisation

As with website speed, accessibility is also an important area of SEO for beginners. Some technical knowledge may be required to solve issues in this area. However, if you are building your website with a decent theme in WordPress, Shopify, WIX or some other reputable platform you should have enough control to make all the necessary improvements. The key areas are things like colour contrast, text size and image ALT tags.

We’ll write more about website accessibility in a future post. But for now, remember that accessibility is all about making your website user-friendly. Website accessibility improvements benefit all your visitors, regardless of whether they’re sighted, visually impaired or otherwise. It’s easy to forget that not all devices have equally bright or clear screens, for example. By increasing the contrasts between foreground and background colours, or increasing font size, you’re improving the exerperience for everyone.

SEO for Beginners – Next Steps

There are loads of fantastic resources on the internet to help you learn more about SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a vital aspect of any digital communication strategy. The more website owners and content managers understand about the practice the easier it will be to create websites which rank well.

If you have an existing website and are looking to make improvements, we’d recommend performing a couple of audits:

  • Google Lighthouse audit

  • A thorough content audit

Using Google Lighthouse or Google Pagespeed Insights, try and resolve as many of the problems as you can, aiming to score 100% across the four main categories. If you get stuck with a particular problem or don’t understand what something means please get in touch.

The four key areas of Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices and SEO will underpin the rest of your work. They provide a solid foundation on which to build.

Then, take some time to work through each page of your website. Here are a few good questions to be asking yourself about each one:

  • Are the page title and meta description concise, specific and keyword-rich?

  • Does the page have a clear title, focussed on a particular topic?

  • Is there sufficient content for this page to be useful and have the potential to rank?

  • Are there appropriate headings which make it easy to understand?

  • Are there internal links which are helpful to your visitors?

Need Some SEO Support

Get in touch with us if you’d like some help optimising your website for search engines. Whether you’re a beginner, just getting to grips with these concepts, or have more experience, we’d be glad to help.

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