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The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2020: Let’s Explode Your Traffic Organically!

Welcome to this SEO for a beginner; a step-by-step guide. Search engine optimization or SEO is like a magic word. You’ve heard about it, sort of know what it is about, understand that it is crucial in content marketing. Search engine optimization or SEO is “the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine“. Basically, it is the improvement of unpaid results and direct traffic to your website. 

Truth is, search engine optimization is a lot of research, time, and work. SEO for beginners or for experts requires dedication and looking for information right and left. The goal remains the same for you and your business: increasing organic traffic, improving unpaid results, ranking higher in Google search. That’s what optimizing your blog posts for SEO does. And it can be quite confusing when you are a beginner at search engine optimization or just created your website. However, with this SEO for beginners guide, I will show you how to optimize your blog posts for SEO and ensure they rank higher in Google search!

SEO For Beginners: How To Optimize Your Blog Posts For SEO

1. Install the Yoast SEO Plugin

Yoast SEO is a free plugin that all bloggers or businesses should install upon starting their activity. The basic plugin is free and offers great guidelines on how to write SEO optimized blog posts. Once you have uploaded the Yoast SEO, start writing a new post and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find the Yoast SEO tab.

The plugin mostly offers a checklist of things to do to ensure your blog post is optimized for search engine optimization The plugin will list “problems” and “good results”. The problems are essential things you can improve on to make your blog post…SEO-friendly. Keep in mind that it is just a check-list acting as guidelines. Of course, writing a blog post that is optimized for SEO goes beyond ticking all the boxes but it offers a great introduction to SEO for beginners.

2. Decide on a topic

This may go without saying. When picking a topic, you will have to make choices. The SEO best practice is to pick a topic that is already popular to ensure that your audience already exists. That’s how you can guarantee traffic to your website. However, sometimes you may want to write about a topic that is not as popular and whose audience is much smaller. And that is fine. After all, your blog is your creative space.

Some topics are indeed more niche than others and not the type of search that people type in everyday. However, if it is a topic you are really keen on writing on, go for it. Even though the audience will be much smaller, chances are the competition will  be too, so you will rank higher more easily. Ideally, you want to pick keywords with a medium to high search volume and a low to medium competition.

You may pick the topic of your article based on many things and ideas: what you like, something you are experiencing, a question you have been asked, etc. Once you have chosen your topic, you may do research around that topic to find keywords to optimize your blog post for SEO. This will be stage 3 of this little SEO for beginners guide.

3. Find related keywords

You have chosen the topic of your article and now you want to type it down. If you want to increase the chances of your content being picked-up by search engines, it needs to be SEO-optimized and keywords rich. The first step is to do a keyword search. You can find keywords ideas using different online free softwares such as Google Keywords Planner, Ubersuggest, or Wordstream.

When you type in your topic in the search bar, they will each suggest short-tail and long-tail keywords and keyphrases that you can use in your blog post. Each will come with the search volume, which is an indication of popularity. Even though it is great to have a very popular keyword as it shows that people are looking for that particular keyword, it also means that your content will compete with a lot of other content on the same topic and may not get seen.

Just like you would pick different hashtags with different popularity on Instagram, you will  pick related keywords and keyphrases with different search volumes. The audience might be smaller but you will increase your chances of ranking high in the search result. Furthermore, sometimes,  changing the order of the word in the keyphrase might totally change the probability of ranking higher. That is where search intent come into place.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. What would you type in Google? You may make the same research a few times using the same keywords but in a different order. And that may make the difference. Which is why it good to come up with synonyms and related keyphrases as well.

4. Use keywords across your blog post

You have your topic, then your main keyword and you have found synonyms and related phrases. Now, the Google algorithm needs to understand what the content is about and that those keywords are its pillar. The best way to ensure that is to use keywords across your blog post. Yoast SEO will tell you in real-time how many occurrences of your keywords, synonyms or related phrases there are in the copy.

The plugin will also let you know whether the keywords are evenly spread out in the copy or if you have big chunks of text lacking them. As a matter of fact, the recurrence of your keywords, synonyms and related phrases are very important as they send a signal to Google on what the text is about. The algorithm is also smart and will detect synonyms and related phrases, which will allow your text to rank for more keywords, or at least more variations of the same topic.

5. Format your post for SEO

Title tags

The Google algorithm likes structure and adding titles to the copy will help break down the content. The title tag (or H1) goes at the top of the blog post. It is the title that shows on your blog and at the top of the tab. The H2 heading usually announces the main topic of the content and the lower subheading help to break the content in smaller sections. Make sure your heading are keywords rich.

Paragraph length

The Search engine optimization best practice wants paragraphs with 150 words maximum. The length of paragraph has no impact on SEO. However, it has an impact of the readability of the content for Google. Google likes paragraphs that are shorter because they help break down the content and because they are easier to read. Nobody likes to read massive chunks of texts.

Readability

The readability of your content impacts SEO because in its quest to show results to search requests, Google wants to display the best most useful easiest to use results. However, if a text is hard to read according to the algorithm standards, chances are people will not want to read it. That is why Yoast SEO also has a tab for readability and lists things that can be improved on. This can especially hard for technical writers or those who want to appear knowledgeable in their industry. Just try to remember you readers aren’t you or as knowledgable so it’s best to keep your content at a grade level lower than 8th grade. Learn about this rule called the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

Avoid using the passive voice too much. Make sure you use the active voice and that your sentences are shorts. Better have more shorter sentences and break down the text rather than 20 words and over sentences that are long to read and that Google does not like. Google likes structure, hence use transition words to help the algorithm understand where the content is going.

6. Curate your snippet preview

The snippet allows you to preview what your page or post will look like in Google’s search results. It has a mobile and desktop view and shows elements like the slug, title and meta description.

The SEO title

The SEO title is the first thing people see in the search results for your posts and pages. In many cases, it is the only thing people will see so it needs to draw the eye.

The SEO title is the title that you will see in the Google’s search results. It is not the title tag nor H1. Even though search engine optimization title and title tags should be similar, they can be a variation from each other, especially to fit SEO purposes. Make sure your SEO title includes your keywords and that it reflects the topic of the content.

The meta-dada description

The meta-description is the second most important item in the snippet and it is just below the SEO title. The meta-description is a quick concise description of your content. In one sentence, you sum up what the piece of copy is about. When you perform a search, Google will look for the particular keyword in the content and highlight it in the meta-description. If your meta description doesn’t contain the keyword searched for, it’ll grab a “random” snippet from the page that does.  

It should accurately describe the main content of the post or page, include the focus keyphrase, and entice people to click on your result. If you want to avoid repetition, you can also play with synonyms or related keywords in your meta description. When a search is performed, Google will highlight the focus keyword on the meta-description, showing to the person that they can find an answer to their question there.

The permalink & slug

The URL is the link that you will use to reach the content. It is the address. The slug is part of the URL that you can optimize for SEO and change to reflect the topic of the content.  The slug should be kept short but include a focus keyword to tell Google what the link is about. Including the keyphrase will help Google and users to identify the topic of your post or page.

7. Optimize your images for SEO

Images are essential to content creation. They bring the article to life and can contribute to SEO. Let’s also be honest, with social media today, it is good imagery that are all the rage. There are a few things you can do to help optimize your images for SEO and contribute to improving the overall performance of your website.

First of all, pick images that are relevant to your content. Make sure they are JPEG and compress them before uploading them to the website. Reduce the size of the image wherever possible. Speed is essential to good SEO and quite often images slow a website down. You can add a title and caption to your images. People look at images first and scan them to get a better idea of the content. Always add alt text and to use keywords, so that it can be found in Google image.

8. Internal linking

Internal links are hyperlinks that point to pages on the same domain. It help Google find, index and understand all of the pages on your site. Internal links can also help to send page authority to important pages. In short: internal linking is key for any site that wants higher rankings in Google. 

Internal linking is also great to improve blog visit duration, traffic to your website and decrease bounce rate. If you link blog posts between them, you may encourage a visitor to click on another post and spend more time on your blog.

When linking internally as part of SEO, pay attention to the anchor text your are using. The anchor text is the visible, clickable text in an HTML hyperlink. Although using an exact match anchor text to the page you are liking to will not hurt you, it is better to mix anchor text to avoid looking spammy. Do not use the same anchor text for two different pages and make sure that the anchor text you are using is relevant to the page you are internally linking it into.

9. Social media promotion

Social media links help SEO. Indeed, Google uses links shared on Facebook and Twitter as a ranking signal. Social media links do not count individually but there is still a correlation with search ranking. If you create good content, people will like and share it, thus linking to it and boosting its ranking. Correlation.

Social media isn’t a direct Google ranking factor, it is one of the best ways to promote content and be found online. Which is, ultimately, what SEO is all about. Furthermore, social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. And people are just as likely to click on a social media as on a website. Social media are search engines too (Youtube, Pinterest, Twitter) and people may find you through a hashtag or a targeted search.

Social media can still help you boost your SEO since it create awareness, allows for link building and is great for promotion.

We reached the end of this SEO for beginners guide where I give you all the you need to optimize your blog posts for SEO and improve it’s ranking in Google search. How you optimize your blog post for SEO is a process that never ends as Google changes all the time and factors affecting ranking change too. SEO requires constant work and attention but it is worth it when it helps your business.

What are your top SEO for beginners tips? Is Search engine optimization a focus on your content marketing strategy? How do you optimize your blog posts for SEO? Any other tips for us?

Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.

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Websites You’d Be Surprised — Are WordPress Websites

I always get aksed from clients about to start their website creation for their business; “What’s the best CMS (Content Management System) for websites.

There is soooooo many options! Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, Shopify, GoDaddy Website Builder and so much more! One I’ve missed – that is my #1 recommendation: WordPress.

It’s still the top leading way to create a website.
You can go the DIY route and pick a theme and customize it with your info and images, but WordPress is still the top one for custom websites to be built, custom themes to be built for your business and it’s the way I go about creating websites for clients.

You may even be surprised that some VERY FAMILIAR websites are actually built within WordPress. Take a peek:

new-era-unglitch.io

What’s stopping you from having a professional website?

Ok, you may already have a website and think it’s pretty nifty. But there are some things to consider before you decide if it’s time to upgrade to a website that works better for your business.

#1. There is an Undeniable Shift in the World

A crazy change has happened over the decades. I was lucky enough (or not lucky enough) to see the last big change in marketing. Unfortunately, since trends of marketing your brand have pivoted so rapidly recently — many businesses have not adopted the change and are failing.

I just read that 52% of Fortune 500 businesses have closed since the rapid shift in the 2000’s and now.

The brands that are embracing the new era is flourishing!

In the 70’s (the height of marketing) was just like how you would expect it to be if you’ve seen shows like Mad Men. “Ad-Men” were a thing. Cheesy advertising was a thing. Customers flocked to stores with even the simplest of marketing: Buy this product and you’ll be who you want to be. In the 1990’s services got the same treatment. Get this service and be a better version of yourself. This led to ditching marketing products and services altogether and asking what customers need today in the 2000’s.

So what’s the big difference today?

Now, brands have to ditch all of that. We as a society don’t want products or services anymore. We want relationships. I have a theory about how technology is causing the hunger for human contact, but let’s not get down that rabbit hole today.

You can see this is what you do on a daily basis. What are the videos you like to watch on YouTube? What shows do you watch? What podcasts to you listen to? I guarantee you whatever your interests are all of these are an insight into people just hanging out (reality tv shows, comedians bullshitting with each other, experts hanging out talking shop, etc).

When you follow someone on Facebook (be it a brand or personality) you want to see them. You want to know what their life is like and how they can make yours better or easier.

Because my career grew up in an era where ad agencies were still using tactics to reach clients and customers on how they can help you, I really struggled with social media focused, vlogging, “show them yourself” style we have now. To be honest I still struggle. I hate going live. Can’t I just Skype my client for them to see me? I don’t want to show you pictures of me or my life to grow my business. But without a doubt, if I don’t do more of that — I will fail… And so will you.

Your website is no different. It’s apart of what markets you and it’s the last step usually before someone decides to “buy”. Is your content not unique? Is your design un-inspired or cookie-cutter? Yes? Well…then your brand will come off as out-of-date and not worthy.

#2. Who are the Losers of this Marketing Change?

This is a scary time to watch as a B2B business. There is a “mass extinction” of businesses lately. Billion-dollar companies are dying who are not hiring a good team to market their story. They possibly don’t want to tell their story even as it’s probably about just making money.

Small businesses, the mom-and-pops of our local communities are failing. For the same reasons! They might have a great story to tell, but don’t have the time to tell it or just don’t see the value in even technologies that were popular 20 years ago. Hiring someone to do this for them seems too expensive and not worth the risk. I hear this often where I live (small community towns that are very focused on the history of their area — not the future). Every time I meet someone and we eventually chat about their business I hear them negatively talk about a website, a re-branding, marketing, creating a social media presence, SEO, etc… I watch a year later as they shut their door after decades in business. This is by far the worst part of my job. Watching someone fail.

#3. Who’s “Winning”?

Do you know who is rapidly doing better in the industry? Startups! In the 1990’s to 2000’s.

Now if you are over 40, please don’t hate me for this. The main reason startups are doing so well and getting over the first-year-hell hump is because the majority of those who launch a brand, are…(get ready for a swear word) Millenials…dun dun dun!

This is because they have already either grown-up or became adults in the era where the change has happened and to them, it’s a no-brainer to have a great website, be active on social media, and build a relationship with more people. They are also now the main customer base of any brand.

That being said I can’t not mention why this is such a surprise: Millenial startup success. I mentioned the first-year-hell hump. Anyone who has owned a business knows all to well that Year One is something out of a horror movie. It’s an uphill battle with you pulling the wagon by your teeth. The downside of both Millenial startups is that we now live in an era that doesn’t want to work a 9-5 job for the next 40 years. Some of us want to own the business to be our own boss or because (brace yourself) some of us just don’t want to work. See a problem with that last one. Working for yourself is harder, more stressful, but when you hustle — so worth it!

So sometimes it shocking that some of those darn Millenials seem to have a bead on the branding and marketing to-do’s. The truth is, the ones that do are focused on success. If you’ve owned a business for a few decades the picture of success might have changed. Are you still learning about ways to succeed?

Another thing.

#4. Let’s Talk About DIY’ers

Whether you’re a Millenial or not, you can still find the value in an online presence as we chatted about above. But of course, we all have different budgets. With drag-and-drop builders like Wix and Weebly it’s an easy step to try to tackle your website on your own. You pick a template, you add your logo, your services or products and boom! A website! For just the cost of hosting!

Great! Right? Hmm…

Let’s compare! Take a look at a Wix site:

wix-template-for-florists

This is the suggested template you see when you type in “florist” in the template search. It works, but… It’s a cookie-cutter look. Un-inspiring. This does not prompt the DIY’er to add a personal touch.

Let’s peak at another way to do a website:

More personal right? Unique! This website was not DIY’ed by the owner. They hired a professional agency, freelancer, or professional to create this design, develop the code, and add SEO so that they can be found online in their local community!

But of course, it’s very appealing to do-it-yourself. Little cost. No help to your brand though…

#5. The Pitch…

You’ve read blog articles before. Ya know what’s coming. I’m a Web Developer after all!

But a pitch? Barf.

Where’s the promised land of marketing and your online presence?

It’s when a business starts picking up and new customers are around your business more often after a website re-do (or re-brand).

How about some numbers? These are some market research I’ve done for case studies for clients in 2018 and 2019:

  1. Local Restaurant (2019)
  2. eTherapist (2019)
  3. Large Manufacturing Company (2018)
restaurant website

Thinking about a professional website? Check out the features a website project gets you like FREE WEB HOSTING FOR LIFE with your website development at https://unglitch.io.