SEO Tutorial for Beginners | Search Engine Optimization Guide

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Website Speed

By far one of the most underrated aspects of a successful SEO strategy is your website speed.

Google has estimated that websites with a 6 second load speed (or slower) lose more than 24% of their organic traffic due to sluggish page speeds.

But the reality is much worse.

47% of consumers expect a website to load in 2 seconds or less and more than 40% of them will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

As such, improving the speed of your website is one of the most important things that you can do to improve user signals and traffic metrics and, by extension, your search engine performance.

But how do you actually get started boosting your website speed? While there are dozens of great resources and tactics for ramping up your site’s speed, here are a few of the simplest and easiest ways to squeeze the extra speed out of your website.

Choose the Right Web Host

The first and most important thing that you can do to ensure that your website loads as quickly as possible is to select the right hosting package from the best company that you can afford.

There are three primary hosting options to choose from:

● Shared hosting
● VPS hosting
● Dedicated server

Shared hosting is by far the slowest and least effective type of hosting since you share resources such as RAM and CPU with other websites.

VPS hosting, on the other hand, is still shared with other websites but allows you to access a dedicated portion of the servers resources.

It’s kind of like living with a roommate vs. living in an apartment building.

When you have a roommate you share all of the resources such as living space, the bathrooms, and utilities.

When you live in an apartment, you are still living in the same building with other people, but you have your own dedicated area that is exclusively for you.

A dedicated server, on the other hand, is like living in your own house.

You don’t share any resources with anyone, however, the cost is greater and the technical requirements are much more taxing.

Unless your website is generating hundreds of thousands of visitors per month, I recommend that you opt for a VPS hosting package as it will provide the fastest speeds at the lowest cost.

Minimize Image Sizes

Another common mistake that many newbie web owners make is that they forget to minimize the images on their website.

Oftentimes, stock photos will download at pixel sizes of 4500 x 4500 and up. Even if you proceed to resize the images in WordPress, your website will still have to load the full image and then resize it to the appropriate length and width, slowing your website even further.

I recommend that you use a tool like WP Smush which will automatically compress your images to the appropriate size.

Enable Caching

One of the easiest ways to increase your website’s load time is to enable browser caching.

Whenever someone visits your site for the first time, their browser will have to load all of the elements on your site by sending an HTTP request to the server. This takes a lot of time and can result in very slow page speeds.

However, if you enable browser caching, their browser can load many of those same elements from its cache, or temporary storage.

This means that your repeat visitors will have a faster and cleaner experience which, of course, means a greater possibility of conversion.

The best tool that I’ve found for browser caching is called W3 Total Cache.

Simply install the plugin from WordPress then enable caching once it’s installed.

Audit and Enable Compression

When it comes to boosting your website speed, compression is the name of the game.

Start by running a compression audit at GID Network and then enable a browser caching software such as W3 Total Cache and select “Enable Compression”.

It’s that simple.

Limit Plugins and Other Third Party Software

Although I’ve already recommended a number of great plugins that you can use to speed up your website’s response time, it’s important to note that most plugins will hinder, not help, your website’s performance.

As such, it’s important that you minimize the number of plugins and third party software that you use.

If you don’t need ‘em, delete ‘em.

Website Design

Website design is a critical aspect of on page optimization. Although you won’t directly gain any points from Google for having an aesthetic design or beautiful visuals on your site, the importance of web design for user experience cannot be overstated.

If you’ll recall, one of the key factors that Google uses to determine a website’s value is dwell time or, the amount of time that individuals spend on a given page or URL.

And your website design will impact dwell time in a way that few other things can.

Sure, there are plenty of ugly websites that still rank highly in Google simply because of the celebrity status of their owner or the massive marketing budget behind them.

However, they are ranking in spite of their design, not because of it.

Just think about your own experience. How many websites have you visited and promptly left for no other reason than the layout and design of the site?

If you’re anything like me, the answer is “Hundreds!”

Don’t be like those sites.

If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend that you invest in a responsive website design (there are plenty of themes that are surprisingly affordable).

It’s important that your website is optimized for mobile devices since Google is looking to roll out something known as their “Mobile First Index” later this year.

The mobile first index is exactly what it sounds like. After its launch, Google will begin crawling and ranking your mobile site first. This means that any website that is not fully responsive and optimized for mobile users will be penalized and experience a massive drop in its rankings.

I don’t care if you have to hire a company or redesign your entire site yourself. If you want to succeed at the SEO game in 2018 and beyond, you need to optimize your site for mobile users. Period.

Content

It’s been said that “Content is king”, and you can rest assured that the king still
reigns supreme.

Without high quality content, none of the tactics or techniques that I’ve shared with
you thus far will make a difference.

You can optimize your website all you want. You can have a killer backlinking strategy
(which I’ll talk about in the next section). You can do everything right.

But without exceptional content that clearly shows Google that you are the authority
when it comes to your target keywords and phrases… None of it will matter.

But what makes content “Good”?

Simply put… Context.

Here’s what I mean.

In the olden days of SEO, Google ranked web pages based on their content. In other words, the only thing that Google wanted to see was content that was stuffed with the target keyword.

Since then, Google’s algorithm has evolved and become much smarter.

Although it still cares about content, it places an even greater importance on the context of that content.

In other words, Google wants to see content that covers all aspects of its topic, not just its respective keyword.

For example, if you wrote a piece of content teaching people how to gain muscle, Google would want to see you including dozens of long tail keywords throughout your article that are related to your specific topic such as:

● The best supplements for gaining muscle
● How to recover from a workout
● Gain muscle for beginners
● High intensity interval training

The key to creating comprehensive content that proves to Google that you are the authority on your chosen topic is simple…

Create highly valuable content that is difficult to replicate.

Yes, it’s hard work. You will need to pour several hours into any article that you create (just like I poured several days into this guide).

But at the end of the day, you can’t game the system. All of your content should be 2,000 words or longer and cover your given topic as thoroughly as you’re able.

Here are a few other tips to help you level up your content and improve your website’s search engine performance.

Use Clever and Benefit Driven Subheadings

Few people have the time or attention span to read through an entire article or mega guide these day. Just think about it…

Have you actually read all of the content up to this point? If so, then I salute you.

However, if you are anything like me (or 99% of the population) then you’ve probably been skimming through this guide, zeroing in on important headlines, and reading the parts that seemed important to you.

This is how most content on the internet is consumed.

In order to make your content as accessible as possible to your audience and thereby increase the dwell time on your important pages, be sure to break up your content with lots of subheadings, bullet points, and numbered lists.

The more skimmable your content is, the better.

Embed Lots of Images and Videos

They say that content is king, but it would be far more accurate to say that “Visual content is king”.

In recent years, we’ve witnessed an explosive growth in video and image based content like infographics.

The more videos and images that you can embed into your pillar content, the better the user experience will be and the more highly Google will rank your content.

It’s that simple.

Optimize Your Use of Anchor Text

Since you have an understanding of the different types of anchor text, it’s important that you understand how to use and optimize them for SEO.

The single most important thing that you can do to optimize your anchors is to ensure that every link you anchor points to a relevant page or site.

For example, if you include the anchor, this guide to facebook advertising, you need to make sure that the link in question actually points to a relevant piece of content and not something unrelated.

However, this is just the beginning of anchor text optimization. Here are a few more tactics for ensuring your SEO success through the proper use of anchors.

Distribute different anchor types:

Your anchors should appear natural, both to your users and Google. Although “Natural” is a relative term that depends on the type of web page you run and the content you create, you should always try to create a diverse anchor text profile that includes all major anchor types.

Don’t get links from poor quality or spammy sites:

Traditional link building is dead. In 2018, you need to ensure that all of the links you receive from other websites are from reputable and relevant sites. Sorry, but purchasing 1,000 directory links or 500 spam backlinks isn’t going to do you any favors and may actually incur a penalty from Google.

Avoid keyword rich anchors for internal linking:

In the same way that you should avoid stuffing your target keyword into your content, you should use exact match anchors (anchors that match your target keyword exactly) very conservatively. I recommend that you opt for long tail hybrid anchors instead.

Write relevant guest posts:
One of the best ways to improve your SEO performance is to write high quality guest posts for relevant sites (meaning sites with a domain authority above 30) and use long tail and partial match keywords.

Obtain links from relevant authoritative websites:

In addition to earning links through guest posting, you can also obtain links by building reciprocal relationships with authoritative websites and sharing high quality content with them.

Understanding RankBrain and User Signals

The final piece of the on page SEO puzzle is something known as Google RankBrain.

According to Google, RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor that Google uses to determine how to rank a web page.

At the most basic level, RankBrain is a machine learning system that helps Google understand their search results.

While this might sound futuristic and incredibly complicated, it really isn’t.

RankBrain simply measures how users interact with the current search results and then changes the ranking accordingly.

Here’s how it works.

Let’s say that you search “How to invest in real estate”.

After looking at the SERPs, you decide to click on the #3 result. Upon entering, it’s the most comprehensive and in depth guide to real estate investing that you’ve ever read.

You spend nearly 40 minutes delving through all of the content and then bookmark the page to view later.

RankBrain is going to take notice of this and, if enough people have a similar experience, they will likely boost that result to the #2 spot.

Conversely, if you automatically click on result #1, realize that it’s a garbage article, and immediately exit, RankBrain will take notice and demote that result.

As you can see, RankBrain pays attention to only two factors:

1. The click through rate or CTR
2. The dwell time or time on page

I’ve already shared how you can increase your average time on page by creating more comprehensive content that is embedded with stunning visuals and videos, and now I want to take a minute to talk about optimizing your content for clicks.

The trick to optimizing your click through rate is simple.

Write a compelling and “Magnetic” meta description that people cannot help but click.

Let’s look at a couple of examples so that you can see what I mean.

Using the real estate investing query from before, take a look at the #8 search results meta description.

Notice how the description is clunky. It doesn’t make any promises or scream “Click Me!” the way it should. In fact, it doesn’t look like they optimized the meta description at all…

Now compare this to the #2 search result

Notice how the meta description is succinct, to the point, and makes a powerful promise.

When I read this description, my first inclination is to click on the article so that I can uncover the “Right” way to become wealthy through real estate.

This is how all of your meta descriptions should sound.

If you make a conscious effort to create compelling copy that entices readers and convinces them to click through to your content, the battle is yours and your content will continue to ascent the ranks (assuming that your content is valuable and comprehensive).

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