You should have seen what I was working with when I started managing my first website.
It was 1998 and I was in high school. The internet was still very new, it ran exclusively on dial-up, and I had only gotten my first email address a few months prior. Search engines were nothing like the complex and marvellous machines we use today, and the idea of buying your own domain name and hosting was a pipe dream at best. (Geocities, anyone?) The biggest concern at the time was OMG what’s going to happen when Y2K arrives??? (Spoiler alert: very little, actually.)
SEO was literally not even being discussed. As in, if you typed “What is SEO?” in a search engine, it probably would have broken the search engine because—at that point, anyway—questions aren’t something that people type into search engines! The indignity of it! *faints dramatically*
Maybe I’m exaggerating a touch, and I’m definitely dating myself, but the truth is: SEO isn’t something you’re born knowing. It’s a system that has a history and has changed over time. And like any other system we deal with in our day-to-day lives, we can only learn it by interacting with it!
I’ve put together a few SEO tips for beginners today because I really want to encourage all small business owners (especially female entrepreneurs) to educate themselves at least a little in this powerful tool. Sure, SEO is trendy, but it’s also totally necessary. It’s helped many websites go from complete unknowns to go-to sources for info, and it can do that for yours, too! It just takes two things: a bit of courage and a little training.
I can’t sort out the former for you, but if you’re ready, let’s get into the latter. 🙂
What is SEO anyway?
It stands for Search Engine Optimization, and it’s basically a fancy word for how search engine-friendly your website is. Can the Google robots crawl your site properly? Can they figure out what the heck you’re posting about? Cool! Then your SEO is in all right shape!
My 3 top SEO tips for beginners
TIP 1: learn how to leverage directories
Huh? you might be saying. What does a directory mean in this context?
A directory is basically a site that compiles great content, like Medium and HubPages. These websites have already done a ton of the SEO legwork for you, and they also love to index existing content that’s high-quality.
Enter you, the Content Queen! Submitting to these directories with solid content can really put you on the map, especially if you’re working under your own name. Articles that you submit will show up on Google with less effort, because those sites are already indexed and their content is well-respected. Basically, you’re piggybacking on someone else’s ranking while also contributing some great content in return. It’s a win for everyone!
Tip 2: Use long-tail keywords
Whether you’re writing blog posts or sharing video, long-tail keywords will allow search engines to index your work.
This becomes especially important with photos and videos, because there isn’t really another way to index or “crawl” visual media like that. One of the most important but overlooked SEO tips for beginners especially is to use every text-based space you’ve got for visual media. If there is a caption, use it! If there is an image “alt” text, use it! Visual media is super effective and I would never discourage you from using it, but be sure that you’re also associating it with some text that can be searched through if you want to optimize your search engine rankings!
Tip 3: Learn how to get backlinks to your website from the start
This is an important strategy that takes time, but which has a huge SEO payoff in the long run! The way search engines like Google understand backlinks is as follows: if a site is linking to, say, liawalsh.com, then that site must think that liawalsh.com is reputable enough to link to. Makes sense, right?
To start with, it’s a good idea to set up social media accounts with bios that include your URL. These platforms don’t exactly count as “backlinks” to most search engines, but they do help create authority for your brand. Ever hear of a successful company that just doesn’t have a Twitter account? Not very often, I’ll wager. Even if it’s not super active, it’s still a good idea to start putting the idea into your followers’ heads that linking back to your content and website is a good idea!
Once you’re established on social media, use that extra legitimacy to ask other sites to link back to your top content, or even do a guest blog post on a related blog! The possibilities are endless, and getting an early start will set you up for success down the road.
What’s the biggest SEO challenge that you faced when you were just starting out (even if that’s right now)? Let us now in the comments! 🙂
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