Jan 16, 2024

What Are SEO Principles: A Must-Have Guide For Beginners

What Are SEO Principles: A Must-Have Guide For Beginners
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When developing a website, you should first work on your basic SEO structure.

With 93% of all web traffic coming through search engines, it’s worth investing time and resources to build your SEO right from the beginning.

A knowledgeable SEO professional would spend days planning and outlining a website’s SEO before starting the actual website development.

But if you are new to search engine optimization and you are dealing with a small website, here are some essential SEO principles to consider.

SEO For Beginners: What You Need To Know To Get Started

Here are the most basic SEO principles to get you going.

  1. Keyword Targeting
  2. Website Navigation
  3. Technical SEO Essentials
  4. Quality Content
  5. On-Page SEO Structure
  6. Internal Linking
  7. Crawling Basics
  8. Backlinks
  9. User Experience

Let’s analyze these fundamentals of SEO.

Keyword Targeting

A big part of SEO is based on keywords. Before building a new website, you need to conduct thorough keyword research.

Keep in mind that keywords are not the only factor to consider for your website’s rankings. Many SEO aspects come into play to achieve top positions.

Still, selecting the right keywords is a core component of reaching your target audience, provided that you take care of other technical aspects, such as on-page and off-page SEO, website structure, etc.

To find the best keywords to target, start by brainstorming terms related to your website’s topic. Then, analyze them with the tool of your choice and filter them down to a rough list.

Further analysis will help you pinpoint the main keywords for your URLs, menu (and submenu) items, page titles, etc.

With 94.74% of keywords getting 10 monthly searches or fewer, it will take time and careful monitoring to assess the effectiveness of your chosen keywords.

Website Navigation

Well-structured navigation is a fundamental SEO principle worth getting right from the beginning.

To design an effective website navigation, you must consider the search engines, your users, and your topic.

A well-structured website navigation is essential in SEO for many reasons.

  1. It helps crawlers navigate up and down the page hierarchy, get a better understanding of the importance of each page, and index it accordingly.
  2. Your users can easily find the information they are looking for and have a better website experience.
  3. Your website’s topics are presented in a structured way that depicts deep knowledge of your main subject.

Your website navigation structure should start from broad topics, narrowing down to more specific subtopics.

Optimize Your URLs

SEO-friendly URLs need to show the page topic and include keywords. All words should be separated with hyphens. URLs must be reader-friendly - unless they are automatically generated.

Technical SEO Essentials

SEO developers should always design a website that abides by technical SEO fundamentals.

There are numerous technical aspects when optimizing your pages for search engines. But, for a small website, you must concentrate on 4 core pillars of technical SEO.

1. Page Speed

Fast-loading pages are essential for high rankings and happy customers.

2. Fast Server Response

Choose fast and reliable web hosting to minimize page load time and avoid drawbacks, such as unexpected downtime and security issues.

3. Responsiveness

Multi-device-friendly websites are highly rated by Google and provide a smooth user experience.

4. HTTPS

All pages of your website must use HTTPS, which is a secure version of HTTP. HTTPS helps protect sensitive information like user passwords, and Google sees it as secure content.

Make sure that all HTTP addresses in your site redirect to HTTPS.

Publish Quality Content

Search engines rank pages with content they consider valuable for users. To do that, they assess various factors.

As an SEO beginner, to create ranking content, you can concentrate on the following:

  • Write content with topical relevance to your business, i.e., industry-related topics.
  • Publish original, informative content optimized with keywords in a natural way.
  • Use a mix of posts, videos, articles, infographics, guides, images, etc.

SEO-optimized pages with great content increase user engagement and dwell time. Your website gains authority and enjoys high rankings while you build brand awareness and trust.

With the top 3 Google search results getting 54.4% of all clicks, it’s worth taking the time to work your way to the top.

Remember to update your most valuable content regularly to stay fresh and relevant.

You can also look into SCO marketing (Search Channel Optimization) and tailor your content for each individual marketing medium you use.

On-Page SEO Fundamentals

You must diligently optimize all published content with on-page SEO.

Basic on-page optimizations include:

Page Title

It determines the page’s core topic and supports your main keyword. Good page titles have maximum characters (or pixel length) - as dictated by search engines.

Page Description

Also known as meta description, this short piece of text appears in search results and provides users with extra information on your page. It’s also read by robots in the backend.

If done smartly, page description strengthens your main and secondary keywords, and it’s more inviting for users.

Headings

H tags show the structure of your content to bots and humans. You must use them in a numerical hierarchy. H1 is at the top. This is the title and main topic of your article.

Then, title each topic cluster with H2 and use H3 for even smaller topical entities. H4 tags and below are sparingly used.

Headings help users quickly skim through your piece. They are also essential for screen readers in website accessibility.

Use only one H1 tag per page, usually the same as the title.

Optimize Images

Images add appeal, enhance quality and showcase expertise. They also rank your pages in image searches.

Image SEO Best Practices:

  1. Original visuals
  2. High-quality
  3. Small size
  4. Optimal resolution for all devices (dimensions as per website design)
  5. Web-friendly format: webp, png, jpg. Also, svg for icons and diagrams.
  6. Keyword-optimized file names: use 2-3 (key)words in Latin characters separated by hyphens.
  7. Image alt descriptions (125 characters max). Simply describe what the image shows, including (key)words from the image file name.
    Note: Screen readers use image (alt) descriptions to convey information to visually impaired users.
  8. Captions spice up your content, strengthen your image keywords, and provide copyright info.

All these elements are keys to content optimization. Still, for your pages to get higher rankings and visibility, you also need to work on your internal links.

Internal Linking

Any links that connect your website’s pages are part of your internal linking.

Your main navigation (top/footer menus) and breadcrumbs help users and bots find their way around your site.

Furthermore, in-article anchor texts boost the ranking potential of your content and your targeted keywords. They also help users quickly find information within a single page.

Crawling Basics

To help your pages rank fast and efficiently, you must implement some crawling fundamentals to your website from day one.

  • In your robots.txt file, indicate to search engine bots which pages to ignore.
  • Submit a sitemap to every search engine to help bots identify and crawl your pages.

Very small websites usually need a single sitemap for blogs and pages and, eventually, a separate image site map.

If there’s a lot of content, you can create separate sitemaps for pages, blogs, categories, etc. Always check your sitemaps from time to time.

  • Use schema markup to identify pieces of information within your pages. The more information you add here, the better search engines understand your page’s content and crawl it more efficiently.

Schema markup is essential for pages to qualify for featured snippets.

It’s also essential for some types of content to gain visibility among competitors, such as recipe results.

Backlinks

After implementing these fundamental principles of SEO, you then need to work on acquiring relevant, quality backlinks.

This is part of off-page SEO that significantly adds to your topical and domain authority status.

Reputable websites are the best source for backlinks - either paid or free backlinks.

Networking with other industry professionals and the media creates valuable connections for link exchanges and reputable mentions.

Invest In User Experience

As an SEO beginner, you might be allured by all the ranking possibilities search engine optimization offers. Nevertheless, you must avoid over-optimizing at the expense of your users.

SEO professionals always prioritize the positive experience for the user. In fact, Google prioritizes it too!

So, the key takeaway from our SEO beginner’s guide is to always aim for a compelling website crafted for an immaculate user experience.

Combine Top SEO And Exquisite Experiences For Your Customers

At Atropos Digital, we offer comprehensive SEO services adapted to your needs and the latest search engine demands.

We help you improve visibility for your target audience and achieve a marketed-oriented user experience that captivates your prospects and leads them to convert. Call us today.

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