Google SEO: Guide for Complete Beginners
Tian Wen Tay - April 19, 2020
The world of search engine optimisation might seem complex. Intimidating even. If you’re new to Google SEO, where do you even start?
SEO, or search engine optimisation, refers to the continual process of making small changes to your website so that it ranks higher in the unpaid, or organic, search results. As the name implies, SEO deals with what search engines and people look for in a good website.
SEO and Google SEO: Meaning
While SEO isn’t limited to any one search engine, in particular, it’s natural to assume that SEO and Google SEO are one and the same.
Because more than 90% of all internet searches take place on Google, getting Google SEO right is important for websites to rank highly. Knowledge of useful Google SEO tools is also key to success, and just as critical is interpreting SEO Google Analytics to inform marketing decisions.
Without further ado, let’s get straight into this Google SEO Guide!
The definitive guide to Google SEO for complete beginners
Google SEO Step 1: Do Your Keyword Research
In the world of SEO, keywords are everything. While there are many factors that decide how well your page ranks on a search engine results page (SERP), using the right words (in the right way) carries significantly more weight.
A website can throw all sorts of fancy content. Maybe even churn out lots of insightful articles on a regular basis. But without the right keywords, it will remain invisible to Google.
Keyword research comes first because the rest of the steps focus on optimising web content around the keywords that are found in search queries. By optimising, it means that your website can rank highly for those keywords.
How can I find the keywords I want?
Finding the right keywords for Google SEO is a lot easier with free-to-use Google SEO tools:
- Keyword Planner by Google Ads is great for looking up keywords and other relevant keywords you can use in your content.
- Google AutoSuggest reveals a list of relevant search results you can use.
- Google Trends is excellent for picking up on recently popular search results you can leverage on for your Google SEO strategy.
Many SEO experts like Neil Patel and Brian Dean have also pointed out the sharp rise in visual and voice search queries. According to Gartner, a leading global research and advisory firm, websites that are optimised for visual and voice search may see significant increases in their digital commerce revenues.
This means that the keywords you use should also be optimal for visual and voice search queries. SEMRush has put together a one-stop guide on voice search and strategies.
Additionally, following the global rollout of Google’s BERT natural language processing model in 2019, Google SEO is no longer just about high rankings for keywords. To be successful with Google SEO, you also need to match search intent.
You can also read about our guide on basic Google SEO keyword research.
Google SEO Step 2: Write SEO-optimised content
Once you’ve decided on which keywords to use, you should then use them in patterns that help your website rank highly. Generally, SEO-optimised content should abide by these rules:
- Use your keyword multiple times across the entire page.
- Your keyword should appear at least once in the first 100 words of your content.
- Your keyword must be in the website’s title
- It should also be in the website’s URL
- Emphasise your keyword in your H1 and H2 content headers
- Your keyword should feature in the final paragraph of your content.
As for what keyword to build your content around, keep an eye out for long-tail keywords. These are keywords with 3 more words that tend to have lower search volumes and less competition.
Optimising content beyond keywords
Be sure to also use synonyms of your keyword and other related terms regularly in your content. This makes your content appear more relevant, and it should read more naturally than artificially stuffing keywords.
To optimise your content for visual search, place your images higher up on your page. Also always use descriptive file names that contain your keyword. Do not forget to write an alt-text description for every image too.
Google SEO Step 3: Build links and promote content via outreach
Another important way that Google ranks pages on their SERPs is by looking at the number of links they contain.
Links on a page can be split and identified as “inbound” and “outbound” links. “Inbound” links are links that link back to your page from external pages, while “outbound” links are links on your page that link to external pages.
If your website has few to no links, your Google SEO performance might not be decent.
Google SEO Tools for an effective Google SEO strategy
In the early days of SEO, applying Google SEO techniques in a blog was very much trial and error. While it’s absolutely possible to apply SEO without any tools today, these tools can help make the Google SEO process a lot easier and effective.
In addition to the Google SEO tools we mentioned earlier, here are even more tools that are great for Google SEO:
Google Search Console
A must-have for anyone seriously looking to create an effective Google SEO strategy. Google Search Console essentially allows you to see if your website has been indexed by Google, and is crucial for optimising your website for search engine visibility.
Google Analytics is great for generating data insights about your website. This works via the use of “tags”, or short snippets of code that help track certain online metrics on your website.
Google Tag Manager
A powerful complement to Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager makes it easier to manage multiple tags by letting you define strict rules for when your tags will be triggered. If you’re looking to track metrics across different markets and demographics, consider using this. For more information, see Search Engine Journal’s guide on how to use Google Tag Manager for your Google SEO strategy.
Google SEO: Next Steps to take
Keywords and links form a big part of the backbone of SEO, but they’re not everything. Google SEO also involves more advanced aspects like conversion rate optimisation, web development, and responsive web design.
Should I take a paid Google SEO Course?
Tons of articles and tutorial videos can be found with a quick search on Google. But for more advanced and technical aspects of SEO, you may feel that professional help may be necessary.
Before you consider spending money, know that there isn’t an average price when it comes to Google SEO courses. Moz Academy’s courses range between 49 USD to 199 USD. General Assembly’s Digital Marketing Course, which touches on SEO, is priced above 3000 USD.
If you’re looking to simply implement Google SEO best practices on a blog, the wealth of free online resources should more than suffice for your needs. If you’re looking to become a certified SEO industry professional with accreditation, then a paid Google SEO course that is industry-recognised might be a worthwhile investment.
Should I hire a Google SEO consultant?
If all you need is Google SEO for your business, an SEO consultant like CX Vibrancy can help craft, implement, monitor and maintain a customised Google SEO strategy.
Algorithms go through a lot of rapid developments that often come at short notice. These changes in Google SEO 2020 guidelines can disrupt the rankings and cause fluctuations to your site’s performance.
In 2019 alone, Google issued a total of 12 SEO updates:
1. 3 of those made major changes to Google’s search algorithm. Some websites lost significant traffic overnight.
2. Among the 12 was the anticipated BERT update that made search intent became as important a criteria as keyword rankings in SEO. (Read Search Engine Journal’s article about the BERT algorithm.)
Google guidelines for 2020 also indicate more significant changes ahead:
3. Google issued two updates in just January alone. One was a major update that shook up SERP rankings.
4. The rising popularity of voice and visual search means keywords now need to be optimized across different media.
Need help devising a Google SEO strategy that can help your business weather these frequent changes and grow? Get in touch with us and arrange for a consultation today.