In this article we discuss SEO for beginners, including on-page and off-page SEO. Since way before Google existed, we have always relied on indexes and directories to advertise our products – the BT phone book for business is a classic example of such. Born out of such directories was companies like A1 plumbing, A1 taxis etc, because most directories ran their content in alphabetical order. Naturally, these would get by far the greatest share of business.
The world-wide-web and Google changed this…
Google introduced the concept of Pagerank – this was founded by Larry Page a computer scientist at Stamford University. The illustration shows, at a very basic level, sites A, B, C, D, E and F linking amongst each other.
Site B has many sites linking to it and mathematically has the greatest likelihood 38.4% of being reached by a web surfer and is illustrated by having the largest of all circles.
Site B, only links to Site C, but because site B is considered an important site, Site C gains authority and trust. This is because out of the all the possible sites that site B could link to, it only chooses Site C.
Links to a website are referred to as off-page factors. This also includes facebook shares, twitter mentions, pinterest etc.
The concept of pagerank is still extremely important in today’s SEO world. Inbound links to a website are ultimately what decide the search engine results pages (SERPS) and the ranking order. Website owners should strive to develop content that is scalable and encourages others to link to it, share, tweet etc. The strongest websites are those that are experts on a subject matter, rather than a me too website. As far as Google is concerned, there are too many spammy websites, and websites that offer no additional benefit to those already listed in the SERPS. This is why you should never duplicate content that exists elsewhere etc or aim to develop a website ‘like’ another.
Here is an example. We have performed a search for the term ‘credit cards’ on google.co.uk. You would think that Visa or Mastercard would dominate the rankings, but in fact outside of the sponsored adverts, confused.com is listed in position #1, followed by moneysavingexpert.com in position #2.
The reasons confused.com and moneysavingexpert.com occupy these top positions, is because as far as Google is concerned, they have more links to them from other websites. Think of inbound links as votes, the more you have, the greater the likelihood you will occupy top rankings. However, it should be noted that not all links are equal, and you should link wisely. Links from spammy website will harm your website rankings, whilst links from good sources will help drive visitors. The number of outbound links on a page, will also play a part in ranking.
Revisiting the pagerank illustration above, if site B decided it would link to D, E and F websites, site C would see a reduction in their trust and authority (unless they gain valuable links elsewhere), which could result in a drop in rankings.
The most important point to remember if you are going to build a website, is to develop a site that is subject expert and naturally others will want to link to it, share and tweet.
On-page seo relates to the actual content on a page.
If you revisit the credit card Google search above, you will see that confused.com has optimised the page to include the term credit cards. From the illustration we can see that it is mentioned in the title of the page, the url of the page, and the meta description. These are 3 basic suggestions that you should strive to include on any page for your chosen keyphrase. You should if possible, also try to ensure that the keyphrase is included in the H1 text on a page, as well as featuring in the content and other H headings. Keyword density (the amount of time a keyword appears on the page) has been discussed extensively in the SEO world, and the outcome is just make sure the keyword is mentioned a few times on the page. keyword Stuffing (this is where the keyword is mentioned repeatedly) can actually harm your rankings, so tread carefully.
searchengineland.com publish a very useful periodic table that provides SEO for beginners a very useful guide. Illustrating which ranking factors are more important than others. A copy of the periodic table is illustrated below.
So here we can see that Cq (content quality) is more important that adverts Va appearing on a webpage. It also shows that Ht (HTML titles) should include the keywords relevant to the page content. Site architecture, quality of links, trust, social shares and mentions and finally the location of your website and the inbound links are all equally important and vital ranking factors. If you can combine all these elements into your on-page and off-page efforts, then you are most likely to rank favourably.
The conclusion for SEO for beginners:
- Build a website with quality expert content
- Make sure the page is search friendly, and on-page factors have been included.
- Encourage others to link to it and share
- Make sure you undertake market research and build your desired keywords into a specific page
- Remember to tell others about your content i.e. through PR and other marketing efforts