A Site to Help Beginners Learn SEO
SEO is a real buzz term these days, and not surprisingly. If you can make your website or blog search engine friendly you can tap into an extremely powerful and free marketing method.
Many people are keen to learn SEO, but find it quite daunting. This is unfortunate, because it's really quite straightforward. Yes, it is a rapidly evolving field, but the basics have stayed constant for quite a while and will remain so for a very long time. If you can master these concepts and apply them consistently you will start to see the targeted hits coming in and be well on your way.
Of course, there are some great guides that go into some detail (the SEO Secrets ebook by Australian copywriter Glenn Murray is highly recommended. (Here's my review of it.) But the purpose of this site is to get beginners to the initial stage of mastering the basics. So it's not remotely geeky. It will just have some good, simple tips and information that newbie webmasters can use to gradually bring in traffic. While anyone can use these techniques, I'll tailor the site more towards Australian readers.
The process of search engine optimization can be broken down into two basic strands: on-site and off-site optimization. With on-site optimization, you are trying to put the most relevant, findable content on your site. You're also trying to make it easy for Google to index the information on it. Off-site optimization involves getting as many backlinks from other sites - preferably ones in your niche and those that are well regarded by Google and other search engines.
Put another way, it's all about the content and the backlinks. (Of course, it's not quite that simple. But if you keep remembering those two words as you build site you will be heading in the right direction.)
The steps you need to take when building a site can be outlined as follows:
1) Choose a subject. The more specific it is, the better.
2) With the subject in mind, think about what kind of keywords you are going to target. Do some brainstorming and come up with a list. Use a free keyword suggestion tool like Google's Adwords tool or this one from Wordstream to increase your list and to have a look at the kind of search volumes there are for various keywords, as well as competition for them.
If you can find popular but low competition keywords, that's great. But these will be very hard to find nowadays. So don't stress if you can't. Even if there's a lot of competition for a keyword, if it's appropriate, then it's worth using. Once you've got your main keyword, use it in the domain name. You can then choose other keywords to target on each of your pages. Most SEO gurus say that you should target 1 to 3 keywords per page. Just make the pages relevant, informative and clear. And about 450 words is a good length.
Obviously, what's on your website is the most important factor. So you should spend most of your time on making it as unique, interesting and informative as possible.
3) So you've decided upon your domain name, and you've got a few pages of good content ready. Then you've got to find hosting. If you are a newbie I highly recommend the sites listed here. They are free and user friendly, so that even complete non-geeks with no artistic talent whatsoever (like myself) can build decent looking sites without much trouble. Also, you can purchase your domains directly through them or use ones that you've bought previously elsewhere.
Re buying domains separately: There are of course many places to do this, but I have had only good experiences with Godaddy. While a little confusing at first, the site is ultimately pretty easy to navigate and the customer service is very good. They always get back to you very quickly - always a good sign.
4) Then comes the off-site optimization, or link building. Article marketing still works. So does commenting on blogs and forum promotion. You should also submit to free online directories and online classifieds. (However it must be remembered that all these techniques are becoming less beneficial.)
Remember to put your chosen keywords into the anchor text of your backlinks when using all these methods, varying their combinations frequently. Do a bit of each from time to time and you'll have links coming back from a wide range of URLs, which Google likes.
But remember not to overdo this. Google is becoming increasingly likely to penalize or even completely de-index websites that have a very large number of backlinks with repetitive anchor text in them. (I have a blog post on this that I encourage you to read.)
5) Social media interaction is crucial. Connect with other webmasters and bloggers in your niche on such sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Google Plus, sharing your own and other people's content. This dramatically increases the likelihood of voluntary, quality, one way links, which will help lift the rankings of your pages more than any that you build yourself. (If you are in Perth, I may be able to help with lessons on how to use these sites.)
6) Now that your site is in Google and you're adding content and building backlinks you'll gradually start to crawl up the rankings. Sooner or later search engine users will find your site. So, one more tip: use a hit counter to track how many visitors are arriving - and the paths by which they arrive. (Of course you can use Google Analytics, but basic counters still suffice.)
I recommend Bravenet and Statcounter. You'll get three free counters with each, and they give you lots of info. (Gostats is another good one, and they offer unlimited free counters.) From this you can see which keywords and keyword phrases are ranking, and which are not. The data will give you lots of ideas about which directions to take in the future.
It's just a matter of repeating these processes, refining them, and of course learning lots of new tips and techniques from other sources. But basically, once you're at this stage, you're pretty well on your way!