If you have a website or an online business, you probably know it is important that people can find you when they search on Google.
But what can you do to make this happen?
In this step-by-step SEO beginner guide, I am going to show you how to be found on Google. I will show you some steps, you can start doing immediately that can drastically improve your chances of ranking in Google.
All the steps are something you can do no matter your level of online experience. Even as a beginner with little experience with websites or without any knowledge about ranking in search engines (called SEO).
What is SEO?
The process of getting a website to rank in search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). You might already know this, but there are some things people often forget about this – even people that have worked with SEO for years.
SEO is not a way to manipulate Google to show your website to people. People continuously try to come of with tricks to trick Google, but if you want to build a long term online visibility, this should not be your approach.
Think about SEO as something that you are doing to help both search engines + something you do to help potential visitors. So you are doing SEO for both users, for Google, and for yourself.
By using the steps I will show you below, you will help Google (and other search engines) to understand what your website is about. That will help them to serve the best results for the users.
You will help users by making it easy for them to understand what your website is about, and if it has the information they are looking for. When working with an online business and websites, you should never forget that visitors and users are real people that are coming to get information – help them find the right information.
And finally, it will of course also help you. When you help Google and visitors to find you, and then give them a good experience, it will be good for your business no matter what kind of business you have.
Why it is important to think about SEO!
Before explaining a bit about why it is important to think about SEO when you have a website, I just want to clarify something about search engines – there are several other search engines than Google, but Google is by far the biggest. Search Engines like Bing and Yahoo are still getting a good amount of traffic, and in some countries there are also big local search engines. But to make it easier to write about, I will just mostly write Google when talking about search engines in this article. The things you do to rank in Google will also help you to rank in other search engines.
Since you are reading this article, you probable already know some reasons it is important to think about SEO and about how to make it possible for people to find you on Google.
It is of course first of all a way to get traffic to your website and thereby having a chance to grow your business. If you are not on page 1 in Google, you are more or less invisible in the search results. Just think about how rarely you go to page 2 to find information. So to be visible and get organic traffic (traffic from the search engines) to your website, you need to think about SEO.
Another very important aspect to think about is that SEO is a very sustainable way to run a business. Paid traffic stops the moment you stop paying. If you are visible on Google, your traffic can just keep growing and growing the more you work with your site. Over time this can accumulate and create a river of traffic and income possibilities.
So even if you are using paid methods to get traffic, it is still a very good idea to think about SEO, as it in the long run can give you huge amounts of traffic for free. Before getting to the steps you can start doing right away, I just want to give you a few warnings about what kind of SEO tricks to stay away from.
Be careful about fake SEO promises
Because visibility in Google is so important, there are of course also many people that offer to help you get high rankings. Some are really good and can help you a lot, but there are also a lot of people that are offering services that can hurt your website more than it will help it.
First of all you need to look at what they promise they can do for you. If they guarantee that they can get you to the first place on Google, they are full of BS. Nobody can ever guarantee this, as there are too many variables for this. So if they give this kind of guarantee, you should be careful about using their services.
Another thing is to avoid services that sell you quick fixes. For example, if they sell you a lot of backlinks very cheaply and says this will help your rankings. It is true that links can help, but they are not that easy to get. So if somebody offers you 10 links for a very low price, then you should be very careful. People that will give you this kind of offer are often trying to manipulate Google with what is called black hat SEO (methods that Google does not see as legit). Google becomes smarter and smarter, and when it finds out black hat methods have been used, your site can be penalized, and you can lose more or less all traffic from one day to the next.
So in short – be very careful if you want to use black hat SEO and be aware of the risks. And if a tool or service promise something that sounds too good to be true, make sure to ask a lot of questions before going for it. If not, it can end up hurting your website and business in the long run.
But let’s now get to some safe methods you can use to rank in Google.
13 Steps to be found on Google everybody should do
The steps below are something you should start doing right away. And also if possible go back and correct on some of your older content. These steps are the basic steps of SEO and will create a good foundation for you to rank. Make sure to follow the steps every time you create content for your website, and you will then eventually see the results.
The great thing about these steps is that it is something everybody can do, so you do not have to be extremely technical to start thinking about SEO for your website. Sometimes people think it is too difficult and too technical because it is called search engine optimization, but there are a lot of things that you can very easily do no matter your experience and skills (and that you should do).
Step 1 – Find Keywords
To be able to optimize your website to be found on Google, you need to know what people are searching for. Once you know this, you can optimize your website to use the words and phrases people are using to search for the services/products you are offering.
There are several ways to find these keywords/phrases. One way is of course to have a great knowledge of your target group and customers. By listening to them and knowing what they are interested in, you can get a very good idea. The best approach is however to also make sure you get some data about it, so you will know what the true potential of rankings on the first page of Google will be.
There are many tools you can use to get this data – some of them are very good, and some of them not so good. Personally, I prefer using the SEO tool Jaaxy (see screenshot of this above), as this does not only give you the monthly search volume for each keyword, but it also shows you how hard the competition is, what your rankings are, gives a lot of great content ideas and more. It has a free trial so you can check it out, if it sounds interesting to you.
If you want a more simple tool that more or less just gives you the search volume data, the tool Ubersuggest is probably your best option (and the only completely free tool I know of). It will of course not give you as much data, but it can be a great start.
One thing, you have to remember about keyword research – you find one word/phrase for each page/post on your website, but you will eventually also rank for a lot more phrases than the ones you have chosen. So overall, your website will eventually have the chance to rank for thousands of keywords.
Step 2 – Create great content
Once you know what your potential visitors are searching for, you create great content around these topics. How to create great content is a big topic, so if you want more tips about this, you can check out my article about quality content creation.
One thing that can really help you when creating content for your website is to think about how you can help your visitors the most. Give them the information they need, and always focus on quality. Both visitors and Google love quality, so focus on this, and then you will build a great foundation for a long term business.
Step 3 – Make captivating titles for your pages/posts
Even if you have written the best content ever, it does matter, if people do not even start reading it. A way to get people to actually start reading your content is to create captivating headlines. If possible, use the keyword you selected in the title – this will show both Google and the visitors what topic your article is about.
But to make it more captivating and interesting, do not only use the keyword, but also add some more words. I have for example written an article with the keyword “WordPress themes for beginners“. If that was just the title alone, it would be OK, but it is not quite captivating enough. Especially not when you think about that your title will be displayed in the search results on Google. It needs to stand out and be the most interesting for people to choose to click on your website. That is why I instead made the title “5 Easy to Use WordPress Themes for Beginners (Free Options)”.
This sounds much more interesting and increases the chances people will click on it. The amount of people that click your result instead of the others on the search result page is a part of Google’s ranking algorithm (called click through rate). When people click, it sends a signal that it is because your website was the most interesting option. When more and more people do this, it can help to increase your rankings, as it is a good signal to send to Google.
So it is definitely worth spending a bit of time creating a good title. But make sure the title still accurately reflects what your article is about, so do not be too creative:-) Be aware that Google only shows up to 60 characters for the title in the search results. As I will show you later, there are tools that can help you to keep the title below this.
Step 4 – Create user and SEO friendly URLs
The URL is the address your specific page or post will have. It wil also show up in the search results.
No matter how you make your website, you should be able to decide the URL yourself. Some systems automatically just chose the title of your page as the URL, but you will also be able to change this. Usually you can change it, when you are in the edit mode of the specific page/post.
It is a good idea to use your keyword in the URL – this will both clearly show Google what the page is about, and in the search results it will clearly show the potential visitors what it is about.
As you can see in the above example, I have not used the whole title as the URL. If I did, it would be too long for people to be able to quickly see what it is about in the search results. Both for that reason and to make it more clear for Google, I prefer using an adapted URL that contains the keyword.
NB! Do not change the URL once you have published your content. It can give you problems with broken links and hurt your rankings. So do not go back and correct the URLs your already have on your website – it is better to just leave them. If you really want to go back and correct some URLs, contact somebody that can help you with creating the correct redirects, if you do not know how to do this yourself.
Step 5 – Make Meta description
The meta description is the small snippet of text Google shows below the title in the search results.
It is possible to adjust this, so it will show what you want it to. Or you can suggest it, and then it is up to Google, if it will be shown or not. Some people do not care about this and just let Google decide what text to display, as that is what will happen, if you do not fill out the meta description yourself.
I do however think it is a great opportunity to make your search result stand out. You can write a short and precise description that increases the click through rate. I therefore always use this option.
If you have a website in WordPress, you can easily do this by installing a plugin like All in One SEO or Yoast, and then you will be able to fill this out below the content in the WordPress editor on each page/post. If you do not have WordPress, you just need to find where to put the meta description, so just look in the documentation for the specific platform you are using.
Step 6 – Keyword in content
When you are writing your content, make sure to use the keyword you are optimizing for once within the first few paragraphs of the content.
After that, do not worry about how often you use the exact word or phrase. If you do, it will easily end up sounding strange to both visitors and Google. So just write naturally and think about how you can give all the necessary information about the topic.
Step 7 – Optimize images
Having a website that is fast is important for your chances of getting good rankings in the search engines. Something that can really slow down your site is images. This can however easily be avoided.
When you for example have an image you have taken with a camera, it is quite big (maybe around 3-4 MB). If you just upload it like this to your website, you do not need many pictures before it will be really slow.
You therefore need to make sure to optimize the images before uploading them. This is not something that is difficult to do, and you do not need an expensive program for it. You just need to find a free program (like for example pixlr) where you can make the image the size that you want for your website. After that, just run it through the free tool Tinypng that will optimize the image further and make the file size smaller.
You can check out my complete step-by-step guide to optimize images for websites, if you want to know more about this step.
This does not take long, and it can take your image from being maybe 4 MB to less than 100 KB. So something you should definitely do.
Step 8 – Put Alt tag on all images
When you are uploading images, you should at the same time put Alt tags on them. The reason for this is that Google can still not by itself see what is on images. So by putting a tag on the images, it helps Google to see what your site is about, which can help it to rank for relevant search terms.
The Alt tag was invented to put on images because there is software that can read content on websites for people that have eye problems. The tag makes it possible for this software to read out loud what is on the image. But it is also a way for search engines to be able to see what is on your images.
You can usually define the Alt tag when you upload your image to the media library on your website. Below, you can see where you put it, if you are using WordPress (the field is called Alt Text).
So by using Alt tags on images, you are both increasing your chances of ranking and making it possible for software to read it out loud for people that need this.
In addition to this, it is also a good idea to give your image a relevant title, and also give the image file itself a relevant name. So instead of uploading an image with a file name like jpeg4525, you would give it a relevant name (you can use the same name as what you are using as an Alt tag). This again is a way to help Google understand what your image is about.
Step 9 – Use internal links
Internal links is a link that goes from one page or post on your own website to another page/post on your own website. I for example used this in the part about keyword research above, where I linked to the article I have on my website about my preferred tool for this.
Using internal links can help you rank in several ways. It makes it easier for Google to index your site, as it follows links when it comes to your site and reads it. It can also be a way to tell Google about what pages/posts are the most important ones on your site. At the same time, it helps to keep visitors on your website, as they can see there are many more interesting articles, and they might click through to some of these.
When people stay longer on your website and visit several pages, it is a good signal to send to Google, as it shows you have relevant and interesting content, and Google is all about showing relevant and interesting content to its users.
So do not underestimate the power of internal links and be sure to include at least 1-2 on each of your pages/posts. If you have a lot of words, you can even include more.
Step 10 – Use external links
External links is when you link from your website to another website. This is an often overlooked SEO technique and something that many people are almost afraid of using.
I have worked with several clients that do not want to link away from their site, but only keep people on their own site. I do understand, why it can seem contradictory to send people away from your site. But it is actually great to do.
First of all, you do not as such send people away. Just make sure your external links open in a new window, and then people will still be on your site. Also, it can be a great way to help people get more relevant information. In this article, I have used several external links to for example show you the All in One SEO tool or the tools for image optimization.
So linking to relevant external sites can help your visitors a lot. Furthermore, it shows Google that you are focused on creating helpful content. And it is also a way to tell what your article is about. When I for example link to a SEO tool, it is a signal to send about the topic of my article.
So do not be afraid of using external links. If appropriate, use at least 1 on each of your blog posts. But only link to reliable sources – if you link to a lot of spammy sites, it will instead send a signal that your site is spammy as well.
Step 11 – Keep your website updated
If you want good rankings in the search engines, it can really help to keep your website updated. That means to regularly create new content and keep older content updated.
This is a great signal to send to both Google and the visitors. Remember that both Google and visitors are looking for relevant and helpful content, and if you keep your website updated, it shows that you are still a site worth visiting.
This of course depends on what your website is about, but in general, you should make sure to produce new quality content regularly.
Step 12 – Promote content
Once you have produced and published new content, it is a great idea to promote it.
This can help to create attention around your site, create new followers, create new customers, or maybe even create links back to your site from other websites (which can affect your rankings in a positive direction).
There are many ways to promote your content. I will not go into all the details about ways to this here, as this article is already becoming a bit long:-) But to give you a few ideas, you can of course share on your social media channels. If you already have followers there, it can be a great way to give them some relevant and new information and create more traffic to your website.
You can also try paid ads through either Google Adwords, Facebook, Linkedin etc. depending on your preferences and your website niche. And you can also reach out to other websites and blogs in your niche and tell them about your new content. Maybe they will find it interesting enough to link to it, or they might share it with their followers.
Step 13 – Be patient
The last step is in my experience both the most simple step and also the hardest.
SEO takes time – you will not rank on Google’s first page overnight. It can take quite a long time depending on the competition in your niche.
I have way too often seen people expecting to see good rankings within a few weeks after they start their website. Do not expect this, but just keep working and know that if you follow the steps above, you will see results. But it takes time to build trust with Google, so it can take time to succeed with SEO.
But when you succeed, it is an amazing flow of traffic, it can create that will be worth the patience and the hard work.
Are there further SEO steps?
These 13 steps will help you build a great foundation for your website, and is something you should make sure to implement right away. Eventually there are more you can do in terms of SEO, but to have the foundation in place is the most important, and this will take your website very far.
The steps above are possible for anybody to implement, and it is to show you that it does not have to be hard to think about optimizing your website for high rankings in the search engines. Following the steps can greatly improve the performance of your website, so I encourage you to start using the steps as soon as possible.
If you want to learn more about SEO, you can also check out my recommended way to learn all about SEO.
How to use the 13 SEO steps
I want to make sure you now know how you can practically use these 13 steps to get more visibility on Google and other search engines. The most important thing is that you take action and start using the steps.
My suggestion is therefore that you either bookmark this article and come back to it, and make sure you go through all the steps, every time you post something on your website. Or just simply write down the 13 steps and make sure to look at the steps to remind yourself when working on your website.
Also, make sure to use the tools I have linked to throughout the article. They can help you a lot.
Eventually the steps just becomes second nature, but I know from experience that in the beginning, it can be easy to forget some steps. That is why I suggest that you for a while make sure to look at the steps and that way make them all a part of your process when working with your website.
Final thoughts + one last important point
No matter how you are planning to get traffic for your website, I think you should always also aim to rank in the search engines. It is a great and long term way to get a continuous flow of traffic.
And one important point you should always remember – focus on making your website visitors happy. If you make your visitors happy and help them, there are great chances Google and other search engines will also be happy and give you good rankings.
The main purpose of Google is to provide the most relevant results, and it becomes better and better at this. So if you focus on the users of your website, it will be a great long term relationship, you will get with both your website visitors and Google:-) So now all you need to do is to start using the steps above.
If you need any help, have any questions, or want to share your own opinion on any of the steps, just leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you, and will be more than happy to help you out.