12 SEO Tips for Beginners to Boost Traffic
Whether you’re a small business owner or run a Fortune 500 company, SEO can have a huge impact on the success of your business. Your SEO strategy determines how easy it is for your target customers to find you. Given that 75% of internet users don’t even get past the first page of search results, this is no mean feat.
Here are 12 simple SEO tips and tricks you can use to get your website in front of your future customers:
Target relevant primary and secondary keywords
Keyword research is the foundation of any good SEO strategy. If you know how to use keywords effectively, you can develop content that drives more people to your website. The first step is to identify the primary and secondary keywords for the page.
Your main keyword is the main focus of your content. You only need to choose one main keyword for each page. It should relate to your page focus, your brand identity, your products, and your services.
Your secondary keywords support the primary topic. You may have several of them. Typically, they are more granular than the main keyword and represent the subtopics you cover throughout the article. Try to include them naturally in your content, but don’t force them if they don’t fit.
You can use the keyword magic tool to find your primary and secondary keywords.
Here’s how it works:
First, enter a seed keyword that represents the main topic you want to target.
Next, choose your main keyword. Try to find one that is super relevant to your goals and fits your goals. For example, maybe you want to write an educational blog post about travel, and you want to find a low-difficulty keyword.
Pay close attention to the Questions and Related Keywords section to build your list of potential supporting keywords.
To learn more, check out our blog post on the four keywords you can target.
Write high-quality original content
If you want users to find and return to your site, you need quality content that is original, comprehensive, and evergreen.
Original content showcases your unique perspective and expertise to your audience and enables them to develop a relationship with you. What’s more, search engine algorithms, especially Google, are designed to sniff out unique content. Those who practice good SEO and publish trusted, original content are likely to increase search traffic.
Ideally, your content should be comprehensive. This means that what you post answers everything a user might want to know about the topic. A comprehensive page helps show search engines that you are an authority on the subject.
The SEO content template tool can help you write more comprehensive content. It analyzes top-ranking competitor content for your target keywords and tells you which attributes you should be targeting to perform well.
Finally, evergreen content has long-term value and will continue to remain relevant and generate traffic for a long time to come. Inbound marketing is a gift that keeps on giving because it continues to yield results when your attention is elsewhere.
When creating evergreen content, consider which topics will bring long-term value to your readers without major updates. Try to avoid seasonal, breaking news stories, or time-sensitive data coverage. These pages are unlikely to remain relevant over time.
Format your content for search engines and target featured snippets
If you want your content to perform well, make sure you answer the questions your audience asks. One way is to target featured snippets.
Featured snippets appear at the top of Google search results pages. They are designed to answer users’ questions without requiring them to leave the page. Since they appear before the numbered results, they are very visible, useful, and likely to attract organic traffic. You may also see them called SERP features.
Google SERP results for the keyword best resorts
These positions are highly sought after by digital marketers. To win one, you need to optimize your content to target them. The strategies you use to target featured snippets can make your content more helpful to readers and improve your SEO, even if you don’t earn relevant snippets.
What this does:
First, choose what to Optimize for Featured Snippets. Use the Keyword Magic Tool to identify relevant keywords with the search intent and SERP features you want to target.
Next, search for that keyword yourself to see what types of content are currently featured. Take note of what question the content answers and how it is written. You can also view top SERP results for your target location by selecting the triangle next to a keyword in the tool.
For example, is the snippet a bulleted list or a table? Is the information correct? What else ranks well? These observations will give you an idea of how to edit your content.
Edit your content now.
Make sure your content asks and answers the targeted question in the snippet as clearly and concisely as possible. After all, research shows that content that asks a question is more likely to include featured snippets.
Organize your pages with titles and subtitles. If it makes sense for your page, try using one of your subheadings to target your desired SERP feature. Titles and subtitles make your page easier to understand or search for, which can help improve your search rankings.
Finally, tighten the copy of the page. Try to use short, direct sentences (20 words or less) with less complex language. While you should try to avoid single-sentence paragraphs, you also don’t want them to be too long.
Optimize your page title and meta description
Your page title and meta description are probably the first things your audience sees. Users may decide whether to click or skip your page based on these alone. That’s a lot of power for so few words, so make sure they’re impactful.
In general, whatever platform you use to host your website provides an easy way to edit your page title and meta description. For example, WordPress provides two boxes labeled “SEO Title” and “Meta Description”.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Keep page titles between 30 and 60 characters
- Keep your meta description under 160 characters
- Include your target keyword
- Communicate what your page is about and what makes it unique
- Make sure your title and meta description are unique for each page
Not sure where to start? Use the Topic Research Tool to see other successful titles related to your topic to generate ideas. The SEO content template can also suggest some keywords you might want to include.
Use short, descriptive URLs
Improving your URL structure can significantly impact your on-page SEO with relatively little effort. A clean URL can help search engines understand your page and give you a more user-friendly appearance in the SERPs.
Best of all, it’s relatively easy to do even for SEO beginners.
A valid URL should:
Use Keywords: If you can, try to include your main keyword
Readability: When your visitors read the URL, it should be easy for them to understand the content of the page
Concise: Short URLs (about 60 characters) are best. This is because many search engines can’t handle longer URLs and can therefore lower your rankings.
Generate backlinks from high site authority sites
Backlinks, or external links to your website, are a key ranking factor. Links from reputable sources can increase the authority of your website and improve your SEO over time. You can get these backlinks through a process called link building.
But how do you know which backlink sources to target? Simple: find out who your competitors are getting backlinks from. Use the Backlink Gap Tool to compare your current backlink profile to your competitors and find new opportunities.
To use the Backlink Gap Tool:
Enter your domain name and up to four competitors, then click “Find Leads.”
Use report filters to narrow down your results. For example, you can choose to view only the best opportunities with an authority score of 80 or higher.
Select the backlink opportunities you’re interested in pursuing, then click “Start Outreach” to send them to the link-building tool program. Use the Link Building tool to pursue them without leaving Semrush. If you do not have a current link builder project, you will be prompted to create one.
Of course, this is not the only way to generate backlinks. Here are some other ideas:
Offer to write a guest post for other outlets, especially if you have an interesting infographic or something to offer.
Contact the publisher to cover any original research or data you have collected for live content.
Listed in industry directories. You may need to join a professional trade association, networking group, or business organization to further build credibility.
Remove anything that loads slowly
Page load time affects more than just user experience. It also affects your SEO. After all, if a page loads too slowly, users are less likely to stick around, increasing bounce rates. The load time of a page is one of the three core Web vitals and a ranking factor.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free SEO tool that rates your desktop and mobile page speed on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being the fastest.
If your page loads too slowly, look for page elements that may increase load time. For example, have you added unnecessary plugins to your pages? Try removing them to improve the speed of the page.
You can use a site audit tool to check your site for this and other factors. Site Audit does over 140 checks for a variety of SEO issues, including slow load times, HTTPS implementation, markup, Core Web Vitals, broken links, and more. Use it in conjunction with PageSpeed Insights to keep your site up to date.
Mix internal and external links
Effective use of internal and external links can improve crawlability, user experience, and trustworthiness. Ideally, these links should point to useful, relevant information.
Internal links direct users to other pages on your website. They help search engine crawlers find your content and encourage users to stay longer on your site. For example, you can link between related blog posts to help your audience find more information about the topic they’re researching without leaving your website.
External links are links that direct users to another website. You can use these links to sites with high-quality, authoritative content related to the topic you’re writing about. Remember to review external links before adding them, as linking to low-quality content can negatively impact your credibility.
Learn more in our blog post on best practices for external linking.
Optimize your graphics
It’s hard to resist a colorful graphic or image that perfectly captures the essence of the subject. If you create such images for your website, make sure they are optimized. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Size and format: Make sure you use the image size and file type that works best for your readers. If the image is too large, it may slow down your page. If the file type is not supported, the image may not load at all.
Accessibility: Always include descriptive alt text for each image. Not only does this help make your site more accessible to screen readers, but it also creates an opportunity to incorporate more supporting keywords. Avoid embedding important text elements in images unless there is another way to access them.
Context: Give an image context by placing it next to the relevant text on the page. If possible, try to place the most important images near the top of the page.
Links: Create descriptive names and logical URL structures for all images. Not only does this help optimize them for organic search, but it also makes it easier for others to share your images on their sites, potentially granting you backlinks.
Test: Always remember to test your page on mobile and desktop. Users tend to search for Google Images more often on mobile than on desktop, so optimizing your images for mobile may have additional benefits.
Conduct regular on-site audits
Performing regular site audits can help ensure your site remains functional and user-friendly. It’s also a great way to catch issues you might have missed, such as broken links, orphaned pages, or slow load times. You can then prioritize and address them before they have a major impact.
- Create a new project for your website.
- Specify the source of your page and the number of pages you want to crawl.
- Provide any additional specifications, including your crawler settings, disallowed URLs, or URL parameters.
- Run or schedule your site audit.
- You can learn more about setting up and using site auditing tools in our knowledge base.
Research your competitors
Chances are, you and your biggest competitor are creating similar types of content and targeting similar audiences. By analyzing competitor websites, you can learn more about effective content media or generate new ideas for your content.
First, identify your most important competitors. The Market Explorer tool can help you track the key players in your niche and the traffic they generate.
Traffic analysis tools can show how much traffic your competitors are getting, as well as their main traffic sources and traffic channels (paid, social, etc.)
Use organic research tools to understand their organic search performance, including their top-performing pages.
Finally, use the Keyword Gap Tool to determine which keywords your competitors are ranking for you are missing.
Learn how to perform an SEO competitor analysis on our blog.
Keep learning SEO
Every digital marketer knows one thing: Google’s algorithms are constantly changing, and at the same time, the digital landscape is constantly evolving. That’s why educating yourself on SEO is crucial if you want to stay ahead and continue to win.
Fortunately, with blogs, ebooks, podcasts, videos, webinars, and more, there are plenty of resources at your fingertips.
If you want your website to be successful, you need SEO, period. Even for experts, mastering SEO is a constant process of learning, experimenting, and creating. Regardless of your experience level, use these tips to produce the results you want and conquer the SERPs.
If you’re not sure where to start, our site audit tool can assess the health of your site and help you prioritize your most important updates.