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SEO Tutorial – Search Engine Optimization Guide

In this comprehensive SEO tutorial for beginners, I will cover the essential fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization.

If you finish reading this entire guide…

You will understand SEO better than 90% of beginner internet marketers out there.

Section 1: Introduction to Search Marketing

When you enter a keyword into any search engine, you instantly get results (web pages) that are closely related to or match your search query.

SEO-Keyword-into-Google

To an average user, this doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. But too many businesses, being right in front of their customers every time they show interest in a related product or service can mean big bucks… and I mean steady, monthly recurring income.

First, what is SEO?

What is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting a website’s visibility on the search engine results pages (SRPs) for a target set of keywords/keyphrases.

The higher the position of a webpage on the organic search results pages, the more “visible” the page will be.

SEO is useful for-

  • Designing and developing a website that is Search Engine Friendly
  • Optimizing the volume and quality of website traffic from search engines
  • Knowing how search algorithms work and what your target audiences might search

SEO Tutorial Step by Step

To understand SEO it is must go through below given steps involved in optimizing a Website or a Web page so that professionals can learn SEO in the easiest possible manner-

1. Choosing SEO Friendly Website Domain

Domain-Name-in-SEO-source-Velsof

The first thing that you need to do when starting an E-business is thinking about your website domain name. Before choosing a domain, following things you need to consider-

  • Your target audience
  • What you want to sell to them- Something tangible to the item or just text content?
  • What makes your online business unique
  • Use of keywords in the domain
  • Avoid going for long and confusing domain names
  • Use domain name that is catchy, relevant and memorable

2. Knowing SEO Tactics & Methods

SEO techniques are classified into two broad categories:

White-Hat-Vs-Black-Hat-SEO-source-Affiliate-Marketer-Training

·         White Hat SEO–

Techniques that search engines approve. It is must to follow a White Hat SEO tactic and you should never try to fool your visitors. White hat SEO includes-

  1. Follows search engine’s guidelines and do not use any deception
  2. It lets the user see the same content that search engine indexes and ranks
  3. It lets you create web page content for the users and not only for the search engines
  4. Quality of the web pages are good and useful under white hat SEO practice

·         Black Hat SEO–

SEO technique that is not approved by Search Engines is termed as Black Hat SEO. It is also called as spamdexing. You have to avoid Black Hat tactics as Search engines identify Black Hat SEO practices that will impede you from getting any benefits. Black Hat SEO practices are-

  1. SEO practices that involve deception and are disapproved by the search engines
  2. Redirecting users to human-friendly pages from search engine friendly page, or redirecting users to any page which is different from the page which was earlier ranked by the search engine
  3. Using cloaking SEO in which one version of the page is served to search engine spiders/bots and another version is served to human visitors
  4. Using Meta Tag stuffing in which keywords are repeated in meta tags but the content is not related to those keywords
  5. Using keyword stuffing in which keywords are placed in a calculated manner in a content
  6. Using Doorway or Gateway pages in which low-quality web pages contain very little content which is stuffed with same kinds of keywords and phrases
  7. Using mirror websites in which multiple websites or different URLs use conceptually similar content
  8. Incorporating Page Hijacking practices

3. Use of SEO friendly Design & Layout

You should never make your site too complicated, as it is important that search engine easily parse the content of your site and index them without any difficulty. Here are a few important points that you need to pay heed upon while designing a web page-

  • Having more text content than HTML elements is beneficial
  • Avoid frames as Search Engines and Frames are enemies of each other
  • Ads should also be not used because most of the Ads use Java Script that is not recommended
  • JavaScript should not be used and if needed, you should call it from an external file and should never dump the code in the HTML file. Drop down menus of JavaScript impede spiders from crawling beyond the homepages. If you have to use them, you need to include text links at the bottom of homepage
  • Only put those things in the page-topic that fit appropriately
  • Do not include unnecessary directories and keep your files close to the root
  • Do not use any fancy stuff like Flash, Animated Gifs, Splash, Rollovers, etc. unless absolutely essential

4. Optimization of Keywords, Meta Tags, Title and Anchor

Optimization of Keywords-

Paying heed upon Keyword Frequency, Keyword Weight, Keyword Proximity, Keyword Prominence, Keyword Placement, etc. is important for optimizing Keywords. This is where you should use your main keywords-

  • In <title> tag(s)
  • In <meta name=”description”>
  • In <meta name=”keyword”>
  • In <h1> or other headline tags
  • In <a href=”http://yourcompany.com”>keywords</a> link tags
  • In the body copy
  • In alt tags
  • In <!– insert comments here> comments tags
  • In the URL or website address

Optimization of Meta Tags-

meta-description-tag-source-WordStream

a. Meta Description Tag Tips-

  • Use keywords in your Meta description tag and do not repeat the words overly often
  • You should try to use multiple syntaxes of your keywords
  • Meta description of a single web page should not have more than 150 characters
  • Each page should have different Meta tags

b. Meta Keywords Tag Tips-

  • Use synonyms and unique keywords
  • You should avoid repeating any given phrase
  • Repetition of a word is allowed multiple times if each time it is a part of a different phrase

Optimization of Title and Anchor Text-

  • Each webpage needs to have a unique title and you should try to include your primary phrase in every title of each page
  • You need to begin the title of your home page with the Primary Keyword Phrase, which should be followed by your best Secondary Keyword Phrases
  • You should use descriptive anchor text for all your text links. It plays a significant role and is seen by most of the search engines

5. Link Building and Mobile SEO

Link Building

  • Link building involves obtaining links from external websites to your own for improving direct referrals and search engine ranking
  • Link building boosts your site link popularity, and for ensuring effective link building, you should submit your site in popular search engines manually, as automated submission does not offer any SEO benefit
  • You should list your site in open directory projects and you must use high quality content. You may also try to use Link Exchange programs

Mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is the process of designing a mobile-friendly website, which is responsive. Mobile SEO lets your site get viewed on mobile devices of different screen sizes and having low bandwidth. To optimize for mobiles, you need to avoid following mistakes

  1. Slow Mobile Pages
  2. Don’t Block CSS and JavaScript
  3. Too many mobile redirects
  4. Use of heavy images
  5. Use of plugins and pop-ups

Some important Mobile SEO Tools are-

  1. Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Mobile Emulator
  3. Moz Local
  4. Responsive Web Design Testing Tool
  5. Screaming Frog
  6. User Agent Switcher

6. Activities performed by Search engines

If you plan to do some basic SEO, it is must that you know how search engines work. Different activities that a Search Engine performs are-

·         Crawling-

This fetches all the web pages linked to a particular website. A software known as crawler or a spider or Googlebot does crawling.

·         Indexing-

It creates index for all the fetched web pages and keeps them into a giant database from where retrieval is also possible. It can be understood as identifying the words and expressions that accurately describe your page.

·         Processing-

It involves the processing of search request by comparing search string in the search request with the indexed pages in the search engine database.

·         Calculating Relevancy-

As there could be more than one page contains the same search string; relevancy calculation helps in checking the relevancy of each of the pages.

·         Retrieving Results-

Retrieving the best-matched results is the last search engine activity.

Search Engine Rank

  • For any keyword search on a search engine, thousands of results may occur. Ranking of your page is measured by the position of your web pages displayed in SERPs (search engine result pages).
  • SEO Tutorial PDF includes lessons on how to optimize Search Engine Rank and lets your pages rank higher in search results.
  • From designing and developing an SEO friendly website to ensuring optimized online presence, SEO tutorial PDF includes all the important SEO tips and techniques.

7. On-Page and Off-page SEO

  1. Moz Local

Let’s clear all the confusion regarding On-Page SEO & Off-Page SEO-

·         On-Page SEO-

It depends on providing good content, putting keywords in right places, accurate keywords selection, using the apt title to every page, etc. Different on page optimization practices are getting backlinks, directory submissions, content writing, Google Page rank, etc. An on-page SEO tutorial includes following concepts-

  • What is On-page Optimization
  • Keyword Research with Google Keyword Planner
  • How to select Domain Name?
  • Page Naming {URL Structuring} and Folder Naming
  • Image Naming, Image Title, and ALT Tags Creation
  • What are Meta Tags – Description, Keywords, Author, Country, Robots, etc?
  • Redirection Tags, Headings Tags {H1 to H6}, content writing, Anchor Text, Link Title
  • txt file use and creation, HTML Sitemap creation, ML Site Map Creation, ROR text sitemap, etc.

Internal SEO

Internal Optimization Process 

Internal-Search-Engine-Optimization-Process

Step 1: Keyword Research: Competitive Market Research

Long-tail keywords

When starting out, you want to look out for as many long-tail keywords as you can. Long-tail keywords (more words) are not as difficult to rank highly for as generic keywords (fewer words). Long-tail keywords are also more specific to a user search query and are more likely to result in a conversion.

Start with a generic theme i.e. “Website Design”, if you are a web designer, then expand your list of keywords from there i.e. “E-commerce Web Design”, “Affordable Web Design”, etc…

Use the Google Keyword Planner to conduct your keyword research.

SEO-keyword-research

Researching for new keywords

If you’re building a brand new site, keyword research should be the first thing you do before filling up your site with content. If you’re already running a site, it is also good practice to constantly expand your list of target keywords.

Keyword research can help you discover what consumers are actually searching for. When you know what your consumers are looking or asking for, you can better design your content to answer their queries by speaking to them in their language. For example, if you know people are searching for the exact keyphrase “How do you make a website”, you can create an article titled “How to Make/Create a Your Own Website”.

You can develop a variety of content ideas just by going through your list of keywords.

Keyword-Research

You want to build a long list of keywords before you start constructing and organizing your articles.

Below is an example of a list of keywords generated by a web design firm:

Build-a-list-of-keywords-to-optimize-later-on

Referencing the above list of keywords, a web design firm will have a good idea of which keywords to optimize for and how to structure their website (SEO Siloing). i.e.

Web design packages
=> custom web design
=> affordable web design

Analyzing existing keywords that your site is already ranking for

If your site is already up and running for some time, you may want to sign up for Google Analytics (if you haven’t already) and check which keywords your current visitors have been using to get to your site. These keywords in your analytics report are likely the keywords that you are already ranking well for, so you want to put more focus on them first.

Once you’ve identified these keywords, the next step is to focus your internal optimization efforts on these keywords in the next 3 steps – Organizing site structure, constructing content, and on-page optimization.

Analyzing-search-queries

What is SEO siloing and why is it important in search engine optimization?

SEO siloing is the process of organizing different groups of content topics into specific categories. Much like a bookstore organizing different genres of books into different sections.

In terms of SEO, this organizational structure is very important in order for the search engines to understand the theme and intention of your website and rank your site accordingly.

There are two methods of SEO siloing. Physical siloing and Virtual siloing.

Physical Siloing

Physical siloing is organizing similar-topic content into similar categories or directories. Much like organizing your computer files into different folders.

Virtual Siloing

Virtual siloing on the other hand, is utilizing internal links to relate subject-specific content to one another. i.e. linking from one blogpost to another, whereby both blogposts exist in different directories or categories.

Diagram of a Silo-ed Site Structure:

Diagram-of-SEO-Siloed-Site-Structure

Above example: How a dating niche content site organizes its site structure.

Reference:

Bruce Clay on SEO Siloing – http://www.bruceclay.com/seo/silo.htm

Sitemaps

You also want to create a HTML or XML sitemap and submit it to the search engines. It’s recommended to include a HTML sitemap for your visitors to refer to and an XML sitemap to submit to the search engines.

You can create your sitemap using free sitemap generator tools like http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

In order to submit your sitemap to Google, you will need a Google Webmaster Tools account.

Step 2: Constructing Content: Creating Your Landing Pages

What are landing pages?

Landing pages are the pages that your visitors directly land onto when they click on a search result. It is important that your landing pages capture your visitor’s attention and lead them to the inner pages of your site.

If your landing page doesn’t answer the search query or isn’t compelling enough and the majority of visitors landing on your landing page click the “back” button and go back to the search results, you’d likely see your rankings dipping over time.

There are three steps you should follow in order when constructing your landing pages:

1) Plan your article using your researched keywords.

2) Write your article, keeping your keywords in mind.

3) Insert your keywords where appropriate. In the title tag, content body, image alt tags, and subheadings.

External SEO

·         Off-Page SEO-

It depends on link building, social networking, increasing link popularity via submitting content to open directories, doing a link exchange, etc. Different off-page SEO practices include Blog posting and comment writing, Classifieds Posting, Forum Posting, Business Listing, Social Bookmarking, Social Networking, RSS Feeds, Link Exchange etc. An off-page SEO tutorial includes following concepts-

  • What is Off-page Optimization?
  • What are Backlinks?
  • Why Are Backlinks Important?
  • How to Get Backlinks?
  • Difference between Do-Follow and No-Follow Backlinks, etc.
  • Google Page Rank, increasing Page Rank, Search Engine Submissions
  • Directory Submissions, Article writing, Press Release writing and submissions

What is external SEO all about? External SEO, more commonly known as off-page SEO is basically link building/marketing – Acquiring the most relevant backlinks from as many relevant high authority sites to achieve and maintain high rankings on the SRPs. A relevant backlink is an inbound link from one of the pages (with relevant meta information such as the title, description, etc.) of another similar-topic website.

Planning a successful link building campaign

In order to plan and execute a successful link building campaign for your site, you first need to understand that link building is a long and tedious process. One that requires skillfulness and extensive knowledge on the topic of SEO.

However if you persevere, stick to white-hat rules of SEO, animal-proof (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) your SEO campaigns by staying updated, you will eventually taste the fruit of success.

Fundamental off-page SEO concepts

Before we begin the link building process, let’s first go through and understand some fundamental concepts.

What is a backlink?

A backlink is an inbound or incoming link (hyperlink) to a particular website, referenced from another website. Search engines rely on links to crawl the web and evaluate the authority and relevance of millions of websites.

What is an anchor text?

An anchor text is a text you click on that takes you to a referenced url. i.e. (This sentence is an anchor text).

It is recommended that the anchor texts of inbound links be diverse (mix of target and non-target keywords, brand mentions, synonyms of target keywords, non-related words, etc.) and not all “exact match” to the target keyword that a site is aiming to rank highly for on the SRPs.

A link profile with majority of inbound links that have exact-match anchor texts looks very unnatural, and search engines will devalue these inbound links or even de-index the site.

Anatomy of a Strong Backlink

  • High domain authority
  • High PageRank
  • High TrustRank
  • Relevant co-citations
  • Relevant page title
  • Relevant content topic
  • Target keywords in the anchor text
  • Placed in the main content area
  • Age of page
  • Age of backlink
  • Dofollow link

High Domain Authority

High-Domain-Authority-Diagram

All inbound links pointing to a website’s main domain (www.example.com) as well as its internal pages contribute to the domain authority.

Getting a backlink from a high domain authority site is always valuable. Sometimes, that is all you need in order to get on the 1st page of Google for a target keyphrase.

High PageRank

High-PageRank-Diagram

PageRank is only one of over 200 ranking factors which Google uses to calculate and decide which page should rank over another.

Inbound links pointing specifically to an internal page of a particular website contribute to the PageRank of the specific page.

However if a page of say PageRank 6 has two outgoing links, the outgoing PageRank is diluted into half (PageRank 3 each).

With everything else equal (i.e. Relevant page title, an equal number of backlinks, etc.), a site with a higher PageRank will rank above the site with a lower PageRank.

High TrustRank

High-TrustRank-Diagram

Sites that receive a lot of quality relevant inbound links are more trusted than sites that receive lots of inbound links from low-quality, spammy sites.

Getting a link directly from a very trusted site such as Entrepreneur.com will increase your site’s TrustRank tremendously. Obtaining a second-tier, third-tier, or fourth-tier link will also increase your site’s TrustRank but the value starts to drop the further it goes.

Let’s have a look at the following scenario:

Your website provides financial consultation and you are not able to get a link directly from Entrepreneur.com. However, you’re able to obtain a third-tier link from one of the websites that Entrepreneur.com links to.

Entrepreneur.com => Financesite.com => Bizservices.com => Yourfinancialsite.com

100% TrustRank => 50% TrustRank => 25% TrustRank => 12.5% TrustRank

The above figures are made up and only used to demonstrate the point.

Relevant Co-citations

Relevant-Co-Citations-Diagram-SEO-Tutorial

If you are getting inbound links from an external page (Page A) and it is linking to Page B and Page C which are both relevant to your site’s content topic, this is a strong signal to search engines that your site is relevant to that particular topic.

Relevant Page Title

The page title should summarize the page’s content topic. Or rather, the main content topic should reflect the title of the page. Search engines use the page title as an important ranking factor when it comes to displaying relevant search results to the user.

Relevant Content Topic

Similar to the above Relevant Page Title ranking factor, an inbound link from a page with a relevant content topic to your site will increase your relevancy score.

Target Keywords in Anchor Text

The anchor text of a link is another ranking signal that search engines use. The wide-spread belief before the 2012 Google Penguin Update was that a keyword rich anchor text was a strong ranking factor.

As a result, many webmasters started over-optimizing their inbound anchor texts by stuffing their target keywords in (exact match), an attempt to manipulate their rankings. Majority of the sites with over-optimized keyword-rich anchor texts who were hit by the update saw a big drop in rankings.

Post-Penguin, anchor texts should not be over-optimized. i.e. If you want to rank for “financial consultation”, your anchor texts shouldn’t all be “financial consultation”. There should be a good mix of different types of anchor text. It should sound natural as if someone were to mention your brand name in a conversion.

Here are a few examples of the different types of anchor texts a property/real estate website should have a good mix of:

Exact match – “Properties for sale”

Broad match – “List of properties for sale” or “Properties for sale in [country]”

Synonyms and related search terms – “Condos for sale” or “Private property for sale”

Brand mentions – “Realtoria Property Investment Firm”

Non-related – “visit this page” or “click here”

It’s good to have a couple of inbound links with exact match anchor text from high domain authority sites. Just make sure it looks natural and doesn’t make up the majority of your backlink profile.

Placed in Main Content Area

The location of the backlink is also an important factor. A footer link isn’t worth as much as a sidebar link, and a sidebar link isn’t worth as much as an editorial link in the main content section.

Age of Page

How long a page has been in Google’s index is also a ranking factor. Creating a website is getting much simpler. There has been an increasing number of fly-by-night sites and many web pages come and go frequently. Therefore the older the page, the more trustworthy it is (provided it is frequently updated).

Age of Backlink

Similarly, the older the backlink, the more TrustRank it gets.

Dofollow Link

Dofollow links are regular links without the rel=“nofollow” attribute in the HTML code and they allow PageRank or Link Juice to be passed on to the linked page.

Example of a regular dofollow link (allows PageRank to be passed on):

<a href=“http://example.com/”>anchor text</a>

Example of a nofollow link (doesn’t allow PageRank to be passed on):

<a href=“http://example.com/” rel=“nofollow”>anchor text</a>

While you’re in the process of acquiring dofollow links, you also want to obtain nofollow links.

Although you won’t get any PageRank from a nofollow link, the main reason you also want to include nofollow links in your link profile is that search engines are able to crawl a nofollow link and read its anchor text.

Even though you don’t get any PageRank flow, you’d still be awarded points for relevancy. Not to mention a link profile with thousands of dofollow inbound links and without a single nofollow backlink looks a little fishy.

In a Nutshell…

Basically, you want to acquire as many backlinks from other sites that are closely related to the topic of your site and your site’s internal pages.

You also want a diverse and natural-looking link profile;

Links from different types of sites (blogs, news sites, .edu & .gov sites, forums, directories, social media, etc…) with natural linking patterns, and a good mix of dofollow and nofollow links. (No heavily keyword-optimized anchor texts!)

External SEO is basically link building and creating social signals for search engines to determine the authority of your site as well as the context of your site.

Do be careful however not to violate any of Google’s Content Quality Guidelines or participate in link schemes (A.k.a. Black-hat SEO) while in the “joyous” process of link building. As long as you avoid doing any Black-hat SEO, you’re most probably doing White-hat SEO.

8. SEO Copywriting

SEO copywriting is another important part of SEO Tutorial PDF because-

  • It is an important SEO technique of writing viewable text on a web page in such a way that it engages the visitors, targets specific search terms and ensures conversions.
  • Purpose of SEO copywriting is to let the content rank high in the search engines for the targeted keywords.
  • It optimizes different on-page elements such as Title, Keywords tags, Description, headings, and alternative text.
  • It fulfills the requirement of search engines to have genuine content pages that add value to the life of Google users.

9. Latest Google SEO Updates and Algorithm Changes

The SEO updates depend upon Google’s algorithm updates. We all know that Google is the pioneer in the search marketing, different Google Algorithm Updates play a significant role in optimization of your website. Knowing Search Engine Algorithm Basics, going through Working with Search Algorithm and understanding how search engine updates its algorithms guide Search Marketing Professionals channelize their SEO campaigns in the most SEO friendly manner. Different search engine concepts that an SEO professional should learn in depth are-

  • Search Engine Penalties and Recoveries
  • Reasons why search engine penalizes a website, etc.
  • Google Panda Algorithm, Google Penguin Algorithm, Google EMD Update, etc.
  • The saving site from Google Panda, Penguin and EMD Update
  • Recovering site your site from Panda, Penguin, and EMD

Google Major Algorithm Updates: Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird

Every year, Google changes its algorithms some 500 times, that’s 1 – 2 times on average each day. Every once in a while, Google rolls out a major algorithm update, and when they do so, many sites suffer a drop in rankings while many others enjoy a rise in rankings.

Panda (2011)

Lower the rankings of low-quality sites.

Penguin (2012)

Decrease rankings of sites that engage in black-hat SEO.

Hummingbird (2013)

Relevancy and knowledge graph update (Semantic search).

RankBrain (2016)

Machine learning.

How Can SEO Enhance Your Overall Digital Marketing Strategy?

Improve Overall User Experience On Your Site

Having good knowledge on the topic of internal SEO and on-page ranking factors will help you better organize your site structure (arranging different categories according to specific themes) to deliver a great user experience, construct a good internal linking structure for better user navigation, and make your site more engaging, resulting in higher conversion rates.

Increase Offline Sales

Help your customers find you better with local directory listings such as Google Places, Yelp, and Street Directory.

80% of internet consumers in the product awareness stage conduct research online before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.

Online Reputation Management

Protecting your online reputation is getting more and more important these days as more and more consumers search for brand names on search engines instead of just entering the direct url i.e. “brandname.com” and the last thing you want them to see is a bad review of your company ranking above your company website.

Final Thoughts

Aforementioned steps of this SEO Tutorial will help you learn and implement almost all major concepts related to Search Engine Optimization. I designed this Search Engine Optimization tutorial to make you be familiar with most frequently used SEO terminologies, SEO practices, Search Algorithms, latest SEO trends, etc.

Once you go through this SEO tutorial, you will learn how to optimize keywords, Meta tags, title, anchor, alt, and other texts that play an essential role in channelizing successful SEO campaigns. You will also understand how SEO copywriting helps you have the good content on your site.

On the concluding note, below given are some other important points that I find important to include in this SEO tutorial-

  • All pages must conform to W3C standards and keyword density should never be abusive
  • You should always include: robots.txt, urllist.txt and sitemap.xml
  • Keywords play a very prominent role in the Title, Headings and meta tags
  • ALT tags and Title tags should never be forgotten
  • Nomenclature should get indexed.

I hope this beginner’s SEO tutorial has given you a better understanding on the topic of SEO as a whole.

Please leave your comments below and share your link building tips and strategies!

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Rohit Nandan
Digital Marketing Consultant at Dizital Rohit
I am Rohit Nandan, Digital Marketing consultant with 5+ yrs of exp in the same field. I have shown proven results improving company revenue by dealing directly with their customers, SEO, Social media and improving their marketing and sales strategies. I would very much like to move to a position where I can improve your ROI by working directly with your clients and obtaining new ones.