The Ultimate SEO Beginner's Guide by Ricardo Gorski
How to learn the most important definitions, factors and processes about SEO.
How to Learn SEO as A Beginner
This article is a reference to my YouTube video "How to Learn SEO as A Beginner"
This SEO Beginners Guide is created by Ricardo Gorski and free to use for everybody. I will update this document regularly, so it might be worth to save it to your bookmarks to be able to come back easily.
Most Important SEO Definition
You can skip this part if you want to and scroll down the more practical SEO information.
- SEO = Search Engine Optimization, but also Search Engine "Optimizator" (referred to a person)
- Search Engines = An algorithm like Google, Bing that helps you find what you are looking for. Also Amazon and YouTube are search engines.
- Doing SEO = Optimising your content in a way that these algorithms understand it better, so they display it to your target audience. Example: You write a Guide on "How to buy a Graphics Card" and when you optimise it, people that are looking for "What is a Graphics card?" will now be able to find it in the SERPs.
- SERP = Search Engine Results page - This is the page you see after typing in something onto Google. Each page contains 10 Results.
- Traffic = The visitors on your content are your traffic. The higher and more relevant your traffic, the better.
- Organic = The traffic you gain from SEO is organic. That means people are coming to you naturally, because they found you in the SERPs.
- Indexing = In order to be ranked in the SERPs, Google needs to crawl your website first and then index it.
- Crawler = Each search engine has crawlers that "look" at your content and then try to understand the intent and display it to the right people.
- Intent = Each person using a search engine has an intent (to find an answer or product) and the #1 goal of search engines is it, to display the answer as easy and as fast as possible.
- Ranking = Ranking means the position of different websites in the SERPs. The goal of each SEO is it, to have high rankings (preferably page 1)
- URL = Each content piece on the internet is reachable through an individual URL. You reached this page by clicking on an URL.
- Root Domain = A (root) domain is the name of your website. Ricardogorski.com for example.
- Subdomain = Each domain can also have multiple subdomains with different content. pro.coinbase.com is the subdomain of coinbase.com and has a complete different purpose than the Root Domain.
- Domain Rating = Each domain has a rating by the search engines, based on how much they "trust" you and your content and based on how "authoritative" your website is.
- Link power = Some people say it exists "Link power" that defines the Rating of your Website. Although this is never confirmed by Google, there are Linkbuilding techniques out there that increase Google Rankings rapidly.
- Dofollow = Dofollow Links from other Domains to your Domain are considered as the kind of links that pass "Link power".
- Nofollow = Nofollow link also get followed by Crawlers, but they do not pass any strength and shall therefore (in theory) not pass any Domain Strength. Although this counted as the general rule for many years in SEO and still works today in some cases, but I saw multiple SEO projects (and built them myself) where a site outranks it competitors with much less or even no Links pointing to it.
- Outranking = The process of surpassing a competitors site in the SERPs. When you reach #1 on a specific keyword you outranked everybody.
- Keyword = Anything you type in into any Search Engine is considered a keyword, your search term.
- Exact Match Keyword = If you rank on the keyword "graphics card" you rank on the Exact match keyword "graphics card"
- Partial Match Keyword = Whereas if you rank on "what is a graphics card", you rank on a partial match keyword, where a part is exactly your main keyword, but added with other keywords.
- Longtail Keyword = Search terms with more than 5 words are considered Longtail. Common Longtail searches are detailed questions: "How do I repair my graphics card from nvidea so it works again?"
- Keyword Difficulty = Each of the 3 mentioned keywords types has a different difficulty for you to rank on it. Ranking on the exact match keyword "graphics" is extremely hard and requires a lot of domain strength, while ranking on "How do I repair my graphics card from nvidea so it works again?" could be possible within a very short time frame with a new website.
- Keyword Analysis = The keyword analysis is the process of finding the perfect keywords for you to rank on. The goal is to find a balance between hard and easy keywords so that you get traffic from the Longtail keywords in the beginning, but at the same time you're already training to compete on the big keywords.
- Competitors Analysis = The goal of a competitors analysis is the same as the one of a keyword analysis, to find keywords and content ideas for your website. After the keyword analysis and the competitors analysis you shall know exactly what kind of content you want to create in your niche.
- Niche = SEO term for Area, Topic, Subject. Graphics card is in the Electronics and also Gaming niche.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization for Websites is divided into 3 subcategories. Each subcategory is important and has its own settings that need to be in place in order to have a SEO-optimised website.
Everything that you can directly see on your Website is your Onpage. Creating and writing good content is the most important Onpage SEO factor, but there is more that needs to be thought of:
- META Titles, Description & Featured Images Each Article you publish on your website has a META Title, Description and a Featured Image. Try to keep those as relevant as possible.
- Rich Media and Embeds Adding additional content to your website is always a great idea, if it enriches your content and helps your visitors to get the answer to their question. An infographic for example is a great Rich Media.
- The Right Header Structure This is a huge factor! Think about it, the Search Engines Crawlers are not humans, so they don't understand the website as we do. What they look at is the Source Code of the website and by adding Headers they know what the content is all about. So give your article one Main Heading, describing your content and then divide your articles into subheaders.
- URL Structure Try to keep your URL structure as short and minimalistic as possible. Divide your website content into different categories as well and create URL paths for each category. Example: Instead of "electronics.com/category/general/this-is-my-favorite-graphics-card-overall/" use "electronics.com/gaming/best-graphics-card/"
- Internal Linking If you create multiple articles on your website it is very important to create internal, relevant links to your other articles. When you write about a general article about NVIDEA and you also have an article about a specific graphics card from NVIDEA, connect them by adding an internal link. This has multiple benefits!
Now we're coming to the Offpage SEO factors, that also influence your rankings, but they are not as easily visible as the Onpage SEO factors, so read the following carefully!
When talking about Offpage SEO, the most important factor is Linkbuilding and there are 5 of the most popular and most effective Linkbuilding techniques that I'm talking about now.
- Authority Links Those are considered the "best" links. Authority Links are Links from Big sites likes Forbes.com, nytimes.com washingtonpost.com and also Wikipedia. They are extremely hard to get and transfer a very high Trust and Authority Score to your website, especially when receiving a Dofollow Link from them.
- Guest Posts Guest posts are mentions form smaller websites like Hobby Blogger, Small to Medium-size business. They don't seem to deliver as much Strength to your website as Authority Links but are still increasing your Relevancy to Google as it indicates that other people are "talking about you".
- PBN Links Here the opinions separate very strong. PBN Links are technically the same as Guest posts but the purposes are very different. While Guest posts are published on "Real Blogs" by real people with real fans, PBN Links shall only mention the website and pass the Strength of the PBN Domain. That's why PBN Linkbuilding techniques can also get very spammy and people own hundreds to thousands of PBN Blogs, with its only purpose to send links to their "Real Site". This technique is also called "Blackhat SEO", because it is not a natural process of gaining Links.
- Social Signals Social Signals are gained through Facebook Shares, Pinterest Mentions or Twitter Retweets of your website's content. If a person likes your content and shares it on their Facebook timeline, it means they like your content but at the same time you received a social signal. Those social signals can also be traced by Crawlers and can also be a ranking factor.
- Comments Some forums allow comments with Links, such as Reddit an Quora (and many other forums) so people can add a link to your website in their forum answer and therefore a connection between your domain and the forum's domain is established. While comments are great to show the crawlers what your site is about, the strength of those Links are close to zero. One reason is because forums usually link to a VERY high number of domains and the more Outbound Links a site has, the lower the strength of a Link is but also because forum comments are always Nofollow.
Now we're coming to the last SEO factor for your website: Technical SEO, and no you don't need to have any coding skills in order to have the technical SEO basics in place. Main reason for that is because these days, if you work with a CMS like WordPress you can use multiple Plugins that do the coding part for you. I'll mention my favourite WP Plugins in the Tools Section below.
- Speed Page Optimisation Google emphasises the importance of Site Speed regularly and because it directly affect your User Signals it is also considered a ranking factor.
- Image Optimisation If images are too big, the logical consequence is low page speed so definitely also make sure to have your images optimised without loosing quality.
- Mobile Readiness (AMP) As the usage of phones increased exponentially within the last years Google introduced "Mobile First Indexing" not long ago. Mobile First Indexing basically means uses the Mobile version of your website in order to identify the quality of your website. So while editing your website, always make sure to also edit your mobile version!
- Schema Markup The schema markup is an additional way of describing your website a little bit more to the Crawlers. Since Crawlers are reading your structured data on your website you can manually add multiple Schema versions to help Crawlers understand your website better.
- XML Sitemap The XML Sitemap is also an additional way of displaying your Website Structure into the language of Crawlers. The XML sitemap is actually one of the first places a Search Engine looks at to see how your site is structured.
Step by Step SEO Process
Now we're coming to the actual practical process of doing SEO to your new website. I therefore created a Step by Step Guide in the way of I do SEO to my own projects.
- Keywords Research
- Competitors Research
- Website Structure Planning
- Content Creation
- Content Uploading & Designing + Adding Rich Media
- Technical SEO like adding an XML Sitemap, Schema Markup and optimising Page Speed
- Internal Linking
- Scaling Content & Getting Organic Links
Basic Keywords Research
The goal of a keywords research is to have a list of keywords where you want to rank on with your website. If you know your target keywords you can then create content targeting each specific keyword. In order to find those search terms, you first need to analyse the market. Below you'll find an example process of me doing a Keywords Research:
- Creating a new Sheets List (With docs.google.com for example)
- Adding the following terms to each column
c) Search volume
d) Additional Comments
- Now I'm heading over to Google and I type in the main keyword of my niche. As for the graphics card example I type in "graphics card" into Google and then see some suggestions from Google immediately. If those suggestions are relevant to my business, I add them to my Keywords Sheets List
- While looking at the suggestions it is very likely to find synonyms for your term and you can then do the same for any synonyme. Also, you could type in "graphics card synonyme" into Google to get some inspirations. → gaming graphics card, graphics adapter, etc.. While it may be very hard to rank on "graphics card", there are also people typing in "gaming graphics card" and it is much easier to rank on this keyword than on the main keyword.
- Now we're coming to difficulty, which can be defined by looking at the current pages ranking on your keyword phrases. Looking at "graphics card" again the Difficulty is pretty high, seeing that Amazon, Techradar, NVIDEA and Wikipedia are taking the spots on the first page. On the other hand, keyword "my graphics card gets very hot when i play minecraft" is very easy since currently only forums are ranking on it. So if you want to rank on #1 on ""my graphics card gets very hot when i play minecraft" go ahead and dedicate one full article only to this question and you'll be having your first #1 ranking. When using Softwares like Ahrefs, Difficulty gets automatically displayed.
- Lastly, we're coming to the search volume, here it is very hard to get exact numbers without having access to the siteowner's analytics tools but Ahrefs give a great approximate number when I take a look at my own site's and what they display. The search volume is important because it is the last piece to the big puzzle. If you know the keyword and how difficult it is to rank on, you don't know yet how many people are even looking for this specific search term. For "my graphics card gets very hot when i play minecraft" the actual number might be even close to zero, since minecraft's effect on your graphics card is minimal.
- My recommendation is to create a balanced sheet of keywords with difficult & easy, high search volume and low search volume terms. In this way you get the best overview for multiple SEO scenarios and can then optimise and adapt your website and content.
Basic Competitors Research
The goal of the competitors research is the same and that is to find keywords for your website. But when doing a competitors research, you're focusing on the content structure of your competitors and get inspired by them. Attention! Getting inspired does not mean duplicating. Search Engines are smart enough to identify duplicated content and this does more harm than good.
- First you type in your main keyword into Google again, and now we're clicking on the competitors sites where we analyse what type of content they have and what they are writing about.
- With the Chrome Plugin "SEO Meta in 1 Click" we are able to see their header structure and how they are formatting their content, which should be a big inspiration for us since we're able to find out what additional questions our readers might have that we also should add into our article.
- When doing a competitors research we don't focus on how much search volume a specific term on Google has, but about how much Traffic the competitor's site receives on a monthly basis. Ahrefs is very good in identifying the Traffic of a website.
- Keep an eye out for Rich Featured Content that is display in the SERPs immediately and gives the person using Google the answer straight away. This might not convert into a click but is still great for your Brand Awareness.
- Lastly, click through the website and look for other content pieces and make a plan on what needs to be covered in a big articles and what requires as separate, dedicated article. In this way you are preventing keyword cannibalisation.
SEO Tools I use
- For Keywords & Competitors Research: Ahrefs.com
- For PageSpeed Optimisation: nitropack.io
- For Schema Mark Up: WP Schema Pro by Brainstorm Force Plugin
- For adding META Informations & Other SEO optimisations: Yoast SEO Plugin
- Testing your Page Speed: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/?hl=de
- Testing your Schema & Structured Data: https://search.google.com/test/rich-results
- General SEO Analytics, Trackings: Google Search Console, Google Analytics
- My Favorite WP Theme: Blocksy
Further Resources to learn more about SEO
- Lion Zeal Show by Daryl Rosser
- Search Engine Journal Show
- The Proper SEO Group
- Proper Foreign SEO