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Everyone says you “should be doing SEO” but it sounds worse than a tax audit, right? All the talk about algorithms, backlinks and keywords is enough to make anyone put it on the “one-day” list.

But you can wrap your head around SEO because it’s not as scary as it sounds. And you can do it at home, on the couch with your laptop and a glass of wine. And you’ll be way ahead of the game.

Contents

A beginners guide to SEO – no jargon & no BS

This nifty checklist will give you the SEO fundamentals to get some Google love to your website and help it stand out on the interwebs. No university degree or tech talk is required.

If you know your way around your website, this guide is for you. Have you loaded a blog, written a website page or listed a product on your website?

You know enough.

Aren’t you a clever sausage?

Not so website savvy? Read on. It mightn’t be as hard as it sounds.

SEO Fundamentals for beginners

What is SEO?

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. But it’s as much about people as it is about search engines.

SEO is increasing your website’s visibility in the organic (unpaid) search results of the major search engines. English, please? It’s about appearing higher in the search results, especially the holy grail of page number one.

Search engines are the software programs that carry out web searches. The software depends on the search engine you use, Google, Yahoo, Bing or DuckDuckGoGo for example.

I’m going to talk about Google here. It’s the biggest, most advanced search engine and the one people use the most.

Google looks at over 200 ranking factors in the nanosecond before they serve up the results of a search (and the sneaky bugs are coy about telling us what they are) so when they do, we jump on them.

There are three pillars of SEO:

  • On-page SEO – anything your reader can see
  • Off-page SEO – anything away from your website but improves SEO – backlinks
  • Technical SEO – techy things to help Google understand what you’re website is all about – bots, indexing, speed

Sounds scary, but in essence, it’s knowing your customers, and having the very best information available for them, on a bloody fast website.

This article is about On-Page SEO

SEO Golden Rule: Always start with your reader

Although the talk is about keywords and search intent the search engines agree on one thing: the user experience is the most important aspect of SEO. Because search engines aim to give users the best information.

Websites will appear higher in the search results when they:

  • Provide the most relevant content that answers reader questions
  • Give a fast, whip-cracking user experience

SEO helps this along.

It says “Hey Google, read the SEO signals on my user-friendly website and see how amazing our business is”.

 

what is seo leanne summers copywriter

How SEO can help you

Done well, SEO can:

  • Connect you with your ideal audience because people can find you
  • Increase your organic search visibility
  • Send people to your website and turn lookers into leads or buyers
  • Establish your expertise, authority and trustworthiness

SEO tells Google what it needs to know about your website.

Google’s algorithm then measures you up against the competition and if your content and information are relevant to what searchers want, boom, you’re on your way.

SEO Fundamentals. How do we do it?

1. Great content

We provide content humans are looking for online by developing an understanding of what they are looking for, the words they use when they search and the answers they are looking for. This is searcher intent (what people want to achieve from their search) and starts with keywords.

2. Google-friendly signals

And providing it in a way the search engines can find and understand it.

(This also includes technical and off-page SEO like site speed, backlinks and user experience. But I’m not diving into that today.)

Put simply, it’s a series of steps we use to tell the search engines what our websites are all about.

 

How to rank higher on Google Leanne Summers SEO Copywriter

The best thing about SEO?

It’s free and it’s evergreen. Once you’re up and running you can build on it over time as you add new content.

Unlike paid ads on the internet, SEO doesn’t stop once you stop dishing out the moola. It’s there for life.

How long does SEO take to make an impact?

SEO is a long term game. But you want to know how long it will take to kick in. Um, a frustrating “It depends”. Sorry.

If after optimising your site, the search engines discover you have a magic ju-ju humans have been looking for, you might start ranking higher in the results fast.

If you’re in a very competitive space, it might take longer. As a general rule, allow at least two months to see any impact. Though I have seen improvements within a week.

A done for you SEO Health Check is a cheap and easy way to understand the SEO optimisation you need for your website.

Getting started with your SEO fundamentals

Optimise your On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is always about your reader and user experience

On-page content is anything your readers can see on your website. Without getting all techy, it’s content and code. Please don’t start sweating about the word “code”. No coding is required today.

Give your readers what they want

Although the talk is about keywords and search intent the search engines agree on one thing: the user experience is the most important aspect of SEO. Search engines make money by giving readers the answers to their questions and the better the answers, the more money they make. (Cynical, right?)

So, always approach SEO with your reader’s front of mind.

Websites will appear higher in the search results when they

  • Provide the most relevant content that answers reader questions
  • Give a fast, whip-cracking user experience

SEO helps this along. It says “Hey Google, read the SEO signals on my user-friendly website and see how amazing our business is”.

On-page content and HTML

What is content?

Content is the words on the page or blog, the images and the videos. If you’ve written a page for your site, you’re across this.

What is HTML?

This is the code the search engine robots read when they measure up your website. It lives in the back end of your site but the output appears on the page.

Most website themes will highlight the key on-page HTML elements for SEO when you are editing or creating a new page. Aren’t they helpful folk?

Optimising your web page for Google

  • Alt text – words describing your images and video
  • Website title – the name of your website
  • Page title – the page title that appears in the Google search results
  • Meta description – the two-line description that appears under the page title in the Google search results
  • Page URL – the identifier for each page. Eg: https>//www.theleannesummers.com/contact/
  • H1 –  the grand poobah heading on each page
  • Content – the words on the page (usually called paragraphs in website themes)
  • H2 – H5 – the headings you can choose to include on your website pages
  • Blog comments – what readers say and how you reply

You can optimise all these places for your keyword phrases (and similar phrases) to tell the engines you’ve got what searchers need. More on this below.

So, let’s start with the easy peasy things you can do today

1. Keyword research

What are keywords?

Before we can optimise the HTML you need to find your page keywords. You have one keyword per page of your website.

Keywords are the topics you talk about on your page and the words searchers put into a search query. Let’s say you stripped all non-essential info from a website page, the remaining words would be your primary keywords for that page.

Keywords are essential to your SEO.

Keywords tell the search engines what information we have on our page

  • the headings
  • the words
  • the page title
  • the meta descriptions
  • and internal links

But we don’t stuff them all over the place. Keyword stuffing is poor form. Readers aren’t silly and neither is Google. Find synonyms or words with similar semantics to use as well. We’re writing for readers so your keywords should flow naturally through your content.

TIP: The best keywords match search intent and answer the questions readers are asking

It’s easy to get lost in a spiderweb of research. You can do a lot of research using Google and some free tools. Just don’t overthink it.

Is it hard to find keywords for SEO?

It’s easy to get lost in a spiderweb of research. You can do a lot of research using Google and some free tools. Just don’t overthink it.

If you’re finding it overwhelming, try this instead.

Think about the questions your customers ask you. The most common ones are likely the same things people are typing into Google.

Hell, if you have 6 pages on your website and 6 frequently asked questions you’ve got your keywords.

Seriously, if you don’t want to do the research I talk about now, you could start with those questions and optimise them. True story.

So choose your path and see how you go. Anything is better than nothing.

Golden rule: Each page has its own keyword. If you duplicate keywords across pages the search engines aren’t clear which page they should display. We don’t want to confuse the engines.

But the search engines are getting smarter. They can read your page looking for context around the keywords to match the user intent and most relevant content for the searcher. So it’s getting easier all the time.

Short tail keywords v long tail keywords

Keywords can be one word (plus 2 or 3 similar words) or a long tail keyword. One or two-word keywords are typically informational keywords, meaning your reader is starting to research, but not ready to buy. Say they type “cashmere jacket”, it’s research. Those broad information keywords get lots of searches and they’re harder to rank for.

Long-tail keywords are words searchers type when they are closer to whipping out their credit card: “quality cashmere double-breasted jacket free delivery”

See the difference? The second query shows transactional intent. They know what they want. Long tail keywords have lower search volume but when you get one, folk are ready to buy.

We use general keywords on our home pages and more long tail keywords on services, categories and product pages, typically.

Why? People who land on your home page are generally in the information stage. People landing on specific category, product or service pages are in the buying journey. They’re sussing you out and getting closer to buying.

What is User Intent?

User intent is what the searcher wants to achieve with their search.

When we search the internet, we generally want to achieve one of four things

  • Informational intent: general information “How to..” “What is..”
  • Navigational intent: go to a particular website or place
  • Commercial intent: investigating certain brands or products
  • Transactional intent: we are ready to buy now

Think about when you last searched online. Broadly you’d have been looking for:

  • Information? Raspberry jam made in Australia
  • Navigation? Robbies Raspberry Jam Factory
  • Commercial? Robbies Raspberry Jam & Susie’s Raspberry Jam
  • Transactional? Best Raspberry Jam Deals Online

Overwhelming for you? Don’t stress – you’re starting and that’s fab.

TIP: Brainstorm all the keywords you’d like to rank for. Think about words your customers use rather than people in the industry. Your FAQ, testimonial words, email questions and questions in conversation.

How to choose keywords

Free tools

Chrome extensions for keyword information at your fingertips

Grab Chrome Extensions to give you data on the go.

There are expensive SEO tools around. I use them. But they’re pricey. You’ll get plenty of info using free tools as an SEO beginner.

I like:

MozBar
Keywords Everywhere
SEO Quake
Keyword Surfer

They’re going to give you so much data your head will spin.

Another nifty one is SEO Meta in One Click.

You can check out the SEO settings for any website page you’re looking at. (Cheeky, right? When you become a pro, you can see how the competition is doing.)

Once you’ve done that, grab a notebook or spreadsheet and make a list of your individual website pages.

Then we’re ready to start researching.

Google Autocomplete

One of my favourites is the humble Google Autocomplete. It’s not a tool, but the predictive text Google uses to complete your search query. It’s a great place to start if you’re looking to get a feel for what people are looking for.

Type anything into Google and a drop-down menu will appear with oodles of search queries. It’s loaded with search queries and a treasure trove of long-tail keywords. Great for social media and blog ideas, too.

TIP: Try: “brand name vs” and a list of the competition (as judged by Google will appear. Or “how to * (and your business, product, service) and see what pops up

Simply typing “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “why” with a few of your business-related questions can get you a bazillionty keywords people are searching for.

And once you click one and load it the results and the chrome extensions you’ve installed will hit you with even more keyword options along with how often they are searched each month.

Google Autocomplete – things to consider

Clicking on the results will show you whether search results are being displayed for information, navigation, commercial or transactional intent. Are the results in line with your content, or can you find a different keyword more in line with your content and achieve the same result?

If you want to rank for the same keywords you’ll need to present your content the same way as they appear in the search results. For example a carousel, video, a blog or a list. Why? That’s what humans are telling Google they prefer.

So be sure to check the ranking content for each keyword. “Professional copywriter” is dominated by articles about how to become a professional copywriter. So it’s not a keyword I would like to rank for as a first choice.

Google Keyword Planner

After you’ve finished with the Google Search Results you might want to play with Google Keyword Planner. It’s a little bit clunky, but it will give you information on search volume and competition for the keyword.

Finally – use SEO Meta in One Click

Make a list of your competitors and bring up their sites. Click the SEO Meta tool and have a look at their headings, their image text, and the meta descriptions and see what words they are using. It can give you a hint about the words they are using.

Match each of your website pages with a keyword

You should finish with a list of keywords and synonyms for each page of your website.

PS: We use similar words rather than simply stuff our page with the same keyword because it’s crappy for readers and the search engines are smart enough to understand the context.

For example, Home Page Keyword: SEO copywriter and similar words: SEO writer, website writer

All done?

Once you’ve got your keywords and similar words mapped it’s time to head to our website ready to optimise the on-page SEO.

Where do you put your keywords?

Ta-da:

  • In the H1 header of the page (usually the first text on the page – it should tell you the H status)
  • In one or two headings on the page H2-H5 (don’t overstuff, use similar words)
  • In the first one hundred words of text/paragraph (bolded if possible)
  • In the page title tag
  • Meta description
  • In the anchor text for internal links within your sites (the text you use to link to information on other pages in your website).
  • Alt text and file names for images/video on your page (more below)

 

On page SEO elements

Content (and first 100 words)

Every page should focus on providing value to your audience. All the keywords in the world won’t fix content that doesn’t meet user needs. So always get clear on the user intent by checking “People Also Ask” to see what intent your keyword is ranking for.

Use the HTML subheadings (H1-H5) to give your page structure, and readability and make it user friendly.

Title Tags

The blue underlined words in the search results.

The title for each page of your website as it appears in the search results. It tells the engines what your page is about. Put your keyword at the beginning of the title tag.

If you use Yoast in WordPress, the SEO section sits at the bottom of each website page in edit mode. You can write your title tag there.

Meta Descriptions

The black two-line description sits underneath the Title Tag in the search results.

Google doesn’t look at meta descriptions for SEO purposes but they are incredibly powerful for you. Think of them as a two-line sales pitch giving users a reason to click through to your site. User your keywords and make it snappy. Include your phone number, too.

Page URL

This one is a little trickier, but it’s great to change your URL to match your keywords. Your URL is the website name and the string of words that follows it at the top of your browser when your website is open.

For example, https://www.theleannesummers.com/seo-copwriter rather than the services or home. It’s an extra signal for Google to understand what you’re about and who should see your page.

URLs are a key part of SEO and user-friendly experiences. Every webpage generates its own URL, and it’s worth your while to update them with your keywords and your theme will show you how to do it.

Keep them short, sweet and memorable and don’t forget to check the URL you updated is pointing to the updated keyword URL. Some themes like Spotify do this automatically and Redirection is a great WordPress plugin that will do this for you too.

Internal links

Internal links are hyperlinks that point to other pages within your website. They help Google understand the context of a page and how that page relates to your other pages. Use your keywords in your link text if you can.

For example, Want to dig deeper? Head here and read more about working with an SEO copywriter.

It’s incredibly easy to do and I’m sure you’ve already made a link or two. Highlight the text and add a link. It’s the little paperclip icon you see.

And SEO Fundaments are done.

Congratulations, you’ve earned a cup of tea.

Bonus SEO tips

While you’re all geeky, get your site speed in check

Humans and search engines want sites that load fast and get to the point (so they know they are in the right place). We’re all busy, busy, busy.

You’ve got about 2 seconds to impress a visitor. Yep, two secs. Slow-loading websites are an SEO sapper and readers bounce away if they’re left waiting.

Luckily there are some simple things you can do.

Get your images in shape

The smaller your images the faster they’ll load on your site. And your site will load faster.

Four golden image rules:

  • Always compress your images before loading them (tinypng.com is a great free tool). Make them as small as possible – KB not MB
  • Always trim images to the correct dimensions (they should be the size you want them to display on your site). A quick Google search will tell you the standard sizes for your website theme. Don’t load an image at 2000 pixels x 2000 pixels if it will be displayed as 500 pixels x 100 pixels. Aim for no more than 2000 pixels per image
  • If you can, add the image dimensions within the HTML code so your theme is not holding a large chunk of space for a small image

Boost SEO through your website image file names

How to save an image file

When your images are named using keywords relevant to your offering (both in the file name and the Alt Text), they will appear in image and video search results because the search engines know what your image is about. And the hyphens will form part of your website URL when readers click on the image. Snazzy right.

For extra points and a reward for your effort (cos you’re doing this already) save your image using your keyword in the file name. Separate the words with hyphens, not underscores.

For example, seo-copywriter-leanne-summers.jpeg
Not: logo_version_786432.jpeg

How to use Alt Text

When you load your re-image be sure to complete the Alt Text section for the image on your website. (Alt Text is an accessibility tool for people using screen readers and it tells the search engine what your image is about).

For example, Leanne Summers SEO copywriter sitting at her desk

Don’t use hyphens or underscores in Alt Text. Use your keyword (more below) but don’t stuff them – make the description reader-friendly.

“What the”, but I have hundreds of images on my website” I hear you say. Invest the time because It’s worth the effort. Work on 10 a week, starting with the most visited pages, or your key pages and you’ll be done in no time. If you need more convincing, run your website through pingdom.com and see how long it takes for your images to load. Squish and rename. You’ll thank me later. Promise.

TIP: Search engines aren’t clever enough to read text inside images just yet. So avoid creating images with text in them (eg Canva or Adobe) because it won’t count in the cues you’re giving to Google. Load an image and put the words on top.

 

Google tools for SEO

Eyeball your efforts with Google

1. Connect your free Google Analytics account to your website

Google Analytics tells you who’s coming to your website and what they’re doing when they’re there.

Google’s own setup Guide

2. Connect your free Google Search Console to your website

Google Search Console gives you great insight into how your website is performing, your rankings and lots of other information you can use to refine your SEO and marketing generally.

Google’s own setup Guide

3. Set up your free Google Business Profile and link your website

Spending all your time on Instagram? If you’re not harnessing the free goodness of your Google Business Profile, you’re leaving money on the table. Fill it with useful information your customers are looking for and boost your chance to appear in the local search results.

There’s no easier way to land on the top of the search results in a search than to get your Google Business Profile listing working for you.

  • Add photos
  • Keep your opening hours up to date
  • Collect reviews
  • Use keywords (don’t stuff it – natural language written for humans)
  • Link your website

Google Business Set up Guide

Need help?

There are other fixes you can implement. Depending on your level of experience you might want to call in an expert. (It’s an investment well made – fix it once and it’s done forever.)

Then you can concentrate on creating content that answers your readers’ questions, builds trust and establishes your street cred in your space. Before long others will be sharing your content and linking to your website (this is called backlinking and it’s great for SEO).

Of course, if the SEO or content creation still sounds daunting, I can help. Get up to speed with a done for you SEO Health Check so you know where to start. No guesswork required.

Of course, if you’d like to start being more strategic with your search engine optimisation and marketing efforts, I can help with trustworthy SEO services to get your biz in front of your people.

Or for an easy to understand, no-obligation chat, book a chat with me and I’ll answer any questions you have and we can get your SEO strategy on track and watch your website rankings improve.

Ready to start your SEO adventure?

Leanne Summers is a lawyer turned strategic SEO copywriter and digital marketing consultant. Leanne helps corporate escapees with purpose-driven businesses reach their next stage of business growth and live the life they want. Tired of writing words no one wanted to read, Leanne fled the corporate grind in search of a fresh perspective. The universe drew her to Vietnam. Now she helps female entrepreneurs all over the world get found on Google, connect with their audience and make the moola through SEO, digital marketing and data-driven words.