Beginner-Friendly Guide on SEO and Ranking in 2021

Dice Media Group is a results-focused, digital marketing agency bridging the gaps between ranking hopefuls and position achievement.  Our brand, team, and global presence reach many parts of the world and have helped countless business and website owners over the years with organic growth.

SEO can be a head-aching process filled with uncertainty and frustration; most don’t know where to begin, and even more are unsure of which step is best to take first.  Fear not, we’re here to help you.

Most people run sites with limited SEO knowledge which makes it difficult, for the owner, to have a fighting chance at outranking competitor sites whose optimization is overseen by professional SEOs.

That is an unfair advantage; turn the odds to your favor and assume command of your rankings with comprehensive strategies and tips for dominating the ranks to leave competitors trailing behind you.

If your site struggles to rank or if struggling yourself to grasp the SEO concept, you won’t be for long.

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Welcome to our Beginner’s Guide to SEO in 2021, your source for learning SEO and implementation.   

In this guide, we will cover the five fundamentals of SEO, including how to:

  • Determine where customers are searching.
  • Optimize web pages for your target keywords.
  • Ensure your site is easily accessible by search engines.
  • Get other websites to link to you. 
  • Measure SEO success and ROI.

Step 1: Beginner SEO Tip – Discover Customer Searches

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You cannot optimize your website until you learn what customers are searching for.
Though, how do you learn what search terms your target audience is querying?  Good question, believe it or not, common sense goes a long way during this process, let us explain.

Imagine you operate a marketing firm in Orlando, Florida and want to reach local prospects.  One step is to search your local competitors, view their organic listing, and see which keywords they’re targeting.

Put yourself in the shoes of your future client; if you were them and needed a local-SEO or outreach service, your searches would likely look similar to the following:
  • 'Marketing Services Orlando'
  • 'Marketing Agency Orlando Florida'
  • 'SEO Service Orlando'
Don’t go overboard, gather a few terms, run them through KWFinder or SEMRush, and let the software generate a list of relevant keywords for you.  Keyword research tools, such as the ones above, allow you to generate batches of keywords by inputting as little as one search term, and it does this swiftly too; as such, it saves you time but enables you to discover high-value keywords for your SEO strategy too.

While your focus will be on keywords, there are keyword-related metrics to consider too, such as the:

  • Search Volume  - the number of times per month the keyword is searched.
  • Keyword Difficulty - which estimates the ranking difficulty of a given keyword.

Great, you have your keywords; next, you will need to include them within your content so you can rank for these terms, and so you can begin deriving organically-sourced traffic, leads, and conversions.

Step 2: On-Site SEO – Publish Relevant, Keyword-Rich Content

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Keyword research is only the first step to optimizing your website for organic traffic. 

Next, you need to ensure pages are structured well to satisfy visitor needs. 

This starts with the user experience (UX), from design to content layout, each impact visitor experiences. 

The goal is to make the content as easy as possible for readers to consume; remove unnecessary typography and elements such as opt-in or pop-up boxes.

Once keywords are gathered, the next step in your SEO strategy is on-page optimization.

Even good-quality content won't perform if pages are not optimized for search engines; this is why it is best to use an SEO plug-in, such as Yoast SEO, which is a free and simple-to-use tool that helps you with optimizing your pages and content.

This leads us to the next step of your SEO strategy; creating search-engine-friendly pages, let’s get to it.

Step 3: Creating Google-Friendly Website Pages 

You have your keywords and added them to your site, next you need to optimize pages for indexing.

Remember, you are optimizing your site and content, not just for search engines, but for readers too. 

As such, you need to make sure your website is:

Loading quickly as search engines penalize slow-loading sites, plus too, forty percent of traffic leaves sites taking longer than three seconds to load, which costs you leads and money you otherwise could have made.  Using tools such as GTMetrix or Google's PageSpeed Insights are effective ways to gauge your site's loading speed.  You can assess all pages at once too by running an Ahrefs Site Audit, which when finished, allows you to view speeds for each page under the Performance column.

Mobile-device optimized as over sixty percent of searches are now made from a phone or tablet.  Using the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, which is offered by the search engine provider for which you wish to rank, you can see if your site is optimized for mobile users or not.  If your site is not mobile-friendly you will be losing sales that could otherwise be secured, so use the tool wisely, it will strengthen your SEO strategy.

SSL-Certificate enabled as HTTPS URL’s have officially become a ranking factor.  You can tell when a site is using an SSL as there will be a padlock to the left of the address, as demonstrated below:

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Aside from the negative effects not using an SSL can have on rankings, not using one is a security issue too, and it can hurt conversions for eCommerce stores or sites accepting form submissions.  If not using one, contact your current host or use a stand-alone service, such as Let's Encrypt.

Site-map enabled as this allows Google to know your content exists and in return will become indexed. 

If you are wondering how to create a sitemap, you can learn to create one by following that link. 

Your sitemap is an XML file containing links to each page on your site and is used by search engines to understand your site and what it's about, and too to assess the structure and layout.

If using the Yoast SEO plug-in, you have the option of having it create one for you.  Once made, you can follow the steps outlined under Google's guidelines, which is where you test and submit your sitemap. 

There are some other free sitemap tools you can use as well and in a few minutes will make your site more search-engine friendly.  While a sitemap does not impact rankings directly, it does allow search engines to find and index your content more easily and helps future content you publish to be crawled and included within search results swiftly.

Step 4: Acquire External Links from other Websites 

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Link building is vital to the health of any effective SEO strategy. 

That known, get prepared to invest resources on producing content worth linking to as you need to provide value in order for other sites to consider linking to you.

This is important as the number and quality of links pointing to a site is a strong ranking factor used by Google to determine the trust and credibility of a website.  In fact, backlinks are among the three most site metrics search engines consider when determining where to rank a website.

There are many ways to get other websites to link to your pages, though some are more legitimate than others.  Before cherry-picking your links, invest some time reviewing competitor link-building strategies to see which link sources they have links from; it is possible you could target these same sources.

Step 5: Monitoring and Tracking SEO-Strategy Progress

The final step to your SEO strategy is monitoring its performance. 

There are many ways to do this but recommend focusing on the basics.

The most important metrics to monitor is your organic traffic and keyword rankings.

Google Analytics is a great way to monitor the organic visitors your website receives.  If you already have it installed, you can view organic traffic by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Organic Search.

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You can also use Ahrefs Site Explorer to monitor traffic and the keywords for which you rank.

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Tracking your ranking is also an important component of SEO strategies.

This can be done by using the Google Search Console, which is where you can also see the average impressions, positions, and clicks you receive for a given keyword.

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You can use the Ahrefs Rank Tracker for this too, with it, you can track up to ten-thousand keywords. 
It also shows how your rankings fluctuate over time and allows you to compare your SERP positions to those of competitors as well.

SEO Strategy – Final Thoughts

SEO can be competitive but is still the best way to generate sustainably-scalable traffic to a website.

Furthermore, efforts you assert into optimizing your site compound over time, if done properly, you will receive more and more traffic over time.

If wanting to leverage the power of SEO to its full potential and want endless seas of organic, buyer-hungry traffic, remember to follow the five basic steps:

  • Research and find relevant keywords with decent search volumes.
  • Create web pages friendly to bother search engines and readers.
  • Develop a site easily-accessible by both people and bots.
  • Publish quality content to encourage other sites to link to you.
  • Track and monitor your growth.

From the Dice Media Group to you, we hope you found this guide useful and wish you and your rankings well.  By following the steps in this guide, and by focusing on quality-relevant content Google and people love, you’ll be on the sure-fire path to attaining rankings that leave competitors behind and your traffic and performance ahead.