Top 5 tips on SEO for Beginners
These days it’s impossible to run a business online without knowing how to bring people to your website. How are they going to find you if they don’t even know who you are? That’s where Search Engine Optimization comes in, also known as SEO. SEO is essentially how you’re going to get people to your website. Popular search engines like Google use a variety of ranking systems to decide which links are going to appear first on any given search, and SEO is, more or less, how you can get your website into those top rankings. In this article, we’re going to touch on how to manage the keywords on your website so your customers can find you, and soon enough SEO will be just one of many marketing strategies at your disposal.
1. Knowing your audience
The first major step in doing SEO work is figuring out which keywords you should be targeting for your website. In order to do that, you must understand your site’s target audience.
Start by picturing your expected audience. Let’s say your customer is George. George is a chill guy and a coffee enthusiast. George is always interested in different types of coffee blends and likes to try out as many as possible. He also likes to try and test out different methods of brewing coffee. After getting a sense of what your customer is looking for, start assembling a list of keywords that would appeal to them.
Using the example of George above, here are a few questions you can ask yourself:
- Where is your customer located?
- What age is your customer?
- What are the interests of your customer?
- What product or service are you selling, and how does the product relate to your customer?
- What problem does it solve for your customer?
This exercise will help you clarify the identity of your customer and what they’re searching for when they go online. This is key information for your keyword research. If you target ‘luxury handbags’, for example, and your customer only earns $20k per year, then you might want to reconsider the customer you are targeting, or the ‘luxury’ keyword.
The more knowledge you have about your customer, the better the results will be for your keyword research.
2. Know Your Keywords
Now that you understand your audience, it’s time to ask some more questions. The next set should focus more on your product’s attributes.
- Where is the origin of the coffee bean?
- What type of roast is it?
- Is it decaf?
- Is it the Best European Coffee?
These questions form a great foundation that will help you choose better keywords for your website with several keyword tools.
After asking yourself some questions, look for online communities that are enthusiastic about the type of products you’re selling. Continuing my example of a coffee shop, I would start by looking for online communities that are enthusiastic about coffee. Reddit is known for having a collection of communities (or subreddits) with specific interests, so starting somewhere like /r/Coffee could lead to potential customers. By reading their posts you may start to get a sense of the attributes they are searching for in a product, which you can then use as attributes for your own keywords.
Keep a bullet list of each search term, question, or idea that comes up as you move through different content online for easy reference when building your keywords or strategy.
3. Google’s Search Bar and Understanding Searchers Intent
While continuing to build your strategy, try using supplementary tools to help target keywords as well. Of course, nothing is going to beat a tool dedicated to SEO, but the Google Search Bar can be a great, free method for finding target keywords for your Shopify store. Try applying some of the questions you’ve been documenting in tip 2 to the google search bar. Type out your questions and see what the search bar is suggesting.
These suggestions are common questions that your potential customer will search on Google. Before you choose your keywords for your SEO, stop, think about the intent of the searcher, and seek out how you can address their needs by targeting your site. When a client asks these questions on Google, they are searching with the intent of making a purchase or exploring a website. So, don’t just pick words with a high search volume, but choose keywords that will provide the answers to these questions. Make sure your keywords can be converted into leads so your potential customers will find you.
Another tip for using Google’s search bar: when clicking on a suggested result, scroll to the bottom of the page. What you’ll see is a list of suggested terms that could be useful for finding keywords or building out your targeting strategy even further.
4. Aim for Low Competition Keywords with High Volume
When using an SEO tool like SEMRush or Google Ads, choosing the right keywords can be quite overwhelming. Normally, keywords will be ranked from highest to lowest based on their usage across the internet. It may seem wise to pick only the highest-ranking keywords, but then you will be competing with many other sites for the top spot on a Google search because everyone will be using the same keywords. By mixing in some lower-competition words, you increase the chances that your customer will find your site instead of a competitor’s.
A good practice for finding good, low competition keywords is finding websites that have a good amount of organic traffic in their pages. The content explorer tool on AHERF may come in handy here.
Use AHERF to type in a word that relates to your business. We're only looking for websites that have a high organic traffic volume with no references to any domains. Set your referring domain tab to zero and your minimum of organic traffic to 1000. Click enter and you will find a page that meets your standard and click details. You’ll find a tab that presents its organic keywords. Click it, and several low competition keywords with good ranking will be presented to you. Take the keywords that would benefit your business and add them to your ongoing list of low competition keywords.
5. Use Long-Tail Keywords
A Long Tail keyword is an add-on to a base keyword. An example of a longtail keyword could be “top” or “guide”. If I were searching for coffee places in Halifax, I might search “coffee places in Halifax” or “top coffee places in Halifax”. If I were searching for help on targeting keywords I might search “Targeting Keywords for SEO” or “Targeting Keywords for SEO guide”.
A good way to keep track of how many long-tail keywords you can come up with is by putting them down on an Excel spreadsheet. This is useful for keeping track of keywords in general. On your spreadsheet add 4 more columns next to your main keyword. These four columns will be a hierarchy of modifier keywords to use with your base word. Add a few more rows to your spreadsheet utilizing the same keyword.
As an example, If I were targeting keywords for “jeans”, I could add two separate long-tail keywords such as boys or girls to the base word. I could then add the modifiers slim-fit, black and best in front of the base words as well. Look at the table below to get a better idea of how many combinations you can make.
6. Research Your Competitors & Competitive Backlinks
Now that you are more familiar with your audience and you know the questions they are asking, it’s time to get familiar with your competitors. Research two to three competitors and look at the keywords they use. If you see good high-ranking words (especially low competition) that relate to your site, steal them! The term competitor doesn't always mean a site that sells the same products as you. In terms of SEO, it generally means a website that shares a lot of the same keywords as your business. There are also competitors known as 'page competitors' which are pages that are in direct competition with a specific page of yours (i.e. blog posts).
Amazon is a common page competitor for your product pages. For some quick research, search for some products shared between your company on Amazon and see the common keywords that come up. Certain tools can be used, like SEMRush for example, to make this process a little easier. This is a great way of discovering some of the high-ranking keywords that your competitors are using, which you can then integrate into your own SEO.
Another item you should be looking for is competitive backlinks. A backlink is a link that references another website and can potentially drive traffic. These are important because Google will consider how many times your site has been referenced on other sites when it builds its rankings. Also, when potential customers see you being referenced, it might encourage them to check your site out and increase your traffic.
Use a tool such as AHERF or SEMRush. In this example we’ll be using SEMRush. On the dashboard, search the domain which you would consider a competitor.
Then Select Backlink gap on the right-hand side under the “Competitive Research Column”.
Scroll down and you will see a list of backlinks that are referencing your competitors. You can extract the list into a CSV file by clicking “export”.
Now, not all backlinks might relate to your business. Shorten your list to relevant links only. Once you have that done, look at the page that is referencing your competitor. Reach out to them and see if your domain can be referenced on their page.
If you need assistance with your SEO strategy, reach out to us. We hope you found this article helpful as you step towards the world of SEO!
Learn how to use SEMRush, and more about SEO here.