Joining the digital marketing world as a junior-level SEO specialist is a massive undertaking. There’s a lot to learn, and it will take years of experience to get it all down. But if you understand a few key aspects of SEO, you can shorten the learning curve and start getting results quickly.
As a new or junior SEO, there are three main areas you need to make sure you understand in order to get results:
- How sites are crawled
- How Google ranks pages
- How to grow organic traffic
Let’s break down each of these.
Understanding How Sites Are Crawled
Your site has to be crawled by Google in order to rank in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages), and the Googlebot does the crawling. That bot is the main thing standing between you and your ranking, so you need to have a technical understanding of how it works.
For example, Googlebot will crawl your home page, then go through every single link on the home page, and then through every link on all of your other pages. It keeps going until it finds all the content on your site.
But the bot can’t continue crawling your site if you don’t have a proper linking structure. And if it can’t get to all the content on your site, that content won’t get ranked. Ultimately, if Google can’t see your page, no one else will, so it is essential that you fix any areas that are hindering how Googlebot sees your site.
Other articles go into greater detail about how to make your site more efficient for Googlebot, but these are the basics you need to know now:
- Fix broken links
- Clean up redirected links
- Optimize your internal linking structure
- Block pages you don’t want to be crawled
- Make sure you have up-to-date sitemaps
A good linking structure should look like a pyramid. The home page is at the top, with links to your main pages through the top navigation menu. Each of those main pages should link to related pages or posts on your site, until every page is linked.
When you have an internal linking structure like this, you boost your link equity, which improves the ranking potential for each page on your site.
Key Takeaway #1: It is critical that you understand how your site is being accessed by Google and ensure that Google can access all the pages on your site.
Understanding How Google Ranks Pages
Another key component of SEO is understanding how Google ranks pages. Making sure Google can access all the pages on your site is the first part of ranking, but there are many other elements that make up its algorithm. Below are a few general technical points to keep in mind regarding backlinking and how Google ranks pages.
- High-Quality Content: You need content that is relevant to the keywords you’re targeting.
- On-Page Optimization: From a coding perspective, you need to structure your pages in a way that makes it easy for Google to access the information on the page. This includes metadata, internal linking, schema, etc.
- Backlinking: You need to have signals (links) from other sites that point back to your site and indicate to Google that yours is an authoritative site.
There are additional technical aspects that you will need to learn to ensure your page gets ranked by Google, but here are the general points you should keep in mind:
- Improve your page speed
- Make sure your site is optimized for mobile
- Secure your site by moving from HTTP to HTTPS
- Use structured data to tell Google the meaning of your content
Key Takeaway #2: You can’t expect to rank by focusing on just one or two parts of Google’s algorithm. You must dedicate time toward all aspects that impact rank.
Understanding How to Grow Your Site through Organic Traffic
Now that you know how Google accesses your site and ranks your content, the next thing you need to understand is how to grow your site traffic.
When it comes to organic traffic, it’s all about having a content strategy that further enhances everything you’ve put in place in the first two points above.
- Keyword Research: You need to understand how to find the keywords relevant to your industry that people are using. If you’re targeting the wrong keywords, keywords that no one is searching for, or keywords that are too popular, you won’t get anywhere with your content marketing.
- Content: Content marketing is a subject all its own, but the gist of it is you need to create high-quality content that targets those keywords, and you should have a strategy behind it (instead of just creating random articles).
Yoast has written some great guides on Keyword Research and Content SEO. I suggest checking them out to learn content strategy in more detail.
Key Takeaway #3: Content is a key aspect of SEO, and it requires serious strategy. Learn how to create a content SEO plan from the get-go and your results will be much stronger.
So, there you have it—the three most important areas you should focus your time and energy on when you are just starting out in SEO.
Focus on these areas until you master them. When you do, you’ll easily understand all the other stuff that goes along with SEO, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.
Dwayne Hogan is the SEO Lead at Clearlink
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