Definitive SEO Guide for Beginners: How to Rank (2022)
SEO refers to search engine optimization in short. It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages for search engines like Google. Although it looks pretty straightforward, it’s not. In this definitive SEO guide, you’ll learn how to rank your pages on search engines.
Even if you have no idea of what SEO is or how it works, then hear me out:
Cutting right to the chase, “Although it could sound a little difficult, learning SEO is as easy as learning any other marketing skill.”
You need the best strategies But to learn it with a proper roadmap is a real struggle for beginners. And that is the main reason I am writing this search engine optimization guide.
It will not only help you understand basics from A-Z, but you also start taking baby steps towards mastering this art. You’ll also learn how to use the right tools to do keyword research and other things.
Enough with talking! Let’s get started right now.
The Complete SEO Guide for Beginners (2022)
Search engine optimization requires patience, practice, and experience.
However, what I can guarantee is that this beginner guide revolves around practical approaches only. From doing keyword research to finding relevant questions in your niche, this guide will walk you through the process of getting SEO success.
So, if you promise to practice them on a daily basis, then it can turn out to be a goldmine for you. With that in mind, let us talk about some SEO basics first:
1. SEO Fundamentals
This SEO guide is for beginners and experts alike. That’s why we will start from scratch and go all the way up to substantial success in SEO. In this section, you’ll learn the basics of SEO. So let’s get started right now.
1.1. What is SEO?
SEO is a complete process to optimize your website so that it gets ranked on the first page of search engines. Of course, it doesn’t matter whether your pages rank on the first page of search engines like Google. But you definitely try to do so.
SEO involves applying different approaches to get direct organic traffic from the likes of Google, Bing, or Yahoo. It’s about enhancing user experience with practical strategies so that search engines start directing organic traffic towards a website.
It started way back in the 90s when search engines emerged for the first time on the internet.
While you are still getting around with the term SEO, let me clear another confusion:
SEO is all about organic traffic. It does not include PPC (Pay Per Click) optimization. However, you can regard SEO and PPC both as part of Search Engine marketing.
Let me elaborate this statement with an example:
You will get the following results when you type the term “buy domain” in Google search:
However, if you hover down, you will see the following organic results for the same term:
From these examples, it is clear that SEO is not about spending money on PPC advertisements. It rather focuses on different approaches to get ranked organically.
In other words, every strategy you apply to make a search engine consider your website is called search engine optimization.
Google, being regarded as the most popular search engine has now shifted the focus of SEO industry towards it only.
In that sense, you can also call search engine optimization “Google Optimization” because we will primarily focus on learning SEO while keeping Google in mind.
That is what SEO is all about and how it works.
Moving on to the next step, let us now understand some key concepts related to this field:
1.2. Key Concepts: SEO for Beginners in a Nutshell
SEO is a vast field. However, its core concepts rely on three important factors, i.e.
Great Content or Something Else of Value (like an online tool)
Optimizing Technical Aspect of the Website
1.2.1 Great Value (Content, Tool or Something Else)
Google is all about helping its users. You as a publisher must share this mission with Google. Help the users of Google. Add value to their lives. Help people find the right answers or great solutions.
Why do you do that? It’s because Google’s specific users are your audience. If you have a blog or website about laptops, people searching for laptops on Google are your audience. Or people searching for designing tools are Canva’s audience.
Great content means the content you create should be easy and engaging enough. But the first thing is the keyword research for your content.
Internal Linking (Linking the relevant articles and posts)
Some people mistake it for technical SEO. Technical SEO talks more about speed optimization and increases the overall user experience. On the contrary, On-Page SEO talks about optimizing content for search engines and users.
1.3.2. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO talks about what you should do behind the door to increase the search rankings of your website.
We cover getting quality backlinks in this type of SEO and you can acquire them with the following methods:
Guest Blogging. (Writing content for a high-authority site and linking it back to your website)
Email outreach. (Pitching website owners to get links via emails)
Broken Link Building. (Finding and replacing broken links in your website)
Apart from that, terms like social media marketing and branding of the website also come under Off-Page SEO as these factors have an indirect impact on the overall rankings of your website.
1.3.3. White Hat and Black Hat SEO
If you are remotely connected to SEO field, you might have heard about these terms.
Generally, we all know that white stands for something peaceful whereas black is the indication of evil.
Based on this assumption we describe white hat and black hat SEO as follows:
White Hat SEO
White hat SEO is all about understanding the Google Webmaster guidelines and working on the website accordingly.
Applying white hat strategies will not offer short-term success. However, you can get the results in the long term with prolonged website rankings.
Black Hat SEO
Spamming the Google algorithm with the help of different black hat approaches such as keyword stuffing and link manipulation could offer your website a short-term success.
However, once Google finds out that you are using Black hat tactics, it will penalize your website and you will not be able to recover it no matter how hard you try.
With the understanding of all these terms, it is now time that we move towards the fundamentals of SEO.
2. Fundamentals of SEO in 2022:
SEO is a billion-dollar industry and there is a reason many businesses are focusing on attracting organic users to their websites.
That said, the fundamentals of SEO include why it is important, some of its benefits, and understanding how search engines work.
Let us talk about them one by one:
2.1. Why is SEO Important?
Did you know? “Almost 57% traffic comes from Google search queries”. Not only that, but 68% of users start a specific activity with a Google search.
Let me give an example here:
I am in the mood to eat chicken BBQ.
Before anything else, I will go directly to Google and type, “Chicken BBQ recipes”.
Based on Google algorithm, it will show me video results that I can watch either on YouTube or Facebook.
I can then move on to getting chicken and all necessary ingredients from a local store.
See, what happened there?
Before doing anything else, I searched for something I was intending to do on Google first and then moved forward.
You will find thousands of such examples related to your daily life and if you have got my point, you will understand how important SEO has become in 2022.
2.2. Benefits of SEO
SEO is all about, “Traffic, Traffic, and Traffic!”
Some of the major benefits include:
2.2.1. More Traffic
Compared to other platforms, search engines like Google and Bing, etc. offer more traffic.
If you rank on the 1st page of Google for a specific search query, chances are that you will receive more traffic from that search engine.
So, the higher your rankings, the better your chances of grabbing more traffic that you can later utilize according to your preferences.
2.2.2. SEO Ensures Consistent Traction
It will take you a long time to get that 1st position on a search engine like Google for a high-volume search query.
However, once you get that position, Google will not interfere with it if you comply with its rules and webmaster guidelines.
As a result, you will receive consistent traffic on your website or your blog that will eventually lead to more authority and trustworthiness.
2.2.3. It Offers Free Marketing
All in all, a ranked website will offer free traffic as you will not have to spend money on paid advertisements for your business.
If you consider the “Buy Domain” example I mentioned above, you will see that websites with paid results are getting charged by Google.
On the contrary, the organic results are there without any expenditure.
2.2.4. Fulfilled User’s Trust
From multiple marketing resources, it has been confirmed that a user is reluctant to click an ad after typing a query on Google.
Users will instead go for organic results as they have built a kind of trust relationship with such brands and businesses.
So, SEO can also improve the trust relationship of a user with your brand indirectly.
With all these benefits, let us now move on to discussing how search engines work:
2.3. How Search Engines Work?
Before understanding how a search engine works, you need to know more about what a search engine actually is.
According to a general definition, “Any online tool that could help a user find specific information about a search query is called a search engine.”
For instance, Google is a search engine on which users type search queries to get their problem solved or take relevant information about a specific topic.
Just like Google, some other search engines are also there. That includes Bing, Yandex, Baidu, DuckDuckGo, and Yahoo.
The market share of each search engine goes as follows according to Statcounter:
That is the main reason I want you to focus on Google as a primary search engine only as it holds around 91% of total market share.
Now that you understand what actually a search engine is, here is how it works:
The search engine, first of all, crawls millions of web pages using multiple approaches.
That said, we get to see crawlers or bots (crawling programs) to analyze and scan billions of pages within a few seconds.
Crawlers and bots while scanning the data could also discover new and updated links and that is the reason you will see a change in search rankings every once in a while.
Here is how the Google representatives talk about how Google crawls different web pages:
2.3.2. Indexing the Website
Once a crawler or bot gets done with exploring different pages and posts of your website, it starts indexing or storing them.
Now, it is also important to understand that indexing might take some time as the search engine will try to analyze, categorize, and store relevant information from your website.
Google holds the largest search index data as of now and you will see millions of pages on this search engine for a single search query.
Take a look at this example:
I have typed “SEO” in the Google search box and it has shown millions of results just for this query.
2.3.3. Picking the Results
Now that the search engine index has stored your data, it will start picking results and according to the search query.
Whenever a user searches for a query related to your website, the search engine tool will dig deep into its index data and bring out the best results according to user intention.
It is what we call SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The process of picking the best results might depend upon many factors.
In SEO vocabulary, Google Algorithm is an umbrella term that we use to understand the way Google picks search results.
That said, Google always tries its best to offer relevancy in picking the results and it wants to satisfy the needs of the users in every way possible.
Some of the factors included in this process are as follows:
Meaning of Query: The search engine needs to understand the actual meaning of whatever a user is searching for.
Page Relevancy: Google algorithm then considers the relevant pages according to the search query of a user.
Content Quality: It then starts scanning the picked pages and searches content that is offering instant solutions or information according to a search query.
Page Usability: Google also considers whether the page is easily accessible and readable or not.
Context: The search engine might also consider the history, location, and filter settings of the user to bring out the best results.
With all these factors, you also need to know that Google has improved and updated its algorithm big time since its release.
The old SEO strategies are now outdated and not applicable. Besides, the algorithm now keeps an eye on black hat strategies and penalizes such websites accordingly.
Over the years, Google has updated its algorithm with some unique names including, “Panda, Hummingbird, and Penguin update, etc.”
The most recent core update from Google algorithm was in July 2022, which focused on improving the page speed optimization of the websites.
You can keep yourself in touch with the minor and core updates of the Google Algorithm by following this Twitter handle.
By understanding the Google Algorithm you can improve your chances of ranking on the 1st page within a short time.
2.3.4: Ranking the Website
The whole crawling, indexing, and picking process get done within a few seconds, and Google or any other search engine will then show you the most relevant results.
Demonstrating it with an example here;
Suppose you type: “How to make a website” on Google.
The instant you press the Enter button, Google algorithm will start processing its indexing library and bring out the best results according to user intent.
Take a look:
However, Google also understands that having a visual demonstration of this search query could help a user even more. So, it has included Video Section on 2nd position as follows:
That is how Google understands the search queries and acts accordingly.
As per many resources, Google considers around 200 ranking factors before ranking a website on the 1st page.
Many of them have already been confirmed by the search engine’s official Twitter handle, some of them remain under the shadows.
We will also discuss the latest Google Ranking signals in a separate section. For now, you can take an idea of how search engines rank different websites from these general ranking factors.
3 Types of SEO: On-Page, Off-Page, and Technical SEO
Already mentioned above in SEO basics, I talked briefly about on-page, off-page, and technical SEO, so that you could understand the terms.
Now is the time that we discuss them with practical strategies to increase the chances of getting ranked on the 1st page of Google and other search engines.
3.1. On-Page SEO: The Best Practices
Talking about On-Page SEO first, it revolves around optimizing the content in accordance with a user query.
It involves different approaches and methods, but we will get started with the basic ones to help you understand the whole concept easily.
Note: Many people think that On-Page SEO is only about keywords placement. In fact, it is more than just placing keywords here and there.
So, have a look at some of the best practices for On-Page SEO as follows:
3.1.1. Match User Intent
I have frequently used the word “User Intent” throughout this guide because Google in 2022 has become extremely intelligent.
It can judge the user intent just from a search query and start ranking the websites accordingly.
Keeping this factor in mind, you need to align the content in accordance with the user’s intent.
For instance, if a user searches, “How to gain weight” on Google, you will see all kinds of blog posts with informational guides ranked on the 1st page. Take a look:
On the contrary, if a user searches for “weight gaining supplements”, the results will look like this:
If you compare the intent of both these search queries, the first one is intended towards gaining more information about weight gaining tips.
On the other hand, the second search query is having a buying intent and Google has thus ranked the relevant websites accordingly.
So, matching user intent while content creation is one of the best on-page SEO practices in 2022 to get a boost in ranking.
3.1.2. Inter-Linking Related Pages & Posts
Understanding the art of proper internal linking will help your website gain more visibility and ranking.
It’s one of the On-Page practices that many newbies and even the so-called experts ignore.
But, believe me, any authority website you open will have a diverse internal linking structure, and that is what makes them stand out among other brands.
You can take a look at Neil Patel’s website and read a blog post on it to see how efficiently he uses internal links to keep his readers engaged enough. I have also increased the traffic of my major site after interlinking relevant pages.
Here are some other benefits of internal linking on your website.
Improved Crawlability of Your Website:
With proper internal links, crawlers and bots from different search engines could explore your website more deeply. Hence, it will increase the crawling ability of your website.
Improved User Experience and Engagement:
The more a user feels like staying on your website, the more Google or any other search engine ranks it. Using internal links can help you with improving the UX and engagement of your website.
With proper inbound and outbound links come improved rankings. You can analyze any authority website such as SEMrush or even Ahrefs and see how these websites use their internal links to get top rankings on Google.
Now, some of the tips to get an instant boost in rankings with the help of internal linking go as under:
Practical Tips for a Perfect Internal Linking Strategy
Use Clear Navigational Elements
Utilizing a clear navigational pathway for your website will help a user get to a specific destination easily.
Think of it like this, when you visit your friend or family member for the first time, it will become a little difficult for you to find their home.
However, if that specific area has clear and visible signboards and directional markers, you will not find it too difficult to locate your friend’s house.
The same is the case here!
When a user visits your website for the first time, it should be properly optimized with different navigational elements.
You can create an attractive menu layout, use categories, and add different tags, and add a search box to help a user navigate your website easily.
I love the navigational menu of amazon.com as it is properly optimized to an extent that I can easily find anything I want here. For instance:
You can also utilize breadcrumbs and optimize them properly if your website has many posts, pages, and categories.
Link from the Body Page of the Text
Making in-text links from the body page of content requires a little bit of struggle.
But, you can excel in this technique before writing your next piece of content.
What I do on many of my websites is that I take a look at my previous posts and I note them down on an online notepad.
So, whenever I write my next post, I can utilize the previous topics in the body of the content that makes proper sense.
You can also use taglines, headlines, and catchy hyperlink text to make sure that the user clicks a link easily.
But, keep in mind that relevancy is a must when you try to create links from body paragraphs.
Here is an excerpt from the Simply Recipes website where internal linking is done from the body page:
Everything seems perfect when you analyze how relevant the internal links are from the example I have given above.
Optimize URL Slug Properly
Another aspect of On-Page SEO that you need to take care of is optimizing the URL slug of your website properly.
To understand the URL of a website properly, consider this example:
Now, when optimizing the slug of a URL, you need to make sure it is relevant to the topic. For instance, the topic, “Weight Gaining Tips” should have a slug looking like that, “weight-gaining-tips” and not like “weight-losing-tips”.
Similarly, if the topic you are covering comes in a specific sub-folder or category, then include that in your URL structure as well.
You can take a look at the above-mentioned example of cosier.co where you will see the “reviews” text first along with the slug, “best-coffee-machine”.
Keep these things in mind while optimizing the URL slug to increase your chances of getting ranked on Google.
Write Compelling Title Tags
The title or title tag is what appears to a user in Blue color when he searches for a specific query.
Writing compelling title tags will attract a user to open your website and it could thus increase your chances of getting ranked.
While writing title tags, make sure that you add your main keyword. Moreover, you can add numbering followed by the current year to show that the content you have posted is fresh enough.
If your target keyword is weight gaining tips, then no one will click a title like that:
Weight Gaining Tips | Your Website Name
However, users will get more interested in clicking the title, if it seems more like that;
12 Proven Weight Gaining Tips from Professional Trainers 2022
See, what I did there?
That is how a compelling title looks like. Practice on it and you will become quite good at optimizing the title tags of your blog posts.
The last practice you can do in On-Page SEO is to optimize the images you use in different articles on your website.
Not only will it make your website responsive enough, but you will also grab extra traffic from Google Images.
Here are some of the tips to optimize your images properly:
You can use free tools like TinyPNG to compress the image size. This will allow a specific image to load easily.
You can also utilize plugins like EWWW or Shortpixel to compress the images of your website automatically.
Name the Image Properly:
Before you upload an image on your website, name it according to whatever it presents first.
An image file name with cat.png seems better than IMG123213.png. Got my point?
Optimize Alt Text of the Image
Keep in mind that a search engine crawler or bot cannot understand an image. To help it understand your image, you will have to optimize its alt text.
I usually keep the image file name and alt text the same. However, you can become more elaborative while describing an image.
If I have to optimize the alt text of this image, it will be something like, “A cute bunny holding a heart”
Use Next-Gen Image Formats
With the compatibility of WebP, you can now serve the images in next-gen formats to load them faster.
Different plugins and tools are used for that purpose. I remember using WebP Express plugin to convert the format of all images on my website. So, you can consider it too.
With that, the On-Page SEO optimization has now come to an end!
Let us now move to the next type, i.e., Off-Page SEO and its best practices:
4. Best Off-Page SEO Practices
Anything you do outside the website to impact the search engine rankings comes in off-page SEO.
“Time taking, Exhaustive, and Money Eater” are the three words I would use to describe this type of SEO.
Whether you follow a link-building strategy, make guest posts, or outreach via email, it will cost you extra bucks.
The brighter side?
Your website will gain more authority due to high quality and highly relevant links.
High authority means dominance over your competitors. This way, you can keep your rankings consistent, especially on Google for a long time.
Some of the off-page (link building) you must know, include:
4.1 Do the Guest Blogging (Posting) Carefully
In this approach, you will have to write a blog post for another website with proper optimization.
With that, you can take a link from that article back to your real website to pass link juice and authority.
Finding guest posts relevant to your website is not as easy as you might think.
However, you can use tools like Ahrefs, and SEMrush to find hundreds of websites offering guest posts.
You can reach out to them via email and ask them about their requirements. Most low authority websites will accept a free guest post. However, some website owners could also charge you for a single guest post and the cost could go as high as $500 for a single post.
4.2 Use Skyscraper Link Building Technique
A new technique in the town but totally worth it especially if you want to increase the authority of your website.
In the skyscraper approach, we have to think out of the box while creating content better than the one that people are already linking to.
The whole process goes as under:
You find a piece of content relevant to your website and it has many outbound links.
You start working on creating content better than this.
Finally, you ask people (with links on original content) to link their websites to your content instead.
The result: Your piece of content will attract more and more website owners that could eventually increase the overall traffic.
The Content Explorer tab in Ahrefs tool is the best way to find such websites.
Go to this tab and search for a topic relevant to your niche. Set the referring domains filter to “>than 100” and click on Search.
Find content that you can make better. Publish it and open the tool again.
Enter the original content’s URL in site explorer and find its backlinks profile. Pitch the website owners from here and ask them to link their websites to your content.
4.3. Analyze Competitors’ Backlinks Report
Another way to practice off-page SEO is to analyze the backlinks report of your competitors.
Free tools will not offer you this feature. However, you can spend some money on the likes of SEMrush, Ahrefs, or even MOZ Pro for that purpose.
Simply gather your main competitor’s homepage URL and paste it into the site explorer section of Ahrefs.
Go to the Backlinks report and see how your competitor is gaining links from different resources.
Pitch those websites either for guest posts or contextual backlinks to increase the authority of your website.
5. Technical SEO: Best Practices
Many SEO experts mix On-Page SEO with Technical SEO, but both types differ a little bit.
On one hand, on-page SEO is more about optimizing what is present on the website.
While, on the other hand, technical SEO is about indexing the website, optimizing its page speed, and making it more responsive.
Some of the best techniques for technical SEO include:
5.1 Help Search Engines Index Your Site
Indexing a website is crucial as it will allow search engines to finally discover and rank your content on different search queries.
You can get your website indexed in the following ways:
Creating a sitemap and submitting it in Google Search Console is one of the methods to index your website in Google.
Sitemap is actually a structured list of your website generated by plugins like Yoast or RankMath SEO.
You can find the sitemap of your website with the following URL:
Google keyword planner can tell you about the search volume of different keywords along with important metrics such as CTR and CPC. But using it may be challenging for beginners like you. So I recommend using our Keyword Research Tool.
You can use it to find highly relevant keyword ideas for your website.
It’s the best alternative to Google Keyword Planner without a doubt. Keyword Research Tool helps you find the related keywords based on your seed keyword in seconds. And it’s absolutely free forever. You can even use it without creating an H-Supertools account.
You can also create a free SEMrush account and analyze up to 5 websites to track their performance. Doing the SEO audit on SEMRush is extremely powerful without a doubt. And you may want to buy the premium services for better SEO analysis.
This tool offered by Neil Patel also offers you free Keyword entries and website analysis in limited use. However, you may want to upgrade to the premium subscription for detailed features.
Understanding Google’s ranking factors is important for enjoying SEO success. Let’s have a look at them right now.
10 Google’s Top Ranking Signals 2022
Although Google considers around 200 different factors before ranking a website, some popular ones are as follows:
Identify the intent of your users and make your content around it. It’s not like a user looks for weight gaining tips and your content focuses on weight loss tips instead.
Make it easier for a search engine to find your website. You can do that by making a sitemap of your website and submitting it into the Google Search Console.
Quality and Quantity of Backlinks:
One link from a relevant and quality website is way better than 10 links from an irrelevant website. Keep this factor in your mind while making backlinks to your website.
Satisfy the needs of your user with your content. If possible, provide some extra information too. But it should not be irrelevant at all. For example, if someone is searching for ‘how to find keywords in a health niche’, don’t write about the history of keywords.
The content must be unique and for that, you have to think out of the box. Find new angles to write about the topics people have already written. Just keep the user intent in mind!
EAT stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. Focus on it to improve your search engine rankings. Here’s how you do it:
Showcase your contact details including a phone number
Create your own brand image
Let your users know why you hold authority in your niche
And keep creating more content so that Google considers you to hold EAT. It’s undoubtedly an important factor for your SEO.
Keep adding fresh content if you want to rank for relevant search queries according to your niche. How to get ideas for fresh content?