SEO for beginners guide

SEO for beginners can seem a bit overwhelming. I used to think that SEO was a scary and complicated dark art that only computer geniuses could crack. While it is true that the SEO rabbit hole can get deep, even doing basic improvements to your content using search engine friendly tactics can bring benefits to your business over time.

In this article I will talk you about the very basics of SEO and how you can do a basic keyword research for your business. 

How to find the best keywords to target
How to find keywords for SEO

What is SEO?

Even if you are a total SEO newbie, you would probably have heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) before. In simple terms, SEO is a series of actions that you can take to help search engines (such as Google) understand the content and value of your website.

Search engines want to pair users with information that is relevant and helpful. The purpose of optimising your website is to show search engines that when your ideal customer does a is search, they should trust your website to provide the answer. 

Think of SEO as a popularity contest. Google wants to show its users the most relevant and useful results. It is your job to show Google that your website can provide the best answers. 

Be Found Online

There are more about 1.7 billion websites out there, and while it is true that not all of them will be competing against your business for search engine rankings, there are probably heaps of businesses out there similar to yours.

When your ideal customer is searching for a solution to their problem, you want your business to come up on the first page of search results. 

Think about what you do when you do a search in Google: how often do you check the websites on page 5 of the search results? Probably not that often. What about page 2? Probably a lot less than you check those top results.

This is why SEO matters. You want to come up as high up in the search results as possible. Improving your position within the search results will help put you in front of your ideal customers.

Related reading: How to define your ideal customer (and why it matters!)

It is all about the keywords

Every single search performed in a search engine (like Google) starts with keywords. These are the words or phrases that an Internet user will type when they search for an answer they are looking for.

Think about how you use Google: every time you search for an answer you are using keywords. 

This means that a good first step to improve your search engine visibility is to get into the head of your ideal customer. Think about the kinds of words or phrases they would use to find a business like yours.

Long tail keyword vs short tail keywords

Long-tail keywords are keywords or search phrases that are longer (and more specific) than more commonly used, one-word keywords.

Why does this matter? Because it is a lot easier to rank for a long tail keyword than a short one.

For example, if I type in “bag” (short tail keyword) in Google I get About 6,040,000,000 results. It would be pretty much impossible to rank high for this keyword as the competition is huge. 

But if I type in “reusable shopping bag Auckland” (long tail keyword) that gives me About 268,000 results. It would be a lot more likely to rank for that phrase.

Short tail keywords are also usually really generic too, so any traffic that you would get from them is not likely to convert. It is much better to build your SEO strategy by focusing on long tail keywords that are specific for your niche.

Related reading: 7 awesome benefits of having a business niche


SEO for Beginners: How to do keyword research for your business

This is how you would do a basic keyword research for your business in 5 easy steps.

Step 1 – Keyword brain dump

Put yourself into the shoes of your ideal customer. Write down 10-15 words or phrases that they would type into a search engine to find a business like yours. 

Try to focus on long tail keywords.

Step 2 – Head to Google and do further research

Start typing your keywords from step 1 and see what other results come up. For example, if you type in “reusable bag” into the search bar, you get a whole lot of other good ideas:

Google Keyword Research screenshot

Step 3 – Do further research using a keyword research tool

There are many free and paid tools that you can use to do your keyword research. Two of the most commonly used free options are Google Keyword Planner​ and UberSuggest.

For this example, I will use Ubersuggest, a free keyword research tool by digital marketing guru Neil Patel. (you only get 3 free searches per day)

Grab your list of keywords (a combination of your brain dump and your Google research) and go to your chosen Keyword Research tool. Enter a keyword on the search area and select a target location. 

For example, if I go the the Ubersuggest website and enter the term “reusable bag” and “English/New Zealand” I get the following results: