SEO Help for Beginners: How to Improve Your SEO & When to Get Professional Help With SEO
For many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), implementing SEO seems daunting. If you’re looking for professional help with SEO from an award-winning agency, you came to the right place.
On this page, we’ll take a look at how to improve your SEO, nine signs your website needs professional SEO help, and how SEO services from WebFX can skyrocket your rankings and revenue.
Before you keep scrolling, take a few minutes to watch our beginner SEO video on some frequently asked SEO questions.
Ready to talk with a strategist now? Give us a call at 888-601-5359, or contact us online to learn more.
What is SEO?
So, what is SEO in digital marketing?
Before determining if your site needs SEO help, it’s important to understand what SEO is and how it benefits your business.
SEO refers to numerous strategies designed to increase your organic search rankings. These strategies include:
- Creating comprehensive, in-depth content to target keywords related to your business
- Improving your page speed to prevent people from bouncing or leaving your site
- Streamlining your site’s navigation to help leads find the information they need
- Cleaning up your site’s code and technical elements to keep it running at peak performance
- Earning backlinks from reputable sites to position yourself as an authority in your field
- And much more!
These strategies are extremely important for improving your rankings, but they just scrape the surface when it comes to Google’s algorithm, which the tech giant updates consistently. For an in-depth look at Google’s 200+ ranking factors, check out our helpful blog post.
All of these strategies are extremely valuable since they focus on boosting your site’s rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). When your business ranks at the top of results, more people can find and contact your business — and ultimately, you’ll see an uptick in leads and revenue.
Keep in mind that SEO isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy, which means it’ll take some time to see results. However, the results you see can change your business, so be patient!
Learn more about how to optimize SEO
How to improve your SEO (and search rankings)
Helping your SEO strategy starts with reviewing the SEO basics, as well as adopting SEO best practices. Below, you’ll find seven of the most effective tactics for improving SEO and search rankings. These strategies will require several skill sets, from writing to development, but they’ll help you rank higher.
Get started on improving (and helping) your SEO strategy now:
1. Focus on website usability
Website usability is a critical ranking factor because it highlights the user experience. If people can’t stand your site, whether due to its speed, navigation, design, or content, they won’t stay on your website or interact with it the way that a satisfied user would.
That’s why search engines, like Google, are looking at website usability more.
If you want to improve the usability of your website, you can take several steps. You will, however, need the help of a designer and developer — preferably a designer and developer familiar with SEO. With their assistance, you can start improving your SEO and building a user-friendly site.
A few examples of website usability improvements for SEO include:
- Using an easy-to-read font and font size across your site
- Developing page layouts that make reading and interacting with content easy
- Creating a consistent and intuitive navigation bar
- Incorporating headings, white space, lists, and multimedia into content
- Uploading a custom 404 page that provides your sitemap for quick troubleshooting
Website usability will require a constant commitment from your team. If you implement changes but don’t keep them (like writing content with short paragraphs and bulleted lists), you will lose the benefits of those updates.
2. Publish useful content
You can also help your SEO by looking at your content marketing strategy.
If you’re focused on publishing the bare-minimum, your website probably doesn’t offer much value to users. That leaves your company with content that isn’t worth reading or sharing, which doesn’t help your SEO efforts.
For the best results with your SEO strategy, you need to write content that is:
Essentially, you need to provide your readers with content that is worth their time. When you publish that kind of content, you will likely see improvements in critical SEO metrics, like time on page, dwell time, and bounce rate.
Search engines look at data points like dwell time and bounce rate to determine the relevancy and value of a page to a search query. These user behavior metrics help search engines rank content (including yours), which is why you want to improve these values.
If you’re curious about long-form versus short-form content, it’s helpful to write long-form content.
Studies show that long-form content generally performs better in search results. Pages with higher word counts (between 3000 to 10,000 words) also earn more shares, which can help you attract valuable links to your content — another SEO ranking factor.
Remember, though, your content needs to provide users with value.
Don’t spend your time writing a 3000-word article if those 3000 words don’t offer users value. If you do, you’ll likely see people spend less time on your page and have less enthusiasm for sharing your content with others.
3. Build a fast website
Page speed is a ranking factor for search engines like Google.
If you want to help your SEO and improve your search rankings, then you need to create a fast website. This step will require a developer’s help (or page speed optimization services). Either way, you can launch and maintain a fast site that ranks well.
Get started by testing your website with Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool.
Google will provide you with a score, as well as recommendations for improving it. If you don’t have a developer background, prepare yourself. The suggestions will seem confusing because they’re for developers.
That’s okay, though. Pass the results onto a developer and see what they can do.
In addition to your developer’s work, you can also take some proactive actions to improve page speed:
- Compress your website images with a free tool like Squoosh
- Reduce your number of website plugins, like for a WordPress site
- Limit your number of redirects or 301s
Image optimization is a critical part of SEO, so make compressing images a permanent part of your content strategy.
4. Make a responsive website
Like page speed, mobile-friendliness also serves as a ranking factor. That’s why having a responsive website will help your SEO. While you can design a dedicated mobile site, it’s easier (and more cost-effective) to create a responsive website.
A responsive site will adapt to any device, from smartphones to tablets to laptops.
See if your website is mobile-friendly with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, Google will let you know and explain why. Again, you can send Google’s documentation to your development team. Or, you can work with an SEO and web design company (like WebFX) that focuses on building responsive sites.
It’s helpful to work with an SEO and web design company, versus a dedicated web design agency, because these companies will ensure your design meets SEO best practices. Agencies that don’t incorporate SEO into their designs will often harm your SEO without realizing it.
Go with an experienced SEO and web design firm like WebFX to protect and help your SEO.
5. Write header tags for users and search engines
Header tags can range from H1s to H2s to H4s and appear in your content. Via header tags, users can skim your content and find the information they need fast. Search engines, meanwhile, can use header tags to build a better understanding of your content.
That’s why you want to write header tags for search engines and users. Your header tags should:
- Feature your core or related keywords
- Inform your reader about your content or content section
- Keep your content readable and easy-to-understand
When companies start using SEO, many will stuff headings with keywords and sacrifice the readability of their content. Keyword stuffing, however, will hurt your SEO and rankings. That’s why you need to prioritize and maintain the readability of your content, even if you have to sacrifice keyword density.
Your focus on users and search engines should also extend to your title tag.
6. Conduct outreach to build links
If you’re like most businesses, you need SEO help with link building.
Link building focuses on earning your website backlinks — or links from other sites to your website. While you can write fantastic content for your website, it’s not enough because of how much content exists on the Internet.
You need to conduct outreach and promote your content to get it noticed.
“Outreach is tough, so prepare to get zero replies and links from your efforts at the start.”
People often mark outreach and content promotion low on their list, but it’s an essential part of SEO. If you don’t build links to your website, your site will struggle to compete and rank in search results. You need to make time for this SEO optimization.
Get ready for outreach with the following steps:
- Create A+ content that offers unique value to your audience
- Research popular and niche industry sites, as well as journalists
- Compile a list of webmasters, journalists, and bloggers to contact
- Write personalized outreach emails that emphasize how your post helps the publisher
- Follow-up a few days after sending your outreach emails
Outreach is tough, so prepare to get zero replies and links from your efforts. As you gain more experience, though, you will begin to hear back from publishers and earn links to your website. Getting to that point, however, requires that you get started on your first outreach initiative.
In addition to outreach, you can also run paid promotions for your content.
For example, you launch a social media ad campaign for an infographic, white paper, or guide. Or, you can start a search ad via Google Ads to promote your content. You have options when it comes to online advertising.
7. Establish an internal linking process
Building an internal linking process can also help your SEO.
Internal links matter to SEO for a few reasons. First, links help users explore your website and stay on your website. Second, web crawlers, which assist search engines with crawling and indexing your site, follow links.
“When adding internal links, remember to make the links relevant. Don’t link to link.”
As your website grows with new content, it can become challenging for web crawlers to find your content. That’s why you want to establish an internal linking process now, versus later. You may decide, for instance, that every time you publish a new page, you will link to it from five existing pages.
When adding internal links, remember to make the links relevant. Don’t link to link.
Instead, think of your user and how that link and content would offer value to them. If they’re reading about car maintenance, for example, would they have an interest in whether they should buy winter or all-season tires?
Remember also to write descriptive anchor text, like “winter vs. all-season tires,” versus “click here.”
9 signs it’s time to ask for help with your SEO
Now that you understand how SEO works and why it’s important, let’s take a look at nine signs your site needs professional SEO help.
1. Your site doesn’t appear in SERPs for your most valuable keywords
When determining if your site needs SEO help, you’ll first want to check if your website ranks for keywords and phrases that are valuable to your business.
For example, if you provide construction equipment rentals, you’ll want your business to appear at the top of results when people search “construction rentals in [your location].”
If your site doesn’t rank in the top three search results, it’s a sign that you need help with SEO.
Maybe backhoe rentals are your greatest source of revenue. If so, your site should appear at the top of SERPs when people in your area search for backhoe rentals. If it doesn’t, investing in professional SEO help will allow you to capture and convert more leads.
Not sure what keywords and phrases are most valuable for your business?
Check out our video guide for conducting keyword research.
Identifying your most valuable keywords and determining if your site ranks for those terms will help you to decide if you need SEO help.
2. Your website doesn’t get much traffic
After you establish where your site ranks in SERPs, you’ll want to evaluate your organic website traffic — the number of visits your site receives from people who click your organic search listings.
To do this, you’ll want to enable Google Analytics on your site. Then, you can analyze your site’s organic traffic by:
- Navigating to the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics
- Clicking on “Overview” to see a breakdown of top channels
- Clicking “Organic Search” to evaluate the percentage of site traffic that comes from organic search
If organic search isn’t a top traffic driver for your site, it’s time to consider SEO help for your website.
3. Your traffic doesn’t convert
You’ll also want to pay attention to the number of conversions you receive from organic search.
If people visit your site but don’t convert, investing in SEO can earn you more conversions and customers.
Following the steps outlined above, click the “Organic Search” overview in Google Analytics and take a look at the percentage of traffic that converts from organic search.
If your conversion rate is low, you might need to adjust your keyword targeting strategy to reach more qualified leads — people who are most likely to purchase from your business.
SEO strategies help you improve the content on your website to help visitors find the information they need and ultimately contact you or purchase.
An SEO expert can help you diagnose conversion problems and make necessary optimizations to earn more sales and revenue.
4. Your site isn’t mobile responsive
Today, nearly 60 percent of online searches come from mobile devices.
Even if your site ranks in search results, you risk losing valuable leads and revenue if it isn’t mobile responsive.
To ensure that every user has a positive experience on your site, regardless of the device they use to access it, you need to ensure that it’s responsive. Not sure how your site displays on mobile devices?
Check out Google’s mobile-friendly test tool. If you don’t like what you see, investing in SEO help can allow you to create a site that not only ranks in search results, but also encourages clicks and conversions.
5. Your site isn’t HTTPS secured
In 2018, Google started labeling non-HTTPS sites as “Not secure” in browsers.
If you want customers to feel secure and comfortable browsing your site, you need to ensure that it features a “secure sockets layer” or SSL certificate. Sites with SSL certificates appear with closed padlock icons next to their URLs and include “https” vs. “http” in the URLs.
Essentially, SSL protects your customer’s sensitive information processed by your site.
While Google officially announced HTTPS as a ranking signal in 2014, it’s more important than ever since 30 percent of first page Google results use HTTPS.
If your site isn’t HTTPS secured, it’s time to consider professional help to improve your SEO.
6. You don’t use content marketing
If you want to rank at the top of search results, you need to create in-depth, comprehensive content.
Search engines like Google want to display valuable content that answers or matches users’ search queries, and if your site doesn’t provide that content, you’ll want to invest in SEO help.
Remember those valuable keywords you identified earlier? Content marketing allows you to create informative pages related to your most important keywords and phrases.
Not only does content marketing boost your rankings in search results, it helps leads learn more about your business and find the information they need to take the next step in the purchase journey.
Search engines and visitors alike love fresh content, so you’ll want to keep your site content updated on a regular basis. It’s important to remember that content marketing, like SEO, isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. If you want to see results from content marketing, you need to stick to a consistent content creation plan.
7. Your site has technical problems
You’ll also want to consider SEO help if your site experiences technical problems.
In addition to streamlining your site’s code, you’ll want to consider the following technical SEO elements.
Did you know that 40% of users will hit the back button if your website takes longer than three seconds to load?
Google confirmed page speed as a ranking factor, so if you want to see higher rankings, it’s time invest in SEO help to speed up your site. Not sure if your site speed is up to par?
Start by testing your speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
If you’re not happy with the results, don’t worry. WebFX offers page speed optimization services to ensure your site loads quickly and efficiently.
Duplicate content appears on your site in more than one place, and it creates problems for search engines and site owners. For example, if you have two pages that target “construction rentals in [your location]” and they contain nearly identical content, you have duplicate content on your site.
When your site includes duplicate content, search engines struggle to identify which version(s) of the content to index and display in search results. This dilutes the visibility of the pages since search engines choose one version to display.
If your site contains duplicate content, you risk incurring penalties from Google, and you could experience temporary de-indexing.
You can use multiple approaches for dealing with duplicate content including:
1. Using the rel=”canonical” tag to note the “preferred” version of a page
2. Using 301 redirects to point duplicate content to a single location.
For more in-depth information on how duplicate content impacts SEO, check out this helpful article.
In the meantime, you’ll want to seek professional SEO help to address duplicate content on your website.
The robots.txt file alerts search bots to areas of your website you don’t want crawled or indexed. Thought the robots.txt file is helpful for blocking areas of your site from appearing in search results, you need to be extremely careful to avoid a site-wide block.
If you want to learn more about how to effectively use robots.txt, consult an SEO agency like WebFX for help.
The blueprint for your website, an XML sitemap helps to ensure search engine crawlers don’t miss anything when indexing your site.
An XML sitemap speeds up the indexing process of your site and it’s important if you want Google’s index to accurately reflect your site content.
If you need help creating an XML sitemap and submitting it to Google via your Search console account, it’s time to consider SEO help.
For more technical SEO guidance, check out our technical SEO checklist for beginners.
8. Your site provides a bad user experience (UX)
In order to rank at the top of search results, your site needs to provide a positive user experience (UX) for visitors.
Major UX components like your site’s navigation and architecture play a crucial role in the information search process for visitors. If people can’t find the information they want on your site quickly and easily, they’ll waste no time hitting the back button to return to the SERPs.
Since Google considers dwell time when ranking websites, it’s important for your site to provide a positive UX to keep people engaged and active on your site.
In addition to streamlining your navigation, adding visual elements like photos and videos is a great way to boost your site’s UX appeal.
Without a positive UX, you won’t rank at the top of SERPs, so you’ll want to consult an SEO expert if your site’s UX is less than desirable.
9. Your site doesn’t have many backlinks
Search engines like Google consider the number and quality of backlinks pointing to your site when ranking it in search results.
When your site receives links from other authority sites, Google views those links as “votes” in favor of your site and its positive reputation. In other words, earning backlinks from reputable sites shows search engines that you’re an authority in your field — and they will rank you higher in search results.
Tools like Ahrefs allow you to analyze your site’s backlinks. If you want to improve SEO by earning more relevant backlinks, SEO services can help.
Tips for finding professional SEO help
If you made it this far and you’re ready to invest in professional SEO help, we have some tips (and a video!) to help you get started.
When choosing an SEO agency:
1. Make sure they practice what they preach
When looking for help with your SEO, you’ll want to make sure the agency practices what it preaches.
When you search “top/best seo services in [location],” does the agency appear? If an agency has problems ranking for services they provide, there’s a good chance they won’t help you achieve the SEO results you deserve.
Do your research, and make sure the agency you hire ranks at the top of the SERPs for SEO services.
2. Don’t fall for “cheap” SEO services
You’ll also want to be wary of companies that advertise “cheap” SEO services.
When it comes to SEO, and any digital marketing strategy for that matter, you often get what you pay for in terms of results.
While SEO services don’t need to break the bank, you want to invest in quality services that boost your rankings and earn the best possible ROI.
WebFX offers transparent SEO pricing so you can evaluate your options and choose a plan that works best for your business.
3. Review their portfolio, case studies, and testimonials
Finally, before making a decision, you’ll want to review their portfolio, case studies, and testimonials.
You want to work with an SEO agency that drives impressive results — and reviewing these elements allows you to get an idea of the results they’ve earned for clients.
If you notice less-than-stellar results or feedback, it’s a major red flag, and you’ll likely want to choose another agency.
Get professional help with your SEO
An award-winning SEO agency, WebFX offers custom SEO services to fit your business goals and budget.
In addition to our traditional SEO services, we also offer SEO help for:
- Local SEO
- Ecommerce SEO
- Amazon SEO
- And more
Check out an overview of our SEO plans and pricing now!
Our SEO plans work, too. In the last five years, we generated $3,021,182,299 in revenue for our clients and earned them more than 7,839,684 leads.
Don’t take our word for it, though! Take a look at 1020 testimonials from our raving clients.
Improve your SEO with WebFX
Ready for some professional help with your SEO?
Check out our award-winning SEO services and SEO pricing. If you like what you see, give us a call at 888-601-5359, or contact us online to speak with a strategist.
We’re excited to help you drive results with a custom SEO campaign!