Are you feeling like search engine optimization is way too hard and just not worth the effort? 

The truth is that while it is complicated, search engine optimization can be done! Today, we are going to review some of the basic SEO best practices and how to implement them on your website. 

What Does SEO Stand For?

If you have a website, you have probably heard the term SEO before but had no idea what it stood for and how to use it. SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is quite literally, the process of optimizing your website for search engines such as Google or Bing. 

What Are the Most Important SEO Ranking Factors?

Now, you are probably saying, “Great, now I know what SEO stands for, but how the heck do I implement it on my website?”. Before we go into how to implement it, I want to go over some of the most important ranking factors that Google has which include:

  • Search Intent
  • Website Usability
  • Site Speed
  • Mobile friendliness
  • Keywords
  • Backlinks
  • Social Signals
  • Technical SEO
  • Website Security

We won’t cover all of these ranking factors today, but we will go over some of the basic ways to help your website rank in Google. 

How Long Does It Take To Rank In Google?

Ranking in Google is no easy task. It can take a year or more to start seeing significant organic traffic to your website. If you have a brand new website, it will likely take at least a year to start seeing your website in the top 3 results. If your website is more established and you follow all of the ranking factors below, you should start to see some results in 4-6 months. 

Search engine optimization takes A LOT of time in the beginning, but it is worth it when you get free organic traffic to your website. The more (quality) content that you create, the more likely you are to start to rank for different keywords. 

Ranking Factor #1: Search Intent

Search intent is probably the most important ranking factor for Google today. When a searcher finds exactly what they are looking for, they are likely to come back to Google and your website for future questions. 

What is Search Intent in SEO?

Search intent is the reason behind a searcher’s question in Google or Bing. For example, if someone searches the term “SEO”, you have to figure out if they are looking for a “how to guide” or a definition of the term. To be safe, you might answer both questions! 

How to Optimize for Search Intent

While we will cover this more in depth in other blog posts, I will tell you that the easiest way to optimize for search intent is to search the term that you are trying to rank for. Look at how other blog posts are optimized and try to copy the structure. 

To go back to the example above, search the term “SEO” in Google and you will see 694 billion search results talking about SEO. The top few answers all define SEO and give a beginner’s guide You should copy this! 

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You can also look at the “people also ask” section for some of the questions that people are looking for when they search the term. I suggest trying to implement them into your post. 

What are the 4 common types of search intent?

There are 4 common types of search intent:

  • Informational intent
  • Navigational intent
  • Transactional intent
  • Commercial investigation

These 4 types of search intent fall under different steps of the buying process. If the searcher is looking for information, they likely aren’t quite ready to buy. They are just starting the process. 

If the user is searching for a navigational type search, they are probably slightly further along in the buying process. They would be searching something like “The MarketingU” to get to our website. 

Transaction intent is when the user is actually trying to buy something. They might be on Amazon searching for something very specific to buy. 

Lastly, there is commercial investigation. This is when people are very close to buying but just want to do a little extra research on different companies. 

Ranking Factor #2: Website Usability

Website usability is how easy it is for a user to navigate your website. When a user can easily get from one page to another, they are more likely to stay on your website for longer periods of time. 

Google uses website usability as a ranking factor because they want the user to have a pleasant experience when they get onto your website. They don’t want someone to enter your website and immediately click off because they can’t figure out how to use it. 

What Are the Four Main Areas of Web Usability?

According to the WCAG, there are 4 main principles of website usability:

  • Perceivable
  • Understandable
  • Navigable
  • Interactable 

This basically means that your website needs to be so easy to use that anyone can do it. 

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How Do You Increase Usability of a Website?

To increase the usability of your website, you need to: 

  • Reduce page load time
  • Be consistent across your website
  • Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
  • Have your logo in the top left corner of your website
  • Use headings and subheadings
  • Use buttons instead of links
  • Use lots of bullet points and tables
  • Use lots of images

I know it sounds like there are a lot of things you need to do to increase the usability of your website, but it will start to become second nature when you write new content for your website. 

Using headings, subheadings, bullets, tables, buttons, and images are things that help make your website more user friendly because when a user is looking at your website on a small screen, you want them to be able to skim through it. 

Using headings and subheadings prevents your page from looking like one long page of text. Bullet points help it become more skimmable. Lastly, images help to break up some of the text. 

Reducing your page load time may require some expert help. Removing WordPress plugins, minimizing your javascript and css, and compressing your images will help with this. If this doesn’t sound familiar to you, I highly suggest hiring a marketing agency like, The MarketingU to help so that you don’t break your website. 

Last, being consistent across your website and keeping your logo in the top left corner, helps to make your website look familiar for the user. When a website is familiar, the user will be able to navigate it easily. 

How to Track Website Usability

To track website usability, you may want to find a heat map software that will help you see where users are clicking on your website. We suggest Hotjar or CrazyEgg

Next, track the amount of time it takes for someone to fill out a form on your website. You want the form to be as short as possible so that it doesn’t scare the user away. 

Ask your customers! Customer feedback is the best way to track your website usability because they are the ones who are actually interacting with it! 

We will talk about this A LOT more in depth in other blog posts. 

Ranking Factor #3: SEO Keywords

If you are at all familiar with search engine optimization, you probably heard that keywords are a huge ranking factor for Google and other search engines! Well you would be partially correct. 

What are Keywords In SEO? 

Keywords are how Google knows what your website is all about. In the old days, when the internet first came around, you used to be able to just write your keyword over and over again. That does not work anymore! In fact, it can hurt your SEO efforts. 

How Do You Choose Keywords For SEO?

Google has tons of tools that will help you choose keywords for SEO. 

The first place you will probably want to go is to google.com. Start typing a word that you want to rank for and look at the suggested phrases. 

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These are all potential SEO keywords that I may want to try to rank for. 

Next, I would go into Ubersuggest, Ahrefs, or SEMrush and check the search volume and competitiveness of these keywords. The best keywords are ones with a high search volume and low competitiveness. 

Next, you will want to search for terms that are related to this keyword. This is called LSI keywords. In all 3 of these tools, you can see “also rank for” keywords. These are other keywords that you will want to implement into your blog post or website. 

Last, you want to start writing! The main places that you want to get your keyword into are the URL, meta title, meta description, first 100 words of your post, and at least 1-2 of the titles. Don’t force the keyword in, but try your best to use the keywords in all these spots. 

Ranking Factor #4: Backlinks In SEO

The last ranking factor that we are going to cover today is backlinks. Backlinks are considered one of the most difficult parts of an SEO’s job because they take so much rejection to get one. It is just like sales! 

What is a backlink on a website?

A backlink on a website is when one website links to another one. They can be used to provide the user with more information about a topic, direct them a statistic, or just be used to properly cite a quote. 

Why are Backlinks Important?

Backlinks are so important because they tell search engines like Google and Bing that your website provides valuable information. They help these search engines to trust your website and see that it is legit. 

Typically in order to rank, you will need multiple backlinks. Without them, Google may not trust the information that you have on your website. 

As important as it is to have links coming to your website, you also want outbound links. Outbound links tell google that you have done your research and are going more in-depth on a certain topic. 

How to Get Backlinks

There are so many methods to getting backlinks! You could:

  • Guest post on another blog
  • Do broken link research
  • Write skyscraper content 
  • Write a round-up post
  • Create an infographic
  • Get testimonials
  • Be part of a blogger review
  • Find unlinked brand mentions
  • Use HARO

These are all different ways to get backlinks in 2021. You can check out this article from backlinko to learn more about these methods. 

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No Follow vs Follow Links

In link building, there are no-follow links and there are do follow links. You want to aim for do follow links because they are the ones that show Google that other websites trust you. 

No follow links will have a rel=”nofollow” in the HTML tag. Social media posts and a lot of larger websites will provide no follow links. While they do not provide the “link juice” that do follow links provide, they can help boost your referral traffic and build your brand name. 

Do Follow links will not only provide the link juice that you are looking for, but they will also provide some extra referral traffic. 

To be successful in link building and SEO, you want a balanced backlink profile. 

In Conclusion

Although, we did not go over every single ranking factor in Google (because that would take hundreds of thousands of words), we went over some of the most important ones including search intent, website usability, keywords, and backlinks. 

If you implement each of these onto ranking factors onto your website, you will start to see results. 


Matt Reif

Matt Reif is a digital marketing expert that specializes in search engine optimization.He graduated from Millersville University in 2018 and has been working in the digital marketing space ever since. He went from working for a large multinational company, to working for a small but industry leading marketing agency where he did search engine optimization for car dealerships.