Ultimate Beginner's Guide to SEO

The Power of SEO and Building Up Your Link Portfolio the Right Way

By Rad Basta CEO @ Four Dots, Software Architect @ Base, Dibz and Reportz


Welcome to Ultimate Beginner's Guide to SEO Thank you for visiting our guide.

If you’re reading this, that most likely means that you are interested in taking your SEO skills to the next level and learning how to effectively use Base in your digital marketing strategies.

“The Power of SEO and Building Up Your Link Portfolio the Right Way” is where most of our users start, because this guide provides all the information needed to fully understand the capabilities and versatility of our unique link prospecting software.

After reading this guide, you’ll learn how to make Base an invaluable part of your future well-oiled SEO machinery.

This resource covers a little bit of SEO, offsite and onsite optimization, link building and link prospecting.

Without further delay, let's dig in!

The Restless Expansion of the Internet and the Ever-Growing Importance of Developing a Noticeable Online Presence

The world is developing at an increasing speed. Especially from a technological point of view. In this day and age, close to 2.5 billion people use smartphones. If you do the math, you’ll figure out that’s just a little bit over 36 percent of the world’s entire population.

Impressive, right?

And that’s just smartphones. What about other devices? What about tablets, laptops, desktop computers and all the other gadgets that now play a huge part in our daily routine?

Life has become vigorously computerized. People now communicate through social apps and email, organize daily tasks with the help of different tools, buy clothes online, stream business operations and logistics through different software - the list goes on and on.

Numerous researches predict that by the end of the year of 2020, a generation will have grown up in an entirely digital world, meaning they won’t remember a time without computers, smartphones, or the Internet. This particular generation is going to be entirely dependent on technology and advanced communication and information tools, both from social and from the business point of view.

Technology has changed our lives forever. The Internet alone has turned our world upside down and transformed how we think, interact, work and consume. By providing us with an endless sea of information and resources, the Internet has given us an opportunity to connect with the entire world and learn almost everything we want, just by using our fingertips.

A lot of people now embrace and accept digital transformation. Even the biggest skeptics understand the value of the Internet and its influence on our day-to-day lives.

However, a lot of people still fail to see the bigger picture. Especially those who are still struggling to understand the value of working on their online presence and securing top positions in search for their brand or products.

The expansion of technology and the Internet has affected 3 major areas of how we think and do business:

  • Consumerism - the Internet has forever changed how consumers think and interact with brands. It shifted the focus to the never-ending need for instantly available, high-quality information, products, and services. Modern consumers are looking to make educated purchasing decisions. Before they commit to a single option, they first search the Web and look at all the offers. Once they’ve examined all the options and learned everything they could about the service or product providers, only then do they select the one they’ll give their trust to.

    Consumers have more options now than ever before. They can do business with people and brands they genuinely like and respect. The Internet has made it possible for them to weigh their options. They are aware of their power and they know that brands will bend over backward to provide them with everything they demand to make their shopping experience as pleasant as possible.

    Aside from good service, brands are also obliged to provide relevant information, discuss topics online, develop loyalty programs, as well as do everything that can spark engagement and develop trust between them and their potential shoppers.

    This is happening because the Internet has allowed people to do business globally. Everything is accessible now, which is a direct reason why most brands are forced to constantly go head-to-head with each other for the same customers.

  • Digitalization - The quickening pace of the introduction of technological innovations has influenced the creation and improvement of various digital channels. This, of course, led to the reduction of the cost of owning and creating digital products and businesses. More and more entrepreneurs have acknowledged the value and cost efficiency of operating online, so they abandoned all traditional brick and mortar setups that would normally monopolize their budgets. A lot of them have made the full move to digital.

  • Economics - The age of hyper-connectivity and digitization has brought us significant financial perks and enabled the creation of new, often revolutionary technologies. Catching the wave of change in its earliest phases and making the most of new tech solutions is incredibly rewarding, both for companies and for consumers.

As you can see from everything written above, the ever-growing power of the Internet and technology has drastically changed how people consume and how they do business. We are living in the age of instant information. Google now processes more than 3.5 billion searches per day. That means that every second of every day, the engine responds to more than 40.000 queries from users around the globe.

That's a lot.

Digitalization and the expansion of the Internet have created a culture of endless choices and millions of competing messages. This is a double-edged sword for everyone who wants to do business online. It is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to promote their brand and make sales online. Even though Google conducts over 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide, people are still struggling to break through the noise, reach their targeted audiences and provoke engagement.

Gaining an edge on the competition has become a lot harder, but it’s still possible. With a little bit of strategy and understanding of the digital landscape, there’s a legitimate chance for brands to rise above their competitors and reach the right type of Internet users that have a high degree of probability of becoming their actual paying customers.

This is where SEO comes to shine.

The Mechanics of SEO

As we mentioned in our first guide, titled “Every Damn Thing You Need to Know About Backlinks”, SEO is all about helping your brand reach the right type of audience. It’s an ongoing process that helps you truly harness the full power of the Internet and make it your ally.

If you imagine Google as a giant store, any type of store - quality SEO would be the process of convincing the manager/owner of that establishment to place your product in the store’s window.

That way, it attracts attention as it is the first thing people see before stepping into the store. If you do your part right and make this product exciting enough - you’re probably going to make sales.

On the other hand, if you don’t do a good job of communicating the value of your products, that same owner will treat your merchandise as garbage and place it in the back, where most customers don’t ever go.

You don’t want that. Your goal is to grab your potential customers’ attention and remain in their eyesight. The same goes for your position in search, hence you need to invest a lot of time and effort into the optimization of your website for SERPs.

That is basically what SEO is all about. Search engine optimization is the process of earning and retaining good positions in Google’s search. It combines many techniques and strategies that could help you rise to the top of Google’s SERPs for your most lucrative keywords.

If you’re in need of a more detailed explanation, there are numerous guides online that can teach you everything you need to know about search engine optimization.

For example, MOZ has a great and extremely detailed guide about the fundamentals of SEO that is great for beginners.

But enough about that, let’s go back to our story:

Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve online, the no.1 goal of every digital marketing strategy directly or indirectly revolves around generating relevant traffic. You don’t just want any type of visits to your site. No. Your goal should be to chase traffic that has the most potential to result in conversions and sales. The idea is to get as many visits as possible from the people who actually have an interest in what you do and what you have to offer.

With a little bit of intelligent planning and a lot of hard work, you can achieve that with SEO. If you lay down the right foundation for your strategy, you’ll be able to improve your rankings in Google search and to position your website above thousands of other sites which are after the same traffic as you.

The Onsite and Offsite Sides of SEO

As you probably already know, search engine optimization is a term used to group and explain a series of different activities that can help users easily find your website and pages in search. Apart from that, these activities also help Google better understand your content and how to calculate your relevance for the topics and keywords you’re trying to rank.

In order to understand all the searches and figure out how to present their users with the best possible results for specific queries, search engines look at a variety of different factors. Google alone currently uses more than 200 different ranking factors to determine how to organize its results. Even though some are proven and others are just speculated about, every single one of these ranking factors is at least worth looking into.

The details of Google’s inner workings are still a mystery. The company has done a pretty good job of keeping their formula a secret. However, SEO experts have noticed numerous different things which can be considered reliable and legitimate tips and tricks for improving rankings in search. Google itself has hinted at many of these factors through its numerous algorithm update announcements.

Regardless of what you’re trying to achieve, it’s imperative to keep these 200 factors in mind when developing and optimizing your site for organic search visibility. As you’ll see when you open the list, all of those factors can be divided into two groups:

  • Onsite - Direct modifications to your website and pages, with the goal of making them Google-friendly.
  • Offsite - External factors crucial for promoting your website in search and generating more quality traffic. For instance, link building is an offsite tactic.

The whole onsite SEO game revolves around making it easier for Google bots to crawl your website and pages, and to determine how, where and for what to rank you in the search.

The Noob-Friendly Onsite SEO Checklist

If you’re interested in creating a perfectly optimized page, you need to focus on the following elements:

  1. Title tag - this is one of the most important onsite SEO factors. You need to tell the engine and the users what it is that you want to rank for. Use your main keyword in the title tag and try to keep it as close as possible to the beginning of the title, because that way it will have more weight with the search engine.

  2. URL - Make sure that your URLs are short, sweet, and keyword rich. Shorter URLs rank better in search.

  3. Headings - Google looks at H1 and H2 to learn about pages. They are an extremely important onsite SEO factor and should be used in proper order. Make sure to first insert your H1 tags. It’s not advisable to place H2 at the top of your pages. H1 and H2 should also contain keywords that are relevant to the content of that particular page.

  4. Multimedia - The engines like videos, images, and other types of media that enrich the user's experience of a particular page. They are known for decreasing bounce rates and improving site retention.

  5. Image alt text - Apart from providing alternative information for images that cannot be viewed by users for any number of reasons, alt attributes help Google understand what a particular picture is about and how to rank it in image search.

  6. Keyword density and placement - Practice has shown that a targeted keyword shouldn’t be used so frequently on a page as to account for more than 2-4 percent of its total word count, tops. When it comes to placement, the main keyword should appear somewhere in the first 100 words of the content.

  7. Responsive design - Google recently rolled out a new mobile-first indexing update, which is the company's latest effort to make the web more accessible to users who primarily use the world’s most popular search engine on their mobile devices. The mobile version of your site is now the first thing Google looks at when indexing your domain and pages and awarding you with rankings. This means that you need to do a terrific job of making your content, data structure, metadata, and everything else responsive and mobile-friendly.

  8. Internal and external links - Pages need links. Contextually connecting your page to related outside sources is a relevancy signal that helps the world’s most popular search engine understand your page’s topic. Just like the outbound, internal links are also valuable ranking elements. You can use them to direct the link juice flow on your site and intelligently promote your homepage or pricing pages. As a site admin, you have the power to create the structure that works best for your business by sending link equity to the pages that mean the most to you.

  9. Speed - Last year, Google announced that page loading speed is one of many factors that they look at when calculating how to rank those pages in search. It is speculated that Google might be measuring time to the first byte when determining the overall speed of pages. Having a slow page means that Google spiders will have difficulties crawling your content, which could negatively affect your indexation. Use the PageSpeed Insights tool to determine the speed of your page. If it’s below average, you might need to compress your images or talk to the people who are hosting your site.

  10. Quality content - If you want a page to rank well, you need to fill it with high-quality, original content. If you provide unique points about a chosen subject and write in accordance with all the SEO copy/content writing rules, you’ll have something that Google will most likely love.

  11. Duplicate content - Usually either refers to stolen content, i.e. copied from another website and republished without any significant changes; or to similar or identical text found on a number of your own pages. The former used to be a much bigger problem before Panda got efficient in penalizing link farms and other offenders, but the latter can still be an issue if you are not careful. Luckily, there are a number of ways to deal with duplicate content, including blocking in Robot.txt, using meta robots to assign noindex/follow tags, 301 redirects, canonical link tags, etc.

  12. Sitemap - A sitemap is an important part of every website. Sitemaps make it easier for visitors to navigate websites and they inform the search engines what the content on a page is about, how often it is being updated and how important it is when compared to other pages on the website. They help search engines understand the structure of the site and its links, which enables better and faster crawling.

  13. Keyword mapping - If you want to get on the engine’s good side, you need to invest quite a bit of time and effort into keyword mapping. This involves pairing the keywords you want to rank for in Google’s SERP with suitable, existing pages of your website, or just simply creating new pages and content with those keywords in mind. It is an essential element of every SEO strategy as it helps you improve your positioning in the SERPs and promote your values and relevance for particular queries as strongly as possible.

  14. Fetch as Googlebot - Even though this isn’t really a ranking signal, it’s important that I mention this tool in this particular part of the article. Fetch as Googlebot is a free utility that enables web admins to test how Google crawls their websites. Using this sweet tool, you’ll be able to understand how the engine sees and renders your pages. You’ll see if specific resources are blocking Googlebots and making it hard for them to do their job. Once you identify all the crawling errors, you’ll know what you need to do to make it easier for the search engine to read your pages.

That’s it for the onsite part of SEO. Of course, there’s a lot more to be said on the subject, but I’ll save that for another time. These are just the fundamentals, the basics to help you get started.

The Fundamentals of Offsite SEO

Even though I talked about onsite first, offsite is just as important. In a nutshell, offsite SEO refers to actions that you take outside of your website to improve its rankings in Google’s search. It can be more demanding than optimizing your onsite performance as it requires a lot of hard work and doesn’t revolve solely around you.

This process requires you to build up your relevance, authority, and trustworthiness in both the users’ and the engine’s eyes. Creating “off the page” resources that complement your “on page” efforts is the best way to improve your search engine rankings for relevant keywords. Offsite is mainly focused on promotion and on building relevant connections that increase the authority of your existing onsite elements.

Having that in mind, you could almost say that most offsite SEO strategies basically boil down to link building. Of course, you could do a lot more to influence your offsite SEO performance apart from building links for your domain and pages, but this is the most important and the most efficient strategy for earning better positions in search.

Links are the glue that holds web pages together. Even though the mechanics of how Google works still remain a mystery for the most part, we are 100 percent sure that the engine uses links to determine the value of a particular piece of content, page or a website.

Regardless of the fact that earning high-quality links for your domain or specific pages sounds like a pretty straightforward plan, in reality, it’s a lot more complicated than most people think.

As you probably know, not all links are created equal. The amount and type of value that they are bringing to your site can vary quite a bit.

If you want to achieve success with your link building and outrank your direct and indirect competitors, you need to bulk up your backlink portfolio.

And I mean really bulk it up.

Better links from better resources - that’s the only way to rise above your rivals in search, assuming that your onsite SEO game is on point.

Generating a steady flow of quality inbound links is a process that demands a lot of up-front thinking and planning.

Finding adequate link prospects can be difficult enough on its own. This is why we wrote a guide dealing with link prospecting and link building through guest blogging. If you read the guide, you’ll see that searching for relevant link opportunities is an exhausting process that requires a lot of manual work. Apart from turning the entire Web inside out to find opportunities, you also need to organize them according to relevance or other criteria.

Link building is among the essential components of any effective SEO strategy. In order to optimize your link-building workflow, you need to improve and speed up Link Management processes. The industry standard for these tasks has so far involved using Google Sheets. Lots and lots of sheets, docs and tables that create a complex and messy ecosystem of records, sheets and reports, providing heavy and long-lasting headaches even to the most organized SEOs.

This is where Base comes to save the day.

Thanks for taking the time to read this massive post from top to bottom, I hope it helped you better understand the need and value of improving your authority and visibility in Google’s SERP.

See you again soon,

Rad @


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