SEO tutorial for beginners: How to start with SEO?

Now is the time to start with SEO. If you want your customers to find online too, you need to rank high. What to do? How do you get started with SEO? Or, how do you start with SEO on a brand new site? In this blog post, I’ll talk you through the 7 steps you need to take in order to get your SEO strategy up and running. 

How to start with SEO?

So, you’ve started your first site and you want it to be found, so you can share your thoughts and views with the world. What to do? Let’s go through the steps of starting with SEO!

  1. Install Yoast SEO

    Provided that your website is on WordPress, installing Yoast SEO should be the first step in your SEO strategy. Our Yoast SEO plugin will help you to make sure your website is crawlable and findable. Yoast SEO will immediately take care of some technical SEO issues, just by being installed on your website. Besides that, our plugin will help you to construct your website in such a way that Google will understand and rank it. We offer a free and a premium plugin. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably won’t need our premium version yet, although it can already save you some valuable time.

  2. Get that first link

    Google needs to know your website exists. And, in order for Google to know about your awesome new site, you need at least one external link towards your site. The reason for this: Google crawls the web. It follows links and saves all the webpages it finds in a very large database called the index. So, if you want to get into that index, you need (at least) one external link. So make sure to get that link from an external website!

  3. What do you want to rank for?

    Make sure to attract the right audience to your website. Who are your customers? For whom did you build this website? What terms do your customers use when searching on Google? And what’s their search intent, what kind of content are they looking for? Find out as much as you can about your audience.

    SEOs refer to this stage as doing your keyword research. This is a hard and important phase. There are a lot of helpful tools that make doing keyword research easier. Some of these tools are free, others are rather expensive. While these tools will make the difficult phase of keyword research easier, you should remember that you can’t outsource your keyword research to a tool. You really need to think about your audience and about the search terms they are using. It’s also important to analyze what you’re seeing in the search results pages when entering your keywords. Take your time for this phase. It is crucial. If you do your keyword research correctly, you’ll come up with a long list of keywords you want to rank for.

  4. Set realistic goals

    For a new site, it is rather hard to rank high in the beginning. Older sites already have a history, established their authority and a lot of links pointing towards them. That means that Google’s crawlers come by more often at older sites. For a new site to rank, you’ll always need to be a little patient. And remember: some search terms will be out of reach for a new site because there’s too much competition. Trying to rank for [WordPress SEO] will be rather hard for any new blog, because of some fierce competition on that term from

    If you’re just starting with your site, try to aim at ranking for long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are keywords that are longer and more specific and have far less competition than the popular head keywords. After a while, when your site starts to rank for the long-tail keywords, you could try and go after the more head keywords.

  5. Internal linking

    As I already mentioned in step 2, Google follows links. Google also follows the links on your website, your internal linking structure. It crawls through your website following the internal linking structure of your site. That structure is like a guide to Google. Make sure your internal linking structure is flawless. That’ll help with your ranking. 

    If you start with a brand new website, you’ll probably don’t have much content yet. This is the perfect time to think about structure. Now it is relatively easy. It’s like having a new closet and you haven’t started buying clothes. Now is the time to think about the things you want to put on the top shelf and which items you want to hide in the back of your closet. So, decide which pages are most important to you. What are the pages you want to rank with? Make sure that these pages have the most internal links pointing towards them.

  6. Start writing

    In order to get ranked, you need to have content. A very important step in how to start with your SEO is to write amazing content for all these search terms you want to be found for. The content analysis in the Yoast SEO plugin will help you to write that content. Our analysis will help you to write a text that is both readable and SEO friendly.

    While you’re writing, make sure to use the words you want to be found for. Use them in headings and in the introduction and conclusion of your text. After writing your text, you should optimize your SEO title and your meta description. The Yoast SEO plugin will help you to do all these things.

  7. Get those links!

    External links are important to get your site in high positions in those search engines. But gathering those external links can be a hard process. Make sure to write content people want to share and link to. Original ideas and great, valuable content will make the chance that people would want to share that much bigger.

    Of course, reaching out to people and making them aware of your awesome website and product can be a good strategy to get those external links too. Read more about a successful link building strategy or find out what link building is first.

And then what?

The truth is that SEO is more than these 7 steps. This is only the very beginning, the steps you take to start with SEO. In order to get longterm high rankings in the search engines, you need to do hard work. Your content has to be amazing, your site structure has to remain flawless (and that’s challenging when your site is growing) and you’ll have to keep earning those external links. The only way to really do that, in the long run, is to make sure that your audience enjoys visiting your website. So, if you want to rank the highest, make sure your site is the very best. Good luck!

Read more: WordPress SEO the definitive guide »

15 Responses to SEO tutorial for beginners: How to start with SEO?

  1. bests5
    bests5  • 11 months ago

    How many SEO keywords per page?

  2. AnnaWharton
    AnnaWharton  • 12 months ago

    Informative article. Solved all my queries to SEO as a beginner.

  3. Shivam Yadav
    Shivam Yadav  • 12 months ago

    Starting my link building journey from here only as this is the first article I read in order to do SEO. Thank you for providing such a great piece of information.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 12 months ago

      You’re very welcome, Shivam! Good luck on all your SEO efforts!

  4. Amanda
    Amanda  • 12 months ago

    I actually find building internal links fun. It’s a little time-consuming because I can’t afford Yoast Premium (we’re an information website/blog with no revenue), but I enjoy it anyway.

    I have a question, though. Well, a few questions.

    If my website has a lot of content that has poor readability, or if there is some duplicate content (both due to extensive quoting of historical authors), will that have a negative impact on a post’s ability to rank, even though that post is entirely original and has a green dot for both SEO score and readability? Or does Google rank each page/post for its own merits, without reference to other content on the same website?

    And would my overall site SEO be affected by whether those other posts have been optimized or not (i.e. if I did not optimize them, would that reduce or increase their influence on my site’s SEO)?

    I know that Google’s system is a bit complicated, so I thought I’d ask the experts. :) Thank you!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 12 months ago

      Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment! Let me try to answer your questions:
      Firstly, don’t worry too much about red dots: if your overall dot is green, your post is good to go. The dots are there to guide you, but it’s up to you to take things like your audience, writing style, etc, into account. Maybe you’ll find this post and this posthelpful.
      Secondly: about pages with some duplicate content: it could harm your chances to rank, if they’re too similar, because then, Google won’t know which page to show. It depends on how much is similar, really. If you read up on content cannibalization, you’ll probably be able to determine whether that’s the case for you.
      As for pages affecting your overall SEO: having low-quality content could negatively impact how Google sees your site, but otherwise, you may be overthinking things (if I understand your question correctly). If you work on writing great content, things are good under the hood and you have a proper site structure, you’re already well underway ;-) Hope that helps, good luck!

      • Amanda
        Amanda  • 12 months ago

        Thank you, Willemien. I was more concerned about duplicate content as in content that is also on other websites (that quote the same authors we do – there are a lot of them). I don’t think there is any duplicate content within our own site, so we shouldn’t have to worry about content cannibalization, at least.

        Based on your answers, though, it looks like the posts with poor readability might have a negative impact on the site overall, but not a very big one, as long as the posts I do optimize are high quality. I’ll try to get more high quality posts up to balance out the ones with poor readability.

        Thank you for taking the time to answer me! :)

  5. saberk
    saberk  • 12 months ago

    thank you for dear yoast
    i have 1 questions about

    i have store and i have 10000 product
    i use yoast but i didnt wrote focus keyphrase for 10000 product
    now what im to do ? i cant import 10000 Manually in yoast because is very long time.
    can i copy all off 10000 products subject to focus keyphrase ? this true or mistake ?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 12 months ago

      Hi! I’m not sure what your question is, exactly, could you clarify what you want to do? Keep in mind, by the way, that you don’t have to fill in your focus keyphrase in Yoast SEO for a page to be able to rank. It’s simply to help you optimize individual pages for your keyphrase.

      • saberK
        saberK  • 12 months ago

        thank you dear

        I have 10,000 products and I thought I had to write a keyword for each one to rank better on Google and it was really difficult and time consuming for me.

        so You mean that focus keyphrase didnt Impact on Google’s position?
        and Is it for our better review and conclusion in the WordPress panel and Good article writing?

        • Edwin Toonen
          Edwin Toonen  • 12 months ago

          Hi, well it depends. Do you have 10.000 unique products or are there a lot of variants (like sizes, colors etc) as well? If so, try to make one great product page collecting all variants on it. Don’t forget to add a canonical link to all the variants pointing to the new product page. Always try to write great content for these pages that differs from the standard content provided by the companies whose products you sell. Also, instead of trying to rank 10.000 products, it might be a better idea to create an awesome category page and get that to show in search.

  6. Jerry Wong
    Jerry Wong  • 12 months ago

    Is it true that google’s new update is now counting the do-follow and no-follow links in a same way?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 12 months ago

      Hi Jerry! That’s almost right: since this month, no-follow is considered a hint rather than a directive. That means that Google could follow no-followed links, but it would still note the no-follow hint that wouldn’t be there for do-followed links (if you’re still following me ;-))

  7. nada saida
    nada saida  • 12 months ago

    Hello, what happend with Traffic these days? It is because of coronavirus?

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 12 months ago

      Hi Nada! We’re seeing a dip in traffic here, too. It could well be that the current situation around COVID-19 means people (understandably) have other priorities.