A 16-Step SEO Plan for Beginners That Gets Results

Person with a plan beginning to climb.

Launching a new website?

First, and maybe most important, there is no “easy button.” There are hundreds of algorithm variables, trillions of websites, and more keywords with variable intent than we can count.

There are far more than 16 steps followed by a seasoned SEO expert. But to keep this simple for you, I have laid out a series of steps with detailed articles on each. This SEO plan for beginners will guide you in the right direction and help you get the ball rolling with your search engine optimization. Let’s dive in.

  1. Do keyword research
  2. Refine the keywords set
  3. Finalize the keyword set 
  4. Do a competitive analysis
  5. Structure the website
  6. Follow technical SEO strategies
  7. Optimize the site for mobile
  8. Write the content
  9. Optimize the content
  10. Create and optimize rich media content
  11. Create an XML sitemap
  12. Submit the website to search engines
  13. Attract quality links
  14. Avoid search engine penalties
  15. Monitor backlinks and remove as needed
  16. Monitor progress

FAQ: Can you explain the key steps in an SEO plan for beginners?

1. Do Keyword Research

Use SEO tools and analytics to discover what people are typing or saying as they look for the information, products, or services you offer.

Learn more about keyword research.

2. Refine the Keyword Set

Evaluate your potential keywords by finding the websites currently ranking for those terms. If the websites that show up in the search results have similar information, products, or services as you, the keyword is likely relevant enough.

Learn more about evaluating keywords by looking at the competition.

3. Finalize the Keyword Set

Organize your keywords by category (topics, products, services, etc.). Once you do this, it will be a guide to organizing your website and its content. (I’ll touch on that soon.) Have a good mix of broad and long-tail keywords. And think about how you will combine keywords on pages.

Learn more about choosing keywords.

4. Do a Competitive Analysis

Analyze the webpages and sites that are ranking for your desired keywords to find out what they are doing so you can meet or beat them.

Learn more about competitive analysis.

5. Structure the Website

Organize your website content in a way that communicates your expertise and authority on a topic to search engines, and allows your audience to find what they need.

Learn more about structuring a website through siloing.

6. Follow Technical SEO Strategies

Make sure your site is set up for search engines to crawl and index easily. (And to create a good user experience). This cannot be overlooked.

Learn more about technical SEO.

7. Optimize the Site for Mobile

Create a mobile-friendly site so that you offer a good experience to mobile users and have a better chance of ranking.

Learn more about mobile SEO and UX optimization.

8. Write the Content

Write original and compelling content that your audience (and Google) will love and want to share.

Learn more about key considerations when writing content.

9. Optimize the Content

Make your content perform even better with some best practices in content creation, SEO copywriting, and page optimization.

10. Create and Optimize Rich Media Content

Create a better user experience and have the opportunity to gain more visibility in the search results by using images, videos, and other rich media.

11. Create an XML Sitemap

Create an XML sitemap so that search engines can crawl and index the website better.

Learn more about how to create an XML sitemap.

12. Submit the Website to Search Engines

This is an optional step but a good idea in many cases. Especially for new websites.

Learn more about submitting a website to search engines.

13. Attract Quality Links

Follow a link-earning (not link-building) strategy that will get people to link to your website’s content.

Learn more about attracting quality links.

14. Avoid Search Engine Penalties

Know what it takes to create a website that is in compliance with search engine guidelines, so you can avoid penalties that can reduce or stop organic traffic to your site.

Learn more about avoiding Google penalties.

15. Monitor Backlinks and Remove as Needed

Monitor the links that point to your site from other websites so that you can ensure they are quality. If they are not, you’ll want to get rid of them.

Learn more about monitoring links.

16. Monitor Progress

Monitor performance indicators like search engine rankings, organic traffic to your site, and conversions coming from the organic search channel.

Learn more about how to monitor SEO progress.

Finally, loop! When you are done going through this SEO plan for beginners once, start again knowing that you can win through effort.

For more SEO strategies and tactics, access our great SEO Guide to learn how to do search engine optimization now.

FAQ: Can you explain the key steps in an SEO plan for beginners?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the cornerstone of digital marketing, but for beginners, it can seem like an intimidating labyrinth of technical jargon and strategies. Don’t worry, we’ll break down the essential steps to kickstart your journey into the world of SEO.

  1. Keyword Research:

Begin by identifying keywords relevant to your niche. Tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush can help you find high-traffic keywords with manageable competition.

  1. Competitor Analysis:

Study your competitors’ websites to see what keywords they’re ranking for and the content they produce. This can provide valuable insights into your own strategy.

  1. On-Page Optimization:

Optimize your website’s meta titles, descriptions, and headers with the chosen keywords. Ensure your content is high-quality, well-structured, and includes internal links.

  1. Mobile Optimization:

With mobile usage on the rise, make sure your website is mobile-friendly. Google prioritizes mobile-first indexing, so this step is crucial.

  1. Technical SEO:

Check for broken links, improve site speed, and ensure proper indexing of your website through Google Search Console.

  1. Content Creation:

Regularly publish high-quality, engaging content that addresses the needs and interests of your target audience. Content is king in SEO.

  1. Link Building:

Acquire backlinks from reputable websites. Guest posting, outreach, and creating shareable content are effective strategies.

  1. Social Media Integration:

Share your content on social media platforms to increase visibility and drive traffic back to your website.

  1. Monitor and Analyze:

Use analytics tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console to track your website’s performance. Adjust your SEO plan based on the data.

  1. Local SEO:

If you have a physical presence, optimize your website for local searches. Claim your Google My Business listing and encourage customer reviews.

  1. User Experience (UX):

Improve your website’s user experience to reduce bounce rates and increase engagement. This includes easy navigation and fast load times.

  1. Schema Markup:

Implement structured data on your website to enhance how your content appears in search results.

  1. SSL Certificate:

Ensure your website has an SSL certificate for secure browsing, which can boost search rankings.

  1. Content Updates:

Regularly update and refresh existing content to keep it relevant and up-to-date.

  1. SEO Audits:

Perform regular SEO audits to identify and address any issues hindering your website’s performance.

  1. Patience and Persistence:

Remember, SEO takes time to yield results. Be patient and stay consistent with your efforts.

By following these key steps in your SEO plan for beginners, you’ll lay a strong foundation for improving your website’s visibility in search engine results.

Step-by-Step Procedure: Crafting an Effective SEO Plan for Beginners

  1. Begin with Keyword Research.
  2. Analyze Your Competitors.
  3. Optimize On-Page Elements.
  4. Ensure Mobile Optimization.
  5. Tackle Technical SEO.
  6. Create High-Quality Content.
  7. Build Backlinks.
  8. Leverage Social Media.
  9. Monitor and Analyze Performance.
  10. Focus on Local SEO.
  11. Enhance User Experience.
  12. Implement Schema Markup.
  13. Secure Your Website with SSL.
  14. Regularly Update Content.
  15. Conduct SEO Audits.
  16. Exercise Patience and Persistence.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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8 Replies to “A 16-Step SEO Plan for Beginners That Gets Results”

amazing content briefly explains and what a wonderful way to the way these complex things I can’t find this type of article on SEO on the internet. thank you soo much <3

nice article the above SEO checklist is soo great and will always work SEO is evergreen.

The unique thing about solo technology is that we consider our CUSTOMERS are our Biggest Assets. We never compromise on this asset. We always take their views into consideration of our blogs. We have a special team of people to manage relations with the audience. From reading the comments to auditing customer reviews, we have got everything in our hands.

Paula Allen

Solo: Your customer-driven philosophy is refreshing. Great job.

This is really a insightful checklist to follow and do smart SEO, Thanks!

Where you say “Attract Quality Links” do you have like a blue print or should you try and follow the links of the front pages?

This a actually like a great SEO checklist. I think maybe you can add page speed optimization to your plan list. Anyways I love this piece of article. Thanks for sharing.

Im so glad i stumbled upon your blog there are so many gems in the blogs you have here. Im a small but successful SEO expert in Perth and its great to see some straight forward and easy to understand blogs on the topic of SEO. I for one love it

I have one question do you recommend any particular ways in which to scope a link building campaign. I find that this is something that not a lot of people understand and id love a expert opinion on how to go about this.


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