Guitar Dexterity Exercises for Beginners

guitar dexterity
Find here some useful exercises for guitar dexterity for beginners. Practice and learn how to get your fingers to do what you want them to do!

What is Guitar Dexterity?


Let’s talk about guitar dexterity! According to Webster’s dictionary, dexterity is, “the readiness and grace in physical activity; especially the skill and ease in using the hands”. Well, that obviously applies to us, guitar players; the more you do a particular exercise or movement, the better you become. In fact, our brains are designed in such a way that it’s impossible for you to not get better when you practice. That means that any amount of playing on the guitar whatsoever is beneficial!

Now when we practice specifically, deliberately and with repetition, we end up gaining a lot of control over our fingers – or anything else that we set our mind to, for that matter. Since our thumb is located so close to our first and second fingers, our third and fourth fingers don’t get called on for the same amount of tasks throughout the day. For this reason, EVERYONE’S third and fourth fingers tend to be lazy when playing guitar. You thought it was just you? Nope! Hendrix, Van Halen, Vai, and any other player that you can think of had to develop their third and fourth fingers with exercises just like this; many times, these exact same exercises.


Guitar Dexterity Exercise

The following exercise was specifically designed to strengthen your fingers and hands, increase your speed, and sharpen your technique. I have used these exercises and have found them to be extremely beneficial!

Get your fingers moving and use a metronome to try to increase your speed as you practice – I advise you to download this app called GuitarTuna to tune your guitar and to use the metronome:

Guitar dexterity exercise 1
Alternate Picking Exercise 1

Try to use the following variations on the above “1”, “2”, “3”, “4” picking exercise:

Guitar dexterity exercise 1 alternation

Make sure that you’re using the appropriate finger on the appropriate fret throughout the exercise. For instance, when you start playing frets two and three, make sure you are using fingers two and three. When you’re playing frets three and four, make sure you are playing with fingers three and four.


Tips to Gain Dexterity on the Guitar

Play on your fingertips

First of all, playing on your fingertips makes a guitar player faster and more efficient. That is, the more you play on your fingertips the lighter your touch will be and the less hand fatigue you will experience. Guitar players that play on their fingertips tend to play chords cleanly. Guitar players that play on the pads of their fingers tend to play chords sloppily.

Play the notes right behind the fret

Secondly, playing right behind the fret requires much less pressure than playing further back. Think about the leverage of a seesaw. The position of the fulcrum – that part under the center of the seesaw that balances it – determines how much leverage you have. So, if the fulcrum is in the correct place, a small child can easily lift a large man off the ground. Similarly, leveraging your finger closer to the fret will allow you to play more quickly and efficiently.

Play with all your fingers

Thirdly, playing with all your fingers is very important because, as you become a more accomplished guitar player, you will most likely be playing faster and/or more complex arrangements. Running out of fingers sucks! So be proactive and use that third and fourth finger!

Leave space between the palm and the guitar neck

Lastly, it’s helpful to leave some space between the palm of your fretting hand and the guitar neck because it allows you to more easily play on your fingertips and ultimately have more control of your hand. At first, this can be a little awkward. Most beginners grab the guitar neck like a shovel and their thumb comes right over the neck!


In conclusion, if you ask me “how long should I practice this exercise for?”, I would pose this question, “how good do you want to get?” Obviously, the more you practice, the better you’ll become. In fact, if you want to become fast, you should practice it a lot. Alright, enough talk. Off you go!

Check other posts I’ve written about playing the guitar in the Guitar section of my blog

How to Read a Guitar Tab for Beginners

how to read a guitar tab
A guitar tab shows you the strings and frets that are to be played, as well as some techniques that are to be applied, such as slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, vibrato, etc. Let’s learn how to read a guitar tab!

What is a guitar tab or tablature?

A guitar tab is a system of notation that graphically represents music by showing you the strings and frets that are to be played. It also can show some degree of “feel” or technique with slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slurs, vibrato, etc. I prefer to read tabs, since these are somewhat of a shortcut system and much easier to read than standard music notation!

How do I read a guitar tab?

In tabs, a note is represented by placing a number (which indicates the fret to play), on the appropriate string. One thing that tablature does not illustrate is the duration of notes. It does not tell you how long a note should be held out. That being said, most people don’t use tablature unless it’s a song that they already know and can hum, so that part becomes less of an issue, except with more intricate parts.

Each line represents a string on the guitar. The thickest string is the bottom line and the thinnest string is the top line. So basically, it’s the opposite of the way that you think it might be. One way to remember this is to think of the higher lines as the higher pitched strings and the lower lines as the lower pitched strings.

Guitar tab

The numbers placed on those lines represent the frets. Tablature does NOT tell you what fingers to use. That is where a good guitar instructor or proper technique comes in handy!

When numbers are placed vertically like below, you will play them like a chord, as in a strum. Below is a G major chord.

guitar tab notes

Guitar Tab Symbols

The following tablature symbols that you will find on a guitar tab represent various techniques:

h – hammer ontr – trill
p – pull-offT – tap
b – bend stringTP or 3 diagonal lines under note – tremelo picking
/ – slide upPM – palm muting
\ – slide down\n/ – tremelo bar dip; n=amount to dip
v – vibrato (sometimes written as ~)\n – tremelo bar down
t – pick hand tapn/ – tremelo bar up
Harm – natural harmonic/n\ – tremelo bar inverted dip
A.H. – artificial harmonic< > – volume swell (louder/softer)
A.T. – tapped harmonicx – on rhythm slash represents muted slash

Main Guitar Techniques

I’ll give you a short description of all the techniques mentioned in the table but, really and truly, you just need to focus on the first 5 or 6 techniques if you’re a beginner – I rarely use the other ones!

Hammer On

A “hammer-on” is a technique performed by sharply bringing a fretting-hand finger down on the fingerboard behind a fret causing a note to sound. For our example here, you would pick the fifth fret and hammer the seventh or eighth fret as indicated. As the name indicates, hammer your finger in a quick snapping motion so that the string does not have time to fade out.

hammer on guitar tab

Pull-Off

A “pull-off” is the opposite of a hammer-on. A pull-off is a technique performed by plucking a string by “pulling” the string off the fingerboard with one of the fingers being used to fret the note. For our example here, you would pick the seventh or eighth fret as indicated and pull-off to the fifth fret. As its name indicates, pulling your finger off the fingerboard in a snapping motion causes the string to vibrate as if picked.

pull off guitar tab

Bend

A bend is represented by the symbol ‘b’ or an arrow bending up or down. A bend occurs when the guitarist physically pushes the string across the fret board causing a change in pitch. Since bend vary in duration and style, often times each arrow is illustrated differently. Often times, the word “full”, or “1/2” will be written along with this, indicating that the note should be bent up either one whole-step or one half-step. Bends of larger intervals can occur. Typically the actual pitch change will be denoted.

bend technique

Slide-Up/ Slide-Down

A slide-up occurs when a note is picked and slid up to another note. The second note is not picked, but instead is still vibrating from the previous pick and the agitation of the string during the slide. Opposite of a slide-up, a slide- down occurs when a note is picked and slide down to another note.

Slide technique

Vibrato

Vibrato is a pulsating effect by bending the string in a rhythmic fashion. This technique is created by bending the string up and down rhythmically or shaking the string. This effect works best after a string is picked.

vibrato technique

Tapping

The tapping technique is similar to a hammer-on, except it is done with the picking hand. It is almost always followed by a pull-off. The technique is performed when the picking hand taps the string hard enough to push the string against the fret creating a note to sound at that specific fret.

Tapping technique

Other Guitar Techniques

Harmonic (Natural)

A harmonic is a “chimed” string. This technique is produced by plucking the string while lightly touching the string over the indicated fret. The fret is not actually played in the traditional sense. When done correctly, a chime-like sound will be produced.

Harmonic (Artificial)

Artificial harmonics are also known as a pseudo-harmonics, pinch-harmonics or “squealies.” This technique requires allowing the string to lightly graze the side of your thumb after picking it. Don’t try to over-think the process. When you pick a note, allow your thumb to keep traveling towards the string until it mutes it. Once you get the hang of that, try letting the thumb just barely touch the string. If done properly, you will hear a slight chime.

Trill

The term “trill” is typically used when referring to a continuous back-and-forth, hammer on and pull-off of two notes.

Tremolo Picking

Tremolo picking refers to fast, repetitive picking on one note. This technique is achieved by quickly picking a note up and down. Typically tremolo picking refers to single notes (not chords).

Palm Muting

Palm muting refers to the muting of strings with the picking hand in order to create a percussive or staccato (sharp attack) effect on notes or chords. This technique is achieved by placing the picking hand palm on the bridge of the guitar just where the strings meet the bridge. Backing the hand further towards the bridge creates a more standard, open sound. Moving the hand slightly closer to the strings will create a tighter, more closed-type sound.

Tremolo Tricks

Slash used this technique to move the note down or up, or both in some fashion. Often times the targeted note will be denoted by the fret number, meaning that the designated fret number should be the desired pitch.

Volume Swell

This notation is used in tablature, musical notation and charts. Changing the volume can obviously be done in numerous ways.


Here is where I look for the guitar tabs whenever I want to learn how to play a song. Check it out now!

You can also check other posts I’ve written about guitars in the Guitar section of my blog

Time to Learn the Musical Alphabet!

Musical alphabet
No matter what your goals are as a guitarist, knowing the notes on the guitar will be a huge help in your journey. This roadmap will show you where you can find each note, so you can take your playing to the next level!

Musical Alphabet

Are you familiar with the musical alphabet? At some point along your guitar journey, you’ve probably wondered, “What are the notes on the guitar?” Whether you want to learn how to improvise rock solos or play perfect classical etudes, knowing the notes on the guitar will be a huge help in your journey!

This roadmap will show you where you can find each note, so you can take your playing to the next level. No matter what your goals are as a guitarist, knowing which notes you’re playing will help you communicate musical ideas and learn new techniques in a more efficient way.


Musical Alphabet

The musical alphabet goes from A to G (there is no “H, I, J” etc.)

Half-steps / Whole-steps

A half-step is the distance between one fret and the next on the guitar
A whole-step is equal to two half-steps or two frets distance

Sharp (#) / Flat (b)

A sharp(#) is when we raise a pitch by a half step
A flat(b) is when we lower a pitch by a half step

Every note from A to G has a sharp, except for B and E:

musical alphabet
Wheel, representing the notes going up (sharp) and down (flat)

So the musical alphabet reads like this:

A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#

Together, these 12 notes form the chromatic scale. A scale is a sequence of notes in which no note is repeated and all notes are played in ascending order from lowest to highest.

Seven of the notes – C, D, E, F, G, A, B – have unique letter names. These notes are called natural notes. Five of the notes do not have unique names, but are instead named for where they fall in relationship to these seven. Notes like C♯ (C sharp) or G♭ (G flat) are called accidentals.


Open Strings

The 6 open strings on your guitar for standard tuning are E, B, G, D, A, E (from high to low)

Memorize the sentence “Elephants And Donkeys Grow Big Ears” or “Eddie Ate Dynamite, Good-Bye Eddie”. This will help you remember the order of the open strings in standard tuning!

So now that you know which each note each string starts, you can look at the musical alphabet in the wheel above and find all the ones notes!

These are all the notes that you have on the fretboard:

notes freatboard musical alphabet

On the 12th fret, you’ll go back to the same letter/ note that you played with the string open, but now you’ll be playing an octave higher.

You can try to learn what the notes on the guitar are in a fun way. Try a game of guitar note hide-and-seek! This game is simple: Pick a note and try to find where it is on every string. Then, see if you can play them one after another in rhythm! It may sound easy at first, but it takes some practice.


Major Scale

Major Scale: W W H W W W H

(W= whole-step / H= half-step)

Scale Steps

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (or 1)

Have you heard the vocal exercise “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do”? Those are the musical steps for the major scale…or “Do Re Mi” by Julie Andrews in “Sound of Music”? That is a song based on the Major Scale steps. It is VERY important to learn the major scale if you want a good foundation for learning everything else on the guitar. It is the basis of music theory which is the field of study that deals with the mechanics of music and how music works.


Basic Definitions

Interval

An interval is the distance between two notes.

The interval from a low “C” to a higher “C” is an octave. The octave is the basic source of pitch, with all other pitches created by dividing it into smaller pieces, called steps

Chord

A chord is formed when 3 or more notes played together

Arpeggio

An arpeggio is a broken chord, or notes from a chord played apart from each other

Major Chord / Minor Chord

Major Chord: 1st, 3rd and 5th scale steps / notes from the Major Scale 1,3,5 (sound is happier)
Minor Chord: 1st, b3rd and 5th scale steps / notes from the Major Scale 1,b3,5 (sound is sadder)


For many beginning guitarists, learning the notes on the fretboard is not a priority. While many other musicians learn the note names for their instruments from the very start, new guitarists can rock out basic chords without ever learning what the notes on the guitar are.

While this is fine in the beginning, you’ll eventually want to get a grip on the note locations and when you do, this post is here to help!


You can learn more about the guitar notes in this video

You can also check other posts I’ve written about guitars in the Guitar section of my blog

Guitar Anatomy, Let’s Discover It!

guitar anatomy post
If you’re about to start learning how to play the guitar, it really helps to know the anatomy of the guitar! It is pretty simple: head, neck, and body, like the human body. Find out what’s what now!

What are the parts of a guitar?

Now that you’ve bought a guitar and been getting ready to start your first lesson. What’s next? Learn about guitar anatomy!

If you don’t have the proper vocabulary, it would be hard to know where to place your hands or talk to your fellow guitarists about anything. Therefore, one of the first things you need to learn is the names of different parts of the guitar, so you can learn more easily and accurately.

Here are the main parts:

guitar anatomy

1. Guitar Anatomy: Head

The first section of the guitar is called a head or headstock, on which you will find the tuning pegs. The tuning pegs allow you to tune the guitar by tightening or loosening the strings.


2. Guitar Anatomy: Neck

The middle, narrow section of the guitar is called the neck. The nut is the white strip closest to the headstock. The front side of the neck is called the fretboard. And the metal wires on the fretboard are called the frets, which help your fingers find the right spots.


3. Guitar Anatomy: Body

The biggest part of the guitar is called the body.

Acoustic Guitars:

Acoustic guitars have a hole in the middle of the body called the soundhole, a pickguard to protect the guitar’s finish from being scratched by the guitar pick, and a bridge that holds the strings in place.

Electric Guitars:

Electric guitars have pickups on the body that capture the string vibrations and convert sounds through amps. The potentiometers control volume and tone: this means that it either brightens or darkens the sound (jazz players like the darker sound and rock players like the brighter sound).

The pickup selector switch chooses the pickups and therefore determines the sound: In my Epiphone Les Paul Special II, for example, if it’s set to rhythm, you’ll only be using the neck pickup, i.e. the little black oval thing with little metal dots in it as soon as the neck ends: if you select treble, you’ll use the bridge position (the one next to the saddle); if it’s in the middle, it uses both pickups. The input jack is where you plug in your guitar to your amp.


Now that you know all this, it’s time to pick up your guitar and check these things! You can also find more information about guitar anatomy online if you get curious.

If you haven’t bought a guitar and you want to learn some tips before buying one, read this post.

You can also check other posts I’ve written about guitars in the Guitar section of my blog.

Want to Buy a Guitar?

buy a guitar
Do you want to buy a guitar, but you don’t know whether to buy an acoustic or electric, or what brand, wood, style, or size to choose? Here are some tips to help you decide!

What to look out for when buying a guitar

Do you want to buy a guitar, but you need some help?

Firstly, you probably have an idea of whether you want an electric or acoustic guitar. Acoustic guitars are those guitars (typically with a soundhole) that are loud enough to be heard without amplification. Sure you can hear an electric when not plugged in, but it sounds pretty wimpy without an amp.

To seemingly complicate the matter, there are acoustics that can be plugged in for amplification, making them electric and there are semi-hollow electric guitars, making them “acoustic” to a degree.

Secondly, the style of music and how you will be playing will oftentimes be the determining factor as to what type of guitar you will want to get. Usually the heavier the music, the more an electric will suit you.


Acoustic Guitars

buy acoustic guitar

Acoustic guitars don’t need an amp to hear them well, so they are nice and portable. The action (distance from string to fretboard) tends to be a little higher than electrics and the strings are typically thicker making bending and intricate licks/noodling more difficult. They sound great playing open chords and fingerpicking. Some of my favorite brands for acoustic guitars are Gibson, Marlin, and Taylor.

Electric Guitars

buy electric guitar

On the other hand, electrics usually have lower action making soloing and subtle movements easier. Electric guitars can vary widely in the sounds that they produce and in the way that they feel. The wood is almost always solid in electric guitars.

The quality of the sound has to do with the body style and the pickups mainly. Some of the most famous body types are Stratocaster, Super Strat, Telecaster, Offset, Les Paul, SG, and Flying V. As for the pickups, they are usually the size of one finger, but if you see guitars with wider pickups, the sound will be different. Some of my favorite brands for electric guitars are Fender, Gibson, Epiphone, PRS, and Ibanez.


Which guitar should you buy?

The main variables for me always come down to budget, feel, and sound (in no particular order).

Higher prices usually equate to better woods, craftsmanship (try to buy a guitar with solid wood pieces instead of laminated!), but manufacturers are getting really good at producing good guitars at cheaper prices. DON’T let the price alone dictate a guitar purchase.

For women, smaller folks, and kids, there are 3/4 and 1/2 size guitars that might be easier to reach around. There are different full-sized acoustic bodies as well: jumbo, dreadnought, and parlor, from bigger to smaller.

Electric bodies usually run much smaller than acoustics. String action is also important as high action (string height) can make chording and fretting difficult and discouraging. My advice is that you go to a shop and try different guitars to see how you feel with them!

Sound is the other important variable. Different woods and their ages, string types, pick type, etc., are some of the variables that dictate the sound of the guitar.

If you want to learn more about the anatomy of a guitar, I have a post about it!


My Epiphone Les Paul Special II

electric guitar epiphones les paul
My electric guitar, an Epiphone Les Paul Special II

I have an acoustic guitar and an electric one, but this one is definitely my favorite. I’m left-handed, so when I’ve decided to look for an electric guitar, I had to look for a model available in a version for left-handed people. After reading several reviews online, I’ve decided to order this one online.

Well, first of all, this is very obviously a Les Paul guitar. The Epiphone Les Paul Special II has the same pickups, tune-o-matic bridge, and stopbar tailpiece as you would find on a much more expensive Gibson model. It also has a nice mahogany body.

The pickups on a cheap electric guitar will usually sound muddy, and toneless, but not these! The tone is just as liquid and smooth as that of a true Gibson Les Paul, although I wouldn’t say that it as 100% as good. When playing this guitar, it definitely doesn’t feel like a cheap guitar, and the neck is fast and comfortable.

In summary, this Epiphone Les Paul Special II is a great guitar for any beginner who loves the look, feel and sound of a Les Paul, but hasn’t got the budget for a more expensive guitar. I definitely recommend it! You can buy it from eBay here.


Check other posts I’ve written about guitars in the Guitar section of my blog.

Buyer Persona & Unique Selling Proposition

Who are your customers and what problem are you solving for them? If you don’t know, you may struggle to grow your business. Find some tips on how to create a buyer persona here!
Who are your customers and what problem are you solving for them? If you don’t know, you may struggle to grow your business. Find some tips on how to create a buyer persona here!

If you don’t have clear answers to the two questions below you may struggle to market your business or even get it off the ground: Who exactly are your customers and what problem are you solving for them? How will your product or service succeed in the marketplace where others may have failed? Here are some tips on how to create a buyer persona and identify your Unique Selling Proposition.


Step 1 – Develop a Buyer Persona

Who exactly are your customers and what problem are you solving for them?

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. This is the person you are creating your content, products or service for. They can’t wait for you to launch because you solve a problem they have!

What are the benefits of creating a buyer persona?

Instead of focusing “target market” or something abstract, you humanise your marketing and make it real. Developing a buyer persona results in stronger and more cost effective marketing. It allows you to convey a more tailored message, minimise advertising waste and discover objections holding back customers. When you can put a name to your customers, you can hopefully meet their needs better.

Are there any tricks to developing a buyer persona?

  • If you have an idea for a business, more than likely it came from a frustrating experience you had. A problem you needed fixing. A solution that didn’t get the results or was just too hard to implement
  • You may also have observed a pain point of someone you have close contact with
  • It’s unlikely your buyer persona is someone you’ve never met before. How could you understand intimately what’s holding them back from achieving their goal?

7 More Ways to Gather Buyer Persona Data

  1. Quora.com: see the most common questions for your niche
  2. Facebook Groups: review profiles of group members
  3. Online Marketplaces & Review Sites: AmazonYelp, AppStore etc
  4. Typeform: ask what is your biggest fear/ frustration with topic x
  5. Google Analytics: review demographic &  interest reports
  6. Facebook Analytics: review demographic reports
  7. YouTube Analytics: review demographic reports

Finally, remember your buyer persona is a theory. Test this theory with the feedback and data you’ll collect about your audience as you grow.


Step 2 – Identify your Unique Selling Proposition

The second is step is to identify your unique selling proposition. How will your product or service succeed in the marketplace where others may have failed? Tough question, I know. However, this is not a small detail you can skip over – it’s critical to your success!

What is a unique selling proposition (USP)?

A unique selling proposition defines your position in the marketplace and lets you stand apart from competitors.

How can you identify your unique selling proposition quickly?

  • Easy. Fill gaps left by your competitors
  • Find these gaps by reading customer reviews on AmazonAppstoreYelpTripadvisorFiverrUdemyUpWork or the online marketplaces and review platforms where your competitors or related products are
  • Filter straight to the 3 and 4 stars reviews. The real jackpot comes when you find a review that starts with “I would have given it 5 stars if….”
  • Having said that, whatever comes after that “if” is the gap you can fill and the key to your point of differentiation

Clothespins DIY Projects

Wooden clothespins have a variety of other crafty uses, not only for hanging the wash. They can be used for a variety of cute and creative stuff, such as planters, mirrors, and so on. These wooden pegs crafts are super cheap and easy to make!

Things you can do with Clothespins

Planter

clothespins planter

If you have an indoor small plant, consider these beautiful planters as inspiration. They’re really easy to make. All you need is some tuna cans and clothespins to clip around the cans!


Birthday Wall Calendar

Clothespins Birthday Wall Calendar

Another cool idea is to create a birthday calendar with clothespins. You can use this as a way not to forget any birthdays ever again!


Lampshade

Clothespins Lampshade

Lampshades and candles can improve the look and feel in your room. You don’t need to spend money on candle holders or lampshades. This one looks stunning too and will fit perfectly to every bedroom.


Holder

Clothespins Holder

For your scarf collection, you can make a clothespin holder. It’s a simple project which you’ll make the most of for a long time!


Organizers

Clothespins Organizers

Use these organizers to keep track of homework or work assignments. You can also embelish them using washi tape, as I explained in a previous post here in the blog.


Wreath

Clothespins Wreath

You too can make a beautiful wreath like this with clothespins. All you need to do is paint it and add some nice shells!


Surprises

Clothespins Surprises

These hidden messages would work great as little notes left on desks or for treasure hunts. Or perhaps you want to surprise your boyfriend! Any way, these are quick and easy gifts for all!


Mirror

Clothespins Mirror

Add a nice touch to your living room with a clothespin mirror. If you prefer a more glamourous vibe, you can paint it gold and you’ll get a completely different result!


Jewelry Box

Clothespins Jewelry Box

If you have your jewelry all over the place, why not making of these cute little jewelry boxes? Just cover the bottom part and that’s it!


Trivet

Clothespins Trivet

You’ll need around 24 clothespins for one trivet. You can paint them if you want but before this you need to take them apart. You’ll then be arranging them to form a circle, gluing them together. Easy!


Headphone Organizer

Clothespins Headphone Organizer

How cute and convenient is this headphone organizer? Just use two clothespins and glue them together. If you want, you can paint them to make them look nicer!


Kitchen Cabinet Organizer

Clothespins Kitchen Cabinet Organizer

Pin up items to be kept out of sight, such as rubber gloves, sponges, and plastic bags, on the inside of a cabinet door. If your cabinets aren’t metal, use hot glue to directly glue the clothespins to the cabinet!

SEO Checklist

This SEO checklist outlines the most important things you should do when starting a new website or performing an SEO Audit. It covers technical SEO, Keyword Research, On-Page SEO, Link Building and more!

SEO Best Practices for Websites and SEO Audits

This SEO checklist outlines the most important things you should do when starting a new website or performing an SEO Audit. It covers Technical SEO, Keyword Research, On-Page SEO, Link Building and more.

Follow these 26 SEO best practices to increase long-term targeted traffic to your website.


Technical SEO Checklist

  1. Install Google Analytics. Essential to measure key SEO metrics like website traffic, conversions and revenue. Use Ahrefs to measure keyword ranking and link building.
  2. Using WordPress? Download the Yoast SEO Plugin. It will make your life 10x easier. Use it to complete many of the Technical and On-Page SEO best practices in one place.
  3. Verify Your Site in Google Search Console. This free tool allows you to check how the search engines view your site with reports about indexing status, search queries, crawl errors and penalties. To learn more, read this helpful guide.
  4. Improve Website Performance & Speed. Analyze your site with Google PageSpeed Insights. Aim to score 80+. Speed things up with WordPress Plugins: Better Delete Revision, WP Smush and W3 Total Cache .
  5. Take the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Your site should deliver a great user experience across all devices. Extra important now that Google’s algorithm favours mobile friendly sites.

Keyword Research Process

  1. Develop a Buyer Persona. Getting into your customers shoes is the first step to keyword research. Remember, customers are not searching for your site. They are searching for valuable information to solve their problems. Having a buyer persona is a crucial first step to to figuring out what your best customers are typing into Google.
  2. Keyword Strategy. Aim to target less competitive “body and long tail keywords” that competitors have overlooked. Create content around a portfolio of keywords rather then one single term.
  3. Brainstorm for Keyword Ideas. Hack Wikipedia for Topic Ideas and Synonyms. Generate 1000’s of long tail keywords ideas using 3 automated tools: Google Autocomplete, Ubersuggest & Keyword Shitter . Discover untapped keywords and topics using Quora.
  4. Narrow Down Your Keyword List. Use search volume data from Keyword Everywhere Extension or Google Keyword Planner to cut down the list. Be sure to consider commercial intent using Cost-per-click (CPC) figures as a guide.
  5. Choose Target Keywords. Once you have a list of possible keywords & phrases, start by reviewing the first page of Google for each keyword. Look to see if there are well established sites with high quality content. Then, use data from the MOZ SEO Toolbar to see the authority and number of links competitors have. Eliminate overly competitive keywords and focus on keywords you actually have a chance to rank for. Your chosen keywords will be the centerpieces of your content.

On-Page SEO Checklist

  1. Pick One Keyword Per Page. You’ll generally want to start with lower-volume keywords.
  2. Write Title Tags Search Engines Love. Every page of your website should have unique title tag, preferably starting with a relevant keyword. Include modifiers like “best”, “2016” etc. to stand out and to pick up long tail searches. Keep title tags 55 characters or less or they’ll appear truncated in search results.
  3. Follow Best Practices for URL’s. Use short and sweet URLs that include your target keyword. e.g. http://www.yourdomain.com/target-keyword. Avoid numbered urls like http://www.yourdomain.com/p=123. Always-use-hyphens-in-urls. Never_use_underscores_in_urls.
  4. Skyrocket Clickthrough Rate with Meta Descriptions. Highlight the benefit of your post or product compared to competitors who already appear in the search results. Keep meta descriptions 160 characters or less or they’ll appear truncated in search results.
  5. Optimize for the Google Image Search Results. Create with Canva. Include target keyword in the filename and add keyword-rich alt text to images when uploading.
  6. Reduce Bounce Rates. Make the topic clear by including your target keyword in the first 100 words of your article.
  7. Give Your SEO a Boost with Heading Tags. Include your keyword once in an H2 or H3 subheading.
  8. Include Outbound Links. At least 2 outbound links to authority sites (popular blogs, news sites and .edu and .gov resources) in every piece of content that you publish.
  9. Add Internal links. 2-3 internal links to older articles when you publish a new one.
  10. Publish Longer Content. At least 300 words. 1500 words for competitive keywords.
  11. Use Prominent Social Sharing Buttons. Make sure your social sharing buttons are front and centre on blog posts and articles. Use DiggDigg WordPress plugin.
  12. Double-check everything. Once you’re live with an SEO Audit Tool.

Link Building

  1. Link Building Strategy. Not all backlinks are created equal. Your goal should be to earn quality “do follow” back links from high ranking pages in your niche. Earn these naturally by creating (and promoting!) content worth linking to.
  2. Analyze Your Competitor’s Backlinks, Rankings & Traffic. This is the easiest way to get started with link building. Look at each of Top 10 search results for your target keyword, views link for each page using the MOZ SEO Toolbar. Focus on their “Inbound Links” from “Only External” sources to see who has linked to them. You can also use Ahrefs, Majestic SEO & SimilarWeb to uncover competitors marketing strategies you can replicate.
  3. Maximise Links for Your SEO Campaigns. Find authoritative links in the tools above and reach out to those sources to pitch your latest blog post or product. Expect 5% response rate from these cold emails. You can also search for existing non-linked content using Mention or Buzzsumo. Contact the owner or author of the piece and ask them to kindly link back to you if possible.
  4. Create Content That Generates Links & Social Shares on Autopilot
  5. Model Successful Content. Use Buzzsumo to find proven content ideas & formats.
  6. Put Together Best of Lists. e.g. search for the Best Infographics for Internet Marketers
  7. Crowdsource Content. e.g. 7 Experts On Why Building Your Email is So Important
  8. Publish Survey Results. e.g. SEO Pricing: 600+ Agencies Share Costs & Pricing Model
  9. Create Infographics. e.g. Noob Guide to Online Marketing. Tools: Piktochart, Infogram, Canva.

Bonus Tip: Leverage the high domain authority of other websites like to quickly get to the top of the search results: Guest Posting, YouTube, Slideshare, Udemy, Quora & more. Publish your content on these sites and drive traffic back to your website.


I hope you found this SEO checklist helpful 🙂

Best Digital Marketing Tools

From Similar Web to Google Trends for Market Research; From Bluehost for WordPress to Mailchimp for Email Marketing; From Google Search Console to Ubbersuggest for SEO; From Canva to Inpreview for Social Media Marketing; Here you can find the best digital marketing tools to grow a business!

Best Digital Marketing Tools to Grow a Business


Market Research

Google Analytics It is Google’s free web analytics service that allows you to analyze in-depth detail about the visitors on your website. 
Keyword EverywhereThis used to be free but it is now a paid tool. Use Keyword Surfer as a free alternative. Browser addon that shows search volume & CPC in Google & many other keyword research tools
Keywords SurferFree alternative to Keywords Everywhere
SimilarWeb Gain insight into any website’s traffic data while you browse
Google FormsBuild market research surveys to collect feedback and email addresses
Google Trends Find sizzling hot topics ideas for any business

WordPress

MyThemeShopPremium WordPress Themes For Any Site
NameVineInstantly Find a Domain, Facebook and Twitter Account
NamestationRun a contest to crowdsource 150+ domain name ideas
BluehostReliable and Inexpensive Domain Registration & Hosting
MonsterInsightsGoogle Analytics Plugin for WordPress

Email Marketing

MailchimpEmail marketing software – free up to 2000 subscribers
WP Subscriber ProWordPress Plugin to capture email addresses with pop ups & side bar sign ups forms
LeadpagesCapture email addresses with Landing Pages & Leadboxes

SEO

SEO Audit ToolEnter the URL of any landing page or blog article and see how optimized it is for one keyword or phrase
AhrefsSEO Backlink Checker (alternatives: OpensiteExplorer, MajesticSEO, Semrush)
Google Search ConsoleView your site from Googles perspective with reports about indexing status, search queries, crawl errors and penalties
Google PageSpeed InsightsEnter the URL of your homepage or blog article to get customised tips to speed up your site
WP Revision ControlFrees up storage e.g. only keeps the latest five versions of each page on your site
WP SmushWordPress Plugin to improve your website speed by compressing all of your images in one click!
WP Super CacheWordPress Plugin to speed up your website by using browser caching (just install it – you don’t need to understand it!)
UbersuggestGenerate 1000’s of keywords ideas in one click. Install Keyword Everywhere (above) for search volume & CPC data
BuzzsumoFind proven content ideas & formats from around the web

YouTube

VidIQUncover the secrets to success behind your favorite YouTube videos
CanvaUse templates to easily create YouTube Thumbnails, Facebook Covers, Twitter Headers and much more! I did a whole post about this tool.
ScreencastomaticBasic Video Recording & Editing Software
CamtasiaProfessional Video Recording & Editing Software

Facebook

ImgurFind the most viral photos to share
PinterestFind viral quotes images to share
GleamCreate a contest and give people an incentive to like and share

Twitter

Google URL ShortenerCreate short URLs that can be easily shared, tweeted, or emailed to friends
Twitter PublishEmbed tweets, timelines or follow buttons on your website
RitetagFind the best hashtags to increase your visibility
BufferSchedule posts and manage all social media accounts all in one place

Instagram

Facetune 2Mobile app to edit images
LightroomMobile app to edit images
InpreviewApp to see how a new post is going to look like on your feed
Record it!Record something that you are doing on your phone and use it as a story
bit.lyShorten the URLs to put in bio

Quora

QuoraBecome An Authority & Drive Long-Term Website Traffic by Answering Simple Questions

Adwords

Google Ads / AdwordsTransform your traffic and sales overnight with paid advertising
SpyfuDownload Your Competitors’ Most Profitable Keywords and Ads

Growing a Tomato Plant

Growing a tomato plant from tomato seeds is not only cost effective but also yields healthy, tasty, and fresh produce. On top of that, it is also a really cool project!

How to Grow a Tomato Plant from Seeds

Growing a tomato plant from seeds is really easy! Just follow these 5 steps below:

Step 1

tomato plant step 1

Planting seeds from fresh tomatoes is no harder than planting store-bought seeds! If you choose to plant fresh tomato seeds, just soak them for 14 hours in tepid water. Dry them on a paper towel and plan to plant them within seven days.

Water the soil before planting, and then plant the seeds 1cm underneath it. You should plant only two or three seeds in each small pot.


Step 2

tomato plant step 2

Let the seeds sit in a warm spot, but out of direct sun, for about a week to allow germination to begin. During that period, water them every three days.


Step 3

tomato plant step 3

Check the pots daily for sprouts. When you see tiny plants appear, start watering them as per the above image and place them directly under the sun. The first day they should get about three hours of direct sun. Increase the amount of sunlight by 10 minutes each day until the plants get six hours of sunlight daily. Gradually exposing tomato plants to the sun prevents sun damage.

Here are mine at this stage:

Check the soil every day to make sure it stays damp. If the soil feels dry, give each seedling water. If you neglect to water the seeds, the plants will die. Too much water is bad for the plants so be sure the pots are draining well.


Step 4

When a seedling grows to 7-8 cm tall and has four or more leaves, transfer it to a larger pot. Select a pot with sufficient drainage holes.

tomato plant step 4

Step 5

Then, transfer the plant outside when the weather is mild. Place it in the ground in full sun and put a tomato cage over it. This will support the fruit as the plant grows larger. Alternatively, you can grow tomato plants in large containers. It’s a good idea to plant marigolds or herbs like basil or borage nearby to keep pests away from the tomato plants.


And that’s it! You have your own tomato plant. Simple, right? Give it a try as well, and let me know in the comments how it went! You can also check other posts about plants here.

PS: If you live in Malta, you can also buy a tomato plant kit at Flying Tiger for 1 euro:

tomato plant kit