If you’re new to SEO or want a refresher on the basics, this guide is for you. We’ll cover everything from how to do keyword research to ways you can optimize your content and link building. By following these simple tips, you can start seeing improvements in your website’s search engine rankings and gain more authority for your website. So let’s get started!
Table of contents
- What Is SEO
- Why Search – and SEO – Is Important
- A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
- How Does SEO Work?
- Why Links Are Important for SEO
- How to Track & Measure SEO Results
- SEO Tools Help Do it Right
What Is SEO
Most have heard of SEO, but some are still unsure of what it entails. SEO is the process of improving the visibility and ranking of a website in search engine results pages (SERPs). You can improve search results by optimizing the website content, structure, and code and building high-quality links to the site.
SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field, but businesses can ensure that their site is optimized correctly and stands out from the competition by following best practices. With the help of an experienced SEO consultant or agency, businesses can boost their online visibility, drive more traffic to their site, and ultimately generate more leads and sales.
Why Search – and SEO – Is Important
Regardless of your business, it’s essential to make sure your website is optimized for search engines. Why? Because if your site isn’t visible to potential customers, you’re missing out on valuable leads. As your site’s SEO improves, it’s more likely that customers will find you when they’re searching for your products or services.
Several SEO techniques, ranging from keyword research to link building, can help you improve your site’s visibility and attract more visitors. And when more people visit your site, you have a better chance of landing new customers and growing your business. So if you’re not already investing in SEO, now is the time to learn the SEO basics and allocate some budget.
Further Reading: Small Business SEO: How to Get Your Site to Rank in Google
A Brief History of Search Engine Optimization
The history of search engine optimization (SEO) is brief but eventful. SEO began in the early 1990s when webmasters realized that they could improve their chances of ranking highly in search results by using specific keywords and phrases in their sites’ content. This practice soon led to the development of more sophisticated keyword research and analysis methods and the use of other techniques designed to improve search engine rankings.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, SEO became increasingly commercialized, with companies offering services designed to help businesses achieve better results in search engines. Today, SEO is an essential part of any online marketing strategy, and its history continues to be shaped by the ever-changing search engine algorithms.
How Does SEO Work?
SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field, but there are some SEO basics that all practitioners should follow to achieve success. These include creating keyword-rich content, building backlinks from high-quality websites, and ensuring that all website elements are optimized for search engines. By following these best practices, website owners and marketers can significantly improve their chances of ranking well in the SERPs.
Technical search engine optimization is the process of optimizing a website to improve its ranking in search engines. The most crucial factor in technical SEO is website structure, which refers to how the website is coded and organized. Other important factors include site speed, mobile friendliness, and schema markup.
Technical SEO can be a challenge, but it’s well worth the effort because it can help improve your website’s visibility and traffic. And as we all know, traffic is the lifeblood of any website. So, if you’re looking to improve your website’s ranking in search engines, be sure to focus on technical SEO.
As mobile devices become increasingly popular, it’s important to make sure your website is optimized for mobile search engine traffic. Mobile searchers have different needs and expectations than desktop users, so it’s essential to tailor your content and design accordingly. Here are some tips for mobile optimization:
- Use a responsive design: Your website resources will automatically resize and adjust to fit any screen size.
- Keep your content short and to the point: Mobile users are typically looking for quick answers, so make sure your content is direct and easy to read.
- Use large, easy-to-tap buttons: small links and buttons can be frustrating to click on a mobile device. Make sure your buttons are large enough to be easily
- Optimize Your Site’s Speed: You risk losing readers if your site is too slow.
Website speed optimization is essential to SEO basics for two reasons. First, fast-loading pages improve the user experience, which leads to higher website engagement levels. Second, Google uses website speed as a ranking factor in its search algorithm. This means that faster websites tend to rank higher than slower ones.
There are a few key things to keep in mind regarding image optimization. First of all, make sure that your image file sizes are as small as possible while maintaining quality. Larger image files will take longer to load, hurting your website’s performance in search results. Secondly, choose the correct file format for your images. JPEGs are best for photos, while PNGs or GIFs are better for images with sharp lines or text. Finally, don’t forget to include keywords in your image file names and alt text.
Image optimization will help search engines understand what your images are about and how they relate to your website’s content. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your website’s images are helping, not hurting, your SEO basics.
On-Page SEO refers to optimizing a website’s piece of content and code to improve its ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). These techniques include optimizing title tags and meta descriptions, improving site speed, and creating keyword-rich content. On-page SEO is a critical part of any SEO strategy, as it helps search engines to understand what a website is about and how it can be useful for users. By optimizing their website’s on-page SEO, businesses can improve their SERP visibility and attract more organic traffic.
Keyword research is finding and analyzing words and phrases that people are using to search for information on the internet. It is an integral part of search engine optimization, as it helps identify the terms and related search volume that potential customers most commonly use. By understanding the best target keywords to use, businesses can create a piece of content that is more likely to be seen by those actively searching for information.
In addition, keyword research can also help businesses understand the trends shaping customer behavior. By keeping up with the latest trends, companies can ensure that their marketing efforts align with the needs of their target audience.
By structuring your content in a certain way, you can make it easier for search engines to index your pages and improve your ranking. In addition, a well-structured page is more likely to be shared by users, which can also help improve your SEO. Several different elements go into the content structure, including headlines, subheadings, and bullets. By taking the time to optimize these elements, you can make your content more accessible and improve your chances of ranking higher in search results.
Further Reading: Unlocking The Full Potential of Topic Clusters For Your SEO Strategy
Optimize Your Heading Tags
Optimization of headings is another aspect of SEO basics. By including the right keywords in your headings, you can help increase your site’s visibility and ranking in search results. In addition, well-optimized heading tags can also improve the overall readability of your site.
There are a few easy steps to optimize your heading tags.
First, make sure to include relevant keywords in your tags.
Second, use different heading levels (H1, H2, H3) to help structure your content and make it easy for readers to skim.
Finally, don’t stuff your headings with too many keywords (a practice known as “keyword stuffing”); a few strategic keywords per heading will be sufficient.
Optimize Your Title Tags
Title tags are one of the most important aspects of SEO. They are the title of your page, and they appear in the search engine results pages (SERPs). The title tag is the first thing people see when they search for something, so it’s essential to ensure it’s both accurate and descriptive.
Here are a few tips on how to optimize your title tags for better search engine visibility:
- Use relevant keywords: Make sure your title tags include relevant keywords that accurately describe your page content. This will help search engines match your pages with relevant queries.
- Keep it short and sweet: Your title tags should be 50 characters or less, including spaces—anything longer risks getting cut off in the search results, harming click-through rates.
- Use unique titles: Each page on your website should have a unique title tag. This helps search engines understand which pages are most relevant for a search query.
Optimize Your Meta Description
The meta description is the summary that appears under your page title in the search engine results pages. This text is an important aspect of SEO basics because it gives users an idea of what your page is about and encourages them to click through to your site. When writing your meta description, include relevant keywords and phrases that accurately describe your page content.
In addition, make sure that your meta description is compelling and engaging, as this will increase the likelihood that users will click through to your site. By taking the time to optimize your meta description, you can dramatically improve your search engine optimization and attract more visitors to your website.
Optimize Your Page URL (Slug)
Your page URL (slug) is the key to good on-page optimization. It is essential because it tells both search engines and users what your page is about. A well-optimized page URL will give you a higher ranking in search results and help users remember your page. Here are some tips for optimizing your page URL:
- Keep it short and sweet. A page URL should be no more than 60 characters long.
- Use keywords. Include 1-2 keywords that are relevant to your page content in your page URL.
- Use hyphens to separate words. This makes your page URL easier to read and understand.
- Avoid “stop words” in the text. Stop words are common words like “and,” “or,” and “the.”
Why Links Are Important for SEO
Links are one of the most critical factors in search engine optimization. They help search engines understand the relationship between different pages on your website, and they also play a role in determining your website’s page rank. In general, the more links you have pointing to your website, the better.
However, it’s also vital to ensure that your links are high quality and come from reputable sources. Links from spammy or low-quality websites can hurt your ranking, so it’s essential to be selective about who you link to. In short, links are vital for SEO, but focusing on quality over quantity is also important.
Internal linking is the practice of linking one page on a website to another page on the same website. These links are essential for search engine optimization (SEO) because they help improve a website’s visibility and its individual pages. They can help search engines index a website more effectively and boost its ranking in search results when done correctly. In addition, internal links help increase the flow of traffic between different pages on a website, further improving SEO basics.
For these reasons, it is essential to carefully consider how you use internal links on your website. When creating new content, take advantage of opportunities to link to relevant pages on your site. This will help improve the overall SEO of your site and make it easier for users to find the relevant posts that will help them stay on your site longer, helping to improve your SEO and domain authority further.
Linking to Other Sites
External linking is the act of hyperlinking from one website to another. External links are important for search engine optimization because they signal to search engines that a website is relevant and trustworthy. When a website is full of high-quality external links, it tells search engines that the site is worth ranking highly in search results. In contrast, a website with few or no external links is less likely to rank well. External linking is just one part of search engine optimization, but it’s an important part nonetheless.
Backlinks, or inbound links, are links that point from one website to another. They are an essential part of search engine optimization (SEO) because they help improve a website’s search engine rankings. The more backlinks a website has, the higher it will rank in the search results. However, not all backlinks are created equal. Search engines use several factors to determine the quality of a backlink, such as the relevance of the linking website and the authority of the linking page. Therefore, it is crucial to build high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. Backlinks should be included naturally as part of your content marketing strategy. Creating backlinks solely for SEO is known as link spamming and can harm your domain authority.
Further Reading: 11 Actionable Link Building Strategies For 2022 and Beyond
How to Track & Measure SEO Results
If you have set specific and achievable goals for your website’s SEO strategy, the next step is to measure and track the results of your efforts. This will allow you to determine whether your strategy is on track and make necessary adjustments if it is not.
There are several ways to measure SEO results.
- Track the number of visitors to your website who come from organic search results. You can do this using Google Analytics or another similar tool.
- Track the number of key phrases your website ranks for in search engine listings. You can get these numbers from analytics tools like Google Search Console.
- Track the number of desired outcomes from organic search traffic. Desired outcomes can include page visits, lead generation, and purchases.
Further Reading: SEO Report: What Metrics to Include (with 27 Suggestions)
SEO Tools Help Do it Right
Several SEO tools can help you in your efforts, in part by covering all the SEO basics. You can read more about them in my blog post The 21 Best SEO Tools to Power Your Search Engine Marketing. However, the number one tool that I recommend that encompasses the functionality of several tools, including the critically important keyword research tool, is SEMrush. Check out this video which details how I developed my entire SEO process using SEMrush:
Further Reading: The 15 Best Free SEO Tools You Need to Know 
SEO can be a complex field to understand, but that’s why I’m here to help! In this guide, I’ve discussed SEO basics and how you can use them to increase traffic to your website. If you have any questions about SEO or this guide, please leave them in the comments below, and I will do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading!
Hero photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti on Unsplash