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SEO For Beginners: What Is SEO and How It Works in 2023

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There are hundreds of well-written blog posts on the internet on the topic of “SEO for Beginners”.

But this blog post is different.

In this guide to SEO for beginners, you will learn the foundations of SEO and how to get started doing SEO right away.

If you’ve ever attempted to build your digital presence online, then there’s a good chance you have already heard of the term SEO.

Whether you are a new blogger or a small business owner, understanding the basics of SEO is imperative to increase online traffic and raise awareness of your brand.

That’s why, in this article, we’ll teach you everything you need to know about SEO, from what it is and how it works to the different elements you can use to drive your success.

What Is SEO

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

SEO is the process of optimizing your website to increase relevant and organic traffic when users search for related topics via search engines such as Google.

The main goal of SEO is to improve your search engine ranking and increase organic traffic to your website.

The result of a strong SEO strategy is increased website traffic, leads, and sales on your website.

SEO Terms for Beginners

Before diving deep into how SEO works, it’s important to have a basic understanding of common SEO terms.

SEO Term #1: Search Engine

A search engine is an algorithm that analyses and identifies information from its database for a given ‘keyword’ and returns relevant information to the searcher.

The goal of a a search engine is to answer the queries of searchers by presenting the most relevant information.

Examples of internet search engines are: Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

SEO Term #2: Keyword

A keyword is a word or phrase that a searcher types into a search engine.

Keywords are the foundation or root of every SEO strategy.

Without keywords, you wouldn’t be able to optimize your content.

To find the right keywords, you’ll need to conduct keyword research.

SEO Term #3: Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of research and vetting potential keywords to target for your blog post.

The most important keyword metrics include:

  • Search volume: indicates how often the keyword is searched. The higher the search volume, the more competitive the keyword.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): indicates how much advertisers will spend per click. The more expense, the more competitive the keyword.
  • Domain Authority (DA): also referred to as Domain Rating (DR), indicates how strong, and authoritative the website is. For example, nytimes.com, has a very high DA. Keep in mind this rating factor is not directly used by Google, but it helps SEOs understand their competition.

If your website is new, it’s best to target keywords that have a low search volume and a low CPC.

Next, you might be wondering, where do I even find this data?

There are tons of SEO and keyword research tools on the market – ranging from free to thousands per month.

Here are some of the most common keyword research tools:

SEO Term #4: Search Engine Results Page (SERP)

The search engine results page (SERP) is what your searchers will see when they conduct a query on a search engine.

As the name suggests, this page will contain results that are relevant to their query.

The goal is to be at the top of the SERPs, or at the very least, page 1.

The Google ‘SERP’ for the keyword ‘Chocolate Chip Cookies.’

SEO Term #5: SEO Title Tag

The SEO title tag is the title of your blog post that is displayed in the SERPs.

Your SEO title tag should include your focus keyword and be click-worthy (not click-baity).

Let’s look at example SEO title tags for the keyword ‘vegan diet’

  1. Bad SEO title tag: How to lose 10 pounds in 5 days with a vegan diet.
  2. Good SEO title tag: How to get started with a vegan diet and lose your first 5 pounds.

The first SEO title tag is bad because it’s clickbaity – truly losing 10 pounds takes longer than just 5 days.

SEO Term #6: Meta Description

The meta description is a brief summary or description of your blog post that is displayed below the SEO title tag in the SERPs.

Meta descriptions are limited to 120 characters and meant to captivate the user to click to your web page.

Pro tip: include a call-to-action in your description to encourage users to click. For example learn more, don’t miss, and check out.

SEO Term #7: Website Traffic

Website traffic refers to the number of internet users that visit your website.

To gauge whether your SEO strategy is working, you need to evaluate your website’s traffic.

To get started measuring your traffic, we recommend the free tool Google Analytics.

How Search Engines Work

The main goal of search engines is to evaluate all the online data and present only relevant information to the users.

When presenting a website on the results page, they take into consideration whether or not the content of the website can help with the user’s query.

The most relevant content will be ranked highest in the SERPs.

Every search engine is made up of two main components: the search index and the search algorithm.

A search index is a digital library that contains information about specific web pages.

Search algorithms are computer programs that help rank search engine results that match the user’s query.

Step 1: Discover a URL

The URL is a user-friendly and globally-unique address to a web page or web resource.

For search engines to recognize your website, you need to have a unique resource locator (URL).

Search engines use various methods to discover URLs:

A backlink is when a website links to your website.

As it stands, Google and other search engines already have collections of trillions of web pages.

When existing pages incorporate a new URL into their content through backlinks, the search engine can recognize it and add it to their collection.

Manual Submission

Finally, if you want to DIY, you can even submit your own URL to Google through Google Search Console.

This method is especially useful if you’ve recently made changes to your content.

In such instances, you can request Google to re-index your page.

Step 2: Crawl and Index the Page

After search engines discover a URL, they need to crawl your page.

This is a step where a computer bot known as a spider goes to a website and downloads the existing content.

Because there are trillions of pages to crawl into, search engines don’t do this to every one of them. They usually choose a website based on the following factors:

  • URL’s PageRank
  • Frequency of URL changes
  • Newness (or oldness) of the website

Having search engines crawl a website is quite beneficial because it allows users to easily access your content in a manageable format.

The data they collect is stored in their database and integrated with an in-house system that can be tailored to any target audience.

Step 3: Rank Search Results

Google and other search engines will present the results according to particular criteria, including meaning, relevance, quality, usability, and context.

For your website to rank high on a SERP, it must not only use SEO best practices but meet Google’s standards as well.

This includes factors such as website like page load speed, accessibility, performance, credibility, and mobile-friendliness.

Why You Should Care About SEO

While SEO is not a new concept, it certainly remains an integral part of every digital marketing strategy today.

It can drive up to 50% of organic traffic to your website and build brand awareness.

Besides these, there are some other reasons why you should care about SEO in 2022.

SEO Benefit #1: Generate More Qualified Leads & Drive Sales

SEO drives traffic to your website and it can attract users who are more likely to become potential customers.

If you’re running a small business, you can turn your potential customers into buying customers.

If you are starting a blog, you can use your viewership as a means to promote products and services, and thereby drive your favorite product’s sales.

SEO Benefit #2: Decrease Your Overall Cost

Another popular marketing strategy is known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM).

While PPC is effective in generating traffic and increasing website clicks, it also entails additional costs on your part.

Often, marketers use SEM alongside SEO to maximize the results.

But if you’re just starting and don’t have the budget to pay for ads, utilizing SEO is a cost-effective solution to get similar results.

SEO Benefit #4: Build Trust and Loyalty

Now, let’s take a step back and look at the situation from a user’s point of view.

When you search queries online or look for particular brands, do you often go past the first page of results

Most people don’t.

This is because you understand that the most relevant and credible sources are found on the first page.

These are the brands that you usually trust.

For someone who’s just starting in the industry, your goal is to be in those spots on the first page.

Your best approach to getting there is SEO.

How To Do SEO

Even if you don’t have experience in SEO, know that you can create a strategy that will give you the results that you want.

Regularly Update Your Content

Content plays a crucial role in search engine optimization.

Search engines tend to favor websites that regularly update their content because they’re considered the most relevant.

That means sticking to a realistic schedule for creating new and updating existing content.

As you’re starting with your blog or online shop, you might not have a lot of content to post yet. That’s fine. Take the time to plan it out and think about the content you want to present and how you want to present it.

Perhaps the first post is all about introducing yourself and your brand. The succeeding posts can then be about what you do and what you offer. From this point, you can further branch out and focus on certain products or services.

Related: How to Create a Blog Content Strategy.

Promote Your Content

After you publish your content, promote it across different platforms.

This includes social media, your email list, and other search platforms such as Pinterest and YouTube.

SEO is a continuous activity that requires consistent attention. The more words you spread in the digital world, the more chances you have of increasing your online visibility.

To know more about how you can promote your content, continue reading about on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. These are specific strategies that can help you attract attention and increase your organic traffic.

How To Do On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is a practice that focuses on optimizing all the elements on your website to achieve a higher ranking on search engines.

The key steps of On-Page SEO include.

1. Conduct Keyword Research

The first step to improving your website content is to do keyword research.

This is a critical part of making sure that your content remains relevant to potential viewers.

To do this, you need to identify target keywords.

These are terms that customers regularly search for. For instance, if you have a wellness and fitness website, the primary keywords may be:

  • Ab workouts
  • Gym near me
  • Bodybuilding
  • Weight loss

While these words are popular, they are also quite competitive.

That said, it may take time for a new site like yours to rank high for these terms.

A great alternative is to find keyword variations or long-tail keywords.

Long-tail keywords are terms that usually have a lower search volume.

However, they have a higher content level.

They’re usually more specific and go straight to the point, which means that by using these terms, you can target users with a matching search query.

2. Satisfy User’s Search Intent

Search intent is the reason behind the searcher’s query.

There are four types of search intent

  1. Informational intent – how to tie a tie
  2. Commercial intent – tie versus bow tie
  3. Navigational intent – Macy’s.com
  4. Transactional intent – buy Macy’s tie

Most blog posts will be either informational search intent or commercial search intent.

Failing to satisfy search intent is the easiest way to get a user to leave your website.

3. Write Optimized Content

Once you’ve researched and vetted your keyword, you can now create optimized content that can increase your visibility and relevance to potential viewers.

Here are some factors for writing optimized content:

  • Depth – the content must adequately cover a topic and answer the user’s questions without fluff.
  • Friendliness – the content should be written as if you are talking to your 8th-grade friend
  • Uniqueness – recycling content from the top pages of Google isn’t going to cut it.
  • Authoritative – only write content that you are qualified to write about.
  • Trustworthy – unless you are writing purely for entertainment – avoid too many jokes and ‘fake news.’

4. Provide More Value Than Your Competitors

Before you write your content, do competitive research to see what’s already available online.

Find loopholes or missing information and use your content as leverage.

In doing so, you can stand out from the crowd and offer something new to your customers.

How To Do Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the actions you make outside the realms of your website, which can impact your overall ranking on SERPs.

This is important to implement in your overall SEO campaign because it can communicate to search engines that your website is relevant on the web.

If credible and authoritative sites link to yours, that signals to search engines that your site is also credible and authoritative.

Here are the four main off-page SEO tactics you can use:

Backlinks are links you attach to another website that revert to your page.

These are at the heart of off-page SEO because they can increase your online presence and drive traffic to your page.

2. Leverage Social Media

Another great technique is to leverage the audience on social media to promote your web page.

You can use popular platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter to share your post and lead viewers to your site.

3. Post on Local Listings

If you want to tap into a specific geographical market, an effective strategy is to submit your business to local listings.

This can reach a more focused group and improve your chances of converting them to your website.

4. Write Guests Posts

Writing guest posts is when you write a blog post for another blogger in your industry.

Guest posts not only help you reach great audiences, but it also usually includes a backlink to your site.

Additionally, writing guest posts also helps you foster a great community.

How To Do Technical SEO for Beginners

Improving your SERP ranking goes beyond choosing the best keywords and posting the right content.

It’s also about developing a responsive website design that your users can easily engage with.

That’s where technical SEO comes into play.

Technical SEO refers to the technical aspects of your website, including page speed, connection security, and design.

1. Plan Your Website Architecture

This refers to the design and planning of your website to establish overall structure and usability. In other words, website architecture is how you divide your content into different themes and categories.

2. Set A Simple URL Structure

For a search engine to recognize your website and deem it credible, you need to have a simple URL structure.

The basic structure consists of four main parts:

  • The scheme, presented as “https://”
  • Top-level domain, usually represented as “.com”
  • Second-level domain, which is your website name (ex: samanthadigital)
  • Sub-directly, which is usually the specific page or post you are viewing (ex: /blog/seo)

3. Ensure Fast Loading Speed

That’s why the speed of your website plays a crucial role in your search results ranking.

To optimize loading time, try to minimize heavy elements like photos and videos, and keep your content as concise as possible.

4. Ensure Mobile Responsiveness

In 2020, 68.1% of website visits in 2020 were from a mobile device.

This number is only going up.

Not only does this make it easier to navigate through the page, but it also informs search engines that your website is responsive, and therefore, useful.

SEO For Beginners: Conclusion

With this comprehensive guide on SEO for beginners, you can start your online journey with an effective strategy.

With regular practice, you can master the art of SEO, increase organic traffic, and build a loyal online community.

SEO For Beginners: Blog Post Reference

  1. https://ahrefs.com/blog/what-are-backlinks/
  2. https://www.searchenginejournal.com/ranking-factors/domain-authority
  3. https://blog.ezmarketing.com/why-seo-important-and-why-you-should-care/
  4. https://www.deepcrawl.com/knowledge/technical-seo-library/how-do-search-engines-work/
  5. https://www.perficient.com/insights/research-hub/mobile-vs-desktop-usage

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Samantha

Samantha

Hey there! I’m Samantha. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their digital presence, establish themselves as a leader in their industry, and accelerate their business success.
Samantha

Samantha

Hey there! I’m Samantha. I’m passionate about helping entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their digital presence, establish themselves as a leader in their industry, and accelerate their business success.

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