SEO stands for search engine optimization and 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.

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.

More specifically, we will cover SEO terms for beginners, how search engines work, why you should care about SEO, how to do SEO, how to do on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

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.

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 in Basic Terms?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and 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.

A strong SEO strategy results in increased website traffic, leads, and sales on your website.

SEO Terms for Beginners

Before diving deep into how SEO works, it’s essential to understand standard SEO terms.

Important SEO terms for beginners include:

  1. Search Engine
  2. Keyword
  3. Keyword Research
  4. Search Engine Results Page
  5. SEO Title Tag
  6. Meta Description
  7. Website Traffic
  8. Indexing
  9. Domain Authority
  10. Slug

SEO Term #1: Search Engine

A search engine is a software system that is designed to search and index the internet, providing users with a list of relevant and high-quality results for their search queries.

Popular search engines include Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Search engines play a critical role in SEO because they are the gatekeepers of online visibility and traffic.

By ranking highly in search engine results pages (SERPs), businesses and website owners can reach a larger audience, generate more leads, and ultimately increase their bottom line.

SEO Term #2: Keyword

The keyword “chocolate chip cookies” displayed on the search engine results page in Google.

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.

Keywords Best Practices for Beginners

  1. Target longer keywords: Also known as long tail keywords, targeting longer keywords are often less competitive and offers a better chance at ranking high in Google.
  2. Satisfy user intent: What is a user hoping to find when they search for a keyword? Do they want to research the best running shoes or buy them? More on this below.
  3. Avoid duplication: Don’t create multiple content assets targeting the same keyword. When you target the same keyword on numerous target assets, you compete against yourself when ranking in Google (this is referred to as keyword cannibalization). Instead, create more prominent, in-depth content pieces.
  4. Focus on creating topical authority: If you want to rank in Google for “best cleaning company,” it’s likely not enough to have a home, about, and services page on your website. To increase your rank, create multiple content assets relating to your industry to build topical authority.

SEO Term #3: Keyword Research

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

The most crucial keyword metrics include the following:

  • 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 expensive, 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, targeting keywords with low search volume and CPC is best.

Next, you might wonder, where do I find this data?

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

Best Keyword Research Tools

The best keyword research tools include:

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

The Google search engine results page for the keyword “chocolate chip cookies.”

A search engine results page (SERP) is the list of results that are generated by a search engine in response to a user’s search query.

The SERP is one of the most important components of search engine optimization (SEO) because it determines the visibility of a website and the likelihood that users will visit it.

What Can You Find In The SERP?

Typical SERPs will include the following elements:

  • Advertisements
  • Organic search results
  • Featured snippets
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Local listings

SEO Term #5: SEO Title Tag

The Title Tag is the heading for each result in the SERP.

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 clickbaity).

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 start a vegan diet and lose your first 5 pounds.

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

SEO Term #6: Meta Description

The meta description for two chocolate chip cookie recipes in the Google SERP.

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

Meta descriptions are limited to approximately 150 characters and are meant to captivate the user to click on 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 visitors that a website receives on a regular basis.

It is a critical metric for businesses and website owners, as it provides insight into the effectiveness of marketing and advertising efforts, the popularity of the website, and the potential for generating revenue.

Tips To Increase Website Traffic

Tips to increase website traffic include:

  • Improve search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Build high-quality inbound links
  • Run targeted advertising campaigns
  • Create compelling and shareable content

SEO Term #8: Indexing

Indexing is the process by which search engines scan, categorize, and store a website’s content in an index database.

When a user conducts a search, the search engine retrieves the relevant content from its index and displays it in the search results.

Indexing is crucial for SEO because it determines whether or not a website will appear in search engine results.

If a website is not indexed, it will not be visible in search results, and users will not be able to find it through search engines.

Factors That Affect Indexing

Factors that can affect indexing include:

  • The quality and relevance of the content on the website
  • The structure and organization of the website
  • The use of meta tags and other optimization techniques
  • The presence of broken links or other technical issues

SEO Term #9: Domain Authority

Using a tool such as Keywords Everywhere, you can quickly see important SEO metrics such as domain authority.

Domain Authority (DA) is a metric used to measure the quality and strength of a website’s domain.

It is developed by Moz, a leading provider of inbound marketing tools, and ranges from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating a stronger and more authoritative domain.

Domain Authority is calculated using a variety of factors, including the number and quality of inbound links, the domain’s age, content quality, and other factors that contribute to a website’s overall strength and authority.

Domain Authority is an essential factor in SEO because it provides an indication of how well a website is likely to perform in search engine rankings.

Websites with higher Domain Authority scores are more likely to rank well in search results and receive more organic traffic.

Improving Domain Authority Improving Domain Authority can be a long-term process.

Tips To Improve Domain Authority

Tips To Improve Domain Authority include

  • Build high-quality inbound links
  • Regularly produce high-quality content
  • Improve the user experience on your website
  • Ensure that your website is optimized for search engines

SEO Term #10: Slug

The slug for joyfoodsunshine.com’s chocolate chip cookie recipe blog post.

A slug is a unique part of a URL, also known as a web address, that identifies a specific page.

The slug is the URL part that comes after the main domain name and defines the specific content that can be found on that page.

Slugs play a significant role in SEO because they help search engines understand the structure and content of a website.

A well-crafted slug can improve the visibility of a website in search engine results and drive more traffic to a specific page.

When creating a slug, it’s essential to keep it short, descriptive, and relevant to the content on the page.

The slug should accurately reflect the page’s content and use keywords relevant to the topic.

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 consider whether the website’s content can help with the user’s query.

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

Every search engine comprises 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 resource.

For search engines to recognize your website, you must 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 trillions of web pages.

When existing pages incorporate a new URL into their content through backlinks, the search engine can recognize 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 beneficial if you’ve recently changed 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

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 use SEO best practices and meet Google’s standards.

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

Why You Should Care About SEO

Reasons you should care about SEO include:

  1. Generate More Qualified Leads & Drive Sales
  2. Decrease Your Overall Cost
  3. Build Trust and Loyalty

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

SEO drives traffic to your website and 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 to promote products and services and drive your favorite product’s sales.

SEO Benefit #2: Decrease Your Overall Cost

Another popular marketing strategy is 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 starting and don’t have the budget to pay for ads, utilizing SEO is a cost-effective solution to get similar results.

SEO Benefit #3: 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 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.

4 Types of SEO

SEO is a complex and constantly evolving field, with many different strategies and tactics that can be used to improve a website’s ranking.

There are four types of SEO:

  1. On-page SEO
  2. Off-page SEO
  3. Technical SEO
  4. Local SEO

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to optimizing individual web pages to rank higher in search engine results pages. This type of SEO focuses on optimizing the content and structure of a website to make it more search-engine friendly.

On-page SEO techniques include optimizing the website’s title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. Other crucial on-page optimization techniques include keyword optimization, content creation, and internal linking.

On-Page SEO On-page SEO is essential for improving a website’s visibility in search engine results pages. Optimizing the content and structure of a website makes it easier for search engines to understand the site’s relevance and its pages, helping them rank higher in the SERPs.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is optimizing a website’s external signals, including inbound links and social media signals. This type of SEO is designed to improve a website’s reputation and authority in the eyes of search engines.

Off-page SEO techniques include link building, social media marketing, and brand management. Link building involves acquiring high-quality inbound links from other websites, while social media marketing promotes the website and its content through social media platforms.

Off-page SEO is essential for building a website’s reputation and authority in the eyes of search engines. By acquiring high-quality inbound links and promoting the site through social media platforms, a website can establish itself as a trusted and authoritative source of information, helping it to rank higher in the SERPs.

Technical Page SEO

Technical SEO refers to optimizing a website’s technical infrastructure to improve its visibility in search engine results pages. This type of SEO involves optimizing the website’s code, server configuration, and other technical elements to make it more search engine friendly.

Technical SEO techniques include optimizing website speed and responsiveness, improving website architecture, and ensuring the site is mobile-friendly. Other crucial technical optimization techniques include optimizing URL structure, implementing schema markup, and improving website security.

Technical SEO is essential for improving a website’s visibility in search engine results pages. Optimizing the website’s technical infrastructure makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index the site, helping it rank higher in the SERPs.

Local SEO

Local SEO refers to optimizing a website for local search queries, helping businesses and websites reach a local audience. This type of SEO involves optimizing a website for local keywords and creating a strong local presence through local listings and reviews.

Local SEO techniques include optimizing local listings, creating and optimizing Google My Business pages, and acquiring local reviews. Other crucial local optimization techniques include creating location-specific pages and targeting local keywords in content creation.

Local SEO is essential for businesses and websites that want to reach a local audience. By optimizing for local search queries and creating a solid local presence, companies can increase their visibility and attract more local customers, leading to increased foot traffic and online sales.

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.

5. 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 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 101: 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 101: 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