SEO 101: A Beginners Guide to Search Engine Optimization

If you have a website, you cannot ignore SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it can bring you organic traffic.

On average, the first organic result on Google’s SERP, or search engine result page, holds 32.5% of the traffic share. As mobile internet usage continues to increase, we can expect that number to rise.

In this guide, we’ll teach you what you need to know about SEO to get you started on improving your SERP ranking. We’ll cover what it is, how it helps businesses like yours, and key ranking factors.

Keep reading to improve your ranking and organic traffic.

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

What Is Search Engine Optimization?

We mentioned briefly above that SEO can help your business website ranking improve. But what is SEO exactly?

Let’s talk about the search engine for a moment. Search engines crawl the web, indexing sites, and pages.

Today, search engines do so much more, but all of their capabilities–from indexing and crawling to returning ads and organic results, to displaying rich snippets, directions, and tap-to-call buttons–are meant to serve one group: the end users.

End users are the people performing the search. They’re your potential customers.

Search engines seek to deliver what they want. They’ve developed advanced algorithms that use AI like Google’s RankBrain to understand how best to serve these end users.

Where you come in is to put into place solid SEO basics to help search engines understand your brand and what you offer.

This covers what search engines get out of your SEO practices…but what do you get out of it? Keep reading in the next section to find out.

How Does SEO Help You?

How Does SEO Help You?

There are direct and indirect benefits to your business when you add SEO to your marketing efforts. The direct benefit is improved SERP rankings and therefore more organic traffic.

This can lead to more revenue when those visitors convert into customers. That’s one of the indirect benefits of SEO.

Another indirect benefit is increasing retention. Because SEO helps keep your brand in the forefront of customers’ minds, they’re more likely to be repeat customers and may even become brand ambassadors.

Speaking of branding, SEO can help your business increase credibility. The more trust you instill, the better your SEO and the more conversions you’ll get.

SEO doesn’t have to be expensive either, which can make it an important factor in lowering marketing costs. In turn, this can help you achieve a higher ROI more easily.

Finally, another indirect benefit of SEO is it can provide you with valuable data about customers and their intent. You can learn:

  • Who is searching
  • What they’re searching for
  • When users are searching
  • Where or from where users are searching
  • Why users need your product or service
  • How users are accessing your content

This information can help you better understand your customers and what their wants and needs are. This type of data can be priceless depending on your business needs and offerings.

Now that you know how you can help search engines–and therefore end users–and how SEO can help you, keep reading to get started in adding SEO to your marketing plans.

Key Ranking Factors And How To Ace Them

Key Ranking Factors And How To Ace Them

In this, the main section of our guide, we’ll discuss three ranking factors which can drive your website into better spots on SERPs. We’ll also cover how to perform at peak in each.

Those three key ranking factors are:

  1. Keywords
  2. Content
  3. Links

KeywordsSEO Long-Tail Keywords

Understanding keywords and long-tail keywords your potential customers are searching for is crucial to strong SEO. You’ll want to begin with keyword research.

There are several ways you can execute this research:

  • Keyword research tools
  • Look up competitors’ keywords
  • Use Google Suggest

Keyword research tools exist for free or for a fee. Competitors’ keywords can be found in their content, page titles, and headers.

To use Google Suggest, you simply start typing in a keyword and see what the search engine recommends as the most-often sought after long-tail keywords.

You should place keywords in your title tag, headers, and content introductions and conclusions. Don’t overdo it–this is known as keyword stuffing and it can get your site penalized or banned by search engines.


Content Is King

End users love End users love content, whether text, images, or video. They devour it.

If you’re going to write content, remember longer is better. Aim for page or blog copy 600 words or more.

The more in-depth your content is, the more search engines and end users attribute credibility to your brand, and the more shareable your content is.

You can use Google Analytics to see how effective your page or blog content is. Signs of effective copy include:

  • Low bounce rates
  • Longer time-on-page
  • Low exit rates

You can also look at how often your content is shared on social networks to determine whether or not users enjoy it.

No matter what you do, make sure you avoid duplicate content. This is often against search engine terms of service, which means you can be banned or penalized for using it.


Google Page Rank

When Google released its PageRank algorithm in the mid-1990s, it changed how searching the web works. Suddenly, how content related to other content mattered.

This is true through today. Getting links–known also as backlinks–is an important step in building credibility and succeeding in search engine marketing.

But, they have to be high-quality links:

  • They need to be relevant
  • They should come from sites with high domain authority
  • They should come from pages with high URL authority

If your brand sells life coach services and you’re linked to by a company that sells stickers, the link won’t be high-quality.

In addition to being on the lookout for high-quality linking opportunities, be wary of link farms or buying backlinks. This is yet another practice which can land you in hot water with search engines.

Final Thoughts

Now you know what search engine optimization is. You know how it can benefit your business.

You’ve even learned a bit about how to do SEO in our discussion of the three key ranking factors. There’s a lot more to SEO than these three factors, but we hope you now know enough to get started.

If you still have questions about SEO, drop us a line. We’d love to help you improve your organic search rankings.