No blogger or online entrepreneur has never heard of SEO.
There is so much written about these topics that if you type the search phrase “what is SEO” on Google, you will get roughly 800 million results.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a tough nut to crack.
In this SEO for beginners article, I will keep it simple as I want everyone to have a clear understanding of what it is and what it is not.
By the end of this tutorial, you should have a clear idea what SEO is, what it does for your website, and what simple steps you can implement to rank your pages on top of SERPs.
Our topics today are:
- What is SEO?
- How does SEO work, and why is it important?
- What is on-Page SEO?
- What is off-page SEO?
Let us get started!
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization.
While this word is thrown about all the time, few really do a good job of explaining what it is.
Before one can begin to understand what SEO is, one has to step back a little and understand what a search engine does.
You see, the world has a lot of content.
Think of it as a vast library where you have millions of books and billions of pages.
In a library as big as this, you are going to waste your time looking for the content that you want.
So, what do you need? You need a librarian.
You ask this librarian for the information you are looking for, and then this librarian will tell you where to find the information.
On top of that, this librarian is going to get all the books lined up in front of you, like the first ten books that have the data you are looking for, and then you just need to choose some books.
After you selected the books, you go to your table, have a seat, and then read.
That is how a search engine works.
All throughout this search engine optimization techniques tutorial, I will use Google when I am referring to a search engine, as Google is the best search engine in the world.
Google is like a librarian. It is called a search engine because it searches for content.
The content it searches is the content you typed in the search box.
The words or phrases that you typed in the search box is called a keyword.
It does not matter if the keyword is just one word or several words—whatever you typed in that box is called a keyword.
Before the librarian could even present you with the books, the librarian must know the library inside out.
If you asked the librarian for the “history of the Mayans”, the librarian must know at which aisle and shelf Mayan books are located.
Now, even if this librarian knows where these books are, how will he know which ones are the best?
What if there are 700 books about the history of Mayans in that library, how will the librarian decide which ten books are the best to show to you?
This is where search engine optimization comes in.
If you are a blogger or a content creator, you have to convince the librarian, or Google, to show your content among all the millions of similar contents to users.
Wait—you do not want the librarian to just show your content, you want the librarian to show your content on top.
So, what is SEO in a nutshell?
SEO, or search engine optimization, is a process to get free traffic.
It is a process to make search engines to show your content on top of the others.
How does SEO work, and why is it important?
SEO works based on many rules—these rules are called algorithms.
For Google to decide which page to show on top, it needs standards.
What are these rules? Nobody really knows.
Google has more than 400 things to check before it ranks pages to the top.
The Google search engine is made of robots and a lot of complicated programs.
While there are many SEO experts out there, the Google Search Console techniques that they share are based on research only.
If their theories worked, then their approach must be effective.
However, you should know as early as now that no one really knows how Google works.
Its algorithms are protected. After all, the way Google works is the very recipe for its success, so why will they share it?
Now, let us talk about how SEO works at the basic level.
- You publish a blog
- Google indexes the blog post
- Google assesses if your blog post is good enough or not according to the 400 things they have in their algorithm
- If a user searches for a term that is found in your blog, Google shows it to the user
- If you violate Google’s rules, you get penalized
Later on, we will talk about on-page and off-page SEO—both of these are equally important if you want your web pages to rank.
For now, let us talk about why SEO is important.
If a user types a query on Google, like “strawberry shake recipe”, Google is going to show you a list of recipes.
Take a look at this:
As you can see, there are more than 43 million website pages that have this recipe.
If you are a blogger and you posted a strawberry shake recipe, what you certainly want is to be on the top of the first page.
Because users click the links that are on the first age, especially the links that are on the top of the page. And if they do this, you have traffic.
I have to stress that this traffic is free. You did not pay Google to put your blog post on top.
SEO is important for one reason only: traffic.
Instead of you spending a lot of money on ads, why not get people to your blog or product pages for free?
You can only do this with search engine optimization, and you do not even have to spend a dime.
The more traffic you have, the more money you are going to.
We will not talk about monetization but we will touch on this subject just a little bit.
You would typically build a physical store in high-traffic areas.
This way, your store is easily accessible, and the more people there are, the more likely you can make sales.
On the internet, there is no such thing as a high-traffic area.
Instead, you need to drive traffic to your WooCommerce website or Shopify store.
You can do this with advertising, but this is going to cost you a lot of money.
With free traffic because of SEO, you can show your products or services to millions of people.
And if millions of people see what you have to offer, it takes only 1% of that kind of free traffic to make some serious amount of traffic.
SEO works under two main areas—on-page and off-page, which we will discuss in the next sections.
What is on-Page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to the thing that you can do inside your website.
To optimize your pages for search engines, your first priority is your on-page SEO.
Here are the areas you need to focus on:
- Page speed
- Headers and Meta-descriptions
Let us take a closer look at these things.
Keywords – Google, as a robot, will not know what your content is about unless you use keywords. What does this mean? If you are writing about strawberry shakes, you need to use the term “strawberry shakes” as your keyword. This keyword must be in your blog title and the body of your article.
Certainly, a person who uses Google will not type the keyword “orange juice” if he is looking for “strawberry shakes”, right?
Be careful with how many times you use the keyword, as Google penalizes those who stuff their articles with keywords. There is no ideal number of times to use a keyword, but all keywords you use must be placed in the text naturally.
Quality – there was a time when using a keyword was enough to rank. Today, quality is more important than quality. Google, in its quest to be the number one librarian, only wants to show the best pages and content to its users.
Over the years, Google has made a lot of algorithmic changes with how it selects posts to rank. The most important today is quality, which means that only blogs with the best content will rank on the first page of Google’s search results.
Page speed – Google wants their users to have the best experience. As such, Google will not rank pages that are slow to load. Use tools to measure your site speed on both desktop and mobile, and make sure that your load speed is less than 5 seconds.
Headers and Meta-descriptions – use keywords in the right places, and make sure that your blog posts use a header. Divide the content into chunks that readers find easy to read. Use tools like Rank Math to help you determine which SEO areas you missed before you publish a post.
What is off-page SEO?
If on-page SEO refers to the things you do for your site, off-page SEO refers to how other websites perceive you, or how you build your relationships in your community.
The most important off-page SEO areas are:
SSL – refers to Secure Socket Layer, an encryption technology where all types of data get jumbled, and only your website host or a payment processor can unencrypt it. Websites with no SSL certificates will not get ranked, as they pose a risk to the user.
Backlinks – one of the most difficult things to acquire in SEO is backlink. A backlink is a link from another website to your website. If you get a backlink from websites, it signals to Google that you are a trustworthy individual or business.
The more backlinks you have, the better you will rank. This, however, must be approached with caution. Google knows if your backlinks are fake or if they are bought.
What Google wants is natural backlinks. With more backlinks coming from authority websites, Google will look at you as someone with authority and credibility.
As a result, you will get more traffic. You can get backlinks by guest posting, or by simply creating content that is so superb that people cannot help but quote you on it.
You cannot run an online business without SEO.
What you have to do before you write a blog is to perform keyword research.
After that, you need to list down the keywords that will help you rank.
Use free tools like UberSuggest, Answer the Public, and Google itself to look for keywords.
Remember: do not write for SEO.
You must write for people—your blog must serve what a person is looking for, and should deliver what was promised on the title.