A Quick (Beginner's) Guide to Search Engine Optimization

This quick guide to search engine optimization covers everything (crucial) about SEO you need to know. It will walk you through the SEO basics, its importance, how it works, and the importance of keyword research, content optimization, on-page & technical SEO, link building, and tracking in SEO. Read on!

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Search engine optimization (SEO) - The term heard by many, understood by few.

The thing is - the world of SEO is vast, fast-paced, dynamic, and ever-evolving.

To many people, the term SEO might seem intimidating. But believe me, it's not as complicated as people have made it sound. You can always learn the basic (yet crucial) things about SEO and make the most of it.

Today, most people think that SEO is all about higher ranking and driving more traffic to the website. Yes, it is, but it's also about offering an irresistible experience and generating quality leads and better revenue.

That said, SEO is a critical component of digital marketing . If you don't know about digital marketing, I would like you to first go through our quick digital marketing guide and then come back to read this guide further.

Done? Let's begin!

This quick guide covers everything (crucial) about SEO you need to know. It will walk you through the SEO basics, its importance, how it works, keyword research, content optimization, on-page and technical SEO, link building, and tracking SEO results.

I won't take much of your time and try to fit all the essential things about SEO in less than 10 minutes. So are you ready to begin the SEO journey? Awesome!

A Quick Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

All right. What in the world is SEO? What does that mean, exactly? 

If you pay a bit heed, the term SEO is pretty much self-explanatory. Guessed the definition? Yes, exactly. The acronym stands for search engine optimization, which means:

When you optimize your content or an entire website as per search engines' algorithms to rank higher in SERPs and drive more traffic, that is SEO.

In other words, SEO is the practice of driving traffic from organic search results on search engines (like Google). All in all, SEO improves ranking and increases your site's visibility. 

The Importance of SEO: Gain Traffic and Leads

You won't believe it, but many people think that SEO is dead. However, it's a sheer myth that needs to be debunked ASAP. That said, SEO is of utmost importance. Why do I say so? Why would you even believe me? Do I have any proof to back my statement? Yes, I have.

Let me throw some light on SEO stats so that you can decide whether SEO is worthwhile or not.

  • 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine.
  • 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search.
  • 61% of B2B marketers admitted that SEO generates more leads than any other marketing method.
  • SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate.

This is the importance SEO holds. Why is SEO important? I think now you have the answer. Plus, now you can also shut the mouths of those who say SEO is dead. Right?

How Search Engine Works and Why Should You Care?

Before we learn how SEO works, it's imperative to understand the mechanism of search engines. So how do search engines work, actually? Well, if we look broadly, it works through three primary functions - crawling, indexing, and ranking

Search engine bots (aka web spiders ) crawl and fetch hundreds of billions of web pages. After that, they store and organize the content found during the crawling process. And in the end, show the most relevant content (as per the search query) on the top, that is ranking.

It is important to understand how search engines work because they help you rank your website in organic search results for relevant keywords. If you rank for the searched queries, you will get more traffic, leading to more conversions, sales, and higher ROI.

How Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Works?

SEO delivers searchers high-quality and relevant results based on their search queries. How? When one optimizes his / her website or content with a well-thought-out SEO strategy, search engines show your pages on the top in the result pages accordingly. Because as per search engines, your web pages are well-optimized and highly relevant to the searcher's query.

Using the latest SEO tactics, you can increase your website's visibility and rank higher in search results. Leveraging both on-page and off-page SEO (the right way), anyone can take their website to heights. That said, adjusting your website and content for greater visibility and readability gives your SEO meaning.

The Role of Keyword Research in SEO and Ranking

Understanding what your audience is trying to find is the key to successful SEO. But the question arises here - how to do that? The answer is via effective keyword research

Keywords are the foundation of SEO. If your website/content is optimized with the keywords no one is searching for, it's of no use because you won't gain any traffic, no matter what. 

Having said that, keyword research can help you find out what people are searching for, how many people are searching for it, and in what format they're demanding the information

Leverage popular keyword research tools out there (such as  Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMrush, Moz , and others), understand the basic mechanism of keywords and plan your strategy accordingly.

Once you find relevant keywords, you can optimize your website/content for higher search engine rankings, gain more traffic, increase sales, and ultimately maximize your profit.

Why Is Content Optimization (More Than) Crucial for SEO?

Content and SEO go hand in hand for higher ranking and more traffic. There is a reason why the content was, is, and will always be king, no matter what. It may sound cliche to some people, but it is what it is. You can't ignore it. Can you?

That said if your content is dull, boring, and junk, SEO is of no use. Similarly, if your content is rich, informative, and of incredible quality but lacks SEO, it will fall flat.

So SEO and content are intertwined.

First, find out the relevant topics and the right keywords for your audience's needs and wants for better content optimization. Creating quality content, focus on keyword optimization, and emphasize content length.

Talking about keyword optimization, several elements require your keyword focus in the content, such as title tag, meta description, URL, heading and subheadings, body text, image metadata, internal and external links, and more.

On-Page and Technical SEO

Most people think that on-page SEO is all about throwing a few keywords here and there in the content/website. Well, they couldn't be more wrong. On-page SEO is optimizing the entire web page (from HTML source code to content) for a higher ranking in SERPs

  • On-Page SEO Optimization Checklist: Including keywords in the URL, using short URLs, ensuring the use of keywords in the title tag, meta tag, meta descriptions, first 150 words, H1, H2, H3, etc. tags, optimizing images, using LSI keywords, and external/internal linking are some on-page SEO checklist.

Now coming to technical SEO. Frankly speaking, technical SEO can make or break your search engine rankings. Therefore, it shouldn't be overlooked and needs to be emphasized more.

  • Technical SEO Checklist: Identifying crawl errors, finding out how search engines view your page, making sure your site is mobile-friendly, fixing broken links, securing the website with HTTPS, checking (and improving) site's loading speed, using schema markup, and more are some technical SEO checklist you need to keep in mind.

Link Building and Outreach

On-page and technical SEO alone can't help you rank higher in the SERPs. To outrank your competitors, you have to establish authority. How can you do that?

By earning links from authentic websites. That said, Google reveals that links are one of the three most important ranking factors. If you want to rank higher in search results, you must use quality links.

There are mainly two types of links - internal links and external links.

Internal links are links that connect internal pages of the same website, same domain. External links (aka inbound links and backlinks ) are HTML hyperlinks that point from one website to another. 

What is link building, exactly? Well, it is the process of getting hyperlinks (aka backlinks) from other websites to your own with an aim to improve search engine visibility.

Pursuing competitor's links, creating linkable assets, content marketing, email outreach, broken link building, and guest blogging are some of the basic (yet crucial and effective) link-building tactics you can follow to rank higher.

PS: It's also essential to market your content by outreach and on social media platforms.

Track and Measure SEO Results

Measuring is important for improving, and SEO is no different. SEO is a never-ending thing. It's not like you've implemented all your techniques, and now you're free. No, SEO doesn't work like that. To stay ahead in the pack, you need to know what's working and what is not. Therefore, change the approach accordingly.

That said, keep tracking and measuring everything from rankings to conversions, time on page, pages per visit, bounce rate, and more can help you improve your SEO.  

Having said that, website analytics is deemed a crucial part of SEO . By using the right tools (such as Google AdWords Keywords Tool, Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools , etc.) to track and analyze your website's performance, you can improve your SEO in no time.

Quick Guide to SEO: Wrapping It All Up

If you want to rank higher in search engines, you need to ensure your SEO is strong. To make that happen, you need to optimize your website/content using the latest SEO tactics and ensure that your website has become search engines' true comrade. 

So it's a wrap now. Remember, don't fall prey to shortcuts. Follow the right path. Put all the learnings from this guide in action and rank as higher as you can in SERPs. Good luck!