This article will tell you everything you need to know about the basics of SEO. Whether you’re new to SEO, or need a refresher, we’ll tell you which SEO basics you need to know in order to increase your rankings on the search engine results pages. We will cover how to do SEO for a website, and the tools and techniques you will need. This is an ideal summary for anyone who is new to SEO, curious about SEO, or considering a career in the world of search engine optimization. We will also cover the three factors that are most important for your search rankings: on-site SEO, off-site SEO, and user experience. By the end of this article, you will no longer be a beginner to the SEO world.
Table of Contents
Why is SEO Important?
First let’s discuss: why is SEO so important? Why do you need to know the basics of SEO? SEO stands for search engine optimization. In order to understand SEO, you need to to understand how search engines work.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are two different kinds of traffic from search engines: organic, and paid. Paid search traffic comes through PPC (pay-per-click) or CPC (cost-per-click) advertising. These ads appear at the top and bottom of the search engine results page and are noted as ads. On the other hand, organic traffic is what comes from the unpaid part of the search engine results page. You cannot buy these positions on the SERP. Instead, you obtain them through excellent search engine optimization skills and tactics (which we will discuss in this article!)
Marketing agencies that provide SEO services often combine organic and paid efforts in order to obtain more traffic for clients. The combination of these strategies is often referred to as search engine marketing. If you require search engine marketing services for your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at SEO Design Chicago today.
SEO Basics: What Factors Affect my Search Ranking?
What SEO factors matter to your search ranking? Though there are reportedly more than 200 ranking factors that Google takes into consideration when it comes to the search engine results pages, there are two that really matter the most: relevance and authority.
Relevance is what is on your website. This includes the keyphrases you use and your content itself. You can improve your relevance with on-site SEO strategies. Authority is how your website is considered in the eyes of other websites, like mentions and links to your site. YOu can improve your authority with off-site SEO, which is also commonly referred to as technical SEO. Next, let’s discuss the differences between off-site SEO and on-site SEO.
All credit for off-site SEO goes to Google co-founder Larry Page. Basically, he turned Google’s determination of search engine ranking into a democracy. Either link to your website is a vote of confidence in its content, which in turn gives it a higher ranking on the search engine results page. While other factors of course help determine your website’s ranking, links to your website are one of the most important factors. These kinds of links are called backlinks.
But how can you get backlinks for your website? There are several ways, but the first and easiest is to create content that people organically will want to link to. Then, make sure to get that content in front of the right audience, who will link to it from their own website, their blog, or from their social media. Share your amazing content with anyone who might be interested. Consider asking them to share it in return for sharing some of their content on your own website. (As long as they aren’t a direct competitor, of course!)
There are other ways to get backlinks, too. For example, you can use guest bloggers on your website or use influencers with large followings similar to your own who can link back to your website.
An SEO agency like SEO Design Chicago can also help you with your link building and other off-site SEO tactics to help you acquire the right quality links to help you boost your SEO ranking and climb the search engine results page.
On the other hand, on-site SEO (sometimes referred to as on-page SEO) is all about what you can do with your own website to help its web pages rank higher. (This is an important distinction. Here’s another basic SEO tip: websites themselves do not rank anywhere on the search engine results page. Its individual web pages do.) That is why it is important to optimize every single page of your website. Yes, really. Each page of your website and every blog post should be rich, deep, and optimized for its own subject. And don’t forget to optimize your images by adding alt text!
But how do you go about optimizing each page of your website? Once you make sure it contains high-quality content on its subject, the next step is keyword research. Keywords are what tells the search engine what your web page is all about. A keyword is something that people search for often. There are four places where it’s most important to use your main keyword, often referred to as your target keyphrase: the title tag, the meta description, the title or header of your page, and a few times in the body text. Between two and three times per 500 words is the optimal amount of times to use your target keyword on your web page.
Do you need to check how many times you used the keyphrase? Go ahead and the Control and F buttons on your keyboard at the same time. This opens the “find” window. Type in your target keyword, and it will tell you how many times the phrase appears on your web page.
The third basic element of search engine optimization we will discuss today is your website’s user experience. How do visitors interact with your website? Do they stay on it very long, and peruse the site, or do you have a high bounce rate? It’s important that your page is not only appearing near the top of the search engine results page, but garnering some clicks on it, too. Then, do the people who did click stay on your page or did they leave after just a couple seconds? Do visitors hit the back button and try another option on the SERP? For example, if your pages load slowly, they might leave right away.
Google knows the answer to all of those questions. These are all various “user interaction signals,” and yes, they can affect your search ranking. Google wants to help its searchers find what they were looking for. If it seems like your site is not helping their users, it will demote your page.
There are a few simple ways you can help anyone who finds your website on Google’s search engine results page want to stay on your website:
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Add plenty of visuals, both images and embedded videos.
- Utilize plenty of subheads, bullets, and numbered lists.
- Add internal links to other pages of your site, in bold and with italics.
- Create long, detailed, compelling articles that answer questions that might lead someone to your website.
The goal is to capture the reader’s attention. You do so by formatting the content in a skimmable manner, but also giving them the option to read the depth and detail you worked so hard to provide in the content.
Make Sure to Avoid “Black Hat SEO”
There are a lot of people out there who use what are called “black hat SEO” techniques to trick search engines into ranking an irrelevant page high on their search engine results pages. It’s important for every beginner in search engine optimization to know that it’s important to avoid these tactics. Anyone who violates Google’s quality guidelines can have their domain blacklisted from Google’s index. This is the worst possible scenario for a website. Even if someone searches for a blacklisted site by name, they won’t find it at the top of the search engine results page.
This is why it’s important to stick to the ethical, moral tactics we outlined earlier in this article like off-site SEO, on-site SEO, and user experience. Follow the best practices of SEO to the best of your ability. Be sure to create excellent, quality content, do your keyword research and use them correctly, and work on your link building. If you create the best web page on any given topic, you are well on your way to reaching the top of the search engine results page.
Track Your SEO Efforts
There is no point in learning all these basic search engine optimization skills if you can’t make sure that they’re working, right? That’s why you need to track your SEO success. The best way to do this is by using certain tools that are available to you online. Google Analytics will help you view your organic traffic. Another tool, Ahrefs Site Explorer, can also help you see your organic traffic, as well as the number of keywords your site ranks for, among other things. You can also use the Google Search Console to check your indexing status and optimize the visibility of your website.
FAQs about SEO Basics
- When should I consider using SEO?
- How can I increase my Google ranking for free?
- What is SEO and how does it work?
- What jobs are available in SEO?
- How to talk about SEO?
Ready to go Beyond the Basics of SEO?
Now that you know all the necessary search engine optimization basics, if you need further help with SEO, contact us at SEO Design Chicago today. We can help increase your search ranking with our expert search engine optimization team. We got beyond just the basics of SEO and use the latest and greatest tactics to help your search ranking climb the charts.