What is SEO? A Starter Guide: 11 Beginner Tips

what is seo

With the large growth of search engines over the last 15 years, SEO has become one of the most important marketing channels for businesses.

Search Engine Optimization has become a booming business as the internet becomes more and more popular around the globe.

In this guide, we are going to talk about what SEO is, how it works and some basic SEO techniques to rank better in search engines.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization and is the practice of optimized your website and pages to rank higher in search engines.

According to Wikipedia, SEO is:

“Search engine optimization is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website or a web page to users of a web search engine. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic/visitors and the purchase of paid placement.”

Moz, one of the largest SEO authorities, defines SEO as:

“The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”

Search Engine Optimization has been around since around 1997 and has evolved a lot over the years.

While Google is used by over 90% of the market, many marketers focus most of their efforts on optimization for Google. With their ever-changing and advancing algorithm, it is becoming more and more difficult to rank fast for competitive keywords.

Why Do You Need SEO?

Any website owner that wants to use their website to grow a business or make money online, SEO is very important.

Millions of people turn to Google (and other search engines) every day to answer questions, find restaurants, information and a whole lot of other random stuff.

This makes for a lot of traffic that you can get to your website for relevant terms to your website.

organic traffic seo

You can use search engine optimization to rank your website or content for these search strings and bring in loads of valuable traffic to your website, resulting in more sales and customers.

How Does SEO Work?

SEO works by making certain changes to your website and content so that your site is more attractive to search engines.

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Search Engines want to show the most relevant and informative content for their searchers, so providing this on your website and content is essential. They use complex algorithms that scan the web and find the most relevant websites that answer the searcher’s query.

In order to do this, search engines scan and crawl websites that are online and index them in their large database.

These use this database alongside their algorithm to find the best pages to rank for each query in their search engine. Search Engines make regular changes to their algorithms which makes searches more relevant but can cause headaches when it comes to actively ranking your website higher in search engines.

But if you adhere to the most tried and true SEO factors, then your website will rank with the best of them for years to come.

Important SEO Factors

There are many factors that go into the algorithm and which websites or content to show for searches.

Here are the most common factors for ranking well in search engines:

Backlinks

Backlinks are the biggest SEO factor no matter what you may hear. A backlink is an HTML link between two websites.

For example, this is a link to our parent company, Tyton Media.

The more backlinks pointing to a particular page, the better it will ultimately rank in search engines.

Each backlink is like a vote and the more votes a page gets, the better it will rank for the keywords on that page.

Now there are some caveats to this as not all backlinks are created equal. These backlinks must be relevant and natural so that you do not get any penalties.

Relevant Content

In order to rank for keywords in search engines, you must have those keywords on your site and content.

For example, if you are wanting to rank for “the best spy gear”, you will need a piece of content about the best spy gear.

You simply can’t rank for keywords that aren’t on your website or in your content.

So in order to rank on page #1 for specific keywords, you will need to build valuable content around that topic or keyword. Long-form content is also known to rank better so keep your content length over 1,000 words per post.

content length

As you can see on this graph from serpIQ, the average content length for ranking spots #1-#3 is about 2500 words.

Optimized Meta Tags

Meta tags are small bits of code that are added to your code that display the title and description of each page.

These tags are important because Google uses these as a guideline and often uses the exact meta title and description in the SERPs (search engine results pages) if it’s relevant to the query.

google serps wordpress seo

You can see the title (and link) is the meta title of our homepage and the description below it is the meta description that we added to our homepage.

Here is what it looks like in the code of our homepage:

wordpress seo experts meta tags

It’s important to have your main keywords for each page in the meta title and description as well as the content. This will ensure that your pages will rank for those certain keywords.

User Experience

This one is a little newer, but the user experience of your website is now a large factor in how you rank in search engines.

User experience refers to the overall experience a website visitor has when browsing your website.

If your site is hard to navigate, is slow, or doesn’t work on mobile, you will lose a lot of visitors, which will give you bad results in the SERPs.

Mobile Friendliness

Lastly, it’s important that your website works on any device that users are visiting your website with.

Over 70% of people using the web are on now a mobile device so having your website work on all devices goes into the user experience of your site.

In 2016, Google started doing mobile-first indexing which means they are primarily using a websites mobile content for indexing.

If your website is not mobile-friendly, you will likely not rank well.

Though there are a lot more SEO factors that determine how your website ranks, these are the most common and proven methods to get more traffic to your website with SEO.

Types of SEO

As SEO has grown through the years, a lot of techniques and methods have been invented to better optimize your website.

SEO can be separated into a few different methods. As the SEO market has grown, more and more types of SEO have become available.

Here are the most common types of SEO:

On-Page SEO (Technical SEO)

On-Page SEO refers to the technical SEO of your actual website. This means having optimized code, meta tags, good internal linking structure, mobile-friendly design, and relevant backlinks.

While it’s known that on-page SEO isn’t the most important SEO factor, it’s still an important piece of the puzzle to ranking well in search engines.

There are almost 100 technical SEO factors to adhere to but here are some of the most important on-page SEO factors you should optimize:

  • Meta Tags
  • Canonical URLs
  • content heavy pages
  • HTTPS/SSL
  • Mobile Friendliness
  • Internal Linking
  • Image Optimization
  • Alt Tags
  • Heading Tags
  • Website Speed

All of the technical factors together can create a well-optimized website for SEO. If you are interested in diving deeper into on-page SEO, check out our guide for WordPress On-Page SEO.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO refers to the external factors of your website. This is mainly backlinks and the relevancy/quality of those links.

Moz built an amazing graphic that shows some of the biggest off-page SEO factors:

moz off page seo

While we are not 100% of the Google Algorithm ranking factors, this graph shows that off-page SEO is likely to carry over 50% of the ranking factor weight.

Meaning that backlinks and off-page SEO are very important for ranking in search engines.

Local SEO

Local SEO has become more and more popular as more people turn to the internet to find local businesses, restaurants, doctors, etc.

With Local SEO, you can gain more visibility to your website or business in your local geographical area.

Google My Business is a great tool that you can use to increase your Local SEO efforts if you are a local business.

local seo

In order to do Local SEO successfully, you will need a business address where you receive mail. This can be an office, your home or even an apartment.

Local SEO is a little different from traditional or national SEO. To rank higher with Local SEO you should do the following:

Build Citations

When it comes to SEO, citations are an online reference to a business that features an NAPW (name, address, phone, website) online.

This can be done on directory sites like HotFrog, Yelp, Facebook, Foursquare, YellowPages, etc. The more consistent and accurate citations you have throughout the web, the better you will rank locally.

To be consitant, you should make sure your business name, address, phone number, and website are exactly the same for all of the citations you add.

Add Local SEO Schema

Schema is small bits of code that you add to your website so that search engines can see more detailed information about your website and business.

There is a Local Business schema tag that you should add on all your pages so Google knows you are a local business and they can rank you accordingly. Here is an example of a local business schema:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context": "https://schema.org",
"@type": "ComputerStore",
"name": "Tyler's Computers",
"address": {
"@type": "PostalAddress",
"streetAddress": "1234 CPU street",
"addressLocality": "Tampa",
"addressRegion": "FL",
"postalCode": "33611"
},
"email": "tyler@computers.com",
"telePhone": "813-888-8874",
"url": "computers.com",
"geo": {
"@type": "GeoCoordinates",
"latitude": "27.950575",
"longitude": "-82.457178"
},
"priceRange":"$$"

}
</script>

You can easily create your own local schema with a Local Business Schema Generator.

Get More GMB Reviews

Lastly, one of the most important factors for ranking your Google My Business profile higher in search is to get more reviews.

Google looks at both the number of reviews as well as the total review score to rank businesses in GMB.

To get more reviews, simply provide an amazing service and you will see more 5 star ratings and reviews come in. You can also send out an email to your current clients and ask them for a review and many will be glad to give you one.

You can even offer a free product or discount for customers who give you a Google My Business review. To easily share or link to your GMB profile, login to GMB and head to your location dashboard.

On the right column, you will see a box for ‘Your Business on Google’. In there, you will see a link to ‘Share Your business Profile’.

share gmb profile

Just click that link and a popup will appear that gives you a short URL that you can easily share with clients or customers.

share business profile gmb

You can even click ‘Share via email’ and easily send out an email with your short link that makes reviewing your GMB profile even easier.

Conclusion

So now you should know exactly what SEO is, why you need it and the most common SEO practices. If you are interested in learning more about SEO, check out our blog that features more great articles on Search Engine Optimization.

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