SEO for dummies: Beginner’s guide to SEO

Updated August 8, 2022 in SEO

Let’s start with an easy one: what does “SEO” mean? SEO stands for “search engine optimization.”

The term “search engine” is not an everyday term you encounter on a daily basis, but it’s simply a more technical term for something we use almost all the time.

You’ve used Google to look something up, right? Google is a search engine. You might have used other search engines like Bing, Yahoo, or Safari too.

Have you ever wondered why the results page arranges the web pages in a specific order? How do they decide which one is first out of a million results?

search result

That’s the magic of SEO efforts and the search engine’s algorithm.

SEO has one goal: to be number one. Or to be on the first page of the search results because users rarely click “next page” in the search results.

Be honest, do you ever click “page 2” when you’re looking for something? Your answer is probably: “Nope.”

That’s why the goal is to be number one. Your website gets a better chance to attract users and to get users to click on your website. Website visitors equals more traffic.

A is for algorithm

Each search engine has its own search algorithm. Yes, you read that right. Google, Safari, Bing, Yahoo, etc. each has its own algorithm.

Don’t worry! We’re not going to go too technical about algorithms because this is supposed to be “SEO for dummies.”

Think of algorithms as a list of the best qualities a web page can have. Some web pages tick all of the boxes—others might only get a few.

Search engines will rank a web page based on how many of these “best qualities” they have. And that’s why some search results rank higher than others.

If you get the hang of the algorithm, it seems like SEO is in the bag. We hate to burst your bubble, but here’s the thing: algorithms constantly change.

At the end of the day, search engines work to match the search results with the user’s search intent. When a user types “aesthetic coffee shops,” the goal is to come up with relevant search results that will answer that user’s question.

Improving and changing the algorithm is one way to reach that goal.

Shady characters or groups might also manipulate search engines once they’ve “mastered” the current algorithm, which is why it needs to change every now and then.

Search engines want organic results because it caters to real people in the first place.

There are, however, certain elements that remain despite all the changes in the algorithm.

Read: 5 best SEO reporting dashboards

The key is in keywords

Let’s take two steps back. We mentioned that the goal in SEO is to be number one. But, “number one” in what? SEO wants you to be number one in keyword rankings.

When users type something in the search bar, those words become keywords or keyword phrases. So if a user does an online search on “aesthetic coffee shops,” search rankings will be based on the keywords “aesthetic coffee shops.”

A page’s content is used to determine if it has the right keywords. To find keywords that you want to rank in, you have to figure out what words or phrases your target audience will use to find your website.

Once you’ve settled on that keyword, you have to look for other relevant keywords. Spamming your content with the same keyword will not help a search engine rank your page. Users will also click “exit” if they see an article that’s just a block of text saying “aesthetic coffee shop.”

Read: Best SEO rank tracking tools

Get ahead in rankings with the right heading

A good SEO strategy generally involves important keywords, which is why this element is especially vital in creating optimized content.

But, you’ll also need to arrange those keywords strategically.

The first thing users tend to see on search result pages is the title of the article plus its meta description. “Meta description” is another technical term for that block of text below each search result.

meta title and meta description

It’s super important to show the keywords in the title tag because it’s the first thing users see on the results page. If users click on your page, they might quickly scan its contents to decide if this is what they’re looking for.

And the things that stand out will be the headings. “Headings” are the text that appears larger than the regular text, and they often appear in bold too.

Users need to see that the contents of your page can answer their questions. If their questions can’t be answered by your page, they might settle for any helpful leads found on the page.

Build bridges by building links

“Helpful leads” come in the form of links pointing to relevant pages from your own website or from other sites.

Internal links (this means links that link to pages on your own website) are helpful in increasing the organic traffic of your website.

Users might not find what they’re looking for on one page, but they might click on another link that has the right keyword to make them click. If that link leads to a page within your website, then it’s still a win-win for you!

Why should you include links to other websites though? Some algorithms might assess your page based on the link’s authority. Authority links are links from websites that have good search engine optimization.

In other words, these are websites on the first page.

This is often a green flag for search engines because it means that you’re referencing quality content—and it’s quality content because they assessed it in the first place!

Read: Best link building services

So, why bother with SEO?

SEO can help with digital marketing. In this age, most people rely on shopping results from search engines to make their purchases.

It also helps in building a stable and trustworthy online presence. And people are more likely to trust the results on page one.

Let’s rephrase an earlier line where we mentioned that the goal of SEO is “to be number one.” The goal of SEO is to be number one because people are more likely to trust the number one.

Every one wants to be number one. Unfortunately, it takes a lot to be number one.

We have to confess, SEO isn’t really for dummies. It involves market research and tons of technical aspects. You’ll also have to write and write just to churn out valuable content.

Who said you have to grapple with SEO on your own though?

SOAR offers SEO Marketing Services that can fit your needs. We promise we’re not dummies doing SEO—we’re experts on SEO!

We can help you with all the tedious research and planning. We can even prepare and write the content for you.

Let’s start planning your journey to being number one (or at least, on page one). Schedule a call with us now! Feel free to chat with our live team for more information.