Back to the Basics: A Simple Guide to Understanding SEO

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on email
Share on whatsapp
Table of Contents
    Add a header to begin generating the table of contents

    BTW. LOL. TTYL. All popular (though insignificant) acronyms that we’re all familiar with. 

    And even if you don’t know what these catchphrases stand for, it doesn’t matter much.

    SEO, on the other hand, is an acronym with important meaning and big implications if you’re a business building a website. Understanding SEO and how it works is a must if you want to make a name for yourself in the business world.

    So, we’re going back to basics with SEO 101. This article will detail exactly what SEO is and how to use it to your advantage. 

    Back to the Basics: A Simple Guide to Understanding SEO 1

    What Does SEO Stand For?

    Let’s start by discussing what SEO stands for and what that means for you. SEO, or search engine optimization, encompasses all the elements your website needs to succeed.

    Online success is measured in a couple of different ways. It includes driving traffic to your site, improving your rankings, and helping search engines (like Google, Bing, and Yahoo) find you.

    The fact of the matter is, if your website isn’t visible to these search engines, your page won’t come up when someone types a keyword into the search bar (more on those later). Optimizing a site for SEO means designing it to please the search engine Gods.

    But there’s another important element connected to SEO. And that’s building a quality site that’s valuable to users.

    Moz created a system that checks your site’s authority (also known as DA). A high DA means your website is considered reputable and respected in the online world.

    That means you need to offer quality, accurate, and useful content to readers. A higher DA also means a higher ranking on the SERP (search engine results page).

    Now that you know the basics of what SEO is, our next stop on the SEO 101 tour is how to put these principles into practice.

    working on seo for your website

    How to Apply SEO Basics to Your Site

    Once you understand the pieces of the SEO puzzle, you can start using them to your benefit. 

    seo keyword research strategies


    Keywords are the words and phrases that people plug into search engines when looking for something. These are things like “dentist near me”, “how to change a tire” or “the best wedding makeup.”

    If your website is a good match for these phrases, you need to incorporate them into your content (more on that in a minute). For a long time, people believed the more keywords you stuffed into your writing, the better.

    Google caught onto this game real quick and actually penalizes sites that overstuff their content with keywords. So how can you rank for these words and phrases?

    Use a keyword tool that shows what keywords your competitors are ranking for. Then, try using a similar but less competitive word or phrase that conveys the same idea. Most importantly, use the keyword naturally.  

    writing for seo in 2019


    Keywords help your website rank for popular searches, but quality content is what separates the pros from the rookies. That’s why most successful businesses use bloggingas part of their content marketing strategy. 

    Quality content is well-written, informative, and consistent. Think of the keywords as what makes the search engines happy, whereas content is created for your audience. 

    It’s the content that keeps readers coming back. Consistent traffic helps boost your DA and is recognized by Google. This means it can improve your SERP ranking and increase readership.

    backlink strategies for your website seo


    When you need advice on something, who do you ask? An expert in the field, of course. Someone you trust and know will provide valuable information.

    When other websites link back to yours, it says a lot about you. It lets people (and Google and Moz) know that your site is reliable and reputable. It’s another tool in building your authority and expanding your digital presence. 

    So, how do you earn backlinks to your site? Organic links are the most honest and best way to achieve backlinks.

    This means that a website researched a specific topic and found the most valuable information on your page. So valuable that they’re inspired to share it with others. Without fear of losing customers to you.

    There are other, less ethical ways to achieve backlinks too like paying sites to link to yours. While sites do use this practice, it’s not recommended.

    Not only are these links spammy-looking, but if discovered, they could get you in a lot of trouble with Google

    Back to the Basics: A Simple Guide to Understanding SEO 2

    Internal Linking

    All too often websites get fixated on getting backlinks and totally neglect linking internally. Linking from one page of your website to another is a valuable SEO tool.

    Internal links help Google better understand the structure and flow of your site. This is called an information hierarchy.

    Internal links also encourage readers to stay longer and read more. When they click on one link and it takes them to another page, they can see everything you have to offer.

    You may notice that certain pages on your site have more traffic link value than others (also known as page authority). This is a great way to gauge what SEO practices are working and which ones you can improve on.

    Back to the Basics: A Simple Guide to Understanding SEO 3

    On-Site Optimization

    Before you even start putting these SEO practices, there are some simple but important ways to help your site rank.

    Title tags are what tell readers, and more importantly the search engines, what your site is about. These tags are about 70 characters or less and include both the keyword you want to rank for and your brand name.

    The meta description is similar to a title tag but longer, providing more detailed information about your post. 

    When a website comes up in the SERP, the top, bold line is the title tag. The longer paragraph in a smaller font is the meta description.

    The most important details about your post should be found here. Title tags and meta descriptions help your site and pages rank for relevant searches.

    Back to the Basics: A Simple Guide to Understanding SEO 4

    Conversion Optimization

    Search engine optimization, in theory, is priceless. Yes, there are hundreds of SEO factors to consider when ranking a website, but it all boils down to one main thing:

    Why you want to rank.

    The obvious answer is to make more money and grow your business

    But then there are reasons such as “I just want to outrank my competition” or “I don’t know I just pay someone for it because people told me I needed it.”

    What’s the point of ranking, if you can’t get someone to click on your website?

    And from there, what’s the point of someone clicking on your website if they don’t convert into a sale? Or even worse, just hit the back button and hurt your bounce rate?

    SEO is rendered almost useless without proper Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). 

    But, what goes into Conversion Rate Optimization?

    Let’s start with your sales copy.

    If your site sounds something like: “We are family owned and operated, and have been selling sturdy office chairs for over 20 years.”

    Then it’s likely your competitor who sounds like: “Beautifully redesigned office chairs for maximum comfort and control. Free 2-day shipping.” is probably putting you out of business.

    Remember, people don’t care about you. They care about themselves. And don’t forget about your call-to-actions on your website. Like it or not, sales copy sells. 

    How often do we have to be told to do something before it gets done? Even if it’s your to-do list telling you what to do?

    Tell people to buy, and they will.

    Next, how simple is it for someone to pay you? Or, how simple is your checkout process?

    If you aren’t using any tools to track user behavior, it’s time to start. There are many tools out there such as Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools, and then there’s my favorite: Heap Analytics.

    If your users add something to their cart, then don’t end up checking out, or begin the checkout process but then don’t complete it, you need to find out why.

    SEO 101: Take the Next Step

    Congratulations! You’re now an expert on SEO 101. Now it’s time to use this information to optimize your site, improve your rankings, and boost sales.

    Do you still need help perfecting your SEO strategy? We can help! Contact us today so we can get you on the road to SEO success. 

    About The Author:

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey

    Chris Kirksey is the CEO of Direction, a digital marketing agency reflecting the culmination of a 15+ year obsession with digital marketing. It all started with an eBay business at 9 years old, then transitioning from domain investing and website building. After a 6-year US Army career leading intelligence collection teams both in the US and overseas, Chris now brings a sophisticated approach from cryptologic language and adversary data intelligence to digital marketing intelligence. His precision and planning of military campaigns, now reflected in digital marketing campaigns, have proven successful for clients in industries ranging from law firms to technology startups.