What is SEO?

What is SEO?: A Guide for Beginners

You’ve likely heard a million times that search engine optimization is an essential digital marketing tool. However, you likely do not have a strong understanding of this complex and multifaceted beast. So on that note, you’re likely wondering – what is SEO?

SEO consists of multiple core elements. Furthermore, knowing what they are and how they work together is key to understanding why search engine optimization is important. In short, SEO is important because it makes your website more visible. That means more traffic and more opportunities to convert prospects into customers.

Beyond that, SEO is also a valuable tool for brand awareness. It is also key when it comes to forging relationships. Lastly, it is also essential when positioning yourself as an authoritative and trustworthy resource in your field. So, without further ado, here’s a concise look into the world of search engine optimization. This guide will introduce you to everything you need to know about SEO!

What is SEO?: The Key Elements


What is SEO? Keyword Research

The days when keywords were the lone SEO technique are long gone. However, that doesn’t mean that keywords aren’t still a critical element these days. The major difference between then and now is that you need to research your keywords, select them carefully, and use them just the right way in order for them to be effective. Some of you might be wondering, what exactly are keywords? Well, keywords are terms and phrases that prospects use to find online content. Brands can then use keywords to connect with prospects who are looking for their products or services.

When conducting keyword research, it’s vital to seek ones that have high search rates and low competition. It is also critical to select both short-tail keywords (such as puppies), long-tail keywords (such as terrier puppies for sale), and local keywords (puppies for sale in Detroit) to work into your content. You can also employ keywords to optimize all your titles, URLs, and other on-page SEO elements – will discuss this more later.


Content is without question a vital component of any SEO strategy. It’s the vehicle you use to both reach and engage your audience. For example, if you owned a sports store and wanted to increase your overall visibility, you could publish a series of blogs about new equipment, how to care for your equipment, training tips, and more.

When a person interested in sporting goods went looking for said information, your blog would likely show up. This would allow you to form a meaningful relationship with the prospect by providing genuine information. When the time came for the prospect to purchase a new football, you could very well be the first shop that comes to their mind. Content today must be educational, yet interesting, relevant, engaging and sharable…all at the same time.

Content comes in a variety of forms, including:

  • Web page content
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts
  • Whitepapers & e-books
  • Social media posts
  • Local Listings

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO
Adobe Stock

Off-page SEO involves external optimization practices that occur away from your site rather than on it. The primary technique used for off-page SEO involves backlink building. Quality backlinks to your site from external sites tell search engines that your site is valuable and high-quality, this helps establish authority.

There are many tactics for backlink building. Some of the current best practices include guest blogging, creating lots of infographics that will be shared a lot, and mentioning influencers in your content.

Local SEO

Local SEO is becoming increasingly important as more and more people use mobile devices for search. Today, 57% o fall searches are performed from tablets and smartphones, and half of those searches have local intent.

Let’s say you own a restaurant for instance. Local SEO would help ensure that when people in your area seek out the best restaurants in town, they’ll come across your site. Along with using local keywords, other local SEO best practices include claiming directory listings, creating location-specific pages for your site, and creating pages for your business on Google My Business and Google Maps.

Search Engine Marketing

Search Engine Marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) refers to paid marketing efforts, and it includes tactics such as native ads, Google AdWords, social media ads, pay-per-click, Google shopping ads, display ads, and more.

While SEM isn’t usually a core component of a strong SEO strategy, it does have its place since it can help you reach new and highly targeted audiences.

Understanding the Importance of SEO for Modern Businesses

Visibility and rankings

One of the most crucial functions of SEO is increasing visibility. This means making it easier for prospects to find you when they search for something you offer. Furthermore, visibility directly correlates with your ranking.

The higher you rank on search engine result pages (SERPs), the more likely prospects are to see you and click through to your site. The more efficient your SEO efforts, the higher your rankings, and the better your visibility. This is especially important when you consider that 25% of web users never click past the first SERP.

Web traffic

Increased web traffic is typically one of the main goals of SEO. You increase web traffic when you increase visibility and rankings. Think about it this way: 33% of clicks go to the first ranking page, and the first five listings get over 75% of all clicks.

It’s not that complicated, if you want more prospects to find your website through a search engine, then you need SEO tactics that will help you rank among the top five positions – ideally number one.


Web Authority

The entire concept of authority is relatively new in the SEO world. Nonetheless, it’s becoming increasingly important to search engines as it becomes more meaningful to users. Authority essentially means that your website is trustworthy, high quality, relevant, and has something to offer. The more authority your site has, the higher you will rank, and the more prospects will come to trust your brand.

Creating a better visitor experience

Another reason SEO is critical is that all the time you put into generating great content and optimizing your site with on-page SEO improves the usability of your site. In short, this creates a seamless and positive customer experience.

For example, when you take steps to make your site responsive, it will make it usable for all your mobile visitors. However, your site is still accessible to users who visit from desktops and laptops. On a similar note, by increasing your page load speed, you’ll likely reduce your bounce rate and encourage users to spend more time on your site. Roughly 50% of consumers expect a page to load within two seconds. The longer the load time, the higher the bounce rate and the lower your conversions.


SEO Growth

In the end, the main reason SEO is essential is that it can help you achieve many of your business goals. SEO can help you:

  • Form better relationships with your audience
  • Improve the overall customer experience
  • Increase your authority
  • Drive more people to your site
  • Give you an edge over your competition
  • Increase conversions

This ultimately means more sales, more loyal customers, and more growth for your business.

Search engines aren’t perfect

SEO Imperfection

One last point that’s worth bringing up is that SEO is important because search engines aren’t perfect. If you don’t take steps to counter their shortcomings, then your website will pay the price.

For instance, if a site doesn’t have a proper link structure, then search engines may not crawl and index the site properly. This can lower your rankings. Furthermore, coding errors can totally block search engines. This makes it impossible for your site to rank no matter how much time you put into other SEO efforts. Other common errors where search engines can run into issues include:

  • Duplicate pages
  • Forms
  • Images, flash, audio files, video, and other non-text content
  • Language and semantics

What is SEO?: Closing Thoughts

As I hope you’ve caught on, SEO is a complex undertaking that involves numerous techniques, tactics, and best practices. Furthermore, these best practices are constantly evolving as consumer and web-user behaviors change, as new technologies surface, and as search engines change their algorithms. On that note, SEO is still of the utmost importance for any business that wants to be visible online, so your efforts are without question worthwhile.

SEO can help a business accomplish a number of goals, including those involving brand awareness, traffic, conversions, customer experience, and much more. This is why it’s so important for digital marketers to have a strong grasp of what SEO is, how it can help achieve your goals, and what the most cutting-edge best practices are.

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