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SEO Basics for Beginners: How to Start with SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of improving your website's rank on Google, Bing, and other search engines. The higher the position of your webpage on the organic search engine results pages (SERPs), the more "visible" the page will be. SEO aims to drive your website traffic and generate qualified business leads.

The concept of SEO benefits everyone, from freelancers to small business owners to large corporations. Many companies have found success by implementing this marketing strategy.

SEO can be quite technical. To effectively use SEO, you must first understand how search engines work. Search engines use algorithms to determine a page's relevance to a given query; in our blog, How The Google Search Algorithm Works, we discussed the three stages of Google's ranking process, which is the same for other search engines.

3 Stages of the Search Engine Ranking Process

Stage 1 - Crawling

At this stage, the search engine uses bots or spiders to 'crawl,' follow links and discover URLs.

Stage 2 - Indexing

After the page has been 'crawled,' the search engine tries to understand its content, including the text, image, key content tags, videos, and more. It then stores analyzed information in an extensive database called the index.

Stage 3 - Serving

Once a query is received, the search engine's algorithm calculates it based on different factors. It will then predict which indexed pages will give relevant information in response to the search phrase and rank them accordingly. Note that algorithms are constantly changed based on various factors to improve user results continuously.

Now that you understand the fundamentals of search engines, you can begin with SEO. Let's walk through the basics of getting started with search engine optimization.

1. Get at least one link from an indexed external website

In the first stage of the search engine ranking process, we discussed that spiders crawl the web. For a spider to discover your webpage, it must be connected to at least one external link already in the index. Otherwise, search engines wouldn't know your website exists, and it won't be indexed or discoverable.

2. Keyword Research

To optimize your website, you must determine what you are optimizing for. At this point, keyword research becomes useful.

Keyword research is searching for the words or phrases commonly used by your target audience. It aims to discover what people are searching for online and their search intent. This process will then help you craft your SEO strategy accordingly.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding which keywords to target on your website:

  • The competition

This can be measured by analyzing how many other websites are targeting the same keyword as you are and how high they rank in the SERPs. Generally, the higher they rank, the more challenging it is to compete with them.

Assess the likelihood of your webpage ranking against your competition for selected keywords. Optimizing your website for more specific search phrases or long-tail keywords is best for a beginner.

  • The volume of searches

Determine how many people search for a given keyword. The more searched a keyword is, the better your chances of reaching an audience.

  • The relevance of searches

The more relevant keywords you choose to target, the easier it will be for people to find your content and convert them into customers.

Keyword research is a complicated but critical step in SEO. Several free and paid tools can help make the process easier. However, you must remember that keyword research may not be left to an application, nor is it finished.

3. Set achievable targets and be patient

Established websites have already proven their authority. They have had more chances to be crawled by search engines and often have a lot of links to indexed websites. Their history allows them to rank high in SERPs for head keywords. Head keywords, which are generic and often consist of one to two words, are harder to rank organically.

For new websites, there is a better chance for their webpage to rank if they use more specific search phrases, called long-tail keywords, to target a particular niche. Over time, webpage owners could revise their target keywords