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SEO for Beginners: An Introduction to SEO Basics

Chuks Wesley on Thu, 26 May 2022
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SEO is an important marketing strategy that provides amazing benefits to a brand if done properly. 


Ever witnessed the frustration of getting low or zero engagement with your content?  



We noticed our website was not attracting the traffic we wanted so we went back to our strategy board to check the flaws in our marketing strategy. 



During the audit, we noticed we weren’t creating content with SEO in mind. So it wasn’t that our audience didn’t want to consume our content, they just weren’t seeing it on the search. 



Now, if you want your content to appear on the front page of search engines, then you need to understand SEO, or at least hire a Seo Specialist.



You do not need to pay for anything with SEO, unlike paid advertisements where you pay for leads that might not convert to customers. 



This article explains how web pages are discovered by search engines and the reasons why some contents rank better than others. 



Be at rest, this isn’t one of those SEO articles for web developers, this is a guide even an 8th grader can easily comprehend. In this article, we will reduce the concept of SEO into simple ideas so read on.



For context, this is an SEO introductory article, so get used to seeing the term "search engines." Google happens to be the largest search engine in Africa and the world with a 70% search market share. Hence, the word search engines and Google are interchanged in this text.




The scope of this article covers:



  • The meaning of search engines


  • The meaning of SEO


  • Reasons why you need SEO


  • How search engines optimization works


  • The three main types of SEO practice 


  • How to perform SEO for your business?




At the end of this read, you’ll know the basic concept of SEO and how it works, this article wouldn’t make you an SEO expert but it’s a good place to start.





What is a Search Engine?




A search engine is a software machine that stores valuable content in its database for the sole purpose of providing answers to users.



Alright, let’s unpack that a bit. Let’s relate search engines to a library. 



You go to the library for knowledge. The same thing goes for search engines; it is a big universal library containing almost every topic you can imagine. 



Mind you, the founder of a library isn’t necessarily the author of the books indexed in the building, nor are the contents provided by a search engine. 



Those contents used to answer queries are created by brands and individuals like you.



Examples of search engines include Google, YouTube, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, and Yippy.




What Are Search Engines Like Google Looking for?



To get your content on the front page of Google, you need to follow SEO best practices. 



Search engines wouldn’t show your webpage to their users if it’s not relevant and valuable to a query. 



The first step to making your content valuable is understanding user intent, other key factors like responsive page design, page load speed, and keyword optimization are also important.




What is SEO?



SEO stands for search engine optimization. Search engine optimization is the practice of creating content that can easily be discovered, crawled, indexed, and at the same time, provide value to a specific audience.



Google answers searchers' queries by showing the most relevant content on the first page of its result. 



This in turn provides organic traffic to the websites housing those contents, which may likely convert to sales. 



This is why businesses struggle to get their content on Google’s front page because they need that traffic Google brings to their website. We'll take a look at the core benefits of SEO shortly. 




Reasons Why You Need SEO



Search engine optimization is bringing tremendous benefits to all big and small businesses for free. 



It is a full-scale marketing strategy that will reward you in the long run. 



SEO sets your lead generation metric on auto-scale, but that’s not all. Let’s see some core benefits of SEO for your small business.




Increase Brand Trust and Credibility 



Good SEO practices get your content to appear frequently on the search engine result page (SERP) which in turn, attracts more people to interact with your content and see you as a credible source. 


People trust the search results search engines provide. 



So showing up to answer trending questions related to your industry with relevant articles, infographics or videos will likely make people trust your business.




Boost Brand Authority



Another benefit of SEO is that it makes people see you as the authority in your niche. 



Your prospects will likely see you as the go-to expert in your market when your content is there to give thoughts about some issues. 



This establishes your brand at the top amongst your competitors. But if your content is not found at all, then you will be perceived as a newbie in your field.




Bring Quality Website Traffic



Your target audience is more likely to take their problems to search engines like Google than anywhere else, so SEO will increase your chance of getting more traffic on average. 



SEO is a proven cost-effective method for lead generation.




Improve User Experience 



User experience has become a necessary mark for digital-based businesses. 



The report shows that some consumers refuse to buy from brands with poor user interface and experience.


There is a possibility you are not closing sales because of low UI/UX. But SEO best web practices prioritize good UX, which means there is less chance of getting red-flagged by consumers looking out for user experience.  





How Search Engine Optimization Works



Now we have seen the benefit of SEO, let’s see how content published on a website is found on search engines. Search engines follow a process to provide the best answers to searchers' queries. 



The processes of search engine optimization are:


  • Discover
  • Crawl
  • Index 
  • Rank






Discover



The easy accessibility to the internet makes us create and publish content at will, but it becomes difficult for search engines to search the internet for new and updated content. 



Search engines use web crawlers known as crawl bugs or spiders to discover pages that could be relevant to any search query. Search bugs download new web pages and follow links to find new content on the web.




Crawl



When a bug discovers a page on the internet, it attempts to learn what the page is about before adding the URL to a database called caffeine. Caffeine is a database system that allows Google to update small portions of the web and provide newly indexed content fast.




Index 



Indexing happens when a search engine adds a discovered webpage URL to the search engine database for easy retrieval. The saved page is highlighted for specific keywords, upload date and possible intent.



Maybe you wish to prevent search bugs from adding your webpage on their search engine, inserting a robot.txt file or adding <no index> to your code will do the trick – I know I promised to avoid technical jargon but I couldn't help it.



But if you need your webpage discovered faster, I recommend you link those new pages to an already indexed page or submit your new URL to your sitemap for crawling.




Ranking 



Search engines like google provide search results that best fit the user intent behind a search. The results are considered the most relevant to a query. 



Google does this by ranking the web page from best relevant to least relevant in its database. Take our library, for example, you’ll likely see the best books related to a topic on the front shelf.




Types of Search Engine Optimization practices 



There are mainly three types of SEO:


On-page SEO: SEO practices happening on the visible part of a webpage like keyword optimization and content outline.



Off-page SEO: SEO practices happen at the backend of a webpage but can be easily implemented. For example internal and inbound links, creating alt text for images and compressing images and videos for responsive results.



Technical SEO: this is an SEO practice also done at the back end of a webpage but includes more technical activities that can only be performed by web developers. 


Examples include adding a canonical structure to duplicate contents, lazy loading and other technical practices.


In search engine marketing, committing to good practice increases your chances of appearing at the top search result page of search engines, hence, they’re practices that are considered good which are called “white-hat SEO” and SEO practices most search engines frown upon, also known as “black-hat SEO.” 





How to Do SEO



You know how SEO works, but your web pages won’t be optimized on their own. 


You have to get this practice done or hire an SEO specialist to help your page rank for keywords related to your industry. 


Let’s take a look at the basic SEO practices that can get your content on SERP.




User Intent Research 



Behind every query is a searcher looking for specific answers to their search from the search engine.


Search engines use machine learning bots to discover the intent of the query it receives before providing relevant results. 



Researching the main search intent behind specific topics will help you cut out the fluff, and create concise contents your audience will love.





Keyword Research 


Keyword research means finding specific terms your target audience uses when looking for results on search engines. 


Keywords also help search crawlers discover the queries relevant to your content and rank the content for that query.




Types of keywords 

There are mainly two types of keywords:


  • Primary keywords (short-tail keywords)
  • Secondary keywords (long-tail keywords)







Tools for Discovering Keywords

There are SEO tools with free trials for keyword research, most of the tools listed below show the search volume and keyword difficulty. 


Here’s a list of our favourite keyword research tools and extensions;










Backlink Building

 

Backlinks are hyperlinked texts connecting to another content or web page for a better context, or for citing facts. 


Search engines like Google see content using backlinks as trustworthy content. Although there’s a possibility of losing your prospects to the websites you link to, Google rewards web owners by increasing their SERPS. 


Google also sees backlinks from other websites to yours as a vote for relevance. But you only get other websites linking relevant to yours if your content is really good.


The first step to getting backlinks from trusted websites is by creating in-depth content while focusing more on users and not search engine bots.




Content Creation  


Content is the backbone of SEO, you can not perform any SEO practice without content. But creating content isn't enough anymore, you must go the extra mile to create extremely valuable content to stay atop.


Creating in-depth content with user intent in mind will make the consumers In your niche Identify with your brand because there's always a need for the more helpful content.



In Summary 



SEO is a valuable marketing strategy that will tremendously increase your ROI long term.


Integrating SEO into your content marketing is a proven and trusted way to drive sales from the beginning stage of the buyer’s journey down to the customer’s retainers stage. 




Chuks Wesley
Author

Chuks Wesley is a Website Content/Copywriter that has been fascinated with marketing and SEO since 2018, he spends most of his waking hours consuming marketing reports, blog posts and books on these topics. He is also a certified SEO expert.

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