SEO For Dummies: What Is SEO And How It Works

what is seo and how it works, seo for dummies,

SEO 101. SEO for dummies. This is as easy as it gets when it comes to understanding what SEO is. It is also the answer to the question: What is SEO and how it works? And in a minute we will unpack the SEO acronym and provide some practical, easy to follow, blog SEO tips to help your blog rank high on Google.

But first…

It’s one of blogging‘s biggest frustrations: Knowing that Google and other search engines are sending millions of visitors to blogs around the world. But hardly any to yours.

That’s right. Almost 100 billion searches are made on Google for services, content and products every month. And the top 3 positions on Google receive 75.1% of all clicks. 

In this article, I will show you the basics of how to position your blog to receive a slice of this huge traffic from Google and other search engines, through SEO. This article is SEO 101, a basic guide to SEO. You could even call it search engine optimization all-in-one for dummies, because our goal is to present a non-intimidating guide to SEO for beginners, as well as those with intermediate skills!

So, what is SEO exactly? And can you really learn SEO?

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What is SEO in Simple Words?

SEO is an acronym for “search engine optimization.” Google uses a complex algorithm sequence to assess site content, page elements, tags, and site availability — among dozens of other elements — to decide which websites are most relevant to a searcher’s query.

What SEO Means

SEO is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of website traffic from Google and the other search engines by improving the visibility of a website or blog to the search engines. SEO refers to the improvement of unpaid results and excludes direct traffic and the purchase of paid placements.

SEO can be divided into two streams: on‐page SEO and off‐page SEO.

What is onpage SEO?

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals.

On‐page SEO is something you have complete and utter control over, whereas that’s not always the case for off‐page SEO.

What is off page SEO?

Off‐page SEO is generally regarded as being synonymous with link building. For example, if I reach out and ask someone to link to me, that’s off‐page SEO. Why? Because I didn’t change anything about my website during that process. Conversely, if I improve my page speed by optimizing some images, then that’s on‐page SEO because I made that change directly on my website.

If you’re ever confused as to which stream an SEO tactic falls into, ask yourself whether it’s entirely within your control. If the answer is no, then it’s most likely an off‐page SEO tactic.

What are the strategic goals SEO?

The three essential of goals any SEO campaign are visibility, traffic and return on investment.

As a beginner, your main SEO goal should be to drive organic traffic to your website or blog. However, for this to happen, you need to optimize your website for search engines. This means taking a few strategic steps to ensure that when your ideal subscriber types a keyword into a search engine like Google or Bing, your site will show up. To achieve this objective, you’ve got to implement good SEO practices.

The better your SEO, the higher your site will rank on the search engine results page (SERP). And the closer you get to the top of page one, the more people will find your product, service, or blog.

If you want people to find you, you have to make sure that the Google and other search engine bots crawling the web not only finds your site but likes what it sees. If Google can’t find your WordPress site, you won’t be indexed and will have zero chance of ending up on the first page. In this case, the only way for people to find your website would be if they are aware of your brand.

How do Beginners do SEO? Plus How can I do SEO for my website?

Here are 7 tips for opmitizing your blog or website to rank on Google. They are what I consider the 7 steps of good basic SEO. It answers the question: How do beginners do SEO?

#1. Find Relevant Keywords With Good Search Traffic Potential.

Keyword research is a fundamental and foundational SEO activity. If you get it right, it can rank your blog for more keywords and bring in good traffic.  When you are planning to write a blog post, first find out what kinds of keywords you could be ranking for, before you start. You don’t want to write a fantastic blog post that nobody will read. That is what keyword research is all about.

What are long tail keywords in the context of SEO?

Long-tail keywords are longer keyword phrases usually containing three or more words. They are keywords or key phrases that are usually longer and more specific than more commonly searched for keywords. 

Focusing on long-tail keywords is a great SEO tactic. Long-tail keywords get less search traffic, but will usually have a higher conversion value, as they are more specific.

With a monthly search volume of 1.3 billion and a keyword difficulty (KD) of 72, facebook is a very difficult keyword to rank for. However, you could target the following long tail key alternatives:

  • “my facebook account” –
  • “find my facebook account by name” – Monthly search volume 1,000. KD: 25

How do you target long tail keywords?

Here is how to find long-tail keywords:

  • Prepare a list of seed keywords. Use a keyword planning tool like Google Adwords or LSI Graph to generate a list of seed keywords,
  • Type each seed keyword into Google and write down its autocomplete suggestions.

For instance, if you type “Long Tail Keywords” into Google, you will have the following autocomplete suggestions, as shown in the image below: long tail keywords, how to find long tail keywords, how to use long tail keywords, long tail keyword examples etc


seo for dummies, seo 101, what is seo and it works

You can also use the Google related searches at the bottom of the page.


seo for dummies

Those are your long tail keywords.

To determine monthly search volume and the ranking difficulty of each of these long tail keywords, you will need to use any of the following SEO tools: Google Adwords, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz, KWFinder etc

How do I access Google AdWords Keyword Planner?

To access Google Adwords planner, simply follow these 5 easy steps:

  1. Set up a Google Adwords account. Please note that you don’t have to create an ad. And you don’t have to include your credit card details.
  2. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  3. In the upper right corner, click the Tools and Settings icon , then under “Planning,” click “Keyword Planner”.
  4. Type or paste one or more of your keywords in the “Find new keywords” search box.
  5. Click “Get started”.

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To help you with your SEO goals and objectives, we are giving you SEMrush Pro FREE for 30 days. ($99.95 value)

SEMrush is recognized as the best SEO suite according to US Search Awards, MENA Search Awards and SEMY Awards. It is also the best digital tool according to Interactive Marketing Awards.


#2. Create Content That Amazes Your Readers

Create content that amazes your readers. Go over and beyond. Your content must be original and creative. It must also be well researched. Ensure that your articles are a minimum of 1,500 to 2000 words in length. Be sure to cover every aspect of your topic. This is important because Google generally prefers long form content.

Make your headlines irresistible

Write headlines that draw your readers in. Your headlines should capture the user intent by anticipating what the reader is searching for. Use the Google PAS (people also ask) section at the bottom of every Google page.

If you need help writing headlines, checkout our cheat sheet: 78 Headline Hacks

Avoid duplicate content

Check your site to make sure that every URL has unique content. You could be penalized if the same content is used more than once. For example, don’t use the same product description on the pages for “men’s shirts,” “men’s white shirts,” or “men’s clothes.”

#3. Create Well Structured Content

It is important to follow a clear and exhaustive content structure that implements HTML headings H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. Your initial heading <H1> should include your best keywords for the particular article you’re writing. It is advisable to use only <H1> heading per blog post, as this will strengthen your SEO.

This type of structure makes it easy for search engines to categorize your content. It also helps human readers, as it improves the user experience.

Here is an example of what a well‐structured piece of content looks like:

H1: How To Make Money Blogging

H2: The Basics – Setting Up A Blog

H3: WordPress, Wix, Weebly Or Jimdo?

H3: Blog Or Website Design

H3: Web Hosting

H4: Review of Web Hosting Companies

H2: Money Is In The List – Email List Building

H3: Lead Magnet

H3: Landing Page

H3: Email Service Provider

           H4: Review Of Email Service Providers

          H5: Mail Chimp

          H5: Aweber

          H5: Convertkit

H2: The Money – How To Monetize Your Blog

H3: Affiliate Income

H4: Recurring Affiliate Income

H3: Coaching

          H4: Online Coaching

          H4: Group Coaching

                H3: Create Your Own Course

                H3: E-book

H2: Conclusion

What is SEO and How it Works?

Some more ideas and pointers about what is SEO and how it works. We want to make this as easy to understand as possible. This is because this article is search engine optimization all-in-one for dummies.

#4. Optimize All Your Images With Alt Tags

Alt text (alternative text), also known as “alt attributes”, “alt descriptions”, or technically incorrectly as “alt tags,” are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.

Do image ALT tags help SEO?

Using alt text on your images can make for a better user experience, but it may also help earn you both explicit and implicit SEO benefits.

You’ll see this field when you upload the image file. High-quality images on your website not only enhance customer experience, but Google considers images when indexing. Since computers only read words, make sure Google can find your photos by using keyword-rich titles. For example, you will rank higher if you name your image “girls-pink-head-bands” than if you use standard file names like “IMG00012889.”

How do I optimize images for SEO?

Here are 7 tips for SEO image optimization:

  1. Use unique images that are page-relevant. To be SEO friendly, opt for original photos. As much as possible stay away from stock images that are available everywhere on the internet. 
  2. Use a high-quality format for your images. Question: Is PNG or JPEG better quality? Although PNG is better quality than JPEG, JPEGs have smaller file sizes than PNG. Therefore, I recommend jpg instead of png. Heavy images can slow down your website.
  3. Use Kraken to reduce and optmize the size of your images. I love Kraken because it is not a plugin. Most plugins slow down your blog. Their free version will serve most beginner bloggers. However, for those who want a plugin, I recommend Smush. With Smush, you can reduce image file sizes, improve performance and boost your SEO.
  4. Include a concise caption with your image. Describe the image, and be specific. Use both the image’s subject and context to guide you.
  5. Keep your alt text fewer than 125 characters. Screen-reading tools typically stop reading alt text at this point.
  6. Don’t start alt text with the phrases “graphic of…”, “picture of…” or “image of…” Simply go into the image’s description. Google and other search engine bots will identify it as an image from the article’s HTML source code.
  7. Avoid keyword stuffing. While you can use keywords as well as semantically related phrases, don’t over do. It may be seen as an attempt to gain an unfair rank advantage in search engines and lead to a penalty.

#5. What Are Internal Links In WordPress?

Internal links are links that go from one page on a domain to a different page on the same domain. They are commonly used in main navigation.

Moz says these type of links are useful for three reasons: They allow users to navigate a website. They help establish information hierarchy for the given website. They help spread link equity (ranking power) around websites.

Why are internal links important?

Internal links are critical for SEO. It’s an important part of SEO, but it often gets ignored.

According to Yoast, Internal links also connect your content and give Google an idea of the structure of your website. They can establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most important pages and posts more link value than other, less valuable, pages. So using the right internal linking strategy can boost your SEO!

Ahrefs has said: “Internal links are to backlinks what Robin is to Batman. They’re crucial to SEO success yet receive little to none of the credit”.

What is internal linking with example?

A great example of how internal linking can boost SEO is Ninja Outreach. Ninja Outreach recently used internal links to boost their organic traffic by 40%

How do I find internal links? Try Link Whisper


link whisper, internal linking, seo for dummies
My Dashboard on Link Whisper

I recently heard about a new internal linking plugin that makes internal linking a breeze. Its Link Whisper. It uses AI to do the internal linking and it’s far more advanced than those plugins that I referred to above.

Link Whisper is $67 (per annum) but I heard such good reports that I decided to buy it.


link whisper suggested links, seo for dummies, seo 101
A sample of my Link Whisper suggested links

Here’s what I like about Link Whisper:

  • Unlike most plugins, it doesn’t slow down your blog or website
  • It makes intelligent internal linking decisions
  • You get to approve the internal links before the plugin creates them
  • As you can see from the above image, a user-friendly interface lets you override and customize the links to your liking.
  • It does in about 30 seconds what would otherwise take me about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • It has allowed me to rectify a glaring SEO anomaly on my blog – the absence of proper internal linking, in a few hours.

How do Beginners do SEO? (Continued)

Here are some additional ideas and tips to enable beginners do SEO effectively. It seeks to answer the question: How do beginners do SEO?

#6. Build Relevant Links From Other High-Quality Websites.

Building backlinks from high Domain Authority websites will increase your blog’s domain authority (DA) and help your blog to rank high. It is one crucial ranking factor by Google.

Use HARO

Help a reporter out (HARO) - seo for dummies

One easy way to do this is to register with Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO connects you directly to reporters and bloggers from high authority domains who requires sources for news stories or blog posts. In return they mention you and pass valuable backlinks to your blog.

This is how it works

#1. Register. Join the 800,000 + HARO users already using the service to connect with journalists. Registering is simple and free. It only takes a few minutes!

#2. Monitor Source Requests. Check your inbox three times a day (5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. ET), Monday through Friday. Look out for source requests relevant to you or your industry, expertise or personal experience.

#3. Send the Perfect Pitch. Pitch the masked email address listed in the source request. Include answers to the journalist’s questions, any specified requirements and a bio with your contact information. If the journalist is interested, they’ll reach out!


Use Link-able

seo for dummies - linkable

With Link-able, you can hire elite authors to boost your SEO and PR with targeted backlinks.

Link-able helps you get the most relevant and targeted backlinks for SEO and PR. If you’re after backlinks for SEO, you can hire freelance authors to build dofollow links by employing white hat techniques (such as outreaching and guest blogging) from high authority domains like Forbes, Yahoo, Entrepreneur, Inc etc.

If you’re after backlinks for PR, you can hire authors to reference your business and build brand mentions in the way you want them to. All you’ve got to do is just post a project and authors will approach you

Link-able is free to join and you can post as many projects as you want! However, you’ll need to pay the authors you hire for the work they do your behalf. Like most freelance job platforms, Link-able takes a percentage from the author’s earnings so that they can maintain the platform and ensure each author performs the quality work they promised.


#7. Install An SSL Certificate On Your Site

Let’s start with the basics. The “S” at the end of the “http” is part of a URL means the website is secure. HTTPS (Hypertext Transport Protocol Security), or secure, sites include the SSL 2048-bit key and can protect a site connection through authentication and encryption. When installed on a web server, an SSL certificate activates the padlock and the https protocol and allows secure connections from a web server to a browser.

What is the difference between http and https? The main difference is that HTTP is unsecured while HTTPS is secured. HTTP is said to send data over port 80 while HTTPS uses port 443. 

Here 8 things to know about HTTPS:

seo for dummies, 8 things to know about https
Image credit: Blue Corona

If you HTTP, contact your web host. Most web hosting services now provide free ssl certificate for wordpress.

How Can I do SEO for Free?

In this section, I will show you how you can do SEO for free, using some amazing SEO tools that are free. This should answer the question, How can I do SEO for free?

#1. Use Yoast SEO. But What Is Yoast SEO?

Every WordPress site needs an SEO plugin. And when it comes to WordPress SEO plugins, Yoast SEO, is by far one of the most popular options. WordPress SEO is, unavoidably, a complex topic, though. And to address that, Yoast SEO has built in plenty of complex features to give you pinpoint control over your blog’s SEO.

But first, what is Yoast SEO?

According to Moz, “Yoast SEO is one of the most widely popular WordPress  plugins around and it’s easy to understand why. Whether you’re running a personal blog or you’re a SEO professional managing a website for a client,  Yoast is a powerful tool that can help you make your site as search engine-friendly as possible.”

Installing the Yoast SEO plugin is easy. Although Yoast has a premium version, the free version is all you need as a begginner.

#2. Use SEO Analyzer

An SEO analyzer helps you test your blog and gives you an SEO score.

What is on page SEO score?

The SEO Score is basically a measure of how well the various aspects of your blog or website contribute to SEO, higher rankings and organic traffic. Your blog’s SEO Score is determined by its performance in four subcategories: Technical, Content, User Experience, and Mobile.

SEOquake

There are many free SEO page analyzer tools that you can use. However, my recommendation is the free SEOquake browser extension. SEOquake is a powerful SEO toolbox for your browser. With this amazing software, you can check any webpage for a huge selection of SEO parameters.

You can also do the folloinwg:

  • Conduct on-page SEO audit in a flash
  • Examine internal and external links
  • Compare domains and URLs in real time
  • Export all data into a file

Help Google to Help You – Make Sure Your Blog is Crawled

It’s great to have amazing content, however, if your site is not crawled and indexed by Google or the other search engines, you don’t stand a chance. That’s right. You won’t appear in the search engine reports pages (SERPS).

So, here are a few tips to ensure that your site and your articles are properly indexed. It will take the form of Q&A.

#1. What is crawling in SEO?

Basically, crawling in SEO means to follow the links and crawl around your blog or website. In other words, when bots (like Googlebot) come to your blog or website they follow all the linked pages on your blog or website.

#2. How can I tell if Google is crawling my site? How do you check if a URL is indexed by Google?

It’s super easy to check if your site has been indexed by search engines such as Bing, Google or Yahoo etc.

Simply enter the URL of your domain with the word site: before it unto your web browser. For instance, here is an example with this blog: site:astutecopyblogging.com The results will show all your site’s pages that have been crawled and indexed by the search engine. It will also show the Meta Tags currently saved in the search engine’s index.

#3. How do I get Google to index? How do I make Google crawl my site? How do I get Google to recrawl my site? How do I force Google to recrawl my site?

This is how to get your blog indexed, crawled or recrawled by Google.

Log into Google Search Console, and click on the “Start now” button, as shown in the image below:


Google search console - seo for dummies

Next, click on the “URL inspection” tool, to the left of the dashboard.


Then paste the URL you’d like Google to index into the search bar, and click enter.

Google paste and inspect any url - seo for dummies

Next, wait for Google to check the URL.

Finally, click the “Request indexing” button.

quest indexing - seo for dummies

#4. How do I use Google URL inspection tool?

The Google URL Inspection tool is located within Google Search Console. The tool provides information about Google’s indexed version of a specific page. The information includes AMP errors, structured data errors, and indexing issues.

#5. How do I access the Google console?

It’s very easy to access the Google console

  • Sign into your Google account.
  • Go to Google Search Console.
  • Click “Add a property.”
  • Choose “Website” from the drop-down menu and enter the URL of your site. … 
  • Click “Continue.”

Wrapping Up – Is SEO Hard to Learn?

As you can see from this post, I would say that SEO is not a hard skill to learn. That’s why this post is SEO for dummies. We have broken it down into a step by step tutorial, and made it easy and practical.

What are your best WordPress SEO tips? Do you conduct regular website analysis on your blog? Is there any such thing as an all in one SEO plugin? Do you undertake a regular SEO site checkup? Is it possible to learn SEO? Have you ever had WordPress search engine optimization tutorials? Are you aware of any free SEO sites?

Would you agree that this articles is search engine optimization all-in-one for dummies?

    Pedro is a pro blogger, coach, copywriter and list grow strategist. He is the founder and CEO of Astute Copy Blogging. He is also a pastor, an award-winning author, and a recovering attorney! He makes his home in England with his wife and their two delightful daughters.

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    17 thoughts on “SEO For Dummies: What Is SEO And How It Works

    1. This is a great thorough overview of SEO! It is always an ongoing process to improve SEO but one I have had fun seeing improvements on as I make little changes. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    2. SEO is at the beginning of every successful website. Without SEO it would be impossible to get organic traffic and make sales.

    3. Wow! You’ve really touched on every aspect of SEO here. It’s so important for bloggers an anybody else putting content online these days. Thanks for your insights!

    4. I did a lot of research recently to improve my blog’s SEO and it was such a journey implementing all of the steps I learned from courses and online. Good to know you’ve shared the basics here.