SEO Explained for Total Beginners

SEO is one of the top methods of digital marketing used by businesses all around the world today. SEO, or search engine optimization, basically aims to make a webpage or website more likely to appear when people go onto search engines to make a search. Billions of online searches are processed every single day on search engines, and while Google does not release the exact numbers, multiple sources estimate that the leading search engine performs at least 40,000 searches per second, with some reporting up to 99,000 searches per second! In fact, more than 90% of anything someone does online begins with them typing into the search bar.

Unlike other forms of digital marketing, like say, pay-per-click advertising, you cannot pay a search engine to improve how well a website ranks on their system. Instead, there are several different elements that the site owner can fine-tune on their end to increase this ranking. While it isn’t rocket science, the process is fairly tedious and requires long-term action. Thus, many businesses choose to hire experienced professionals to do the job for them. A good SEO agency will help to analyze the business before formulating a custom plan consisting of those different elements to boost the website’s SEO.

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo each have their own private algorithms to decide which websites show up first when a search is made. They do this by programming “bots” to “crawl” through webpages, essentially going through masses and masses of sites to gather information, before sorting them using things like keywords, credibility, user experience and so on. These algorithms are constantly changing, as search engines continuously try to give their users the most accurate and relevant results. And because their algorithms are constantly evolving, techniques used by SEO agencies must keep up as well.

Also, since the web is a network of interconnected sites and pages, strategies don’t stop at the webpage itself (on-page SEO); steps have to be taken on other pages of the web too (off-page SEO) for a webpage to be search engine-optimized. The various strategies for SEO can be roughly summarized into three major groups: Quality Content, Hyperlinks, and Website Development.

Quality Content

One of the most straightforward, but also most important factor for ranking well on a search engine is, of course, the content on the webpage. There is no shortcut to this. Regardless of any nifty SEO tricks and techniques used, quality content is still first and foremost the key to a good website. This means that content published is relevant, interesting, and consistently updated.

Another hallmark of SEO strategies is the use of keywords. Having top notch writing and captivating content is not enough if it doesn’t contain what your target audience is searching for. To optimize a webpage for search engines, a common SEO practice is to do research on popular keywords that customers are searching for and then incorporating those keywords into the content published.


Hyperlinks are another key tool for SEO and can be used in both on-page and off-page SEO. One way search engine bots judge whether a page should deserve a higher ranking is by the presence of links to other relevant or reputable websites. The logic here is similar to citing multiple credible sources in a thesis paper. It makes the content more trustworthy.

On the other hand, links that lead to the business’ page coming from other webpages are also important for SEO. This could be an internal link, where another page from the company’s own website links back to this one, or a backlink that comes from a completely different website altogether. Having more mentions from different websites, especially highly ranked ones, tells the bots that the website is of a certain standing as well.

Website Development

When a bot gathers information from a site, it doesn’t see the page like we do. Instead of the colors, images, and aesthetic designing that a visitor sees, the bot only sees a bunch of text. That is, the coding, or HTML of the webpage. As such, polishing up the HTML is also an important aspect of SEO.

One example is the Alt Text function, which provides a description of an image that will be displayed should the image fail to load. If the image loads successfully, the Alt Text still exists in the HTML even though viewers cannot see it. Since bots analyze the HTML, keywords can be used in these Alt Texts to further enhance SEO.

Another thing that a typical site visitor will not look out for but bots will consider is the website’s architecture. An organized website can help the bot to navigate the website more easily and make it easier to rank on search engine results. And of course, because search engines want to display websites that give users a good experience, they also take into consideration aspects like loading time, website security, and mobile friendliness.