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What Is SEO? Search Engine Optimization Explained

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People rarely look further than the first three links on a search results page.

Depending on your website’s visibility, that’s exactly what you want them to do.

That’s where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes in.

At its most basic, search engine optimization is about making your webpage as visible as possible while moving your article higher up the search engine algorithm.

Keep reading to learn more about the different types of SEO, the many strategies associated with it, and the various tools to leverage it for your site.

What Is SEO?

SEO or “search engine optimization” is an elaborate system of keywords and algorithmic calculations that helps increase your website’s visibility.

Using the right SEO tools, you can boost your site’s:

  • Relevance
  • Traffic
  • Authority

How Does SEO Work?

There are several types of search engine optimization, and they work in concert to improve your content’s relevance.

At its simplest, search engine optimization interprets the strings of numbers and letters attached to your keywords.

Those, in turn, decide whether your blog article appears at the top or bottom of a given search results page.

Types of SEO

Earlier, we said there were several kinds of search engine optimization.

Each has a role to play in giving your website the boost it needs to improve its SEO ranking.

The three types of SEO are:

  • On-page
  • Off-page
  • Technical

1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO includes things like keywords embedded in headers and related keywords called LSIs.

LSI is short for “latent semantic indexing,” and includes keywords similar to your primary term.

They allow you to increase your keyword density without overusing your keyword of choice.

They are effective when potential readers run a semantic search because they allow the search engine to prioritize meaning over a word-perfect match to their search.

But not all in-page SEO includes keywords:

  • Meta description
  • Page loading speed
  • Compatibility with mobile devices
  • Number of embedded links on the webpage

Much of on-page SEO boils down to how user-friendly your website is and how relevant its content is.

2. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is any interaction performed by another site that benefits your website’s relevance and visibility.

Examples of off-site SEO actions include:

  • Backlinks to your website
  • Social media campaigns
  • Guest blogging
  • Brand/product mentions with/without links

Link building is the equivalent of vouching for a person’s character.

It gives your website credibility and is integral to successfully creating search engine optimized content.

3. Technical SEO

Technical SEO dovetails with on-page SEO to increase your site’s relevance, emphasizing:

  • Increasing site speed
  • Ensuring mobile compatibility
  • Using encrypted links tying web server to browser
  • Removing duplicate content

Why Is SEO Important?

Since no one wants to scroll through pages of search results to answer their questions, the websites with the most foot traffic are sites that invest in SEO.

Approximately 40-60% of internet users click on the first link to answer their questions.

The second and third links on a search result receive significantly less traffic.

And both those results receive higher traffic than anything further down the page.

In other words, the success of your website’s search engine optimization dramatically affects whether or not anyone sees your content.

How Is SEO Used in Marketing?

There are two ways to use SEO in marketing.

The first is organic SEO, which relies on a combination of:

  • Keywords
  • Link building
  • User experience

But marketing a blog by relying entirely on organic SEO is tricky, especially for first-time bloggers.

It takes time to accrue the high-density traffic necessary for online visibility.

Enter paid SEO.

Paid SEO, at its most basic, is a marketing campaign that lets you occupy a premium spot on a particular search algorithm.

Think of the first two to three results you see when you run a query through your search engine.

They look broadly the same and have similar meta descriptions.

These are ads for sites that have invested money in occupying those top positions.

While you don’t want to rely on paid SEO in the long term, it’s an effective stopgap for bloggers whose websites are still developing.

Common SEO Terms To Understand

Some SEO language is more self-explanatory than others.

Here are some search engine optimization phrases at their most simplistic.

  • Search Engine: A search engine is a tool you use to run an internet search.
  • Search Result: Search results are a response to a query. Typically, they involve lists of clickable links to web pages.
  • SERP: SERP is short for Search Engine Result Page. That’s the page you see after hitting “Enter” on a Google search. The higher your SERP ranking, the closer you are to the top of the first page of results.
  • Search Query/Keyword: A search query or keyword is the combination of words you feed a search engine to get results.
  • Bots: Bots are automated internet programs that scan, crawl and interpret website content for its SEO quality and rank it accordingly.
  • Authority: Authority is SEO-speak for credibility. Bots and other software programs rate websites for their authority and reliability to help inform SERP results.
  • Meta Description: Meta descriptions are short content snippets. They appear under the link indicating a search result and tell you about the website and its relevance. A good meta description makes use of keywords to convince readers of its relevance.

There are, of course, hundreds of articles online trying to explain it and help beginners, but it could take hours to find and read them all. I noticed that when I started learning SEO.

That’s why, after gathering a lot of experience in doing my own SEO campaigns and for my clients, I decided to list the SEO terms, explain the most important ones and put them into an infographic.

SEO Alphabet was created to help SEO beginners, but also to remind those more experienced about the basics they might have forgotten.

When designing the infographic, I had a mental map design in mind.

Mental maps are often used to simplify the learning process. Each letter of the alphabet has one or more terms attached to it.

Without further ado, check out the SEO Alphabet infographic below and learn a thing or two!

Before you dive into the life of colours and words, here is a quick summary:

– Anchor text, AdWords, Algorithm, Alt text;

– Backlink, Bounce Rate, Blog, Bing, Black Hat;

– Content, Conversion, CTR, CPC, CPM, Crawler;

– Deep linking, Directory, Duplicate Content;

– External links;

– Fresh Content, Feed, Filter;

– Google Search, Gateway page;

– Headings, hits, HTML, .htaccess;

– Internal links, inbound links, impressions;

– Javascript;

– Keyword, keyword density, keyword research;

– Link building, long tail keywords, landing page, lsi;

– Meta description, metrics;

– Niche, no follow, negative SEO;

– Organic search results, outbound links;

– Penalty, PPC, PageRank;

– Quality over Quantity;

– redirect, ROI, robots.txt

– Social Media, Sitemap, Spam, Serp;

– Trust Rank,Title, Trackback;

– URL, unique visitors, usability;

– Visits, viral marketing;

– WordPress, white hat;

– XHTML, XML;

– Yahoo, Youtube;

– Zopim Chat.

seo alphabet

Pillars of SEO

SEO often feels daunting to novices.

To help, many resources discuss search engine optimization in terms of pillars so content creators know what to prioritize.

1. Content Quality

Producing optimized content relies on a combination of back-links from external sites and research.

You need a thorough knowledge of your competitors to create a keyword-rich document that showcases your expertise while still sounding unique.

But search engines also measure the frequency with which other sites refer back to you.

These links boost your SERP rankings by attributing you enough authority to be cited by other bloggers.

2. User Experience

Another pillar of quality SEO is user experience.

A significant part of SEO is the accessibility of your site to its users.

For the highest possible score, websites must be easily navigable on mobile platforms and have a load time of five seconds or less.

If it takes longer, readers typically return to the search page.

3. Authority

Authority tells your readers why they can trust your content.

The higher your authority ranking, the closer Google places you to the top of the search results page.

That, in turn, helps convince readers to engage further with you, whether that means picking up the phone and booking a consultation or placing an order for your product.

4. Relevance

Linking, especially backlinking, plays a significant role in determining your relevance.

It indicates to search engines that other websites take you seriously.

But what websites refer back to your content is also significant.

You score better for relevance when your content gets picked up and linked by blogs on similar topics.

In addition, anchor text plays a vital part in determining your relevance.

Ideally, the anchor text comprises relevant keywords that relate to your content.

5. Expertise

The last pillar of SEO is expertise.

To persuade other sites to link to your content, you need to be recognizably knowledgeable about your subject.

Partly, that means using professional language and writing with authority.

But it also means citing appropriate sources in your content, especially links ending in .gov or .edu.  

Types of SEO Strategy

There are several ways you can use these pillars of SEO to produce quality-optimized content.

screenshot of a man sitting in front of computer screens looking at a bunch of productivity tools on the screens

Optimizing Existing Content

One strategy is to revise existing content by adding:

  • Keywords
  • Relevant anchor texts
  • Internal links
  • Linking to high-quality external sources

Producing New Content

However, many search engines prioritize new or original material over updated, older content.

That means it’s important that content providers aiming to score well on SERP listings generate a healthy amount of fresh content regularly.

Making a Website More Engaging and Sticky

Since user experience is essential to creating high-quality SEO content, another approach is to focus on making your website more engaging.

As discussed, load speed is part of this but engaging websites also include:

  • Ratings/testimonials
  • Easy-to-read font
  • Intuitive layout

Building Links and Brand Mentions

Link building is another technique that can quickly optimize your content.

You need to be careful what sites you link to, but provided you cite sources with high-authority domains, you will see a similar uptick in your website’s authority.

That, in turn, boosts your SEO rating and reader engagement.

Creating a Variety of Content, Including Videos and Graphics

One way to demonstrate expertise and authority is by producing varied content, such as blog posts, videos, and graphics.

All content you produce should be easy to digest, especially graphics.

Providing alternative text for more visual aids is another way to integrate keywords while ensuring that content is accessible to all.

That’s true whether you produce podcast SEO, video SEO, or written content.

Optimizing for Local Search

Optimizing your content for local searches is another way to boost your website’s visibility.

When we think of local searches, we often think of adding geotags and keywords like “Near Me.”

That’s undeniably part of local search optimization because it increases your relevance.

But there are other paths, like:

  • Claiming/updating your Google business
  • Featuring reviews on your website
  • Produce local content
  • Update your website’s NAP citations

Implementing Paid Campaigns

Paid ads raise your profile and get people interacting with your content.

Since a large part of SERP rankings comes from user engagement, spending money on an ad campaign can be worthwhile.

Many search engines let you maintain a particular position in the rankings, provided you continue paying for your campaign.

That can be beneficial if you are still preparing content for your nascent website.

Getting Nerdy and Technical  

Finally, don’t hesitate to show off your expertise.

The more technical and passionate you sound, the more people feel there’s a human behind your website.

It also increases your expertise while demonstrating love for what you do.

SEO Best Practices

Once you have your search engine optimization strategy in place, it’s time to implement a series of best practices.

keyword research 2

Do Great Keyword Research

Keywords are a must if you want to move up the SERP rankings.

But you can’t pick any combination of words.

They need to:

  • Fit naturally in a sentence
  • Make effective headlines
  • Be relevant to your topic

Knowing what keywords your competitors use is an excellent way to determine if your keywords are relevant to a subject.

Write Great Content

Of course, you’ll need great content, whether you podcast, vlog, or blog.

If you aren’t sure how to write a blog post, remember the best content is:

  • Accessible
  • Understandable to the layperson
  • Original

Optimize Content for SEO

Your next step should be to ensure it’s optimized.

Pay attention to:

  • Anchor text
  • Headers
  • Internal/external links

Ensure your keywords and LSIs appear as anchor text for links and as headlines.

Think carefully about which sites you link to, and confirm they are relevant to your content.

Submit Website to Google

Google is a massive player in the world of SEO, so much so that many people adapt their SEO strategy to target Google’s algorithm specifically.

There are two ways to submit your website to Google.

You can use an existing Google account or submit an indexing request for your website to Google.

Track Results To Ensure They Are Working

You can’t fix what you don’t know is broken.

That means it’s imperative that once you publish your content, you monitor your SERP rankings to ensure your hard work is paying off.

Is SEO Easy To Learn?

Search engine optimization might seem daunting at first, but it will become second nature with time.

image showing an illustration of a woman teaching a blogging course to students on a screen

Where Can I Learn SEO?

Whether you are new to SEO or want to brush up on your optimization skills, the internet offers ample opportunities to learn the best practices.

Here are some of the best places to familiarize yourself with SEO techniques.

1. SEO Courses

Now more than ever, the internet is filled with online courses.

These can be tailored to your SEO ability.

You can choose whether you want to learn the basics or take courses in advanced strategies.

2. YouTube

If you don’t have time for a course, YouTube is an excellent alternative.

It offers a range of tutorials to coach you through the process from start to finish.

3. Google Searches

If you are reluctant to engage with an online course or tutorial, Google offers several resources of its own.

One of the easiest ways to learn SEO is to run a Google search and look at the blogs that crop up.

Many offer comprehensive but accessible guides that teach laypeople how to write optimized content.

4. Bloggingtips.com

Bloggintips.com offers a range of comprehensive writers’ guides.

There’s a range of subjects covered, from what keywords to choose to how to write a blog post.

These guides are an excellent introduction to SEO that will have you writing optimized content in no time.

How Do You Learn SEO (Step By Step)?

Learning SEO is a systematic process, so follow these steps to streamline it:

  1. Choose an SEO course or resource
  2. Learn to research keywords
  3. Understand the different types of SEO
  4. Practice writing content  
  5. Practice link building
  6. Invest in SEO tools to assess keyword density and rankings
  7. Read SEO-based blogs
  8. Start writing content

SEO Guides From Bloggingtips.com

Earlier, we mentioned Bloggingtips.com being a valuable resource for aspiring SEO writers.

Here are some of our most valuable guides to level up your approach to SEO.

1. Selecting a Niche

Niche blogs target a specific audience.

They might be digital marketers, bakers, or locals of a particular area.

Our how to choose a blogging niche guide coaches aspiring bloggers through the process of finding a specialty that suits you and your business.

2. Starting a Blog

Niche selected, it’s time to start writing.

That can seem daunting, but our guide on how to start a blog makes the blogging experience feel as easy as others make it look.

3. Keyword Research

Keywords are integral to the success of your blog, so conducting keyword research is essential to using them effectively.

4. Link Building

Link building is another crucial element of a high-quality SEO blog.

With our tutorial on link building, you’ll know when to choose appropriate links to embed in your anchor texts.

5. Producing Content

Posting original content is the bread and butter of developing an optimized blog.

Engaging with different types of content is one of the best ways to do that.

Our guide on generating different types of content offers advice on how to do exactly that.

6. Optimizing Content

Optimizing content is the hardest part of getting to grips with SEO.

Fortunately, we offer insights and tricks to pick SEO up quickly.

7. On-Page SEO

If you want to monetize your blog, our guide to on-page SEO can help.

It talks you through various tips and tricks to boost optimization, including:

  • Authority
  • Traffic
  • SERP ranking

8. Off-Page SEO

It’s easy to forget the importance of off-page SEO because its results aren’t always apparent.

We’re here to explain why it matters and how it can help improve your website’s SERP ranking.

9. Blog Format

When you start a blog, it takes time to find a format that works for you.

This guide on blog writing format will help you produce optimized content regularly.  

SEO Tools That Eliminate the Need To Learn SEO

Various SEO tools and software programs are on hand to support your SEO strategies.

screenshot of a man sitting in front of computer screens looking at a bunch of productivity tools on the screens

Google Search Console

Google Search Console lets its users check:

  • Website indexing status
  • Search queries
  • Crawling errors

These insights help you optimize your website and boost its visibility.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that helps bloggers interpret their blog traffic.

That’s an important metric because traffic is one of the most effective ways to measure meaningful user interaction with your website.

SERP Checkers

SERP checkers evaluate how much internet traffic your primary and secondary keywords generate.

That can help you tailor your language to appeal to your target audience, which affects your SERP results.

Rank Tracking Tools

Rank Tracking Tools check your position in search engine results.

It’s important to remember that each search engine has an individual algorithm.

If you want to invest in SERP checking software, it may be most cost-effective to do your research and decide which particular algorithm you want to commit to.

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword research tools help determine which keywords will be most effective with your target audience.

A good keyword research tool also suggests branching keywords you can use as secondary keywords to create content that is linguistically diverse, but still keyword-rich.

Content Optimization Tools

Content optimization tools do more than tell you what keywords to use.

They advise you on how often to use them, and in what combinations, and, depending on the tool, warn you about keyword stuffing.

Several SEO plugins for WordPress will also tell you which keywords to use in headlines for better site traffic and SERP results.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still, need clarification?

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about SEO.

How do I optimize keywords for SEO?

The best way to optimize keywords for SEO is to pay attention to your competitors and SERP ratings.

That way, you will produce consistent content that’s relevant, authoritative, and easily searchable.

What is the difference between SEM and SEO?

SEM stands for search engine marketing. It refers specifically to the process of investing in paid ads to market your content.

SEO or search engine optimization can be paid or unpaid and refers to producing high-quality optimized content.

Wrapping Up  

What is search engine optimization? It’s a complex process that helps you produce high-quality and original content for your blog.

When done right, it increases your site’s traffic and online visibility.

Just remember, search engine optimization is about more than keywords.

You need to link build purposefully, regularly produce original content, and have a website that works on mobile devices.

Hopefully, this gives you the groundwork to tackle SEO yourself.

But if you still have questions, comment below!

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