SEO Basics for Beginners: What the Heck is SEO?

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SEO Basics for Beginners: What the Heck is SEO?

SEO, PPC, CTR, CPC, SMH, BBC. In a world that has gone abbreviation happy, it is hard to tell what anything stands for anymore. This confusion is especially evident in the world of search engine optimization (SEO). If you are not an industry insider, trying to figure out how to add value to your webpages’ online presence through SEO may seem complicated. Trying to sift through the jargon on every SEO Basics blog can be frustrating, leaving you with only one logical conclusion:

Surprisingly enough, we are on the same footing. How is that you ask? Well, it was only one month ago when I started my descent down the SEO and online marketing rabbit hole. That is to say I am an SEO beginner.

Advantages of Being an SEO Beginner

Before you ditch me for an expert though, let me say that being a beginner has its advantages. Unlike individuals who have been doing SEO for years, I run into the same problems ordinary people run into and experience them in the same way. This means going through the same head scratching, trial and error troubleshooting and inevitable keyboard smashing that you will go through. Additionally, this lets me explain basic SEO problems and concepts in ordinary English, not obscure tech-speak.

So do you want an expert to leave you in the dust, or someone who is right in the thick of it with you? If you chose the latter, then I am creating a blog series just for you dubbed, “SEO Basics for Beginners.”

In the “SEO Basics for Beginners” blog series, I will be covering all aspects of SEO in a simple, easy to understand way. That way, you will not be left trying to read every article a million times over – unless you just love them that much. We will start small and piece together the SEO puzzle bit by bit as we go along.

In this post, we will start with what exactly SEO is, how it works and why it is important.

What the Heck is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving, or optimizing, a website or webpage so that it will show up higher in a search engine’s search results for a given set of keywords or terms. To understand the best ways to optimize webpages for search engines, we first need to learn how search engines work.

How Search Engines Work

The goal of search engines, like Google or Bing, is to take the words or phrases that users enter in their search bar, and find the closest matching webpages that contain those words or phrases. This entry of words or phrases into the search bar is called a search query. After a user enters a search query, the search engine returns a webpage called a search engine results page (SERP). The search engine results page is a list of links to various webpages that best match the search query.

How do search engines do all this trickery? They do it by using complex formulas called search algorithms. These search algorithms return the best pages on the web to users, based on a number of factors including the number of backlinks to a page, domain credibility, the quality of page content and much more that we will get into further down the road. Search algorithms are not magic though; they need lots of information to help them find the best pages on the web to match an endless number search queries. They need some way of analyzing all of the data on every webpage, to make sure these search algorithms return the best results.

Enter the robots.

I’m not talking about horrible Terminators, or even friendly R2 units that keep Rebel scum from crashing their A-Wings into shield generators on the ice-planet Hoth; I am talking about robots designed specifically to provide data to search engines. These robots, referred to as “spiders” or “crawlers”, go through countless webpages every day, scanning these pages for the information contained in them. The robots then add all of these pages to a massive index. Search engines then draw from this index, using their fancy search algorithms, to find the best matches for each search query.

Why is SEO Important?

SEO is important for one particularly clear reason: visibility. By the numbers, the greater your webpage’s visibility, the likelier people are to click on it. Countless studies have shown that most people tend to click on links to webpages that appear at the top of a search engine results page, rather than those at the bottom of the page or in the following pages. The better your SEO is; the higher your webpages appear in the search engine results page. The higher your webpages appear in the search engine results page; the likelier people are to visit your webpages. More people visiting your website equals more comments, more leads, more Patrick Swayze action figures sold, or more of whatever it is you are trying to achieve. You get the idea.

Moving Forward as an SEO Beginner

Keep in mind that there are a lot of factors in achieving great SEO, and climbing the rankings is not always easy. Great SEO takes a lot of work, research and maintenance, but the payoff is enormous. SEO is not rocket science, but it is extremely easy to get lost in an industry that is constantly changing. In a way, that puts SEO beginners at an advantage. There is not a better time to jump into the world of SEO as a beginner, adding more value to your webpages than ever before. Best of all, us SEO beginners are in this together.

Be sure to check back for more “SEO Basics for Beginners”, as I continue to break down the SEO basics, offer more SEO tips and share insights on the SEO industry as a whole.

Glossary of Terms

Robots – automated scripts that analyze all aspects of a website including structure, content and links in order to collect data for search engine indices. Robots are also known as “spiders” or “crawlers”.

Search Algorithm – a mathematical formula used by search engines to determine the closest matching webpages for a given search query.

Search Bar – a bar which users enter search queries into.

Search Engine – a service, like Google.com or Bing.com, which allows users to search for webpages that match a specified set of keywords or phrases.

Search Engine Index – a depository of data from millions of websites.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving, or optimizing, a website or webpage so that it will show up higher in a search engine’s search results for a given set of keywords or terms.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) – a webpage retrieved by a search engine which displays a list of links to the closest matching webpages for a given search query.

Search Query – a set of keywords or phrases which users enter in a search bar.

More About the Author

Garrett Sauls

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