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An Overview of SEO Basics [Updated 2019]

The world of Search Engine Optimization, often referred to as SEO, is much bigger than a lot of people outside the industry realize. However, you don’t need to be an expert to implement some of the more basic strategies that even the most professional and high level SEO’s use or recommend you use.

Depending on the size of your site and the industry you’re in, some minor changes could make major improvements on your website’s exposure. At the very least, making your website SEO friendly by implementing some on-page best practices will typically make it more user friendly as well.

So, if you’re new to the world of SEO, you might be asking yourself:

What is search engine optimization and how do I do it?

Luckily for you that’s exactly what I am going to try and explain in very easy-to-follow and excruciatingly painful detail in this 12-part series of SEO Basics posts. Each post will focus on one very specific concept that you can easily implement on its own, or in conjunction with the other concepts.

Here’s an overview of what I plan to cover.

Keyword Research

This is both an extremely logical place to start when planning a new site or updating an old one, and also arguably the most important aspect in setting up your website to rank higher in Google and other search engines. It doesn’t matter if you already know your what you are going to write about or you’re looking for a new niche to target, knowing the keywords is essential.


Where will your website live? All of the posts, pages, and pictures you add to your site are stored somewhere, and that is exactly what hosting is. There are a few different types to choose from, so the hosting you choose will depend on the type of site you have or want and your experience with working on sites.

Domain Names

Do you already have a brand, or are you starting from scratch? What if the website name you wanted is already taken? Do you have to use a dot com? The process of choosing a domain name is can be as simple or as difficult as you want to make it, but having some basic understanding of what influence your domain name has is a great place to start that process.

Content Management Systems

Unless you’re a pro at writing code, chances are you will use a content management system, often referred to as a CMS, to keep your website organized. There are a few to choose from depending on your needs and the hosting package you chose. This is definitely something you will want to spend a few minutes researching before you dive in head first.

Themes and Site Style

Most content management systems come with a variety of themes that you can use. The theme gives your website its own special appearance, such as various color schemes, numbers of columns, and more. You’ll also need to choose whether you want a static home page, or a scrolling blog style home page.

URL Structure

Most content management system’s default URL structures are absolutely awful for SEO. Altering the way your URL’s are setup cannot only help your site in regards to ranking better, but it can also make it more user friendly too. Planning this out ahead of time is a big time must do.

WordPress Plugins

If you end up choosing to use WordPress as your CMS, you’ll want to take advantage of certain plugins to help your search engine ranking efforts. They are basically some add-in features, many of them free, that help make your website both search engine and user friendly. You don’t have to use these, but they will make your life much easier.


Your headings, or H tags, are the bolded title you often see on websites. For example, the larger text about this paragraph that says “Headings” is actually a heading. technically it’s an H3. Combining the way you use your headings with quality keyword research can make a very SEO friendly site, and it also helps user navigate your pages and posts easier too.

Content and Copy

Writing for a website is not like writing an academic paper. Keeping users that are reading your posts or articles on a desktop computer or mobile device takes its own type of copywriting. Furthermore, getting those readers to do you what want, whether it’s share your content, click on something, or buy something, takes a different style of writing than what you learn in school.


It’s no surprise that people like images. Just take a look at how popular Pinterest has become. Quality topic related images can really help engage readers. But, you can take it a little further and optimize all of your images to make them, your posts, and your website as a whole, more SEO friendly.

Internal Links and Outbound Links

Linking from one place on your site to another place on your site is known as an internal link. It’s a great way to help users find what they need quickly and easily. It can also help with your search engine optimization efforts.

Likewise, linking from a place on your website out to another website is known as an outbound link. You might want to do this to reference someone else’s research or possibly steer a user to a product your are recommending. There are a couple of ways to set these up, and what you do depends on your goal, especially regarding your on-page SEO.

Contact Pages, About Pages, Sitemaps, and Other Random Stuff

Making your website a complete website lets search engines like Google know your site is actually a current and up-to-date website. While all these little things might seem to be a bit of a time sink, luckily they are fairly easy to set up. If you’re using WordPress, there are even plugins to help make it simpler.

Ready to get started?

I hope this doesn’t seem like too much information. While it might look overbearing at first, it’s only because I am trying to break things down to their smallest pieces.

If you want to build a house, you can’t start with the walls and the roof. First, you need lumber, nails, and screws.

The same thing goes for an SEO friendly website. By starting with the basics, you can construct a website that is both made for your readers and for the search engines. It’s truly a win-win.

I’ll do my best to keep this Beginner’s Guide to SEO as thorough and organized as possible, but if there’s something I miss that you’re curious about, please let me know in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!