SEO Beginner's Guide (Including Approaches and Benefits)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 19, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people use online search engines to discover the information they're seeking. Organizations can benefit from consumers' searching by utilizing the process of search engine optimization (SEO). If you're a professional in digital marketing or are trying to drive more traffic to a specific website, you can benefit from learning more about SEO. In this article, we provide an SEO beginner's guide explaining what SEO is, explain why it's important, and list the benefits, approaches, elements, and marketing strategies that use this process.

SEO beginner's guide

This SEO beginner's guide starts with the definition of SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it's the process that professionals use to increase the amount of organic traffic that visits a website. Professionals use SEO to help drive quality traffic to a website, leading to increased sales and revenue for an organization. Website traffic is organic when users visit because of a manual search instead of a paid advertisement on a search engine. SEO doesn't include direct traffic and visitor ads.

Read more: How to Become an SEO Expert (With Salary and Job Outlook)

Why is SEO important?

Search engine optimization is important because you can use it to increase a website's ranking in a specific search engine and expand your audience reach. Effective SEO brings relevant traffic to a website. This traffic searched for the website's content and is more likely to purchase an available product or service that's listed there. For example, a consumer might conduct an internet search for organizations selling organic t-shirts. The consumer then finds a specific website selling this product because the organization focuses on SEO. As a result, this organization is more likely to sell to this consumer.

While not all organizations use SEO, such as those that aren't interested in reaching consumers online, it's becoming a critical process as consumers continue to shop more online. Organizations might use SEO to increase traffic even when not selling products. For example, if an organization makes money from running advertisements on its website, it can increase its revenue by bringing in more traffic.

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Benefits of using SEO

Here are some potential benefits that an organization might experience from using SEO:

Establishes authority in a specific field or niche

When a website appears as a top result of an online search, users are more likely to consider the organization trustworthy and authoritative within its specific field or niche. For example, if a user searches for contractors online, they're more likely to pursue a contractor that's one of the top search results instead of one on the following page. As many organizations aim to earn revenue through an SEO campaign, ensuring the organization precedes its competitors in an Internet search is an effective strategy.

Increases the likelihood that people discover the website

Effective SEO increases the chance that users find a website. When users discover a website from a search, they're more likely to engage with the content and potentially purchase from the organization in the future. Including relevant internal links, orderly site navigation, and quality content can affect how much traffic visits a web page.

Read more: Understanding a Web Crawler for Search Engine Optimization

Offers a cost-effective approach

As most SEO is inexpensive, it may reduce the cost of customer acquisition and help organizations remain within budget. By appearing as a top search result, more users visit a website, generating more revenue without paying for the traffic. This approach is the opposite of search engine marketing, where organizations might pay to appear at the top of search engine results.

Reduces manipulation of quality search results

As search engines use unique algorithms to rank websites, it's difficult for low-relevancy websites to manipulate their standings within the search results. This ensures that users conducting an online search receive relevant and high-quality search results. As an SEO specialist, it's crucial to have high-quality and niche-specific content to help a website appear at the top of the search results.

Primary approaches to SEO

There are two main approaches to SEO, which include:

On-page SEO

On-page SEO is optimizing specific web pages to rank higher and receive increased relevant traffic from internet searches. On-page SEO involves the HTML source code of a webpage and the content on the page. Some on-page SEO elements include effective site navigation, internal linking, and keyword research.

Off-page SEO

Typically, search engines control off-page SEO. It includes the external actions from our website that affect the website's ranking within a search engine's results. One example of an off-page SEO approach includes backlinks, which direct users to another website on a different website. Although ESO professionals have little control over the effectiveness of off-page SEO, it can still generate traffic.

Main elements of SEO

Here are the primary elements involved in search engine optimization:

Content

Professionals use content to connect and engage with audiences. To be successful at SEO, crafting content that connects with the intended audience is crucial. For example, if you perform SEO for a garden centre, you might share a series of informative blogs about plant species or growing tips. Then, when an individual seeks information about gardening, the blog might appear in the search due to SEO. The person might then engage with the organization, and when they decide to purchase a plant, they're more likely to purchase from this garden centre.

Organizations aim to create content that's educational, interesting, and relevant. Today, it's crucial that users can share content easily. Content comes in various forms, which include:

  • blogs

  • infographics

  • listicles

  • local listings

  • how-to guides

  • podcasts

  • social media posts

  • videos

Keywords

Keywords are words and phrases that individuals type into search engines to discover related content. For example, to look up information about developing communication skills, someone might search how to develop communication skills. When SEO professionals research keywords, they aim to identify keywords that many people search for but lack many search results. You can then incorporate these keywords into a blog or website to drive traffic. These are the three types of keywords that you might use:

  • Local keywords: These keywords relate to a specific area. For example, a local keyword might be English Lop rabbits for sale in Toronto.

  • Long-tail keywords: These keywords are more specific and contain more words than short-tail keywords. For example, a long-tail keyword might be English Lop rabbits for sale.

  • Short-tail keywords: These keywords are general and brief. For example, a short-tail keyword might be rabbits.

Local SEO

Local SEO considers the location of the person performing the search. As it's becoming increasingly common for people to use mobile devices to search, nearly half of all searches provide local results. For example, you might perform SEO to ensure that a local restaurant appears as a result when people in the area search for the best restaurants or the specific cuisine. Some best practices to consider when performing local SEO include:

  • claiming directory listings

  • creating pages for organizations linked to major search engines

  • making location-specific webpages

  • using local keywords

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Search engine marketing (SEM)

Although search engine marketing, or SEM, differs from SEO, as it's typically a paid marketing effort, professionals using SEO can still consider it part of a comprehensive strategy. Some examples of SEM include targeted or paid campaigns, cost-per-click (CPC), click-through rates (CTR), and an organization's keyword-based copy. SEO strategists can use SEM to connect with new target audiences that may be challenging using SEO alone.

Marketing strategies that use SEO

Here are some marketing strategies that commonly use SEO:

Content marketing

The most common marketing strategy that uses SEO is content marketing. Websites sharing content, such as blogs and articles, use keywords, phrases, or product names to encourage traffic. For example, an organization that sells kitchen gadgets might create a blog where they share recipes using the equipment it sells. These blogs educate consumers and get them interested in the products.

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Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing involves individuals with large followings generating traffic to a specific website. These influencers can achieve this by promoting a product, service, or website, or by simply sharing a website link with their audience. This SEO strategy can be effective when influencers use specific keywords that direct traffic to the website. SEO strategists often combine this approach with social media marketing.

Social media marketing

Social media marketing involves SEO when professionals promote a product or service on a social media platform, which directs users to the organization's website. Social media marketing helps social media users discover products and services based on the organization's SEO implementation. Each social media platform has a unique algorithm. SEO strategists use names, phrases, or keywords to ensure that the product or service appears at the top of social media feeds.

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