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SEO 101: Beginner’s Introduction to SEO 

Alekh Verma | February 2, 2024
SEO Chapter 1

Welcome to the beginner’s introduction to SEO. If you’re well-versed in the basics of SEO marketing, then you can go ahead and skip this chapter. However, if you are someone who has no idea what SEO is and how it works then this chapter would serve as a foundation for your knowledge. Here, we’re going to thoroughly cover topics such as- 

  • What is SEO? 
  • Basics of Search Engines 
  • Which Search Results Can Be Construed as “Organic”?
  • Why is SEO Important?
  • Should I work with an SEO expert, consultant, or firm?
  • SEO Strategies: White Hat vs Black Hat SEO  
  • User Intent Fulfilment
  • The Objective of Your Website 

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization or SEO is the process of enhancing organic or non-paid search engine results to increase both the quality and quantity of website visitors and also to increase the exposure for your business. Contrary to what its abbreviation stands for (i.e., Search Engine Optimization), SEO is as much or more about people than it is about search engines

In simpler words, SEO involves comprehending what people are looking for online, the solution they need, the language they use, and the kinds of information they want to consume. The main objective of SEO is to connect your business with those who are looking for solutions to their problems online and will depend on you having the answers to their questions. 

Now, knowing the goal of your audience is one side (and an important one) of SEO; however, the other is delivering that information in a form that search engine crawlers (covered in Chapter 2) can access and comprehend. In this guide, we’re going to cover both aspects of SEO. 

Basics of Search Engines

Search engines work similarly to answering machines. In order to find information that is most likely to respond to your query, they comb through billions of pieces of content and assess tens of thousands of variables. 

All of this is accomplished by search engines through “crawling & indexing”, which is the process of finding and categorizing all online information such as web pages, photos, PDFs, videos, etc., and then “ranking” this information, which includes having to arrange the content in a way that it coincides well with the query. We’re going to thoroughly divulge discussing Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking in the 2nd Chapter of this guide. 

Which Search Results Can Be Construed as “Organic”? 

Organic results are those that are obtained through applying successful SEO strategies, and not purchased such as paid advertising or Pay Per Click (PPC). Organic search results used to be simple to distinguish because- the ads were clearly marked on the search engine results pages (SERPs), and the remaining 10 blue links below the ads were construed as organic search results. However, now it’s more difficult than ever to recognize organic search engine results since that search has changed drastically. 

Now there are more advertising and dynamic organic results formats (or SERP features) on search engine results pages (SERPs). These SERP features are new additions to the search engine result pages that have pushed organic results down. Some examples of SERP features are featured snippets, image carousels, People Also Ask Boxes, etc. People keep on demanding these SERP features which makes them an important addition to SERPs. For instance, when you search for something on the Google search bar, instead of giving you options of webpages with answers, Google would straight away show the answer in the SERP. If you search for “Delhi weather”, instead of giving you webpages that could answer this question, Google would straight away show the weather in SERP. 

Now, you must understand that search engines heavily rely on advertising to earn their revenue. So, search engines want to make searchers’ (audience's) queries better resolved which would make them keep on coming back to that SERP and also keep them longer on the search engine result page.  

It's important to keep in mind that SEO typically has little impact on many other search elements, even though they aren't paid advertisements. These SERP features frequently gather their information from multiple private data sources such as WebMD, IMDb, Wikipedia, and more. 

Why is SEO Important? 

Although paid advertising, social media, and other channels can drive traffic to a website, search engines still account for the vast majority of all online traffic, which makes SEO a necessity for businesses if they want to garner more audience and turn it into revenue. Organic search engine results receive many more hits, take up more digital space, and even seem more reliable to sophisticated readers in comparison to paid advertisements. 

In addition, SEO is one of the only online marketing strategies that, when executed properly, may yield results over time. With SEO you might not get immediate results but it can help grow your website traffic over time. If you’ve produced high-quality and meaningful content that can be found with the help of relevant keywords, then your SEO can work for long time and yield results without any additional efforts required from your end. On the other hand, paid advertising needs ongoing spending to drive visitors to any website. 

Now, even though search engines are becoming smarter, they still require human intervention and assistance. For your material to be correctly indexed and presented in search results, optimizing your site will help give better information to search engines.

Should I work with an SEO expert, consultant, or firm?

You might be able to handle some fundamental SEO tasks on your own, depending on your resources, learning curve, and the intricacy of your website(s). However, hiring an SEO expert or SEO firm would allow you to work on different avenues of your business and ensure that people handling your SEO actually have the skills and tools to execute it successfully. Whichever way you choose is okay. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why You Should Hire SEO Experts for Your Business (esearchlogix.com)

An SEO expert is someone who has received professional training and is well-versed with the latest trends & tools that are needed to increase your business’s online presence. You will learn enough by following this course to be well on your way to an optimized site. You can hire an SEO expert or an SEO firm to take care of your SEO, but still, you do need the knowledge of how SEO works to make sure you’re getting the optimum results. 

Make sure to complete your homework on the benefits of employing an SEO as well as the harm that a negligent SEO can cause to your website. Numerous organizations, consultants, and SEO specialists offer helpful services to website owners, such as: 

  • Present a review of the architecture or content of your website. 
  • Provide you with technical guidance on how to create websites- areas such as hosting, error pages, redirecting, etc. 
  • Content creation
  • Management of marketing initiatives for online businesses
  • Keyword analysis
  • Training in SEO Knowledge of particular markets and regions

It's a good idea to become an informed consumer and familiarize yourself with search engine operations before starting your search for an SEO.

The earlier you decide to work with an SEO, the better. When you're considering a site makeover or preparing to launch a new site, it's a wonderful moment to hire. Building a website with the intent to implement SEO allows you to make sure that your website is created keeping SEO’s best practices in mind. But an effective SEO strategy can also aid a site that already exists.

SEO Strategies: White Hat vs Black Hat SEO  

The ideal strategy for building a successful online business is using white hat SEO. Your target audience is given a lot of importance in this type of SEO. In this method, you’ll play by the rules set by Google. Here, you’ll create quality content that your audience would enjoy, and do it all by adhering to the guidelines set by Google, which would then lead to your page getting top ranking on SERPs and your website getting quality traffic. 

On the other hand, “Black Hat SEO” has a murky image in the SEO world, and rightly so. Whenever someone uses unethical means to get rapid gains in SEO it comes under black hat SEO. Here, the practitioners employ cunning strategies such as keyword stuffing or link scraping to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). It might be effective in the short term and increase traffic to your website, but eventually, Google will penalize and possibly blacklist your website, making it impossible for you to ever rank.  

Let’s break it down further-  

  • Duplicate content: To rank for a certain keyword, a person may use duplicate content on their website. This is done so that the term appears throughout the text. Google penalizes websites that make use of this. 
  • Keyword stuffing and invisible text: In the past, it was deemed unethical to stuff your articles with keywords and make them the same color as the background. If you employ this strategy, you'll quickly be put on a blacklist. The same is true when adding pointless keywords to text. 
  • Cloaking and redirecting: Redirects can be carried out in both right and wrong ways. The wrong strategy is to buy numerous domains with numerous keywords and direct all of the traffic to one location. 
  • Shoddy connecting techniques: The best strategy to build links is not to go out and buy a package that would offer you 5,000 links in 24 hours. These links should be obtained from websites that belong to the same industry category and do have a piece of significant information and traffic on their sites.  

Now, there’s also something known as “grey hat SEO” which falls somewhere between the space occupied by black & white hat SEO. The tactics used in grey hat SEO aren’t as pure or innocent as white hats, but it isn’t as murky or dishonest as black hat either. Here, you’re trying to rank your content higher on SERP by using methods that benefit your business but aren’t harming any other business, and you aren’t explicitly breaking any Google guidelines.

User Intent Fulfilment

Focus on understanding and achieving user intent rather than breaking these rules in an effort to deceive search engines into giving you a higher position. A person searches for something with a specific goal in mind. Their "user purpose" is the requested content. As an SEO, it's your responsibility to promptly offer users the content they want in the way they want. 

User Intent

Typical user intent types are:

  • Informational: the process of gathering knowledge. 
  • Navigation: Looking for a particular website. 
  • Transactional: Looking to make a purchase. 

By searching for your desired keyword(s) on Google and analyzing the current SERP, you can obtain a peek at user intent. For instance, it is quite probable that visitors searching for that phrase will look for photographs if there is a photo carousel. 

The objective of Your Website 

Take the time to thoroughly comprehend the commercial objectives of a certain website because each one is unique. This will not only assist you in deciding which SEO-related areas to concentrate on, where to track conversions, and how to set benchmarks, but it will also assist you in developing talking points for discussing SEO projects with clients, bosses, etc.

What KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) will you use to gauge the ROI of your SEO efforts? What metric do you use to directly assess the effectiveness of your organic search efforts?

To Sum it Up

This is where we end Chapter 1- SEO 101: Beginner’s Introduction to SEO. With this chapter what we’ve hoped to achieve is to have set a basic foundation for your understanding of SEO. Now, with the next chapter, we’ll delve into deeper subjects such as understanding 'How Search Engines Work?'

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