What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (2023)

11 November 2022|3 Comments|Tags Google algorithm, Holistic SEO, SEO basics

What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (1)

Do you have a website? And do you want more traffic? If yes, then there’s no doubt about it: SEO should be part of your marketing efforts. It’s a great way to get and keep people on your website. But what does it actually entail? In this post, we’ll explain what SEO is and how you can get started!

What is SEO?

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. It’s the practice of optimizing your web pages to make them reach a high position in the search results of Google and other search engines. In other words: People will be more likely to encounter your website when searching online. SEO focuses on improving the rankings in the organic – aka non-paid – search results.

What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (2)

In the image above, we see the first few results when someone searches for the keyphrase ‘Neptune planet’. In this case, Wikipedia is the first result and this means that their page on Neptune ranks #1 on this search term. The idea behind SEO is that when you optimize your page to become the best result, you can climb those rankings and become one of the first results that people see. Which will get you more clicks and traffic to your site!

Although this example only shows us organic results, that isn’t always the case. Depending on the search term someone uses, there can also be ads or a rich result at the top, or a few products by Google Shopping. There are a lot of different possibilities. What Google shows can also depend on what it knows about the searcher (the country they live in, for example).

Why is SEO important?

You’ve created a website because you want people to buy your product, subscribe to your service, or read your content. Whatever your goal, you want people to visit your website. If you own a donut shop in Amsterdam, for example, you want your website to be number 1 when people Google: “donuts Amsterdam”. Because the chances of people clicking on your website are much higher when it’s the top result!

But how do you make this happen? One word: Search Engine Optimization! SEO is a great way to get people to your website for free. Which is especially useful if you’re a small business owner who doesn’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising.

What determines how high you rank?

How high each result ranks is determined by Google’s algorithm. And although parts of Google’s algorithm remain secret, years of experience in SEO have given us insight into the most important ranking factors. These ranking factors can be divided into two categories:

On-page SEO factors

The ranking of your pages is partly determined by on-page factors. On-page factors are all the things on your website that you have a direct influence on. These factors include technical aspects (e.g. the quality of your code and site speed) and content-related aspects, like the structure of your website or the quality of the copy on your website. These are all crucial on-page SEO factors that you can work on.

(Video) SEO In 5 Minutes | What Is SEO And How Does It Work | SEO Explained | SEO Tutorial | Simplilearn

Off-page SEO factors

In addition to on-page SEO factors, your rankings are also determined by a few off-page SEO factors. These factors include links from other websites, social media attention, and other marketing activities that happen off of your own website. Although not impossible, these off-page SEO factors can be more difficult to influence. The most important of these off-page factors is the number and quality of links pointing towards your site. The more quality, relevant sites that link to your website, the higher your position in Google will be.

Another off-page factor that plays a role in SEO is your competition relating to the niche of your particular business. In some niches, it is much harder to rank than in others. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a major influence on your chances of ranking.

Holistic SEO: A long-term strategy

At Yoast, we practice ‘holistic SEO‘. With holistic SEO, your primary goal is to build and maintain the best possible website. You don’t try to fool Google; Instead, you invest your time and effort in a sustainable long-term strategy. If you work on improving your pages and having a high-quality website, then your chances of ranking will improve too. After all, Google wants to offer its users the best results to their search query, and the best results often have great content and are user-friendly, fast, and easily accessible.

Ranking well in search engines like Google asks for an extensive SEO strategy focused on every aspect of your website and its marketing. The technical side, the user experience (UX), the content on your website: all need to be top-notch. To keep ranking well in Google, you should develop – what we call – a holistic SEO approach.

A holistic SEO approach isn’t just better for your rankings — it also helps users find what they need more quickly. And that’s better for environmental sustainability too!

How can we help you get started?

At Yoast, our mission is to make SEO accessible for everyone. That’s why we have a few plugins that can help you with that, like our popular Yoast SEO plugin. We have a free and premium version of this plugin. One of the main advantages is that it helps you create high-ranking content. Our free SEO and readability analysis gives you detailed suggestions to create copy humans and search engines enjoy!

The premium version of our plugin will help you get to that next level and optimize your content for synonyms and related keywords and boost your site structure with our internal linking suggestions. You’ll also get access to all of our SEO courses, where you can learn vital SEO skills that you will be able to apply immediately!

Go Premium and get access to all our features!

What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (3)

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SEO is the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s – search results. At Yoast, we believe that holistic SEO is the best way to rank your pages because you focus on optimizing every aspect of your site.

Don’t use any black-hat tricks, because eventually, this will have negative consequences for your rankings. Instead, practice sustainable SEO with your user in mind, and you will benefit in the long run. Read more on how to rank high in Google or if you use WordPress, make sure to check out our ultimate guide on SEO in WordPress:

Read more: The ultimate guide to WordPress SEO »

Marieke van de Rakt

Marieke is the head of strategy at Yoast and founder of Yoast SEO academy. She loves coming up with new ideas and products to make SEO attainable for everyone, and ensure a healthy growth for Yoast!

(Video) SEO for Beginners: Rank #1 In Google (FAST)

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3 Responses to What is SEO? An explanation for beginners

  1. What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (7)

    Kelly Clark•4 months ago

    Is it important to have fresh content on your homepage for SEO?
    LOVE Yoast, BTW. Just upgraded to Premium and your courses are amazing!!! xo

    • What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (8)

      Tyler Nguyen•4 months ago

      Hi Kelly,

      Great to hear that you’re using Yoast Premium and taking our courses! There are a lot of resources there that can help you learn SEO.

      The homepage is an important page for a website, so we think you should always keep it updated. We can’t say for sure that having fresh content on your homepage will impact your SEO, but the homepage is a good place to promote your content. For example, we have a section on our homepage that displays recently published blog posts.

      I hope this answer is helpful!

      (Video) Full SEO Course and Tutorial in Hindi | SEO Course 2023 | Umar Tazkeer
      • What is SEO? An explanation for beginners (9)

        Kelly•3 months ago

        Thank you Tyler! LOVE this feedback. :) Kelly … still going through your courses and they’re so much fun. Especially LOVE the Lego analogies!

        (Video) SEO for Beginners - How to Rank #1 in Google Fast in 2023


How would you explain SEO to a beginner? ›

SEO is the process of growing a website's organic search traffic. You do this by ranking in organic search results. SEO is important because you're unlikely to rank well without it. Ranking high gets you free, passive, and consistent traffic month after month.

Is SEO good for beginners? ›

SEO is not easy. But it's no rocket science either. There are things you can implement right away and there are concepts that will take much more time and effort. So yes, you can do SEO on your own.

How do you explain SEO to a client? ›

6 Simple Tips to Explain SEO to Your Clients
  1. Set Expectations Early. Everyone wants a quick fix. ...
  2. Communicate Results – Often. ...
  3. Assess their Level of SEO Knowledge. ...
  4. Let them Know Google Runs the Show. ...
  5. Provide a Brief Explanation Industry Best Practices. ...
  6. Keep them Informed.
Jan 16, 2020

How do you explain SEO in an interview? ›

7 Ways to Impress in an SEO Interview
  1. Be Industry Aware. Your interviewer is likely to ask you questions to measure the depth of your market knowledge. ...
  2. Talk About SEO Tools. ...
  3. Share Your Experience. ...
  4. Articulate Key Processes. ...
  5. Show Your Passion. ...
  6. Prepare for Technical Challenges. ...
  7. Be Aware of Agency Specific Questions.

What are the 4 types of SEO? ›

Explore the four types of SEO and learn how to optimize your site.
  • On-page SEO. Our Beginners Guide to SEO outlines the basics of search engine optimization, and on-page SEO is one of the easiest and most common ways to boost site visibility. ...
  • Off-page SEO. ...
  • Local SEO. ...
  • Technical SEO.
Jan 5, 2023

How do I get into SEO with no experience? ›

Here are the most common ways that people become SEO specialists:
  1. Take an SEO course (or several SEO courses)
  2. Learn SEO by optimizing their own website.
  3. Work at a marketing agency.
  4. Take on SEO clients.
  5. Get an online SEO certification or degree.
  6. Work as an “in house” SEO professional.

What is the most difficult part of SEO? ›

Keyword Cannibalization

One of the serious SEO challenges is keyword cannibalization, where you're using the same keyword on several pages.

What is the first step to start SEO? ›

Defining the relevant keywords is the first step in creating a search engine optimized website content. By using the keywords and building your themes around them will create content that gives answers to Google searches.

What are the 3 C's of SEO? ›

Simply put, the fundamentals of SEO can be boiled down to The 3 Cs: content, code and credibility.

What are 3 main areas of SEO? ›

The three kinds of SEO are:
  • On-page SEO – Anything on your web pages – Blogs, product copy, web copy.
  • Off-page SEO – Anything which happens away from your website that helps with your SEO Strategy- Backlinks.
  • Technical SEO – Anything technical undertaken to improve Search Rankings – site indexing to help bot crawling.
May 25, 2021

How can I learn SEO for free? ›

Free SEO Courses with Certification
  1. Semrush Academy. Semrush Academy is one of the best courses available. ...
  2. HubSpot Academy. HubSpot Academy contains a more content-oriented set of courses, including videos on inbound marketing, email marketing and even Instagram marketing. ...
  3. Udemy SEO. ...
  4. Codecademy. ...
  5. Coursera SEO.
Aug 4, 2022

What are SEO examples? ›

SEO strategy examples: 9 examples of what a good SEO strategy includes
  • Keyword optimization. First is keyword optimization. ...
  • Optimizing on-page elements. ...
  • Improving the backend of your site. ...
  • Creating user-friendly pages. ...
  • Creating content. ...
  • Building links. ...
  • Analyzing your competition. ...
  • Optimizing for voice search.
Dec 5, 2020

What is SEO and why is it important *? ›

As mentioned above, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Simply put, it's the process of optimizing your website so that search engines can find and rank it highly in their results pages. This increases visibility – which means more traffic to your site as well as more potential customers or clients!

What are keywords for SEO? ›

SEO keywords (also known as “keywords” or “keyphrases”) are terms added to online content in order to improve search engine rankings for those terms. Most keywords are discovered during the keyword research process and are chosen based on a combination of search volume, competition and commercial intent.

What are the basic SEO interview questions? ›

SEO Interview Questions for Freshers
  • What is SEO? ...
  • Why is SEO important to businesses? ...
  • The most important Google Ranking Factors are: ...
  • What is an organic result? ...
  • What is a paid result? ...
  • What is Google Sandbox? ...
  • What is Google Autocomplete? ...
  • What is a TLD?
Feb 6, 2023

How do you write SEO in 4 easy steps? ›

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your article
  1. Create a search engine friendly title. Include 1-2 keywords related to your topic. ...
  2. Optimize your abstract. Place essential findings and keywords in the first two sentences of your abstract. ...
  3. Use keywords throughout your article. ...
  4. Be consistent. ...
  5. Build links.

Which is the most powerful SEO tool? ›

10 best SEO tools for 2023
  • Google Analytics and Google Search Console. Level: Beginner through to advanced. ...
  • Clearscope. Level: All levels. ...
  • Semrush. Level: Intermediate through to advanced. ...
  • Ahrefs. Level: Advanced. ...
  • Moz. Level: Beginner through to intermediate. ...
  • Surfer SEO. Level: All levels. ...
  • SE Ranking. Level: All levels. ...
  • WooRank.

Which SEO technique should be avoided? ›

Don't over-prioritize keywords

Keyword research has long been considered a cornerstone of SEO. Creating content that features the keywords and terms your target audience are searching for seems like the most logical approach. However, using these keywords to excess will seriously harm your SEO strategy.

How much does a beginner SEO make? ›

Average starting Salary for SEO in India is around ₹0.2 Lakh per year (₹1.7k per month).

Where can I practice my SEO skills? ›

Websites to Learn SEO Online
  • Web-Savvy-Marketing. Web-savvy marketing is a platform that specializes in growing your web presence. ...
  • SEO 101. The absolute basics as written by Jill Kocher. ...
  • Google. ...
  • Moz.com. ...
  • Search Engine Watch. ...
  • Webmaster World. ...
  • Search Engine Journal. ...
  • Search Engine Land.
Aug 19, 2021

Who needs SEO the most? ›

6 Industries That Need Seo The Most
  • Medical Services Industry. Medical services are always on 24/7, and because of this, SEO is essential to reach a wider audience. ...
  • Home Repairs and Renovation. ...
  • Real Estate. ...
  • Professional Services. ...
  • Online Businesses. ...
  • Restaurants.
Feb 28, 2022

Which are the most costly mistakes in SEO? ›

Here are 10 of the worst SEO mistakes even the old masters can still make.
  • Failing to Reach Customers with Your Content. ...
  • Optimizing for the Wrong Keywords. ...
  • Not Consulting Paid Media. ...
  • Forgetting About Local. ...
  • Not Regularly Auditing Your Own Website. ...
  • Not Regularly Examining Google Analytics. ...
  • Ignoring Technical SEO.
Oct 8, 2021

How long does it take to learn basic SEO? ›

Experts say it usually takes one to three months to learn the foundations of SEO and a year or more to master the practice fully. The length of time it takes to learn the basics of SEO depends upon several factors.

How can I do Google SEO myself? ›

  1. Make your site interesting and useful.
  2. Know what your readers want (and give it to them)
  3. Act in a way that cultivates user trust.
  4. Make expertise and authoritativeness clear.
  5. Provide an appropriate amount of content for your subject.
  6. Avoid distracting advertisements.
  7. Use links wisely.

What is the correct way to do SEO? ›

8 tips to build an effective SEO strategy in 2022
  1. Write for humans first and search engines second. ...
  2. Use targeted keywords in all the right places. ...
  3. Focus on user experience (UX) ...
  4. Focus on building relevant links. ...
  5. Format content for Featured Snippets. ...
  6. Remove anything that slows down your site.
Mar 5, 2021

What is the Golden Triangle in SEO? ›

The Golden Triangle is a distinct area of intense eye scan activity that is shown in the diagram below. It's important to understand that the Golden Triangle pattern is seen in first time visits to a results page. I find it easiest to think of it as a storm map. The darker the area (Red) the higher the eye traffic.

What are the two main parts of SEO? ›

SEO is divided in two parts: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to all techniques that can be implemented on your website to improve your ranking in SERP (search engine results pages), whereas off-page SEO refers to everything that can be done outside of your website to improve its visibility on the web.

What 4 pillars are important in SEO? ›

The four pillars of SEO
  • technical SEO: How well your content can be crawled and indexed.
  • content: Having the most relevant and best answers to a prospect's question.
  • on-site SEO: The optimization of your content and HTML.
  • off-site SEO: Building authority to ensure Google stacks the deck in your favor.
Nov 1, 2017

What are the 12 things to know about SEO? ›

12 SEO Tips to Boost Your Organic Rankings & Traffic
  • Target Relevant Primary and Secondary Keywords. ...
  • Write Quality Original Content. ...
  • Format Your Content for Search Engines & Target Featured Snippets. ...
  • Optimize Your Page Title and Meta Description. ...
  • Use Short, Descriptive URLs.
Feb 4, 2022

How much does SEO cost per month? ›

78.2% of SEOs charge monthly retainers for some or all of their services. 54.5% of SEOs only offer one pricing model (i.e., hourly, retainer, or per-project). $501–$1,000 is the most popular monthly retainer. $75–$100 is the most popular hourly rate.

Is SEO hard to do yourself? ›

SEO is not that hard to learn, but it can be confusing and overwhelming to get started. Learning SEO means learning about a long list of individual digital marketing strategies, which can feel a bit like adding new weapons to your arsenal as you learn how to wield them.

How much does it cost to get SEO? ›

SEO campaigns can cost anywhere from $5,000/mo to $100,000+/month depending on the vertical. Local SEO can be slightly lower. On average, quality SEO should cost $3,000+/month, at an average hourly rate of $150+. SEO campaigns can cost anywhere from $5,000/mo to $100,000+/month depending on the vertical.

Why should I learn SEO? ›

Learning SEO will enable you to understand how and where you appear online. The more you own your presence, this will have a direct impact on the first impressions your potential clients will have.

What does SEO writing look like? ›

SEO writing is the process of writing content to rank on the first page of search engines like Google. This involves researching keywords, writing high-quality content that matches user intent, and optimizing your headers for easy page crawling.

How would you describe on page SEO in one sentence? ›

On-page SEO, which is sometimes called on-site SEO, is the process of tweaking a page's content, tags, and internal links to improve search visibility and increase traffic. In other words, it's a means of optimizing your website to help search engines better understand your website.

How can I practice my SEO skills? ›

Here are the steps of teaching yourself SEO in 6 steps:
  1. STEP 1 – Find a resource for beginners. ...
  2. STEP 2 – Practice! ...
  3. STEP 3- Find a Mentor. ...
  4. STEP 4 – Join an SEO Group. ...
  5. STEP 5 – Know what's going on in the SEO world. ...
  6. STEP 6 – Rinse & Repeat.

How many keywords should I use for SEO? ›

It's easier for pages to rank if they focus on one topic, so you should focus on two or three primary keywords per page that are reworded variations. Targeting four or more keywords is difficult because there is limited space in the title and meta description tags to target them.

How do you make SEO from scratch? ›

To start, compile a list of about 10 words and terms associated with your product or service. Use an SEO tool ( Google's Keyword Tool, Ahrefs , SEMRush or GrowthBar just to name a few) to research these words, identify their search volume, and come up with variations that make sense for your business.

How to do SEO for website step by step? ›

SEO Step-by-Step Tutorial
  1. Step 1: Find keywords.
  2. Step 2: Put keywords in the page title.
  3. Step 3: Put keywords in the page URL.
  4. Step 4: Put keywords in your meta description.
  5. Step 5: Put keywords in your H1 text.
  6. Step 6: Use keywords in the page's content.
  7. Step 7: Build links to your website.
  8. Step 8: Monitor your rank.
Jul 21, 2022

How to do on-page SEO step by step? ›

On-Page SEO Checklist
  1. Crawl your website.
  2. Conduct an SEO audit and define your site architecture.
  3. Update URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions.
  4. Make sure your keyword is in your URL.
  5. Include your keyword throughout your page.
  6. Track keywords and topics for each page.
  7. Don't keyword stuff.
May 19, 2022


1. SEO For Beginners: A Basic Search Engine Optimization Tutorial for Higher Google Rankings
2. SEO for Beginners: Rank #1 In Google in 2023
3. What is SEO? | Search Engine Optimization Explained
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4. SEO Tutorial For Beginners | SEO Full Course | Search Engine Optimization Tutorial | Simplilearn
5. Ano nga ba Ang SEO? | SEO Tagalog Tutorial | SEO Training Philippines
6. SEO Full Course 2023 | SEO Tutorial For Beginners | SEO Course | SEO Training | Simplilearn


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