What Is SEO? The Complete SEO Guide for Beginners

What Is SEO? The Complete SEO Guide for Beginners

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines. SEO targets unpaid traffic (known as "natural" or "organic" results) rather than direct traffic or paid traffic. Unpaid traffic may originate from different kinds of searches, including image search, video search, academic search, news search, and industry-specific vertical search engines.

As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines work, the computer-programmed algorithms that dictate search engine behavior, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. SEO is performed because a website will receive more visitors from a search engine when websites rank higher on the search engine results page (SERP). These visitors can then potentially be converted into customers.

    Getting Indexed

    The leading search engines, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo!, use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. The Yahoo! Directory and DMOZ, two major directories which closed in 2014 and 2017 respectively, both required manual submission and human editorial review. Google offers Google Search Console, for which an XML Sitemap feed can be created and submitted for free to ensure that all pages are found, especially pages that are not discoverable by automatically following links in addition to their URL submission console. Yahoo! formerly operated a paid submission service that guaranteed crawling for a cost per click; however, this practice was discontinued in 2009.

    Search engine crawlers may look at a number of different factors when crawling a site. Not every page is indexed by the search engines. The distance of pages from the root directory of a site may also be a factor in whether or not pages get crawled.

    Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device.In November 2016, Google announced a major change to the way crawling websites and started to make their index mobile-first, which means the mobile version of a given website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index. In May 2019, Google updated the rendering engine of their crawler to be the latest version of Chromium (74 at the time of the announcement). Google indicated that they would regularly update the Chromium rendering engine to the latest version. In December 2019, Google began updating the User-Agent string of their crawler to reflect the latest Chrome version used by their rendering service. The delay was to allow webmasters time to update their code that responded to particular bot User-Agent strings. Google ran evaluations and felt confident the impact would be minor.

    On-Page SEO

    On-page SEO, or commonly termed as “on-site SEO,” refers to the practice of optimizing web pages and content for the users and search engines to boost ranking and generate website traffic. In other words, it refers to the elements and attributes inside of a website, such as content, HTML, system, CSS, and internal links.

    On-page SEO is still a predominant strategy practiced by web owners and web development agencies because of its essence in ranking website through content and boost online visibility through keywords in which Google uses to index websites and rank accordingly. In fact, Google’s own “How Search Works” reported that, “The most basic signal that information is relevant is when a web page contains the same keyword as the search query. If those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information is more likely to be relevant.”


    Off-page SEO refers to the elements and attributes outside of a website that increases online engagement and vital in attracting potential customers. It focuses mainly on link building strategy, social media integration, and local SEO.

    Off-page is the complete opposite of on-page SEO, but it also has the same level of relevance - one cannot work without the other. It’s one of the best ways to provide a relevant result to the users and earn back links from another website to boost credibility. Since the focus of off-page SEO is the outside activities of a website, it’s expected that one’s ranking will increase as well as the page rank. It also utilizes the presence of social media platforms that can effectively increase engagement and exposure that is a great way to establish brand awareness and trustworthiness.

    Importance oF SEO

    SEO has become an important part of marketing campaigns run by businesses to find customers online because 65% of the people who search for something don't look beyond the 5th result of the search engine's results page. Many companies use SEO companies to do the work for them because it takes too much time to do themselves.

    Search engine companies like Google, Yahoo, Bing are careful to watch that spam does not affect their search engine results pages by adding filters such as Google's PageRank. These filters are known as algorithms.

    Most people do not need to pay for search engine optimization services because usually a website is supposed to show up on the search engines over time anyway. But some online shopping websites may want to show up sooner, and so they pay for search engine optimization from companies that provide it.

    White hat versus black hat techniques

    SEO techniques can be classified into two broad categories: techniques that search engine companies recommend as part of good design ("white hat"), and those techniques of which search engines do not approve ("black hat"). The search engines attempt to minimize the effect of the latter, among them spamdexing. Industry commentators have classified these methods, and the practitioners who employ them, as either white hat SEO, or black hat SEO. White hats tend to produce results that last a long time, whereas black hats anticipate that their sites may eventually be banned either temporarily or permanently once the search engines discover what they are doing.

    An SEO technique is considered white hat if it conforms to the search engines' guidelines and involves no deception. As the search engine guidelines are not written as a series of rules or commandments, this is an important distinction to note. White hat SEO is not just about following guidelines but is about ensuring that the content a search engine indexes and subsequently ranks is the same content a user will see. White hat advice is generally summed up as creating content for users, not for search engines, and then making that content easily accessible to the online "spider" algorithms, rather than attempting to trick the algorithm from its intended purpose. White hat SEO is in many ways similar to web development that promotes accessibility, although the two are not identical.

    Black hat SEO attempts to improve rankings in ways that are disapproved of by the search engines, or involve deception. One black hat technique uses hidden text, either as text colored similar to the background, in an invisible div, or positioned off screen. Another method gives a different page depending on whether the page is being requested by a human visitor or a search engine, a technique known as cloaking. Another category sometimes used is grey hat SEO. This is in between black hat and white hat approaches, where the methods employed avoid the site being penalized but do not act in producing the best content for users. Grey hat SEO is entirely focused on improving search engine rankings.

    Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black or grey hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices. Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's search engine results page.

    I hope you got a lot out of this guide because there is a lot of information here. The most important thing to remember about SEO is there are no shortcuts in this game. You need to do things the right way and go the extra mile because that’s how you’ll stand out.

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