SEO for Beginners: A Complete Getting Started Guide

From Google’s algorithm update to link building and everything within — Search Engine Optimizers (or, as you call them, SEOs) face various challenges every day. Their business runs entirely upon such challenges, and this is what makes SEO the most exciting job on the internet.

Even prolific digital marketers are afraid to get into the SEO business. SEO is a practical subject; everyone knows a little or a lot but never all about it.

In this SEO for beginners guide, I will teach you everything about SEO, its importance, popular SEO methods, free and premium resources, tools and much more.

What is SEO?

SEO, SEO for Beginners concept image

Short answer.

SEO is the most important marketing element of any website.

SEO or Search engine optimization is, basically, the optimization of web pages for Search Engines. That may include many elements, such as:

  • content optimization
  • user-experience evaluation
  • local business optimization
  • internal link optimization
  • and much more.

It additionally includes improving the page’s visibility among the audience. Primarily, SEO focuses on getting organic traffic from natural or unpaid resources.

That's it. This is SEO. SEO is also the process to have the maximum visibility of a website in search engine results through “Organic” search.

SEO is a very important factor to any online business’ marketing strategy; it has become progressively more consistent and automatic with every passing year.

All SEO services and programs use the same basic strategy to boost a web website’s SERPs. But beyond the basic strategies, SEO becomes all about trial & error and experience.

How does SEO help?

Search engine optimization makes web pages more search engine friendly by making pages more user-friendly, both technically and visually.

It helps you rank first place in search results by providing the most relevant results to search queries. In this way, you gain traffic to your website and thus leads & customers for your online business. Better SEO means more leads and thus more revenue.

How do search engines work?

Search engines use web crawlers to index web pages. These crawlers tell the search engines exactly what the website is about. SEO helps the web crawlers identify what the site is about because if the crawler can’t figure out your website, it won’t be shown in search results.

Types of SEO

Depending on what kind of SEO you are trying to do, SEO can be categorized mainly in two parts:

  1. On-Site or On-Page SEO
  2. Off-Site or Off-Page SEO

On-Site SEO or On-Page SEO

On-page SEO refers to improving SEO by modifying your web pages. This includes on-page criteria such as title, description, keywords, internal and external links, content length, and others, as per search engine guidelines.

There are three key elements to be search engine-friendly with on-page SEO:

  1. Optimizing content to drive traffic and conversions
  2. Optimizing HTML elements for a better search visibility
  3. Optimizing site architecture for a seamless web crawl

Optimizing Content

Google loves quality content that is written for readers and not search engines. To rank better, you must optimize your content so that every word adds some value.

Keywords are the words that people use to search on search engines.

Before you start writing or optimizing an article or page content, use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to research the keywords people are searching for. These SEO tools give proper insights into what your potential buyers are searching for online.

Once you get this knowledge, you can create content around their search interests. This way, you’d be able to drive in quality traffic.

Here are 3 important basic rules to get you started with content writing:

  • Content generally should be written in an active voice. Passive voice is good only for literature, thesis and research documents and blogs.
  • Write the content with the reader in mind as if you are explaining to the reader what you know.
  • Be personal if you are writing blogs. Try to use I instead of We, unless the article is co-authored by a set of people.

When creating content, be sure to include keywords in a certain and permissible amount, use grammatically correct and short paragraphs, and use graphics & conversion-ready optins to keep your reader engaged.

Here are some rules for adding keywords to your content. Be sure to follow it at all costs if you want to rank your content better:

  1. The keyword must be in the first sentence (or first paragraph, if the first sentence is not possible).
  2. The keyword must be in the first heading.
  3. The keyword must be in the last paragraph.
  4. The keyword ratio has to be 0.5 to 1.5 percent. It means that content of 1000 words should have the keyword 5-15 times in the content.

Optimizing HTML Elements

  • Your website must be mobile friendly and easy to navigate through pages.
  • A quick focus on readability and accessibility can greatly help the user experience.
  • Give only what people need. Don’t get extra creative. Make sure what the purpose of your website is and work along that purpose.
  • Ensure that your website has properly inserted key elements — like a search box, menus, footers etc.
  • Popups are kind of a hurdle for UX. So make sure that there aren’t much popups in the site.

Optimizing Site Architecture

In on-page SEO, you make sure that your site is optimized for the better crawl.

  • Your site loads faster.
  • It has good titles, headers and meta descriptions. (Use an SEO plugin for this.)
  • It is made for people — not search engines.
  • It has the content as a priority, and ads/sidebar are secondary.
  • It has proper markup.
  • It has no HTML errors.
  • It has a valid XML Sitemap.
  • It has a valid RSS Feed if the site is a blog.
  • It has HTTPS activated.
  • It has no broken links.
  • It has indexable to Search Engines, and the robots.txt file is well-written.

Off-Site SEO or Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO includes building inbound links to your site, directory submissions, social media profile creation, and submitting articles to article directories.

Link building is probably one of the most important factors in the success of your site.

With more links to your site, Google sees it as an authoritative site; therefore, it will be better ranked.

Here is what you can do to improve your site's off-page SEO:

Google My Business Listing

If you are a local business, claim Google My Business Listing.

Whenever you make changes in your business, ensure that your business pages reflect it.

The page should be optimized so that information such as phone numbers, location, and relevant categories are all correct to help customers get to you easily.

Improve social presence.

Add your sites to various social networks.

Search engines always receive a signal whenever someone follows, likes or shares a video or image on social media.

Social media is thus a great place to improve your page rank by gaining credibility for your third-party website.

Persuade others to share your content on social networks. See this guide on how to improve social presence.

Make use of business directories and review sites.

Use Yellow Pages, Yelp, Trustpilot etc., to promote your blog, website or brand locally.

Update the latest and correct information.

Ensure information like your website, address, and a small explanation of what you deal with is detailed.

Ask for reviews

Ask your customers to leave a review. This helps a lot in SEO.

Backlinks help bloggers & webmasters meet more traffic, gain better search engine reputation, and better algorithmic parameters like Page Rank, Moz Rank, Domain Authority & Page Authority.

All your SEO strategies are wasted until some websites link to you.

You can build backlinks using either organic or paid matters. You can make use of guest posting, blogger outreach, skyscraper techniques and more to get more links to your content.

Always keep an eye on Google's Algorithmic changes and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

I have written a guide on how to manage on-page and off-page SEO here. Don't forget to read it once.

What can SEO do for a website?

SEO can:

SEO is not magic but is only as tough as learning magic.

What can SEO not do for a website?

SEO is a slow process; it takes a lot of time for a page to be properly ranked in Search Engines. Additionally, there are some things that it can not do, despite all practices.

SEO cannot:

  • Make your site look good — that’ll need a web designer. (Though good-looking sites convert better and thus rank better)
  • Boost engagement for Social Network profiles — despite those too being web pages.
  • Take your site from 0% to 100% in no time.
  • Boost app/product reviews — that’ll require better app/products.

SEO Tips for Beginners

Here are a number of SEO tips you can use to enhance how much visibility your website gets and ranks better.

Optimize Titles

Page titles are one of the first things you will see when using search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo. This is why page titles, as well as descriptions, play an important role in SEO.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind when optimizing titles on your website or blog:

  • The titles should include your website’s name, usually in the end.
  • A title should not be too long. Keep it short and impactful.
  • All the pages on your website/blog should have a title.

Recommended: How to Write Incredible Blog Post Headlines?

Use Meta Descriptions

A meta description is basically a short summary of your page’s content that will be displayed on search engines, usually below the page title. It’s recommended you use meta descriptions for all the pages on your website or blog. A meta description should be short, easy to read and include a few keywords (but be careful with keyword stuffing).

Use proper keyword density and stick to that.

Proper keyword density is crucial to SEO success. The old rule used to be that keyword density should be under 20 percent of the whole page, but even that much can look like keyword stuffing to Google.

Keyword stuffing has been used by many in the past, especially the time when SEO was still a relatively new phenomenon. However, there’s every reason to consider it counterproductive today and search engines such as Google don’t look kindly on it. That being said, you should be careful with keywords and use them smartly to achieve the best effect.

In my opinion, single-digit percentage points (1-5%) are better.

Help Search Engines index your site with Sitemaps.

Having a sitemap is crucial to your SEO success. A good sitemap means that search engine spiders can crawl your entire site instead of just certain pages. Having said this, try not to have a site map with more than 100 links. If your site is so huge that this won't work, consider having multiple sitemaps. Just make sure they are very closely linked together. Another advantage of having a site map is that it makes your website easier to navigate for users, so they are more likely to find what they are looking for and they'll stick around your site longer.

Do keyword research from time to time

Keyword research is the process of finding the keywords that would work best for the kind of website that you’d like to use. Your aim is to find search phrases that have high volumes of search traffic, good payouts for ads, but with no real content or competition out there yet.

Keyword research is what lets you understand the specific search terms that people are using in order to navigate certain topics. You need to find and use such key terms across your site in order to boost the search engine rankings.

Proofread what you publish.

Proofreading is a crucial part of any website, and yet it sometimes gets neglected. You need to either go over all the text of your website very carefully to be sure it's free of errors, or you need to have someone do that for you. Search engines are really quite adept these days at finding spelling and grammar mistakes, and they penalize sites that don't fare well in this category.

See the proofreading tools →

Unlike external, internal links are used to point out to other content on your website or blog. Internal links are very important but you should know how to use them properly and avoid some common mistakes.

When using internal links keep in mind the following:

  • Include anchor text keyword.
  • Don’t use too many internal links on one page.
  • Make sure they are relevant and provide help for users.

Give Internet fresh content

If you want to boost your traffic flow, reference current events and keep your content updated regularly. This will give readers and users a reason to keep coming back to your site after they've already visited before. Sites that are updated with fresh content also rank better than ones that are static or stale in the eyes of search engines.

Blogging is a great way to add fresh content with regularity without making constant changes to the rest of your site.

Search engine bots are always hunting for new material that's not outdated. Also, if the content is any good, then people might share it on social media, giving you more traffic and more backlinks to rank with.

Get the best of Google My Business pages.

Register your business as a free Google My Business listing and keep that updated with regular content. Ranking Google My Business pages can help your site do better with local search results.

Before you go

Various other guides can help you get started with SEO. Make sure you go through every such article you find under prestigious names like Moz, Search Engine Land, Neil Patel etc. You should also follow these SEO and marketing blogs to stay in touch with trends and practices of modern SEO.


What is SEO?

SEO or Search engine optimization is, basically, the optimization of web pages for Search Engines.

What is the full form of SEO?

The full form of SEO is Search Engine Optimization.

What can SEO do for a website?

SEO can improve site visibility in Search Results in Search Engines like Google, Bing & Yahoo and thus increase site traffic and revenue.

What can SEO not do for a website?

It cannot take your site from 0% to 100% in no time.

Do I need to hire an SEO expert in order to rank?

That's optional. You can easily learn SEO and work on your own. It is, however, a very time taking process.