SEO for beginners – what do you need to know?

You may have come across the term SEO if you’re new to the world of business or marketing. If you feel that it will benefit your career to know the basics of what SEO means and what it is used for, then this guide is for you.

This is not an in-depth guide on how to do SEO, but a no-nonsense introduction for beginners who don’t want to feel out of their depth when the term comes up at work. 

Let’s get started.

What does SEO stand for?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation.

But what does that mean?

When you search for something on Google or a similar search engine, you normally click on the top few results, don’t you?

SEO is all about businesses trying to optimise their websites so they appear in those first few search results. The higher they are up in the search engine results, the more visitors they will get to their websites and the more profit they will eventually make.

Key terms:

Traffic: The amount of visitors a website gets.

Ranking: How high or low a website appears in a list of search engine results.

So how do you get your website to rank highly in search results?

To understand this, you first need to understand how we find anything on the internet. Don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. Think of the internet as a huge, unmapped jungle full of information – every website in existence and all of their individual pages. Without search engines we wouldn’t be able to find any of the information we need. To help make sense of it all, search engines like Google send out crawlers (it helps to think of them like little robots), which crawl around the internet using links to hop from page to page and recording them on a database. This is called the search engine index.

Key terms:

Web crawler: A program that methodically and automatically browses the World Wide Web, one page at a time.

Indexing: The process of recording crawled web pages on the search engine index. The crawler records not only the link of the page, but all the words on the page and their location within that page.

Then what happens?

After the content has been extracted and stored on the search engine index, this information can then be interpreted and sorted by the search engine algorithm to decide where in the search engine results that web page should appear.

Wait, what’s the search engine algorithm?

The algorithm is basically a set of criteria that each search engine uses to decide how each web page compares to similar web pages and whether it has more value or usefulness to the person searching.

These algorithms are hugely complicated and always evolving as the internet evolves and grows along with it. But it all boils down to two factors:

  1. Relevance – is the webpage relevant to the search?
  2. Popularity – how popular is your site or page? 

Next time, we’ll explore the basics of SEO strategy – what businesses can do to increase their rankings