Welcome to search engine optimization 101, your beginner’s guide to SEO basics! Here, you’ll learn:

  • What is SEO?
  • How do search engines work?
  • How does SEO work?
  • Why is SEO important?
  • How do I get started with SEO?

Keep reading SEO 101 to begin your SEO journey!

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is optimizing a website to improve its visibility in organic search results, like on Google. Typically, SEO takes three to six months to show results. Common optimizations for SEO include improving page speed, researching keywords, and creating content.  

How do search engines work?

When it comes to SEO 101, understanding how search engines work is essential. That’s because search engines fuel search engine optimization, setting the standards that define the strategies, best practices, and tips that SEOs use.  

You can break how search engines work into the following steps:

  1. Crawling
  2. Indexing
  3. Ranking

Learn more about these individual processes below:


Search engines are like a library, and to build their library they need to crawl the web. Search engines rely on web crawlers (or spiders) to explore the World Wide Web’s content. Crawlers then return this content to search engines, which they then index.


The indexing stage is like a librarian reviewing, organizing, and shelving the various books in the library. Here, the search engine’s algorithm catalogs the content, which the search engine then relies on to deliver results to searchers.


In SEO 101, ranking is the grand finale of how search engines work.

When someone searches on Google or Bing, these search engines rely on their algorithm to deliver tailored results that align with the user’s needs and preferences, like their location, previous searches, and more.

How content appears in the search results is based on these factors, plus more than 200 other factors. These ranking factors (which are not weighted equally) cover everything from website security and online reputation to content helpfulness and authority.

As an SEO, your job is to optimize your site for these 200+ factors (or at least the most important ones).

How does SEO work?

Search engine optimization works by optimizing a website for more than 200 search engine ranking factors. Before you close the tab on this search engine optimization 101 rundown, SEOs do not optimize for all 200 factors. Instead, they focus their efforts on the most significant ranking factors.

You can organize these factors into three categories:

  1. Off-page SEO, which focuses on your site’s online reputation.
  2. On-page SEO, which focuses on your site’s user experience.
  3. Technical SEO, which focuses on your site’s backend optimization.

Within these categories, there are multiple optimizations to work on, which you can preview below:

SEO category Optimizations
Off-page SEO Building links to your website Developing shareable content, tools, and more
On-page SEO Writing SEO-friendly content Researching relevant keywords Optimizing title tags and meta descriptions
Technical SEO Improving page speed Implementing HTTPS security Creating schema markup

Since we’re focusing on SEO basics, we won’t explore off-page, on-page, or technical SEO in-depth here.

Why is SEO important?

Search engine optimization is important for a few reasons, including the following:

  • Visibility: SEO helps websites like yours improve their online visibility — without the cost of pay-per-click (PPC) or social media advertising. With that kind of visibility, you can reach your target audience at the perfect moment.
  • Targeting: Search engine optimization is also helpful because of its targeting capabilities. Whether you’re looking to reach people in a specific town (like Los Angeles) or people in the awareness vs. decision stage, you can do so with SEO.
  • Activity: Year-round SEO will work for your business and its website. Whether it’s inside or outside your working hours, people can find your business online and start their journey towards becoming a client.
  • Returns: People from across industries, from business-to-business (B2B) to business-to-consumer (B2C), have seen consistent (and impressive) results from search engine optimization through traffic, leads, and sales.

Long story short, SEO is important because it helps website owners drive qualified traffic plus sales.

How to get started with SEO basics

Now, if you’re ready to get started with some SEO basics, here are our tips:

  1. Read Google’s guide on how to start appearing in Google search results
  2. Register your website with Google Search Console and Google Analytics 4
  3. Build your knowledge with reputable guides, videos, and blogs (like ours!)

Then, put your knowledge to use on your website and measure your performance with the above tools!

Start practicing the basics of SEO on your site

Congrats, you’ve learned the basics of SEO! Now, you’re ready to start practicing SEO on your site. As you get started, remember that SEO can take three to six months to show improvement — in some cases, it can take up to a year.

If you need professional help, though, contact us online, and we’ll see how we can help!

The post SEO 101: Learn the Basics of Search Engine Optimization appeared first on SEO.com.

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