SEO 101: All You Need To Know About SEO

Whether you are a business/blogger wanted to implement your own SEO, a business looking to outsource your SEO to an agency, or an SEO agency working for a client, 

While SEO is, on the one hand, a technical marketing effort, it is by no means rocket science: virtually anyone should be able to learn and understand about SEO. In this guide, we will show you how.

What’s The Objective of SEO?

Getting our website up and running is one thing, but how we can use the website to benefit our business (or our client’s business) is another thing.

A (very) common misconception is that SERP ranking is the end goal of SEO, but that’s not actually the case. 

Instead, the main objective of SEO is to generate organic (unpaid) traffic to our website. No matter how good and optimized our site is for conversion, it won’t bring any value to our business when nobody actually comes to visit it.

Only after we can generate a healthy amount of traffic, our site can produce the end results such as:

  • Generating more leads
  • Getting more calls and store visitations
  • More fills for opt-in forms
  • More sales revenue

By getting our site to appear high in our target audience’s search engine results, we can drive more people to the site and on the other hand, can provide more value to this target audience.

How significant is SEO in affecting the number of traffic visiting our website? VERY significant. In short, SEO is the main driving force in generating organic traffic by improving your site’s performance on the SERP.

The Process of SEO

As we have mentioned, the process of SEO is not overly complex, and actually fairly easy to understand. 

While we can use all the jargon and technicalities to describe SEO, in its essence, SEO ‘only’ consists of four key aspects:

  1. Initial SEO Audit 
  2. Keyword Research and Content Development
  3. On-Page/Technical Optimizations
  4. Off-Page Optimization/Link Building

Below, we will discuss the essentials of each aspect—or step—. If you are an SEO agency, you’ll need to explain at least this much to your clients. On the other hand, if you are a client, understanding these will be very useful to ensure a successful partnership with your SEO agency.

1. SEO Audit: Site Analysis, Technical Audit, Penalty Checking

The first and arguably the most important step of your SEO is to check the initial SEO performance of the website. 

In most cases, the website might be brand new or only have a minimal amount of SEO optimizations done. In other cases, some websites might be over-optimized, mostly as a result of low-quality SEO work (i.e. the client might work with a shoddy agency before they approach you).

While there can be various different aspects to observe while performing an SEO audit, here are some important areas you should focus on:

  • Check whether the site is penalized by Google in any way. It’s very important to fix any penalty first since your SEO optimizations won’t be optimal (or won’t bring any value at all in the case of a permanent penalty). Also, check for past penalties that have been resolved.
  • Analyze the site’s link profile, especially the backlinks profile. Check if there are too many low-quality links pointing to the site. 
  • Check for any duplicate content on the site.
  • Analyze keyword usage and optimizations in each page, and check for any signs of keyword stuffing/over-optimization.

If the “damage” done to the website is too severe, a complete overhaul or even building a new website from the ground up might be necessary. This might cost more money (and time), and for any SEO agency, you might want to avoid signing clients with these types of sites (or you might need to charge more according to your projected efforts/time required). 

Again, this is only a brief summary of SEO audit—that should consist of many more different aspects—. You might want to check out our full guide on SEO audit. 

2. Keyword Research and Content Development

The core of any SEO strategy is content, but at the same time, we shouldn’t blindly develop content without any objective.

The key here is the proper keyword research, and there are various approaches we can use. In general, however, there are three key principles in executing keyword research:

  1. The keyword must be relevant and valuable for your target audience. This is mainly measured via monthly search volume. If the keyword is searched a lot by your ideal audience, then we go to the second criteria.
  2. The target keyword must be valuable for your brand/website/business. Not all keywords that are popular for your target audience will be relevant to your brand. Fairly obvious, but often forgotten.
  3. Based on your budget and timeline, the competition for the keyword must be manageable. It’s no use pursuing keywords that are so popular you can’t win.

Based on these principles, here are two different approaches you can try: 

  • Check for keywords you already rank for

One of the best approaches in finding ideal keywords is to check for keywords the site is already ranking for, up to position 30 on the SERP. If your content is already on the 2nd page of SERP, or even better, the first page or top-5 spots, these should be your main priorities. 

This simply means Google already recognizes your site’s performances for these keywords, so they might only need a slight boost in optimizations.

  • Find “keyword gaps” or “content gaps”

A keyword gap (or content gap) is, simply put, keywords your competitors are already ranking form but your site (or your client’s site) hasn’t published content to target them.

Obviously, to properly analyze for content gaps, we should first know who our competitors are, so performing a proper competitive analysis is very important.

Various SEO tools and solutions also offer keyword gap/content gap analysis tool that can help you in this aspect.

3. On-Page and Technical Optimizations

There are three key aspects of improving your site’s SEO performance:

  1. Publishing relevant and valuable content for your target audience, targeting relevant keywords. We have covered this in the “keyword research” section above.
  2. Ensuring your site has an optimized user experience to keep users for as long as possible. 
  3. Making sure Google (or the other search engines) can properly crawl, recognize, and index your site.

This step will mainly cover the second and third aspects. If Google can’t index your site, your site won’t get ranked, period. Similarly, if Google doesn’t know what your site is about and can’t properly recognize your site’s elements, your site won’t rank as high as desired.

On-page optimization is about optimizing the content on each page so both the search engine algorithms and the target audience can properly understand what the page and the content are about. This will include things like keyword optimization (not to be confused with keyword stuffing), optimizing page URLs, optimizing title tags and META-descriptions, improving internal linking structure, optimizing images, and so on. 

On-page SEO optimization is a pretty deep subject on its own, so you might want to check our previous guide covering the technical SEO checklist. 

4. Off-Page Optimization/Link Building

Backlinks—both in quantity and quality—remain the most important ranking factors for SEO in 2021. 

Simply put, backlinks (also called inbound links) are any links that point to your site (or your SEO client’s website) and are the vote of confidence of the internet. When a site link to your website, it’s like saying that your page/content is credible and trustworthy. If the link is coming from a high-quality, relevant source, it will be even more valuable. 

A link coming from a famous, authoritative site (think Forbes or Huffington Post) packs more weight than a link coming from a fairly new and smaller blog. 

Also, it’s very important to understand that nowadays, after all the recent Google algorithm changes, the quality of the backlinks is far more important than quantity. In fact, generating too many low-quality backlinks at one time can get your site penalized (even permanently).

However, we all know that getting these high-quality backlinks can be easier said than done, but there are some effective tactics we can try, including but not limited to:

However, the key to getting high-quality backlinks is the quality of your content. If your content is good, you will get links sooner or later. Similarly, if your content is low-quality, no tactics or methods can help it. 

An effective tactic is to include a “linkable” content in your page—some types of content are getting linked more than others—, such as:

  1. Visually pleasing assets like infographics, well-taken photos, images, illustrations, etc. 
  2. Unique or original data/information, such as original research report/white paper, case studies, etc.
  3. Unique actionable tips, something communicated from a different angle
  4. Location-specific local information and news
  5. Emotionally-engaging stories (including photos)

To reiterate, it’s very important to cater to Google’s guidelines in your link-building efforts to avoid penalties. Remember that Google’s search algorithm is constantly changing, and a lot of these algorithm changes affect link-building. You might need to review your link building efforts and adjust your approaches from time to time.

End Words

The four processes we have discussed above are the essential steps of the basic SEO campaign. You can tweak or probably add other steps here and there, but the main processes should remain the same. You can also connect with our B2B SEO agency if you have any questions.

About the author

Mike is a lead SEO strategist at Nine Peaks Media. With over 10+ year of experience in SEO and Inbound Marketing, he helped hundreds of B2B and SaaS businesses rank on the first page of Google.

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