Search Engine Optimization Basics | SEO Terms You Need To Know

Website Tips

Buckle in, because it's time for some SEO basics! If you're beginning the process of designing a website, writing copy for a website, or just starting to look at what it means to build an online presence for your business, you've probably heard of search engine optimization. Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is essentially a set of strategies for helping your website and content be found through search engines (primarily Google).  There are several different aspects to SEO, as high level SEO is a complex topic that requires extensive education and implementation to perfect.

In this post, we're going to review the basics of SEO including some essential vocabulary, two types of SEO, and what it means to have an SEO-friendly website.

What are SEO keywords?

In my opinion, keywords are poorly named because they’re often phrases instead of single words. But simply put, keywords are what gets typed into a search engine to find a desired result. 

Example: If you’re looking to see a dietitian, you might type in “dietitian in [your city]”

Keywords vary in length, and the more words they have, the more specific they are – which means the less businesses/websites who are using them, and the less competition you have.

Short form keywords1-2 wordsHighly used, highly competitive“Dietitian”
Medium form keywords3-4 wordsMedium use, moderate competition“Eating disorder dietitian”
Long form keywords5+ wordsLow use, very specific, low competition“Eating disorder dietitian in Brentwood, TN”

There are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about and using keywords for your business, but here’s some quick tips:

 1 | Do some research into keywords that will work for you! Moz Keyword Explorer is a great free tool to get started with this one.

2 | Use a variety of keyword lengths. Sprinkle in short, medium, and long form keywords.

3 | Distribute keywords everywhere – in your site copy, blog posts, social media posts, etc.

What does it mean to rank for a keyword?

To rank for a keyword means you are appearing in the results when it is searched for. The higher ranking, the better – it means you’re closer to the top on search results. It also means you have a higher chance of searchers clicking on your site. The top ranking for any given keyword has about a 28.5% clickthrough rate (CTR), whereas the 10th (at the bottom of the first page) has a CTR of 2.5% (source).

How do I find out my rankings and SEO status?

There's a ton of tools out there, but one of the easiest and best first options is to get your website set up with Google Search Console.

On Page vs. Off Page SEO

SEO strategies can loosely be grouped into two types – on-page and off-page SEO. They’re fairly self-explanatory terms, but let’s look more specifically at each type!

On-Page SEO Basics

On-page SEO is done from inside your website. This is the type you have the most control over, since you (or your website designer) are already behind-the-scenes with every page! This includes things like:

SEO page titles and descriptions 

On website builders, there is an area to add a specific page title and description that is SEO-focused. This is highly, highly preferable to allowing search engines to guess at and generate their own titles and page descriptions for you.

Optimizing search engine readability 

Correctly using text tags (like heading 1, 2, 3, etc) to create a readable hierarchy for search engines to crawl and organize your content. Depending on the website builder you’re using, there may be more steps than this!

Incorporating keywords into your website copy

Strategically chosen and placed keywords throughout your website are a huge part of boosting your on-page SEO! Think of this as telling search engines exactly what your website and business are about. 

Off-Page SEO Basics

These are things that boost your SEO outside of your website, like backlinks to your site from other websites, and social media presence. While we have some control over this, there’s a little less than with on-page SEO. 

The one thing I need you to know about SEO…

… is that your SEO does not reflect your worth as a business owner or your business’s value or success. Is it helpful with those things? Yes, absolutely – SEO is important and a great thing to understand! But it’s also an incredibly easy topic to be overwhelmed by, especially given how complex all of the layers of SEO are and how many new terms you learn as an entrepreneur creating or refreshing your website! SEO takes time and strategy to build, and doesn’t happen overnight. It’s okay to allow this part of your business to grow slowly and steadily. Quality over quantity, my friend.

Want to launch your site with the confidence that your on-page SEO and design are on point? I would love to help! Browse the options for branding and website designer services here.

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