A Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Jeremy Rivera


May 18, 2021 (Updated: November 9, 2023)

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If you’re looking into SEO, you likely have a website or an idea for a website you’re trying to drive traffic to. Even if you have a top-notch, great website, it’s only the first step toward bringing people to see what you have to offer. The next is letting potential customers and visitors know it’s there. That’s where SEO comes in.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” The purpose of SEO is to make your website, or pages in it, show up higher on search engine results. It’s a way to make your website more visible to potential and returning visitors. Entire companies have been founded on the idea of improving websites’ SEO. Search engine optimization is different from advertising in that it promotes organic search engine results rather than paying for people to discover your website.

SEO is an important part of promoting your website that you should prioritize if you want users to find your website organically. The closer your website is to the front page of search results, the chances of a user clicking on its link grow substantially. The top choice on a search result is 10 times more likely to be clicked on than the choice 10 spots below. Users don’t want to have to find the information they need, so the chances of traveling through pages of search results to find your website are fairly slim.

When a user types specific keywords into a search bar, the search engine they use has to decide what results are most relevant to that search and which of those results will give the user the best experience.  These search engines take hundreds of factors into account when compiling search results, and the algorithms they use change to provide users with better experiences better.

However, some of these factors affect your SEO more than others. You don’t have to learn them all, but starting with those big factors can do much for your website’s success. This SEO guide should give you a good idea of some of the major factors search engines use to decide what users see when they look up something on the internet.

How to do SEO

If you’re looking for a beginner’s guide to SEO, you have come to the right place. Below are some of the basic SEO principles that will give you a better understanding of how to do search engine optimization strategies to raise your website’s visibility.

1. Create a Great, User-Friendly Website

A website that offers a bad experience to visitors can destroy its own SEO. There are quite a few factors that can affect your website’s user-friendliness that may also be affecting search engines’ assessment of your website’s quality. These issues include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Broken links.
  • Not being optimized for mobile.
  • Having an unsafe website.

Basically, there are two things to look out to make sure your website isn’t driving away visitors: anything that looks like you’re giving your visitors a bad experience on your website. Examples of this include having too many pop-ups, distracting elements, or other factors that decrease your page’s readability. You want to design your website so that it’s easy for visitors to access what they came for without having to fight for it.

Some website owners will go so far as to include elements designed to trick search engines into choosing their websites. This includes tactics such as keyword stuffing and creating fake backlinks. Search engines are constantly being updated to avoid these tricks, making them more difficult to fool. More often than not, using such tactics decreases a visitor’s enjoyment of your website, so we suggest avoiding them altogether.

2. Offer Regular, Quality Content

One of the best ways to improve the user experience on your website and boost your SEO value is to provide regular, high-quality content. Pretty much any website can use and benefit from publishing content, whether it’s a weekly updated blog, infographics, or other styles of content that might entice users to visit your website.

You can create and share content on your website yourself, and many often do with varying degrees of success. However, if you want to drive your website traffic up to a new level, you might consider using the help of a content marketing service. Content marketing services such as CopyPress can create engaging SEO-focused content for your website to help bring it closer to the front page of search results.

Even if you make a great website, your SEO rankings can drop if you never update it. Creating and publishing content is a fantastic way to make your website look alive and well. You don’t need to provide new content every day, but refreshing your website with something new for the user to look at at least once a month can keep your website fresh. However, if you can publish content more frequently or find a content marketing service that does so for you, your website may see increased traffic.

Try to avoid publishing duplicate content or content that may make the search engine think you’re violating copyright. If you’re posting something that has already been published elsewhere, be sure to give credit at the top of that post: something along the lines of “This article was originally published in (insert name here).”

3. Practice Good Linking Techniques

A humble link is a powerful tool that you can use to raise your website’s SEO. There are two main types of links: external and internal links. Both will help your website if you use them wisely.

Internal links are links that point from one page of your website to another page of your website. These links can be helpful to visitors who want to continue reading your content or navigating your website. Internal links can also make your website more attractive to search engines, as it makes your website easier to navigate and helps the search engine know where to go next.

External links are links that point from one website to a different one. Having external links in your website posts can help you raise your website’s credibility in both the viewer’s eyes and the search engines. When adding content posts to your page, add a couple of external links to reputable authority websites. If you link to low-quality websites, you can hurt your SEO rankings. Avoid adding too many links to your content, as it may make your page seem “spammy” to both the users and the search engines. Aim for quality over quantity with your links.

Having external links on other peoples’ websites that point to your website is also beneficial to your SEO rankings. These types of external links are called inbound links. The more websites that point to yours, the more your website appears to be an authority. That being said, this is only true if the websites pointing to yours are also providing quality experiences to their visitors. Two of the best ways to get inbound links or backlinks are through content syndication and guest blogging.

4. Write Great Titles and Meta Descriptions

When you write a website page or blog post, you’ll need to write a title for it.  When someone types keywords into a search engine, it will pull up results that contain the title of the page, the URL of the page, and the meta description.

The title in the above example is “The Complete Guide to Website Content: What It … – CopyPress.” When creating pages for your website, you’ll be given the option to title the page if you’re using a website creator. What the search engines are looking for when displaying your title is an HTML tag. This tag lets the engine know that this is the page’s title, and it should display it on the search results page. When choosing your title, try to keep it within 60 characters so that it fits in the search engine’s result display.

This is not something you put at the top of your content, although you’ll generally want to do that as well. What shows up in the search result above is housed in an HTML tag. The top of your content, the title that people see when they click through to your website, is in an h1 tag.

Below the title, you can see the meta description. This is a sentence or two that describes the content on the page before users have to click the link. These are generally 155-160 characters so that they fit into the search result display. Meta descriptions also help search engines know what is on the page. When creating a title and meta description, you should be sure to include any target keywords your content is focusing on.

5. Conduct Keyword Research

Now that you’re ready to create content for your website, how do you figure out what topics you can write about to draw in organic traffic? The answer lies in keyword research.

Keyword research allows you to find out what words people are typing into the search engine. You can use this knowledge to find keywords that make sense for you to use in your content to draw in visitors when searching for those terms in the future.  When conducting keyword research, look for:

  • Keyword volume. You want to see how many people are searching for the keywords.
  • Applicability. Would it make sense for your website to have content about the keyword? For example, people might be conducting many searches for bitcoin, but you may want to pass those keywords if you have a gardening website.
  • Competition. Or rather, the lack thereof. If you find that people are searching for something and there is not a lot of content out there to answer those peoples’ questions, you may be able to fill the void with your content and rise higher on the search results.

There are a few ways you can conduct keyword research. If you’re a beginner and you don’t mind staying that way, a good content marketing service may be able to research for you. If you’re a DIY kind of website owner, you can use services such as Ahrefs or Ubersuggest to find out what people are searching for.

6. Measure Your SEO Success

Need a primer on authority building and authorship’s impact on SEO rankings? Check out our Authority Builder series by Copypress CEO Dave Snyder: Demystifying Authorship and AuthorityExpanding Past Your WebsiteCreating Authority From ExpertiseCreate Your Authority-Building Machine

Need a hand? Learn about our authority builder program.

As you implement your SEO tactics, you should be ready to track their success or lack thereof. At the very least, you should have a way to track traffic to your website. Using Google Analytics is one of the most popular methods of tracking visitors to your website.

You can also track data such as conversion rates, how much time users spend on your pages, how many pages those users are looking at with each visit, bounce rates, and more.  Google Analytics gives you a unique view into your visitors’ habits, and it can be beneficial for you to learn how it works.

With this data, you can fine-tune your website by recognizing what is working and what isn’t. If you’re posting regular content, you can use analytics to see which of your posts are the most popular among your website’s visitors. You can use this information to capitalize on keywords that are bringing more visitors to your pages. This information can also help you identify the pages of your website that don’t receive as much traffic.

7. Use Social Media to Indirectly Raise SEO

Social media does not directly impact your website’s SEO rankings, but you can use it to influence factors that do. Social media allows you to tell more potential visitors about your website and link to your website’s pages. The more traffic pages of your website receive, the more shares your content gets, and so forth, the more your website will be viewed by search engines as a place users want to be.

Using social media to increase awareness of your website and services can also result in more searches for your site. You also have a new, more one-on-one way of interacting with potential visitors and driving up website traffic simply by being present in users’ internet lives.

We hope this quick beginner’s guide to SEO basics helps you understand how search engines find and recommend your website. If you want to learn more about SEO or other ways to improve your website’s success, you can read more at the CopyPress Knowledge Base.

Author Image - Jeremy Rivera
Jeremy Rivera

With over 17+ years in SEO, Jeremy Rivera has worked with enterprise level companies and literally hundreds of small businesses in dozens of industries. His skills have been used at nationally recognized SEO SaaS companies, SEO agencies and multiple years of running his own freelance consulting business. He specializes in building SEO forecasting models, understanding how data and software can augment SEO campaigns and how to help overcome technical SEO challenges to supercharge SEO outcomes.

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