The basics of search engine optimization

Let’s get started with some SEO basics


Need useful information on SEO Basics to boost your online presence? This article will give you everything you’ll need to start optimizing your own website, from explaining phrases and keywords and how to handle your on page activities with the goal of establishing a presence and driving traffic, to building backlinks that help develop your online authority.


SEO is an organic (non-paid) way of making your website more visible in search engine results. By optimizing a website through SEO, you improve your site’s search ranking, help to drive traffic, and increase your sites overall presence online – You make your site more likely to be found in search engines.


Social media and other platforms can generate good amounts of traffic online, however, the big time search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo drive the significant majority of online traffic every day all over the world. The reason search engines are unique is that they provide targeted traffic, matching people looking for something specific with search results that will suit those needs.

If you’ve not optimized your site for search, it’s harder for search engines to find you, and ultimately you will miss out on an incredible opportunity to drive organic (and better quality) traffic to your business.

SEO should be an integral part of every website and content/marketing strategy. It can be included as part of a Website and SEO package when you’re looking for someone to build your website, alternatively for more intensive stand alone SEO work you can seek services of an SEO expert.

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When first learning the SEO basics, it can seem like a complicated and technical space, but it doesn’t have to be like that. It’s a matter of getting your head around a few key concepts, then incorporating the more important actions into your content strategy long term. However, it is time consuming and so depending on where your time is best spent and the complexity of your website, you may decide you need someone with expert knowledge to handle things instead.


These are the words and phrases that users type into a search box. If a keyword is searched in high volumes, it can carry significant value for a business online.

For example, if you run a Plumber business in Chicago, the keywords you may want to rank for could be –

“plumber chicago”
“Best plumber chicago”
“Affordable plumber chicago

Ranking on page one for these phrases on Google will help to boost the number of users who make their way to your website, in turn resulting in more leads and sales if your site is properly optimised for capturing them (note: page one is key here.. want to know the best place to hide a body? Page 2 of Google’s search results!)

Here is the quick search result for the keyword “Plumbers Chicago”


As you can see above, all of 5 websites are ranked for the same keyword. You probably wonder why is first and 4th in the results? Well, it can be a million reasons, one of them is most likely have applied a better On-Page SEO , or just the stronger backlinks to their website. In either case, they all have a good chance of getting all of the leads organically as they owned the first page of Google, which is what you should aim with your website.

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Finding the right Keywords

Finding the right keywords for your business is super important, and is at the very heart of SEO. It’s probably the most important part of learning the SEO basics to get right, as everything comes back to keywords in the end. There are lots of free tools online, like this one from SERPs, that can assist you to find the best keywords for your business, but to be honest, this is an art all by itself, so it’s usually best to ask for some help.

How To Do Keyword Research

Start by making a list of all the relevant keywords for your business including locations (like in the examples above) in a document or spreadsheet. It becomes clear pretty quickly just how many there are, especially when you start thinking about plurals and mixing up the word order. Most SEO tools will have keyword sections that help you with keyword suggestions – Google offers such a tool as part of their Google Ads advertising platform. Remember the golden rule of the internet, when in doubt, just Google it!

Once you have a decent list. It’s time to analyze them. Again, it is best to have a tool here to help you, but Google’s free tools cover the basics. You essentially want to find a nice balance between search volume (how many people are searching for a keyword) and competition (how many other sites and pages are competing for that exact keyword). The sweet spot is right in the middle with an ok volume and a low enough competition level that you think you could rank for it.

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Example: Good luck ranking for the term credit card, that one’s pretty stitched up. The volume would be huge but so would the keyword’s competition so instead, it’s best to think about what’s called ‘the longtail’. Keyword phrases with 3 or 4+ words are best. Instead of credit cards, what about best reward credit card in Australia. This phrase would have far less competition and might be worth targeting.

Now you have a list of keywords that you think sound right, you need to incorporate them into your website in a way that’s natural. If you just add keywords to your content without thinking about how it will read, i.e. keyword dumping, visitors to your website won’t have a good experience, and search engines could penalise your site.


Basic SEO setup on a web page is as follows –

Add your keyword to…

1. the title of your web page a.k.a. H1 tags

2. the secondary headings (where appropriate) – a.k.a. H2 tags

3. within the body of the copy (where appropriate) – aim for a keyword density of about 0.5-1%

4. the alt tags of images

5. the URL, i.e.

Check the graphic below how headings should be done properly.

Proper Headings in article
By Philip Anderson