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The Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Introduction


Welcome to your SEO learning journey!

You’ll get the most out of this guide if your desire to learn search engine optimization (SEO) is exceeded only by your willingness to execute and test concepts.

This guide is designed to describe all major aspects of SEO, from finding the terms and phrases (keywords) that can generate qualified traffic to your website, to making your site friendly to search engines, to building links and marketing the unique value of your site.

The world of search engine optimization is complex and ever-changing, but you can easily understand the basics, and even a small amount of SEO knowledge can make a big difference. Free SEO education is also widely available on the web, including in guides like this! (Woohoo!)

Combine this information with some practice and you are well on your way to becoming a savvy SEO.

Here’s what you’ll find in this SEO guide

Ever heard of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? It’s a theory of psychology that prioritizes the most fundamental human needs (like air, water, and physical safety) over more advanced needs (like esteem and social belonging). The theory is that you can’t achieve the needs at the top without ensuring the more fundamental needs are met first. Love doesn’t matter if you don’t have food.

Our founder, Rand Fishkin, made a similar pyramid to explain the way folks should go about SEO, and we’ve affectionately dubbed it “Mozlow’s hierarchy of SEO needs.”

Here’s what it looks like:

A pyramid hierarchy of SEO needs based on Maslow's theory of psychology.

Using this guide, here are 7 steps to successful SEO:

  1. Crawl accessibility so engines can read your website
  2. Compelling content that answers the searcher’s query
  3. Keyword optimized to attract searchers & engines
  4. Great user experience including a fast load speed and compelling UX
  5. Share-worthy content that earns links, citations, and amplification
  6. Title, URL, & description to draw high CTR in the rankings
  7. Snippet/schema markup to stand out in SERPs

We’ll spend time on each of these areas throughout this guide, but we wanted to introduce it here because it offers a look at how we structured the guide as a whole:

Chapter 1: SEO 101

What is it, and why is it important?

For true beginners. Learn what search engine optimization is, why it matters, and all the need-to-know basics to start yourself off right.

Chapter 2: How Search Engines Work – Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking

First, you need to show up.

If search engines literally can’t find you, none of the rest of your work matters. This chapter shows you how their robots crawl the Internet to find your site and add it to their indexes.

Chapter 3: Keyword Research

Understand what your audience wants to find.

Our approach targets users first because that’s what search engines reward. This chapter covers keyword research and other methods to determine what your audience is seeking.

Chapter 4: On-Site Optimization

Use your research to craft your message.

This is a hefty chapter, covering optimized design, user experience, information architecture, and all the ways you can adjust how you publish content to maximize its visibility and resonance with your audience.

Chapter 5: Technical SEO

Basic technical knowledge will help you optimize your site for search engines and establish credibility with developers.

By implementing responsive design, robot directives, and other technical elements like structured data and meta tags, you can tell Google (a robot itself) what your site is all about. This helps it rank for the right things.

Chapter 6: Link Building & Establishing Authority

Turn up the volume.

Once you’ve got everything in place, it’s time to expand your influence by earning attention and links from other sites and influencers.

Chapter 7: Measuring, Prioritizing, & Executing SEO

Set yourself up for success.

An essential part of any SEO strategy is knowing what’s working (and what isn’t), adjusting your approach as you go along.

The SEO Glossary

Understand key terms and phrases.

Learning SEO can sometimes feel like learning another language, with all the jargon and industry terms you’re expected to know. This chapter-by-chapter glossary will help you get a handle on all the new words.

How much of this guide do I need to read?

If you’re serious about improving search traffic and are unfamiliar with SEO, we recommend reading the Beginner’s Guide to SEO front-to-back. We’ve tried to make it as concise and easy to understand as possible, and learning the basics of SEO is a vital first step in achieving your online business goals.

Go through at the pace that suits you best, and be sure to take note of the dozens of resources we link to throughout the chapters — they’re also worthy of your attention.

Getting excited yet? You should be! Search engine marketing is a fascinating field and can be lots of fun! If you get confused, don’t give up; we have folks who can help you with instructor-led SEO training seminars.

We’re excited you’re here! Grab a cup of coffee, and let’s dive into Chapter 1 (SEO 101).

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