Have you ever heard the letters SEO used before and responded with, “What’s that?” Not to mention, you haven’t got a clue on how it could help your business.

You might be absolutely new to SEO. Or you might only know that it pertains to something with search engines. Maybe you need a review course in the basics.

No matter the case, this beginner’s guide will cover the ground floor of SEO. It aims to serve as a comprehensive source to help get you started.

Later in this guide, you’ll be able to dive into all the many different topics encompassing SEO, including how to find the right keywords, to make your website SEO friendly, and to build links properly.

But this post will focus simply on the basics.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization is an aspect of marketing that focuses on increasing visibility through search results. Differing from ads, SEO does not pay for its improved placement.

SEO includes the mechanical and creative characteristics of search to improve results. Organic non-paid rankings are listings only based on their significance to the search terms.

For example, Google uses an algorithm to compile its list of results. Ranking each result, the algorithm decides which websites are the most legitimate to appear at the top. Google ranks each site based off of several different components.

What comprises Search Engine Algorithms?

One of the main things search engines look at is the words on your page compared with the words users search for. These form your keywords. You want to focus the words in your titles and content on what your audience is looking for.

Another factor includes how other websites link to you. Your website gains a search boost from outside links because it becomes more credible.

Also, SEO requires making your website speak search engine language. And that means that the search engine is looking for important indicators in certain places. So a big part of SEO is not only having the key information but having it in the right place.

Without going too far into the complexities of SEO just yet, there are key details that can drastically affect where you show up in results.

Every website is written through code – it’s what makes your headlines differ and bold text stand out. Google’s algorithm will note your headline, which is tagged as H1, is important in matching up with the words searched for. They will also do this with all your subheadings but give them a slightly lesser weight than the headline.

SEO: More Local than Ever

Diving into the deeper-level local SEO can get even more confusing. This is true especially for small business owners. Juggling many aspects of their business at once, they don’t have the time to fully learn SEO’s complexities.

On top of that, most business owners will say I want to be first.

They think, “I’m first. I’ve been here the longest, and I have the best product. I should be at the top of Google. Why can’t search engines see that?”

They think that without fully understanding how search engines work. What is first for one user, might not necessarily be first to another user in a different town.

In addition, your product or service might truly be the first or best in a specific area. But since your company doesn’t have much of a web presence, search engines don’t know about it.

One important factor of local SEO is consistency in listings. That includes making your name, address and phone number consistent across everything. Facebook, Yelp, your website – everything.

Having a false listing can damage your ranking. Searches want as much information as possible. That’s why filling out every directory with as much as possible will help boost your SEO results.

SEO management is also crucial for your website ranking. You can check this article about effective anchor text optimization for your website.

What’s Next?

So if you’ve made it to this point, you’ve just started to dip your toes into the SEO pool.

An important thing to remember is no website does SEO perfectly. Search engines don’t share their algorithm, but they do give insight on how to meet its qualifications.

If you specialize in content, focus on which keywords to target. If you have a complex website, figure out how to make sure the technical side is on par. Or hire someone to do it for you.

SEO is a vast, wide-ranging topic. But the more you know, you’ll realize just how important it is for your business.