The SEO Basics Absolutely Everyone Should Know

June 17, 2014 Amanda DiSilvestro

SEO tips

We all know by now that SEO can be so involved, sometimes entire departments are dedicated to keeping SEO strategies going and successful. However, it’s also becoming clear that SEO is something everyone needs to understand on a basic level. It affects all different departments in a company, but it’s also something that can help Internet users (almost 3 billion and counting) understand why they are seeing the results they are seeing. This can help them make informed decisions about the quality of each and every search result. 

Unfortunately, we’re still in the stages where people who do not work specifically in SEO may push back and avoid it at all costs. It can seem complicated and not worth it at first, but once you start to dive into the basics, most people find that it’s actually pretty painless — especially for the advantages that will come from having even the slightest amount of SEO knowledge. You can learn all you need to know just from reading this article. That’s not so painful, right?

How SEO Is Intertwined With Other Departments In Your Company 

Believe it or not, almost every department in a traditional business has to deal with SEO at one point or another. For example, the IT team will oftentimes have to fix certain pages that are getting the most clicks, etc., which is hard to understand if you don’t know why that matters. The sales department can help let the SEO department know what people want to see and learn about and, eventually, they should have fewer questions on the phones in the future and readers will be more satisfied. The product department will need to know why certain ads look the way they do, and understanding SEO and the A/B testing that was done can help make this clear.

As for other professions that maybe don’t work with a website, such as nurses, teachers, fitness instructors, etc., understanding SEO is all about being a consumer and an online user. Whether you’re trying to make a purchase or you are looking to learn something, you need to know that the information you are reading is credible. Understanding how SEO works can help you analyze each and every page you read.  

SEO 101: Where To Start Your Understanding Of SEO

What’s a little bit tricky about this question is the fact that you can customize and tailor different SEO lessons for people based upon their goals or profession. Certain messages are more relevant for different people, but there are a few that are good to know no matter what your reason is for learning the SEO basics:

  • SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.”
  • There are organic results and paid results. Organic results mean a website earned its spot on the Google results page based on the factors discussed above. A paid result means a company paid to have their results show up on top.
  • You should be able to differentiate between an organic result and a paid result. Paid results show up at the top and along the side of the screen and say “Ad” next to them or above them. The rest are organic results. See the screenshot below: 

google ad results

  • A Google algorithm is what will determine which results show up organically for which search queries, or which words and phrases someone types into the Google search bar. 
  • The Google algorithm will “crawl” your site, which means it will analyze your site based on hundreds of different factors. 
  • Keywords and links are two of the biggest factors in determining which sites rank the best organically on a Google results page. 
    • Keywords: If Google sees a certain keyword turn up frequently in an article you wrote, especially in the title, this will help Google know what the article is about and help place it on their search results accordingly. 
    • Linking: If a lot of people are referencing your website on their website through links, Google will assume you are putting out quality. The more links you have on a variety of sites, the better. You do not want links associated with spam websites, however. It’s all about quality and not quantity. 
  • Companies will oftentimes hire an SEO agency or create an in-house SEO department to track different factors such as what pages people are landing on, how long people stay on particular pages, where your company is ranking for certain queries, etc. They do a lot of testing to determine how they can make all pages on a website the most relevant and engaging to readers. 
  • SEO best practices are always changing, and seeing results is a slow process. You cannot make one change and expect success right away—it takes time. 

We talked with David McElveen, managing partner of SEO Company HigherVisibility, who explained that there are a few different ways to learn the basics. He said, “In order to learn these basics, I would recommend talking to someone you might know at your company who works in SEO. They can help show you a few examples and give you the run-down of the basics in just a few minutes. You can also try and learn SEO on your own by reading some of the most popular SEO blogs such as Search Engine Journal and Moz.”

If you have a story about how understanding the basics of SEO has helped you, either professionally or personally, we’d love to hear it in the comment section below.  

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About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice raging from keyword research to local SEO strategy. She is the online content editor and lead writer for Higher Visibility, a nationally recognized SEO company that offers a wide range of SEO services to companies across the country.

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