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SEO For Beginners: How To Understand SEO (Without Knowing Anything About SEO)

Juliet smiling after writing her SEO for beginners guide

Hi! My name is Juliet, and I’m writing a blog about SEO without being an SEO expert. If you’re an “expert” in SEO, this ain’t the blog for you, this is SEO for beginners, so you can leave this page now.

Okay, now that we got those losers out of here (hehe, jk), let’s get to the guide.

First, I’ll put it quickly and simply so if you have to learn SEO in a “you’re applying to a marketing job that requires SEO knowledge and experience“ kind of quick, then you can skim the biggest parts and get on your way. 

If you want to read a more helpful (and more opinionated) version of the facts below for SEO for beginners, scroll to the second half of this blog.

QUICK FACTS ABOUT SEO: SEO FOR BEGINNERS

The most basic explanation of SEO I can give you is the steps you take to get your web page to rank as one of the top search results on a search engine. 

My second definition of SEO is a free way to get a particular web page on your website to appear on the first page of search results using the words your potential customers’ search.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re the marketing director at Sherwin Williams, and you want to sell more paint.
  • After researching, you find out a lot of people are searching for this phrase or keywords “paint to use in your house.
  • You create a blog post using those keywords: “2021 Edition: The Best Paint To Use In Your House.

Now, when people search the keywords “paint to use in your house,” your blog post appears in the search results, driving traffic to your website and creating more opportunities for new customers.

Blog title example #1 for SEO for beginners

1.) Companies don’t just write blogs for fun

Blog posts aren’t for loyal customers and avid readers. Blog posts are for Google. 

2.) EVERYTHING is for Google

If you make Google happy, you will be successful. You make Google happy by abiding by their number one rule: create content that best answers the queries that people are searching for.

*Special Note: Google ranks pages, not websites.

3.) Your pretty website doesn’t matter

You can have the best, well-designed website in the world, but if there isn’t a way for people to find it, it’s pointless.

4.) How to “SEO”

One of the best ways to SEO, especially SEO for beginners, is through blogs. When you create a blog, you create a new web page, creating a unique opportunity to rank on Google.

5.) How to find words that are SEO Optimized

Get to know your target audience by creating customer personas. Knowing your audience will help you understand what types of words people search for your service or product. Then, use those keywords in the content on your website.

6.) SEO Optimization in Real Life

I needed to write a blog for a client who does construction consulting. I found their target audience searches phrases containing the words “construction consultant” on Google. From there, we created the blog: A Construction Consultant Perspective: Trends in US Construction Pricing

LET’S DIG DEEPER INTO SEO: SEO FOR BEGINNERS

The most basic definition of SEO I can give you is the steps you take to get your web page to show up in the search results of a search engine. 

My second definition of SEO is a free way to get a particular web page on your website to appear on the first page of search results using the words your potential customers’ search.

Here’s an example:

  • You’re on the marketing team at Squatty Potty, and your goal is to sell more products.
  • After researching, you find out a lot of people are searching for this phrase or keywords “do squatty potties actually work.
  • You create a blog post using those keywords: “Here’s The Science To Prove: Squatty Potties Actually Work.

Now, when all those people search those keywords, “do squatty potties actually work,” your blog post appears on Google, driving traffic to your website and creating more opportunities for new customers.

Blog title example number 2 for SEO for beginners

1.) Companies don’t just write blogs for fun: SEO for beginners

Have you ever noticed a “Blogs” or “News and Updates” tab on someone’s website and thought to yourself, “Do people read these posts?” You imagine someone named Susan using her Squatty Potty and waiting by her laptop until she receives Squatty Potty’s monthly newsletter announcing their newest blog post, “Our Plastic Is Made From Recycled Baby’s Diapers.” Yeah, I thought the same thing you’re thinking, “what loser takes the time to read company blog posts on the reg?”

Even if they swear by the company’s product, I don’t know anyone chomping at the bit for the latest email update. My example is a fake, exaggerated scenario to make a point. Blog posts aren’t for loyal customers and avid readers. Blog posts are for Google. EVERYTHING IS FOR GOOGLE.

2.) EVERYTHING is for Google: SEO for Beginners

When I say Google, I really do mean Google.com, but it also encompasses all Search Engines in Search Engine Optimization (I probably should have defined that acronym for you earlier, oops!). SEO also impacts your search results on Yahoo!, Bing, Ask.com, Baidu, etc. (Do you know anyone who uses these??)

BUT in the world of marketing, Google is the big kahuna. Saying marketers worship Google is probably a little too far, but marketers will go to any length to please Google. Is that a little too Old Testament for you? To put it simply… in SEO for beginners terms…

It’s Google’s Goal

It’s Google’s goal; better yet, it is Google’s job (yes, there are real humans behind the madness, not just super bots) to keep you on their website. It’s how they get their money, literally. But I don’t have time to tell you how and why right now. That’ll be another blog down the road.

You and I both know it is rare for anyone to go past the first page of Google. Why is that? Well, number one, there has been some psychology built up over time where we think the most relevant information is on the first page.

We don’t go to the second or third page because we found whatever answer we needed to our question pretty quickly on the first page. Even more, people typically only click the first, second, or third search result.

But did you know you’re competing against more things than just competitors in your industry? For example, there are Google ads, “zero click searches,” and Google Maps. Just know Google isn’t always for you, even if you optimize your whole web page to the max and you’ve put in the research to understand what types of keywords are best.

Okay, so you have your website. You’ve worked hard to design something beautiful: A homepage, about us page, services page, gallery page, shop page, I could go on, BUT you are YOU, so you’re not only going to create a beautiful website, you are going to create content that is valuable to your customers BECAUSE YOU CARE. You’re amazing, do you know that? 

Anyways, get ready for some sad news, because when I heard it – it changed my perspective on marketing forever. YOUR PRETTY WEBSITE DOESN’T MATTER.

3.) YOUR PRETTY WEBSITE DOESN’T MATTER: SEO for Beginners

I worked in marketing for a nonprofit for over a year and a half right after college. Step back in time with me for a moment…

Photo of Juliet when she graduated for SEO for beginners blog

I had just graduated college and knew I wanted to do something in communications. If you’ve ever researched this industry, you know how many different things you have to balance to have a successful marketing department. There’s SEO, social media management, email marketing, website design, advertising, graphic design, public relations, content creation, copywriting, I could go on. When I became the content strategist at Wine To Water, a clean water nonprofit, I decided to focus on social media, the monthly newsletter, web design, and the occasional Facebook ad (but had no idea what I was doing).

I put so much intention into content creation and making all marketing materials beautiful, but it was all for naught. During the COVID-19 pandemic, my company considered the content strategist position nonessential, and they let me go. And to be honest, it was. I put so much effort into creating web pages and social posts, and none of it gave our organization a return (leads and donations), so what was the value of my marketing work?

If you’re a creative, you understand the value behind any sort of creation, but in the end, all your executives care about is more money and more leads.

SEO for Beginners pull out quote

SEO is a free way to get leads and income for your business.

4.) How to “SEO:” SEO for Beginners

A Little Background

In my opinion, one of the best ways to SEO is through blog creation, especially SEO for beginners. Remember the note I made earlier: Google doesn’t rank websites, it ranks web pages? When you create a blog, you create a new web page, which creates a unique opportunity to rank on Google, using words that your potential customers search.

That’s a great way to please Google because you’re creating content relevant to your industry.

If you strive to create the single best answer to a query or question, you have a chance at SEO success. The page that answers everything somebody needs to know from their search query, Google will like it. They want people to find answers on their search engine. If you provide the best “answer,” you win.

Usually, if a website is at the top of the search results, the writer researched what content people searched and incorporated that content into a blog.

BLOGGING

Let’s say you have a website with a certain number of pages, such as your homepage, about page, store page, and maybe a portfolio page. If your website stays the same indefinitely, you won’t compete against your competitors because you’re not producing new content that’s relevant to your target consumers.

There’s only so much optimizing you can do on those pages because you have to consider specific verbiage relevant to the brand that you want to keep. For instance, you can’t change your history, so the words on the about page won’t change. There are only certain words that you can use to define your business’ history, and those words may not be best to increase your SEO optimization.

As a result, you build a blog page. Whenever you create a new blog post, you’re making a new webpage. Here’s what I mean, let’s say your website name is beautifultree.com, and your business simplifies ordering trees online and delivering them to your house.

So, if you want to create an SEO-optimized blog, you’re going to take the words (aka keywords) people are using to search for services like yours and put them throughout the blog. Add your keywords in the alt-text of the blog’s photos, put them in the slug of the blog URL, etc. 

5.) How to find words that are SEO Optimized: SEO for Beginners

To better understand SEO for beginners, there are two people involved in creating and finding the best SEO keywords, you and your potential customers. By that, I mean people are looking for some sort of service, product, or answer inside your industry. And if you can be the person to answer that question, it is more likely they will select your business. 

Knowing your target audiences and their motivations will help you understand what they search for on Google. Here is a super helpful article on creating customer personas.

There are times where you may feel super inspired to write a blog because you have a topic in mind that you’re passionate about and know what you want to say. However, there are some times when you don’t have a topic to write about but want to write something to help get your website to the top of Google. 

When you’re in that second scenario, do some research on what you think people are searching for simply by doing a Google search. From there, Google generates questions related to your search that show what other people searched.

For example, when you Google, “what does SEO stand for,” there is a section that says, “People also ask.” From here, you can get to know the behavior of the “searchers,” which can inspire you to create content that answers those types of questions!

SEO for beginners SEO Google search example

Suppose you want to dive deeper to see how many people a month search for specific words and how difficult it would be to use certain keywords to compete against competitors. In that case, there is free SEO software you can begin using, like Google Search Console, SEMrush, Screaming Frog, and the WordPress SEO plugin, Rank Math.

6.) SEO Optimization in Real Life: SEO for Beginners

At Lazarus Design Team, we have clients from all types of industries. Everything from lumber to credit management, dentistry, and more.

Recently, I wanted to write a blog for one of our clients, a construction consulting firm that helps investors keep their projects on time and budgets on track. It’s a complicated industry and I wasn’t sure what to write about. How do I find a topic that would be relevant to their audience and highly searched?

The Beauty of SEO. 

After keyword research, I was able to find what their target audiences were searching for in Google, “construction consultant.” These are the types of questions people were asking with that keyword:

SEO for beginners construction consulting Google search

I consulted with the rest of my team to think of content that could use that keyword while offering unique content that stands out among the competition, resulting in this blog title: A Construction Consultant Perspective: Trends in US Construction Pricing

If you’ve gotten to the end of this blog for SEO for beginners, I hope you feel closer and closer to understanding the complexities of SEO and what it can do for your business. 

It can be a lot to keep up with, but it is worth your time. And hey, if you realize that you need SEO but don’t have the capacity with everything else you have to balance, contact us here for a free SEO consultation. 

In the meantime, email me at jrath@lazarusdesignteam.com if you have any “beginner-level” SEO questions!

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