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SEO Basics: An SEO Primer for Beginners

What is Search Engine Optimization (aka SEO) and why is it important? We cannot cover this topic with just a small article around 700 words, but let’s try to cover the SEO basics with this primer that can help a lot a beginner.

In this article

SERP: Paid and Organic

People say that images are better than words so let’s start with an example that will give you the opportunity to actually understand what is SEO, the acronym of Search Engine Optimization. Let’s say you open Google and you want to search about ‘’laptops’’.

SERP paid and organic for the term 'laptops'
Paid and Organic search results for the term 'laptops'

You can see 2 different types of search results:

  1. No1 is paid search results 💰

  2. No2 organic search results 💸 Results of No1 group are appearing due to google ads but we want to focus on results appearing in No2 group. These results are called ‘’organic results’’ and they are crucial for every site. The reason is simple: A site can appear as a top result on the first page of a Google search for a given term or terms COMPLETELY FREE! 😎

And here comes SEO 🔎

Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing websites to make them reach a high position in Google’s – or another search engine’s (Bing, Yahoo etc.)– search results. Moz one of the best SEO tools out there gives this SEO definition:

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

What is Google’s Algorithm?

Google is using an algorithm (that continuously updates) in order to decide what site must be ranked high on their SERPs (search result pages). We have thousands of updates per year either major or minor. See the full history of Google's Algorithm updates. Although this algorithm remains secret SEO experts and top SEO Companies have ‘’found’’ what the important factors for Google are in order your site to rank high and be a first-page result! These factors can be separated in 2 large categories: The on-page SEO factors and the off-page SEO factors. Of course we cannot analyze all of them in this SEO basics article but let's try to give a short description below:

On-page factors (also known as On-site factors)

Let’s start with the easiest part – the on-page SEO factors. This is basically about the structure of your site. It is important to have a properly structured website with no technical errors or pages that do not exist (404 error). A website must give a unique User Experience and since the dawn of mobile devices must be mobile-friendly. Did we say mobile friendly? Something more than this as Google recently rolled-out the mobile-first index for the whole web. That means they give priority to the mobile version of your site and then to the desktop (original) version of it! Other factors that are included in on-page SEO and are also very important are site speed and of course the content of your site. A fast-loading site with unique and long content (the longest articles you publish the better) has a better ‘’rating’’ than a site that has problem with its load time or its content is a duplicate of another site. To sum up, you have to produce fresh and long content regularly.

Off-page factors (also known as Off-site factors)

Off-page SEO factors are the trickiest ones. And this is because it is more difficult to influence but play a big part of your final ranking on search results. The most important off-page factor are backlinks or inbound links (the links pointing to your site). Beware, you do not need only a large number of sites linking to you.

These sites must be relevant with your business/content and are reputable on Google - in simple words having high Domain Authority (sometimes is bad for your ranking if sites with minimal or small reputation point to you). The more relevant and reputable sites link to you, the higher you will rank in Google. So, you need quality along with quantity! It is also important to know that your ranking depends also from the competition you have. The competitiveness of your market therefore also has a large influence on your chances to rank. Here is a summary that Search Engine Land created for the SEO success (ranking) factors and named it the 'SEO Periodic Table':

The SEO periodic table that Search Engine Land published in 2017
The SEO periodic table that Search Engine Land published in 2017

The SEO periodic table that Search Engine Land published in 2019
The SEO periodic table that Search Engine Land published in 2019

Final thoughts

Summarizing, this SEO basics article should help you understand why SEO is your BIG chance to get a lot of FREE traffic from search engines by optimizing your site and content accordingly following the latest SEO checklist and guidelines. Featured image belongs to



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I'm Dimitris and love writing & speaking about all-things SEO & Digital Marketing.

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