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Search engine optimization (SEO) is a buzzword that’s wildly popular throughout the marketing space. We’re all familiar with search engines and how they operate, but how many of us understand SEO basics?

There are so many different opinions on this subject, and a number of really great marketing experts have published some brilliant pieces that are worth your time!

If you’re able to block out 30-45 minutes, I highly recommend checking out Neil Patel’s step-by-step guide to SEO. It’s the perfect next step after reading this piece. So maybe head over there next!

But in case you’re not too familiar with search engine optimization, I want to provide you with a brief guide that introduces you to the subject.

SEO Basics: What Is SEO?

If you are new to all of this, you’re probably wondering, what is SEO and why is it such a big deal?

I think puts it best: “Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.”

The whole point of search engine optimization is to rank higher within search engines so that more people visit your site. Search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, as well as others, have unique algorithms that determine how high a particular website is able to rank.

But the good news is that many of these determining factors are well known. Let’s start breaking them down.

On-Page vs Off-Page SEO

An important thing to understand about search engine optimization is that most factors can be categorized as on-page or off-page.

In simple terms, on-page SEO consists of the elements that are largely controlled internally, or exist “on-the-page”. Some on-page factors include focus keywords, site loading speed, meta descriptions, and content quality, to name a few. These factors are, for the most part, within your control.

Off-page, on the other hand, consists of the elements that are influenced externally. Off-page factors include reader engagement, social media sharing, and other publishers linking to your site.

For a detailed breakdown of the different on-page and off-page factors, check out this helpful graphic:

This fantastic graphic was produced by Search Engine Land. Download your copy now!

If you’re just getting started with search engine optimization, trying to integrate everything at once can be overwhelming, as there are so many different factors to consider!

With this in mind, here’s a short list with five of the most important SEO practices. If you make a point to start implementing these SEO basics today, you’ll be well on your way to achieving higher rankings on search engines.

SEO Basics: The Big Five

1. Quality Content

Garbage in, garbage out. Google is smarter than we often give it credit for; and it knows when we’re churning out poor content as opposed to great content. Always look to produce quality before you do anything else.

2. A Speedy Site

This is where search engine optimization can become tricky. If you have poor hosting or a page that loads slowly, your ranking will suffer . . .

The best way to resolve this? Perform a site audit and determine whether there are any technical SEO issues dragging you down. I recommend using SEMRush, which provides a fantastic all-in-one auditing tool.

3. Solid Focus Keywords

For every piece of content you create, keyword research is extremely important. All in all, you want to choose keywords that have a decent number of monthly average searches at low (medium, at worst) competition. Google Adwords provides a basic keyword planner tool for free. Sign up today and start using it!

4. Well-Crafted Meta Tags

Meta descriptions are often overlooked, but they’re critical to your SEO success. Meta tags have a character limit of 300, so look to create relevant, eye-catching descriptions that fall between 250–300 characters. Oh, and remember to include your focus keyword!

Links help you establish authority. So whether you’re linking out to another publisher or including backlinks to some of your own content, doing so will boost your ranking by leaps and bounds. It also helps for other publishers to link to you.

You don’t need to be an SEO expert right from the jump. Instead, start with these SEO basics. With these five tips, you have more than enough to start laying the foundations that will help your content rank in search engines, over time.

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