SEO 101 – Basics of Search Engine Optimization

Search engine optimization, often referred to as SEO, refers to making changes to a website to improve your ranking in search engine results – allowing potential customers and clients to find you. 

If I have lost you already – take a step back and think about typing something into the Google search bar.  You type a series of words, often referred to as “key phrase” in SEO, and milliseconds later you get a listing of websites that might be what you are looking for.  The URLs given back to you are in an order that Google has determined is most relevant to what you are looking for.  

When optimizing a website for SEO, you are trying to move up that list so that people see your website listing and click on it.

I will often refer to Google because it is the #1 search engine, but it is not the only search engine.  In terms of use, the most popular traditional search engines are Google, Bing, and Yahoo.  But more recently other “non-traditional” search engines are overtaking these “traditional” options – these include names you are familiar with including YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Why is SEO Important

SEO is a process of optimizing a website for google search with the goal of being listed near the top of a search result, improving the site’s visibility.  This allows more people to find you and become aware of your brand and what you do or what you sell.    The more visible you are online, the easier it is for people to find you which results in increased sales,  more appointments booked, and higher revenue for your business.

I separate improving SEO into three different categories:

  1. Creating and improving original content – This includes writing a blog, producing videos, or recording podcast episodes.  In doing this you increase the number of key phrases people can find you by, while also positioning yourself as an expert and someone that people can trust.

  1. Improving on-page SEO – This includes improving titles, adding metatags, and linking to other parts of your website.

  1. Building off-page SEO – This includes establishing your reputation by link building.

By improving all three you will, over time, improve your ranking in searches.

Number 1

Creating Content

One of the most important SEO factors is having valuable, unique content on your website.  Search engines want to see that you are a trusted source of your products, services, and information.  

Depending on your age, you might remember in the early days of the internet when searching Google would return questionable results.  A link might appear to be what you are looking for, but when you click on it you are taken to a site with a completely different topic.

How does a computer determine this “trust factor”?  Each page you publish on your website gets evaluated and a key phrase is chosen that best represents that page.  For example, your home page will often rank for your business name – so if someone searches for that your website will come up in a search.  

So a simple 5-page website will only give you 5 key phrases to rank for.  To increase the number of different combinations that people might type into the search bar and have your website come up you must increase the number of pages you have on your website.  The best way to do this is to publish new, original content on a regular basis.  Content can include written blogs, a summary of a podcast that you link to, or a description of a YouTube video from your channel.

You don’t want to dump out all your content at once – the other thing that search engines look for is that your website is being kept up to date – and making changes or additions to your website shows Google that you are still in business and people should contact you!

On-page SEO

On-page SEO involves optimizing each of your website’s pages so that search engines know what the content of that page is – and then can determine what key phrases your page matches with.  It involves optimizing elements like titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and page speed.

  • Title tag – should include your target keyword and describe the page’s content accurately.

  • Meta description – is a longer description and should entice people to click through to your page.  This description should also include your target keyword.

  • Header tags – help break up your content and make it easier for search engines to understand, as well as viewers to read your content and find what they are looking for.  You should use your target keyword in at least one header tag on your page.

  • Page speed – a fast-loading website provides a good user experience.  If your website loads slowly, many people will quickly leave your site – which tells Google that your site isn’t what people are looking for and thus they will rank it lower in a search.

Off-page Optimization

Off-page SEO takes a little more effort than on-page SEO, because they are things you don’t have direct control over.  Off-page SEO includes link building, social media engagement, and branding.

  • Link Building – This is other websites linking back to your website.  There are many ways you can do this
    • Guest Blogging – Request that the blog post includes a link to your website
    • Guest Podcasting – Ask that the notes include a link to your website
    • Appearing in written articles about your services and products with links to your services and products.

  • Social Media Engagement – Interacting with people on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you are building awareness of who you are, what you do, and creating that know-like-trust factor.  You can share your content – link to your blog posts, podcasts, and videos.

  • Branding – By building your brand search engines learn that you are a reputable and trusted business and thus will rank you higher.  You can do this by building awareness of what you do or sell and continually linking to your business name, URL, and products/services.

Off-page SEO is a vital part of any SEO strategy. By building links, interacting on social media, and branding your website, you can improve your site’s ranking and get more traffic.


Focusing on optimizing your website for search engines is a great way to increase traffic to your website – the higher your rank in a search engine results the more likely a prospective customer or client will click through to your page. 

But one important thing to remember is that SEO is not a one-and-done, instead, it is something that you need to continually work on, or else you will slowly fall in rankings.   So start now and make sure the pages on your website load fast, use heading tags, and have title and meta tag information.  Then, come up with a content creation plan that is realistic for your to stick to – for me I write a new blog article every 2 weeks.  Then work on outreach – including posting on social media, and connecting with podcast hosts and blog writers who might be interested in having you as a guest.  

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