What is SEO? The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

Are you new to SEO? You may already have heard about the importance of SEO.

Want to know what is SEO and other search engine optimization basics? You’re in the right place.

Before you start hiring others or investing money in SEO related stuff, it’s always a smart idea to know the basics first. That way, you’ll not only understand how it works but you’ll spend your time and money on the RIGHT aspects of SEO.

Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:

  • How is SEO different from SEM and PPC?
  • Why you need SEO
  • Different types of SEO
  • Truths about SEO
  • Important SEO Metrics and more

Are you ready? Let’s get into the details.

What Is SEO? Definition, Examples, Types & More

what is seo

What Is SEO?

SEO acronym stands for Search Engine Optimization.

Search engine optimization is the process of optimizing your website and its content with the goal of ranking better in the search engines for a specific keyword phrase.

SEO is the process of improving a website’s rankings in the organic (not paid) listings in search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. Proper SEO will improve the organic visibility of your website in search engines so you can attract qualified visitors to your site (for free).

How does SEO work?

SEO is constantly changing. What had worked a decade ago won’t work today and what’s working today may not work after a year.

So let’s get a broader perspective of what is going on in SEO in today’s scenario. There are generally three components search engines like Google use to rank a web page in search results which are;

  1. Crawling
  2. Indexing
  3. Serving
search engine algo

Let’s briefly talk about each one of them so you can better understand those steps.

1. Crawling: Search engines like Google use bots (which are also known as spiders or crawlers) which crawl websites and all the web pages on the web.

2. Indexing: In this step, after crawling, Google bots analyse the page content and store that content in their index (which are huge databases from where the content can later be retrieved).

Quick Note: If you have updated a blog post or page on your website and if the indexing is not done, then Google will show the old version of that page in the search results.

3. Serving: After Crawling and Indexing is done, Google will serve the results to the users (which is retrieved from its database which contains trillions of web pages and data).

How is SEO different from SEM and PPC? 

In search engine optimization, you’ll often hear two common things: SEM and PPC.

First things first, SEM and PPC are NOT the same. Here’s a quick overview of both;

  • SEM (Search Engine Marketing, which includes both paid and unpaid methods)
  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click, which includes ONLY paid ads in search engines)

You can also check out our free guide on SEO vs SEM if you want more details. So, how are SEM or PPC different from SEO? Let’s find out.


SEM stands for Search Engine Marketing. It involves using all the activities to improve your search rankings for your target keywords. SEM can be both paid and unpaid.

SEM is your best bet if you’re looking for a FASTER way to get your website in front of people who are already searching for what you have to offer.

For example, when you search for “best email marketing software” on Google, you will find a few paid ads at the top of the page. 

sem example

Similarly, the advertisers who are paying for these ads also write blog posts about email marketing software (to generate free traffic). 

For the same example, Brevo also ranks in organic search for the same keyword.

Have a look;

sem rankings

What can you learn from the above example? Brevo is using SEM, as it is using paid ads, and also ranking for its target keyword on the first page.

SEM Pros:

  • SEM is a good option if you want to see results quickly. You can start getting traffic to your website once your ads are approved. 
  • You can use both SEO and SEM channels together. For example, you could use SEM to get traffic to your website while you are working on improving your SEO. Once your SEO starts to improve, you can reduce your investment in SEM.
  • The ability to monitor the performance of your paid ads and make adjustments as needed.
  • SEM offers long-term benefits, as you’ll also be putting SEO efforts that can lead to long-term SEO benefits, such as improving your website’s ranking, credibility, and authority 

SEM Cons:

  • SEM can be expensive, especially when bidding on competitive and HIGH CPC keywords.


PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click. It is a type of PAID search marketing where advertisers pay a fee each time a user clicks on their ad. PPC is the most common type of SEM but not the only type.

Let’s take the same example keyword, “best email marketing software.”

Here’s what PPC ads look like;

ppc example

As you can see above, businesses HAVE to pay Google to have their ads appear in these TOP spots because they know that people searching for this keyword will likely be interested in buying email marketing software.

In conclusion, SEM is a broader term that includes all paid and unpaid search marketing activities, while PPC is a part of SEM that involves ONLY paid ads. 

Whereas SEO involves ONLY FREE organic traffic where you’ll have to rank for the keywords.

PPC Pros:

  • You’ll get quick results and you can set ANY budget you want depending on the keywords you want to target.
  • You can set daily or monthly on ad spend depending on the PPC ad performance
  • PPC gives access to HIGHLY targeting options, such as demographics, interests, keywords, and location. This means you can reach a highly specific audience.
  • With PPC ads, you can find out what’s exactly working, as you’ll get detailed analytics and conversion tracking
  • More flexibility as you can change ad creatives or pause campaigns whenever you want
  • It can help you increase the overall organic visibility of your brand and create awareness, even if users don’t click on your ads. 

PPC Cons:

  • It can be expensive, as it only involves paid clicks. This means you’ll have to pay for every single click coming from search engines like Google.

Why is SEO important in 2024?

Why should you consider doing SEO? Is it really worth it? Let’s find out.

Did you know that the #1 organic result gets 10x more clicks than a page ranking in position #10?

organic ctr

Here’s another interesting thing: the top THREE organic search results get more than 50% of all the clicks.

This is the reason why your business needs SEO.

Imagine ranking in the top three search results for competitive and relevant keywords in your industry. You’ll generate HUGE amounts of traffic and sales for FREE.

You need SEO to rank your web pages in the top search results. Simply put, if you’re ignoring SEO, you’re leaving all the traffic, leads, and profits to your competitors who are already doing it.

Here’s a quick overview of the benefits of using SEO for your business;

  • More traffic: By optimizing your website for relevant keywords, you can attract more organic traffic. Also, you don’t have to pay anything for that traffic, as SEO traffic is 100% FREE.
  • Better conversions: Our blog gets better conversions because we MOSTLY rely on SEO for traffic. SEO helps you improve your website’s user experience and attracts HIGHLY targeted visitors from Google, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates.
  • Brand awareness: What happens when you rank for many keywords related to your business? People will recognize your brand. When people see your website ranking high in Google searches, they’re more likely to remember your brand and trust you.
  • More sales: The reason businesses spend a lot on SEO-related things such as website design, content marketing, etc., is because it helps you highly qualified leads who are already interested in what you have to offer. It ultimately helps you with more website sales.
  • BEST long-term ROI: Whatever we’ve spent on SEO in the last 13 years, we’ve generated 3 to 5 times more revenue. SEO is a long-term game offering excellent ROI in the long run. With time, your website’s organic traffic and sales will only go up.

Want more details? You can check out these amazing benefits of SEO in 2024.

Different types of SEO

SEO is an ocean. There are many ways to optimize your website to grow its search rankings. 

Here are some of the different types of SEO you can learn and implement for better rankings.

On-page SEO: It involves optimizing the elements of your website that are under your control, such as your website’s content, title tags, meta descriptions, images, page speed, user experience, etc. The key to on-page optimization is to write high-quality content that is relevant to your target audience.

Off-page SEO: Optimizing the elements of your website that are outside of your control, such as backlinks, social signals like Facebook shares, tweets, etc. Try to build high-quality backlinks from other websites and promote your content on social media.

Technical SEO: Optimizing the technical aspects of your website, such as the site structure, website crawling, mobile-friendliness, improving core web vitals score, etc. It is all about creating an easy-to-use website structure, optimizing your page load times, and creating a mobile-friendly design for your website.

Local SEO: The practice of optimizing a website for local search results. It involves creating a Google My Business profile, optimizing your website for local keywords, and getting reviews from local customers.

eCommerce SEO: It is the process of optimizing eCommerce websites for search results. This includes optimizing the product pages, category pages, and checkout process.

Apart from the above SEO types, there are many other SPECIFIC specializations as well, such as enterprise SEO, app SEO, video SEO, and more.

So, which type of SEO should you use? It ultimately depends on your website traffic goals, your industry, and the keywords you target. 

Must Read: 11 Types of SEO: What They Are & How to Use Them Like A Pro

10 Truths about SEO

The fundamentals of search engine optimization can be boiled down to The 3 Cs;

  • Content (your content should be helpful and engaging)
  • Code (it should be simple and easy for search engines to crawl your site)
  • Credibility (you need credibility from other sites in the form of links)

Here are a few essential truths about SEO you should know in 2024 and beyond.

  1. SEO is not just about following a bunch of tips and techniques. It is about understanding how search engines like Google rank websites and creating a website that is optimized primarily for users.
  2. SEO is a long-term strategy. It is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and effort to see decent results. There is no quick fix.
  3. SEO is constantly evolving. There are lots of latest SEO trends emerging. What worked several years ago won’t work today. That’s because search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. So, you must stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices.
  4. Backlinks are EXTREMELY important. Google gives a lot of weightage to websites that have relevant and quality links pointing to them. That’s why authority websites often rank in the top 3 search results even with average content.
  5. SEO is more about using an SEO tool or plugin. Yes, they can be helpful, but they are not a magic bullet. You must create high-quality content and build links regularly to rank in search engines.
  6. It is not easy to rank a website, especially a new website that has zero backlinks. You should build authority by creating helpful content, links and improving your social signals.
  7. Great SEO involves creating content for users, not search engines. You should primarily create content for the users. Create content that satisfies the intent of the users. 
  8. SEO can be cost-effective and save you much money than paid advertising, especially in the long run. It can also generate the HIGHEST ROI regarding leads, traffic, and sales. 
  9. Duplicate content will NOT get your website penalized in search results! But thin and mediocre content does NOT rank well. Stop rehashing content. Be unique, be helpful, and provide value with your content.
  10. Backlinks from high-authority websites carry more weight. Your rankings will likely increase if you build a backlink from a high DA (80+) website. Building ONE link from an authority site is better than building 10 links from low-authority sites. This is because Google considers the linking website’s authority to determine a link’s value.

Important SEO Metrics

Whether you’re implementing new SEO techniques or investing in SEO to boost your site’s organic traffic, you need to keep a few important SEO metrics in mind. 

  • Total clicks: The total number of times your website was clicked on in search results.
  • Average CTR: Organic CTR tells you whether a user is interested enough to even click on a website when it shows up in Google search. This is a good metric to track, as it shows you how relevant your site is for the keywords people are searching for.
  • Pages per session: The average number of pages that visitors to your website view per session. This is a good measure of how engaging your website is.
  • Keyword rankings: The position of your website in search results for specific keywords. The higher your keyword rankings are, the more search traffic you’ll generate.
  • New backlinks:  The number of new links to a website from other websites. Try to build as many new links from various referring domains as possible to boost your search rankings.
  • Page load time: The amount of time it takes for a page on your website to load. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to measure this metric easily. A fast page load time is important for both users and search engines.
  • Mobile traffic: The percentage of website visitors who use mobile devices to visit your site. 50% of search users use smartphones, so it is important to ensure your website is mobile-friendly.
  • New vs. Returning Visitors: This is another important SEO metric that shows the percentage of your website visitors who are visiting for the first time versus those who have visited before.

So, which of the above SEO metrics are more important? 

All of these metrics are important to track, but some are more important than others. 

For example, if you’re trying to improve your website’s user experience, tracking page load time is important because users are likelier to leave a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Enough said! Let’s now discuss a PROVEN strategy to improve your search engine traffic.

A 5-Step SEO Plan to Boost Your Search Rankings As A Beginner in 2024

So far we’ve discussed what SEO is and how it works, let’s now talk about an essential SEO plan every beginner should implement for better search rankings in 2024.

Step 1. Create extremely useful content

Content is the king. You can’t rank higher without great content.

What is great content anyway?

Great content is content that makes people stop whatever they’re doing to read, share and act on it. You should create content that’s useful, engaging and informative (or entertaining).

One of the effective ways to create great content is to spend more time on research and create in-depth content.

Did you know that Google prefers content-rich sites?

According to SerpIQ, the first result typically has 2416 words and the 10th result has 2032 words.

average content

So what did you understand? Google gives in-depth content higher rankings. So if you want to get first page rankings, learn to create highly useful and detailed content (at least 2000 words or more).

Creating long form of content also has other benefits including;

  • Improved dwell time (the amount of time the users spend on your site)
  • You’ll attract more backlinks
  • Longer content gets more social shares
  • RankBrain rewards long form of content (RankBrain is Google’s third most important ranking factor)

That being said, keyword research is extremely important before creating any blog post. Keyword research is the process of finding words and phrases that people use in search engines like Google.

Quick note: We have written an insanely useful and detailed eBook on Keyword Research for beginners which you can use to find traffic generating keywords quickly.

Make sure to focus on finding long tail keywords if you are just getting started as a blogger.

Long tail keywords are easier to rank for and they send you highly qualified visitors from search engines.

Long tail keywords have less competition and higher conversion rates when compared to short tail keywords.

Have a look at the following illustration to understand the difference.

long tail backlinko

As you can see above, 4+ word phrases (which are long tail keywords) have low competition but they produce higher conversions.

On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your blog posts and pages for your target keywords. On page optimization helps you get better rankings for your focus keywords in search engines like Google.

Tools for on-page SEO: If you’re using WordPress, there are a ton of tools that can help you with on page optimization but the following two plugins are highly recommended.

1. Rank Math SEO: We recently moved to Rank Math (previously we were using Yoast SEO premium version). Rank Math lets you optimize your posts for unlimited focus keywords per post. Just pick your focus keywords and this plugin tells you where to insert your keywords for better search rankings.

2. WordPress SEO by Yoast: Yoast SEO is one of the most popular SEO plugins which is downloaded by millions of users worldwide. It helps you with on-page SEO, XML sitemaps and so on. Its premium version offers even more features and you can find its details in our detailed review of free vs premium Yoast review.

Step 2. Website navigation is important

From your website’s sidebar to footer to search bar on your site, navigation on your website is extremely important.

How both search engine crawlers and your website users navigate your site plays a key role in your search rankings (and user experience).

If your website visitors can’t find what they are looking for when they visit your site, they simply abandon your site without wasting time.

Here’s a rule of thumb to remember: your website navigation structure should allow anyone to visit any page on your site and find what they need within 3 clicks.

  • That means, if someone wants to visit your contact page, they should be able to find it within 3 clicks
  • If someone wants to buy a particular product on your site, they should find it within 3 clicks
  • If someone wants to sign up to your email list, they should be able to do it within 3 clicks

Are you getting it?

Here are some useful tips to make your website navigation structure simple to both your website users and search engine crawlers.

Use a navigation menu: If you look at our blog’s home page, you’ll notice a navigation menu. Have a look;

bp navigation

Almost every single page and a blog post can be discovered from that navigation menu.

From our premium products such as eBooks to various categories to popular posts, about and contact page information – everything can be found on our navigation menu.

Most website templates and themes allow you to show a navigation menu on your site, so make sure to use it for easier access to your website users.

Use your footer wisely: Your footer is as important as header navigation on your site. You can also keep your footer section simple by just listing the social media profiles to follow, your most important posts etc. As your blog grows, you can make more changes and include more links like we did for better search crawlability.

Implement a SILO structure: Silo site structure helps you organize your website’s content into various categories and subcategories. A Silo structure helps Google search crawlers to easily determine the relevance of each post on your blog based on your keywords.

Here’s an illustration of a deep silo structure.

deep silo structure

So how can you implement it? Simply divide your blog’s main topic into several categories so you can create specific blog posts for each category.

You can read more about implementing silo structure for better SEO where you can find an easy tutorial to implement it.

Step 3. Build Highly Relevant Backlinks

According to a survey done by Moz, more than 37% of business owners are spending between $10,000 and $50,000 per month on external link building.

Hands down, link building is the #1 ranking factor in Google. If you want higher rankings for your keywords, you need more links. It’s as simple as that.

Most people think link building is hard. That’s why they never spend time on building links. It’s not rocket science either. That being said, here are the top 3 evergreen ways to build high quality and relevant backlinks in any niche.

1. Write guest posts for others: Guest posting is the evergreen strategy to build highly relevant links. But you need a proper guest posting strategy to get started with link building as you can’t simply spam others email inboxes with your guest post pitches.

Make sure to find the right blogs in your industry to get started with your guest blogging journey. So how can find the relevant guest posting sites in your niche? You can use the following Google search strings to find relevant blogs and websites in your niche to write guest posts.

  • [your topic] “write for us”
  • [your topic] “become an author”
  • [your topic] “guest post”
  • [your topic] “guest article”

Alternatively, check out this post where you can find over 350+ guest blogging sites across so many niches.

2. Steal your competitors’ backlinks: Your competitors are your biggest sources for link building. If used right, you can spy on your competitors sites to start building cleverly.

So how can you steal your competitors’ backlinks? You can use competitor research tools like Semrush (grab a 14 day free trial of Semrush from here).

Once you’re on Semrush, go to Backlink Analytics under the Link Building tool and enter any domain (such as your competitors’ domain).

semrush link building tool

As you can see above, Semrush link building tool gives us a brief overview of the backlink profile of your competitors’ domain instantly.

Once you click on their Backlinks section, it will show you a list of all the sources of their backlinks.

Here’s how it looks like;

semrush link building

See that? Once you know the backlink sources of any domain, you can use various link building strategies like blogger outreach, broken link building, guest posting etc to acquire those links to your site.

3. Build relationships: Most people underestimate the power of relationship building. If done right, building strong relationships with other bloggers can go a long way. The key here is to network with everyone including;

  • Influencers in your industry
  • A list bloggers
  • New bloggers
  • Micro influential bloggers

Make sure to come up with a list of 20 to 30 (or even more) sites in your industry and start doing the following things to build relationships.

  • Frequently send emails (to praise their work or suggest them something useful to their audience)
  • Buy their products (and give a shout out on social media)
  • Subscribe to their email lists
  • Leave thoughtful comments on their blogs
  • Write guest posts for them

Do everything you can to build strong relationships with other bloggers (including linking to their blog posts). Sooner or later they’ll also reciprocate the same thing – not everyone though but at least a few bloggers will do the same thing for you.

Step 4. Page speed matters

Increasing your page speed can result in a 25% increase in page views.

Your website speed matters a lot.

If your website takes more than 2 to 3 seconds of time to load, it can affect your overall bottom line.

According to the Web Tribunal, here are some interesting stats about page speed.

  • 1 second delay reduces page views by 11%
  • 1 second delay reduces 7% of the conversion rate
  • 1-3 seconds in loading time see a very low bounce rate probability – only 32%
  • On an annual basis, 1 second delay can lead to $2.5 million in missed revenue if your shop generates $100,000 per day

Above all, page speed is a Google ranking factor. It means you’ll notice your page organic rankings going up if your page loads faster and rankings going down if they take too much time to load.

page speed example

Quick note: Looking to boost your page loading times? Read our detailed tutorial on speed up WordPress sites where you’ll discover a ton of practical ways to improve your site’s speed.

So focus on improving your overall website speed and page loading times.

Did you know your web hosting plays a HUGE role in your site speed?

Yes, that’s true.

Have a look at our site’s speed once we moved to WPX Hosting.

bp site speed

As you can see above, our site loads within a second (just 0.6 seconds to load).

Thanks to WPX Hosting as it uses a ton of useful features such as cloud CDN, high-spec SSD servers, excellent caching etc to provide ultimate speeds to all the sites hosted on their servers.

You can read our in-depth review of WPX Hosting where you can find more details including a special discount to get started with their hosting. If you’re looking for an affordable host, we recommend you to check out Bluehost!

Step 5. Track your SEO results

Yes, SEO is getting complicated every year. So the only way to get rewarding results from search engines like Google is to focus on creating quality content over quantity and give top priority to your users.

Always remember one thing: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Read it again!

If you want to get the best results from search engines, you need to plan long term. Don’t expect overnight results. Don’t buy thousands of backlinks from Fiverr gigs as they are not going to help you in any way.

Make sure to track your SEO results.

You can use tools like Semrush to create projects so you can track everything from your organic keywords to keyword positions, backlinks growth, new content ideas and so on.

If you’re planning to track your SEO results, here are some of the things you need to track.

  • Organic traffic growth
  • Keyword rankings
  • Average time on page and the bounce rate
  • Top landing pages which are attracting organic traffic
  • Links growth (including new and lost links)

Although there are a ton of other aspects that you can track but the above things are essential. By keeping an eye on the above things, you’ll understand your audience behaviour, what type of content to create, how to build backlinks etc.

FAQs on SEO Definition

Here are the answers to some common questions about SEO.

Can I do SEO myself?

Yes, you can do SEO yourself. But, you need to understand how search engines like Google rank websites. They consider things like helpful content, user experience, backlinks, and website trustworthiness. If you focus on improving those things, SEO can become easier.

How do I learn SEO?

The best way to learn SEO is to start your own website and learn the basics of SEO, such as keyword research, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. Apply those things to your website. You’ll learn A LOT that way. Also, you can read some of the best SEO books to learn and master search engine optimization. 

Do I need an SEO tool?

You can use SEO tools to supplement your own SEO efforts. But don’t expect them to do all the work for you. Focus on creating great content and building backlinks first.

What is mobile SEO?

Mobile SEO involves optimizing websites for mobile devices and tablets. It also involves making your web pages load quickly and have responsive designs for mobile users.

What are some common SEO techniques?

Some common SEO techniques include:
– Keyword research (involves finding the relevant keywords that your target audience is searching for)
– On-page SEO (optimizing your website’s content for your target keywords)
– Off-page SEO (building backlinks to your website from other high-quality websites)

Relevant Resources for SEO Beginners:

Final thoughts on SEO basics

By learning proper SEO, you can increase your search visibility. By increasing your search visibility, you can bring more visitors, which ultimately leads to more conversions and sales.

So make sure to learn and implement SEO basics to boost your organic rankings.

Hope you understand what SEO means and all the SEO basics you need to implement for better results in search engines. If you’ve any more questions on SEO essentials and basics, let us know in the comments.

About Author
Anil Agarwal is the Founder of Bloggerspassion. He is a full-time blogger and SEO expert who has been helping people build profitable blogs for over a decade Now. He has been featured in Over 100 Publications including Forbes, The HuffPost, HubSpot, Shopify, Semrush, Kinsta, Bluehost, Hostinger and G2.com etc. Know more about Anil Agarwal from here.

Reader Comments (10)

  1. Hi

    Thank you for sharing the guide about SEO and its benefits. This is the best technique to increase website visibility and drive high traffic.

    This will help me alot

  2. This is really helpful to the person who want to learn term about SEO. Each and every topic regarding SEO is explained in very simply & perfectly. Our team will definitely take care to follow all the steps you mention in this artical.

  3. I am just over two months into blogging and have achieved some of the early milestones. You are doing amazing work.

  4. Excellent article!

    Thanks for sharing the complete guide about SEO and its benefits. This is the best technique to increase a website visibility and drive high traffic.

  5. Amazing guide, can’t wait to start my blog.

    Is there something known as the sandbox period while indexing the website on Google?

  6. Great job. You know what?

    I read a lot of blog posts but your blog really unique and standout. Very interesting.
    I am just over two months into blogging and have achieved some of the early milestones.


  7. Hi Anil,

    This was a very thorough post. You hit all the necessary components of SEO for sure.

    I’d just like to add a thought on word count. Longform useful content is still important for sure but still not always necessary for ranking (sigh of relief). I generally check the word count of the top 3 results on Google.

    On my niche site, I still come across word counts of 750 even today. So a 1,500-word blog post for those keywords will be more than enough to help that content rank.

    Again awesome post!

    Take care,

  8. Excellent Writing Anil, I have gone through Moz, Search engine Land Basics of SEO but the way you explained basics terms is outstanding. it was difficult for me to understand basics when I started learning SEO but I can sure if anyone going through this article will understand very quickly as I use to be :-).

    can you please recommend What’s working in SEO these days, there are lots of knowledge but no too much precious or relating to what works best in SEO when it comes to Link building?


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