A Beginners Guide to SEO

Search engine optimization, more commonly referred to as SEO, is making it easy for search engines to find the right web page a user is searching for.

In 2019, 90.1 % of web searches were done on Google.

Search engines use bots to scour, these bots are technically known as web crawlers (more on web crawlers here), the internet & indexes pages.

Think of it like how hard cover books have index pages on how the book is organized. Search engines index the internet to make it easier to find things.

In search results, you’re going to see ads at the top. Those are keywords that those businesses paid for.

This form of advertising is known as PPC or pay-per-click. Every time a user clicks that ad link, a certain amount is charged to that company. You can read more about PPC on this wiki page.

What are SERP’s and Featured Snippets?

The next thing you might see is a featured snippet on a Google search result. This is a part of Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Pages) features. There are various forms of SERPs, but for the sake of brevity we’ll discuss featured snippets in this article.

A featured snippet is the box of information that is usually above the ads that best answers a user’s query.

Google thinks it may answer your question best. There is a link to the article in the featured snippet even though the link may be further down the page. Google’s algorithm thinks that the answer in the SERP featured snippet box will answer your question quickly & best.

I wrote an article for a coffee blog. If you search “What is the best coffee maker at Costco”, you will get a featured snippet of the article. In the article, I answered the question even before I reviewed the other coffee makers in the article.

This helped people get their answer fast, if they wanted to read more, such as why and other models, they could. Google rewarded my article by ranking it on the first page and also giving it a featured snippet.

What is a Knowledge Graph?

You also may have noticed another SERP that is what is known as a knowledge graph on the right hand side of Google’s search result. That can be manipulated a bit easier.

You also may have noticed another SERP that is what is known as a knowledge graph on the right hand side of Google’s search result. That can be manipulated a bit easier.

For example, if you search “WriteGoodCode” (no spaces) in Google, my company will show up with some information I added in Google My Business.

Try searching for a famous person, company, product, album, or movie yourself. You’ll see that a knowledge graph comes up to give you brief information and a link for more info.

Each Google search result has 10 search results answering your search query. The organic results means that they are not paid ads. Organic pages are pages have done a good job telling Google that their web page answers your query best.

Sometimes you may see a “People also ask” section. This shows questions of what people have asked about the related topic. The more you click, the more questions & answers usually appear.

Statistics show that fewer than 20 percent of users don’t click past page 1. If they don’t find what they’re looking for they change their search query. This is why Google added the “People also ask” box.

The reason good SEO is so important is because the top 3 organic search results get 70% of the clicks. The page in the 1st position collects 40% of the clicks. The 2nd listing gets 20% & 3rd gets 10% of clicks.

How does Google determine who gets on the first page?

The biggest factor is relevancy. You want to make sure that your website is exactly what people are looking for when they are searching Google.

Obviously it’s not so easy. Google uses over 200 factors to determine a sites relevancy. You cant follow them all, but you can focus on a few and have a fighting chance to rank.

In addition to relevancy you want to make sure your site is useful. What that means is that when a user clicks on your site that the information they’re looking for is easily found.

Think about the last time you went to a website looking for information. When you clicked the link did you stay on the page for a long time to scour for the information you were looking for? Did you try to figure out the navigation & tirelessly try finding the answer you were looking for? Probably not. You probably left the site (aka bounced) and clicked on another link to find your answer.

So make sure your site is organized well and easy to navigate. This in turn helps the users experience (UX) and increases your organic rankings.

What are the 2 main factors of SEO?

  • On-Page SEO
  • Off-Page SEO

On-Page SEO

On-page seo is essentially telling Google you have all the standard indicators they’re looking for in a web page. It’s also letting the user know that you have all the information in a standard order. 

Think of a graphic designer’s website. Their websites, usually have the worst UX. Hard to navigate, slow, and all around confusing. In the case of the graphic designer it may look beautiful and land them a job, but Google isn’t going to index them too high if you’re searching for a graphic designer for hire. 

Government sites on the other hand are also hard to navigate, slow, and very confusing. So why do they rank well? Because they have what is called domain authority.

Google trusts them and their information. Even if it is impossible to find what you’re looking for. The government site created an index (sitemap) or standard navigation menu, has lots of content, aka information, and the site has been around for years. Google likes this.

Google trusts them and their information. Even if it is impossible to find what you’re These are factors Google looks for.

If you have a question regarding your driver’s license, you may see your local DMV at the top of the listing. Good luck finding the answer to your question or the right form on the site (or in person).

Is On-Page SEO Easy?

On-page SEO is easier to deal with because we have control over it. Many clients I work with I explain what I am doing and they go off and are able to do it on their own. This is because the changes needed are within your control.

For instance, if your site is about coffee you want to make sure the right keyword is in the site title. The keyword is in the body of the article and in the image descriptions (alt tags). You also want to have support keywords in the sub-headlines (H2, H3, etc.) like coffee types, coffee recipes, the perfect coffee temperatures, and anything else related to the main keyword topic.

The cool thing about on-page SEO is that if you already have articles, some minor tweaking to those articles can really help improve the ranking of those articles.

Of course there are draw-backs and the major one is the time it takes to rank organically. Ranking your article or site organically, especially in saturated fields (like mine) are hard to crack the first page of search engines. No matter how good your on-page SEO is.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is more difficult, tedious, & a little ambiguous in some circumstances. However, it makes up a much larger percentage of ranking importance over on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO is making sure other websites that are related to you in some way are linking to your website. This is known as link building (Moz article on the basics of link building). This is more difficult since it is out of your control because you’re relying on others to link to you.

However, if you make connections with people in your industry & deliver great content, it will happen. People will share your article, reference it, and get your page/site ranked higher.



SEO takes time & can be frustrating. but once your website ranks organically it can last months. Which is different from PPC. With pay-per-click as soon as you stop paying, your web page drops out of the search results.

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