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SEO 101 - What is SEO and why it matters

What is SEO and why it matters?

Great! You’re here! Welcome to the first chapter.

If you have a strong understanding of SEO, and you know the importance of it, you can skip this chapter and proceed to Chapter 2 (but we highly recommend reading the best practices of search engines such as Google and Bing for a refresher.

For everyone, this chapter will help you build the foundational knowledge of SEO. Let’s get started.

What is SEO? 

SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a strategy of increasing your website traffic or brand exposure through organic (non-paid) search results on search engines. 

Understanding search engines.

Search engines are query machines. These machines are a set of logical codes developed and piloted by search engineers. Search engines scour billions of pieces of content and evaluate thousands of factors to determine which content is most likely to answer your query.

Search engines discover all available content on the internet such as web pages, PDFs, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, images, videos, and many more via the process known as “crawling and indexing” while matching the query in a process called ranking.

Components of “search engine results page”

A search engine results page (SERP) is the listing of results returned by a search engine in response to a query for a keyword or phrase. 

A search engine results page can have a variety of data presented. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Organic results driven by SEO
  • “People also ask”
  • Paid ads drive-by pay per click advertising
  • Featured snippet box
  • Local listings
  • Knowledge graph content
  • Images

Organic search results driven by SEO

The organic results are all of the results that are not paid for.

“People also ask”

This box appears somewhere between the organic search results. It’ll give suggestions for questions that relate to the search query you typed in.

Paid ads drive-by pay per click advertising

Paid ads usually appear on top of the search results. Sometimes it’s only one ad, but Google can show more ads as well. This depends on how many people search for a certain search term and who wants to pay for it.

Featured snippets or answer boxes

A featured snippet, aka answer box, is a highlighted search box that answers the question you type in the Google search bar.

Local listings

Your Google listing is not a website; it is a listing on Google that appears when potential customers are searching for your business name or service. It is sort of like a hub that allows customers to quickly find all of your contact info in one place.

Knowledge graph content

The Knowledge Graph Panel appears on the right side of the search results. This information is retrieved from many sources, like Factbook and Wikipedia. Information from the Knowledge Graph is used to answer spoken questions in Google Assistant and Google Home voice queries.


Featured images show on SERP once related images are available relating to the keywords you type.

Search engine results pages (SERP) can show various elements: the search results themselves (so-called snippets), a knowledge graph, a featured snippet, an answer box, images, shopping results, and more. Depending on the type of query and the data search engines find.

Why SEO matters?

While paid advertising, social media, and other online platforms can generate traffic to websites, the majority of online traffic is driven by search engines.

Organic search results cover more digital real estate, appear more credible to savvy searchers, and receive way more clicks than paid advertisements. For example, of all US searches, only ~2.8% of people click on paid advertisements.

SEO is part of the digital marketing strategy that costs less when set up correctly, can continue to pay dividends over time.

Thus, optimizing your site will help deliver better information to search engines so that your content can be properly indexed and displayed within search results.

Search engines and the SEO industry share similar goals.

Search engines want to help you succeed. In fact, Google and Bing provide guides similar to what you’re reading. They support the SEO community where they conduct regular webinars and digital conferences.

Google as a search engine.

Google assists webmasters and SEOs through their Webmaster Central Help Forum and by hosting live office hour hangouts. While webmaster guidelines vary from search engine to search engine, the underlying principles stay the same: Don’t try to trick search engines. Instead, provide your visitors with a great online experience. To do that, follow search engine guidelines and fulfill user intent.

Google Webmaster Guidelines

Google Webmaster: Basic principle

  • Create pages that serve primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Do not deceive your users.
  • Avoid using tricks. Do not use tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. 
  • Create unique, valuable, or engaging pieces of content.

Google Webmaster: What to avoid:

  • Auto-generated web content
  • Participating in link schemes
  • Creating pages with little to no original content 
  • Cloaking — the practice of showing the search engine crawlers different content from visitors
  • Hidden text and links
  • Doorway pages — pages created to rank well for specific searches to funnel traffic to your website

Bing Webmaster Guidelines

Bing Webmaster: Basic principle

  • Come up with clear, deep, engaging, and easy-to-understand content on your website.
  • Keep the page titles clear and relevant.
  •  Links are regarded as a signal of popularity and Bing rewards links that have grown organically.
  • Social influence and social shares are positive signals and can have an impact on how you rank organically in the long run.
  • Page load is important, along with positive, useful user experience.

Bing Webmaster: What to avoid

  • Thin content, too many ads or affiliate links
  • Unnatural backlinks acquisition
  • Using of non-letter characters in URL
  • Burying links in javascript/flash/silver light
  • Duplicate content
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Cloaking — the practice of showing the search engine crawlers different content than visitors.

Popcorn? Coffee? Grab now then let’s proceed to Chapter 2: SEO: What is behind search engines. How do they work?

SEO for beginners

Chapter 1: SEO 101

Chapter 2: How Search Engines work

Chapter 3: Website optimization

Chapter 4: Measuring SEO success

Glossary, resources, and tools.