You’ve probably heard the words “Search Engine Optimization,” SEO,” and “keyword research”…
…but what the heck do they actually mean?!
The truth is, SEO is one of the most important things you can do for your business to ensure long-term, sustainable growth.
With the right strategy, your SEO-optimized content can turn into a virtually passive way of generating leads — or even revenue.
But it doesn’t happen overnight.
SEO is a long-term investment that requires effort and skill. This is precisely why it can bring AWESOME results such as:
- Growing your brand awareness and visibility
- Boosting your authority and credibility
- Bringing more leads
- Creating passive revenue streams
- Taking you ahead of your competition
I’m going over the basic SEO principles and SEO terminology in this blog post, so buckle up and let’s dive in!
Best SEO Tactics for Beginners, Explained
It’s actually pretty simple.
SEO is what makes your website show up on search engine results pages.
You know when you Google “how to make a chicken caesar salad” and lots of different recipes come up? SEO did that.
Here are some stats for ya.
The first page of Google gets over 70% of traffic and over 25% of people click the first Google search result, so one thing is for certain.
You want to be up there if you want people to find your website.
To increase your search engine ranking, it’s essential to do two things:
- Regularly post high-quality, long-form content that Google recognizes as authoritative (looking at you, blog posts! 👀).
- Optimize the content you post for SEO.
You optimize for SEO by researching “keywords” — terms that people search for — and organically weaving them into your content.
This way, Google recognizes that your content answers a popular question that people have and bumps your web page higher for them to find their answer.
Google is helpful like that, ya know.
If you think about it, it’s actually pretty common sense.
The more valuable Google thinks your website is, the higher it positions it so more people get access to the information you’re sharing.
So, with these basic SEO principles under your belt, let’s dive into the top SEO terms for beginners!
8 SEO Terms for Beginners
Well, this is a pretty basic one.
A keyword is a word or a phrase that a person types into Google to find what they’re looking for.
For example, if you are looking for the world’s best grilled cheese recipe you might type in something like “how to make the meltiest grilled cheese at home.”
There are two types of keywords: short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords.
Short-tail keywords are search terms that are just 1-2 words long. Short-tail keywords are typically very general and will give you a bunch of different results.
Sticking with the example above, if you Google “grilled cheese,” you’ll get restaurants near you, a cute Wikipedia page in case you need to refresh your memory on what a grilled cheese is, and recipes from well-established websites like Bon Appetit and AllRecipes.
It’s basically as general info as it gets on all things grilled cheese.
Long-tail keywords are longer search terms. They are GOLD for SEO. They are more specific and have a lower search volume because people use them to get specific information.
For the purposes of our example, “how to make the meltiest grilled cheese at home” is a long-tail keyword.
Over 70% of searchers use long-tail keywords and they have a much higher conversion rate than short-tail keywords.
So, focus on long-tail keywords when working on your next blog post!
2. Keyword Difficulty
Keyword difficulty shows how hard it is to rank for a certain keyword.
If there is already a ton of content out there on the keyword that you’re trying to rank for, it’ll be difficult — if not impossible — to compete with established websites. Especially if your website is still relatively new or small.
For example, writing a blog post with “copywriting” as a primary keyword means that you’ll be competing with huge websites like Wikipedia and Hubspot.
Instead, you should pick more specific keywords like “B2B marketing copywriting” or “best copywriting books” so you actually have a chance of ranking for them!
SEO tools give you insights on what the keyword difficulty (KD) is for a particular keyword and whether it’s easy, possible, hard, or very hard to rank for it. Semrush is one of my favorite writing tools ever and it gives you a TON of info.
3. Search Volume
Search volume is the average number of monthly searches for your keyword.
If the search volume for your keyword is high, it means that a lot of people are searching for it. If it’s low, it means that fewer people are interested in this question or topic.
It’s important to strike a good search volume balance. If too many people are searching for a certain keyword, it may mean that it’s too general or that there’s already too much competition out there and it’ll be hard to rank for.
At the same time, targeting a keyword that only a few people are searching for might get your web page ranked high…
…but if no one is searching for it, what’s the point?!
4. Search Intent
Search intent is the reason why people are searching for your keyword.
It’s important to understand what intention people have in mind when they search for the keyword you’re thinking about using to make sure it’s actually worth writing content on.
Let’s say people are looking to buy a green boho dress.
“Green boho dress” is a keyword that they type into Google with an intent of buying.
You’re not actually selling a green boho dress…but write a top-notch blog post on 5 ways to wear it.
This page on your site may end up ranking high, but it’ll have a huge bounce rate (people leaving your page without taking any sort of action)…
…because it’s not actually giving them what they need.
When choosing keywords for a blog post, you should shoot for ones that have an informational or educational search intent. This way, you’ll be targeting people who are looking for answers to their questions.
5. Keyword Stuffing
Talk about a pet peeve…🤠
Keyword stuffing is an outdated SEO tactic when you use the same keyword(s) in your content over and over again with the hopes of increasing your page SEO.
It’s a bad idea for a number of reasons.
When you “stuff” your content with keywords, it sounds unnatural and hard to read. People who land on your page will probably get very little out of it and bounce to another website pretty dang fast.
Plus, it’s a violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
Basically, just don’t do it.
Google wants high-quality, long-form content that is actually helpful to searchers.
To rank high, focus on writing engaging content and optimizing it with keywords that fit ORGANICALLY instead of forcing them in.
6. Title Tag
A title tag is the title of your website page when it shows up on Google search.
It’s also known as the page title, SEO title, or, if you want to get fancy, a meta title.
Your title tag gives the searchers a general idea of what the web page is about. For example, if you’re writing a blog post, your title tag is typically the title of your blog post.
For other pages of your website, such as your home or services page, it’s a good idea to come up with something more SEO-friendly than simply “home” or “services.”
Here are the top 3 title tag rules to follow:
- Use your main keyword in your title tag. It can help increase your SEO ranking.
- It’s better to use your keyword at the beginning of your title tag vs. at the end.
- Keep your title tags 50-60 characters long. Google will automatically cut off your title tag at around 60 characters, so use a word counter tool to figure out how long your title tag is!
7. Meta Description
A meta description is a short description that appears under your title tag on Google search.
Contrary to popular belief, your meta description doesn’t influence SEO. So, you don’t need to use keywords in it, unless you want to and they fit naturally!
I still wanted to mention it as an SEO term for beginners because it comes up a LOT in conversations around SEO and sounds more complicated than it actually is. 😅
Your meta description is a great opportunity to come up with a short — between 50 and 160 characters — description of your web page and a strong CTA that’ll make people curious to click on it.
If you don’t write a meta description, Google will auto populate it with random content from your web page that it *thinks* summarizes it.
Actually writing your own looks much cleaner and professional 😉
8. Link Building
Link building is a practice of getting links from other websites to your own website.
You may also have heard the term “backlink,” which is what they call a link on someone else’s website to your website.
For example, if your graphic design studio is mentioned in an article on the 5 most innovative graphic design studios, you just got yourself a backlink.
When Google sees that other websites are referencing your content, it assumes that your content is relevant and trustworthy and positions it higher on search results so more people can read it.
How do you get started with link building?
There are quite a few ways, but my favorite ones are:
- Guest blogging
- Social media sharing
- Getting your website on different directories and community pages
- PR outreach
- Analyzing your competitors’ backlinks (Semrush can help you do this!)
SEO Terms for Beginners: Final Thoughts
SEO can help you get a ton of new eyes on your business…
…and it doesn’t have to be confusing as heck!
It may take you some time to get familiar with the best practices and SEO lingo, but I created something for you that’ll make it MUCH easier. 👀
Whether you’re just getting started with SEO or already got your toes wet with a couple of blog posts, my SEO Checklist will help you write content that even Google won’t be able to resist!