An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to SEO

Jan 23, 2024
A white room with large open windows

So, I found myself in an absolute beginner's crochet class on Sunday.  As always with beginner’s courses, it was made up of half absolutely clueless muppets, my type, poking at loops of wool with metal sticks, while the other half, who professed never to have touched a crochet hook in their life, rustled up granny squares like an industrial production line. 

But our teacher was great. She praised the “not really beginners at all” and oohed and ahhed at their creations but gave the genuine “where the even start brigade” all the help we needed.

And I mean she gave us help. What a crochet hook does, how to tie a slip knot, what wool to use, what tension means, and on and on. Her patience was incredible, and her enthusiasm for our misshapen “squares” was lovely.  I came away with a huge smile on my face and an absolutely appalling granny square that I love with all my heart.

But why am I telling you about my crochet class? Well, I want to do the same for you when it comes to SEO.

I want to be super patient. I want to explain the most basic principles to you so you really understand what it is and how it can help your business grow, and I want you to see your website and your blogs showing up at the top of Google so you can experience that huge smile on your face.

So, are you ready for SEO 101? 

Good, so here’s my absolute beginner’s guide to SEO.

What is SEO, really? What it can do for you and where to get started.

So often, people try to blind us with SEO science so they can keep the smoke and mirrors in place to justify charging silly prices to set up and manage your SEO for you.

Or we just stick our heads in the sand and tell ourselves we're just not tech-savvy enough, or we don't have enough time, or quite simply, we have better things to worry about than some weird boxes at the bottom of your page!

But I'm here to tell you you REALLY should take a bit of time to get your SEO set up. 

In this beginner's guide, I'm going to give you a guided tour of SEO so you feel empowered by getting to grips with the fundamentals of this massively important element of your online life, so you can grow your business without being dependent on "experts" that make things needlessly complicated.

What does SEO stand for, and what does it do?

OK, so let's start at the very beginning.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, and it's the process you use to get your website and your content to rank as high as possible on search engines' result pages.

SEO is an organic process which means you don't pay for it. Unlike paid ads, you earn your ranking by optimising your website and your content for search engines like Google.  

Here's a super simple example of how SEO works.

OK, so let's say Emma is looking for a course on how to teach her yoga classes online.

She types "how to teach yoga online" into Google and gets 75,700,000 results back!

Now, you've just created an amazing mini-course called "How to Teach Yoga Online," and you want as many people as possible to find it and buy it, of course!

But for Emma to buy your excellent course, she needs to be able to find it, and you help her do that by getting your website, where your course is sitting there waiting, to rank above all the other websites offering advice on how to teach yoga online.

So how do you do that? 

By optimising your site using SEO!

Why is SEO important?

I'm going to share some stats with you now to show you how important SEO is and why you need to get it working it's magic for you.

  • Google currently holds almost 92% of the worldwide search engine market. (
  • The first 5 organic results on Google's results pages get 68% of all the clicks. (Ahrefs)
  • Only 0.78% of Google searchers click on results from the 2nd page. (Backlinko)
  • 90.63% of pages get NO organic search traffic from Google because they are not optimised for search engines. (Ahrefs)
  • 70-80% of search engine users ignore paid ads and focus only on organic results. (
  • Websites with optimised blogs see a 434% better chance of being well ranked on search engines. (Hubspot)

The long and short of all this is that you need to get Google to put your website and your content on page 1 of their search results. 

And more than that, you really should be aiming for spots 1 - 5, not through paid ads, but through organic rankings, which is what you use SEO for.

Oh, yes, and you REALLY need a blog!

So, now you know why it's so important, let me take you on a trip around the three most essential elements of SEO.

A Beginner's Guide To On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is all about creating and correctly packaging up content that will improve your ranking on Google.

To get on-page SEO working for you, you need to do your keyword research and then carefully place those keywords throughout your content. Here's a link to a blog I wrote about getting started with keyword research.

You also need to ensure that the content you create is what your target audience is looking for. 

You'll make Google happy when their users find exactly the result they were looking for, and they'll reward you with more traffic. 

But, before we get into the details of how you do that, let's take a look at what Google considers to be high-quality content? 

What Makes Good Quality Content?

Good quality content actually solves a problem for searchers, and it does it better than anyone else. You can do this by researching other content that is answering questions your audience wants answers to and adding an extra element, or looking at things from a new, more helpful perspective. 

Quality content also gives the searcher what they're looking for. 

Let's go back to Emma, our yoga teacher.

She's looking for information on how to start teaching her yoga lessons online.

If you're creating content for people looking for help with teaching yoga online, you don't want to write a post on the "10 best yoga poses to reduce stress."

Make sure your content is aligned with what your target audience is looking for help with.

Good quality content is fresh content. You need to post regularly, of course, but there are other things you can do to keep things up-to-date and relevant.

You can edit your old posts and add more up-to-date links or data. You can fix any broken links and check for errors. The more relevant you make it to your readers TODAY, the better. 

A Beginner's Guide To Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is all about backlinks.

A backlink is simply a link from one website page to another.

Here's an example...using a hyperlink, I'm backlinking now from my website page - this blog - to a page on backlinko's website that has a great article about backlinks!

You get backlinks from building relationships with other people running businesses in your niche and creating the kind of content people want to share.

It's an SEO strategy that takes a bit of time.

Still, it's well worth the effort as it has a massive impact on your domain ranking (DR), which is basically, how much credibility Google gives you as a website and is a big factor in whether or not you get onto page 1 of their search results.

So how do you build backlinks?

  • There are a number of ways you can build backlinks. Some of the best ways include:
  • Guest posting for respected people in your industry. Look out for sites with significant traffic and an established audience.
  • Reaching out by email to share relevant content with others that might be helpful for them to share with their audience.
  • Becoming a trusted source for journalists and influencers. You can join outfits like Haro (Help A Reporter Out) and get cited in their articles and content.

A Beginner's Guide To Technical SEO

OK, the final frontier of SEO, the technical stuff...but don't close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears!

Technical SEO is super important because it’s what helps search engines like Google crawl and index your website’s pages and your blogs. If your website isn’t being crawled and indexed by Google, it will never show up in the search engines, so it’s essential you spend some time looking at this side of SEO.

Here are some of the most important elements of technical SEO, and don’t worry, I’ve linked to a blog I wrote all about how you can get started with Technical SEO if you want to explore this area a bit more.

So, here are a few elements of Technical SEO you need to make sure are up to scratch on your website.

Website Speed and Performance: You need a site that loads quickly because low-loading speed websites often rank lower in search results. You can use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to see how quickly your site loads and make any changes. 

Mobile-Friendly Design: With so many of us using smartphones these days, having a mobile-responsive website is essential. Google uses mobile-first indexing, so it’s your site's mobile version that impacts your rankings.

Secure Website (HTTPS): You need to make sure your site is secure, and using HTTPS as security is a big priority for search engines, so if you haven’t already, migrate your site to HTTPS to protect user data and improve trustworthiness.

Crawlable and Indexable: You need to make sure the search engines' bots can crawl your website and understand its content, so you need to make sure your robots.txt file is accurate and you also need to submit a sitemap to search engines. 

URL Structure and Navigation: You need to have a clear, logical URL structure because clear navigation helps your visitors and search engines understand what your site is all about and helps them move around your site easily. 

Broken Links and Errors: You need to keep an eye out for broken links and 404 errors and make sure you fix them, as these can all negatively impact your visitor's experience on your site and your site’s credibility with search engines. You can make sure you don’t miss anything by running regular site audits.

So, There You Go!

So, there’s your beginner’s guide to SEO, and I hope that now you can confidently answer the question, “Where do I even start?”

But don’t worry if this all sounds overwhelming; it’s just like crochet! Now you have a basic understanding; you can dive into each of the sections of SEO in more detail by reading more of my blogs and coming along to my workshops.

And if you have any questions, I'll patiently answer them!


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