What is Search Engine Optimization? | SEO For Beginners

What is Search Engine Optimization? | SEO For Beginners

Search Engine Optimization. Those three words can either be the bane of your existence or your favorite part of marketing. Today, I want to help you embrace the later!

This is something that I have studied and practiced for months. I won’t claim to be an expert but I’ve learned a lot about SEO from Articles, Videos, and good ol’ practice. (To be completely honest, no one can truly be an expert at something. This world is constantly evolving and there is always something new that you can learn about everything.)


What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is essential for SEM (Search Engine Marketing). It combines the effects of Manual SEO and Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising for a thourough marketing strategy. Having a great SEM strategy and team will take your website and business to the next level!

Search Engine Optimization is the best place to start for this. To do it you don’t need to invest a ton of money into advertising like you would with PPC, thus there’s less risk involved! There are approximately 7,000 different elements of SEO (I’m joking, kind of.) Today, we’re going to do an overview of the most foundational parts of it.


Search Engine Optimization Keywords

At the core of SEM and SEO is Keywords and Keyphrases.

You’ve probably heard the word ‘Keywords’ but ‘Keyphrases’ is a new term that Yoast coined recently. Keyphrases is a bit more accurate description of what you do when you’re doing SEO. Because more often than not, the keyword you’re targeting uses multiple words not one word.


Short Tail or Broad Keywords

Broad Keywords (also known as Short Tail Keywords) are keywords that contain only one or two words but cover a lot of similar topics. “Website Traffic” is an example of a broad keyword, it covers topics like SEM, SEO, PPC, Social Media Marketing, and more.

Broad keywords are important to target because you do want to rank for them. On the other hand, it’s more important to target Long Tail Keywords when you’re website is new because they’re a lot easier to rank for.


Long tail Keywords or Keyphrases

Long Tail Keywords are made up of 3 or more words and are a lot more specific to what people search for. Phrases like “Starting a Blog to Make Money” is a long keyphrase that is very specific. This keyword would be a lot easier to target then the broad keyword “Blogging.”




If you’ve done any research into Search Engine Optimization, then I hope you’ve seen things about links all over the articles you read. Backlinking, Interlinking, Nofollow and Follow links, Broken links etc… Are all foundational to having a profitable SEO presence on your website.

But what is the difference between all those big words? Let’s dive into them!


Interlinking is the process of linking articles on your website together. This practice keeps your audience engaged, lowers bounce rate, and improves your SEO. It shows the search engines what pages on your site go together and which ones are the most important.


Backlinking is links from pages on your website to pages on other websites. Or vice versa.  This is absolutely crucial to your SEO startegy. The more backlinks a page has, the more important it will look to the search engines and the higher it will rank.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is also important for SEO. It is the text that ‘anchors’ the links in the pages of your website. You want your anchor text to contain your keywords but you also want it to flow in the content and make sense. This is fairly easy to do after you write an article. While you’re editing, hyper link relevant articles in the text you’ve already written. You want to link to both articles you’ve already written and one’s that other people have written on every page.


Broken Links

Broken links cause bad SEO. They are links to a website or page that doesn’t exist anymore, when you click them, you get shown a 404 error page. These negatively impact your Search Engine Optimization because your website becomes undependable. Search Engines index the pages on your site. When those pages don’t exist anymore or they have a bunch of broken links on them, they give you a bad reputation. And your ranking in the search engines takes a hit.

Follow and Nofollow Links

Nofollow links are in the coding of a website. The nofollow tag tells search engines that the link isn’t important and that they don’t need to index it. Someone visiting the site can click the link and go to the other page, but search engines don’t put any importance on the link and ignore it.

Follow links on the other hand are the opposite. They tell search engines that the link is important and that they need to index it.

You want all the backlinks to your site to be follow links but this is almost impossible to do. Many sites like Quora or Pinterest automatically tag all links as ‘nofollow’ links. They don’t really know where the link is coming for and therefor don’t know if it could hurt their SEO. This doesn’t mean that you should use those sites, they’re still good for marketing, they just won’t help your SEO.


The Impact of Content on SEO

Keywords and links are all important to SEO but you can’t have either of them perform well if you don’t have good content to put them into.

Content is essential to every website no matter how big or small it is. The more pages your website has, the more individual keyphrases you can rank for and the better chance you have of being found. I love blogging because it gives your website a chance to produce amazing content weekly. And, you can target keyphrases with every blog post, thus increasing the overall rank of your website!

Cornerstone Content

Cornerstone content is the foundation that you build your keyword and blogging strategy on. These pages target the broad keywords in your niche and you link to them in every post you write about that topic. Doing this increases the rank of the page because it shows search engines that the information on that page is relevant to all of these other topics.


Content Plan

Having a content plan for your blog will save you a million headaches and stress. They also help you target your keyphrases in a strategic way that keeps your audience engaged.




The headings and subheadings in the content on your blog are absolutely essential to having an efficient SEO presence. You need to make sure that your keyphrases are inside of your headings. The ‘H tags’ in the coding of the headings gives those keyphrases emphasis. And, they show the search engines that this page should rank for that keyphrase.


Domain Authority

Domain Authority (DA) measures how likely your website is to rank on search engines on a score of 1-100. This measure of rank was developed by Moz and is useful to see where your competitors rank and where you rank. That way, you can see how much work you need to do to get a higher rank than your competitors.


Meta Descriptions

Meta Descriptions are the part of a page on your website that you see when you search the internet.

Screenshot of a Search Engine Optimization Meta Desctription from Daring to Inspire.

First, you see the title of the post. Then the URL of the page. Lastly, you see a blurb that tells you what the page is about – that blurb is the Meta Description of the page. This section is crucial for your pages to have a good SEO presence and to get good traffic.

You need to put your keyphrases in your meta descriptions, but only 2 times. You don’t want to over-optimize.


Images and Search Engine Optimization

Images, alt-tags, and image descriptions are all imperitive to good Search Engine Optimization. Pictures also help to keep your audience engaged on your pages. They also give you ample opportunities to pin your posts to Pinterest, thus improving the traffic on your site.

Alt-tags or Alternate tags are the words that your software displays if the image can’t be displayed. Or, if the person reading your post uses screen reading software. You need to write them in a way that efficiently describes the picture and targets your keyphrases.



User Experience and User Interface

Now, this might not seem super important to your SEO but it is. User Interface makes up all the things that your website visitors see when they come to your site. All the Fonts, colors, and the layout of your pages.

User Experience is the more techy side of things. It’s the combination of how fast your website is, the navigation of it, and how the pages rank in the hierarchy of the site.

Without these two things, your website will not perform well either on search engines or with visitors.


Social Engagement

Now, this isn’t exactly part of Search Engine Optimization, but it is essential for good marketing tactics in 2018. Your company needs to take advantage of the social media platforms that your target audience uses.

When you engage with your audience, their trust in your company grows. And when they trust you, they visit your website and purchase things from you even more!

Social Meta Data

This is basically Meta Descriptions for Social Media Posts.

When you post on Facebook for example:

Facebook pulls the first few sentences from your post and displays them under the featured image. But, if you have social meta data in place on that page, Facebook will pull those words and use them instead. This is crucial because you get to choose exactly what keywords and phrases will grab your readers attention.




Search Engine Optimization can easily seem overwhelming but there are lots of tools all over the internet that make it a breeze. Here are some of my favorites:

Webmaster and Analytics

Google Webmaster and Analytics are two things that you HAVE to have set up for your site to have good SEO.

Webmaster will tell you if the search engines are having any issues crawling your site, indexing your pages, or if it is too slow.

Analytics will give you detailed information about who visits your site, what they do on your site, how long they were there and more!


Yoast’s Plugin¬†is my favorite SEO Tool that exists. I currently only use the free version because my budget doesn’t have room for the paid version yet. Every time I write a page on my website, I put in what keyword/keyphrase I want that page to rank for. Yoast will then tell me what parts of the page have good SEO and what parts I need to improve to have an amazing SEO presence on that page.

They make Search Engine Optimization a breeze, even if you don’t know what you’re doing.


Building your website on WordPress will save you so many headaches in the future. I personally find it to be the easiest platform to use. (And, I’m not a very tech-savvy person.) They have so many free plugins and themes that make your website look professional and super easy to run the backend.



Wrap Up

Whew, that was one long blog post. But, I hope it answered all your questions about the various aspects that make up Search Engine Optimization.

I know that SEO can be extremely daunting but I promise it isn’t once you understand how it all goes together. It’s actually very simple to do once you get started. And, it only takes a couple of extra minutes after you finish a blog post or page on your site. But the benefits of it will last for years!


This post is the beginning of my SEO for Beginners Series here on Daring to Inspire! I can’t wait to go into even more detail on how to do this amazing part of running a website! Yes, I’m a total nerd who adores everything SEO, Marketing, and Websites!


What about SEO scares you the most? Share your fears in the comments below and I’ll see what I can do to help you face those fears and take your website to the next level!


Soli Deo Gloria,


P.S. if you loved this post be sure to share it on Facebook and Twitter! And, don’t forget to Pin it to Pinterest so that even more people can understand Search Engine Optimization too!


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