SEO in laymen’s terms: 10 tips for SEO beginners

May 1, 2023


John Thomas

Successful business owners know they need to have an online presence. But driving traffic to your website, blog, and other digital channels takes a bit more expertise. That’s where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

If you’re new to SEO, it can feel overwhelming to learn the acronyms, terms, and best practices—but you’re not alone. In this blog post, we’ll share ten tips for SEO beginners to help you get started on the right foot.

What is SEO?

But first, let’s start with a clear definition of SEO. SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”. In short, it’s the activities you do to help your website rank higher in search engines. 

Of course, many practices and techniques fall under the umbrella of “SEO,” but we’ll focus on the low-hanging fruit in this post.

For now, just know that SEO is important because it can help you (or your clients) get more traffic from search engines like Google. And more traffic can lead to more customers and more money.

1. Create an SEO testing environment

Practice makes perfect, right? The same goes for SEO. If you want to get good at ranking in SERPs, then you need to test your strategies and tactics. 

One way to do this is to simply create a test website. This can be a blog, an e-commerce site, or even a simple landing page. You can opt for a free WordPress theme with the cheapest hosting plan.

The important thing is that you have a place to experiment without risking your main website. Reading about SEO is a great way to start, but there’s no substitute for hands-on experience. 

So, create a test site and try the different techniques you learn in this post. When the time comes to optimize your main website, you’ll be glad you have a little practice under your belt.

2. Do your own experimentation

Now that you have a test site, it’s time to start experimenting! There is no one-size-fits-all approach to SEO. What works for one website might not work for another based on competitors, industry, and market share. So, it’s important that you test different strategies and tactics to see what works best for your particular case.


We recommend starting by practicing your keyword skills. These are the important terms and phrases that you’d want your website to appear for. 

For example, if you’re a greeting card seller, you might want to appear for searches related to keywords like “indie greeting cards” or “designer greeting cards.”

You can find keywords by using a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner, which shows you how difficult it will be to rank for certain keywords. As a beginner, it’s best to focus on low-competition keywords. 

Once you have your target keywords, it’s time to start adding them to your website, landing pages, and blog posts. Over time, you should start to see more traffic to those pages from these keyword searches. 


Another way you can experiment with SEO on a test website is to get familiar with all the different data and analytics tools out there. Google Analytics is a great place to start. It’s a free tool showing how people find and use your website. 

You can also use it to track your progress over time as you experiment with different SEO techniques. That way, you’ll know exactly what to monitor when optimizing your main website. There are countless metrics and data points that you can track in Google Analytics. But as a beginner, we recommend focusing on the following:

  • Traffic sources: How are people finding your website? Is it through organic search, social media, direct visits, or something else?

  • Pageviews and unique visitors: How many people are visiting your website? And how often are they coming back?

  • Average time on page: How long are people staying on your website? A low average time on a page could indicate that your content isn’t relevant to what people are looking for.

  • Bounce rate: What percentage of people leave your website immediately after reading part of one page? This could signify that your website is challenging to use or that your content isn’t what people are searching for.

  • Conversions: Are people taking the desired action on your website? For example, are they signing up for your newsletter, downloading a PDF, or making a purchase?

Google Analytics can seem daunting at first. But it’s not difficult to set up and use. And once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to use it to track your progress and make better-informed decisions about your SEO techniques.

3. Learn the different types of SEO and their application

Now, onto the main event: the different types of SEO! In any given SEO strategy, you’ll likely be using a combination of different types of SEO. It’s helpful to understand the different types and how they can be used to improve your website’s ranking in SERPs. Here are the three basic types of SEO:

On-page optimization

The most basic type of SEO is on-page optimization. This is the process of ensuring that your website’s pages are optimized for search engines and users. That means using the right keywords, having a good structure, and providing valuable and relevant content. 

If your website’s pages aren’t optimized, then it won’t matter how much effort you put into other kinds of SEO. Search engines will simply never find or rank your website.

The good news is that on-page optimization is relatively easy to do. And it’s something that you can control completely. So if you’re just getting started with SEO, we recommend starting with on-page optimization. We’ll get to creating content in a minute. But first, let’s talk about two other SEO functions.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO is making sure your website is accessible and easy to use for both search engines and users. That means optimizing your website’s code and structure and running SEO content audits. Search engines use crawlers to index websites and their content. So if your website’s code is poorly written, the crawlers will have difficulty understanding it. 

Technical SEO is intimidating for most because it requires some technical knowledge. But there are plenty of resources available to help you get started. You can find the help you need from WordPress plugins to qualified developers to run an SEO website audit.

Off-page optimization

Finally, off-page optimization is the process of optimizing your website for things that are not on your website. That includes things like link building, social media, and local SEO. Off-page optimization aims to improve your website’s ranking in SERPs by getting an idea of the outside factors that are impacting your website. 

What’s the conversation about your website like on social media? Are there any backlinks to your website? These are the types of questions that off-page optimization seeks to answer.

Off-page optimization can be a bit more challenging than on-page optimization because you don’t have complete control over all of the factors involved. But it’s still something that you can influence. The most important thing is to ensure that you’re creating high-quality content that people want to link to and share.

4. Create great content (then create more)

The main strategy most people use to improve their SEO is to create quality content. Blog posts are a great way to distribute quality content, as they are versatile and relatively quick to make. But you can also create other types of content, like ebooks, whitepapers, and more. Generally speaking, the longer and more in-depth the content is, the better. 

When creating content, it’s important to keep two things in mind. First, you need to make sure that your content is relevant to your audience. That means writing about topics they’re interested in and answering their burning questions. Second, you need to make sure that your content is keyword-rich. That means using the keywords and phrases that your audience is searching for.

Few people have the time or skill to write quality content independently. So if you’re not a writer, you may need someone to help you. Agencies like Draft can help you by matching you with a qualified writer to write the type of content you need.

“The main strategy most people use to improve their SEO is to create quality content.”

5. Expect and embrace change

The world of SEO is constantly changing, especially with top players like Google. New technologies and new trends are constantly emerging. And that means that what works today may not work tomorrow. As a result, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest SEO news and trends. There are a few different ways to do that. One is to follow some SEO experts and their websites, like Neil Patel.

Social media is also great for staying up-to-date on the latest SEO news and trends. Twitter is especially useful for that. You can follow the hashtag #SEO to see what people are saying about SEO. Alternatively, Reddit has a number of SEO-related subreddits, like /r/SEO and /r/bigSEO, where people discuss the latest SEO news and trends.

Finally, you can subscribe to Draft’s newsletter to get the latest content, SEO news, and tips delivered right to your inbox. Note that you shouldn’t obsess over every little change in the SEO world. Stay up-to-date on the significant changes and trends so that you can adjust your strategy as needed. For now, focus on the best content you can.

6. Recognize search intent

One of the most important things to understand about SEO is search intent. Search intent is why someone searches for something on the internet. And understanding search intent is crucial for ranking your content in SERPs. There are four main types of search intent:

  • Navigational: The person is looking for a specific website or page.

  • Informational: The person is looking for information about a topic.

  • Transactional: The person is looking to buy something.

  • Commercial: The person is looking to compare different products or services.

If you can identify the type of search intent someone has, you can create content tailored to their needs. And that’s more likely to rank in SERPs.

For example, if someone is searching for “buy shoes online,” they have transactional intent. So you would want to create content that helps them order shoes online. On the other hand, someone searching for “shoe trends 2020” has an informational intent. So you would want to create content that tells them about the latest shoe trends.

7. Build a linking strategy

As mentioned above, backlinks are one of the most important ranking factors. So, if you want to improve your SEO, you need to build a strong linking strategy. There are a few different ways to do that. One way is to reach out to other websites and ask them to link to your content. You can also guest post on other blogs and include links to your website in your author bio. 

As a beginner, you can start practicing with internal linking. That means linking to your own content from other pages on your website. This is a great way to help Google index your site and improve your SEO. If you feel like another post would be a good addition to your writing post, then link to it using keyword-rich anchor text.

8. Don’t skip metadata

Meta tags are HTML tags that help search engines understand the content of your website. Meta tags may not seem like a big deal, but they can actually have a pretty big impact on your SEO. The three most important meta tags for SEO are the title tag, the meta description, and the meta keywords tag.

The title tag is the title of your page or post. It’s what appears on the search engine results pages (SERPs). The meta description is a brief summary of your page or post. It also appears in SERPs. And the meta keywords tag is a list of relevant keywords for your page or post. You want all of these tags to be accurate and keyword-rich. As for length, your title should be 50-60 characters, and your meta description should be 150-160 characters.

9. Be mobile-minded

Over half of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. So if you’re not optimizing your website for mobile, then you’re missing out on a lot of potential traffic. Mobile optimization is more than just making your website look good on a smaller screen. It’s also about ensuring your website loads quickly and correctly on mobile devices.

Google has a tool called PageSpeed Insights that can help you assess your website’s mobile performance. Just enter your URL, and Google will give you a report with specific recommendations on improving your website’s speed.

Mobile optimization is also about creating a great user experience. That means making it easy for people to find the information they’re looking for on your website. You have less display space to work with on a mobile device, so you need to be strategic about what you include. Test your website on different devices and make it easy to navigate.

10. Manage expectations

Last but not least: SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and effort to see results. And even then, those results can be unpredictable. So it’s best to manage your expectations when starting an SEO campaign. Don’t expect to see results overnight; don’t get discouraged if your traffic isn’t increasing as quickly as you’d like. 

Consistency is the only way to see the long-term effects of SEO. So just keep posting those blog posts, and you’ll eventually start to see the fruits of your labor.

The bottom line

There’s no magic bullet when it comes to SEO. However, there are constants that, if you adhere to them, will give you the best chance for success. Creating great content is one of those constants, and Draft is here to help. There’s already so much for you to learn as an SEO beginner; let us handle the tedious writing. 

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