SEO Basics

Complete Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

The Ultimate Guide to Perfecting SEO

•  What is SEO? (brief overview)
•  Keywords and Longtail Phrases
•  The Importance of Content
•  Other SEO Optimization Techniques
•  Link Building
•  SEO – What NOT to do!
What’s in the guide…

seo word is on the flat
What Is SEO?

First things first – SEO, you’ve heard of it, you think you might know what it means but you could do with a little more clarity!

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.  That is exactly what it is, in three little words but for some, that may as well be another language.  If you’re nodding your head thinking that sounds a lot like you, then this guide is exactly for you.

Simply put, SEO means making sure a website has the right type of content to be noticed by Google (and the other search engines).  It is important to rank highly on the search pages.  So, for example, if you’re someone searching for a “marketing agency in Los Angeles”, for example, the results you see on page one of Google are those that Google has ranked highly. They meet the SEO guidelines; they’re optimized properly and they’re the most popular search results.  Ranking highly on Google, or other search engines means appearing on page one, in fact, the top three or four search results are usually the best and those that consumers and customers click onto the most.  So if you have a business or a product that you want to get noticed and increase your visibility online, you need SEO with the right content, words and phrases to get you to page one.

Let’s look at it this way.  Taking the term discussed above “marketing agency in Los Angeles”.  When you type that into Google, you get nearly twelve million results (at the last count!).  The chances are that you’ll only look at the first few results on the page.  That page is page one and where all businesses should want to be.  At the very least, in the top three to five results, SEO does that for you.  It ensures that your business has the correct search phrases (keywords) within your content to enable you to rank well on Google and the other major search engines.

SEO for Lead Generation

SEO plays another role.  As well as getting you further up the search engines, it encourages more web traffic so directs the right audience (the people interested in your product or service) directly to your website.

Then, assuming you have the right buzz words and calls to action, you’ll hopefully convert those leads into sales.

SEO is Moving!

Online is fluid.  It is never static, it evolves and moves on – fast.  That’s because technology is so advanced it always moves at a fast pace. So SEO is an evolving science, it never stops.  If you want to devise an SEO campaign, you need to understand that it is an ongoing process.  Bear in mind that it can take a few months to deliver results, because Google needs to recognise your SEO results and push it upwards as it gains more traction. Once you’ve got encouraging results, that doesn’t mean you should stop your SEO project.  SEO should be a part of your marketing campaign; it’s not a one-off project.  Big companies and those growing rapidly use SEO as a part of their day-to-day business.  It’s also area-focussed.  So, you might have a particular service or product that you want to rank highly for.  It’s best to address that area first, get your results and then move onto the next. It’s like a circle, you keep going around the circle and re-addressing your focus areas, improving the keywords, introducing new phrases and keeping it “alive and kicking” on Google!

Paid Google Ads

Of course, alongside the search results, you’ll notice to the right hand side other search results come up, separate listings.  These are paid SEO Google ads often referred to as Google AdWords (other search engines also include their own).  Businesses and individuals pay Google to display their ads at the top of page one, and for every “click” they get from a potential client or customer, they are charged.  These aren’t the same as SEO optimized listings, although the ads do use keywords to encourage clicks.

What we’re concentrating on today is helping you to get a grip on search engine optimization, what it means in depth and how to conduct it properly.

Local SEO

What’s really exciting is that SEO can be conducted on a local basis, a national basis and an international basis simply by adding in your area.  That’s why “marketing agency in Los Angeles” is specific – it mentions the locality.  You can fine-tune SEO to wherever you’re located, even down to your street, town or city, it’s that intuitive.

Let’s Recap:

  • SEO means search engine optimization and affects how you appear in Google (and other search engine) rankings
  • SEO uses keywords (along with other elements, more on keywords below) to move you up the search engines.
  • SEO gets you noticed for certain services or products and generates leads
  • SEO continuously evolves so to be effective, your SEO should be an ongoing campaign
  • SEO can be on a local basis, national basis or even international basis!
  • Paid SEO Google Adwords are listings that appear at the top of Google on the right hand side and are different to the main listings you see on page.


there is a hand clicking on different options for website and seo ads

What are Keywords?

Going back to our phrase, “marketing agency in Los Angeles”.  That is known as a keyword – yes it’s more of a phrase but the main words there are marketing, agency and Los Angeles.  They’re very searched words in a small grouping.  There are billions of keywords, it’s picking out the ones that relate to what you do or what you sell and there are easy ways to do this.  It’s not simply fishing out words from your brain, although this is an element!  Google analytics can help to pull out your keywords – so you’ll need to register for it, these are good pages to access: click and click

Longtail Phrases

As well as keywords, there is another phrase that you might have heard of but wondered what it means; longtail.  It is part of SEO and relates to a few searched keywords that are combined together.  When you put those words together into the search bar at the top of your chosen search engine, you pull up web content that carries those words together – a longtail phrase.  As an example, instead of marketing agency in Los Angeles, you might key in marketing agency in Los Angeles with video editing and social media.  It should bring more specific traffic to your website.  In a nutshell, a longtail phrase is more specific and longer, usually combining three or four (or even more) words together.  The beauty of longtail phrases is that they almost always result in a lead – then it’s up to your website to convert the lead.  Why?  Well, because when a consumer uses a very specific search grouping of words, they tend to be looking for something that exactly meets their needs.  It’s a remarkable opportunity and shouldn’t be missed!

What’s the Difference Between Keywords and Longtail Phrases?

Keywords are short, generic search terms (marketing agency Los Angeles is pretty generic), longtail phrases are far more specific (marketing agency in Los Angeles with video editing and social media).  It’s also worth mentioning that you might hear keywords as referred to as “keyword phrases”, it means the same thing!  Good SEO will have both of these types of phrases involved


Let’s Recap:

  • Keywords are generic search terms and short, to the point phrases
  • Longtail phrases are far more specific and usually result in guaranteed traffic to your website
  • A good quality SEO agency such as Armeva will use both in an SEO campaign for your business (or you can do it yourself)

Researching SEO Keywords and Longtail Phrases

Now you know the first SEO step, what keywords and longtail phrases mean, you need to find yours and we’ve touched on this in the previous section.  Keywords and longtail phrases are what people put in the search bar to generate results.  However, SEO is more than just placing a collection of words relating to a desired service or product into a search bar.  While it’s not rocket science, it is based on proper research.  So, you don’t need to pluck phrases or words out of the air, there are a few ways of researching your keywords and longtail phrases.

The best way to do this (and the most common) is through Google keywords.  There’s a useful link to help you here: click

It’s simple to register for an account and once you have one, you follow the Google guidelines for searching various keywords and phrases related to what you do.  There are lots of tools and the planner will give you useful insight into the best keywords and phrases to use for your business.  Then, you get your list (it will be quite lengthy – you don’t need to focus on every word on the list, but do focus on the most searched terms).

Once you have your list of words, it’s time to apply them to your online content.  Remember, search rankings change all the time so remember to regularly check back and update your search.  Then, you can easily update your content or produce fresh content (more about fresh content later).

Of course, it goes without saying that a proper digital marketing agency, like Armeva will be able to conduct your keyword and longtail phrases search for you and know what works and what doesn’t.  However, you can do it yourself if you feel confident enough to do your own SEO.

Know Market

If you’re a business owner, you know your market already which is a great start!  You can learn even more about your market for online SEO purposes and here’s how:

  • Talk to your customer base, find out how they describe your business, your brand, your products or service (try creating a survey and sending it out to your database)
  • Think like a customer – what words would they use to describe you and what type of product or service would they be searching for in that Google search bar?
  • Visit forums and online communities that do something similar to you. Look at the threads and see what people talk about, it gives invaluable insight into what they might be searching for.

What are Your Topics?

By topics, we mean what do you do – what do you sell?  It might be you sell T shirts, that’s a topic!  Perhaps you offer plumbing, that’s a topic!  What do you want to rank highly for?  Women’s T shirts?  Cropped T shirts?  Sports T shirts?  They’re topics where you want visibility!  For a plumber, it might be new tap installation, bathroom plumbing, leaks, kitchen plumbers and to really get the best results, add in your location.  Bottom line, choose topics that are relevant and important to your business.


Now it’s your turn to study the search results from your chosen keyword research tool.  Think about why people are searching and what they’re searching for?  They might be asking a question, in which case you might have the answer – it could lead to selling a service or a product.  When you do this, it helps you to fine-tune your keywords and get a better match which all helps move your website up the search engines.

Check Out Your Competition

You likely know who your competition are.  See what type of wording is in their content.  Do they blog?  If so, how often?  Blogging is a great way of inserting your keywords and longtail phrases and generating traffic.  Are you blogging?  If you are, are you doing it with enough frequency?  Perhaps you need to start a blog – more on this later.  When you study what your competitors do you could also identify keyword gaps, these are opportunities that you could leverage and use in your SEO strategy to be ahead of your competitors.   You can do a keyword search on your competitors but you will likely have to pay for this (try searching research competitors’ keywords for results).

What Are Your Goals

What do you want to achieve?    More web visitors (perhaps if you’re a blogger)?  More sales (most definitely!)?  More subscribers?  This will give you direction for your SEO plan and help you determine content marketing (more on that later but very important for SEO!).

Check Topics

This is wear a good keyword research tool comes into play and helps you to refine your list.  This is when to use Google Keywords Planner but there are other keyword tools as mentioned before.  These tools will help you narrow down your list and pinpoint other keywords you may have missed.  You just type your keyword topic that you’ve generated yourself into the search box that these research websites have and you’ll generate a list of alternative keywords.  You will also generate a list of questions that people might search for and prepositions.

Get to Grips with Your Longtail Keywords

As discussed earlier, you need to elongate your search terms to include more specific words.  This generates longtail keywords, as you know, they’re very valuable.  Yes, they get fewer clicks but they get the type of clicks that lead to higher conversions.

Let’s recap:

  • Consider your goals and the topics you want to be visible for, those topics are where you start
  • Research your keywords and longtail phrases using Google’s tool or other tools available online
  • Always do your own research based on your knowledge, your product or services and your customers
  • Check out what your competitors do, look at their websites and conduct a competitors’ keyword research




SEO and Content

In the past, business owners who were savvy with their online presence used to generate their keyword list and stuff the words into their web content.  Yes, this worked but Google changed their algorithm and it’s no longer good enough.  In fact, you could get penalized for keyword stuffing (the actual phrase used).  So, pay attention to how you use your keywords and make sure they slot in nicely so they read well.  As an example:  If you’re looking for the best online marketing agency in Los Angeles… that’s the way to phrase it rather than Los Angeles online marketing agency, the best. You can see what’s happening here, the first example is perfectly good English, the second is obviously keyword stuffed.  Be clever with your words and use them properly!

Content is king of online.  Google LOVES fresh content.  To keep your website up-to-date, engaging and fresh you need to stay on top of your content.  If you’ve had the same content for years on end, your search ranking will suffer.  You need to refresh it regularly, revisit it and make sure it’s current.  Remember, technology moves so quickly, your content needs to move with it.

So, firstly, if you’re updating your website, use your keywords and long tail phrases strategically.  Make sure your content reads well, like anything you read, it must be grammatically correct with good punctuation or you risk losing brand credibility.

Get your web content SEO optimized first.  Then you’re ready to roll out your SEO campaign to get more traffic through to your site.  This is when you can use your blog as a way to talk to your audience while using more keywords.  While it’s a good idea to choose topics that are relevant to what you do you could also capture customers by talking about what’s happening in the world – even write opinion pieces.  Blogging is just another form of SEO, it encourages traffic to your site and that traffic also moves you up the search engines.  Google’s algorithm knows when websites consistently update their content and they reward you accordingly.

Other ways of using content to generate traffic (and include more keywords) are through a newsletter, PR pieces and paid Google Ads.


Let’s Recap:

  • Use your keywords strategically in your web copy
  • Never keyword-stuff, Google will penalize you and if your copy doesn’t read well, your brand will lose credibility
  • Create a blog and update it regularly, it’s a great way of targeting new categories and using keywords to generate traffic
  • Consider newsletters and PR as other ways of adding keywords to your content
  • You could also use Google Adwords but it’s paid so while you’re on page one for certain categories, it’s not as good as “naturally” reaching the top of search engine listings

What Else Can You Optimize?

If you haven’t yet created your website it might be a good idea to drop a keyword into it, for example, if your business is called The Cat’s Whiskers and it specialises in cat food you might want to call your website which means the keyword cat food comes up when others perform a Google search.   However, it is not absolutely necessary to do this unless your business is very much reliant on online traffic.  If it’s a local business then using simple SEO techniques will generate traffic to your website without your keywords being in your website name.

Adding Links

Links are an important strategy when it comes to SEO because it helps with ranking your website higher on the search pages.   If you can build your links up, you essentially build a network of trust because those people searching for you come across your link through someone else’s website.  Think of it as a recommendation and it is certainly perceived as an endorsement that yours is a solid, reliable name.  Links should appear in your content (for example, a blog) and be related to your topic or type of business.   Avoid links from websites that have no relation to your business at all and don’t get hung up on other people linking back to you. .  Research your competitors and find out who links to them and vice versa.  You might want to contact these businesses direct and see if they will link to your business.  Use your social media to get yourself noticed too – remember to link to your website and to others because this helps to drive traffic.  You could also join web directories which help to get your name out there and online. if you feel confident enough to do your own SEO.

Let’s recap:

  • If you’re starting a business, or building a new website, use a keyword in your web address
  • Add links out to other, reputable websites and ask them to link back to you, this is a good way of generating traffic back to your website
  • Join web directories, this is another great way of getting your online presence noticed.

SEO - What NOT to Do!

Never take someone else’s piece and publish it on your website under your name. Firstly it’s plagiarism and secondly it’s duplicate content so your website will be penalized by Google for publishing it. It’s far more important to have a piece that is easy to read and an informative, pleasurable read.  It’s also better to write the piece first and then get it optimized to contain all the keywords and longtail phrases so they are naturally inserted.

You should definitely pay attention to the following SEO techniques:

  • Your keywords, once you’ve done the research.
  • Your titles – make them interesting and enticing! Remember, they are the first impression your reader gets.  Make sure your keywords are in the title, this is a great way of dropping in something important
  • Your headings. Break up your content with headings – so that means giving each section of your content a sub-title (these are known as H1’s, H2’s, H3’s etc. and are ranked in importance – you should have at least one H1 on a page), e.g., TITLE: Choosing the Best Digital Marketing Agency in Los Angeles, H1.   Social Media, SEO and Video Content Experts, H2 etc.
  • Make your content a good, succinct and relevant read. Check your grammar and spelling, incorrect words and poor grammar is very off-putting to customers.
  • Your last word! Add in a question to encourage conversation and interaction with your readers; remember they are potential customers.


Do remember, driving relevant traffic to your website is important but it takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.  The best you can do is to have a solid SEO strategy in place and keep it up, don’t disregard it after a few weeks because you don’t see a change, it can take months to reap the rewards but once you see them, the only way is up! Do keep your content fresh and turning over which is why a blog page is very important. It updates your website every time you post and is an excellent way to add in links and keywords/longtail phrases.  Revisit your keywords regularly, remember that consumers change their searches too – so stay on top of what they’re looking for. Keep promoting your website as well, the more activity you have around your website and brand name, the better you will rank.  For the very best possible SEO campaign, and to take the headache of doing your own SEO away, get in touch with Armeva, we’ll manage everything for you from beginning to end with top quality results!

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