If you’ve just launched a new website for your business and you’re struggling to get any visitors to your site, chances are you haven’t really given your SEO basics much thought, have you?

Well it’s a good thing you’re here, because if you’re not strongly considering SEO as a channel for your business, then I’m sorry to say that you’re probably going to have a hard time making any sales in the near or distant future.

This guide will provide you with all the basics (and a bit more) that you’ll need to kick your organic traffic right into gear.


What is SEO and How Does It Work?


First of all, let’s start out by understand exactly what SEO is, and how it works.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Essentially what this means is that you are optimizing your website so that it can appear on search engine results pages (in other words, on Google).

You see, Google pretty much functions in the same way as the Eye of Sauron from The Lord of The Rings. You know the Eye of Sauron, right?

It’s this guy:

So in case you’ve been living underground for the past twenty years, let me give you some background. The Eye of Sauron is this all-seeing eye, right? So whenever someone puts on the One Ring, the Eye of Sauron knows!

In terms of SEO, Google sees everything that gets published to the internet (as long as you’ve submitted your sitemap to Google’s Web Crawler, that is).

The difference here is that you want Google to see your content and consider it high quality so that you have a better chance of ranking on the first page of the search engine. With the Eye of Sauron, on the other hand, you probably don’t want to be seen at all otherwise you’re get murdered by an army of Orks- these guys:

Ugly little dude, right?

The point is, if Google pushes your content higher up on the search engine results page, there is a better chance that people will find you. And if people find you, they will click on your site and come visit your page. And of course, if they do that, there is a better chance they will buy your product and you will get rich.

So that’s what SEO is, and how it works!


What influences SEO rankings?


But how can you influence your SEO rankings? What factors come into play? Well, it turns out there are a lot of things. Here are some of them:

  • Identifying and targeting the right keywords
  • Ensuring you have a high click through rate
  • Increasing the time spent on your page
  • Improving the overall site speed
  • Building relevant links to various pages

Now I know this seems like a lot to handle, and some of these words might not make any sense. But don’t worry, we will walk through this together.

Let’s start out by getting an overview of each of these factors.


Identifying and targeting the right keywords:


First of all, keywords or search terms are pretty much how Google identifies what should be ranking for various searches. This of course is very important, because you don’t want to go to Google’s search bar and type in “Banana Bread Recipe” and be shown a result that has nothing to do with banana bread, right?

Well when you’re publishing your content on your website, it should include the keywords that you want to rank for throughout the page.

So if you’re trying to rank for “Banana Bread Recipe”, it would make sense for the title of your page to include the terms “Banana Bread Recipe”, right?

It also helps if your term appears in the URL, as well as in the headers and subheaders of your content. You also want to ensure you’re using the words “Banana Bread Recipe” throughout the body of your article. This way when Google reads your content, it knows what your post is about, and will do a better job of helping it show up for the right search queries.

But that’s not all! You also want to make sure that you’re researching the keywords you want to rank for. Because if you aren’t doing your research, you might be targeting a keyword that no one is actually looking for. And that would suck.


Ensuring you have a high click-through rate


A click-through rate refers to the rate at which people are clicking through to your site (duh!) and if you have a high click-through rate, Google will think:


Well damn! A lot of people are clicking on this link as opposed to the other links, so people must really like this page! Let’s move it higher up on the search engine results page.


Or at least something along those lines.

So how can you ensure you get a high click-through rate? Well it all comes down to having an engaging title that accurately reflects what your article is about. How do you write a click-worthy title? It comes from testing our various iterations, but ultimately it just means writing really compelling and useful content and letting that be reflected through your writing.

I’ll give you an example. I wanted to optimize this article about infographic design, right? But when I took a look at the data, the click through rate was only 2% (that’s really low, by the way).

At the time, the title of the article was:


Infographic Design Guide – Venngage


Not super sexy, right? I know. What was I thinking, guys? Anyway, I started doing some research and looking for other articles and guides that were ranking on different keywords in the first three positions on Google.

And you know what I noticed? A lot of these articles were lists, or had a defined number of “tips”. So you know what I did? I changed the title.

After republishing the post and not changing any of the content whatsoever, the article was ranking 1st, with a click-through rate of 8%! Huge improvement from 2%, right?

infographic design screenshot

So, when you’re publishing your posts, be sure that the title not only includes your keyword in it, but that it’s also really engaging. Because even though people are told not to judge a book by its cover, no one listens to anything anymore and we still judge things by appearances.


Increasing the time spent on your page


As you may have guessed, if having a high click-through rate has an impact on your SEO, then chances are, the amount of time people are actually spending on your site also has a high impact.

It makes sense though, right?

If someone visits your page, and then immediately bounces from that page, Google probably thinks:


Wow. You probably couldn’t over them any value that they had to leave almost immediately. I’m not going to keep you as the top result because clearly no one wants to read you.


Yeah in my mind Google is really dry.

So, what do you do? You make sure that people stay on your page longer!

How do you do that? Well it helps to write really engaging content (like this article) so that people don’t want to leave.

Alternatively you can tell people to not leave your page, or a puppy will die- but that might be misconstrued and you’d probably get reported to PETA by someone.

Aside from writing really good content, hosting and embedding videos on a page are a good strategy for keeping people there. Because if they watch the video…well then they will stay on your site for the duration of that video, right?

But also writing longer, more in-depth and useful content will keep people on site, and keep them coming back!


Improving the overall site speed


This will probably seem like a given at this point, but if you aren’t improving your overall site speed, then people will probably bounce pretty quickly (meaning a low time spent on page). If your site is fast, and the page loads quickly enough, people won’t get annoyed and leave.

Google likes fast websites because it provides a good user experience. You can use this tool to test your site’s overall speed and make improvements accordingly. Also don’t check my site…I already know it needs improvement and I’m working on it, ok? Thanks.


Building relevant links to various pages


And of course, one of the most important factors for ranking on Google is to build relevant and high-quality links back to your site. My friend Matthew Barby, and Director of Acquisition at HubSpot did a really interesting study a while back where he looked at over a million pages that were indexed on Google and identified that building links is still one of the biggest contributors to higher rankings.

What building links does is that it shows Google that your site has a lot of credibility. If people are willing to link to your page, chances are you’re providing valuable and useful information. And the more quality links you build, the better your chances are of increasing your domain authority (which is essentially a grading system for your website), and the higher your domain authority, the more likely your content is to naturally rank on Google.

Now there are a lot of ways that you can build links, too many in fact for me to include in this section. But lucky for you, I have a really AWESOME guide on link building that you can download right here:

Get my FREE Link Building Guide


Useful Tools For SEO Basics


Now I’ve talked a bit about optimizing your content, and building links, and domain authority, and all these other SEO-related buzzwords, but the truth is that it’s hard to know what any of this is without the right tools!

So here are some useful tools that you can use for SEO basics. I understand that many of you might not necessarily have the biggest budget, or hey- maybe you’re just cheap like me, so I’m including as many free tools that I can think of so you can hoard your money like the Scrooge you are.

i hate people scrooge


Google Analytics (Free)


You probably know what Google Analytics is, so I won’t go into too much detail, but this tool is absolutely necessary when it comes to tracking the performance of your content and pages in terms of incoming traffic and audience behaviour.

With Google Analytics you can track things like the bounce rate and the time on page for your content, so you can see where you’re performing really well and where you’re falling short.


Google Search Console (Free)

Google Search Console is part of Google Webmaster tools and is a very useful tool, especially when it comes to checking your site’s rankings for various keywords, as well as the click-through rate for various pages.

It looks like this:

search console screenshot

You can monitor the types of queries that are sending the most traffic to your site, how much traffic is getting sent to various pages, and where people are finding your site from. As you become better at optimizing your site and your content, this tool will become more and more useful.


Google Keyword Planner (Free)


When it comes to keyword research, Google Keyword Planner is a must, but you can also use Moz’s Keyword Explorer tool. Simply type in some variations of keywords that you’d like to rank for in order to get an idea of the search volume and competition for those words.

Keyword planner will also suggest other related terms that you could go after. So if you typed in “Banana Bread Recipe” you can get an idea of how easy or how difficult it would be to rank for the term, plus how many people are actually looking for that term in your area.

banana bread screenshot

Looks like a lot of people are trying to learn how to make banana bread…


Moz (Paid)


Moz is a powerful tool that allows you to set up SEO campaigns and track your site’s organic performance and rankings. When you’re just starting out, you may not need a tool like Moz, but eventually it can prove to be very effective especially if you’re considering using SEO as one of your main acquisition channels.

Their blog also has plenty of great resources to learn more about SEO, if you want to advance your range of knowledge.


Ahrefs (Paid)


Ahrefs is one of my favorite SEO tools, especially when it comes to link building. The reason is that Ahrefs has access to a lot of backlink data, meaning that if you wanted to get an idea of how many links have been built to a certain page on your site, or to a competitor’s site, it will show you very up to date information.

Ahrefs also has a tool called Content Explorer, that lets you search for content which ranks for specific terms. This is very useful for building backlinks as well, but if you’re interested in learning more about that, get in touch with me and we can talk.




There you have it. Now you know the basics of SEO and you have a general idea of how to get started. But SEO is an ongoing commitment and requires you to consistently create and optimize your content. It takes time to build up your organic presence, but once you get a good cadence going, your site becomes a lot stronger and a lot more valuable. Remember, you want to do everything in your power so that the Eye of Sau- so that Google can find your site and help it get seen by the rest of the internet.