An Introduction to SEO

Despite having a reputation for complexity, SEO has a set of foundations that once learned, can easily set you on your way to optimising full websites into greater visibility. These basic practices are mostly content-based and can typically be executed through content, content structure and page structure.

Optimising a website to increase visibility when it’s searched for in a search engine.

How accessible and user-friendly a website is.

Balancing the number of keywords on a page between having too many and too few.

A number between 0-100 that indicates how trustworthy your website is.

SEO practices that are carried out through a web page (content, title tags and keywords distribution).

SEO practices that are carried out externally (link-building, social media and technical optimisation).


First and foremost, the foundation of having a high-ranking website is to fill it with well-written, original, relevant and informative content that delivers on the subject matter mentioned in the meta title. If the content is copied, poorly written or irrelevant, you’ll have a hard time ranking and will likely see great amounts of user disengagement.

Quality Content

In terms of well-written content, SEO has come a very long way since the days when keyword stuffing was considered an elite practice. Nowadays, you have to strike an ideal balance between too many keywords and too few, meaning that your content has to carefully accommodate the right amount of keywords in all the right places. Such careful handling of keywords can’t be done with rushed or ill-thought-through content.

Additionally, poor content will accelerate your bounce rate (the rate at which users leave your site after viewing only one page). As users land on your site, they’re likely to take an instant dislike to any spelling errors, irrelevant content or poorly structured text. In reaction, they’ll leave your site in search of one with good, well-structured content. As more and more users repeat this behaviour, your bounce rate will incline and cause your rankings to falter.

Sometimes, reading through SEO forums and blogs, you’ll come across the unwritten rule – write for humans, not search engines. Oftentimes when writing content for a website or blog, people (who are aware of SEO-friendly content) will pander too much to the algorithm and too little to the reader. Naturally, the algorithm is in place to provide users with the best, most useful content available and in doing so, looks for content that serves the reader, not itself. Of course, a balance has to be struck and the algorithm can’t be completely ignored, but make sure to prioritise your reader and all else will follow suit. 

Duplicate Content

Although relevancy is arguably the most defining factor of SEO-friendly content, originality and the total avoidance of plagiarising content are equally as crucial to your rankings. Although duplicate content penalties are largely misunderstood, Google’s “Panda” algorithm filters content so that original content is rewarded with high visibility whilst plagiarised content or near-exact content has far less priority. To stay in the algorithm’s “good books”, make sure to, when writing for a website or blog, write all your own content and avoid any sort of plagiarism as it’ll only hold you back.

Title Tags

Title tags seem to be one of Google’s most prioritised ranking factors and are used to indicate the quality of your page structure, especially in terms of content.

The hierarchy goes as follows:

When all three tags are used accordingly across a web page, a clear structure is created which indicates that your subject has been thoroughly explained and broken down into digestible chunks. Having such a structure makes it easier for users to find the information that is most relevant to them and in doing so, adds a great deal to UX.

When it comes to using keywords on-page, H1 and H2 title tags are the most important positions to fit keywords into. In combination with good keywords and a balanced keyword density, your page will have a solid foundation for SEO and will have a far easier time ranking.

H4, H5 and H6 title tags also exist and follow the same declining priority as the first three tags. However, they aren’t as commonly used or as important as H1, H2 and H3.

For more info on title tags, check out our All You Need to Know article.


Keywords are almost always a make-or-break factor for SEO. A site can be perfectly optimised with the right amount of keywords in all the right places but if those keywords are difficult to rank for or aren’t what the target audience is searching for, you’ll have great, great difficulty achieving high rankings.

What to Look for in Keywords

In choosing the right keywords, you’ll typically want to avoid high/mid-difficulty keywords, at least until you have a high domain authority. For smaller, less established websites, it’s always best to start with low-difficulty keywords and as the site gains traction over time, start to tackle the higher-difficulty, more rewarding keywords.

In search of the right keywords, there are a few key factors to consider. The main two of these are difficulty and search volume


Keyword difficulty is calculated by taking into account the domain authority, number of backlinks and quality of backlinks of the first 10 pages ranking for a certain keyword. If the first 10 pages have a high domain authority and thousands of high-quality backlinks, the difficulty of the keyword they’re ranking for will be very high meaning that any site with lesser authority or fewer high-quality backlinks will have very little to no chance of ranking higher.

Search Volume

Unlike difficulty, search volume is quite simple and as the name suggests, refers to the number of searches a keyword (usually per month) gets. Higher search volumes are naturally more attractive and can (if a site is well-optimised) generate large amounts of organic traffic. Lower search volumes may be less attractive but can often be more practical and easier to achieve.

Types of Keywords

There are many different factors to keywords. Not only do you have to consider search volume and difficulty, but you should really think about the intent behind a keyword and the amount of detail a user may include in a query.


Three types of intent when it comes to keywords. These are informationaltransactional and navigational

Where the user is searching for information (e.g. “when was YouTube founded?”).

Where the user shows intent to purchase something (e.g. “buy an iPhone”).

Where the user searches for a brand or company (e.g. “Samsung”).

Long-tail and Short-tail

Keywords are broken down into two separate types: short-tail and long-tail.

These are brief searches made up of a few significant terms. They lack details and cut straight to the point (e.g. “gaming PC”).

These include more details and offer a more accurate description of what the user is searching for (e.g. cheap LED TV 45).

Short-tail keywords have higher search volumes and varying difficulties but offer lower conversation rates. They’re ideal for driving traffic but aren’t the best at attracting paying customers.

On the other hand, long-tail keywords offer low search volumes at low difficulties and are far more effective for attracting paying customers.

Keyword Density

Before Google had truly refined their algorithm, marketers and SEO firms would use the black-hat technique of ‘keyword stuffing’. Essentially, the more times a keyword appeared on a page, the higher it would rank. To combat this, the current algorithm rewards websites that feature a balanced distribution of keywords.

Despite there being no definitive answer, the general consensus is that keywords should appear once every 100 words – but as long as they appear a reasonable amount, you should be fine.

Throughout a web page/website, there are certain places where a keyword should appear. These are:

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • Page title
  • Introduction
  • Links
  • Page URL

Throughout a web page/website, there are certain places where a keyword should appear. These are:

Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions

When a search is made via Google, you’re greeted with a list of websites. Each entry in the list has a title and a small description under said title. Respectively, the title is the meta title and the description is the meta description.

As with most everything on a website, meta titles and meta descriptions can be and should be optimised.

Meta Titles

Conventionally, a meta title will include the website/company name followed by a slogan or set of keywords.

On some occasions, you’ll see a website/company name followed or preceded by some variation of the word “home”.

When it comes to writing a meta title, it’s always best to stick to these conventions as they’re straightforward, effective and leave ample opportunity for keywords. Two of the most important rules when writing meta titles are:

Ensure that your title isn’t too long or too short. A meta title should be anywhere between 50-60 characters. Any longer than that and Google will truncate the title making it less visible.

Alongside the URL, meta titles are by far the most important position to fit keywords into. Make sure to fit your focus keywords (main keywords) in the meta title.

Meta Descriptions

A good meta description is clear, concise and gives a simple overview of the content held on the website/web page. Despite Google claiming that meta descriptions aren’t actually a ranking factor, they still have an impact on your CTR and act partly as a first impression of your site.

The most important factor to get right when creating a meta description is concision. A simple, well-written overview of your website or the services provided is more than enough to qualify as a good meta description. Ideally, it’s best to keep the length between 160-165 characters. Going over 165 characters will cause the description to be truncated on the SERP.

Despite SEO ranging from basic on-page edits to technical optimisation, there’s little point in performing any technical work until the content on your site is well-written and original, the title tags are all correctly structured and keywords have been carefully chosen and even more carefully accommodated.

Once these fundamentals have been accomplished, then you can begin looking into backlinks, technical optimisation, building domain authority and other off-page practices.



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