Chris Craft is the CEO/President of Nao Media, and a member of the Spin Sucks community for PR and marketing with CSR marketing consultant Casie Yoder. Nao Media’s mission is to elevate the art and science of marketing.

Have you been so overwhelmed by the subject of SEO (search engine optimization) that even the thought of learning and implementing SEO basics gives you the chills?

SEO has gone through a lot of changes over the years. Best practices shift as the internet grows and matures. More search engines are created (voice search is a big deal). How we do search changes. And Google constantly alters its search algorithm. Over the next couple weeks, you can learn timeless, foundational SEO basics that will help you get good content marketing results for years to come.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search engine optimization is the process of improving your website, its content, and how other sites link to it in order to increase its organic visitors via high search engine page rank. Appearing above (or before) other non-ad website listings is the goal of SEO.

Remember: SEO does not directly involve paid media promotion. The discipline leans heavily on the use of owned media and networking to drive organic traffic to your website.

I’ve learned that it is better to learn and execute on the following SEO benefits in a step-by-step fashion. Trying to master all of this at one time can lead to overwhelm and temptation to give up.

SEO Basics: The Key Components

Today’s article will cover these foundational SEO components:

  • Keywords
  • Keyword Research
  • Blogging / Copywriting

Next week, come back to learn how to build on these basics with:

  • On-Page Optimization
  • Yoast SEO Plugin
  • Link Building

1. Keywords

SEO keywords are words and phrases that people search for in search engines. They are also the words and phrases that people include on their website so that search engines can find them.

Specifically, long tail keywords are three or more words in length and they define a specific niche topic.

For example, “marketing” is a popular head term keyword in our industry, but “social media marketing strategy” is a more specific long tail keyword that you can use to optimize your website and blog.

Learning about the power of keywords is the first step for successfully executing SEO basics and content marketing. Taking note of Google’s autocomplete suggestions is a good start for obtaining keyword ideas, but there are more sophisticated tools that will help you make a bigger impact.

2. Keyword Research

Keyword research is the process of finding the ideal keywords for your content marketing efforts. Successful keyword research takes knowledge, discipline and a good plan. If you skip this important step in organic content marketing, your efforts will fall flat. Keyword research is the most crucial, yet the most ignored of the SEO basics.

You should primarily target long tail keywords to get the best results for your website because they typically have lower competition (not as many people are going after them in their content). According to Experian, long tail keywords account for 70 percent of all internet searches. Do the work because this is a huge opportunity!

More established websites will likely have better SEO results for the competitive head terms (one to two word keywords), so it’s your best bet to focus on long tail keywords for starters.

In my opinion, SEMrush is the best tool for conducting keyword research. My keyword research video here will give you step-by-step instructions for finding the best long tail keywords.

3. Blogging / Copywriting

Ok here we go. Now it’s time to take the fruits of your keyword research and get busy with blogging and web page copywriting. Blogging is the central component of the SEO basics framework.

But here’s the thing… You can no longer get away with writing 300-word blog posts that are void of any kind of depth and targeted keyword research. You have to put in the time and create blog articles and web pages that visitors will actually read and learn from.

Do the terms ‘dwell time’ and ‘bounce rate’ ring a bell?

Dwell time is the amount of time a visitor spends on your web page after arriving on it from search engine result link.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors to your website who exit your website after viewing only one page.

Google uses these metrics to determine how high they should rank your articles and pages in search results — the longer visitors stay on your site and the higher the number of internal links/pages that people visit after going to your site, the more SEO success you will have.

Here are five SEO basics tips to improve your blogging and web page copywriting:

  1. I suggest that you write a minimum of 1000 words for the blog posts that you publish. Write 1500+ words for an even better chance of going deeper than your competition on a given subject. Include your target or focus keyword in the article body (3-4 times), article title, meta description (the copy that Google uses to describe your link on search engine result pages) and image alt text in order to optimize your posts.
  2. Include quality images and videos that engage the interest of your reader. This will keep them on your website for longer (which helps SEO as explained above).
  3. Organize and format your content so that it’s easy to read. Keep your paragraphs short and separate major sections and points with H2 subheadings.
  4. Use internal links to link to other relevant articles or pages on your website. This helps your visitors go to the next step of their learning journey (which could get them closer to buying from or hiring you). Internal links also help keep your visitors on your website for longer. Google measures the number of pages that visitors visit after landing on your website. This helps Google determine the quality of your site’s content. This is SEO gold.
  5. Lastly, include original and sourced research in your articles. Statistics improve the validity of your content. For instance… Websites with an active blog have 434 percent more pages indexed by search engines (according to IgniteSpot).

If all of this doesn’t convince you to get busy with blogging and copywriting, I don’t know what will.

In Closing: SEO Basics

Now that you know these foundational SEO benefits, get to work and boost your content marketing today. These tactics are part of a long-game content marketing strategy. The results won’t be instant, but they’ll be long-lasting once Google catches on to your hard work.

Next week, we’ll share SEO tips to build on the basics.