Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not a subject you, as a personal brand or business, can afford to ignore.


Because SEO is what drives traffic to your site and sets the stage for you to turn your website visitors into paying clients and customers.

Unfortunately, SEO is:

  • Complex and
  • Time-consuming

After reading this SEO beginner’s guide, you may decide you want to leave the SEO to professionals.

That’s a viable and generally efficient option, but it is still important to have a working understanding of SEO so that you can:

  • Make good hiring decisions
  • Communicate your SEO needs to the pros you hire and
  • Understand whether your strategy is succeeding

Despite the fact that SEO is complex and time-consuming, with patience, persistence and a plan it is 100% doable to improve your:

  • PageRank and
  • SERPs

thus enhancing your web presence and driving traffic to your site.

If you are asking yourself, “What’s PageRank?” or “What’s a SERP?” don’t worry. I’ll explain these terms and more. Before I do, let’s look at the SEO “big picture.”

Three Types of SEO

There are three key types of search engine optimization. They are:

  • Off-page SEO
  • On-page SEO and
  • Social media SEO

This SEO beginner’s guide will explain each type of SEO, why it’s important and provide actionable tips so that you can make sure you are covering the basics.

Let’s start with off-page SEO.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO is mostly about link building. Link building is getting sites with a higher PageRank (how much authority, on a scale of 0 to 10 your site has in relationship to other sites) to link to your site, thus giving you Google juice and improving your own rank as well as your position in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

Off-page SEO also drives traffic to your site, setting, as I said, the stage for converting visitors to paying customers or clients.

In practice, this means that you or someone you hire will need to spend time identifying (preferably higher ranking) sites that can link back to yours.

Here are some suggestions to help you get back links:

  • Research keywords. When you are building your brand, think about what you are good at and what you would like to be known for. Using the Google Keyword Tool, create a list of words that you will use when you blog for other sites.
  • Get listed. List your site in online directories in your area of expertise.
  • Write great content. Maybe it goes without saying, but other bloggers are more likely to link to you if you write well.
  • Network. Build your social networks and create relationships so that you will feel more comfortable guest blogging.
  • Get your links. Not everyone is an SEO expert. Make sure to ask for a brand link (probably to your home page) and one link of anchor text — that is, a link to content on your site using one of your researched keywords.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO involves optimizing for keywords for your website pages and for your website posts.

Here are some things you can do to improve your on-page SEO:

  • Keyword selection, research and testing. Before you write your post, go to the Google Keywords Tool and find out whether it is a low, medium or high competition and whether this term is widely searched. Then build your headlines and your post around this research.
  • Meta description. Use your keyword in the meta description. Make sure to use a complete sentence so that if a snippet comes up you won’t look silly.
  • ALT tags for images. This is descriptive text that comes up when you hover over an image. Make sure that it makes sense and uses your keywords.
  • H1 tag. These are the HTML tags you use for your major headlines. Use your keyword at least once.
  • URL structure. Shorten and simplify your URL so that it is made up of your keyword search term and doesn’t take up too much space on twitter.
  • Internal linking strategy. Make sure you use link to other posts of your own.
  • Keyword density. Use your keyword phrase at least 5 times in the body of your post.

This list is not exhaustive (there are other things involved — such as submitting site maps and enabling webmaster tools — that will allow search engines to “crawl” your site) but if you get all of this right it will be a great start.

As you can see, off-page and on-page SEO have a lot in common.

Social Media SEO

Search engines can crawl social media profiles, meaning that search engines look at URLs and content on social media profiles, so they, too, are valuable for improving your web presence and getting your brand to show up in the SERPs.

Here’s what to do:

  • Create a strategy for each profile. Take a look at your persona(s) and find out which social channels they use and when.
  • Use keywords in posts. Use your keywords in your status updates and tweets.
  • Use your brand name in your profile URL. Here’s an example:
  • Optimize your bios. Use keywords in the bio and about sections of your profiles.
  • Freshen your content. Make sure to update your social media channels at least daily.

Again, social media SEO has much in common with off-page and on-page SEO.

It’s All About Search

At the end of the day, SEO is all about search. Ask yourself, if I wanted to find me or my brand, which (key) words would I use? Chances are you’re not alone!

Your Turn

Have you explored these three types of SEO? What are the challenges? What are the rewards?


Kim, Larry. Link Building – How to Build Links for Free. WordStream Internet Marketing Software.

On-Page Optimisation (SEO). Direct Traffic Media.

DeMers, Jayson. The Three Pillars Of SEO In 2013: Content, Links, And Social Media. Forbes. May 23, 2013.

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