SEO 101

For some people, learning about SEO means refining skills they already have. If you are new to blogging or Web writing, or perhaps an old hand but one who never thought about SEO, here is some very basic essentials you should, and must, know. Here are all the questions about SEO you always wanted to know, but were too embarassed to ask your blogroll buddies.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for search-engine optimization. Basically, optimizing your site means you make it friendly to search engines so they think it’s really cool and they tell others it’s really cool. They do that by showing it very high when someone searches for key phrases related to your site.

Why do I need SEO?

You don’t, if you don’t want people to read your stuff. If you do, you should really learn about it. If you never think about SEO, you might get lucky and happen to be optimized by chance. But if you have a blog on photography, you want people who search for key terms related to photography to find you.

Great. So how do I start this SEO thing?

There are plenty of companies who charge a lot for SEO services. For many people, there are just a few key steps to get your mind thinking a little more like a search engine. Before you write content, think about this:

  • Would I search for anything I just typed into the title of my page or blog post?
  • If I did type that in, would I stay if I read this post?

How do I write for SEO?

There are really a few simple steps to writing your first optimized page. This isn’t sophisticated, and doesn’t get into subtle nuances. But if you follow these basic tips, you will be taking the first steps to writing content for search engines as well as people.

  • Decide what you want to write about it. Now go do a search to research the article.
  • What did you just type in? That’s probably your keyword phrase right there.
  • Just to be sure, do a little keyword research. A good free resource for beginners is the Overture Keyword Selector Tool. Type that same search term in there, and see if anyone is searching for it. Try a couple variations as well. For example, you may find that more people search for photography tutorials than search for picture tips.
  • Now write. If it helps, write that keyword phrase you are targeting on a sticky note and post it on the top of your monitor.
  • If you have the ability to use meta tags with your page, reinforce that keyword phrase there in the title, description and keywords. Do not go too long, but keep focused to terms directly related to that phrase.
  • Use the keyword phrase in your title and in your first paragraph.
  • Repeat it as appropriate, and don’t just think about the words that appear. Take advantage of alt tags for images, and name pictures with those keyword terms. Use it in headers. If you plan to link to other sites, use the phrase when appropriate there.

There are other ways to optimize a page and a site, but this is a great foundation with some of the most basic SEO tactics. Work a little with these methods, and see if it impacts your traffic. From there, keep posted on SEO tips and news by reading sites like this one.


About the Author

I have experience writing for the Web since the early 1990s, and I have been writing for SEO for several years. I am the operator of Type-A Mom, Foodie Mama, and momShare, a social bookmarking site for moms. I write for several other sites including the France Travel site for, the Family Travel site at, Transitions Abroad, and the Well Fed Network.

david - October 30, 2007

Thank you, simple yet informative in so many ways. Thanks for linking that great tool!

Brady - November 8, 2007

Good work Kelby, This is good basic information. I also would recommend to people to visit SEO is always changing and that site can help to keep everyone on the leading edge of seo techniques.

Luke - February 7, 2008

I agree with you Brady. Just now Google had a slight algo change which makes hundreds of sites plunging the SERP.

Tzar - April 21, 2008

Good article. I'd like "How do I write for SEO?" paragraph? it's very useful. Keep on blogging! :)

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