What is SEO and How It Works?- An Actionable Guide[2020]

What is SEO in blogging and how it works? This is a very common question for every new blogger.

It has to be because of the very much importance of SEO for a beginner, to rank their site at a higher position in SERP.

If you are a blogger and you want your website to rank at the top pages of Google, you must know the basic techniques to do SEO.

There are several things you must know about SEO like SEO techniques, types of SEO, SEO ranking factors, and much more which I will cover in this article.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization(SEO) is the optimization technique utilized to rank a website at a higher position in the search results and gain organic traffic.

In simple words, we can break the “Search Engine Optimization” into two parts- “Search Engine” and “Optimization”, which means it is the optimization technique for the search engine to rank at the top pages of Google.

In this post, we will talk about ranking higher in Google, because as per stats, Google dominates over 75% of all desktop searches and the rest is shared among Bing, Yahoo, etc.

Before we start understanding “What is SEO”, we must first understand what is a search engine and how it works.

What is a Search Engine?

A search engine acts as a communication link between the database of information inside the search engine and the user’s query.

When a user searches for something in Google, the search engine plays a very important role in finding, understanding, and displaying the most relevant results as per the Google algorithms.

How does Search Engine work?

Search engines have three major working principles: Crawling, Indexing, and Ranking.


Crawling is the process of “crawling of webpages by spider bots of Google” to discover new and updated websites to find and extract links, downloading those links and finding new pages and saving them for the next step,i.e., indexing.

That means, whenever someone publishes a post on a website, or when a post is updated, that particular post goes through the crawling process to parse and store information in the database of information in the Google search engine, with the help of extracted links and URL.


Indexing is the process of saving and organizing the information received about a webpage, in the Google server, which is ready to rank whenever a searcher searches for a query.

Indexing is adding all the information collected from a website in the search index.


The ranking is the final process in which Google ranks a webpage in the search engine, as per the relevancy and quality of the content as per the end user’s intent, analyzed and reviewed by the hundreds of Google algorithms to display the best content at a higher ranking in the SERP.

Search Engine Ranking Factors

Google algorithm has over 200 different search engine ranking factors.

We can’t discuss all of them here so I am listing some of them which I feel the most important and you should know, these are:

1. Content Quality and, Uniqueness

2. Number of Backlinks

3. Mobile-friendly website

4. Page Speed

5. Domain Authority

6. Search Intent

7. Keyword Usage

8. Content Freshness

9. User Experience

10. Site Security (HTTPS)

What is a SERP?

SERP means the Search Engine Result Page.

Search Engine Result Page is the result page displayed by the search engine, whenever a search query is raised by a searcher, based on organic results.

What are Organic Results and Non-organic/Paid Results?

Organic Results are unpaid, or natural results, in which our website ranks higher in the search results without giving any money to the search engine like Google.

The organic listing of our website is purely based on the SEO of our website.

Non-organic or Paid Results is the listing of our website when we pay to the search engine like Google, to rank higher in the search engine results page.

Paid results appear at the top of all the organic results, or below all the organic results, based on the amount of money declared between the Google and the user to display their result at a prominent spot in the search results, also includes the Pay Per Click Advertising,i.e, ranking based on how much a user can pay for a visitor.

Types of SEO?

Based on categories, SEO is categorized into two types: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.

Based on SEO techniques, SEO is of three types: White Hat, Black Hat, and Grey Hat.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is the optimization technique we perform on our blog post and website, to increase its chances to rank higher in the SERP.

By improving the On-Page SEO of our blog post, we help our post to rank well in the search engine.

There are several factors that improve the On-Page SEO out of which some of them are keywords, title tags, URL structure, meta description, alt text for images, etc.


To optimize your web pages for keywords, you need to include keywords in your article.

It is a recommended strategy to include keywords in its most natural form, which means you don’t need to force keywords on your blog post.

Avoid keyword stuffing, as it gives a negative impact on SEO.

Usually, there are three types of keywords:

1. Short-Tail keywords

Short-Tail keywords have just 1-2 words.

The best part about short-tail keywords is that if you use short-tail keywords, you can drive a lot of traffic to your site, but it can take a very long time for a new blogger.

Short-tail keywords are best for high domain authority sites.

Since the volume of searches is high, so it is probably difficult to rank in these types of keywords because the competition is also very high.

For example, if you want to write about “mobile phones”

What is SEO

You can see from the above image, the search volume searches are about 15 billion and the sites ranking on the higher side are of domain authority of up to 90.

It is probably impossible to outrank these high DA sites for a new blogger.

Mid-Tail Keywords

Mid-tail keywords have 2-3 words.

It lies between short tail and long tail, which means the volume of searches is not very high, and the competition also not very high.

However, it is difficult for a new blogger to outrank the sites ranking for mid-tail keywords, rather a mediocre blogger which has some experience of SEO can find some target mid-tail keywords to rank high in the search engine.

It totally depends on a kind of keyword you are targeting, if you play smart, you can rank on Google in some time.

If we take an example of “android mobile phones”

What is SEO

From the above image, it is clear that the search volume has decreased to 3 billion searches, but it is still very high volume and it is difficult to outrank high DA sites.

To outrank, your content needs to be great and you will need high-quality backlinks, then you can expect ranking in Google.

Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail means keywords having more than 3 words.

These are more targeted keywords, in which you will find less competition than short-tail and mid-tail keywords, but search volume will also be on the lower side.

These are ideal keywords for a new and mediocre blogger.

You can find such keywords in which fewer DA sites are ranking. If you can create high-quality unique content, better content than the ranking sites, your site might rank in less time.

You get the targeted traffic to your site, which means with less traffic you can get better conversions because the people that are visiting your sites for a specific query, and if you can solve it in a better way, you get the results.

Take an example of “android mobile phones under 10000”

What is SEO

As we can see, the search volume is about 25 million, which is less than 20% of the search volume we found in short-tail keywords.

Since the mobile phone is a highly searched keyword in the world because of its upcoming models, technology, and usage.

You can try by yourself by searching for such keywords which you know has less search volume, you can use those keywords to rank easily in less time.

Title Tags

A Title Tag is a title of a webpage, which displays in the search engine results page(SERP).

An impressive eye-catchy title tag is of prime importance for SEO, it gives the information about the webpage to the visitor and the search engine.

There are some points to remember for the proper SEO title tag. These are

  • The recommended number of characters to be used in a title tag is 55-60 characters for proper display of complete title tag in the search engine results page.
  • Include your primary keyword or target keyword in the title tag. Try to include your target keyword at the beginning of the title tag.
  • For best results, try to use long-tail keywords in the title tag.
  • Don’t over complicate your title tag. Write for humans, not for search engines.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing.
URL Structure

An SEO-friendly URL can give you a competitive edge over your competitors in the search rankings.

Things you must keep in mind before writing a URL

  • Don’t use stop words in the URL.
  • Use hyphens instead of underscores.
  • Include your target keyword in the URL.
  • Keep your URL under 3-5 words.
  • Use lowercase letters in the URL.
Meta tags

Meta Tags is a short description of your article, appears below your URL in the SERP.

Writing a well-structured meta tag can increase the CTR(Click-through rates) of your article, which is good for SEO.

For best SEO results, you must include your target keyword in your meta description.

The character limit is 160 characters, to completely display your meta description in the search results page.

Alt Tags

Alt Tags is the alternate text for your images in the blog post.

Alt Tags help in indexing your image whenever a visitor search for something related to some relevant topic in your image.

Include your focus keyword in the alt tag of the image you upload in your blog post so that the image ranks for that target keyword.

The search engine understands the alt text and recognizes the content of the web page.

Page Speed

Page Speed is different from site speed.

Page speed is said to be the time taken to display the full content of a web page.

A slower loading page speed can be really frustrating that a visitor can click back button if a web page takes more than more time, and increases the bounce rate of a website, have a negative impact on SEO, have lesser rankings in the search rankings.

The ideal page speed to said to be under 3 seconds, for better user experience.

To improve the page speed of a site, you must

  • choose a good web hosting provider with good uptime speed
  • choose a solid framework lightweight theme
  • install a good caching plugin
  • optimize your homepage for improving page speed, like splitting comments up to 10 comments in a single page
  • optimize images for page speed. Keep your image size not more than 100KB.
Internal Linking

Internal linking is an important SEO factor for higher rankings on Google.

It helps the search engine to find and index all the important web pages on your site.

Through internal linking, a visitor can scroll through various web pages about a similar topic on your site, It helps the visitor to gain in-depth knowledge about a topic.

It helps the website owner to rank their other pages by internal linking with the pillar content, which is already ranking higher in the search results. This increases the authority of various web pages, decreases the bounce rate, hence improve SEO.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page is the optimization technique we perform out of our website for improving the ranking of our website, including the improvement of our website domain authority, driving organic traffic to our website, and brand recognition.

We don’t have direct control over Off-Page SEO so the above techniques take time to help our website to rank higher in the search engine results.

To know more about On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO and the differences between On-Page SEO and OFF-Page SEO, you can read my article Differences Between On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO?- The ULTIMATE Guide

There are several techniques to perform Off-Page SEO for our website like creating backlinks for our site from a high-authority website, enhancing social shares of our content, brand mentions, etc.

Let us know each technique in brief


Backlinks are an important factor for search engine optimization.

Backlinks are those external links which a reputable site includes in its content, or in their web page. Whenever any visitor clicks on that link, it provides access to your site, you get organic traffic to your site, hence improve rankings in the search engine results.

Quality backlinks dominate over quantity backlinks.

If you are a blogger, you must strategies how to get high-quality backlinks from high DA websites. If you get some, it will provide a huge benefit to your website.

Backlinks help index your web pages more quickly by generating targeted referral traffic to your website.

There are certain practices that can help you create more backlinks for your site. These include writing guest posts, creating high-quality unique content, and email outreach to influencers.

Brand Mentions

Brand mentions occur when a website mentions your brand name in their article or a webpage.

If most websites are mentioning your brand in their content, it gives a positive signal to the search engine, hence increasing your brand authority.

Another term used for brand mentions is “implied link, means its just the name of your brand, the user cannot get access to your site by clicking on the brand mention.

A number of brand mentions create brand awareness among the users and drives organic traffic to your site, hence improving the search rankings and SEO of your site.

White Hat SEO

White Hat SEO strategies are those techniques we use to rank higher in the search results, abiding by the rules and regulations by the Google search engine.

White Hat SEO technique means giving more preference to the human audience, or a user than the search engine.

White Hat SEO is better than Grey Hat SEO and way far better than Black Hat SEO, so it is a recommended strategy if your focus is for a long-term ranking for your website in the search results.

White Hat SEO tactics include all the legal ways to rank your website at a higher position like proper keyword research, good On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO, well-structured long in-depth content, link building techniques, and much more.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat is a never recommended strategy since it is based on the techniques, or tactics used to rank your website at the minimum amount of time, violating the Google guidelines and giving you the desired results for a very short period of time.

Black Hat SEO works in finding the loopholes in the Google algorithm and playing with the rules and regulations of the search engines, which is an unethical practice.

These tactics are based on ranking the website at a higher ranking rather than fulfilling the user’s intent.

These techniques are used by those who want quick results and quick money from the higher rankings instead of long-term goals.

Some of the black hat techniques include keyword stuffing, generating backlinks from Private Blog Networks(PBNs), content spamming, hidden text, and links, and much more.

Grey Hat SEO

Some say it is a mixture of white hat and black hat and some say, it is neither of white and black hat, Grey Hat strategies are different from a White hat and Black hat and I do believe in this.

Grey hat strategies are following the White Hat SEO strategy with little manipulations to rank higher and faster in the search engines, but not focusing on as fast as Black Hat strategies.

These are completely different strategies than the White hat and Black hat, not completely violating and not completely abiding by the Google guidelines.

Some have gained thousand of traffic using these strategies and some have lost thousands of traffic, so it is based on you if you want to apply these strategies for somehow quick results than a white hat, however, it is not recommended by me.

Some of the Grey hat strategies are cloaking, creating duplicate content, buying expired domains, buying links, and much more.

Why is SEO important in digital marketing?

Think of a business with no banner of business name, no proper display of products with improper selling strategies. I think there are few people who will be interested in buying any product from that business owner.

Another business with a proper business name banner, every product on proper display with high-end selling strategies, and there are a lot of users who want to buy from that business owner.

The same happens with us when we create a website, we must do a proper SEO of our website to help search engine crawlers to find, index, and rank our web pages in the search engine.

There are millions of web pages that a user has the choice to see, and we want that user to visit our website. This will happen when our website rank higher in the search engine because users mostly visit those sites which are listed in the first two or three pages in the SERP.

To rank our site in the first few pages, we have to follow proper On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO of our site. This is why SEO is important in digital marketing. There are several ways you can achieve proper SEO of your site which we discussed earlier in this article.


I hope this article helped you know about the basics of SEO like What is SEO, what are the SEO ranking factors, and SEO types.

Off-Page SEO takes a very long time sometimes, but it gives fruitful results in the future if applies smartly.

If you still have any doubt regarding SEO, don’t worry, SEO cannot be understood by reading theory. It comes with practice.

The more you practice SEO, the more mistakes you make, and the more learning you get. So never be afraid of trying.

Still, you have any questions regarding SEO, feel free to ask in comments. I will be glad to help you.

Answer me in comments

How SEO changed your career in blogging?

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Also, Read Differences Between On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO?- The ULTIMATE Guide

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