Most people will get instantly confused thinking about SEO. As a business owner, you know your business needs to deal with it, but you don’t want to be the one responsible for this task. When people think SEO, they instantly assume difficult, complex, and time-consuming. The fact is, it doesn’t have to be any of those things.

Guess what, you can learn the basics of SEO in 10 simple steps!

Step 1: Setup

During this first setup stage, you should prepare yourself for success. Remember, your SEO strategy needs a foundation stage to be successful. The foundation, in this case, consists of tools like Google Analytics, Google AdWords, and Google Webmaster Tools.

Google Analytics plays a major role in tracking and analyzing how visitors interact with your site. Google AdWords is particularly useful as it pertains to SEO for its keyword research capabilities. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to gain the most out of your SEO efforts by letting you view your site through the eyes of Google.

Step 2: Do a Site Audit

If you have an existing site, you will have to do a site audit when starting your SEO strategy. Each month, Google is becoming more stringent with its penalties, and rules are becoming increasingly cut and dried. The best way to ensure your site is in compliance is to perform a detailed site audit.

The question is, what tools do you use? A helpful site audit tool is the Moz Site Audit Checklist. As a reliable source, this detailed checklist is great for examining everything from content and accessibility to site architecture and internal linking. WooRank is another great option.

Step 3: WWW or Without

Did you know that those three “w’s” play a big role when it comes to SEO? If you aren’t careful, you could make a costly mistake regarding these letters. Most people think this determines whether someone can arrive at your website by typing or, this is not quite the case. At the core of the site, this is about the search engine’s view of your website. This will also determine how links pointing to your site are treated.

Step 4: Keyword Research

There are some experts that will go as far as to say keyword research is the most important part of SEO. Let me tell you, it’s hard to argue with that statement. There are plenty of statistics to back this up. If SEO is important to you, you need to invest heavily in keyword research.

Your site will need to stand out against more than 100 billion Google search queries per month, just think about that!. Here is a sampling of useful tools you can use to get started:

• Google AdWords Keyword Planner
• Google Suggest
• Ubersuggest
• Google Trends
• Google Webmaster Tools

Step 5: Navigation

How does your site navigation relate to SEO? Firstly, it is important for visitors to be able to navigate smoothly and quickly through your site’s pages. Secondly, search engines need to find clear connections between individual links and pages.

Step 6: On-Page Content

We can tell you that there is significant behind-the-scenes work that goes into SEO, but you still need quality content for visitors to read and view. Google has released a new and updated algorithm that is putting a major emphasis on useful, high-quality writing content instead of heavy keyword usage.

Step 7: Meta Tags

You need to understand the value of meta tags. Think about this through the eyes of search engine users. When you search for something, how do you determine which result to click? You most likely analyze the first few results and read a few words from the title and accompanying description. That descriptive sentence is known as a meta tag.

Your meta descriptions should be around 160 characters and should include natural keyword phrases. If you’ve done your keyword research and organized site content in an effective manner, it should all fall into place.

Step 8: Coding

This can be the most difficult part of SEO for some people. You will probably need to find someone well-educated in coding to perform detailed actions, but there is one area you should understand: robots.txt.

In simple terms, robots.txt is a text file that you put on your site to tell search engines which pages they are allowed to visit. This code is not mandatory, but it is very helpful in cases where you have pages you wish for search robots to avoid.

Step 9: Your Sitemap

This is a crucial step in the success of your website SEO. You can have a beautiful, properly structured site, but unless people can view it, your hard work doesn’t mean anything. To get the maximum amount of traffic and visibility, your site must be indexed by search engines and directories.

There are many techniques and tools that promise to get your site indexed by search engines. However, the least time-consuming and most reliable way to lead search engines and visitors through your site’s content is by creating a sitemap.

With an HTML sitemap, visitors can quickly navigate the contents of your site and head to the most relevant area. Similarly, an XML sitemap is read by search engines to ensure the most relevant page of your site is displayed.

Step 10: Off-Page

You have put all this work into your site, now you’ll need to spend some effort working off of your page. This is where you focus on link building through content marketing, blog writing, guest blogging, infographics, site directories, and other tools. You need to leave online footprints leading back to your site. Off-page efforts also include social media marketing. When this step is properly used, sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram can be helpful tools in acquiring site traffic.