Complete beginner’s guide to SEO

In this guide, we will list our best SEO basics categorised by subjects regarding SEO.

Table of contents

Before you’re going to start building a website, we would advise you to draft up your SEO strategy first. A good SEO strategy touches quite some topics that you would need to think about before you can start building. But in reality, we see lots of site owners start looking for SEO once their website is already up and running. Luckily it’s never too late to join the party, and this complete beginner’s guide to SEO is here to get you up and running.

There’s a whole lot that you, as the owner of a website, could and actually should do to attract visitors to your site. One of these things is optimizing your website for search engines like Google, Bing, and Yandex. This is Search Engine Optimization. Because we have already written so much great content about the basics of SEO, the time has come to unite the best knowledge we have to offer in one beginner’s guide to SEO.

SEO and search in general

If you don’t want to spend money on advertising in search engines but do want to increase traffic to your website, then by now, you should realise SEO is the way to go. In the articles listed below, we have written everything you need to know about SEO and Search in general. So you will find out what Google does, what SEO is, how it affects the search result pages and our beliefs on practising good SEO.

Yoast SEO: the ultimate SEO plugin for WordPress

When you’ve come up with a holistic SEO strategy, you’re going to need the tools on your website that can help you achieve your goals. This is where Yoast SEO comes into play. We offer both free and premium solutions for you to work with. That’s why we’d like to explain what our plugin can do but also what you should do yourself.

User eXperience (UX)

User experience is an essential part of the puzzle. Just when you thought your website was finished, we tell you to have a good look at it again. But then take into account all the posts listed below. Most importantly, we advise you on what UX is and why it influences SEO. Without prior knowledge of UX, don’t you agree you would instead visit a website that loads quickly, is easy to navigate and looks trustworthy instead of one that takes ages to load and where you can’t find the menu?

Site structure

Having a hard time finding the best posts to link to? Yoast SEO premium helps you find topically related posts you shouldn’t forget linking to.

When creating a new website, site structure is one of those elements that you should start thinking about early on in the process. Although in a CMS like WordPress, you can easily make changes afterward; it’s good to define a good site structure at once. In the following articles listing in this beginner’s guide to SEO, we will guide you through the most important topics on the subject.



Do you need more help to take your SEO copywriting to the next level? In our SEO copywriting training, which is part of our Yoast SEO Premium & Academy training subscription, we’ll teach you how to write copy that ranks!

Pro tip: Fine-tuning the readability of your copy is more important than (over-)optimising it for Google. You are writing content for your audience, not for Google.

Why do people visit your website? Because of your excellent content, of course! Through the next posts, you will learn all about writing and optimizing your content. But first things first, before you start writing, you should do some keyword research. Find out what your audience is searching for online and adapt your keyword strategy to your new-found knowledge. Only now, you can focus on what your audience wants to read and write content that answers all of their questions.

Google uses links to find your website and its content. If you haven’t got links, it can be hard to get your site noticed by robots and your site might not get indexed as quickly. If your website is already indexed, you can link to your new content from a page that has already been indexed. This is what we call internal linking. If another website links to your website or the other way around, that is what we call external linking. Read all about it in the next posts and put this knowledge to use.


Google announced that by September 2020, it would make mobile-first indexing the default. Google will do this because just more people use the web on their mobile devices than on any other device. Your website must be responsive, meaning it displays correctly on mobile phones, tablets, and other handheld devices. In the following blog posts, we will tell you what you can do to optimize your website for mobile use.

Technical SEO

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While the Yoast SEO plugin handles a lot of the technical SEO details for you, these articles are definitely worth your while. If you don’t know whether your website lives up to the standards it should, as we describe in the linked articles below, you should contact your developer or website host to have your questions answered. If you’re wondering how to get your website to be one of those unique results on the search engine results page (SERP), the posts on structured data and rich snippets are a must-read!


By the time you are reading this part of the beginner’s guide to SEO, you probably already know what Google Analytics is. If not, no problem, we’ve got you covered. If you know the basics, we will elaborate on some practical information about using Google Analytics. Next to Analytics, there is Search Console. Everyone maintaining a website should be using Google Search Console. It gives a lot of insight into how your website performs and what you do to improve its performance.

If you want to learn more about using social media and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-Around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it’ll help you put these skills into practice!


Did you know your presence on social media also affects your SEO? Marieke has written an excellent post on how to use social media. Find out how and why it could benefit your SEO strategy.

Open Source

Collaboratively working on software while it’s source code is open for all to see, and improve! At Yoast, we just love open source. WordPress is open source and even our plugins our open source. We actively encourage people to help us improve our plugins. In return, we devote 5% of our developers’ hours to working on the WordPress core.

Ready to become a pro after reading this beginner’s guide to SEO?

If you’re reading this and read every article listed in this beginner’s guide to SEO, you may call yourself a newbie no more. Now you’ve come to a basic understanding of SEO; you probably have a massive to-do list for your website. Some of the things on your list should you let your developer or website host handle, but there’s so much you can start doing yourself to improve your website’s chances to rank in search results. If not, here’s an idea of what your to-do list might look like:

To-do list

  • Define a holistic SEO-strategy
  • Install the Yoast SEO plugin on my website
  • Check if my website’s accessibility is good
  • Check my site speed and try to improve it
  • Re-evaluate my site structure
  • Implement breadcrumbs in my website
  • Define a keyword strategy
  • Do keyword research
  • Optimize available content for SEO
  • Write great content for appropriate keywords and keyphrases
  • Try building links from other sites to yours
  • Re-evaluate if your website is mobile-friendly
  • Address your developer and website host to get your technical SEO up to par
  • Use Yoast SEO Premium to speed up your work and get awesome features
  • Try and get a rich snippet on the SERP
  • Set up Google Search Console and work on its recommendations
  • Work on your social media page(s)
  • Last but not least: keep reading our blog for the latest tips and tricks

Here you have an extensive list that will keep you occupied for many hours. But we promise that it’s worth it! Some things might be quick wins, while others may seem ineffective. Please keep in mind everything you do will affect your chances to rank. After all, it should be part of your holistic SEO-strategy. Now, you’re ready for more in-depth SEO content, so why not check out our 16 Ultimate Guides to higher rankings?

Feel like you’re ready for the next step in becoming a SEO-professional?

Coming up next!

18 Responses to Complete beginner’s guide to SEO

  1. Caroline
    Caroline  • 4 years ago

    Excellent!!! Thanks for all this information! I always consult your files, it is a huge help !! Please don’t change !!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      Thank you for your lovely words Caroline! And don’t worry, we’ll keep posting articles like this one to help you and others with SEO :)

  2. Barry Desautels
    Barry Desautels  • 4 years ago

    Thank you. I’ve been a subscriber for quite awhile, and also use the Yoast plugin on WordPress. This guide is a great resource to bookmark for easy access.
    Thank you again for your generosity.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      You are welcome, Barry! Thank you for your kind words and keep up the good work :)

  3. sonali Lomate
    sonali Lomate  • 4 years ago

    Awesome article. I am using Yoast SEO Plugin regularly on my WordPress website.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      Hi Sonali, that’s great to hear! Lots of luck with your site :)

  4. Angelica
    Angelica  • 4 years ago

    Grate information:-I really like it. This is very helpful for me, So Yoast team thanks for sharing this informatin.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      You’re welcome, Angelica! Keep an eye on our blog, we regularly post new articles that might be interesting to you!

  5. Suryakant Sahoo
    Suryakant Sahoo  • 4 years ago

    Thanks yoast team for giving a detailed idea of SEO in a single post.. many of the website don’t give the details ideas just they are sending audience to one page to another…. Once again thank you….

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Suryakant, that so nice of you to say, glad to be of help!

  6. Azaz Hussain
    Azaz Hussain  • 4 years ago

    One of the detailed and well explained SEO guide each and everything is discussed in this beginner’s guide needed. We should not always rely on Paid expensive certifications and courses. A little bit of research can lead you to these kinds of contents where people are sharing not just words but also their experience in those words—appreciated for sharing, Mate!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Thank you so much, Azaz!

  7. Anthony Brooks
    Anthony Brooks  • 4 years ago

    Awesome article and a great list that you have put together here! I always struggle with the content part of your list. With so much of the same or similar content out there especially in seo, do you have any tips on how to make your content original? I feel like I’m just saying the same thing as everyone else is when I write content and really struggle with this.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      Hi Anthony, thanks for your comment! We’ve all been there, it can be difficult to come up with original content when there’s already so much information on a certain topic. That’s why we wrote an article with 11 tips to get new blog post ideas:

      I hope this article helps you and lots of luck with your writing! :)

  8. Babit Kumar
    Babit Kumar  • 4 years ago

    Hi, I am using Yoast SEO Plugin regularly on my wordpress website. But the peoblem is whenever i write any hindi post, its showing not readable, why this happened

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 years ago

      Hi Babit, some readability checks and, for instance, recognition of word forms, only work in specific languages, as you can read here: We’re working hard though on adding more languages to this list!

  9. mobifcukcom
    mobifcukcom  • 4 years ago

    Great information as usual but I did not really understand what do you mean by defining a holistic SEO-strategy?

    Can you please explain in more or point into the right article to learn more about it?


    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 years ago

      Hi there! I suggest reading our article on holistic SEO in which we explain what it is and why you should consider developing a holistic SEO approach:

      I hope this helps you :)