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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2019)

What is SEO?

There’s a perception that SEO is an intimidating part of the web and that it’s only for technical people. As someone who has been involved with SEO for over seven years, I can tell you that the fundamental principles are very simple and no really don’t need specialist training to figure your way around it.

So what is it? Search engine optimisation can be summarised as the act of improving the search result listings. Anywhere that you can search through web pages (whether websites, products, or social media posts), there is an algorithm at work that orders the content so the most relevant pages are presented to users.

Some are simple and do it in reverse chronological order (Instagram). Others do it based on factors such as the amount of sales a product has had over a certain period (Amazon). On the biggest search engine (Google) there’s an ever-changing set of factors that determines what users see when they search. In all cases, there are measures you can do to optimise your search engine listings.

Isn’t SEO Just on Google?

This is the biggest misconception and it’s the reason why so many people think that they can ignore it. If they’ve figured things out so that they’ve got decent traffic from referrals such as through a social media platform, they may believe that they can ignore SEO altogether.

There’s SEO for Google. There’s SEO for Instagram. There’s SEO for Amazon. There’s SEO for YouTube. SEO is all over the place, and you really can’t ignore it.

On Google, you would do SEO to:

  • Make sure your website ranks as highly as possible for as many search queries as possible
  • Make sure the right page from your site is ranking for those search queries
  • Make sure your search result listing is as enticing as possible

It’s effectively your job to make sure that Google understands your website as well as possible content, the way in which your website is structured and external links are all factors in this equation.

Every website with a search function has SEO. On the other platforms, there will different factors will determine how well your posts rank (eg a ranking tweet would require lots of replies, RTs and favourites), but if you’re trying to get your things seen, you’re attempting to do SEO.

How Do Keywords Work?

A search query is something that a person will input into a search engine when looking for something online. An example of a search query would be “dinosaur”. Another could be “buy dinosaur pyjamas”. There’s an infinite number of these, as people can effectively search for anything they type with their keyboard.

A keyword can be a single word or a string of them. It’s a word or phrase associated with your product/content that you particularly want to appear for. Usually, a keyword is identified as such because it attracts a large, targeted or otherwise sought after audience of people. A website that sells dinosaur pyjamas would want to make sure that their site appears first when someone searches [2 year old dinosaur pyjamas].

1,600 UK people search for “dinosaur pyjamas” on Google every month. There’s value in ranking highly for that keyword. People are significantly more likely to click on the first three search results than any others. If you want to appear in the #1 organic search result position on Google, there’s a whole host of actions you can do to help you on your way.

Someone looking for dinosaur pyjama inspiration may go on Pinterest to hunt for images beforehand. To make sure your products are seen there, you’d need to keep pinning using that keyword. On Instagram, you would use a #dinosaurpyjamas hashtag and post often with it, so you can be sure that yours is the first image they come across.

Is SEO Really That Important?

SEO applies if you sell products on:

  • Your own website
  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Gumtree
  • Depop
  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Craigslist
  • Or where ever else you can think of

Google has by far the most complex algorithm at play, so there’s a lot more to consider if you’re selling from your own website, but SEO applies if you sell on any online marketplace. Learning the best practices for that specific marketplace is absolutely essential, because if you apply your knowledge, more people will see the things you’re selling. It’s as simple as that.

So many people get discouraged by how long it takes to build up organic traffic, and opt to pay for it instead. If you get your head around SEO, you can save yourself ridiculous sums of cash.

How Do You Get Started with SEO?

Today you’re going to take some action: I need you to install this Chrome extension. It tells you exactly how many people search for absolutely any search query. This alone will help you make better decisions about the things you sell and how to market them. It’s an entry level introduction to keyword research and will teach you an awful lot about how your target audience uses the web.

As your needs grow, you might need something more along the lines of SEMScoop to make sure you're taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.

From there, you’re going to jot down a list of your top three traffic sources, and take a week out to learn how SEO for each of those platforms works. You’re going to be an SEO wizard in a matter of weeks. Just watch.


27 / Nottingham, UK. Trying these things since 2007. Writing about these things since 2014. Doing this full-time since 2018.