Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization (for Humans)

Seo Guide Robot (Credit: Sebastian Lund)I’ve wanted to write a guide to search engine optimization (SEO) for a while. This is the first post in an entire series dedicated to the topic.

You may have heard that Google recently updated their search algorithm in response to “content farms” who were abusing the tricks of SEO to make a profit.

Many were spammers, but some legitimate businesses also suffered from this change.

But you may also be wondering what the heck an algorithm is or what SEO has to do with you.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet, because most of the time that I’ve tried to learn about SEO, I’ve been overwhelmed with technical jargon, geeky debates above my pay grade, and a lot of annoying ads.

In short, I was looking for someone to speak to me like a human, and all I got was robot talk.

I want to begin this SEO guide with a caveat: I’m not an expert. I’m a writer.

From blogging and writing online for nearly six years, however, I’ve learned that knowing how search engines find your content is worth the hassle of the occasional robot conversation.

So, here’s a quick crash-course on search engine optimization (for humans) and why you should care.

What’s SEO?

Wikipedia’s definition of search engine optimization (SEO) is this:

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

See what I mean about robots?!

My definition is this:

SEO is a series of actions you do to make people find your stuff online more easily (for free!).

Why SEO matters

SEO has become a popular subject over the past several years. Bloggers especially have realized the value of optimizing a website’s content for search engine visibility. (Blogs are great for SEO; we’ll talk more about that later.)

Also, people trying to make money on the internet have discovered that by creating content that is more easily found via search engines, they end up saving themselves a ton of time and cash by creating SEO content.

Instead of paying for traffic through advertising, they can get it for free. (I know more than a few people who make good money using SEO-driven websites.)

Why you can trust me

I’m not an expert, but I am a student. I’ve learned a few simple SEO strategies from people much smarter than me, and hopefully some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned can help you.

Since I’m not a hardcore “techie” and the people with which I’ve shared this information aren’t, either, I’ve tried to make this guide to search engine optimization very simple. I wrote it for humans, not robots.

I’m not trying to make money; I just learned some stuff about how to get more of my content read and want to share it with other writers and bloggers. If it helps you, great.

Your official Non-Robot Guide to SEO

Here’s what I’ll be covering in this series (click the title to read an article):

What’s something you’d like to learn about SEO?

Photo credit (isn’t that an awesome robot?): Sebastian Lund

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • YESSSS! YEEEESSSS!! Can’t wait to read these. I am more of a casual blogger, but I want to know this stuff. In “human” language. Good call Jeff. I’ll be looking forward to this series. Thanks a ton.

  • jonathan

    i guess i would want to know what i don’t know i want to know

    • Good call, Jonathan. I was the same with this – I didn’t know what I didn’t know.

      What I want to express more than anything is that there are simple things you can be doing that don’t cost you any more time when creating content that will actually help you out a lot in the long run.

      For instance, on your blog, you could change the permalink structure so that your URLs contain the keywords from your title. (More on this soon.)

  • This makes me happy. I’ve been trying to figure this stuff out for the last few months and have gotten nowhere mainly, like you say, because I don’t speak robot. Can’t wait!

    • I’m glad! Let me know if I start going robotic on you.

  • This is going to be a great series.
    Looking forward to it

  • Oh, Jeff, I soooo need this! I’ve been avoiding the topic because I’m so scared of it and I don’t speak robot. 🙁 I know so little about the topic that I’m not even sure if this relates…but, I’d like to know if/how to use tags/categories to help with SEO.

    • i don’t speak robot, either, keri. i’m gonna try to keep it simple.

  • Pingback: Do You Have What It Takes To Write SEO Web Content? « Girls With Pens()

  • Jeff, I love that you write so I can understand, not more of the “techy talk” I get from most online gurus.  Thanks so much for writing this series for people just like me who are teaching themselves and sharing with others.  I can hardly wait til my “class time” to start reading!

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  • I’ve been wanting to research about SEO for a while now. This is the perfect place to start! thank you Jeff.

  • Marta Ride

    I know what you mean about the robots. I’ve tried reading SEO for dummies and it still confused me so much. I’ll be reading your posts over the next few days. Thank you so much!

  • This info is so needed and fabulous!  Thank you for sharing it in a way that can understood.

  • Hey Jeff I think you are doing a great job – Keep it up. In fact I just linked to your site from our new site.  Hope that’s OK  – didn’t think you would mind. And because my partner and I are going to start writing more, I’m also signing up.

  • Justforblog7

    oh nyc i liked it check out my new blog  which is drawing 25,000 page views  everyday


  • Very nice articles that show me SEO is not just about robotic technical. Some blogs with general content like mine maybe hard to index by search engine.

  • thank u very mach

  • Hello Jeff, I am very new to all this but found your article to be very helpful. I have just started a new website based in Ireland and I am trying to find as much seo information as possible. Do you have an ebook on seo? I would love your opinion on my site if you have any available time. http://www.beds-inc.ie  

  • elleliterate

    Hi Jeff, I’ve been wondering about SEO for a while, and all I got online were super jargon-heavy tech-savvy guides that made me feel like I was reading a made up language. This guide looks super easy to follow and I’m looking forward to implementing these steps bit by bit. Thank you so much for this – I really appreciate it!

  • mindinundated.wordpress.com

    I have a word press blog…Some people say that blogger is more SEO friendly.

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  • Glad to hear it!

  • igoy

    very helpful information, thanks mate.

  • dennis jr gonzales

    Thank you for the great tips…
    I’m very new to this.. I’ve created my own blog. I would like to know what I need to improve on. Please leave me some comments..

  • SamanthaAshley

    Very helpful and thank you for this post!


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  • Arshad Ali

    Nice jeff sir it is very helpful for my website please check it sir

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  • Hitesh

    Nice article.. Thanks for sharing

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  • Sadie Goode

    I’ve been trying to connect with Google for ages, still slightly confused, but I’m sure I’ll get there! Thank you so much!

  • Portman

    Every blogger look for some helpful tips and good resource where updates in SEO system available. When someone research over internet then lot of websites are shown in research results which provide helpful tips but people look for trusted source which provide accurate information. Your tips are pretty awesome for people looking for SEO tips and I like your
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  • Excellent post Jeff! You truly know what you are talking about. You say you are not an expert but its difficult to tell, you are well versed in SEO. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. We abide by all of the same techniques at https://propriummarketing.com as well. I will share this post, it is most certainly of high value!

  • Thanks for sharing..! that is really nice articles about SEO which I ever read. Actually, we write for human thus we should pay the most attend to robot. However, some friendly SEO technique should be included to our writing skill. Well, according my research the most of successful blogger is focus on writing rather than SEO

  • aniket

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  • Khan Nareoun

    it a great post and useful to Improve SEO i will apply this tip on my blog : https://www.kntechshow.com/ thank for sharing this knowledge

  • Thanks for this, very helpful! (:

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    Back linking!


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  • Alexa

    You helped IMMENSELY. I included your article on my lonely little blog, as I just started it and was recently looking up SEO. Incredibly confusing and your “written by humans, not robots,” was the best part of it. I was happy to finally find someone who was able to explain it to where I could understand it! THANK YOU!

    MiscellanyOfMine.com – I linked your article on my “Things They Don’t Tell You About Creating A Blog.”

  • Thanks for sharing this important and helpful information for doing promotion for your online business. It is very important for any business to perform best in online market and that only possible with digital marketing and seo. I don;t have much knowledge about the seo but surly after reading that may help me lot. I have a blog at http://www.9gem.com/blog and will apply all those to that.

    thanks a lot 🙂

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  • Choi

    Hi Jeff Goins,
    I’m Choi, I’m new with SEO and this is my site http://www.pcsoget.com.
    I have read your article about “The Beginner’s Guide to SEO” I really enjoyed it as I’ve never heard of
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    Excellent seo guide. I am read ydoxy.com for the seo and smo. good job.

  • Hey Goins,
    Thanks for sharing great knowledge with us, in my view you should consider your on page SEO instead of off page because Google is not much more consdering link building.

    ~ HDwale

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