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SEO made simple blog post

SEO Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide to Rank on Google


Ah, SEO.

You cringe every time you hear it.

You know it’s important but haven’t quite wrapped your mind around it.

Perhaps it’s because there are so many components to it, and it’s such a technical subject.

And I feel you. Search Engine Optimization is probably one of the most misunderstood topics on the planet.

Because unless you are an engineer from Google working on its proprietary ranking algorithm, nobody actually knows how Google really works.

But there are SEO best practices that we know of, recommendations from Google themselves, and proven SEO strategies that we can learn from. To learn the basics about SEO, check out the SEO for Beginners Bootcamp!

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

In this post, I’ve put together a huge ultimate guide to make SEO simple for you to use and grow your blog with free Google organic traffic. Enjoy!


What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization is the process of ranking a website high (Page 1) on search engines.

This process consists of keyword targeting, content optimization, link building, and more SEO activities to push rankings higher on search results.

SEO is the set of improvements you can make directly on your page and off your page, to rank higher on the search results.

When you hear things like “include keywords in title and image alt text”, “build backlinks to your site”, these are examples of those improvements.

All these improvements are often known as “optimizations”. Because you are doing all those improvements, to optimize your website to rank better on search engines.

How does SEO work?

To understand how SEO works, we have to understand how search engines work.

Search engines have only 1 mission: to provide the best answer to any search query.

Google simply wants to serve up the best results to a person’s search query.

‘Results’ are websites on the internet. These are blog articles, product pages, videos, and any type of content that can be found on the web .

‘Search query’ is the search phrase people type into Google. These are your keywords.

Our job is to be that best result to answer people’s search queries.

When it comes to ‘best results’, there are two attributes that carry the most weight on Google: Relevance and Authority.

Relevance is about how closely related your content is to a person’s search query.

what is relevance SEO made simple-LeanneWongCo

When a person types, “cute dogs” into Google, content that is relevant to “cute dogs” will be displayed.

But because there are over 1.9 billion websites on the internet at this moment, Google needs to display the top 10 most relevant results first — to answer the person’s search query.

Content that contains the keyword footprint for “cute dogs” will rank higher on Google’s search results.

Think of a keyword footprint as words, sub-topics and keyword phrases that belong in the same theme.

keyword footprint seo for beginners-LeanneWongCo

So if you want to rank for the keyword, “cute dogs”, then that paragraph will help you rank.

“adorable dog breeds”, “make your heart melt”, “super cute puppy breeds” — these words are keyword footprints. They strengthen the thematic relevance of your keyword topic (cute dogs).

Google scans your content looking for that thematic relevance to determine whether your content is relevant enough to answer the search query. Voila!

Authority is about how trustworthy your website is.

what are backlinks SEO made simple-LeanneWongCo

This is determined by the number of high quality backlinks pointing to your site.

As we know, there are an insane amount of websites on the internet and to sort all these pages, Google needs a very efficient and accurate way to determine which pages deserve to rank.

Google does this with its PageRank algorithm.

PageRank evaluates the trustworthiness of a page based on how many other websites are pointing to it.

Think about it as a form of street credibility or vote of confidence. The more websites link to you, the more credible your site appears to be.

And of course, not all links are created equal. Links from an authority site (like Forbes) carry more weight than a less established site.

SEO is all about making improvements to your website to boost relevance (content) and authority (backlinks).

When you are coming up with an SEO strategy to boost your rankings, think about if those activities will improve your relevance or authority.

The 4 Pillars of Search Engine Optimization

seo factors rank well

SEO is confusing because there are a LOT of factors to rank well on Google.

It’s hard to piece them together, understand how these different SEO factors actually work together to improve your rankings.

But if you think about SEO as these 4 pillars, things become much clearer.

SEO can basically be summed up into those 4 parts. In the next few sections, we are going to look at specific actionable steps you can take to improve your SEO.

I. Content: How to write content that ranks well on Google

Content that ranks well on Google has two attributes:

  • provides value to the reader
  • link-worthy

Content that provides value is essentially, helpful content.

Helpful content accurately answers the searcher’s intent  — the reason behind people’s search queries.

Content that is link-worthy attracts tons of backlinks.

To rank well on Google, you need to write for searcher intent and attract backlinks. Capiche?

First, searcher intent. How do you guess the motive behind your target audience’s search intent?

You don’t.

Minimize the guesswork and go straight to Google themselves. Type in a keyword your audience might be searching into Google, and analyze the results. See what Google is showing you.

  • Paid results (ads)
  • Organic results

For example, if you have a business selling presentation services, your client might type in the search phrase, “presentation training”.


(a) The presence of paid ads tell you this keyword has commercial intent. 

Advertisers (businesses in the same industry as you) trying to capture this audience are paying Google ads to be seen by users searching for this keyword.

Telling you that, woah this keyword is valuable enough for advertisers to bid for.

Since this keyword has commercial intent, your content needs to match that commercial intent of searchers.

The right type of content to create will be product/service landing pages, product demos, price comparisons, case studies, you also might want to create a Google My Business listing.

Your content should be ready for conversions, because people typing your target keyword “presentation training” are ready to make a transaction.

(b) Analyze the top 5 organic search results and keywords used. 


Awesome, we see words like “courses”, “training by experts”, “workshops”.

Remember we talked about keyword footprint earlier? Yup, these are the keywords you should use in your copy to rank for the “presentation training” keyword.

Because clearly, Google thinks its relevant and thats why those pages are ranking in the first #1 – 5 results.

Second, optimize your content to attract backlinks.


Content that is link-worthy is so good, people just can’t help but share it.

These are natural backlinks and social shares, people share and link to you out of good will because they found so much value from it.

Man, that is indeed a tall order.

But you can give your articles the best chance they have to attract backlinks – the holygrail of SEO.

Here are some content tips to make your next article link-worthy:

  • create in-depth content, such as long-form articles (1,200 words >)
  • add visual appealing images that enhance your content
  • create infographics

Lastly, make sure you have sharing buttons on your site, so its easy for visitors to share your article.

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post

Earlier, we talked about natural backlinks and social shares. These are “goodwill backlinks” where people have linked to you out of sheer goodwill.

In an ideal world, backlinks will point to your site naturally.

But sadly, it is more often the case that doesn’t happen. You need to deliberately build backlinks to get other websites to point to yours.

I’ll say this upfront — without backlinks, your chances to rank on Google is close to zero.

Backlinks are a signal of authority and search engines use the (i) number of backlinks and (ii) quality of those backlinks pointing to a site to determine its trust-worthiness.

The higher your website’s trust flow (or commonly referred to as domain authority), the higher your rankings.

In this section, we will learn a time-tested method to improve your authority by building high quality backlinks: Guest Posting.

What is guest posting?

Guest posting is posting a blog post on someone else’s website as a guest.

When you submit a guest blog post on another website, you can insert a hyperlink within the guest post content to your own website. Voila! A backlink built.

Here’s an example of a guest post I wrote for Epife on topic clusters.

guest post backlink leanne wongco

How to find guest posts to write for

You can find niche-relevant sites to guest post on in any industry.

Use any of the follow search operators to find niche blogs accepting guest posts:

  • niche + guest post
  • niche + guest
  • niche + write for us


Check out their guest posting guidelines:

  • make sure to send your guest post request to the right email address
  • read their submission criteria and if you have relevant niche topics to contribute

III. Technical SEO: How to make sure Google finds your site

Technical SEO is simply about making sure Google can find and index your pages.

This is super important. You don’t want to be weighed down by broken links and crawl errors.

If there’s anything you can do today to improve your technical SEO, do these 2 things. These will have a HUGE impact on how efficiently Google crawls your site.

First, go to your Google Search Console and check that there are no site errors.


Don’t have search console set up yet?

Follow this step-by-step guide to get it set up in a few minutes.

Second, add 2-3 internal links to every post on your site.

internal links seo made simple leanne wong

One common technical SEO issue that affects your rankings are orphaned pages.

Meaning there’s no other pages on our website linking to it, and it’s very difficult for users or Googlebot to find it because there’s no pathway, unless they typed that specific URL address directly into the browser.

This often happens when we create new content without mapping our old, existing content to it, or vice versa. The result – pages that are not connected to any part of your main pages (literally orphaned) and a lacklustre site architecture.

And when Googlebot cannot find your pages, it cannot rank it.

The solution? Add internal links to across your blog posts and key pages.

IV. Experience: User experience factors that have an impact on SEO

So far we’ve been focused on improving how our site looks to search engines.

Now we’ll look into how we can make our site appeal to humans.

What’s interesting is that improving user experience actually improve ranking performance.

Because Google just wants to serve up websites that are most relevant and useful to users.

In this section, we’ll look at another important user experience factor: user signals.

User Signals: Dwell time, Bounce Rate, CTR

There’s a strong correlation between SEO performance and user signals.

Nick Forst, head of Google Brain implies the importance of dwell time with SEO:

Google is now integrating machine learning into [the process of figuring out what the relationship between a search and the best page for that search is]. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back or when they and trying to figure out exactly on that relationship.

Okay, he’s saying that the longer someone stays on your site, the more relevant your page matches a query.

It’s no coincidence that the top ranking pages on Google also tend to have lower bounce rates and longer dwell time.

When it comes to improving dwell time and bounce rate, content is key.

How do you keep readers engaged on your site, instead of bouncing off without clicking on another page?

  • Answer their search intent by making your content solve their problem
  • Provide in-depth, long form content
  • Use images, infographics to keep readers’ attention
  • Make use of easy navigation (reduce distractions like pop-ups, broken links, poor site structure).

SEO in 2022

Search engine optimization is a lot more advanced now than 5 years ago. As Google prioritizes technical SEO, page speed, and user experience. Gone are the days when we could optimize for search with just keywords and backlinks.

Learn about the SEO ranking factors for 2022 and how to level up your SEO strategy.

Enroll in the Site Speed Optimization Course Bundle

Want to understand the fundamentals of site speed optimization and bottlenecks in page loading? Learn exactly what you need to do for Google’s 2021 core web vitals update and achieve 90/100 on Google page speed insights.

Join the site speed optimization course bundle and learn to speed up your website without hiring a web developer.

site speed course leanne wong


Phew! We’ve done it, guys! You’ve just learned a GREAT deal about SEO and I am so proud of you!!

Now you might be thinking to take this to the next level and start implementing these strategies we’ve learnt. And I am so stoked to take that journey with you.

Join my free 4 Day SEO Bootcamp and let’s seriously improve your rankings and search visibility today.

SEO for Beginners Bootcamp blog post


Author: Leanne Wong

Leanne Wong has taught over 5,600+ entrepreneurs and bloggers how to successfully market and grow their brand online. 

Join 5,600+ others and receive full access to:

Leanne’s free digital marketing resource library: A growing collection of ebooks, checklists, strategy workbooks to accelerate your blog’s growth.

107 People reacted on this

  1. When it goes to SEO, I get easily confused! This is a great guide for those of us who have no idea what we are doing!

  2. This is a fantastic SEO guide full of useful information. I appreciate you breaking it down to the 4 pillars of SEO. I’m successful at getting to first and second pages on Google. But my traffic is low and I’m not sure how to get back links in my niche.

    1. Ranking in the top 20 results on Google is no easy feat! In case traffic is low, it might be the keyword topic has a low search volume. Try to relook into the primary keyword topics targeted on the page, and see if you can expand to a more generic and broad one that has more searches.

  3. SEO is one of those things that seems very difficult on first glance, but gets easier once you take time to learn more about. Guides like these definitely help make learning easier!

  4. I have been working in the field of SEO for almost a year and I can say that it is all a separate and fascinating way. Of course, there is still a lot to learn. But as a start for bloggers or for anyone who has a website and wants to try to optimize it, this guide is in-depth

  5. I have been struggling to rank my website for months now and almost gave up. However, reading through your blog post has given me hope and I believe things will be different as I start implementing some of these strategies.

  6. Motivational article for me! Roughly it takes 90 days to see referral traffic to your blog through back-links, I am following your tips from the past one month, and there is a positive impact on SERP. But, the primary challenge is to get your guest post approved at the beginning of your SEO career. Another strategy is to use SEO YOAST plugin that WordPress offers is the best solution to optimize the on-page of your blog for free.


    1. Glad to hear you’ve seen positive results on the SERPs! Agreed, getting the guest post approved takes a long time. Also am a fan of Yoast 🙂

  7. Hey Leanne,
    Many thanks for your amazing information and the way of your explanation about the SEO is great. You have explained in a very simple and effective way to make the newbie’s blogger’s life much easy in the field of SEO. The list you mentioned in the post are really unique and some of them, really I heard or got the idea after reading this article.

    You may include this idea that I have read someday back about what is SEO – https://cooltechnospy.com/what-is-seo/ this may be an informative article for your readers. Thought to share here just to add some value for your readers too.

  8. These are very important pointers to be aware of all the time especially to bloggers like us! Thank you for these details will definitely remember everything!

  9. I hate to admit that I ignore some SEO rules. It is just such a huge concept to understand and implement changes for growth. I love how you broke this down & I am definitely saving it to refer back to . I need to take it more seriously. Thanks!

    1. I totally feel you, Ashley. SEO can get so overwhelming, but keep at it and you’ll start seeing improvements in rankings over time! Cheers.

  10. Wow this is such a great, informative post! I’ve been taking on a lot more responsibility at work with the digital side of marketing + SEO. This is so helpful!

  11. I used to work for a Google Vendor as an AdWords (Now Google Ads) specialist and I can tell you this one of the best overviews of SEO I have ever read. Great flow and easier to understand than half the nonsense they gave us in training. Well done.

  12. This post is AWESOME! SEO is so incredibly complicated when you first learn about it. This post breaks it down and makes it so easy to understand. Thanks for sharing!

  13. SEO really is difficult. And many articles write about in such a manner you don’t really get any smarter from reading it. I think your article here is much more valuable. I’ve got a few new things to work on now. Thank you so much!

  14. It is always good to have a refresher for SEO. It’s true…I cringe when I hear it, but I know it is so important as a blogger!

    1. Haha it happens. SEO is not the easiest subject but can be the single most powerful vehicle to drive traffic to your blog!

  15. Wow this was very informative. I learned quite a bit of information I wasn’t fully sure of beforehand. saving this link for later, thank you so much for sharing!

  16. Internal links are one of my favorite methods. Easy to do, good ROI, and often underrated. The method is a great way to keep readers on your site longer, helping with user signals. Well worth going back and editing old content with new content links and not just focusing on the new content.

    1. Me too! Small steps do make an impact over time. Just implementing internal linking strategy and optimizing for a sound site architecture can really improve SEO performance 😀

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