In this post you’re going to learn EXACTLY what SEO is.

I’m going to give you the easiest breakdown of how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) works, by highlighting the most important parts.

In fact, these are the ONLY things I focus on, and I make a full time income ranking affiliate marketing websites, and local business websites for my clients.

So get ready to understand what really works!

Watch or read on:


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The Best SEO Advice I Can Give You

I use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to rank my affiliate marketing websites, and to rank my clients' websites who have local businesses like dentists, landscapers and chiropractors.

SEO can offer a huge return on investment for most businesses, but if you can't explain how it works to a business owner in very simple terms, then it's pretty hard to sell.

So I know I can give you a clear explanation and I really hope you find this tutorial useful.

Before we get started, here is some really good advice to try and keep in mind as you learn about SEO:

Keep it simple.

Don't over-complicate stuff.

Focus on a few important things.

Many people get overwhelmed with SEO because it's a huge industry with a lot of noise and sometimes a lot of mis-information.

So if you ever start to get overwhelmed try your best to come back to these points:

Keep it simple, don't over-complicate stuff, and focus on the most important things which I'm going to cover in this tutorial.

What is SEO in Plain English

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.

So you're "optimizing" a "digital asset" in order to rank it high on a search engine.

Most of the time this relates to ranking websites on Google. That's what this tutorial will focus on.

But these days there are a lot other types of "digital assets" and search engines. So the ideas and concepts explained here apply for websites, but also for things like YouTube videos, Amazon listings, or a property listing on various real estate search engines. You can "optimize" or do SEO to all of these things.

If your website is optimized properly, you can rank well on Google, and get free traffic.

High Google rankings can be worth hundreds, thousands, and even millions of dollars to certain businesses, which makes SEO such a powerful tool.

In order to optimize a website effectively, you need to make sure search engines like Google can access your website and read it properly.

You need to tell Google that the information on your website is worth listing high in their search results. That's what the goal of SEO is.

What Does "Optimize" Really Mean?

One tip I want to share with you which I think makes understanding this way easier is to think about Google's algorithm, or an algorithm in general.

No one knows every single thing it looks for, but we do know some of the major factors which can affect Google rankings.

So in learning what SEO is, you need to think about what the algorithm is doing...

And don't worry, we're NOT going to get very technical here at all.

It's really simple:

  • It's reading inputs and processing them.
  • It's analyzing the information on your website.

Think of the algorithm coming to your website, scanning it, and reading it.

So you need to set up your website so Google can easily read and understand what it's about. That is what optimization is referring to.

And it's NOT difficult to do this.

I like to break this down into 2 simple parts, and you will see this referenced in many other tutorials and guides: On Page and Off Page SEO.

On Page SEO

On Page SEO refers to the things that you can control and change on your actually website.

So things like:

  • The design (how fast does it load, is it mobile friendly)
  • The URLs
  • The Titles
  • The Headlines
  • The Content

There are guidelines for setting all these things up on your website in order to make Google really understand what your website is about. I have an On-Page SEO Checklist you can refer to here if you want more information.

For example, if you're building a website for a dentist in Toronto, and your website's main title is:

Dr. John Smith - Creating Great Smiles Since 1999

When Google comes and reads this website's title, does it know that this website is about a dentist in Toronto?


This title is not optimized for a "dentist in Toronto".

So when someone is searching on Google for a new dentist in Toronto, Google will probably never list this website high on its rankings.

Even if John Smith is literally the best Dentist in the world, Google will not list his website, because it's not optimized. It's not giving Google any information for the algorithm to know that John Smith is a great dentist.

Rant: Why Producing Great Content or Giving the Best Service is Not Enough to Rank


Google doesn't know everything. It only knows what you tell it.

I want to go on a bit of a rant here...

You might be able to relate to this, and if not then I hope this will help you avoid frustration in the future.

Ranking websites can be frustrating for a lot of people and businesses. I know it was for me when I was first getting started.

I had literally the best reviews about a certain product. I know they were the best because I compared them to all the websites which were ranking above me.

I reviewed this product so well. I covered every angle, I gave the best advice, and bottom line my reviews were way better than everyone else's.

But Google didn't know they were the best.

Google can't just read an article and determine that it is much better than other articles, and therefore rank it higher.

It can't read an article like a human and determine that it is better. It doesn't work like that. Google factors in other things. It's an algorithm, not a human.

Also, no Google employee will ever come and read your website.

Sometimes I used to wish that a Google employee would come to my website and read my articles and say "wow this review is amazing and needs to be #1".

But it doesn't work like that.

So I was getting frustrated. I was reading and comparing my amazing articles to other websites, and I couldn't figure out why my "way better articles" weren't ranking.

That's where SEO comes in:

My competitors' websites were optimized better than mine.

They were giving Google all the right signals that their articles were better, even though they weren't.

That's what SEO is.

Optimizing your website so Google can understand it.

This is why producing amazing content is usually not enough.

If someone tells you that all you need to do to rank websites is pump out amazing content, they probably don't know what they're talking about.

Off Page SEO

So, if you read the above rant, the area where my competitors were doing better than me was in off page SEO.

The most important part of off page SEO refers to backlinks, or just links. The process of acquiring links is called link building.

When another relevant website is linking to your website, Google views this as a vote of confidence.

It's the number 1 way to indicate to Google that your website is worthy of ranking in its search engine.

For this beginner's guide, just understand that links from other relevant websites is one of the biggest ranking factors in Google.

Why Do People Use Google?

Before we can do proper on-page and off-page SEO, we need to first take a step back.

We need to put ourselves in our website visitors' shoes.

What do people use Google for?

They are searching for solutions to their problems.

And guess what?

Google gets 5.6 billion searches per day. That's 63,000 searches every second!

These billions of searches a day can be categorized into "keywords".

Keywords can be made up of 1 word, or many words:

"Portable generator" (short tail - more generic - broad - hard to rank for - more search volume)

"Cosmetic dentist in downtown Toronto" (long tail - usually 3 words or more - very specific - easier to rank for - less search volume)

You want to optimize your website for the keywords that your target market is using in Google.

So keyword research is really the first step:

Keyword research is about finding the words and phrases that your potential customers are submitting into Google.

Keyword research is really a whole other topic, but the bottom line is that whatever your website is about, there are specific keywords, so specific words and phrases that your target market is using every single day on Google to search for your products, services, or information.

You need to find the keywords that your potential customers are using on Google, because you want to optimize your website around those terms.

Ideally, you want to target keywords which get a lot of search volume, so people are searching for them a lot in Google, and you want to find keywords which are not very competitive.

But your keywords must be related to your website.

So if I was selling generators, then keywords to optimize my web pages would be things like:

  • Generators for sale
  • Best portable generator
  • Portable generators for boats
  • Which generator is best for rural homes

If I was doing affiliate marketing in the CBD niche, some of my keywords would be:

  • Best CBD oil
  • CBD for arthritis pain
  • How much CBD oil should I take?
  • CBD creams for women over 50

If I was a dentist practicing in Toronto, these would be some of my keywords.

  • Toronto dentist
  • Invisalign in Toronto
  • Cosmetic dentist in downtown Toronto
  • How much do dental implants costs?

For an in-depth guide on finding keywords for beginners, check out my tutorial: How to Do Keyword Research

How to Optimize Your Web Pages

Here are 4 areas of your web pages that you can optimize:

  • URLs
  • Titles
  • Headlines
  • Content

There are certainly other factors that contribute to on-page SEO, however these are some of the basics.

Let's run through a few examples of how you would do "SEO" to these areas.

Using a domain name that contains a keyword or keyword variation can be helpful. See my post on how to choose a domain name for a full breakdown.

Every inner URL on your website should be optimized with a keyword. This is a very important ranking factor.

Your titles should contain your main keyword, and it should be somewhere close to the beginning.

Headlines and subheadings are another area where you can include keywords and keyword variations.

Just make your content sound natural. You certainly don't want to repeat your keywords too often throughout your content. No "keyword stuffing"!

Quick Recap: How SEO Helps You Rank on Google

In order to rank your website on Google you need:

  • Content that users are looking for.
  • Related websites linking to your content (see video above at 28:18).

Your content needs to be optimized with on page SEO guidelines (some of which we highlighted above). For a more advanced breakdown of on-page SEO, check out my full guide here.

Depending on how competitive the keyword is that a piece of content is targeting, you will need to have related websites linking to it in order to tell Google it's worthy of getting displayed in the search results.

That's it.

Optimized content, and links.

The end.

Things to Remember and Your Next Steps

SEO takes time.

Google doesn't trust brand new websites.

There's often a time lag between optimizing a website and seeing results.

Keep it simple.

Don't over-complicate things.

Build content around keywords that your audience is looking for.

Optimize this content with basic SEO guidelines.

Build links to your website from other related web pages.

Here's Your Next Step:

I hope that this starting guide to SEO was helpful.

Your next steps would be to review my other SEO tutorials which you can find here.

As a bonus, if you're trying to learn SEO to make money online, then I would recommend you check out my resource called The 5 Step Blueprint.

I explain everything in this free report and video series which reveals the strategy I use to make a full time income online with SEO and affiliate marketing. If you're interested you can download a copy here.

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Tyler Stokes
Tyler Stokes

Hey I'm Tyler Stokes and I'm the creator of Affiliate Marketing That WORKS. I have been doing affiliate marketing for well over 10 years and have built several online businesses. These days my passion is helping others get started through this blog and my YouTube channel. The best way to contact me is on Twitter.