SEO for Dummies: What You Need to Know

SEO has become such a buzzword now but for those just starting to learn about its effectiveness and how it works (read: me), it can help to simplify things a bit in order really nail the key ideas. So without further ado, I present to you the dumbed-down, oversimplified, bare basics of SEO for dummies.

Rule #1: Content is king in the SEO world. All the great tips and tactics in the world can’t help you if your content sucks, so make sure the bulk of your time is spent investing in valuable, unique, well-written content that people actually want to read.

Rule #2: If content is king, then links are the benevolent right-hand man. If you want people (and the Google indexing “spiders”) to be crawling your site, you’re going to need some other sources who also think your stuff is worthwhile. The key is that they need to be authoritative sources! A big reason people tend to be reluctant to trust SEO is because of all the black-hat tricks out there that rely on link farms and deceptive sites to gain more traffic. But if you get into the practice of paying for worthless links in bulk, Google will punish you and that’s a lot worse than sitting in the corner without dessert. Make sure you link out, too—though not as valuable, it increases your chances of getting some recognition back.

Rule #3: Reputation matters. In our happy little SEO monarchy, it’s probably the knighthood or something. Essentially, you need to have a positive reputation, which you build up with your valuable content, and authoritative links. It takes patience and time (something a lot of people forget to take into account), but you will gradually build your reputation and popularity which alone will give you higher ranking. You’ll be rewarded for the legit content you post and people will like you and everyone will be happy.

That’s all I got. Good luck.

P.S. for 52 more SEO-related tips, check out Search Engine Journal’s handy-dandy list of SEO Tips Even Your Mother Would Love.


  1. I agree with all of your rules, especially number one. Like you said in the post, content is everything today in digital marketing. You could have the most links or the best strategies, but if your content is weak you will not have much success in the SEO world. If you focus on the content, your ranking will slowely begin to rise. Great post on SEO and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks Jared! It definitely makes sense but oftentimes the marketing focus is still geared around presentation/appearance/spin. I love that our book emphasizes how we’re regrounding in authenticity, not spin. We’re getting back to the heart of the issue!

  2. Thanks for the help! I am a rookie at SEO stuff so this is valuable. I agree and understand the first two rules, but I really thought the third was very interesting and something that many people don’t think of. Having a good reputation in the digital scene is extremely important and creates trust with the followers.

    • Thanks Evan :] I am too! I hadn’t really thought of using SEO until this class but I’m increasingly realizing how important it is. Companies are definitely looking for people who understand SEO, so this is a start for all of us, right? :] Glad you liked.

  3. Great post. SEO is such an important part of reaching the full potential in making your own website. The tips you laid out were simple and easy to understand for anyone just starting out. Nice work.

    • Thank you Tom! :] It’s definitely a huge part that I hadn’t even really considered in blog posts but am trying to change my mindset to be more SEO-minded about. Glad you found it helpful :]

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