When you look at SEO as a newcomer, it can be an intimidating strategy. If you aren’t familiar with the mechanics of search engine algorithms, they can seem almost magical in complexity, and understanding the thousands of variables that could potentially affect your search rankings might seem like too much for one person to ever learn.
That’s why it’s important to take a step back and look at the fundamentals—the core building blocks of SEO. While they are somewhat complex and can take years to master, it’s possible to learn the basics relatively quickly—in fact the seven fundamentals below can all be learned, basically, in an hour.
This is also important to know if you’re an SEO expert, as these are fundamental skills and bits of knowledge that can be taught to others in the span of an hour, giving you a valuable option for delegation when your workload grows too large.
These are some of the most important fundamentals to know, and they can all be acquired in 60 minutes or less:
1. How to start a blog. Your blog will be the foundational pillar of your SEO campaign, serving as your opportunity to optimize for more keywords, build up your authority with high-quality material, and attract backlinks from outside sources. Realistically, it doesn’t take that long to start a blog, and Neil Patel even outlines an entire guide for the process that can take an hour or less to get through.
If you’re covering the high-level points, such as how to identify and study your target audience, how to set up your template, and how to make your first posts, it doesn’t take much effort to learn.
2. How to do keyword research. Even though Google Hummingbird replaced most of Google’s keyword-centric identifiers with semantic search capabilities, keyword optimization still does matter—especially when you seek to outrank your competitors on crucial keyword terms.
Understanding the basics of keyword targeting (that is, choosing keywords based on their relevance, traffic volume, and competition ranking) doesn’t take much. From there, it’s just a matter of learning to navigate a tool like SEMrush's Keyword Magic free tool or Moz’s Keyword Explorer . Again, this won’t take long. Your keyword strategy won’t be perfect at first, but it doesn’t need to be—there will always be room for adjustment.
3. How domain authority works. Getting the basics of domain authority and page authority down doesn’t take much time or effort. In fact, you can learn most of the basics simply by reading this entry. Authority is a relative and qualitative score of your site’s trustworthiness, taken at the domain-wide level (domain authority) and page level (page authority).
Your authority scores have a massive bearing on how your pages eventually rank for relevant queries, so the higher this score is, the better. You can improve it by earning more links and producing better content.
4. How to build a backlink. As you learned in the last point, authority is one of the most important factors for how your pages rank in search engines, and the best way to build this authority is through backlinks.
Learning what it takes to build a relevant backlink is an easy fundamental to grasp; there are certain pitfalls to watch out for, such as link schemes, and you need to be aware of contextual appropriateness, anchor text, and other smaller variables. At the end of the day, most backlink strategies boil down to successful guest posting strategies.
5. The role of social media. Many people think social media marketing can directly lead to higher rankings, but this isn’t exactly the case. Instead, social media is a fantastic tool for audience building, giving you a platform on which you can publicly syndicate your best content. This increase in visibility, assuming your content is good enough, can help you earn a better reputation, which in turn can earn you more backlinks and more guest posting opportunities.
6. How to measure traffic. Assuming you’re using an analytics platform as user-friendly as Google Analytics, it should take you an hour or less to learn how to measure your website’s traffic. With a comprehensive SEO strategy, you’ll want to pay close attention to organic traffic, referral traffic, social traffic, and even direct traffic to monitor repeat visitors.
7. What to adjust over time. No SEO strategy starts out perfect, so you’ll need some wiggle room to adjust over time. Within an hour, you should learn some basic warning signs, cues, and positive signals that can help you reshape your campaign in the future. You won’t be able to learn everything, but you’ll learn some of the biggest indicators—like evaluating the performance of your individual blog posts.
Beyond the Basics
These are some strong fundamentals, but they won’t be enough to help you build and run a successful SEO strategy. What happens when your keyword rankings suddenly plummet? What happens if your content engagement rates drop off? How do you scale your strategy when you find yourself hitting a plateau? These are all important questions you’ll only be able to answer when you learn more details and gain more experience, but for now, rest assured that you (and/or your student) have a reasonable grasp on the most important elements of a viable SEO strategy.