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SEO Academy #1: The Basics

by Torsten Bühl

SEO Academy #1

This article is my introduction to the big topic of Search Engine Optimization. It covers its main pieces to give you the big picture. Later chapters will explain how to optimize these things in detail.

Ready? OK, let’s start.

In General

Search Engine Optimization is all about the content of your website. People use Google to search for specific keywords. Now Google has to decide if your website is relevant for these keywords.

The main factor here is your content and how it is structured. If a user searches for the keyword keyword rank checker, your page should contain the words keyword rank checker to be in the search results.

The other factor is the authority of your website. The more websites link to your website, the higher the search engine values your content. How do you get links from other websites? With good content.

The Content

First, you cannot have enough high quality content. Second, your content should have to do with the keywords you’re aiming for.

For example, let's take my product It's an error tracking service for Ruby on Rails, so I want people who search for the keyword rails error tracking to find my site. The website should use the words rails error tracking multiple times, but the pages shouldn't consist only of these words. Write the texts for the user first and keep the search engine in mind. Nobody wants to read a text written for a machine.

In the next step, Google needs to know about the important parts of your content—your keywords of choice. There are multiple ways to do this and I’ll write more about in a separate chapter. But to give you a glue: words in the URL, the title and headings are higher valued than words in regular paragraphs.

The Keywords

To optimize your content, you need to know the keywords to optimize for. There are obvious keywords like the name of your product or company. After that, it gets more difficult.

Because even a slight variation makes a big difference and people are not using automatically the search terms you think. For example, keyword rank tracker seems like a good keyword, but most people search for keyword rank checker. And there is nothing more annoying than finding out that your top 10 keyword isn’t used at all.

The solution is to create a list of relating terms and check them for their search popularity. Luckily we have tools for this—and there will be a separate chapter for it.

The Authority

Let's say you have optimized your website heavily for a keyword. However, when you search for it, you see that Wikipedia is on the first position in the results and you are not. That's because Google gives all websites a specific rank. The higher the rank, the more important that page is for Google and it gets better positions.

To get a good rank for your site, you need links from other websites to your site—called incoming links or backlinks. Wikipedia has lots of incoming links. Additionally, links are valued on where they come from: A link from Techcrunch is more worth than a link from So your goal is to get links from already high ranking sites to yours.


You need to remember that SEO has 3 important parts:

  • Good content and the knowledge of how to present it
  • Finding the keywords, which are worth to optimize for
  • Links from other websites

The next articles will cover these topics in detail, plus things like Sitemaps, Permalinks, Redirects, and so on. Meanwhile, don't forget to track your progress with my tool Positron—it lets you monitor your position for specific keywords at Google.

I'd like to hear your opinion—just ping me @tbuehl. And for more bonus tips join the mailing list.

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