Hey, everyone has to start somewhere, right? If you’re brand new to the concept of search engine optimization (SEO), or search marketing, don’t worry — we explain it all for beginners, right here.

So, what is SEO? At its most basic, SEO is engineering your website so it ranks as highly as possible on the most popular search engines — namely Google, Bing, and Yahoo, in that order (although Bing and Yahoo are essentially one and the same at this point).

Because Google, with its two-thirds market share, dominates this trio of search engines, most SEO is focused on Google. This is changing, with social media sites increasingly challenging Google’s market share and maybe even its model of Internet use. But for the purpose of SEO basics, here and now, in January 2011, it’s still helpful to think of SEO in terms of Google.

Google works by analyzing the content on web pages and then ranking them based on that content. SEO, then, means making sure your website best meets Google’s standards for ranking websites, so that it beats out other sites targeting the same audience.

Types of SEO
SEO breaks down in two basic categories: On-page SEO and off-page SEO. These are, respectively, the search marketing elements done on your site, and done on behalf of your site, elsewhere.

We’ll explore on-page and off-page SEO in more detail soon. But even before you can begin those tasks, you need to take the very first SEO step, which should also be the very first step you take in creating a website, period.

And that’s finding your keywords.

Keywords: SEO’s Most Basic Building Block 
You want your site to show up in search results when certain phrases are searched for. Those search phrases are your keywords. For example, if your site is about casino affiliate programs, your keyword is “casino affiliate programs”, and all your content should be built around that.

In that sense, your keywords are both the physical and philosophical foundation of your entire website. You must choose, before you create your website and before you buy your domain name, what keywords you’ll target.

Your best bet is to choose one keyword phrase, consisting of two or three words in a specific phrase. Think of it as your site’s theme, explained in just a few words — the simple and most-used words, those words everyday Internet users will be most likely to search for.

Finding those words isn’t always simple, given how competitive the Internet is today. But with a few important tools, you should be able to narrow down the best key words to fit your affiliate marketing goals:

It’s best to try each of these tools and get a general consensus rather than just heed the results from one of them.

Okay, we’ll give you a day to figure out your keyword. Tomorrow, we jump into a greater discussion of on page and off page SEO and put those keywords to use!

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