The Ultimate Guide to SEO for Free

Everyone with a website wants to do SEO for free. And why wouldn’t they? SEO is possibly the most powerful form of digital marketing, and so if you own a site it makes sense to at least know the basics.

To that end, I have put together a comprehensive resource on free tools which I have used regularly and know work great. I’ve also listed some SEO basics to give you a general idea of how to get started. And finally, there is an SEO glossary so that you always know what people are talking about (or at least can check later).

I recommend you bookmark this page so you can come back and keep checking it whenever you need to.






What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It is the process of improving the performance of a website or webpage via organic search.

This means improving both the quality and quantity of traffic.



Can I do by SEO myself?

SEO is a very broad discipline involving content, analytics, branding, outreach, and technical skills. As it is so broad, I would honestly say that SEO is more of a general mindset than a specific set of tasks.

There are many ways to reach the goal of more/better search traffic and people with entirely different skillsets can prosper for very different reasons. This means that while SEO might seem daunting from the outside, it is very much something that anyone can do (albeit in different ways and to different levels).



Is SEO free of cost?

While you can definitely do SEO for free, you have to remember that your time isn’t free. There are free tools and guides out there to help you optimise your webpages, but don’t undervalue your own time.

That said the ROI of SEO can be pretty high. So if your only SEO cost is your own time then it’s quite likely you will come out ahead financially (in the long run).


SEO Definition (Search Engine Optimisation)



SEO Tool Kit

This DIY SEO Toolkit is full of free SEO tools to get you started with search engine optimisation. It doesn’t include every tool out there, simply what you need to get on with SEO without paying a penny. I have used and personally recommend every single one of the SEO tools listed below.

All of these tools are free to use, although some require a sign up to use. Some of them also have paid tiers, but I wouldn’t be recommending them if they couldn’t provide a lot of value without costing you anything.

Note: I have not been paid to recommend any of these, nor are any of these affiliate links (I just like them).


SEO Toolkit



SEO Analytics Tools

Google Search Console

Google LogoA tool that shows you how your site is performing on Google Search. Take a look at your results by page, query, country, device, date, or any combination of these. All this and technical insights too! A free yet invaluable tool for all SEO work.


Bing Webmaster Tools

Bing is the second largest search engine, and Bing webmaster tools is their version of Google Search Console. It has roughly the same features as well as some nice extras. A great addition to your SEO Toolkit.


Google Analytics

Google Analytics LogoA general website analytics tool that can connect to Google Search Console to contextualise your results even more. Google has said these two tools are going to become even more integrated too, so this is becoming an even more central part of SEO analysis.


SEO Value Calculator

The Online Advertising GuideIf you don’t put a value on your SEO work, then no-one else will either. The SEO value calculator makes it quick and easy to define how much value your SEO work has brought to your organisation. [Note: This is the only cheeky link to our own tool in this list! It’s only included because I use it myself so often]



SEO Diagnostics Tools

Website Crawler

Screaming Frog LogoScreaming Frog is my favourite SEO tool. It surfaces an incredible amount of issues including many of those listed here such as problems with meta details, hreflang, structured data etc. It has a free tier of pricing that scans up to 500 URLs so it’s incredible for small sites. Everyone should try it in my opinion!


Broken link checker

Broken Link Checker LogoMost websites have some broken links – webpages get moved, websites get shut down, and people make mistakes. Outbound broken links make you look bad, and internal broken links waste link equity. This great tool finds broken links through your site for you. Use it periodically!


Hreflang Checker

Flang LogoIf your site uses multiple languages then you’ll need to use the Hreflang markup. It is notoriously annoying to get right, but this tool from Dejan will tell you if you’ve got it right.


Rich Results Checker

Google LogoA nice simple tool from Google which checks if your page supports rich results (eg from Schema Markups being implemented). It tells you if you’ve got the markup correctly, and also tells you which types of rich results (such as reviews) etc your webpage can display in search results.


Subdomain Finder

Pentest LogoIf you’re working on the site for a big old organisation, it’s quite likely that they may have made some subdomains and forgotten about them over the years. This simple tool finds them for you, which can be very helpful.


Mobile-Friendly Tester

Google LogoA tool from Google you can use to see if your webpages fit their (pretty reasonable) description of what mobile-friendly webpages should be like. With mobile being the dominant form of browsing the web right now, and Google using Mobile-first indexing, it is vital to get this right.




Content Tools

Readability Tester

WebFX LogoReadability means how easy a page is to read, and is an indirect ranking factor for search. Search engines aren’t checking sites for readability themselves, but if your pages are difficult to read they are less likely to be popular pages and will therefore likely rank lower in search results. This free tool uses an array of standard readability tests to let you know how easy your users find your webpage to read.


Duplicate Content Checker

Copyscape LogoGoogle is not a fan of duplicate content. At least in theory, if more than one page has the same content then only one page will rank for it. Use this tool to check if your sites is repeating itself, others are copying your content, or guest posters are plagiarising.


Content Decay

Animalz LogoIs your content past its prime? Google prefers ‘fresh’ content and people don’t want out-of-date content, so keeping an eye on how your pages perform over time is vital. Use this free tool to find out of your pages need updating.



Algorithm Update Tools

Google Algorithm Update History

Moz LogoGoogle updates its algorithms multiple times per year (as well as releases new ones), and each update has the potential to affect how your webpages rank in search. This comprehensive list of algorithm updates keeps you up to date with what happened and when.


Panguin Tool

Panguin Tool logoIf you want to check whether previous algorithm updates affected your site, this simple tools overlays the dates of each update with your Google Analytics data so you can work it out.


Search Results Volatility Checker

SEM Rush LogoAlgorithm updates take a while to roll out. If you’re suspicious that one might be happening that hasn’t been announced yet, (or if you’re wondering if one affected your sector) this tool can help. It monitors changes to search results across categories and countries (and by SERP features).



Keyword Planning Tools

Google Trends

Google LogoA tool that tracks the relative popularity of searches on Google (and related topics and searches). Useful for jumping on trends and finding related trends. Also great if there are two words for the same thing and you don’t know which one to use – stick them both in and then use the one which more people search for.


Google Ads Keyword Planner

Google Ads LogoThe keyword planning tool in Google Ads can be very helpful for organic search as it tells you volumes of searches. It also tells you how competitive a keyword is for people using Google Ads, and while that doesn’t directly translate to organic search it is a good proxy metric.


Keyword Generator

Ahrefs LogoA keyword idea generator that provides keyword difficulty and volume. It’s free, quick and very easy to use. It also provides keywords for Google, Bing, YouTube, and Amazon, and is filtered by country. A really nice tool.


Questions To Answer

Answer The Public LogoThis freemium tool tells you all the questions around a keyword that are commonly searched for on Google. You enter a word (such as ‘car’), and it will come back with every question starting with what (‘what is a car?’), when (‘when were cars invented?’), who (‘who own the most expensive car?’), will (‘will my car insurance go up next year?’), etc. You get the idea. This is a great tool for planning content.


Longtail Keyword Finder

Yoast LogoIf you have a head keyword (eg “cheese”) and you want to expand deeper into that topic by finding more specific keywords (eg “blue cheese”) then this is the tool for you. It goes through and finds the autosuggest answers for your keyword and every letter and lists them out for you.


Keyword Mapping Cheatsheet

Aleyda Solis LogoThis is a spreadsheet that can help you to quickly and easily map which keywords you should use for different web pages so that you don’t compete with yourself. It’s intended for eCommerce sites, but you can use it for any type of site really.


Competitor Research

Similar Web LogoCheck what your competitors rank for, and what paid keywords they are using (as well as lots of other interesting insights). The stats on this don’t seem exact, but they don’t have to be to still provide immense value.


New Trend Finder

Exploding Topics LogoThis is a really interesting tool that tries to surface trends just as they are becoming popular! You can filter by category and date range but not by country, unfortunately. Also, it’s a freemium tool – so you will just get a random smattering of results unless you pay. Even so, you can find some incredibly interesting stuff without paying a penny.



Local SEO Tools

Google My Business

Google My Business LogoWhether or not you claim your business location on Google Maps, a listing for you probably exists. By using Google My Business you can control that listing, and add details such as opening hours, services, and amenities. You can also use this tool to get your information in the knowledge panel (the right-hand column in Google search) and reply to reviews and questions. A must for all businesses with physical locations.


Bing Places

Bing Places LogoBing’s version of Google My Business. Far less important than Google My Business due to the volume of users Bing Maps gets – but you can just import your locations from Google My Business so you may as well set this up!


Apple Maps Connect

Apple Maps LogoThis is how you take control of your business on Apple Maps. It is very annoying to set up your listings and is a very US-centric service. However, as Apple Maps is not great I highly recommend signing up just to correct any errors.


Tripadvisor Listing Manager

Tripadvisor LogoThis is how you manage your listings on TripAdvisor. Again, your listings probably exist anyway so you should claim them in order to make sure all the information is correct. Please note: the URL will change depending on your country so look it up wherever you are.


Listing Checker

Moz LogoThis tool checks if your listings are correct and consistent across multiple mapping sites. It’s only available in a few countries so far (US, UK, and Canada), but if you’re in one of those countries you can just put in your businesses address and see if all the listing sites agree on where it is (or know about it at all).



Site Speed Tools

Site Speed Report

GT Metrix LogoThere are many site speed checkers, but GT Metrix is my favourite. Not only is it free, but if you get a free account it will track your results over time (and email you them periodically). It’s about as convenient a tool as possible.


Page Speed Insights

Google LogoThis is Google’s page speed checker. It breaks down results by mobile or desktop and gives details around Core Web Vitals as well as recommendations on how to improve your page speed.


Image Optimiser

OptimizillaThere are many many many image optimiser websites out there, but this is my favourite. It is incredibly quick and easy to use, you can choose the number of colours used in the final image, and it has a little dinosaur as the logo.


Video Optimiser

Clipchamp logoReducing video size is a real chore, which is why I like this tool so much. It’s free and easy to use – it does require a sign up for video optimising but you can stick to the basic (free) plan and optimise all the videos you like.



Link Building Tools

Help A Reporter Out

HARO LogoReporters often need expert sources for stories, and this is where many of them come to find them. By “helping a reporter out” you can get a link to your site in a news publication.


Audience Finder

SparkToro LogoWhere do people who are interesting in your subject matter hang out online? What social accounts do they follow? Find out with SparkToro, and then use that information to make a list of sites you should try to get links on.


Google Image Search

Google LogoIf your site makes useful images then it’s very possible that other sites are taking them and using them without your permission – and without referencing you! Use Google Image Search to find webpages with your images on, then get in touch with those sites and ask if they’ll add a link.



Meta Details’ Tools

WordPress Plugin

Yoast LogoIf you have a WordPress site and want to edit the meta details of your page then you can do much worse than the Yoast plugin. It sorts out your site map for you and automatically generates meta details for your pages (which you can edit). It also does a host of other useful things and makes SEO simple for people who don’t have tons of time to devote to it.


Title Tag & Meta Description Tester

To The WebIf you want to see how your webpage will appear in search results, this tester is simple and easy to use. It has a character counter built-in too, meaning you can use it to try out different meta details to see what will fit the space.


XML Sitemap builder

XML Sitemaps LogoDon’t have an XML sitemap? Build one here, simple as that.


Robots Text Generator

Ryte LogoTell spiders, bots, crawlers, whether or not they can access your site with this Robots.txt generator. Whether or not they listen is up to them, but every site should have this file ideally!






SEO For Free Basics

SEO is an exceptionally broad and complex topic. You can go deep into it in dozens of different directions. However, if you have a website, and want to optimise it yourself, here are a set of basic guides to get you on the right track.



Simple Ongoing SEO Activities

Whether or not you are paying for your SEO, you need to think of it as an ongoing activity. Results from SEO generally aren’t instant (and can take up to 6 months).

This creates an unsatisfying feedback loop, as you do some work and then often can never be quite sure if it had any effect. To fight this apathy, here is a list of simple ongoing SEO activities which make it easy to persist at SEO (for free).

  • Review and update your site frequently (and methodically). Out of date content is bad for users (and Google doesn’t like it either).
    • Keep a spreadsheet with a list of all your webpages, and include a column for “date of last review”
    • Use a content decay tool (see below) to find pages to update
    • Find underperforming pages to optimise using Google Search console (see
  • Keep your online profiles up to date (this is especially important for Local SEO).
  • Blog. This can help in so many ways, from generating useful content to branding, to community building.
  • Use Social Media as it can have knock-on effects for SEO (such as 2nd order links, community building, and branding).
  • Build Inbound Links (unique tools, interviews and original research are examples of content likely to earn links).
  • Check your stats frequently – fix what’s broken, and double down on what works well.
  • Make a point to read up on SEO at least once a year – or subscribe to newsletters such as ours.



On-Page SEO Basics

When working on pages on your website, here are the most basic and most important things to keep in mind:

  • Only create pages for a purpose. Use that purpose to work out the keywords you should target with it. For Example:
    • Purpose: To let people know we are experts on the topic
    • Research potential keywords: use Ask The Public, and the People Also Ask box to find questions people have on the topic
    • Content: Create content answering that question that uses the keyword naturally
  • Try to create the best page on the topic possible. This means:
    • Looking at other top results for that topic and seeing what they do well
    • Reviewing a page periodically to update it
    • Link to other relevant/useful webpages as appropriate (whether they are on your site or other sites)
    • No thin content…
  • No thin content – all content should be valuable and useful to users. This is slightly subjective, but three helpful points to help you avoid thin content:
    • Don’t just copy content from another page
    • Use at least one relevant image
    • Write over 300 words related to the topic
  • Make the topic clear (to both people and search engines):
    • The title of the page should contain the target keyword
    • The target keyword should appear in the first paragraph of the text
    • The target keyword should appear in the URL of the page
    • At least one subheadings should ideally contain the target keyword
    • A meta title and description should be used, with both containing the target keyword
    • Have at least one image which contains the target keyword in the alt-tag (and possibly as the filename of the image)
  • Make the page a pleasant experience for the user. A page that is difficult to use or annoying will be unpopular and therefore rank lower in search
    • Pages should be easily readable by anyone
    • Ideally any subheadings should have no more than 300 words under them
    • Ideally, paragraphs should have no more than 300 words in them
    • Pages should ideally load in under 2 seconds
    • The content on the page should not move after loading
    • No keyword stuffing – pages made to sound like they are trying to impress search engines end up not impressing people. Try to keep keywords to just over 1% of content.
  • Don’t Forget: Link to relevant pages on your site to each other

Note: You should choose one to three target keywords per page to try to rank for, as it is easier to compete when pages are highly focussed.



What Search Engine Optimisation looks like



Simple Link Building Ideas

Here are some simple ideas of what you can do to get inbound links:

  • When appropriate, post helpful links on social media communities like Quora, Reddit, or Facebook Groups. These links don’t count directly but may earn you 2nd order links (people seeing your link on social media and adding it to their site)
  • Use services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to become an expert source, and get links in the media
  • Write press releases when appropriate and distribute them to get links in the media
  • Enter awards (which often have links on their sites).
  • Write blog posts that other bloggers will want to reference (eg original research, interviews, etc).
  • Write Guest blog posts on other blogs.
  • Create shareable infographics, and then (6 months later) use Google Search to find any sites which have used them. GEt in touch with the sites and ask them to credit you with a link.
  • Encourage supporters to blog about events you are holding (especially ones that they are taking part in).
  • Find broken links on other sites (links to you or your closest competitors) and send an updated link (of yours) to the site.

Just generally – be likeable! Good brand equity is more likely to get your posts naturally linked to than anything else you can do.





How to decide which pages to optimise

One of the key ideas of doing SEO for free is to know that improving old content is generally more valuable than creating new content.

This is because Google probably already knows about your old content, and there are (possibly) already links out there to it.

Make the most of what you’ve got, and use this guide to optimise the pages that need it most:

  1. Go into Search Console (if you haven’t registered, register NOW – it really is important)
  2. Under Performance (on the left-hand side menu), select Search results
  3. Set the Date Range to Last 3 months (it defaults to this so you may not need to change it)
  4. Click the ‘Export’ button in the top right of the page, then choose “Download Excel”
  5. In the spreadsheet go to the ‘Pages’ tab
  6. order the pages by Impressions (largest to smallest)
  7. Delete all rows with under 1,000 Impressions
  8. Order the spreadsheet by CTR
  9. Delete all rows with a CTR that is more than your average for the last 3 months (flick back to Search Console to check)
  10. Order the remaining pages by Impressions
  11. Optimise the top 3 pages
  12. Keep a note of the pages you optimise in a spreadsheet – with the date and CTR at that time. This is so you don’t optimise the same pages too often, but also so you can check if this optimisation improved page performance or not.



Technical SEO Basics

Technical SEO is… well the technical side of SEO. While there are lots of parts of it which you might need web developer skills for, there are also some simple things anyone can do.

Here is a brief list of the basics – please note that there are tools listed above to help you with many of these tasks:

  • Organise your site in a logical way. This means:
    • Homepage should link to your main topic pages
    • Main topic pages should link to things within that topic
    • Don’t go too much past this unless your site is very large
  • Make sure your pages load fast. To do this you should:
    • NOT add to many ads to a page, as they will slow it down
    • Optimise images & videos before uploading them:
      • make them the correct dimensions for where they are being used
      • optimise the file size by running them through an optimiser
  • Let Search Engines crawl your site:
    • Have an xml-sitemap, and connect it to Google Search Console & Bing Webmaster Tools (at least)
    • Make sure your robots.txt allows your site to be crawled
  • Check for broken links periodically and fix them (link rot is surprisingly common)
  • Make sure your site is HTTPS not HTTP. For this you need an SSL certificate – most hosts will give them to you for free with a hosting deal, but check!

Anything past this will need specialised knowledge or tools. If you are using WordPress then I would recommend the Yoast plugin as it covers (and explains) some basics.

Some hosts will also help you out with technical issues (depending on your deal with them) – I can recommend both BlueHost and WPMU Dev for this sort of thing.





SEO Glossary

Like with pretty much anything digital, there is A LOT of jargon when it comes to SEO. This glossary will help you cut through the noise and understand what people are actually talking about.

We start with some general SEO terms and then follow that with a list of SEO related metrics. At the end, there is a list of all the types of SEO, which can be very helpful when working out what you should be doing (or perhaps what you’ve missed).


What is SEO?



General SEO Terms

Algorithm – A set of rules or processes used on a data set. Search engines use algorithms to rank webpages. Google uses many algorithms in conjunction, the most famous of which are called: PageRank, RankBrain, CheiRank, and BERT (there are others too).

Algorithm Updates – Search Engines regularly update their algorithms which can dramatically affect the ranking of pages. Google updates its algorithms on a regular schedule to improve results based on its current criteria for ‘good’ results  – these are called Broad Core Updates. Google will also update its algorithms (or launch new algorithms) to incorporate new ideas, and these updates are given specific names (such as Penguin, Medic etc). Moz maintains a good list of these updates and their effects.

Alt-Tag – The text that shows up when you hover over an image.

Backlink – A link from another site to your webpage.

Broad Core Update – A regular update to Google’s algorithm. Google says there is nothing specific that you should do to prepare for, or recover from, this type of update.

Core Web Vitals – A set of metrics measuring user experience that are intended to be ranking factors on Google.

Crawl Budget – Each site has a “crawl budget” set by search engines. A crawl budget is how many times a search engine is willing to crawl a site within a certain period (more popular sites get a larger crawl budget). This means that while you want your site to be crawled frequently to keep your content up-to-date on search results, you don’t want it to be crawled too frequently or your crawl budget will be used up (and then some new pages may be missed).

E-A-T – An acronym for Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. They are not ranking factors, but instead, a concept used in the Google Quality Raters’ Guidelines to help Google employees who are manually checking with their algorithms are indeed surfacing the ‘best’ results.

Featured Snippet – A search result that appears at the top of a search results page.

Inbound Link – A link to your webpage from another webpage (including from on your own site).

Internal Link – A link from one webpage on a site to another on the same site.

Keyword – A set of words that are intended to cover search terms on that topic.
Example: a webpage about cheese would use the word cheese in it a lot. When people searched for cheese in Google that page would hopefully come up – but also when people searched “blue cheese” or “cheese on toast”. Cheese is the keyword in this case, and “blue cheese” and “cheese on toast” are the search terms people use to find the page.

Long Click – When someone clicks on a search result and is satisfied so doesn’t return to the search results (or search the same thing again) for a long time.

Long Tail Keywords – Search terms with lower volume make up the majority of overall searches (and have less competition for them).

Meta Description – What Google displays under the title of a page.

Meta Title – what Google displays as the title of a page.

Organic Search – the means when something turns up in search results without it being paid for.

Outbound Links – A link to another site from your site.

Paid Search/PPC – These are ads at the top of search results. They are not a part of SEO, but having both an ad and an organic result on a search results page at the same time can be more beneficial than having either alone.

Position Zero  – An informal way of describing a search result that is used for the featured snippet. It is called this as this position on a webpage appears above all other content.

Ranking – Where on a search engine results page your link appears.

Ranking Factor – The factors that Google takes into consideration when deciding the order of pages in search results. There are hundreds of ranking factors, and they are not all equally valuable.

Robots.txt – A file that tells bots whether or not they are allowed access to a site.

SEO – Search Engine Optimisation.

SEM Search Engine Marketing. I consider this to mean any marketing taking place in search engines (so SEO + Paid Search + Content Marketing). However, some people consider this to only refer to Paid Search.

SERP – Search Engine Results Page.

Sitemap – In SEO this refers to a file that lists all the webpages on a site in a way that search engines can read it.

Spider – A type of automated program (bot) that ‘crawls’ the internet indexing information on web pages.



SEO Metrics

Note: Google denies that many of these are used by Google search to rank pages. However, through testing, testimony in court from Google, and examining patents many of these metrics have been demonstrated to be used by Google despite their public statements. At the very least, the following metrics can be thought of as related to SEO, even if they are not direct ranking factors.

Average Position – Google gives each position on a search results page a number from top to bottom (and then continuing onto the second page). So the first result on a page is number 1, the second is number 2 etc. Average Position is simply the average of these numbers for a page or site. The lower the average position of your page or site the better.

Average Response Time – The average response time for a crawl request. This can affect your crawl budget.

Bounce Rate – the percentage of people who came to a webpage and left without doing anything.  This either implies a page wasn’t interesting, or that it provided enough information straight away.

Clicks – In search, when someone clicks on a search result.

CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift) – One of Google’s Core Web Vitals. It measures how much page content shifts after loading.

Conversion Rate – Not an SEO specific metric. Conversion Rate is the percentage of people who entered a site who converted (eg undertook a desired action such as a purchase or signup).

Crawl Requests – A request for the ‘spiders’ that crawl the internet to take a look at a webpage. These can be generated by spiders coming across links to that page, manual requests from the site owners, algorithm updates, and more reasons to boot.

CTR – click-through rate. This metric is clicks divided by impressions as a percentage. It strongly implies how enticing something is – a high click-through rate means more people clicked on something after seeing it than a low click-through rate.

Domain Authority – An abstracted metric used by some Search tools (it is not a ranking factor). Domain Authority (or DA) attempts to quantify how ‘good’ search engines think a website is by measuring things like how many other sites link to it.

Entrances – means that page is the first one people visited, and can tell you if people are finding your site (via search or advertising) because of that page.

FID (First Input Delay) – One of Google’s Core Web Vitals. It measures how long until a page can be interacted with.

Impression – the number of times something is viewed. In organic search, getting more impressions means that Google is taking your webpage seriously enough to show it to people.

LCP (Largest Contentful Paint) – One of Google’s Core Web Vitals. It measures how long until the majority of the page loads.

Page Authority – An abstracted metric used by some Search tools (it is not a ranking factor). Page Authority (or PA) attempts to quantify how ‘good’ search engines think a webpage is by measuring things like how many other sites link to it.

Pages with first impressions – Pages that were seen by a user for the first time last month.

Total Download Size – The total file size of everything downloaded by ‘spiders’ while crawling our sites. This is important as if a site is too big, then search engines will crawl less of it at a time.

Total External Links – The number of links leading from other websites to yours.



Types of SEO

There are 4 main types of SEO (On-Page, Off-Page, Technical, and Local), but there are many more niche Types of SEO, specialism and distance blocks of SEO work too. Here is a complete list:

AMP SEO – Using AMP to improve ranking in search results. Using AMP can make pages load faster as they are a stripped-down (lighter) version of web pages.

App Store SEO – Working to get more downloads for an App in App Stores.

B2B SEO – SEO for websites that are targeted at business users. B2B SEO has a focus on being ranked well in directories and product/service comparison sites, as well as on search engines.

Black Hat SEO – SEO techniques that are against the terms and conditions set by search engines. These include things like buying backlinks or setting up PBNs (a network of sites that you run in order to make your site look like your site is linked to by many sites). Black Hat techniques generally only result in short term results, and risk being caught by search engines (who will penalise or de-rank sites). They are not worth the effort in most cases.

Brand SEO – Any branding activities online. Being mentioned on other sites (with a link or not) can improve your ranking.

Content SEO – A form of SEO that focuses solely on content (eg blogging, guest posting etc).

Competitor SEO – A focus on searches that include the word “vs” or “alternative” as they are so common.
Example: McDonalds might write an article titled “Big Mac vs Whopper” so that when people search for that term, their article is found. By doing this McDonalds can influence how people view the two products.

eCommerce SEO – SEO specifically used for increasing the likelihood of purchases online. This is different from regular SEO as there many unique factors on eCommerce sites (such as product descriptions and reviews).

Digital PR – Getting links in the press or on news sites, and reputation management via working to keep negative news out of search results.

Enterprise SEO – SEO for very large websites. Large sites have different problems and resources than smaller sites and so SEO work is very different than when working on smaller sites.

Grey Hat SEO – SEO techniques that are not against the rules but which are still obviously dodgy (and likely to be made against the rules in the future).

Image SEO – Optimising images to appear higher in image search results, and bring searchers to your webpage.

Internal SEO – Focussing on internal linking, site structure, and search results within a website.

International SEO – SEO for sites that operate in multiple countries. This can mean localisation of content, links etc, and creating multiple versions of a page in different languages.

JavaScript SEO – Optimising sites built using JavaScript. Search Engines generally find JavaScript more difficult to read, so extra care is needed to ensure they are indexed properly.

Local SEO – SEO for a business that operates in a specific location (such as a shop, or local delivery service). This is different to other types of SEO in that it is about a business, rather than a webpage. Local SEO is about making sure all mapping sites know about the business (as well as any sites which talk about that location).

Mobile SEO – A focus on mobile related SEO issues (such as mobile usability).

National SEO – Optimising for searches within one country (or with the country of operation in mind). National SEO is similar to Local SEO but has a focus on branding.

Off-Page SEO – Any SEO activity you do without editing the page you are working on (such as link building).

On-Page SEO – Any SEO activity you do on a webpage (such as improving content structure).

Parasite SEO – Posting links to yourself on high authority sites (eg Wikipedia, Buzzfeed, Medium etc). First coined in the early 2000s by Eli from Blue Hat SEO.

Programmatic SEO – A method that addresses the growing amount of search traffic by publishing landing pages on a large scale. As an example, Tripadvisor has a page for almost everything travel-related. Yelp has a page for all business searches. [As defined by]

PWA SEO – Using Progressive Web Apps to improve search ranking and performance.

Negative SEO – An attack by other sites in an attempt to decrease the ranking of your site in search. This generally involves using Black Hat techniques aimed at your site with the hope of being caught.

Non-Competitive SEO – Where your SEO efforts are focussed on helping your sector or an eco-system of businesses.
Example: You sell a product but don’t repair it. You create content to boost your business, but actively avoid any keywords related to repairing the product so that repair businesses can rank higher for them. Having a product that is easily repaired makes it easier to sell your product.

SaaS SEO – A set of optimization considerations for software as a service websites. Common SaaS SEO strategies include creating key landing pages, rich content integration, and finding blog opportunities. The most common challenges in SaaS SEO include competition from aggregator sites and limited search volume. [As defined by Chris Long of Go Fish Digital].

Semantic SEO – SEO for real-world objects or entities made up of people, places, and things (such as ideas and concepts). [As defined by Bill Slawski of Go Fish Digital]

SERP Feature SEO – The process of mining rich snippets and PAA (People Also Asked) for opportunities to enhance your current pages display on SERP results themselves (e.g. FAQ markup, product schema, etc).

Social SEO – Using Social Media to affect search rankings. While social signals may not affect search ranking directly, posts from some social networks do appear in search results, as do profiles. Social media can also be used to generate 2nd order links.

Technical SEO – SEO efforts that don’t revolve around content (such as improving page speed and information architecture).

Video SEO – Optimising videos and related meta details to gain more (and better) traffic from video hosting platforms.

Voice SEO – Optimising pages for voice search. Voice search is generally more question and answer based than text search and requires a specific technical markup.

White Hat SEO – SEO techniques that aim to follow terms and conditions set by search engines. Generally, the most practical way to build long term results.

And then there are platform-specific types of SEO, where you try to improve results on that platform. Some of the more common examples are: Amazon SEO, eBay SEO, Etsy SEO, Spotify SEO, YouTube SEO


It is also worth mentioning that the term SEO is often used by people who actually do nothing which will affect search results:

Fake Guru SEO – People who overrepresent their SEO knowledge and success in order to sell courses or other learning materials at a premium. The term Fake SEO Guru was coined by Tommy McDonald at SERP Logic.

Scam SEO – Unscrupulous “SEO consultants” applying long-dead SEO techniques such as over-use of meta tags and keyword stuffing in content on unsuspecting and unsophisticated customers.



Further Reading

More advanced SEO will need specialist skills. You might need to hire someone to help you. Or if you get a taste for it you can learn more yourself – the SEO section on this site can help, and we also publish SEO articles from experts around the web on our blog.

For small and/or simple sites though this guide should be enough to see you through and help you with any SEO task/problem that comes up. Even for most medium-sized sites, you can get by with just the below (depending on your definition of medium)!

If you do need to become a pro though, there is a great site called Learning SEO which gives you a whole roadmap of learning and brings the best articles from around the web together.



If you have any feedback on this guide or anything you think we should add, contact me at