What is SEO & How Does It Work?
Being in the web design & development field, I get asked this question a lot.
a lot, a lot, a lot.
I’ve seen a ton of articles explaining tips & tricks and how to improve your websites SEO.
Which is fantastic. I mean, tips & tricks are great. I love tips & tricks.
But, wouldn’t those tips & tricks make A TON more sense….if you knew what SEO was in the first place?
There aren’t too many articles focusing on WHAT it is.
(Well, there is….but most of them are in techy-coded-nerd language..so that doesn’t help.)
So, I’m going to break down the basics for you.
I’m here to give you a brief overview of WHAT SEO is, so you can better understand those fantastic tips & tricks that are floating around the internet.
What does SEO stand for?
Search Engine Optimization
Cool? And……what’s the mean?
Well…. Search Engine’s….are like Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.
Optimization means to maximize efficiency.
So Search Engine Optimization refers to the strategies & techniques that are used to improve your website’s ranking on Google.
First…let’s look at how search engines work.
Google has search-bots, kinda like robots that “crawl” the internet. These bots crawl the web to find new websites and web pages. They use links from page to page, to find and crawl more pages. Google sorts the pages by many types of factors, like content, for example. Then it puts them into a big organized Google database, called “The Index.” (which can be compared to an encyclopedia index.)
When you search on Google, you usually type in what you would like to find, right?
Like for example, if I was looking to find out how to hard boil eggs…. I would type in: “How to hard boil eggs”
Google reads that….pulls out the keywords….and tries to find you the answer to your search.
Here’s the thing… Search engines want you to find what you’re looking for. They only want to show you relevant results to your search. Their goal is to be accurate & efficient. They don’t want you to have to go to the 5th page to find what you’re looking for. That being said, they try to place the most “relevant” answers to your search….at the top of the page.
How Do They Know What Information To Bring Up?
Well, Google has algorithms that they use to help them try to pull up accurate, relevant information. Basically, Google “ranks” websites and pages, using over 200 factors.
Some of these factors are:
- What’s the date that the page was published?
- How many visitors that have been on the page?
- How long do people stay on the page?
- How long does it take the page to load?
- Any grammar or spelling mistakes?
- Is the website mobile responsive?
…and literally a ton more of other factors.
So, google takes all of that information into account and that’s how they “rank” your search results to help you find good, reliable, accurate answers.
(Want a more in depth, interactive explanation of how a Google Search Works? Look at this)
Now let’s dig into HOW you can actually show up in Google’s search results.
What’s the biggest factor when it comes to SEO?
(besides being Google’s best friend)
Content. Content. Content. Content.
Content makes the (internet) world go round’.
(That’s why having a blog on your website could be very beneficial for SEO. Blogging gives the google bots more content to scan through. Don’t know what a blog is? I explained blogging in a previous post here)
Think about it.
If you have good content, people will come to your website. They will refer your website to other people. They will brag about your website to everyone they meet. Your website will have more visitors. Your visitors will STAY on your website, because you have AWESOME content. Your page’s will load fast because your content is prime & not full of super large images or broken codes.
So, write write write write. Give the world what they need to know. Inform them. Educate them.
Give the people what they want!
I know it might be tempting to write your content so that Google picks up your website, but you have to remember that you’re writing your content for people, not search engines. If you write like a robot….no one is going to want to read your content.
If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”
“The words users would type to find your pages” — Leads me to my next big SEO factor….
Keywords. Keywords. Keywords. Keywords.
(I’m being really annoying repeating these words, I know, but they’re SO important)
Why do keywords matter?
Well, when you search Google….what do you type in?
If you want to find a laundry mat in your area, you would never type in:
“I want my dirty clothes to be clean, so I totally need a place that will help me do this.”
What? No. That’s confusing.
You would type in: “Laundry Mats in Buffalo NY”
Now google goes running in their lovely index full of websites, scoping out which ones use the keywords “Laundry-Mat, Laundry, Buffalo, etc”
(And google is so smart that it even pulls out: the synonyms to your keywords & similar areas, when you type in a location.)
That’s why keywords are important to use in your content, and on your website in general because that’s how Google finds out if your relevant enough to display in someone’s search results.
So for example, Google would know that “Marty’s Laundry Mat” is a laundry mat because it says “laundry-mat/laundry” a bunch of times in his content, on his website.
“So I can just type in laundry a million times on my site and google will see my keyword & put me on the first page, smack dab at the top, right?” No way jose. Content is king here. Keywords are a secondary technique to content.
More wise words from Google:
“Don’t fill your page with lists of keywords, attempt to “cloak” pages, or put up “crawler only” pages. If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don’t intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.”
So, when reading SEO tips/tricks, just remember…
there are over 200 factors that Google takes into consideration when ranking websites. Improving one factor is more then likely not enough to make you jump from page 6 to page 1. SEO isn’t a quick fix to improving traffic to your site, it’s a long-term strategy that constantly needs to be maintained, especially since google changes their algorithms frequently. (Meaning, Google is constantly changing up their 200+ search-ranking factors)
This explanation is only the beginning to the wonderful, complex, insane world of SEO but since it’s been such a hot subject for business owners, bloggers & internet marketers, I figured I would try to de-code the complexity of it before you attempt to boost your google-search ranking. Hope this article helped!