SEO for Dummies: Part One
This is a three-part series on how SEO works and what you can do to help improve your SEO.
January 15, 2020
SEO. Those three letters are thrown around in the digital world more than ‘quid pro quo’ in the political sphere and ‘ROI’ in a business meeting. So what does it actually mean and how can you leverage it to grow your business? In Part I of this series, we’ll outline the basics of SEO and how it generally works. Part II will cover Internal SEO – so what you can do on your website to improve your searchability. Part III will cover External SEO – what you can do outside your website, in other places online, to increase the likelihood that you’ll appear in targeted search results.
Let’s start at the top. It’s important to start here because understanding how you can improve your SEO becomes much easier if you have a basic knowledge of how it works and WHY it works in the way that it does.
SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. Essentially, SEO is the practice of creating your website and maintaining your online presence in a way that is favorable to Google’s organic search results. Why is this important? Because the more favorably Google lists you in search results, the more likely you are to be found by your target audience, which increases leads, sales, brand recognition and expertise perception online.
One of the first big points to establish when it comes to SEO is that Google has a monopoly on the market. Sure, there are other search engines out there. Bing? Yahoo? But just think for a second. Do you know anyone who actually uses those? Probably not. Google sets the rules when it comes to being found online and if you don’t play by those rules, you aren’t just losing the game. You literally aren’t playing the game.
So why does this matter? It’s important to understand that Google is a business just like you with customers and metrics and products. Google’s customers are the general public. If you typed in ‘luxury car dealer near me’ in an online search and Google returned a page full of used car dealers 100 miles away, you probably wouldn’t use the site or trust the site for other queries after that. Google has a vested interest in ensuring they are delivering search results to their customers that are on-point, accurate, and provide the best possible experience for the customer post-click. So how does Google ensure their search results achieve these things?
Google maintains their high level of accuracy and customer satisfaction with search results through a sophisticated algorithm they tweak constantly. In fact, in 2018 Google reported over 3000 updates to its’ search algorithm at an average of almost 9 per day. There are a variety of internal and external factors set in the algorithm that help Google to measure and rank your website during online search queries. Google makes no attempt to hide these factors. Actually, Google maintains complete transparency, publishing online each time major changes to the algorithm are made, and strongly encouraging all online businesses to follow them.
In Parts II & III of this series, we’ll focus on what these internal (meaning inside your website) and external (in other places online) variables are, and how they are key to establishing excellent SEO.