What is Search Engine Optimization? – Part 1

By April 9, 2018SEO, Website Basics

Search Engine Optimization is the holy grail of website marketing for business-to-customer websites. If you believe that it would be good for any random user in the world/country to find your website through a google search (when NOT looking for your brand name specifically), then you’re interested in SEO – you’re interested in making your website as appealing as possible for a specific set of keywords or ideas.

Search engines like Google are in the business of providing the most credible and effective search results to their users. That’s why so many people continue to use Google – Google provides search results that answer the questions & queries of the users. If you want people to find your brand when they search for a fitting keyword like “cute dresses,” if you’re a clothing boutique, or “custom home builders,” if you’re a local home builder, then you’ll want to make sure your website is viewed as a credible source of said information.

Here's the thing...

There are hundreds of different factors that come into the way that Google “ranks” your website, and while it may seem daunting at first, following a few basic guidelines can make a world of difference. Write content that helps people answer their questions, format your website in a way that Google likes, don’t steal from other people. If you’re able to accomplish these 3 things, many of the specifics will work themselves out.

So, what do you do?

The Nitty Gritty

This video does a great job explaining the basics of SEO works and why you should care.

The more competitive your market is online, the harder it will be for search engines to think your website & content is more credible/important than an existing website they already have high up in the search results. Everyone wants to be in that number 1 organic spot (organic means “not an ad.”), but there’s only one spot that literally the entire world is competing for. Here’s how it works.

Every time someone users a search engine like Google to search the internet for their query, Google looks through copies of the entire internet for all of the results that fit what you’re looking for. There will be hundreds of millions, probably even billions of results of websites that have the content you may be looking for. However, Google’s sophisticated algorithm(s) sort through these billions of results to provide you the websites that best fit your query. That’s how you are presented with ads, local businesses, and then the top organic search results. SEO is the practice of formatting and marketing your website to search engine’s algorithms to make your site as “friendly” as possible.

Some of these steps can include making your website itself more secure to protect the user’s information. Google doesn’t want to send users to a fraudulent or infected website as that would make users less likely to keep using their service. An SSL is an indicator that you care about the quality of session a user has on your website and is an easy step to make sure your website is friendly without having to rework your content.

The content (text, images, videos, etc.) on your website tells Google what your website is about. The words you use, the way you’ve structured your headings, all give Google insight into what you think is the most important part of your business, and what queries you would fit into for a user’s search. For instance, in this particular post, we’ve referenced both home builders and cute dresses. Google has to be able to understand that we’re not building homes out of cute dresses, nor are we selling cute dresses with custom homes on them. The level of sophistication and automation that Google puts into their results is staggering.

Search Engines are also able to easily understand where content originates from. If you are competing with another company, and in order to try and “beat them at their own game,” copy and paste their services from their website onto yours, Google will be able to tell that your content on your website isn’t uniquely yours. Not only will you not get credit for the content on your website you took, but you will also be penalized for the copying.

In order for your website to have the best possible chance to come up for a given search query, you need to make sure your website adequately reflects your authority on said search query. If Google doesn’t think your website is credible for ANY keyword, you first need to make sure your website conquers the credibility game through unique content, secured by an SSL, with a friendly URL structure. If you can accomplish these first tasks, you’ll be able to start to aggressively market your website through real SEO practices.

The Point

Websites are constantly evolving and changing, and so are the algorithms that search engines use to index a website. Just because your website was good 2 years ago, doesn’t mean it’s any good now. An effective web marketer uses a website like a tool in his/her toolbelt, consistently updating and changing the content to better serve the needs of the business.