How Does SEO Work

A guide for beginners who want to understand how SEO works

You know your business website needs SEO, but you’re not quite sure what it is. Search Engine Optimization is ridiculously important. It can help you gain customers and beat out the competition. The whole idea is to increase your website’s ranking so that you can help search engines like Google drive more traffic to your website. I cannot stress just how important SEO is, but today, I will attempt to simplify the answer to your question “how does SEO work?”

How Does SEO Work?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a series of techniques used to help a website have better visibility on search engines.  One huge thing to make note of is that SEO only has to do with organic (unpaid) results. It has nothing to do with ads including PPC (pay-per-click) where you would bid to come up in a designated space for ads on search results for a search engine and pay each time someone clicks.

The great thing about SEO is that it drives traffic long term, as opposed to only when you’re running ads. A good SEO strategy can help your brand, web traffic, and revenue. Investing time into SEO is probably one of the best way to assure your ROI (return on investment).

How Does SEO Work from a Search Engine’s POV?

A search engine’s job is to look at the query from a user and return the most relevant, timely, and useful results. In order to do this, search engines (Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go) use a type of program called web crawlers. Web crawlers will go to a website, follow links, and store the information that is on the pages so they can recall it when asked. This is called indexing. 

Once the crawler goes on your site and sees all the information, it organizes the information on an index based on the keywords that are relevant to the page’s content. Because of this index, search engines can quickly serve results to people who type in a term into a search engine.

How do Search Engines Decide the Content to Serve

Each search engine has its own algorithm. This algorithm determines what content is best for each query and is usually based on a combination of popularity and relevance (although there are plenty more things involved here).

How do Search Engines Read Websites

A crawler is not human, so they read differently than we do. For example, they can only read through the HTML of the page. So, (at least until image recognition tech gets better), a search engine can only pull certain pieces of information from an image, and that is why it is so important to SEO your images by adding things like “alt” attributes. If you don’t do this, it is quite possible that the search engine will ignore the image. Same thing goes for other non-text content (video, audio, etc).

What Are the Main Things to Consider in SEO?

Content

More than anything, content is key. Writing good content that is easy to read and relevant to your audience is the most important part of your SEO strategy. You want both crawlers and your audience to easily understand what your website is about. You want the content to be good so that people stay on the page longer. You don’t want to use click bait since it increases bounce rate, and search engines look at this type of thing when weighing your website.

Backlinks

Imagine that very popular cheerleader in high school. Everyone knows her and everyone talks about her. When a new kid in school arrives, she will probably be one of the people he learns about first. A website that has lots of backlinks is much easier to be found by search engines as it crawls other websites. But, it is important that these links come from quality sites – because if a spammy site or a site with viruses links to your site, search engines will associate yours with this and downgrade yours as well.

Keywords

Keywords help you to get in front of a targeted audience. Search engines will look at your keywords for clues as to what your site is about. You don’t want to use a kabillion keywords, and you certainly don’t want to repeat the same keyword over and over again, but you do want it to be clear what your site/page is about.

Pro Tip: Stay away from black hat methods (example keyword stuffing). Search engines are smart, and only getting smarter – they will know when you resort to unethical means and penalize your site for it.

What are White Hat SEO Strategies I Can Implement?

Keyword Research 

You need to start here. In order to find keywords, you need to use tools, such as Google Ad Words Keyword Planner. Here you will be able to see how many searches are done by people for a particular keyword or phrase and how much competition is out there for it. You want to look for keywords that have lots of searches and less competition.

Optimize HTML

Once you have amazing, relevant, and easy to read content that is based on your keyword research; you will need to optimize it with HTML. This can be a bit tricky since the algorithms are always chancing. But done properly, this can make a huge difference when it comes to web rankings.

Link Building

Link building is a tricky thing. Search engines are often demonizing this technique, but if you build natural links, they can have a great impact on the traffic driven to your site. A good idea is to look for sites that are of high quality and relevant to your industry or business. Work out ways to get a link on their site, guest blogging is often a good way to go about this.
It is a good idea to have an expert handle your SEO strategy. BinaryBits offers SEO services for all kinds of businesses including SEO audits, SEO implementation, SEO writing and link building. Want to work with us to improve your rankings, traffic, branding, and conversions? Want to get more information? Drop us a line and we’ll schedule a call to chat about your needs.