SEO is a multifaceted process that involves optimizing both your website and off-site elements to improve search engine rankings and generate high-quality organic traffic.
When marketers discuss SEO, the conversation is often focused on things like keywords, Google’s algorithms, and backlinks. However, at its heart, SEO is about aligning with your audience, the way they think, and the intent underlying their Google searches. It’s about knowing what your audience is searching for, why they’re searching for it, and then providing them with effective solutions.
Ultimately, SEO marketing helps you attract your target audience at each stage of the customer journey, which results in more brand touch points, leads, conversions, and revenue.
How SEO works
The internet gives humanity access to nearly unlimited information. Yet, few people actually know how search engines work in order to deliver just the right answer in the blink of an eye. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend watching Google’s video about how search works for beginners.
But, if you don’t have time, I’ll summarize it as it pertains to search engine marketing below.
Crawlers visit your website in order to understand what it’s about. These bots look at the types of content that users see, such as text and pictures, as well as things they can’t, like structured data, and image alt text.
They do this across billions of pages on the internet to understand every page on each website, and how they all relate to one another.
Then, search engine algorithms rank your content based on a specific set of criteria. For instance, do you have relevant content to satisfy a user’s search terms? Does your website perform well in mobile search? Are you an expert on the topic?
How well your site ranks in the search engine results pages (SERPs) depends on several factors, including how well you optimize your content to rank for relevant keywords and the overall quality of the user experience you provide.
In simple terms, SEO works by demonstrating to search engines that your content is the best result for the topic at hand.
This is because all search engines have the same goal: To show the best, most relevant results to their users.
Precisely how you do this depends on the search engine you’re optimizing for.
If you want more organic traffic to your web pages, then you need to understand and cater to Google’s algorithm. If you want more video views, then it’s all about YouTube’s algorithm.
Since each search engine has a different ranking algorithm, it’d be impossible to cover them all in this guide.
So, going forward, we’ll focus on how to rank in the biggest search engine of them all: Google.