What is SEO? SEO or Search Engine Optimization is a term you’ll commonly hear online. In fact, it’s become something of a buzzword for content writers, internet marketers, and others to hide behind.

Companies claim to write “SEO content” or “get you ranked” yet rarely deliver on the results.

That’s because there’s a lot of confusion about what SEO is. We’re here to clarify the confusion, explain what SEO is, and answer the common question, “how does SEO work”. False claims and misleading advice will never fool you again.

What is SEO? A Guide to Search Engine Optimization

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With our beginner’s guide to search engine optimization, you’ll have everything you need to start getting ranked in Google.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, means precisely what it says. Despite the confusion, the SEO meaning is to optimize a website to improve your ranking in a search engine, most commonly Google. What’s less clear is what is being optimized.

Your website’s technical factors (like page load speed and usability), content quality, and link building all improve your page’s rank within Google (i.e., where in the search results you appear). The better your SEO, the more relevant and popular your page will be with searchers, ranking higher.

Two critical parts to SEO:

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO refers to your page’s technical aspects and content. Boosting your on-page SEO can involve keywords in titles, meta descriptions, and headlines, as well as ensuring your site is optimized for Google’s Crawlers to find and understand.

Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to all your efforts outside your website. It primarily means link building, where you create links from high-value, authoritative sites to your websites. The more high-quality links you build, the higher you’ll rank.

The end result of search engine optimization is ranking so that you receive more organic traffic. Whether looking for a plumber, hunting for a new lawnmower, or researching ways to boost their business, searchers only review the first few results on a search engine results page (SERP).

If you’re not getting ranked, you’re not getting noticed.

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How does SEO work?

Once you know what SEO is, you’ll want to know how SEO works. The problem with most SEO approaches is they think about it the wrong way round.

From the SEO marketers’ perspective, the goal is to get ranked. To do so, they jump through Google’s hoops, using techniques to appear higher in the search rankings. Google, on the other hand, wants to provide its searchers with the most relevant answer to their query. It’s actively trying to find high-quality content because searchers will eventually go elsewhere if it doesn’t.

See the problem?

The SEO marketers don’t know how SEO works. Because they’ve missed the real point of search engine optimization, they think it’s about getting ranked. Google has it right – it’s about providing value.

Common “black hat” SEO tricks like keyword stuffing or link scraping will get you ranked – for a time. But Google will notice that customers don’t like your content or site – and your rank will plummet.

The only reliable way to do search engine optimization is to create value for your customers (while making it easier to be found).

Think about your customers – they want exciting and engaging content using keywords they’re likely to search for. They want easy-to-navigate sites that load quickly. And you’ll build backlinks from being an authoritative and well-written source of information – letting Google know you’re trustworthy.

Suddenly: SEO makes sense!

Don’t trick Google’s search algorithm. To quote Google themselves:

“You should build a website to benefit your users and gear any optimization toward making the user experience better.”

Search Engine Optimization | Where to begin?

With a customer-led SEO approach, we begin with a single question: Who are your customers?

While certain aspects of SEO are suitable for all sites – like increasing your page load times and improving site navigability – most SEO techniques require a firm focus on your customer base and what they want.

Think about what they’re interested in, why they buy your services or products, and what search terms they’ll use.

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Keyword selection

Keywords are the bedrock of search engine optimization. They’re related to the search queries your customers will use to answer a question or look for a service.

If you’re a lawnmower company, it could be: “best lawnmowers in 2022” or “electric lawnmower”.

Without these keywords, Google Crawlers – which hunt down and map every webpage – won’t locate and properly index your content. But there are other critical factors. The best keywords have a high search volume and low competition – unfortunately, we live in the real world, where you can rarely have both.

Selecting keywords is the art of balancing these two factors. You should try to target keywords with high to moderate volume but lower competition. You can go after low volume keywords if they’re highly relevant to your business, e.g., “best lawyers in Denver”.

Content creation

Let’s keep this simple. Here are four tips for SEO content:

  1. Deliver value. It’s our golden rule. If a customer wants to know about SEO, tell them about it. Promise a cheeseburger recipe; write it. Your customers don’t want irrelevant essays; they want the answer to their query.
  2. Mix it up. Bullet points. Quotes. Headers. Images. Breaking up your text with these elements will keep your readers engaged. It’s a lot less daunting than a wall of text.
  3. Add a call-to-action. SEO content is designed to build brand awareness and convert readers into customers. Avoid the hard sell; instead, feature a CTA at the end of the piece telling a customer to “buy now” or “book today”.
  4. Find a voice. There’s a lot of content out on the internet. You need to stand out.

Focus on Customer-Led Search Engine Optimization for Success

Answering “what is SEO” or “how does SEO work” isn’t about your company; it’s about the customer. You provide a service or product they want. Focus on that. How can you deliver value that will convert your current readers into future customers?

Otherwise, why bother getting ranked? SEO is marketing, after all. Oh, and always avoid black hat SEO tips – they never work!

Are you looking for a results-driven SEO agency to strategize, execute, and promote your online marketing? Contact Clicta Digital today for a free consultation!