What is Meant When We Say Search Engine Optimization

SEO or ‘Search Engine Optimization’- “Is the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine.” Our goal as “SEOs” is to get clients website’s ranking high within major search engines like Bing and Google for example.

Why is Search Engine Optimization Important?

In today’s competitive market, SEO is more important than ever. Search engines serve millions of users per day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.

“SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound leads (such as direct mail or print advertising) have a 1.7% close rate.”
“93% of online experiences begin with a search engine. (2016)”
“There are over 1.2 trillion global searches being conducted each month. (2016)”
“91% of internet users use search. (2016)”

SEO is an important but largely misunderstood marketing channel. On average visitors who come to a website from a Google, Bing or Yahoo search are more likely to make a purchase on a website than people who come from Email, Social Media or paid advertising.

Organic listings within Google or Bing can not be bought that’s where SEO comes in. SEO’s make changes to client websites so major search engines like Google can understand what the website is about and rank it accordingly in their index or search results.

Introduction to How Search Engines Work

First, Google is a search engine. Bing is a search engine along with Yahoo among a few other smaller search engines. Search starts with the web. It is currently made up of over 130 trillion individual pages and is growing.

Google navigates the web by ‘crawling’. This means Google’s search engine or crawler follows links from page to page. Additionally, website owners can choose whether or not their sites get crawled and included in Google or Bing’s index. Next, Google sorts the pages by their content and other factors. Once pages are crawled and sorted they are included in ‘The Index’.

Understanding Google’s Algorithm’s

Google uses programs and formulas to deliver the best results possible. Algorithms get to work looking for clues to better understand what you mean. Based on the clues, they pull relevant documents from their Index. They then rank the results using over 200 ranking factors. The results can potentially take a variety of forms but all this takes 1/8th of a second.

But Google Proactively Fights Spam

Google fights spam 24/7 to keep their search results relevant. The majority of spam removal is automatic. They examine other questionable documents by hand. If they find spam they take manual action. They can remove pages or entire websites from their search results. When they take action sometimes they will attempt to notify the website owners. Once they get notified site owners get a chance to fix their websites and notify Google that changes have been made.

Additional Related Reading:
How Google Search Works
What is a web search query?

The Basics of Search Engine Optimization

All Google, Bing and Yahoo searches can be condensed down into three types of “queries” or “searches”.

Informational– An “ad hoc” search or informational search is a search in which the goal is to find additional documents about a specific topic as the need arises. Think about blogs or ebooks. Someone may want to research a potential car purchase. So they may conduct a Google search to review car reviews etc.

Navigational– This is a keyword search in which the searcher wishes to go to a specific website or a web page on a specific. Essentially, a navigational query is searchers using a web search engine to navigate to a website.

Transactional– This is where the money is. These are the types of searches where the consumer is lower in the funnel and interested in making a purchase. Let’s use the car example someone may search “Used 2012 Kia forte for sale”. This is clearly a specific sample Google search. The consumer has a clear idea of the type of car they want and entered some specific criteria. They are more likely to make a purchase at this point.

Additional Related Reading: Three types of search queries you should know.

How Google Ranks Websites

There are over 200 ranking factors that contribute to Google’s algorithm. They can be broken out into “on page” and “off page” factors.

On Page Factors

Content or the HTML text on a website is an important ranking factor. Google reviews the text on a page to see if it matches with a person’s web search.

Keywords are another critical factor. Keywords form the basis of our research and inform the build out of content. Google provides a large amount of data along with other third party tools we can conduct research and analysis to see which keywords are driving traffic. There we build relevant “HTML” based content to start the SEO process.

H1 tag As you can see in the example below the H1 tag is another ranking factor. This informs both search engines and people what the content is about. The H1 tag should also include a keyword.

H1 tag example

Title Tag this element shows up both in Google’s search index and on the website as well. It is also a ranking factor and should contain a keyword.

Title tag example

Additional On Page Ranking Readings: Google ranking factors.

Links – The number of links pointing to a website along with the rate at which you are building these links.

Social – Connections & interactions

Personalization-Country & Locality

Trust – Is the website sketchy, does the site contain viruses.

Additional Off-Page Ranking Readings: Off-page ranking factors

Additional Readings on how we rank websites: Moz how to rank

Search Engine Optimization is critical for businesses that rely heavily on an online strategy. We conduct keyword research, write content, and optimize for these ranking factors so websites rank.

Some things to think about. Think about a product you have bought online recently and the steps you took before you bought something online. For example, before I bought my car I followed this process:

Informational
Search Term: [Reliable Used Cars], [2012 Kia Forte Consumer Reviews]

informational query kia

Transactional
Search Term: [Used 2012 Kia Forte for Sale]

transactional query

Key Takeaway
Our goal within the SEO industry is to have client websites show up at the right time with the right information.