Search Engine Optimization 101

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search results, as opposed to other channels like direct, referral, and paid advertising. To do good SEO, it’s important to understand how search engines work. 

Search engines are answer machines trying to return results that are useful to a user’s query. One of the biggest goals of your website should be to create useful, informational, keyword-rich content that ensures a quality experience for your target customers. In the vast majority of cases, what is good for SEO is also good for the customer experience. 

When a search engine delivers a page of results to you, it can measure the success of the rankings by observing how you engage with those results. If you click the first link, then immediately hit the back button to try the second link, this indicates that you were not satisfied with the first result. Search engines seek the “long click,” where users click a result without immediately returning to the search page to try again.

How Do Search Engines Work?

The job of search engines is to provide the most relevant, high-quality results that will answer a search query as fast as possible. So how do they know which results to show? Crawling, indexing, and ranking are fundamental processes that dictate what content is eligible to appear in the search results and how high up it will appear. Recently, Google’s Martin Splitt gave a non-technical explanation of how they work. 

It’s a simple analogy. Imagine a librarian has a new book that they need to put away. First, they need to learn what it’s about, what topics it relates to, and what other books it used as source material or references. The librarian is a crawler, or Google Search Bot, and the new book is a website or web page.

Next, the librarian has to figure out where to put this new book in the library. They must read the book, understand its content, relate it to other existing books, and then add it to the library’s catalog. The catalog is Google’s index, a huge database of web pages. 

Building on Martin’s analogy, let’s say the new book is going to be reviewed to appear on a list of the best books about a certain topic. The reviewer’s process is the algorithm Google uses to hierarchically rank pages into a set of search results.

The link structure of the web serves as a proxy for votes and popularity; higher quality sites and information earn more links than their less useful, lower quality peers.

How People Interact with Search Engines

When you look at the billions and billions of queries that are typed into a search engine every day, they can be grouped into three general types of searches:

Do: transactional queriesSearching with the intent of buying something. Examples: “Plane ticket to NYC,” “Best laptop deals,” etc.

Know: informational queriesSearching to get information. Examples: “What is SEO?” “What’s the best restaurant in Utah?” etc. 

Go: navigational queries Going directly to a specific website. Examples: “,” “,” etc.  

The primary responsibility of search engines is to serve relevant results to their users, so make your content relevant to users. 

Why is SEO Important?

Here are just a few reasons:

How Does SEO Help My Business?

SEO offers a host of benefits to businesses of any size, in every industry, from local restaurants to B2B software giants. For businesses looking to be more visible in the search results, drive more conversions, and inspire brand loyalty, SEO can help. Here’s how:

Get to page one

Build credibility and trust

SEO converts better

What’s good for SEO is good for users

SEO offers the best ROI

SEO prepares you for the future

Optimize for local search

Billions of people are making billions of queries each day on search engines, 85% of clicks go towards organic results, and Google is driving hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue for over 1.5 million US businesses. SEO is only gaining more importance for marketers in virtually every industry from companies of all shapes and sizes. If you are in business, chances are, your customers are searching for related products and services and starting and finishing their associated buying journeys here. All of the research bears this out. What are you waiting for? 

10 Steps to Building an SEO-Friendly Website

New to SEO? That’s okay. In this guide, we will walk through the process for determining keywords, URLs, title tags, meta descriptions, adding structured data, creating good content, mapping out internal links, acquiring external links, and generating calls to action.

Search engines measure how keywords are used on pages to help determine the relevance of a particular piece of content to a query. One of the best ways to optimize a page’s rankings is to ensure that the keywords you want to rank for are prominently used in titles, text, and metadata.

Generally speaking, as you make your keywords more specific, you narrow the competition for search results, and improve your chances of achieving a higher ranking.

Since the dawn of online search, folks have abused keywords in a misguided effort to manipulate search engines. This involves “stuffing” keywords into text, URLs, meta tags, and links. Unfortunately, this tactic almost always does more harm than good for your site; in fact this practice will directly lead to your site being penalized in search rankings.

The point of using keywords is not to rank highly for all keywords, but to rank highly for the keywords that people are searching for when they want what your site provides.

Step 1: Determine Site Architecture

Include the terms that your target market is searching for in your header navigation.

Geoff Atkinson

Step 2: Choose Target Keyword

One of the first steps in any good SEO strategy is creating a list of the keywords you want to go after.

Geoff Atkinson

Step 3: Include Target Keyword in URL

When Google’s Search Bots hit a given page, you want to ensure that they can easily understand what it’s all about.

Geoff Atkinson

Step 4: Include Target Keyword in Title Tag

Step 5: Summarize Target Keyword in Meta Description

Step 6: Add Structured Data to Page

Step 7: Style Content According to Search Intent

Step 8: Include Internal Links

Step 9: Acquire External Links

Step 10: Write A Call to Action

I don’t like content for content’s sake. I’m not a fan of blogs either. I prefer integrating content onto core pages that convert.

Geoff Atkinson

So there you have it – the basics of a sound page by page SEO strategy. This a proven method to build pages that capture more qualified leads surfing the web and drive more revenue for your business. 

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