– TECHTONIC SALES {Web Development} –
SEO: A VERY BASIC INTRO
 
Stephanie Lanik, Strategic Marketing Coordinator
4 SEPTEMBER 2018

If you want to get into the nitty-gritty, geeky details (yay!), we cover those in other posts. But if you’re just getting into SEO or are just looking for a refresher, read on!

 

SEO: A Very Basic Intro
Spiders and Crawlers! Black Hats and Cannibalization! Spending Money!

We’ll admit it, at a glance, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can sound pretty scary (we’re as surprised as anyone that “eye-of-newt” didn’t sneak into the SEO lexicon).

Pictured: Google’s team making changes to their algorithm.

But if you can get past some of the oddly grotesque vocab and the internet jargon, SEO is actually a pretty nifty and wickedly helpful tool.

Of course, SEO is as delicate a science as any, and mastering it takes a good bit of time and effort. But the basics of SEO are surprisingly straightforward–simple enough that anyone can start improving a website’s SEO by making a few small changes.

Here’re a few things you need to know to get this SEO party started. (Whoop)!

What is SEO?

SEO is the set of best practices that you can do both on-page (on your actual website) and off-page (on third-party sites and on other people’s websites) to increase organic (unpaid, often more meaningful) traffic to your site.  In other words, SEO is the art of getting found online. It helps search engines like Google–and everyone who uses search engines, i.e-pretty much everyone–to find your business faster.

An SEO expert will look at a whole mess of factors to improve the/their site. Which keywords get used, how often and where those keywords appear, how sites are mapped and where links lead, backlinking, metadata–there are hundreds tiny details that all make up a good site. A really good SEO team will keep their finger on the pulse. They monitor changes in search engine structure, track fluctuations in traffic and content popularity, and run experiments to see how search engines react (i.e Will a video or a picture work better? What keywords get better recognition?)

“A really good SEO team will keep their finger on a pulse…”

At the risk of stating the obvious: search engines are crazy important. Internet users make 6.6 billion searches every day, which shouldn’t really be that surprising, since about 93% of all internet activity begins with a search engine.  (I used Google to find and verify these figures!) Figuring out how search engines work, therefore, is one of the most important aspects of doing good SEO work.

How Does Search Engine Work?
Behind every good search engine is a lot of constantly-refined, mind-numbing algorithmic math. But basically, search engines works like this:

Imagine the internet as a really big, constantly expanding ant farm dug by terrifyingly industrious and intelligent ants. (Humming “The Ants Go Marching” while you do this really brings this analogy to life.) The tunnel system is constantly changing and really complex. Some pathways intersect others, some dead end, some collapse and are rerouted–you get the idea.

“Behind every good search engine is a lot of constantly-refined, mind numbering algorithmic math.”

Looking for something online is like an ant climbing into the anthill and down into the tunnels. He might have a general sense of where he wants to go or what he wants when he gets there–but actually getting there can be a bit tricky. (They’re infinitely complex tunnels, remember…) There may be plenty of ways to get to the information he needs, but finding it fast poses a problem.

Search engines are like map makers for our metaphorical ant farm. Search engines will send out bots, sometimes called “spiders” or “crawlers,” which run around the tunnels of the internet (from link to link), figuring out where the tunnels go, what information they contain, and how to traverse them effectively. (For the purpose of our ant farm example, suppose these are adorable, itsy-bitsy vegetarian spiders.)

These spider-bots work serious overtime–they’re constantly “crawling” websites, keeping a record (“indexing”) what they find. When a bot hits a link, it follows it, and if it hits a link on the next page, it follows that, and so forth, endlessly crawling down links to see where they go and what they contain. All the while, the search engines pay attention to how the analogical ants (us humans) move around, too, seeing which tunnels are popular and relevant, and which ones aren’t worth traversing.

Getting Found.
All this gathered information goes into a making the Search Engine Reports Page (SERP)–the page that pops up when you search something that ranks what fits your search best. This ranking is vital, because if a website doesn’t show up on the first page (or even within the first few links), it might as well not show up at all: over 93% of internet searches don’t go past the first page.
Getting as close to the top as possible is the ultimate goal of SEO.  A website with good SEO will be built to make search engines and people both think it’s a good site.  It’ll use keywords that search engines will find relevant (but not overused), and content that readers will actually enjoy. It’ll include accurate, specific titles and tags, and it will be tailored to specific audiences as much as it can be.
What SEO Can Do For You:
SEO has a whole slew of benefits–we’ll talk about some of the less obvious ones in later posts. It’s important to note here, though, that good SEO not only drives more traffic–it gets you better traffic. If your website’s content is tailored to fit your ideal customer base, then search engines will steer those internet users your way.

One last important distinction: it is, of course, possible to buy your way to the top of a SERP. But if you don’t have the cash to bribe search engines, don’t fret: Pay-Per-Click (PPC) campaigns can be really helpful, but they only go so far and are practically useless without good content to back them up. That’s because, in general, people tend to view organic links as more honest and credible. In fact, over 70% of traffic within search engines moves through organic links!  As in most things, money can help. But nothing–not even extra cash–beats honest, solid content and crafty SEO.

Conclusion:

Of course, these are just some basic considerations. A lot more goes into a successful SEO. There are plenty of great resources if you want to learn more. Google has a pretty straightforward intro as to how they run things, and the SEO superhumans at MOZ have put together a veritable beginners’ bible. Both are well worth your time if you want to get a better command on this increasingly vital facet of marketing.

And, of course, we post all sorts of helpful tips, tools, and tutorials here. Be sure to check back often or, better yet, drop us a line, and we’ll send you all the fun web and digital marketing content your little heart could ever desire!

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Techtonic Sales – {Web Development} (formerly known as RG4Web) is the web design and development department within Techtonic Sales. Our process was created specifically to focus on small to mid-sized companies to make powerful websites accessible to all business. We believe good design should be available to everyone.

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