In general, SEO involves multiple practices, including keyword research, technical SEO, content, and link-building.
Sometimes we can feel like SEO is a membership-only club that only the most esteemed of marketers are invited to.
We’ve said this before and to make it clear once and for all, SEO is not a dark art – although many agencies try to mask it as such.
So it’s time to explain how SEO works in simple terms.
How does SEO work?
Website search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing your website to improve your rankings on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Appearing at the top of SERPs demonstrates to users that search engines see your site as the best possible solution for their query. In turn, the inherent trust people have in search engines results in a higher click-through rate and more traffic.
However, it’s important to remember that it’s about optimizing your site and presenting content in a way oriented around value and relevance to your users first, and SERP placement second. This is not about search engine manipulation or dishonest tricks.
SEO involves multiple practices, including keyword research, technical SEO, content, and link-building. Conducting a technical site-wide audit (also known as on-site optimization) lays the groundwork for your campaign.
This may involve fine-tuning rich data (about your company, physical location, industry, and so on), your site’s titles and architecture, as well as the structure, URLs, layout, and a host of other elements to ensure that your site be accessible and easy to use for people and robots.
One thing to keep in mind is that while Google may seem to have the eye of a hawk at times, it is actually more comparable to a bat – Google doesn’t see your website as a visual page the way your customers do.
It works instead by sending robots (crawlers) to analyze the backend code and process the collected data, to determine the purpose of your website and the solutions it provides. It can then be returned as a result of relevant search terms.
Of course, Google can also render your site in a visual sense, but code is a highly important aspect. This code contains information about your site’s layout and the content within it. Everything from your headers, architecture and links, to the structure of your navigation menu.
Where does content come into SEO?
Creating unique, high-quality content for your top landing pages and a blog oriented around your industry and your search habits will only help improve your rankings.
That’s why it’s so important to research your audience and create what are known as buyer personas – you can then be confident that your content is being tailored to the right people and your content prepared for the search intent (information, purchase, others).
Using tools like Google Analytics (GA), Search Console , and SEMRush to determine which keywords are driving traffic to your site can help you figure out what needs to be highlighted in SEO on your site.
What about “link building”?
Of course, content has more value than just keywords. Producing great content reinforces your company’s authority and expertise in your field.
No matter what any SEO agency tells you, only high quality content gets high quality organic links. Welcome to link building. Think of it as something similar to “likes”. The more people like (link to) your content, the more validated and valuable Google will rate your content and the higher in the SERPs you will appear. Similar to “likes” on social media, Google will associate you with whoever has linked to you – spam tends to link to spam, and reputable sources tend to link to other reputable sources.
Google also takes into account your customer’s behavior during and after their visit to your website. How long did they stay? Did they visit another location to find the answer they needed?
If Google determines that your site is too high in the SERPs, but users are finding the answer elsewhere, then your site’s ranking will go down.
The best way to ensure your customers stay on your site is to make sure your site is accessible, usable, and the content is relevant and valuable. It’s all about the user. The user will always come first. Optimizing the site to ensure it is more accessible to search engines comes second.
Why do I need an SEO agency?
It’s easy for us to write a brief explanation of how SEO works, but putting it into practice is one of the keys to making it all work. There are many steps to optimizing your website, from web design , content creation and keyword research, to fundamental coding and website accessibility.
SEO isn’t just about revamping your website , putting up a few blog posts and waiting for traffic to come in – SEO is an ongoing and ever-evolving practice, not a one-time solution.
Google will update, search engines will change their algorithms, and new technologies and advancements will continue to be developed – with snippets highlighted, for example.
Keeping on top of SEO and industry changes really is a full-time job. Hiring the staff, technology, and even office space to successfully improve and maintain your ranking in the SERPs over the long term can be an expensive undertaking.
By hiring an agency, you are removing the cost (and hassle) of recruiting, as well as benefiting from specialized knowledge and technology.