How Does SEO Work?

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Written by Neil in SEO with 5 comments

Updated February 22, 2017

Now that you’ve seen what search engine optimization can do for your website traffic, you might be thinking “that’s terrific, but how do I SEO my website?” There are two key aspects of SEO: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.

Confused Bird

On Page SEO

On page factors include things like your website content, structure, navigation and page load time (that’s why it’s important to have a good web host).

On Page SEO

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO is primarily based on the number, type, and quality of links pointing to your website. What search engines are looking for is lots of high quality, relevant websites linking to your website.

Links pointing to a website

The Battle

The overarching goal of Google and other search engines is to give the user exactly what they are looking for when they perform a search: the most highly relevant results.

Although search engines like Google do offer some degree of guidance in terms of what they’re looking for when it comes to SEO, technically speaking, no one (other than those who develop the search algorithms) truly knows the exact and complete science behind the search algorithms. Search engines don’t reveal this information. If they did, everyone would do exactly those things and the overarching goal would be defeated.

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But over time people have studied SEO. They’ve looked at sites which tend to rank well in the search engines, and by studying them have learned what works. 

This translates into a constant battle between search engines trying to offer users the most highly relevant content, and website owners (and SEO artists) attempting to decode the search algorithms and please the search engines.

As a result, the search engines are constantly modifying and updating their algorithms in order to provide a better user experience.

This constant updating of algorithms has resulted in some websites being skyrocketed towards the top of the search engine results pages bringing the website owner floods of traffic and newfound joy.

On the flip side, these same algorithm updates have proven to be detrimental to some website owners whose entire traffic base and possibly business have vanished overnight.

The latter is typically a result of spammy SEO tactics aimed at bolstering rankings. What does this mean? Let’s take a look at an example:

One key factor in SEO is the number of links on the internet pointing to your website (this is a part of off page SEO). How you go about obtaining these links is important. If you create great content which users love and share and thus your inbound links increase organically, that would be great for SEO. If on the other hand you purchased hundreds of comment spam links which were blasted out in the span of one hour, you would probably get no love or maybe even punished by the search engines.

This highlights the importance of the practices undertaken to develop a website’s SEO profile. While this article is meant to serve as an introduction to the mechanics of SEO, we’ll be taking a deeper look at on page and off page SEO in upcoming posts (be sure to subscribe!). 

Remember that SEO is not a perfect science. Depending on the keywords being targeted (which takes proper keyword research – one of the very first steps of SEO is knowing what keywords to target), the competition for said keywords, and other factors such as the age of your website and any SEO history, it could take between weeks and months to rank for your keywords. Depending on your niche, you may be competing with other websites and companies with deep pockets.

SEO is an ongoing process, there is no such thing as a one-time SEO procedure, and there is no guarantee of ranking. Anyone who attempts to guarantee you rankings in a short period of time is either lying or will engage in spammy tactics which may bring results in the short term but will eventually end up getting your site penalized.

The number one SEO tip is to create a website that people will love!

Search engines attempt to provide the best user experience, which is measured in large by a website’s popularity on the Web. While many focus on pleasing the search engines, focus on on pleasing your users and let the search engines take care of the rest!

#1 SEO Tip

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