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What Is SEO? Solve The Puzzle With This Four-Minute Guide

No fluff, no sales pitch…Give us four minutes, and you’ll get an explanation of the fundamentals of SEO that anyone can understand and, better yet, utilize.


SEO IS: A way to improve your quality traffic, rankings, and visibility online.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a digital marketing strategy designed around increasing the amount of Organic traffic coming to your site (traffic that comes from search engines), as well improving the quality of your users. This is primarily done by targeting Keyword Phrases (what you type into the Google search bar) that both match the intent of the searcher and have worthwhile search volume. These keywords and keyword phrases are represented within your content, Title Tags, and Meta Descriptions. Numerous other factors, such as links, overall site health, and user experience also contribute towards increased visibility in the search engines.

SEO IS: Making your site the best answer to as many relevant questions as possible

If you’re asking “what is SEO?”, you need to also ask “What is Google?” A search engine, right? But what is a search engine? That’s a little more complicated to define…
At its most basic definition, search engines answer questions. You type your search in, and Google presents the best results, or answers, to your query. A competent SEO campaign understands what relevant questions users are asking in Google, and adapts their site to answer as many of those questions as possible. By tailoring the content of your site to the intent of your perfect customer, your site and specific pages rank for more of these keywords, resulting in more traffic and higher conversion rates.

SEO IS: Google rewarding you for having a well-built site and following best practices

What is SEO? Appealing to the search engines and humans alike. Google wants to show the best possible result for each search, which goes beyond just the words on the page. Several technical aspects, such as the speed of your site, the crawlability (how easily Google’s robots can read it), redirecting broken pages, mobile friendliness, and more can have a significant impact on your SEO success. The best content in the world won’t do anything if your site is a jumbled mess. Ensure your site is up to current best practices, and Google may reward you in kind.

SEO IS: Very, very involved

If you wanted the answer to “What is SEO?” to be “Something quick and easy”, we have sour news. SEO is a great deal more difficult, dynamic, and involved than the elevator pitch above. There are hundreds of ranking factors within Google’s algorithm, with 500 to 600 changes every year, more than one a day. However, the foundation remains the same. Want to perform SEO? Here’s the quick and dirty details you need to remember:

  1. Find out what people are already searching for online
  2. Write great content focused on those searches, providing value that is unique to your brand
  3. Earn useful links that point to that content, and encourage your users to do the same

What is SEO not?

SEO IS NOT: An overnight fix

SEO is like marriage or getting a teardrop tattoo: if you’re not ready to commit, it’s not for you. In general, SEO takes 4-6 months of constant effort before tangible results begin to form. Fortunately, results tend to improve over time, meaning your second 4-6 months will prove much more fruitful than your first 4-6 months. The longer you engage with a competent SEO campaign, the more success it will bear, but you need to commit to the time.

SEO IS NOT: Tricks to make Google like you

If Google likes links and keywords, we can just buy links and paste some keywords in our content and be good, right? Yes, you can. For a while. But Google is smart, and that’s not what SEO is. If it’s clear you’re trying to get away with something, they’ll notice and can penalize your site. This is something called “Black Hat SEO”, aggressive or conniving strategies that focus on appealing to the search engine only, not a human audience. These often violate a search engine’s terms of service, and won’t get you far. By developing a natural strategy that focuses on your customers (a “White Hat” strategy), you’ll see significantly more success with much improve sustainability. And it’s not too hard to get started.

SEO IS NOT: A one-time deal

Eat better foods and go to the gym for a month, and you’re set for life… right? If only. What is SEO? It’s a constant, ongoing process. The rules are continuously changing, competition comes and goes, and there’s always more keywords left to conquer. The moment you stop your SEO campaign, you lose. It may take weeks or months, but those rankings can vanish and traffic can dwindle. No one ever won “King of the Hill” without fighting for it. Want to be number one? Be ready for the long game.

Obviously, there is a great deal more to know about SEO, such as how to track results, specific strategies for local, national, and ecommerce sites, site speed, and more. However, if you follow the above and prioritize, you’ll already have an edge over your competition.

To learn more, contact our experts at SocialSEO. Let us help take your business to the next level in the search engines, Social Media and PPC.