How Does SEO Work?
January 9, 2013
From optimizing meta tags to keyword placement, there is a lot of talk on this blog that covers the ins, outs, and intricacies of Search Engine Optimization. However, as we find ourselves at the beginning of a New Year, perhaps now is a great time to return to fundamentals and discuss a pretty important question: Exactly how does SEO work?
Search engines have become a staple in anyone’s Internet experience. Google is now the default medium to locating a local restaurant’s hours, reading the news of the world, discovering a new business or service, or settling a wager about what the restaurant was called in the introduction to Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (“Club Obi Wan”). “Google” has made its way into the American English lexicon as both a noun and a verb, cementing the impact of the search engine on modern life.
Naturally, appearing among the top results in a search engine query can have a pretty massive effect for brands, businesses, and much more. SEO, bluntly stated, is the process of revising the code and content of a site or a particular page so it will appear higher in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). So how do you get to the top?
If we are going to investigate the mechanisms of SEO, it’s crucially important to understand how search engines operate. When a user searches for a keyword, they “Google it.” Then, Google sends the keyword query to a database, or a series of servers of indexed web pages, that generates the most relevant search result based on your keyword. On one hand, the search engine needs to return the most relevant data to ensure that their searches are trusted by users across the globe. On the other hand, businesses and brands try to match their content to the search queries that might lead them to customers and conversions. That’s where optimizing comes in.
How does SEO work? SEO works in two ways: First, SEO looks at the most important factors on-site, including content and coding that might lead search engines to your content from their index. Second, SEO looks at ways to build your profile off-site, by building links.
Two of the primary pieces of code that are modified during optimization are the title tag and meta description. The title tag is prime real estate, the number one piece of code that will help search engines match your site with a potential search-suitor. The meta description, commonly known as that small description under a page in a search result, is a call-to-action; above all, this is designed to convince could-be customers to click. Combing over your content for relevant keywords is also a crucial component for optimization, ensuring that keywords appear in headers (H1 tags), and throughout your content in a way that is relevant, unique, and natural.
Search engines find your site in two ways: You can submit your URL to a search engine’s index so that they know it should be included in relevant results pages, or, you can get other sites within your niche to link to your URL. The more pathways that you provide a search engine to find your site, the higher and higher it will potentially appear on results pages.
So when you’re building your site, create your content for your user, but take advantage of ways to single your site out in results pages–a great call to action, a top-notch title tag, or killer content are great places to start. For more help, contact us today!