If you're reading this, you are one of two kinds of people: an entrepreneur, overworked business manager, small business, etc looking for answers about how SEO works and how you can use it in your organization, or you're a knowledgeable marketer with a lot of experience in SEO. These articles are not meant to be an in-depth detailed view of all things that incorporate SEO. These articles are meant to ensure anyone who reads them can understand exactly how this process can benefit their business.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of making every page of your website appealing to search engines like Google and Bing. These search engines are actively looking for the very best content on the internet to place at the top of their organic search results (results that aren't paid for like advertisements). Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google said in 2018, "The Internet is a cesspool of information." He also said, "Every 2 days we create as much information as we did up to 2003". It's pretty clear to those of us in the industry, and especially from these very candid statements, that Google's main priority is stripping out and preventing low quality and duplicate content sites from ranking.
A Search Engine's Incentives
In our world, a world of free-market economics and capitalism, we understand that people act on incentives. Google wants good SEO to exist because it makes it harder for other people to rank. This competitive nature allows quality websites to rank and encourages people just like you and me to use their search engine to find what we are looking for and find it in a quick and easy manner. There is another monetary benefit that Google and other search engines get from SEO practitioners: more competition means you are more likely to buy ads from Google Ads (as of July 2018 and formerly Google AdWords).
If it is hard to rank organically, and the organic results are quality results Google's users want to see, Google can generate more revenue via their ad products. This means more eyeballs viewing ads, and more competition to force people to buy more ads. This is Google's incentive to allow people like you and me to do SEO and especially so if we do it properly.
The Two Sides of The SEO Coin
There are over two hundred factors related to SEO but they can be safely broken down into two simple parts:
- On Page SEO
- Off Page SEO
*Note: There are many people who will ask, "What about social media?". Google still openly looks at social but it's such a small percentage of their algorithm we aren't including it in this fundamentals section. We will have another post covering the Social Media aspect of SEO, but right now we want to keep this as simple as possible.
On Page SEO is everything you can control on your website. Off Page SEO is what other people say about you. You do not innately control the Off Page SEO signals Google uses, and thus they are harder to get. That is why Google gives them so much weight.
SEO is Like Job Hunting
You can think about SEO like you are applying for the number one position in Google. Your website (more specifically every page of your website) acts as a resume. The resume is what gets you a job. Google won't consider you qualified for that position unless you prove it to them. All of the On Page SEO factors you can control help you get the interview (the chance to rank). But they will still check your references.
Off Page SEO, or backlinks and citations, are your references. The quality of your references matters just as much as the number of references you have. If you have one thousand janitors vouch for you, and your competitor has one letter of recommendation from someone on the board of trustees, who is going to get the job? You know the answer: its the one with the better references.
This is all an oversimplified way of looking at SEO, but it's important you understand the why before we get into the how. Questions? We'd love to hear them, feel free to drop a comment below, or shoot us an email.
In our next article, we will discuss the academic influence on SEO and why you should have paid attention in English class.