SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Let’s pause there. Even the acronym can be a little confusing to someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience on the internet. According to Oxford’s dictionary, a search engine is an online “program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.”
Grandma, remember when you gave me $10 to start my own skateboard company when I was 7? Let’s use that as an example and explanation of SEO.
Let’s say I’m running my skateboard business online where people can go to my website, see all my products, and buy them directly from the website. Remember how I said people are going to the internet (search engines like Google) to ask questions and do research? I want to find those people, specifically the ones who are searching for skateboards!
When people are typing in “best skateboards” or “blue skateboards” or whatever they’re looking for, I want Google to return my website as a result. I want to increase my website’s visibility on Google so that more people come to my website and buy my skateboards. However, my website isn’t coming up at all when people type in those terms, which are called keywords. My website is way below all the top skateboarding brands on the search engine results page, so not as many people visit my website because they’re clicking on the top results. So what do I do? How do I increase the rank of my website when Google returns all the results for “best skateboards?”
That’s the million-dollar question.
While it may not be easy or fast, there are tons of ways to optimize a website so that Google will recognize it as a relevant result to whatever the searcher is looking for. Google will place my website higher in the results for “best skateboards” if Google actually believes that I have the best skateboards on my website.
First, we have to tell Google that my website is about skateboards. We can do this by creating content about skateboards so that when Google scans the internet for websites that have pages about skateboards, my website comes up!
Next, we can go into the back end of my website and make changes to the code, so that it’s easier for Google to read/crawl my website. If Google has to waste time reading through a bunch of my disorganized code, it’s going to move on to a different website. That’s why we have to make sure it’s organized and the pages are properly formatted.
Another thing we can do is make sure my website is up to speed and safe. Would you buy a skateboard from a website that takes 30 seconds to load? Google knows that you wouldn’t, so they’re not going to return my website as a result for “best skateboards” if my website takes too long to load. And what if you click on something on my website and it takes you to a blank page? Fixing errors, bugs, and dead pages on your website is a great way to optimize it.
Lastly, we can find the exact words that people use when they’re searching for a new skateboard. These are called keywords, and they are an SEO Pillar. If I can identify which words people are using to search for a new skateboard on Google, I can center new content and pages of my website around those words. That way, Google will realize that my website is relevant to whatever words the person is using to search.
Don’t guess what people are searching for, use data! Here’s a great article on how to perform keyword research.
To conclude this long-winded example, SEO is trying to increase your website’s rank on Google’s search engine results page to increase your website’s traffic.