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Search Engine Optimization for Dummies: The Lowdown on SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Ready to learn all about search engine optimization for dummies?

Did you know Google owns 74.38% of the world’s search engine market shares? Think about that for a minute. For each time someone types a query on Bing or Yahoo, 10 others type one on Google.

Why is that important to you?

It puts the world of search engines into perspective. When you’re creating a search engine optimization strategy, what you’re really doing is optimizing for Google. They’ll give you most of your organic search traffic, and the other search engines take their cues from them.

Keep that in mind as you read through the sections below. Whenever you run across a problem in your SEO or conflicting expert opinions, always go back to the source for answers. Google may not share their latest algorithms, but they’re happy to give away free SEO guidance.

Read on to learn more.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to a given website through organic search results. Wow, that’s a mouthful. But what does all that mean?

Well, since the rise of Google, marketers and web developers have been looking for better ways to get visitors to their sites. They discovered that users pick the first choice on a search results page more than the others. Fewer people pick the second result; fewer still, the third.

These marketers and developers noticed that this trend continued. The lowest result receiving the fewest visitors. As such, they discovered the importance of ranking higher on those pages.

In 2019, the best way to achieve that goal is to use SEO. In essence, it’s a way to tell Google exactly what’s on your page. When you do that, you increase the chances they’ll match your site to visitors looking for the material you provide.

Google also dings you if you don’t use SEO. They’ll decrease your website’s ranking if you haven’t followed their SEO best practices. It’s definitely in your best interest to follow their guidelines.

How do People use Search Engines?

If you want to boost your search engine ranking, the first step is understanding the behavior of people who use search engines. So, you need to put yourself in the mind of an internet user.

People use search engines to look for something. Most often, they’re hunting for a solution to their problem. And the problem is exactly what they type into the little query box that Google gives you:

  • How many inches are in a foot?
  • Where’s the nearest sushi restaurant?
  • What’s the best cat food for a Siamese cat?

Search engines must evaluate the query and determine which sites match the user’s needs. But how do they do that when they must choose from among literally billions of webpages? Well, they use complex algorithms to determine which are a good fit.

They store copies of billions of websites on their servers for quick access. Even then, it’s a copious amount of data to crunch in microseconds they have in which to return you an answer. So how do they do it?

They cheat.

They’ve already identified which elements they need for the search results. They have a truncated system set up which helps them bypass all the irrelevant data. That’s where SEO comes in.

Through SEO, you can point out the elements that are relevant to ensure Google’s using the right ones. That way, your stuff will land in the lap of your intended audience.

Start Your Optimization with an Index

The index of a book helps you quickly locate the information you need. Otherwise, you’d have to flip through hundreds of pages of text to try to find the few lines you want.

An index for search engines operates much the same way. Without the index, search engines may not know where things like images, videos, and other pages on your site fit in. Are they related to the content? If so, how?

When you design your site using SEO, you spell it out for search engines by doing things like including a description of your images and videos. Google understands words, but not images. At least not yet.

Detailing each element is beyond the scope of this article. But, you’ll want a general understanding in order to get a grasp of the key SEO principles at play.

The Less Mechanical Elements of Optimization

Google’s told us about the importance of other, less mechanical, elements of optimization. They’re the other factors that Google uses in its algorithm to determine a site’s relevance to a user’s query.

One of the foremost among them is a page’s links. A web link is another name for a hyperlink. It’s a link between your webpage and another page somewhere else on the internet.

Weblinks are easily identifiable. They’re typically works written in a different color ink than the rest of the section. They’re also underlined.

You can think of each of those links as a phone call. Does the link lead to a well-recognized site elsewhere on the internet? Then Google knows you’re connecting your readers with other reputable sources. If the link leads to elsewhere on your site, Google knows those other pages are connected to this page.

The links that Google ranks the highest won’t ever be found on your page. They’ll be found on reputable sites leading back to yours. If you want to improve your ranking, that’s the quickest way to do it.

All you need to do is find a site like Forbes or Medium and write a guest blog with a link that leads back to your own site.

Other less mechanical elements include the following. Dwell time of readers, your social media presence, and customer reviews. In essence, Google uses these categories to find out how other people feel about your site. The best way to improve in these areas is to create killer content and design your site with visitors in mind.

What’s After Search Engine Optimization for Dummies?

Now that you’ve read our article about search engine optimization for dummies, it’s time to decide whether you want to implement SEO on your own site. While you make that decision, keep two things in mind.

First, is the time and effort worth the boost in visitors. Second, how will SEO fit in with the rest of your marketing strategies? If you’re ready to learn more, leap over to our library brimming with other SEO and Web Design Tips.

So long and good luck!