How Does SEO or Search Engine Optimization Work?
SEO is the practice of optimizing the various elements of your website, with the purpose of improving the visibility of the website in the Local & Organic search results.
On-page SEO Elements & Factors
There are many elements or factors that determine high ranking in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s). In fact, there are so many, we have a Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors.
With so many factors, there are two that an SEO Expert or SEO Company should focus its resources on. The first is On-page optimization, which we touch on below and that accounts for 30% of Google’s algorithm. The other is Off-page optimization, which is the determining ranking factor and the core of Google’s algorithm.
We elaborate on Off-page SEO further down this page. For now, let’s start with effective On-page beginning with keyword research.
Keyword Research is the first step in determining an SEO Strategy. Keywords or keyword phrases are what the consumers type into a search engine to find a product, service, business or simply to find what they are looking for.
The focus of an SEO Expert should be on revenue-driving Keywords or Keyword Phrases. The keywords to be targeted will determine what goes into content or to what extent existing content requires keyword optimization.
Simply upload, the content on a page is what makes it worthy of a high ranking. Great Content is what users are looking for and Search Engines like it too!
Keywords and keyword phrases are layered into content to provide answers and solutions which makes the content highly relevant, likable, linkable, and shareable.
Well written content populated with revenue driving keywords also provides you with an infinite number of keyword possibilities from a ranking perspective. content populated with revenue driving keywords also provides you with an infinite number of keyword possibilities from a ranking perspective.
After content, Title Tags are the next most important element as they specify the title of a web page or pages. Title Tags are populated with keywords or keyword phrases. Title Tags are what you see in the Search Engine Results Pages or SERP’s and are the clickable headlines for a search result. Without question, fully optimized Title Tags heavily influence ranking.
URL is the acronym for Uniform Resource Locator and is a reference to an address of a web page on the Internet. A proper URL structure will benefit your SEO strategy and ensure your web pages are easier to identify for users who find them.
A Proper URL structure is essential because it helps search engines understand what the page is about and determines the relevancy of a web page with respect to keyword matching. It’s also helpful from a linking perspective because people are likely to link with relevant words or phrases if the keywords are included in the URL. We will touch on the importance of linking further down the page.
H1 or Heading Tag
The H1 or Heading Tags are an influential ranking factor and an important signal to search engines about the content on a web page. Just as importantly, it tells site visitors what the page is about. Ideally, H1 Tags should match what is in the Title Tag and URL Structure.
Image Alt Text
Search Engines cannot see images on a website page as we can, so Alt Text or Alt Tags are an opportunity to describe the image on a web page. By implementing an image title with a keyword rich file name, it’s another opportunity to provide search engines with signals about the content of the image.
Meta Descriptions are what you see in the Search Engine Results Pages or SERP’s, just below the Title Tag, and is NOT clickable. Meta Descriptions summarize a page’s content, however, it’s also an opportunity to implement calls to action, phone, and other contact information which makes for great user experience.
Off-page SEO Factors
Off-page SEO which determines a website’s trustworthiness and authority is the determining ranking factor or CORE of Google’s Algorithm.
Off-page optimization is the process of improving a websites trustworthiness, authority, popularity, and relevance. This is done by having other trusted and authoritative websites linking to your website, ideally because of the content of your website. Think of links as votes for your website, however, the emphasis should be on the quality of sites linking to your website, and not the quantity. Topical or relevant backlinks are more weighted than non-topical or non-relevant links.
Link Building Strategies & Local Citation Links
Link Building & Local Citations are the ”core” of Google’s algorithm and determine a website’s level of Trust & Authority. Without question, Site Trust & Authority are what determines high ranking and visibility in the organic and Local Search Engine Result’s Pages. To be clear, Site Trust & Authority is the same as ‘’Off-page SEO’’
Other SEO Factors
Other factors that are a requirement for an effective SEO Campaign include a modern website, ideally a content management system such as WordPress or if your site is e-commerce, Magento.
With mobile search about to exceed 50% of all searches, having a website that’s formatted for every type of device is paramount. As matter of fact, Google algorithm is ‘’ mobile first indexing’’ meaning they will use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
Site Speed – Page Load
Google has gone on record as having site speed/page load as a ranking factor. Site speed affects user experience or UX. Long load times typically have high bounce rates, low time on pages, and fewer page views.
SSL – Encryption
Google has also gone on record as giving sites using encryption a higher rank in the search results. Encryption scrambles data from server to server and makes it more difficult for hackers to compromise your website and any exchange of client data
We touched on this when reviewing On-page elements, however, this is an assessment of how site visitors interact with your website. For example, time on site, page views, downloading of documents, blog commenting, videos, etc. User Engagement can influence ranking.
We have covered the fundamentals of Search Engine Optimization, how it works, and how & why your business would benefit from it. While we’ve tried to demystify SEO, we know in some cases it may provide more questions than answers. If you have more questions and wants answers, feel free to contact us.