How Does SEO Actually Work?


Modern businesses can’t survive without connecting with customers through search engines like Google. Google fields literally trillions of searches each year. It directs its users to websites all over the internet. The websites that rank near the top of the search engine results page for relevant queries benefit the most. They receive the most clicks and visits, and — if the website is for a business — make the most sales and the biggest profits.

]Customers and would-be customers don’t use the Yellow Pages anymore; they use Google and Google Maps and will often make a beeline for the businesses that have the best rankings on search engines and within maps apps, review apps, and recommendations apps. That’s why search engine optimization is so important.

SEO: An essential investment for modern businesses

Search engine optimization (SEO) is all about making your business’ online presence as appealing as possible to search engine algorithms. You want your business’ website to appear near the top of Google searches for relevant terms and see your products rank better for searches within Amazon’s marketplace. You may also need your company site to appear closer to the top of the search results within apps like Grubhub and Seamless. SEO is all about making this happen.

SEO is vital for modern businesses. It isn’t always clear exactly what SEO does, though. SEO can seem like magic when it works (or can seem like nonsense when it doesn’t). If you’re going to team up with the right group of SEO experts and get the results that you want for your business, you should probably have at least a passing understanding of how SEO actually works.

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How SEO works

The key to understanding how search engine optimization works is understanding how search engines work — so let’s start with that. Search engines need to know what websites are out there before they can tell you which websites are relevant to your search terms. To that end, search engines use programs called “spiders” to move around (or, in search engine lingo, “crawl”) the web.

These spiders move from link to link exploring webpages and map out the internet for search engines like Google and take stock of all of the details for their algorithm. A spider will read all of the text on a website and all of the HTML code, too, unless the code itself hides something from view. Spiders check out the metadata, tags, captions, and filenames on images.

When SEO experts set out to make a website more appealing to Google, they look at all of these factors. The one that looms largest is link equity, explain the experts at Google focuses quite a bit on links when deciding which websites have the most importance and “authority.” A site that is highly cited in links from other sites is generally considered more important. It is also important that those links come from reputable sites that are themselves considered relatively authoritative.

The text and metadata, meanwhile, should include the keywords and keyword phrases that you want your site to rank for. However, “keyword stuffing” is a bad move. Google will recognize it as a desperate (and lousy) attempt at SEO, while your site’s ranking will not improve and may actually suffer for your decision.

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There are other details that matter, too, including the “bounce rate” (the rate at which Google users hit the back button right after clicking on your site in the results). A high bounce rate tells Google that users aren’t happy with the answer.

The basics of SEO are clear, but the devil is in the details, which is why savvy small business owners should turn to experts for outsourced SEO solutions and a job done right.


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