How to Learn SEO

Written by: Jason Bayless | August 05, 2015

If you’re a business owner with any significant online presence, it’s likely that you have thought about SEO and how it might help you. If you are also one of the many people without a full understanding of what SEO truly is and how to implement it to improve your business’s outcomes, then you are in the right place. This post will explain the basics of SEO and talk about some basic strategies for optimizing your Web presence. SEO is quite important for the traffic flow to your website and for finding and converting leads, so it’s a good idea to at least be familiar with how it works, even if you wind up handing over the execution to a consultant.

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Nowadays, the only search engine that really matters is Google. The basic insight that guides SEO work is that when a website appears higher up on the results pages for a Google search, people are more likely to click it. So when people look up “best Thai food near me” or “best local painter”, they tend to only look at the top few results and usually click on the top one first. That makes getting the top spot extremely valuable- you can steer more people to your business’s website if you rank higher on results pages, and that’s what SEO aims to do.

SEO is part art and part science. There are a lot of technical ways to optimize the design of a website so that it ranks high on searches for a given keyword. Most of these adjustments are meant to satisfy Google’s ranking algorithm. For example, earlier this year Google updated their algorithm to penalize websites that don’t display well on smartphones and tablets. Google did this to help create better browsing experiences for mobile users, and it worked- businesses and SEO firms immediately began to redesign their pages to conform to Google’s standards.

There’s also more arcane techniques that might not be obvious to outsiders. For example, did you ever wonder why so many company websites seem to have blogs? The reason is that blogs are a good medium for constantly providing new content on a website and attracting links to the blog posts. When Google’s algorithm sees good-quality content that is attracting links, it ranks that website highly. It all comes back to satisfying the algorithm for rank.
But SEO isn’t just about web design and coding tricks. If you align your design with the way Google wants your site to look and behave, then you really are providing better value to your users.

Google’s standards reward well-designed, mobile-friendly, and clean websites that organically attract links and views. By conforming to those standards you not only increase your ranking but also make visitors more likely to stay and purchase from you because you provide them with a pleasant browsing experience. It’s a win-win for you and your customers when you practice SEO principles.

If you’ve gotten this far, you should now understand how valuable SEO can be, both for you and for your customers. There’s plenty of consulting firms that provide SEO services if you don’t want to try doing it yourself, but you should at least understand what they are doing and why they are doing it. The name of the game is improved performance on search engine results pages. By choosing your target keywords well, you ensure that the people who actually find your website are interested in your services. So you are bringing in more traffic, and that traffic is composed of people who want to become your customers. That’s what makes SEO so powerful- it’s a great way to expand your presence among your target audience.