What Is SEO And How Can It Help My Business?

What Is SEO And How Can It Help My Business?

If you have any type of website, you’ve probably heard about the importance of SEO. We get it, SEO looks complicated. That’s why you’re here scouting the internet for a beginner’s guide to SEO or SEO guidance that isn’t filled with jargon. 

Search engine optimization is the process by which you improve the likelihood that search engines show your content among the top search results for certain keywords. Since most people only look at the first page of the search results, you’ll need to ensure your content is optimized. A Philadelphia, PA local SEO service can help you to reach the customers who are looking for you, thereby boosting your leads, sales, and revenue. However, if you’ve been looking for a basic SEO guide, you don’t need to look any further than this article.


How Search Engines Work

Before Google or any other search engine displays results to a user, they perform three steps. Understanding how search engines function is essential to learning how SEO works.


Search engines continuously scan the internet to discover new pages as well as updates to pages they found before. This process, carried out by bots, is known as crawling.


Before we go any further with this SEO guide, you also need to know about indexing. Once the bots have crawled a website, the search engines then need to index it. This involves analyzing the information, understanding it, categorizing it, and then indexing it.

Picking the Results

The importance of SEO can’t be ignored. When a user searches for a keyword, the search engines pull relevant results from the index. To choose high-quality results, they consider several factors include:

  • What the user means
  • How relevant the page is 
  • The quality of the content on the page
  • Whether the pages are readable, accessible, and safe
  • The user’s location, settings, and search history

Now that you know a little more about how search engines function, we can go more in-depth into how SEO works.


Search Engine Ranking Factors

Search engines use hundreds of ranking factors and they change frequently. However, they are crucial to an understanding of how SEO works. Fortunately, many of them are well known by experts and Google has officially confirmed some of them. Some of the factors that are linked to higher rankings include:

  • Site speed
  • Responsiveness
  • Uniqueness of content
  • Satisfaction of user intent
  • Link quality and quantity
  • Click-through rate 
  • Freshness of content
  • Website crawling
  • Expertise, authority, and trust
  • Well-targeted content

You may have noticed that many of these factors relate to content. One SEO guideline that you, therefore, need to remember is that you should always have high-quality content.

Other factors that may positively impact your search engine rankings include image optimization, HTTPS use, and page structure.


On-Page SEO

Search engines have become quite sophisticated. You don’t need to stuff your pages with keywords to get their attention. However, there are other ways in which you need to optimize your page so on-page SEO must be addressed in any SEO guide.

Meta-tags and Headlines

To drive traffic to your website, you need to pay attention to your metadata. For example, you must include keywords in the title tags of your pages. Title tags appear at the top of your browser. Similarly, keywords should be used in the headers that are visible on your pages. Not following this SEO guidance could be detrimental. You’ll also want to optimize your meta description. Although this doesn’t show up on the page itself, it may show up on the search engine results page. Meanwhile, alt attributes allow you to describe the images on your page for people who can’t see them. Adding meaningful information helps both users and search engines.

Understanding Keywords and Keyword Intent 

An SEO guidebook would be incomplete without a discussion on keywords. Keywords are the words and phrases that individuals use when searching for information. Search engines don’t only focus on the words themselves. They also try to understand the user’s intent. If you have a website, you need to do keyword research to identify the terms users choose when looking for your product or service. People search for terms for a variety of reasons. The intention may be:

  • Informational - when the user is seeking the answer to a question
  • Navigational - when an individual wants to find a specific site
  • Investigational - when an individual searches for information before making a purchase
  • Transactional - when individuals are ready to purchase

Examples of the various types of intentions behind web searches.


Given the importance of SEO, you should create content with an emphasis on:

  • Using keywords in paragraphs and headings
  • Breaking up the content with easily skimmable headings
  • Complementing your text with helpful images
  • Making sure you use proper spelling and grammar
  • Ensuring your content is trustworthy and authoritative

Technical SEO

What we’ve discussed so far in this SEO guidebook relates to traditional or basic SEO. However, technical SEO is more advanced. It refers to those strategies that help to ensure search engines can understand and rank the content on a site. Some of the most important aspects of technical SEO include:

  • Page speed - Search engines place more emphasis on fast sites.
  • Mobile-friendliness - More than half of all search engine traffic comes from mobile phones. How your site functions on mobile will, therefore, affect your rankings.
  • Redirects - You should avoid redirecting your site’s content from one URL to another. If you do need to implement redirects, ensure they are permanent so Google will rank them highly.
  • Duplicate content - Any beginners guide to SEO also needs to highlight how harmful duplicate content can be. If a page on your site contains content that appears elsewhere on the site or elsewhere on the web, your rankings will suffer.


Off-Page SEO

You now have a clearer idea of what is SEO. On-page SEO deals with what the reader sees on your site while technical SEO addresses the backend. Off-page SEO covers various strategies designed to create inbound links and social signals to build trust and authority.

Link Building

At its simplest, link building refers to getting other websites to link back to your site. Linking is one of the most important ranking factors. That’s because search engines determine a website’s authority partly based on external referrals. It is important to note in this SEO guide that Google no longer prioritizes the number of backlinks but rather, the quality of those links. Google looks at numerous characteristics of referral websites to determine the quality including page authority and domain authority.

Relevancy and link placement also need to be taken into consideration when you think about how SEO works. The websites which link to yours must feature content that’s relevant to your operation. If you have a shoe store in Philadelphia, PA, links from a bakery’s blog probably won’t help you. As it relates to placement, single links are often more valuable than those that appear on every page. In addition, those placed in main sections or articles are more valuable than sidebar or footer links.


Can You See the Importance of SEO Now? Contact Direct SEO Today!

Search engine optimization is absolutely necessary if you want your website to outrank its competitors. While this SEO guide will help you to understand exactly what is SEO, you’ll need the help of professionals to truly make the most of your online presence. Reach out to Direct SEO today and ask about the SEO services we offer.

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