What is SEO: A Simple Explanation

By Devon Higgins

SEO has been a buzzword ever since search engines came into fruition. Today, every online marketer emphasizes how important it is utilized to an effective and sound SEO strategy.

But what is SEO? Technically, it is a series of methodologies and techniques that aim to significantly improve the visibility of a web page in a search engine’s (specifically Google) unpaid, or organic, results. Effectively implemented, SEO enables a web page to appear first in a search engine results page (SERP) when a certain keyword or key phrase is searched. In SEO terminology, this position is called a rank.

When a page is ranked high or is on the first page of a SERP, people are more likely to click it. The more visitors the page receives, the more chances these visitors can be converted into customers, loyal followers, or regular readers.

Simple, isn’t it? Well, it isn’t straightforward as it sounds, but it isn’t too complicated either. Discussing the nitty-gritty of SEO strategies is beyond the scope of this post and will take several articles to do so.

So, let us give you a basic knowledge of how SEO works by checking out the infographic below:

Step 1: Publication of web pages

Everything starts with publishing your website. Each page on your website is a unique, distinct, and specific entity as far as Google is concerned. A home page is an example of a single page.

An important thing to note is that Google does not index, or list, websites as a whole; it indexes individual pages that make up the site. With this principle, it is important to optimize the individual pages of your website. It is also vital to think about the structure of your site in its entirety. How your pages are connected to others through internal links gives Google an idea of how your content relates to each other.

Step 2: Search engine robots crawl over your page

Even if you have published your pages, Google needs to be able to find them. It does this by sending out search engine robots, often called crawlers or spiders. These are programs that collect every word in every page of your site. These robots also follow any inbound or outbound links to discover as much information as possible about your website. This is the reason why link building in SEO is important.

Robots are restricted to reading text; they cannot “see” images, sound clips, and videos. For this reason, you should add supporting alt text and captions so robots can crawl on non-text content as well.

Robots then report to the main search engine index, and the data they gathered is analyzed using a complex set of algorithms. These algorithms are formulas that the search engines use to determine the significance of a page, based on the question or keyword that people are searching for.

Step 3: Search engine uses algorithms to determine your rank

After the search engine interprets and evaluates the robots’ data through its algorithms, it now has an idea of the main keywords in each of your site’s page, how relevant your pages are in relation to similar sites, and how much authority is assigned to your pages.

Authority, by the way, is the relative importance of your page. It is determined by various metrics. Such metrics may include the quality of external links (i.e. pages that link to yours), the influence of websites linking to you, the text in your meta description, and more.

Step 4: Search engine indexes your page

With no problems or issues, your page is now ranked and indexed in the search engine. In the real world, people are looking for photographers to take photos of their projects or events. In order to find photographers in their area, people use search engines to look for the right photographer for their specific needs.

The keyword here is “right photographer.” Thus, they will be typing keywords for their search. Most likely, they will type specific keywords rather than general ones. Such specific keywords may include a category (e.g., wedding photographers, real estate photographers), a geographical component (e.g. wedding photographers in Grand Rapids, real estate photographers in Miami), and more.

Step 5: Search engine displays your web page in its SERP (search engine results page)

If you have properly optimized your page, it should appear in a SERP when people begin searching for your service in Google (or other search engines).

But keywords are just the beginning. There are other factors that determine how your web pages will rank. Factors such as user behavior, quality of natural links from other websites, social sharing, and more all contribute to your site’s ranking.

In addition, keeping your website updated is important. Google “loses interest” in your website if its robots do not have something new to read. One way to keep your site updated is by including a blog on your website; Google loves updated blog posts! Regularly published content, articles, and posts that users find valuable, relevant, and useful definitely help push your site to the top of search results.

Let’s do an analogy. Imagine a restaurant that has never changed its menu or ambiance for more than a decade. They never introduced specials or promos. Nothing new and exciting has been introduced for a long time. Would you think a lot of people would go to such a place? Probably not that many.

Given enough time and searches, your page can land in the first page of a SERP.

Remember that the more value people find in your content, the more people will be willing to read and share it. Subsequently, you will generate more traffic to your website and increase your ranking.

That is basically what SEO is all about. As you can see, the concept is pretty simple. Now, it’s up to you or an SEO expert on how to make these techniques work for your photography website.

Devon

Devon came to PhotoUp with a background in digital marketing and communications. With a BA in Marketing from Michigan State University and previous experience working with both big business and non-profits, Devon brings a well-rounded perspective to the team. Outside of PhotoUp, you can find Devon coaching and playing soccer, socializing in downtown Grand Rapids, or going on adventures throughout the great state of Michigan.

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