How Does SEO Work? - What You Need to Know

how does seo work

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a key component to running any successful website online. SEO is the free way to get visitors to your site while making sure that those visitors are qualified and interested in what you have to say and/or what you’re selling. We’re going to cover the basics of SEO, why they matter, how to incorporate this into your own site and best practices.

What is SEO?

Let’s start from the beginning. A search engine, which is what we are optimizing for, is where you type in or search a question or topic and receive results with articles that try to answer your question or need. A few examples of search engines would be popular sites like Googe, Bing and Yahoo. A search engine results page, or SERP, is the page that comes up and shows you the results to your question. SEO is the process of trying to get your website to the top of that page by creating content that search engines deem worthy of the number one ranking position.

How Does SEO Work?

Search engines have “bots” that crawl the web looking for quality content that answers their users’ questions and search queries. These little bots “crawl” websites, meaning they go through each page and essentially are reading the content and coding on the site. The goal of SEO is to make our site easy for bots to read and navigate. SEO also relies heavily on creating an easy, fluent experience on your site. Search engines are becoming more about the user and machine learning is becoming very user-friendly. Therefore, to succeed in SEO you need to create quality content that answers questions and is easy to use.

Targeting Keywords

Keywords in SEO are relating to the words that are important to your website or business. There are two types of keywords: longtail and short tail keywords. Short tail keywords are generally one or two-word phrases that are very hard to rank for organically. An example would be “black boots”. It would be very hard for any website to rank for such a broad and general term. Because of this, we recommend longtail keywords, these are more along the lines of 5-7 word key phrases. An example of a longtail keyword would be “black hiking boots for snowy climates”. This is a little more specific and will be easier to rank for because there are fewer websites that sell this exact type of shoe. Longtail keywords also help to get the most relevant traffic to your site.

Content Marketing

Content marketing relates to blogging and adding media to your site to establish trust with your visitors. Often, blog posts are how people get to your site in the first place. For example, when someone searches “how to fix an air conditioner” and you’re an HVAC technician, you could have an article on your website about common problems with air conditioning units. Someone with a broken air conditioner is going to click on this article and when they realize that they may need a professional to help with this problem, they are already on your site and may click around or make an appointment, or sometimes they’ll come back weeks later but have your name in their mind as being a knowledgable entity in your industry.

Titles and Metas

titles and metas

Title tags and meta descriptions are the first thing people see that represent your website. A title tag is the blue text that shows up in your search engine result page. Inserting keywords into your title tags help the user know that your web page will answer their question but it also shows the search engines that that particular keyword is important in describing that page. A meta description is the smaller paragraph underneath the title tag. These words are not taking into consideration when ranking, however, this is your way to speak directly to the reader and entice them to click on your website. If they use any words in their search that also appear in your meta description, they will be bolded. So, it is a good idea to include keywords here as well.

Internal Linking

Remember those bots we talked about? Well, for the bots to get to another page on your site there needs to be a link. Making sure there is internal linking on your site is similar to wiring a house. For every light in the house to come on you need to make sure that there is “wiring”, or linking, on every page.

User Experience

User experience, or UX, is referring to how easy your site is to use. Aspects of a site like, slow loading time, pages that are not mobile responsive and 404 error pages are big red flags for user experience. We want our users to navigate the site fluently and without any problems. If a page loads slowly or doesn’t look right, people are likely to jump ship and leave your site quickly.

Where do I go for help with SEO?

This brief overview of SEO barely scratches the surface but we hope it helps you understand the importance and complexity of SEO. We recommend reaching out to an agency for help, especially for larger websites. Try our free website cost calculator to see how much it would cost to build a site fully equipt with the important SEO pieces you need to be successful.