What Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

April 20, 2015

I was browsing through Facebook today and saw a sponsored post that offered a free eBook on SEO tips.

The company that posted is a reputable company and it actually looked like a very interesting eBook (I need to try to find it again so that I can check it out).

However, what fascinated me was not how interesting the offer looked. It was the first question that was asked – one that received a decent number of likes.

It was this – What is SEO?

04_20_SEO_PinterestWhen I read that I thought to myself – you know what? We really make a lot of assumptions about what our audience knows and sometimes it’s good to get back to basics.

So I’m writing this article to answer that question.

What is SEO?

SEO is an acronym that stands for Search Engine Optimization.

If you read that a few times, it’ll be pretty obvious what that means 😉

It means taking steps to make sure that your content (blog, website and any other kind of online property you may have) is optimized for the search engines so that you are giving the search engines enough information (and the right information) to know exactly what to rank your content for.

When someone goes to Google and does a search for something related to your niche, Google will show them the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

On those pages, it will display content related to the search that was performed.

What you want is for your site to be listed on the front page as close to the top as possible, because that will give you a higher chance of getting that person to actually click over to come and check out your content.

It’s FREE Traffic and that can be a beautiful thing.

What can you do?

SEOSchemeThere are a number of things that you can do to make sure you are optimizing your blog for the search engines, and they all involve some aspect of the following:

  1. Creating high-quality relevant content and letting Google know that you have that content.
  2. Demonstrating that your site is an authoritative source of information on the topic.

Let's explore these two factors.

The Importance of Content

If your content is related to a particular search, it will be more likely to rank than if it isn’t. However, the more information you can give to Google about what’s in your post, the better.

Here are some of things that Google looks at to see how relevant your content is:

1. The title of your post.

That’s the most obvious clue for Google. If I titled this article “Most bloggers don’t know this”, Google would have NO IDEA what it’s about. Instead, I chose the title “What is SEO”. It’s pretty clear what this post is about.

Content-Is-King2. The permalink of your post.

Look up in the address bar of your browser. You will see that the URL to this post is www.becomeablogger.com/what-is-seo/. That /what-is-seo/ part gives a lot more information than /?p=id1524. Every little bit of info helps.

3. The content of your post.

Just like with the title, Google has the ability to scan the content of your post to see if it’s related to a particular search phrase (or keyword). Does that phrase show up in your content? How many times?

4. Certain formatting elements.

If you look at this post, you will see that there are subheadings throughout. Those subheadings emphasize specific concepts or items in this post. There are other things like what’s bolded, italicized and while all of these factors aren’t 100% strong indicators as to what your content will rank for, they do let Google know what’s important and what isn’t.

While any of these factors by themselves don’t determine how well your content will rank, keeping them in mind will make it so that you are giving Google the best info you can give them.

Side Note: I recommend using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast to to help you optimize your content for high search rankings.

The Importance of Authority

AuthorityI have a friend who’s a good photographer. His name is Lyle Daniel, but we call him Scrole Vision. This dude is a BEAST when it comes to photography.

If you look at his Facebook page, you will see a ton of awesome photos done in so many different venues. It’s sickening (in a good way) to see how awesome his pics are.

In addition to the fact that his pictures are awesome, if you ask any of my friends (who know him) who you should get to take your pics, chances are they will recommend him.

Because he gets recommended by so many people, and his content is awesome, he has a certain level of authority in my mind when it comes to photography. Also, if I have a photography-related question, I go to him first.

It’s the exact same thing with the search engines. If your content is awesome and you get recommended by lots of people, via social media, links from other reputable sites and even news media sources, they start to look to your site as an authority on your topic and start ranking you higher in the SERPs.

Black Hat SEO

BlackHatSEONow here’s the deal. If you do a search for how to rank in the search engines, you will find a whole bunch of junk out there.

For example, since links are a good way to help establish authority, you will find a whole bunch of software that can automate the process of getting tons of backlinks from tons of sites.

You will find all kinds of SEO “gurus” with all kinds of tips and tricks that you can find to game the system.

This is called Black Hat SEO and if you EVER find stuff like this that seems to be a “quick and easy” way of ranking in the search engines, avoid it like the plague.

Google is smart. Their job is to ensure that people aren’t gaming the system, but that the most relevant content is what shows up when people search.

So, keep it white hat.

How? Create high-quality content and do your best to get it out there in a legitimate way.

What’s Your Strategy?

After all that banter on SEO, I’d love to hear from you. What’s your strategy for optimizing your blog for the search engines? Do you have one? Let me know in the comments below.



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  • Stephen says:

    Thanks so much for this Leslie.

    Bombarded with ideas at the moment, just getting my blog up and running, looking forward to putting this into action.

    • Yes, that’s a very common problem Stephen. There’s so much info out there that it’s hard to know where to start at times. If there’s one place I would encourage you to focus on it would be this – create content that’s valuable for your audience. That’s what it all boils down to.

      If you need extra guidance, I would recommend my Become A Blogger University. All the best!

  • Thank you Leslie, for explaining the Black Hat SEO. I never understood that before, yet get many request from firms willing to up my website in the SERP’s.

  • Nice infographic Leslie, I will say if content is the king, content + connection and spreading the content to masses will be the queen. So a perfect content if not properly spreaded and promoted it will be useless. Hence content along with connection can only grab more eyeballs as far as the trend now is concerned.

  • Jessi Sharon says:

    Hi Leslie,

    This article is really informative, the way you explained is really cool even a newbie for SEO can understand easily…..!

    Thanks for sharing……!

  • Sarah Wilson says:

    Just starting up my blog and business website and this is the best SEO read I’ve found. Thanks for the information.

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