How does SEO actually work?

We get lots of questions about SEO, so let’s break down the key concepts.

Do you want more visitors on your website? Of course, we all do. Obviously, a better question is, “How do I get more traffic to my website?” Search Engine Optimization, more commonly referred to as SEO, is the best place to start when you want to increase your website traffic in a meaningful way.

In order to start working on your site’s SEO, you have to first understand how it works. SEO is based on keywords, or search terms. If you’re thinking, “I know about keywords,” just hang in there with me for a moment. I know you know, but I want to catch everyone else up on these concepts.

MacBook Pro laptop computer with SEO superimposed on the keys.

Keywords are actually the string of words that people type into Google (for instance, something like “seo Roanoke va”), which is essentially treated as one phrase in Google’s search results. These are referred to as “long tail keywords” in marketing jargon. Good SEO creatively incorporates these long tail keywords into website content that is useful to the reader AND serves to make the site more visible to Google.

Have you ever noticed how quickly your search results pop up once you enter your search terms into Google? They usually pop up in a fraction of a second. Google isn’t searching and analyzing the entire internet in real time…even they haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Any time you enter a search on Google, you are seeing a snapshot of the last time Google crawled a site…a living archive of sorts. Google sends out search engine crawlers (software designed specifically for this purpose) to read your site, decide what it feels your site is communicating to readers, and assign your site’s importance against other similar sites. The more you update your site, the more often Google goes back to check on your site. This keeps your search results up-to-date and maximizes the exposure of new changes to your site.

So how does Google determine who has the “best” content for a given keyword? Google’s algorithm considers 200+ factors including social signals, user-interaction, and trust. So which one of those 200+ factors should you address first? Where do you start?

Here’s what we suggest: Update the content on your website regularly, and do so with intention and precision. We’re not suggesting that you re-write your core website pages just for the sake of the exercise (unless the content is ineffective). Instead, we suggest you begin a blog (I understand if you sighed when you read that) where you discuss topics of true interest to your readers. Make sure the topics relate to your business or organization. Share your articles on social media and ask your friends and fans to do the same. Writing these articles will naturally add new keyword-rich content to your site, attract site visitors, and show Google that you offer real value to your website visitors about your chosen topic. But here’s a word of warning…write naturally, and don’t jam every possible keyword into your writing. If Google thinks you are gaming the system, they’ll actually move you down the rankings. Ouch.

Also consider contacting local businesses or organizations to offer them the opportunity to write a blog on your website. Let them write the article, place a link back to their site from your own website, and promote it as if it was your own article. Even in the digital age, nothing has replaced the importance of real-life, face-to-face relationships. Building community and goodwill has great benefits across the board. Ask your friend if they would allow you to do the same on their site…and just like that…you are starting to create some solid backlinks for your site.

When the time comes, and you’ve done your part, a marketing agency can take everything to the next level. An experienced marketing pro can coordinate and scale your content strategy, see to the technical and coding details that really make SEO skyrocket, and ensure that your website is converting that website traffic into revenue-producing leads.

Agile Marketing Collective offers robust SEO services, and we’d love to help you out when the time comes…whether that is now or a few years down the road. We’ve helped small and massive businesses accomplish some pretty amazing things online, and we’re proud of that.

Alright, get to work on your SEO…or contact us for help!

Mike Childress