SEO explained in a nutshell: “Search engine optimization is improving free traffic to your website to upgrade the quality and quantity of your visitors. The benefits are better visibility, more sales, and higher ROI.”
When you have to explain SEO to a beginner — maybe your boss or a client — keep it simple. Talking about algorithms, search intent, and SERPs won’t make much sense to them. SEO explained as a human exercise rather than with machine-dominated terms will help newbies understand it more easily.
This article gives you easy, off-the-shelf explanations in quotes and italics. You’ll also find simple tips at the ends of sections that you can use.
Explaining How Search Engines Work
“The two most critical parts of SEO are keywords and links. Keywords are what searchers type into Google to find information and answers to their problems. Links are what people click on to go to information they want to see.”
Keywords and keyword phrases are the most crucial aspect of SEO. Here’s a suggested explanation of keywords for your newbie that explains why using the right keywords is so critical.
“Keywords are words that people enter into Google search to discover answers. Google uses those keywords to find the information users need — the solution to their problem. Google displays your answer first if you provide the best information built around that keyword. You get the traffic.”
SEO changes every year as technology and marketing advance, and search engines create layers of complexity. But the most critical part of searching is still keywords.
- Keywords have evolved over the decades. Using a single keyword used to be enough for good SEO. But today, keyword phrases are more commonly used, with an average of four words used in a term. Keyword phrases help people zero in on precisely what they need.
“A link is anything you can click on that takes you somewhere else. Internal links can go to another page on your site or to a different website. External links are on other sites and bring you traffic.”
Links are the second most crucial part of SEO. The most common things to link are text, images, and videos. Links to a page on your website bring two enormous benefits:
- Links bring traffic to that page.
- Google sees links as a mark of trust.
External links bring people from other sites to your site. Internal links guide traffic around your site from page to page, steering people deeper into your sales process. Let’s say you posted the world’s best recipe for chocolate cake. Users love your recipe, so Google loves it too, and it hits the top of the search. You get a flood of traffic.
The external links in the recipe description on Google bring visitors to your site. People on your site use the internal link in the recipe text, the link in the chocolate cake picture, and the link on the video of you baking a chocolate cake to go to a sales page where they can buy your cookbook by clicking on more internal links.
An excellent internal link structure also guides Google around your site when it does a site evaluation which SEO workers call crawling your site. If it’s easy for Google to crawl, you get more authority and a higher rank.
- It’s important to get inbound links from well-established, trusted sites because Google sees them as votes of confidence. One link from a site like Bloomberg Business or the Wall Street Journal is worth far more than many links from places like your friend’s Facebook page.
- Outbound links are another important internal link that provides a better experience for your visitors. They help establish trust and authority. Linking to trusted, high-authority sites like .gov and .edu sites may also help SEO.
How to Improve Your SEO to Get More Free Traffic
Search engines are on a mission. Their goal is to deliver the precise information users are searching for. User experience is paramount in the eyes of search engines. There are three keys to improving SEO:
- Killer content
- An excellent internal link structure
- Powerful external links (backlinks)
“Content is king. Great content feeds search engines and gets you free traffic.”
The best content types to use when providing the information Google and searchers love are:
- Written content. Search engines like information-rich blog posts about 1,500 words long written around a specific keyword phrase.
- Images. Search engines read the text describing images. If your text description, called alt text, contains the keywords users are searching with, that boosts your content.
- Videos. Video grows in popularity every year. And Google, the biggest search engine with over 90% of searches, owns Youtube. So Google displays Youtube videos high in the search. Those videos need descriptions containing keywords because search engines can’t watch videos.
- Graphics. Graphics present a lot of complex information in an easy-to-understand format.
Build an outstanding internal link structure in great content to guide visitors and search engines. Insert the most backlinks from high-authority sites.
- A site audit will tell you precisely what and where you need to improve.
Bad SEO Explained
”No SEO means no free traffic. Bad SEO means getting your site blacklisted, and it may never recover.”
Many businesses, especially local businesses, ignore SEO. They’re missing out on all the benefits — better visibility, increased sales, higher ROI. An excellent local business SEO plan only takes a few weeks to generate traffic.
Some entrepreneurs get impatient and use black hat SEO. They build private blog networks, buy cheap content from content mills, buy backlinks, and engage in other bad tactics that hurt their SEO.
SEO takes time and effort but pays off big. The biggest payoff may be in the trust and authority it brings to your business, and people buy from people they trust. Discover how Redstitch Digital can help you do SEO the right way.