What is SEO and how SEO works

Hi my name is Ben Hawkshaw-Burn, I’m one of the co-founders of Geeky Tech. We are an SEO Agency who help world-changing technology companies Attract new customers using Google

I know first-hand how hard it can be working out who to listen to and what to do when it comes to Search engine optimization.

So much of the SEO advice You see online is just complete b******

We started our journey as humble marketers on the hunt for more leads. And Like most, we’d heard of the “Holy Grail” known as page one of Google.

We very quickly realised it was an absolute minefield,even if you make page one you need to be able to stay there, as well as convert the traffic you receive! Even just trying to work out who the hell to listen to was a nightmare!

Understanding SEO

On our journey we’ve built and ranked hundreds of sites with millions of pounds in revenue, we’ve also killed sites, we’ve been penalised by Google we’ve even been negative SEO’d by our own outsourcers!I should probably mention we don’t outsource anymore.

You’ve probably heard of SEO. Even if you have no idea what it is or why people are talking about it, it’s become a pretty popular talking point in the digital world!

If you have a website or online business it’s definitely time you understand more.

SO What is SEO….

SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’, but what is search engine optimization and how can you use it?

Well SEO really isn’t it’s own thing!

Now don’t get me wrong it’s a massive “growing“ industry and it’s how we make our money.

According to Wikipedia…Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results—often referred to as “natural”, “organic”, or “earned” results.

Essentially it’s the signals that Google uses in its algorithm to determine where a website should rank in the organic results.

So, for example, if you have a website that offers “Coding challenges” your target audience will be searching for phrases such as “python programming challenge”, “PHP coding challenges” or “java coding challenge”. Of course, you want your website to be showing up in these results, and good SEO can help that happen, making sure you’re one of (if not the) first websites your audience will see. This will mean more leads!

But why Google?

Google isn’t the only search engine is it? What about Bing or DuckDuckGo…… or maybe you even remember the classics like AltaVista or Ask Jeeves.

Google is where most of the people are ……… in fact according to “statcounter” Google currently have a 92% Market share, Google has a total monopoly.

Ok so now we know it’s all about Google…… All we need to do is work out what Google wants?

Now I’m not saying Google is pure evil but as with most things in life Google and the Google shareholders want to get paid £££££££.

Glossy world changing, live-saving mission statements aside it’s all about the money…

Source: http://gs.statcounter.com/search-engine-market-share



So if it’s all about the money  let’s take a closer look at the numbers

According to Google’s last annual report, Google had revenues of over 136 billion dollars.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z9x6bk7


But It’s core service “Search” is FREE, So how does Google make all of that money?

Well…..116 of Google’s 136bn revenue came from selling advertising, that’s a whooping 85% from ad’s!

So with over 90% of searchers using Google and 85% of its revenues coming from advertising, they must be doing something right… right?

Why do so many people use Google to search?

It’s because it works and it works well, it provides much better search results than any of its competitors

“It wasn’t until early 2010 that Bing even became competitive and provided search results of similar quality. but by then too little too late – Google was already an established powerhouse, people associate Search with Google and Bing still hasn’t managed to gain any significant search share….sorry bing”

Google say they answer one billion questions from people around the globe in 181 countries and 146 languages every day.

What makes Google’s results so Good?

Most people think it’s highly complex, top secret formulas only understood by Google’s Geekiest genius.

But it’s actually not as complicated as you might think, To quote Google “You want the answer, not billions of web pages”

Google’s ranking systems sort through the hundreds of billions of sites in their Search index to give you useful and relevant results in a fraction of a second.

These ranking systems are made up of a whole series of algorithms that look at multiple factors,
including the words of your query,
relevance and usability of pages,
The expertise of sources and your location and settings.

So in order to rank in Google you need your site to have an impact on those ranking algorithms, essentially manipulating them.

Now before you crucify me for the term “manipulation” let’s take a realistic look what we’re up against

In the last 3 years alone The EU has fined Google a record-breaking €8.2bn Euros.

€2.4bn for abusing its dominance of the search engine market in building its online shopping service.

€4.3bn over “serious illegal behaviour” to secure the dominance of its search engine on mobile phones.

And more recently €1.5bn for abusing its monopoly in online advertising.

How SEO works

Google claim they uses over 200 different ranking factors in their algorithm

“Each year, Google changes its search algorithm around 500–600 times. While most of these changes are minor, Google occasionally rolls out a “”major”” algorithmic update that can have a significant effect on the search results.

Google come up with some fairly entertaining names for these algorithm updates

Often officially released and named for example…Medic, Payday Loan, Pirate, Phantom, Venice, Caffeine, Big Daddy, RankBrain. They seem to also love Animal names…Penguin, Possum, Panda, Pigeon, Hummingbird.

Source: WebFindYou


How does search engine optimization work?

This can all seem a bit complex and…. well ….quite overwhelming

Putting all of the evil manipulation and hundreds of ranking factors to one side, let’s try to take a common-sense approach to understand exactly what Google wants.

They make their money from having lots of people using their search engine to find results.

Google capitalise on this by serving searchers ads,

But ultimately it’s the quality of the Organic results in Google that Drive this huge volume of people that Google has been able to monetise using paid ads.

So let’s break down the 3 Fundamentals of SEO

Keyword Research

On page Optimisation

Off page Optimisation

The first area keyword research is basically your strategy, it’s all about understanding

  • Who your customers are
  • The terminology that they use to search within Google
  • Who the competitors for those terms then are
  • Can your website compete with them for those terms
  • Followed by a strategy on how to rank your website for those terms.

The second Fundamentals is “On page Optimisation” 

Once you have worked out exactly what you want to rank for in Google you will need to optimise your website for that search term, this includes

  • Keywords   
  • variations of that keyword
  • LSI Keywords  
  • Content and Structure
  • Meta Title
  • H Tags 
  • Anchor Text
  • Image optimisation
  • structured data
  • Page Structure   ect ect 

But in it’s most basic form it’s making sure you’ve got the right word on the right part of your site for Google to want to be able to rank you.

The final Fundamental is “Off Page Optimisation” also referred to “Off Site SEO

Now you’ve worked out exactly what you want to rank your site for,

You’ve created loads of Incredible content that Google will love ……

The third element Is essentially making sure that you have enough external signals outside of your own website to justify or validate that claim you’re making in your content.   

This is often referred to as Trust, Credibility and authority.That’s typically going to come from a combination of links, mentions and traffic to your website. 

To summarize there are three main areas.

Work out what it is your customer is searching for,  

Make sure that you have the right words on the page 

Finally, make sure you have enough authority or external signals in Google’s eyes to want to rank you for that term.

Stay tuned I’m going to follow up with more blogs and videos taking a deeper look at each of the 3 Fundamentals area’s of SEO and I want to give you some actionable advice you can use on your site.

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