May 24, 2020
SEO

SEO: An Introduction

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

It's so easy for people who live in the SEO world to start thinking that all of our little acronyms, catch phrases, buzzwords and slang make sense. But, if we stop and meet real people every so often (like, IRL), it's a wake up call.

Even if people use this phrase, they may not know what it means. If they don't know what it means, chances are they aren't doing it well. And, if they don't know what it means and they hired someone to do it for them, that person may not be accountable for doing it well.

All that to say, let's get to basics. In case you've been too scared to ask or have totally bought into outsourcing this, let me say (SHOUT): you can grasp the basics! And, if you do, you'll be able to truly measure success. Without it, you're just paying someone to make spreadsheets for you that may or may not make sense.

What is SEO?

So, I got a fire in my belly about doing this series because I onboarded some new clients who were HUNGRY to know more and I LOVED it... and I also realized that my bombardment of the minutae was literally gibberish to them. To me, talking about backlinks and authority scores and meta descriptions is a daily activity (whether or not anyone is listening). But for most normal people, this isn't a core part of their job. I'll go so far as to say, especially if you're a start-up or entrepreneur, the SEO game has a learning curve.

Much like thinking your 15 year old niece can successfully run your social media account (I'm resisting the urge to climb on a soapbox), the idea that SEO is just throwing a few clever keywords together and seeing immediate results is not correct. SEO is complex. And it's origins go all the way back to the dawn of the internet (cue Dr. Who music and wobbly dream sequence transition).

Origins of SEO and Indexing

The internet started as a way to catalog and share information. If you've ever logged into a company's Google Drive account, you know right away that cataloging and organizing shared information is a task most of us don't take time to do. Which definitely breaks systems down and bottlenecks things. And the elders of the internet (IT Crowd fans?) realized they needed to institute some sophisticated processes to manage the vast quantity of information that was quickly accumulating.

These processes eventually became the algorithms that are used today. Algorithms are just equations. These equations are executed/applied by bots through a process called indexing.

At one point, I went into the three steps of how Google bots crawl, index and rank. That's a technical process. Unless you’re going into technical SEO (as opposed to on-page SEO), you only need to know the basics.

What is the Point of SEO?

Here's the point: you don't have to do SEO because Google hates you and wants you to pay someone to write long, keyword-rich blogs each week. You have to do SEO because the fundamental way that internet searches function prioritizes content that best relates to search queries. And those queries grow everyday.

15% of searches of DAILY SEARCHES on Google are COMPLETELY NEW.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it. So, obviously, there is no way that you can account for every possible variation of someone's searches. There are, however, numerous ways that you can improve a website, a landing page, a blog or what have you so that you show up higher and higher on a search results page. And that, my friends, is the point.

Is it Worth it to Invest in SEO?

I will get more into the metrics Google uses to rank pages later in this series. Suffice it to say, for this discussion:

  • Google organizes content so that the most relevant results are delivered to people who search for them
  • How Google ranks your page will dictate whether or not customers can find you
  • If you don't optimize your online content, you will not show up for internet searches
  • This is a game. If you want to win, you have to play.

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