How Does SEO Work – Search Engine Optimization Simplified

 

Using search engine optimization keywords is like asking the librarian to help you find a bookSearch Engine Optimization is like going to the Library

Do you like visiting your local library? Personally, I love it, because I love books. But just imagine if you were handed 938 million books and told to organize them so people could come and find a specific answer to a specific question about a specific topic easily.

How overwhelmed would you be? 

Yet that’s what a librarian does by means of the Dewey Decimal System (those numbers on the spine of the books and on the shelving units). It’s a way of using numbers to categorize and classify books according to genre, author, and more.

Think of each website on the internet as a book in a humongous library. And the internet librarians are the search engines.

There are over 1 million websites (the “Books”) on the internet (as of December 2016). and there are countless Search Engines like Goole, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, DuckDuckGo, Dogpile, and so many more (the “Librarians”) to help you find what you’re looking for.

But Search Engines don’t have the personal intelligence that your neighborhood librarian does. They have to use mathematical algorithms (a mysterious process that also uses numbers) to find, classify and retrieve information. They rely on seeing specific words (no they don’t read per se, but they see patterns) used on your website.

The more you talk about that word or phrase, the more they see you as relevant and will bring your website, or your “Book”, to the desk for the patron to read.

Does that mean it’s a good idea to find a keyword and use it 20 times per blog post?

Definitely not!

There is a HUGE CAVEAT to using keywords. Don’t do keyword stuffing. Writing the keyword over and over again on a page just for the sake of using it a lot will get you penalized by Google, the largest Search Engine today. Besides, it will irritate your readers tremendously. Which brings me to the main point about Search Engine Optimization…

You use keywords predominantly so that people who have a specific need or desire will find you when you supply the solution to that particular need or desire.

Say for instance, Louise wants to know how to make borscht. (Borscht is beet soup, which may not appeal to you, but it can be quite wonderful.) She goes to her computer and types in “How do I make borscht?” Now, the internet “librarian” searches through the millions of websites for the ones that use that phrase and lists it on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Louise looks at a few of the suggestions, but she’s heard that the best borscht has apples in it, and none of these recipes use apples. So she tries again and types in “best recipes for borscht with apples”. Now the “librarian” brings back some different websites.

What if Louise gives up on the idea of making borscht and want to buy it premade instead? Then she would type in “best place to purchase borscht made with apples.” Or maybe she wants to know if there’s some place locally that she can stocks it. She would narrow her search by entering “can I buy borscht made with apples in Portland, Oregon?

Every phrase Louise enters into the Search bar is called the Keyword, even if it’s a long phrase of words.

Not Understanding Basic SEO Makes Your Business Invisible

Now, Louise opens a restaurant named Lougi’s in the industrial warehouse section of Portland, Oregon. She doesn’t do any advertising except hanging a banner with the word “Luigi’s” across the restaurant’s entrance. She wants to serve artisans yet is disappointed that only the burly dock workers come in.

Louise’s expertise is making the most aromatic, robust, delicious borscht in the world.

But these ravenously hungry men are quickly disappointed in her limited menu. Unbelieving, they exclaim, “I can’t even get a sandwich to go with that soup?”

What is Louise doing wrong?

She hid her authentic self. She’s not a guy named Luigi.

She didn’t plainly state what she offered.

She set her customers up with a false expectation. She’s not an Italian serving Italian food.

She chose the wrong location, thereby attracting the wrong crowd.

She didn’t listen to what her customers wanted.

How does this story help you understand Search Engine Optimization for your business website? If you want your online business to be successful, you must:

  • Be your authentic self
  • State clearly what you offer – what problems you solve
  • Write for your ideal clients
  • Use words that your ideal clients would use when searching for solutions to their problems.
  • Don’t speak broadly, but be very specific on your website, blog posts, social media, etc.

Does all of this strike you as common sense? Then you’ve received the main point of SEO. Search Engine Optimization doesn’t have to be mysterious, difficult, or hard to do.

Simply let the right people find you by letting them know who you are, what you do and what you offer to help them with their problems. Keep speaking to these people specifically in all that you write.

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11 thoughts on “How Does SEO Work – Search Engine Optimization Simplified

  1. Hi Michelle,

    I like the story that you used to explain how SEO works as when I think of SEO, it does seem difficult. One of the things I’ve been using to try and slowly integrate understanding and using SEO as a strategy is I have the SEO yoast plugin that I use for my blog. I’m not sure into it yet but it’s a start!

    • Yoast SEO plugin is very helpful. Do you have a Google Keyword Tool account too? It helps in doing keyword research.

  2. wow! This was very refreshing! I love the example of the library and librarians. FINALLY SEO makes sense! 😉

  3. Being a visual learner, I love your library and librarian analogy! SEO can seem really confusing, and your blog breaks it down nicely; thank you Michelle.

  4. Fantastic post. A lot of people don’t understand how SEO works. Funnily enough I remember someone who actually th thought that Google went in alphabetical order like a phone look. SEO takes a lot of work time trial and dedication.

    • Thanks. That’s funny Paul. Alphabetical order – hmmm – I’m glad I don’t have to scan the pages of that book!

  5. One of the best descriptions of what SEO is that I’ve read. I’ll be sure to pass this along to my Publicity students. Everyone always asks for SEO advice.

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