SEO – A primer. What is Search Engine Optimization

Advice for folks starting a second career as a solo entrepreneur.

You have probably heard of search engine optimization and know it is about improving how search engines such as Google find and rank your site. And you likely know that most people do not look beyond the first page listing recommended websites. According to Moz, the first page of Google captures 71% of search traffic clicks and has been reported to be as high as 92% in recent years. Second-page results are far from a close second coming in at below 6% of all website clicks. Moz builds tools for SEO, inbound marketing, link building, and content marketing easy. For a link to their website Ctrl+Click here.

Being the first site listed on Google is prime real estate 25% of folks click through on the first site listed. You will have noticed that I am focusing on Google; aren’t there other search engines out there? Yes there are of course, as the BBC would say “Other Search Engines are available” But Google is the most used search engine in the world. According to in January 2022 Google had 85.6% of the market share for search engines. Bing came next but far behind at 7.6%, followed by Yahoo at 2.9% and Baidu with 0.6%. Other search engines did not register.  If you are going to optimize your website it makes sense to optimize it for Google.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the practice of optimizing a website or webpage to increase the quantity and quality of its traffic from a search engine’s organic results.

The benefits are obvious: free, passive traffic to your website, month after month. But how do you optimize your content for SEO, and what “ranking factors” actually matter?

Google has to discover, crawl, and index your site’s content and this is merely the first part of the puzzle.  But you do want to be sure that Google knows your site exists. You can check this by typing Site:your sites URL into Googles search engine.

Below is the results for

What you cannot see is that Google has also found a post I made on LinkedIn which ranks quite highly in the search. I do not often post on my LinkedIn business page but maybe I should be paying this more attention. I will be working on my social media strategy over the next few weeks and will share what I have learned with you in later posts.

Search engines also need a way to rank matching results when a user performs a search. This is the job of search engine algorithms.

Each search engine has unique algorithms for ranking web pages.

Google famously has 200+ ranking factors.

Nobody knows what all of these ranking factors are, but the key ones are generally agreed to be:




Topical authority

Page speed

Mobile friendliness

I will talk more about these over the next few days

But to optimize our rankings we first need to understand how search engines work.

Search engines are like libraries for the digital age. Instead of storing copies of books, they store copies of web pages. When you type a query into a search engine, it looks through all the pages in its index and tries to return the most relevant results.

To do this, it uses a computer program called an algorithm. Nobody knows exactly how these algorithms work, but we do have clues, at least from Google.

Here’s what they say on their “How search works” page:

To give you the most useful information, Search algorithms look at many factors, including the words of your query, relevance and usability of pages, expertise of sources and your location and settings. The weight applied to each factor varies depending on the nature of your query – for example, the freshness of the content plays a bigger role in answering queries about current news topics than it does about dictionary definitions.

How SEO works

In simple terms, SEO works by demonstrating to search engines that your content is the best result for the topic at hand. This is because all search engines have the same goal: To show the best, most relevant results to their users.

Google ranks content for relevance. This is where the concept of search intent comes in. Your content will only rank for a keyword if it meets the searchers’ needs. In addition, your content must be the best resource out there for the query. After all, why would Google rank your content higher if it provides less value than other content that exists on the web?

Precisely how you do this depends on the search engine you’re optimizing for.

If you want more organic traffic to your web pages, then you need to understand and cater to Google’s algorithm. If you want more video views, then it’s all about YouTube’s algorithm.

In my next post I will discuss why SEO is important for you and your website,

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