An Introduction To Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Trying to rank your website on Google?

Welcome to the club.

Before you get onto the first page of a Google search result, you have to understand what you’re trying to accomplish before you actually accomplish it.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, out of this came acronym arose the parallel term “SEM”, or Search Engine Marketing…

…but more on that later.

SEO is essentially the practice of making a web property more discoverable by search engines, namely Google and Bing.

In layman’s terms, you want your website or app to be easily found when someone types in similar keywords to what you want them to find, and this is done through the practice of SEO.

SEO is not really a hard concept to understand, but it definitely isn’t easy to implement – there is a lot of work behind it that most people don’t understand how to do, or what to do in that matter.

Most people would define SEO simply as a way to help more people find your website. While this is the basic premise behind SEO, it’s evolved to be much more than that:

SEO is not the optimization of the search engine itself, but the practice of optimizing your content to keep up with the improvements made to search engines.

SEO vs. SEM

If search engine optimization is keeping your website relevant to search results, then what is search engine marketing?

Simply put, SEM is the practice of integrating your marketing content with search results.

If this is confusing, that’s understandable. SEO and SEM does require a bit of applied thought and might make your brain hurt a little bit if you think about it too much.

To clarify these two concepts, look at it this way:

SEO is the practice of crafting content in such a way that people can find your content more easily online.

SEM is the direct application of content into the structure of the actual search results.

Using Keywords In SEO

So now the question becomes, how do you start “doing” SEO?

This question used to be answered simply by replying, “Bro, just stuff your website with keywords and they’ll find you, no problem.”

Yeah…this doesn’t really work anymore.

See, the problem is that Google and Bing – most notably Google – have this thing they call a “search algorithm”.

According to Wikipedia:

PageRank (PR) is an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PageRank is a way of measuring the importance of website pages. According to Google: PageRank works by counting the number and quality of links to a page to determine a rough estimate of how important the website is.

So, there you have it. If you’re not important, your website won’t show up. More specifically though, your website (or app) has to be important to someone’s search results.

What is PageRank?

In a nutshell, Google’s PageRank algorithm considers links to be like votes, and considers that some votes are more important than others.

PageRank is Google’s system of counting link votes and determining which pages are most important based on them. These scores are then used along with many other things to determine if a page will rank well in a search.

Of course, Google hosts many conferences every year, and have officially explained what their PageRank system is all about:

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at considerably more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; for example, it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.” Using these and other factors, Google provides its views on pages’ relative importance.

Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all dozens of aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.”

That’s PageRank in a nutshell. The more links pointing to your website, the better your SEO score will be.

About the Author

Paul Cassarly is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, musician, entrepreneur, and the owner of Cassus Media. He founded his company in 2017 to help small and medium businesses (SMB's) grow their online presence through quality, American-made digital assets such as websites, audio, video, graphics, and carefully-managed social media profiles.